I am a believer in the old Roman Republic concept that if you “want peace, prepare for war.” I’d also really like to believe that Trump’s proposed spending increase for the Department of Defense is truly born of that mentality, but I question it.
President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal will look to increase defense and security spending by $54 billion and cut roughly the same amount from non-defense programs, the White House said Monday.
It’s a 9% percent increase in defense spending for the country that already spends 400% more for defense spending than its closest potential adversary, China. Trump is following Reagan by developing a stronger military, pursuing a nuclear arms race, and other policies. What was different with Reagan is that we knew who we were arming against, what was at stake, and what would be the horrible outcome of a war with them. A strong military had been a core US Cold War policy held by presidents in both parties from when Truman had to convince a reluctant, war weary nation to accept it.
What I can’t figure out is whether anyone believes that our gigantic, sophisticated, and well-trained military just isn’t already good enough compared to what’s out there in the world. Who exactly are we trying to deter? The answer to the question lies in what exactly the Trump Administration is going to fund with this massive spending increase, I think.
If the funding is going toward more special forces, drone technology, and training foreign militaries it means that the Global War on Terrorism is back in a big way (not that it ever went away, except in name). Should DoD start expanding naval forces, submarines, and more air superiority aircraft I’d guess we’re arming against China. Anti-ship missiles, more weapon systems for the Saudis would be for Iran while ICBM’s, a next generation tank, ground attack aircraft, and more manpower points to Russia. Or it could just be that this is, I don’t know, stimulus. Maybe they’ll try to build it all and all of it will be wasteful.
Deterrence is a great concept but it doesn’t work terribly well if you aren’t deterring the correct potential enemy. This is worth watching for signs of from where the next international crisis will emerge, I think.