Opinion: Bombs + bullets – diplomacy = war

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(US Navy)

Trying to justify a major funding increase for the Pentagon, President Trump refers repeatedly to the U.S. military as “depleted.” If true — and that’s always the first issue with anything emanating from Trump –it raises some fundamentally important issues.

In 2015, the most recent year for which we have full, comparative data, the United States spent $596 billion on its military. That’s more than the next seven countries combined. Trump now calls for increasing that amount by $54 billion for the 2018 fiscal year, while also increasing current-year, 2017 defense spending by $30 billion.

Just to put that into context: That proposed $84 billion increase in military spending — just the increase — is significantly greater than Russia’s entire annual military budget of $66 billion.

0053_defense-comparison-full

Maybe it’s just me, but if we’re spending that much more money and still producing a military that is “depleted”, maybe we’re doing something wrong. It’s also important to note that Trump has proposed adding tens of thousands of active-duty military personnel, dozens of new ships and significant upgrades of the Air Force strategic bomber fleet. None of those efforts would be funded by this proposed increase, meaning that it’s merely a down payment for much bigger spending increases to come.

That reflects one of Washington’s most ironclad ironies: Those people who are most likely to launch into a lecture that you can’t solve a problem by throwing more money at it are always the same people demanding that we do exactly that when the debate turns to defense.

Look at the list of top military spenders: Eight of the top 10 nations, and 15 of the top 20, are close U.S. military allies such as Saudi Arabia, Great Britain, France, Germany, South Korea and Japan. Many of those countries buy their military equipment from us, further binding them to our alliance. The combined annual military spending of the United States and those allies is $1.1 trillion, far outstripping any plausible combination against us.

China has no such allies.

Russia has no such allies.

Those countries also cannot begin to match U.S. firepower or capabilities. For example, we have 10 aircraft carrier strike groups, with an 11th due to come on line this year. Russia has one aircraft carrier, and that carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, was strained to its breaking point last year by deploying in the near waters of the Mediterranean, off of Syria. The Kuznetsov carries just 15 planes — one quarter of the number of a modern American carrier — and has to be deployed with its own tugboat because its engines keep breaking down.

China also has just one aircraft carrier, built upon the platform of an old Soviet carrier that was still under construction but abandoned at the end of the Cold War.

In explaining his proposed buildup this week, Trump cast it as part of his “Make America Great Again” theme. Back when he was in high school and college, he recalled, “Everybody used to say America never lost a war. Now we never win and don’t fight to win.” He believes that he and he alone can change that record.

To put it bluntly, that’s just crazy talk. When U.S. military action has failed to achieve its desired goals — Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan — that failure can’t be blamed on a shortage of firepower. Instead, our problem has been that we fought the wrong wars and that we fought them stupidly, believing that we could kill our way to victory.

Nobody fights us in that kind of war anymore because they know they would lose. In the favorite words of Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s new national security adviser, “There are two ways to fight the United States military: Asymmetrically and stupid.” By “stupid,” he means the way that Saddam Hussein tried to fight us in the 1991 Gulf War, pitting firepower against firepower with disastrous results. By “asymmetrically,” he means through insurgency, terrorism and other politically oriented means, which have a much better record of success.

Our top military leaders understand that firepower alone cannot win an asymmetric war, even if their commander in chief does not. In fact, as part of his new budget, Trump will apparently propose drastic cuts to foreign aid and significantly reduced funding for the State Department, Peace Corps and related programs. That change was announced Tuesday, and already more than 120 retired three- and four-star generals have written a letter of protest to Congress, warning that the State Department, the Peace Corps and foreign aid programs “are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way.”

That letter – signed by Gen. David Petraeus and Admiral James Stavridis, among others — also quotes Trump’s secretary of defense, Gen. James Mattis, when he served in 2013 as head of U.S. Central Command. “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition,” Mattis said at the time.

In short, this is not a carefully thought-out strategy from the Trump administration, based on consultation with the experts and our allies. Instead, the man who took five draft deferments to avoid fighting in Vietnam, the man who says that he knows better than the generals how to defeat ISIS and who claims he understands the military because he attended a military-themed boarding school, is offering a military strategy fueled largely by his own deep personal insecurities.

And here’s my biggest worry. In the weeks and months to come, Trump is likely to get increasingly frustrated by his inability to bend Congress to his will, by continued criticism from the media and perhaps by falling poll numbers. Looking for an outlet that will satisfy his grandiose dreams for himself and rally the country behind him, he is likely to turn to foreign policy, where a president has very few real constraints on his ambitions.

That’s a recipe for real, real trouble in a world already teetering too close to the edge.

 

Reader Comments 0

1510 comments
Ariel Ky
Ariel Ky

Personally, I'd like to see our military completely depleted. The U.S. is the major threat to stability and peace in the world with crazed megalomaniacs bent on domination. Trump could take this to another level, it's true. I was hoping that he wouldn't succumb so quickly to the machinations of the ruling cabal of the world, but apparently they have found the quirk in his personality that lets them use him as a tool for their own purposes.


The heart of the matter is that all of this is negative projection... the only useful purpose of such fear-inciting speculation is to activate people to take back our power... it's time for a revolution where we change course from all this destructive militarization. Of course, that's not going to happen, not from downtrodden Americans struggling to make a living, many too unhealthy to take positive action, and living too much in fear... 


However, there is a sea change happening in the hearts of Americans and people all over the world. It's largely unseen as of yet, but the consequences will change our reality... and it's going on right now. In the gloaming, as our darkest hour moves in, love lurks in corners you can't see, and love will prevail. Don't wait to see what happens... join in the paradigm shift. Make things happen that you want to see in the world.

RantNRave
RantNRave

 "Td says trump has already brought back 74,000.  Doesn't seem to be able to find a citation, though..."


@Lord Help Us


The nation’s supply of fact checkers is being stretched to the breaking point,” he said. “There are not enough fact checkers to keep up with the exponential growth in alternative facts.


With Trump in the White House, recent college graduates are flocking to careers in fact checking,” he said. “There’s guaranteed job security, and you basically just have to Google stuff.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

So did Trump propose a pathway to citizenship? Erickson was talking about him doing it. But maybe I must have miss it in his speech last night.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Paul42 @McGarnagle


I believe it when I see it. But for me, the far right wing base of the party will be up in arms over this. 

Paul42
Paul42

@McGarnagle

Not directly.  In a White House meeting immediately before the speech he gave indication of a major effort on immigration, supported by multiple sources.  For some reason he did not address it in the speech.

Pathway to citizenship for all wasn't issue.  Maybe Dreamers.  For rest it would be legalized status.

First round.  Will it be enough for Democrats and too much for Republicans?  We'll see.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

While the 57% who said they had a very positive reaction to Trump's speech outpaces the marks received by his predecessor for any of his recent State of the Union addresses, they fell below the reviews either Barack Obama or George W. Bush received for either of their initial addresses to Congress. In 2009, 68% had a very positive reaction to Obama, while 66% gave Bush very positive reviews in 2001. Likewise, the 69% of speech-watchers who thought Trump's policies would move the nation in the right direction lagged behind the share who felt that way about Obama's or Bush's policies in the first year


The honeymoon will be over very very soon.

rimsky
rimsky

High winds in GA and TN.  Schools are already closed in Chattanooga.  In NGA kids go home at 12.

Yep climate is changing and we are driving it faster and faster towards disaster catagory.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@rimsky  Yep, because EVERY unusual WEATHER event is a result of climate change, huh?

WDE
WDE

@DownInAlbany @rimsky they want to start sacrificing virgins to ward off the weather gods ,but well they are Libs and virgins are in short supply.

KUTGF
KUTGF

“Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved,” Trump said
_________

He can fix everything.  Hope for the change. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@KUTGF


And when they don't get solve it would be some else's fault. Trump modus operandi

Kamchak
Kamchak

@DownInAlbany 

So, maybe Trump is more of a Democrat than Republican?

Don't you just hate it when someone refuses to the jump on the soapbox that you so carefully picked out for them?  I know I do.

RantNRave
RantNRave


Hey cons,


What do these people have in common?

.......Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State

Tillerson's stake in Russia's energy industry

.......Mike Flynn, Former Security Advisor

Flynn's trip to Russia in 2015 might have violated

 constitutional limits on accepting gifts from foreign

 governments, lawmakers say.

.......Carter Page, Foreign Policy Advisor

Carter Page, one of Trump's foreign policy advisers, 

went to Russia before the Republican convention 

.......Wilbur Ross, Commerce Secretary

Ross and his team invested more than $1 billion

 in the troubled Bank of Cyprus, he became one

 of its two vice chairmen. Putin appointed the other.

.......Paul Manafort, Former Campaign Manager 

Has long and deep reported ties to pro-Russian

 politicians in Ukraine

ANSWER:

The Chump* and Russia.

COINCIDENCE??



DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

Trump's new theme sounds vaguely familiar:

'War is Peace; Freedom is slavery; Ignorance is Strength'


Could almost swear I've heard that slogan before..........

DebbieDoRight
DebbieDoRight

"Where all the coal jobs at?"


Thomas "Blazing Saddles" Jefferson

KUTGF
KUTGF

@LordHelpUs And they were previously announced before his election....but hey, its okay to take credit for others work.  Ask his wife.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@DebbieDoRight Some 98 million unemployed according to Trump......  oh my.  And yet they could not show up to support his rallies?  LOL

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

Td says trump has already brought back 74,000.

Doesn't seem to be able to find a citation, though...

KUTGF
KUTGF

So now...  its time for a pathway to citizenship? 

honested
honested

@KUTGF 

I'm sure the Congressional discussions on that 'pathway' will be delightful to watch.

Of course it is like all of his other legislative suggestions from last night, otherwise non-existent.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@DownInAlbany @KUTGF Oh sweetie, you will whine no matter what.  Perhaps he just realizes that the GOP says a lot of worthless crap that is just stupid and he is trying to tell you to stop being stupid.  Follow his lead on this one!

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@KUTGF @DownInAlbany  And, the Dems will continue to obstruct Trump at every turn.  But, hey, that's fine with me.  I'll get the water running in the thimble.

KUTGF
KUTGF

@DownInAlbany @KUTGF You are very foolish.  Of course the Dems will support a good plan with a path to citizen. 

Again, try to follow his lead away from stupid.  

Paul42
Paul42

@KUTGF Yep. Another opportunity for Democrats in 2018.

WDE
WDE

@Paul42 @KUTGF they did so well with the opportunity they had in 2016....

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Don't forget all of the small business owners that Trump welched on after giving them a sales pitch. He is capable of being warm, compelling, and even inspiring in a given moment!!!! #goodmorning #justmythoughts #trywritingyourownspeech you say fake news I say good speech by a Fake Person!!! It's just a speech #showmewhatyougonnado #micdrop

Paul42
Paul42

See Heezback, everything from Facebook isn't inappropriate.  Instead of just unflattering pictures, this video is an example of something that can spark considered discussion.

I watched it and I thought, "If what you expect to see happen doesn't happen, it's good to examine your assumptions."

Also, when it got to the diverse neighborhood, I couldn't help but think "which of Jay's regulars would this guy be?"

http://tinyurl.com/zxupkfb

honested
honested

Did the 'so-called president' mention when all the coal jobs will be back?


I seem to have missed that part.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@honested  Don't you just hate it when someone refuses to the jump on the soapbox that you so carefully picked out for them?  I know I do.

KUTGF
KUTGF

On health care, for example, Trump called for a replacement of the Affordable Care Act that would “expand choice, increase access, lower costs and at the same time provide better health care” ― an impossible combination
_______

Can't wait to see the plan.  The GOP has its objectives and I SUPPORT THEM as stated by Trump.  Now its time to deliver.  Dreaming bigly!

KUTGF
KUTGF

I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country
__________

So this is the new "hope and change". 

Dreaming bigly?

honested
honested

@KUTGF 

Well, he's dreaming that beating the 'tort reform' drum and turning everything back over to the insurance industry will solve all the health care problems so it is definitely 'dreaming bigly'.

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

Reminds me of "fundamental transformation..."

Remember when that was apocalyptic?

Paul42
Paul42

How about it, folks?  Is this an example of a fine businessman, used to tough negotiating to get what he wants, or is it an example of someone who swoops in long after the work has been done and takes credit?

"“We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our government.”

Trump once again takes credit for the lowered cost of the F-35 program. The Pentagon had announced cost reductions of roughly $600 million before Trump began meeting with Lockheed Martin’s chief executive. Sometimes Trump says he saved $600 million, other times $700 million.

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

It's what con artists and BSers do...