We spend more on our military than the next eight countries combined, even though five of those next seven countries are strong U.S. allies such as Britain and France. We spend three times as much as China and nine times as much as Russia. In fact, just the increases in military spending requested by the Trump administration — $30 billion for the current fiscal year, and $54 billion next year — swamp Russia’s total annual military budget of $66 billion.
In his budget released this week, President Trump proposes to pay for all that by gutting scientific research, medical research, foreign aid, the State Department, community block grants that support Meals on Wheels and similar programs. The EPA, which today operates on the same budget it had 15 years ago, and with 2,000 fewer employees, is targeted for 31 percent budget cut.
“There’s no question this is a hard-power budget,” brags Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. “It is not a soft-power budget. This is a hard-power budget. And that was done intentionally. The president very clearly wants to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is a strong-power administration. So you have seen money move from soft-power programs, such as foreign aid, into more hard-power programs. That’s what our allies can expect, that’s what our adversaries can expect, that’s what the president wanted us to relay.”
It is hard to fully express the stupidity of that kind of talk, or how badly it will come across to the rest of the world. The helping hand that the United States once extended to the rest of the world is being turned into an angry fist waved in the air by an idiot. Efforts to lead by example, to build cooperation and friendship, to persuade and negotiate, are being abandoned in exchange for crude threats and bluster.
As Defense Secretary James Mattis warned back when he still wore a general’s uniform, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
At a press briefing Thursday, a reporter reminded Mulvaney that the world faces its largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with 20 million people in just four countries facing starvation or famine. With the United States, the richest nation in the world, slashing its foreign aid budget, the reporter asked, “Are you worried that some of the most vulnerable people on Earth will suffer as a result?”
Not one little bit.
“We’re absolutely reducing funding to the U.N. and to the various foreign aid programs, including those run by the U.N. and other agencies,” Mulvaney replied coldly. “That should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign. The president said specifically hundreds of time — you covered him — I’m going to spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home. And that’s exactly what we’re doing with this budget.”
Except of course that’s not what they’re doing. They’re decidedly NOT spending the money on people here back home, they’re spending it to help make the psychologically frail man in the White House feel more manly about himself.