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Mr. T’s Military

Howell Hurst Defining Trump


Anyone vaguely familiar with the US defense budget* is aware our country spends more on this Federal expense than the next nine or ten nations of the planet. When unclassified and classified Intelligence budgets are added to defense spending, the total has been proposed to possibly reach about $2 Trillion. Defense alone is commonly quoted as being about $800 Billion.

America has long designed its defense spending to create and include defense contractors in almost all of our states. Private manufacturing businesses supply subunits of our large military equipment. This strategy insures that throughout our country military spending penetrates nearly every geographic facet of our national economy.

One may reasonably speculate military spending, if not the absolute backbone, is an arguably indispensable bone in the body of our nation’s finances. It creates a highly influential political tool for any leader to manipulate in consolidating voter support for an already military-minded constituency. Mr. T now proposes we increase our military by some $50 Billion.

It remains to be seen what his justification will be. It is not excessive to suggest that he will cite ISIS and other terrorists as his target. Surely, we all want these people neutralized. The devil, though is, as always, in the details. Who will get this extra $50 Billion? That will likely not be spelled out.  Part of the increase is supposed to go to Homeland Security, I hear. That raises intriguing questions.

Is not Homeland Security partially tasked against external entry to the US? That is to say: immigrants and refugees seeking to come into America? That makes the $50 Billion open to speculation. Is that really defense? Is that really military? It edges close to a touchy subject: blocking entry to people based on unspoken criteria of origins, ethnicity, and religious persuasion.

Tossing out a $50 Billion military carrot to a constituency already suspicious of foreigners is shrewd politics. Historically, both walk hand in hand. ISIS is fighting, however, a shrewd politics of its own. On one hand, it is a guerrilla operation. Yes, plausibly similar to Vietnam. On the other, it is crudely psychological, played out on the Internet. It is therefore broader in scope than Vietnam.

Guerrilla warfare does not make profit-oriented business people as wealthy as conventional warfare. This profit motive is the Achilles heel of our defense budgeting strategy. Living in San Diego, one sees the economic effect of the US military budget on the local economy. One in five dollars here comes from the other 49 states’ contribution to defense.

No one in San Diego would be thrilled to see its defense dollars diverted from the Pacific Fleet business here to Guerilla warfare – unless their training could also be moved here to replace the dollar loss such a strategic change would create. See what I mean? Defense spending is a very tricky subject.

But, let’s not get off base in this military speculation. Rather, let me conclude the conversation by observing that General McMasters, who has in the past written most wisely about why we lost Vietnam, may hopefully be able to influence how Mr. T uses his newly created $50 Billion deal.

By the by: you don’t suspect Mr. T will spend part of that $50 Billion assisting our several thousands of homeless veterans filling the streets of our major cities, do you? Why, maybe that’s what he has in mind.  And my personally distrustful nature will reveal the feeble limitations of my critique.

Oh, my goodness: the dangers of being a writer.

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