A few items I’ve been saving up for quick comments:
Remember when civilians were supposed to control the military? Not in Trump’s White House. Besides putting retired generals in charge (e.g. Defense Secretary James Mattis), Trump is throwing money at the Pentagon while empowering “his” generals to do what they wish. As FP:Foreign Policy put it today:
Frustrated by lack of influence and disheartened by U.S. President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, Department of Defense civilians are heading for the door, leaving key positions unfilled in a Pentagon increasingly run by active-duty or retired military officers, Foreign Policy’s Lara Seligman writes.
Described in interviews with a dozen former and current DOD officials, the exodus has insiders and observers worried that civilian control of the military is being undercut.
“The Joint Staff and the [combatant commanders] are having a field day,” said one Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “They don’t answer any requests, they feel emboldened, and Policy is really struggling.”
As commander-in-chief, Trump has largely been AWOL. When things go bad (like the Yemen raid early in 2017), he blames his generals. Instead of “The buck stops here,” the motto of Harry S Truman, who knew how to serve as commander-in-chief, Trump’s motto is “The buck never stops here — unless it’s a literal buck I can add to the Trump empire’s balance sheet.”
The U.S. military’s commander-in-chief has deserted his post, but the Pentagon doesn’t seem to mind.
Meanwhile, even with roughly $700 billion in yearly budgetary authority, with more billions on the way, the Pentagon is warning it may not be able to win a war against China or Russia unless it gets even more money! Here’s a quick report from CNN:
Could the US lose a war against China or Russia? It might, according to a new report from a bipartisan panel of military experts. The report warns that the Trump administration’s new National Defense Strategy doesn’t have enough resources, which puts the country at greater risk of losing a military conflict with the Chinese or the Russians.
I’m shocked, shocked, the U.S. might lose a war against China or Russia! When the U.S. can’t even win a war against the lowly Taliban in Afghanistan after 17+ years.
The “solution” is always more money and resources for the Pentagon. How about this instead: Don’t fight a war against China or Russia … period. Or for that matter against any other country that doesn’t pose a real and pressing threat to the United States.
You have to hand it to the Pentagon: the generals know how to launch preemptive attacks. Not against foreign armies, mind you, but against what is perceived as “the enemy within.” The military-industrial complex knows the Pentagon budget could conceivably shrink in 2020, so they’re already claiming “the world’s finest military” is in danger of slipping a notch … unless it gets more money.
The only “war” the Pentagon is clearly winning is the war for money and influence in the American “Homeland.”
Finally, there’s the grim news the Trump administration is pulling out of the INF Treaty with Russia that eliminated intermediate range nuclear weapons in 1987. That treaty was a remarkable achievement by the Reagan administration: it got rid of nuclear weapons such as the SS-20 on the Soviet side and the Pershing II and ground-launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) on the American side, weapons which were considered “first-strike” and therefore destabilizing to nuclear deterrence. The Trump administration wants to “invest” in more nukes, including intermediate-range ones, supposedly to deter the Russians, who can already be destroyed dozens of times over by America’s current crop of nuclear weapons.
Cost of nuclear modernization to the U.S.? At least $1.2 trillion (yes–trillion) over the next thirty years. Weapons that, if they’re used, will only make the radioactive rubble bounce a little bit higher. More MADness indeed.
An unchecked Pentagon promises ill not just for America but for the world. Ike knew this. So did many other U.S. presidents. Trump is too busy tweeting and making a buck to care.