US President Trump is waving the sanction flag in the name of "fair trade" while steadily advancing his plan of "rebuilding the US military" and fulfilling his commitment to meet all the needs of military personnel in the National Security Strategy (NSS) report.
Trump announced his total budget of $4.4 trillion in the 2019 budget in February of this year. The defense budget is $686.1 billion. The US military spending, including the nuclear project budget and the US national security budget for the 2019 fiscal year comes to $716 billion.
Prefer guns to butter
The choice between guns or butter is a classic issue faced by the US government. Trump's answer is very clear: he prefers guns.
Trump's 2018 military budget of 692 billion US dollars was achieved by sacrificing public welfare. In the 2018 federal government budget spending on environmental protection, medical insurance, and retirement benefits was drastically reduced, as was spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, retirement benefits for federal employees, and assistance programs for the disabled. The funding of the US Environmental Protection Agency was slashed by $2.6 billion.
The Trump administration's fiscal year 2019 budget has the same approach as that of fiscal year 2018. It continues to cut welfare for the benefit of military spending.
In the 2019 budget, spending on fields such as the environment, research, and diplomacy are reduced and the budgets of the State Council and the Environmental Protection Agency are reduced by 27 percent and 34 percent respectively. At the same time, spending on medical insurance and other social security programs is also reduced.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis said that President Trump’s budget will bring the US back to the leading position.
The feelings of the American people are completely different: "All guns, no butter." This is an evaluation of the Trump 2019 government budget as reported by the online Slate Magazine.
Transformation of military strategy to major power competition
Not long ago, the US government and military successively launched three major documents. The National Security Strategy report positioned China and Russia as "geopolitical competitors." The National Defense Strategy report clearly stated that the US military strategy should adjust from anti-terrorism to responding to the competition between major powers. The Nuclear Posture Review directed the US nuclear weapons towards Russia and China.
The Trump administration launched its military budget for fiscal year 2018 on Sept. 18, 2017. In less than half a year, it then launched the government budget and military budget for 2019, showing its anxious desire to implement the major military goals and the strategic transformation of the US military stated in the above three major reports.
Giant US military machine has become a money-eating monster
The giant US military machine has already become a "money-eating monster." All military forces of the US regard the growth of military expenditure as an opportunity for "strengthening and expanding." No amount of resources can meet their endless demand.
Among the $716 billion budget for the 2019 fiscal year, $30 billion is for nuclear programs. The expenditure of the Obama administration for that purpose in 2010 was just $7 billion. However, according to Trump's Nuclear Posture Review, the US will spend $1.2 trillion for the maintenance and upgrading of its nuclear arsenal within the next 30 years. This means an annual expenditure of up to $40 billion without the price increase factor and about $56.7 billion with the price increase factor.
In other words, no matter how much people's welfare is reduced in order to increase military spending, the needs of the US military still cannot be met. This is the unsolved situation of the US budget.
The US economy has rebounded strongly in recent years after the crisis. The US government’s fiscal situation has improved and the fiscal deficit has dropped from $1.4 trillion in 2009 to $430 billion in 2015. But if the Trump administration sticks to its current budget, the fiscal deficit will increase.
The budget for the 2019 fiscal year, which includes $714 billion in military expenditure, creates a fiscal deficit twice than that of 2018, reaching $984.4 billion. If this continues, even if the economic growth does not reverse, the US budget deficit in the next 10 years will still reach $7.1 trillion.
At present, the debate on the Trump administration's 2019 government budget is underway in the US Congress, and the huge fiscal deficit is probably the subject of debate in the Senate and House of Representatives among both Democrats and Republicans.
Intensify tensions in the international situation
The cold-war dividends of the US were quickly consumed, and the international order reached a new strategic balance after the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Trump administration's strong “rebuilding” of the US military will also break the existing international order and strategic balance.
Trump's three major reports and the military budget for fiscal year 2019 immediately triggered a strong reaction from Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address on Mar. 1 said that Russia has the most powerful nuclear potential in the world.
The New York Times reported that the US has questions about whether or not Russia has advanced new nuclear weapons. However, the US military’s national defense policy for preparing for war and its efforts to strengthen combat capabilities has caused the international situation to become tense.
The 54th Munich Security Conference, also referred to as the "Davos of Defense" was held from Feb. 16 to 18. US Defense Secretary James Mattis expressed dissatisfaction with Russia by refusing to speak because Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Europe of going back to the Nazi era and lacked any intention of compromising on peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian issue.
The chairman of the Munich Security Conference and former German ambassador to the US, Wolfgang Isinger, said with that the situation is not positive and that the world has come to the edge of military conflict.
If the result of the US government’s increasing military expenditure is to intensify the international situation and push the world to conflict instead of reconciliation and cooperation, will the US then feel safer?
Disclaimer: The author is Wu Minwen at the College of Information and Communications, National University of Defense Technology of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The article is published by the China Youth Daily and it is translated into English by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article are those of the author of the China Youth Daily and do not reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn. Chinamil.com.cn does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. If the article carries photographs or images, we do not vouch for their authenticity.