President-elect Donald Trump’s authoritarian style and personality, which attracted an overwhelmingly authoritarian following, is manifesting itself in the selection of his national security team. The appointment of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as the national security adviser is particularly worrisome because of the general’s lack of experience in strategic policy and his controversial stewardship as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. More recently, we have learned that general officers are being given consideration as secretaries of state, defense, and homeland security. Trump is putting at risk the Constitution’s support for civilian control of the military as well as decision-making in the use of force as well as national security policy in general.
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More Bloat For Bloated Defense Spending
The justification for additional defense spending is reminiscent of traditional Cold War justifications. The Senate’s defense authorization act even empowers the Pentagon to establish a “strategic competition initiative” for the U.S. African Command, which would lead to an expanded U.S. military presence in Africa. The United States has already trained leaders of coups in Mali and Guinea, and provided aid to repressive regimes in Uganda and Niger. The Pentagon can’t even provide an accurate inventory of the military equipment it has provided to African countries.
American Exceptionalism: Our Gun Culture at Home and Abroad
There is an insidious and unspoken connection between our gun culture at home and abroad. U.S. politicians and pundits believe that huge defense budgets provide international security for the United States, and many Americans believe that personal weapons provide safety at home. We don’t question the use of deadly weaponry in unnecessary wars overseas; Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the most recent examples. At home, there are more guns than people — 120 guns for every 100 people. The United States is exceptional because some of the same weapons designed for war are available to teenagers fighting their personal demons.