There is no better introduction to the militarism and callousness of the Trump era than the budget proposal for 2018. Much has been written about the miserly cuts to Meals on Wheels, housing aid, and other community assistance, but it’s just as important to examine the unjustified and unnecessary increases in defense spending. The Trump budget is clearly designed to enable another cycle of militarized national security policy and, in the words of Steve Bannon, to “deconstruct the administrative state.”
In April 1953, soon after the death of Joseph Stalin, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his “cross of Iron” speech, warning against “destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.” Eisenhower wanted to avoid the enormous domestic price that would accompany unwarranted military spending. And military spending, he emphasized, meant “spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” This is exactly what Trump is calling for in a federal budget that takes direct aim at scientific and medical research, the endowments for the arts and humanities, and the block grants for food and housing support. Even the Department of Energy’s tiny program to help insulate the houses of the poor would be eliminated.
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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.
The United States Specializes in Exaggerating the Threat
Every day we gather evidence of the pathetic performance of the Russian military in Ukraine. There was the inability to deal with Ukraine’s primitive air defense; the loss of the flag ship of the Black Sea Fleet; the sadistic behavior of a ground force that lacks any sense of discipline or professionalism; the loss of general officers; and the near total breakdown in logistical support for the invasion force. The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Major General Bulanov, dismissed the Russian invasion force as a “horde of people with weapons.”