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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CIA Creates a Mission Center to Counter China
You have to wonder what in the world Burns’ mediocre predecessors (John Brennan and Mike Pompeo) were thinking in creating mission centers regarding Iran and North Korea which represented little threat to the United States. But my second reaction is less facetious and more serious: why is the United States—its president, its politicians, its pundits—hell-bent on creating a Cold War environment and arms race with China? Burns told his work force last week that China is “our toughest geopolitical test in a new era of great power rivalry.”