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Monday, May 21, 2018

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Speak loudly and carry a big ego


During his presidential campaign, President Donald Trump promised to return the United States to its former military strength. He believes that the country has gone soft under the Obama administration. An increase in military spending will regain some of that loss.

However, the Obama administration dropped more bombs than the three presidents preceding him. Regardless of that information, President Trump insists that spending $500 billion to $1 trillion dollars is necessary to bring back a Reagan-type era.   

This call shows two incredibly distinctive and important shortcomings of our new president:

  1. A complete lack of knowledge about economics
  2. Thinking that building a stronger military and bullying other nations will earn back the respect the U.S. has lost over the years.

Let’s entertain for a moment that increasing the military is a good thing, however ludicrous that may be. Trump’s military agenda will take up a large portion of an already-tight budget.

According to an article in the Military Times: “Trump has said he’s confident that savings can be found by cutting bureaucracy and better policing government waste.” This method cannot produce the billions of dollars necessary to achieve such a goal; relying on the ability to convince or coerce congressional votes is hardly a sure shot to success.   

Increasing military spending will do nothing but hurt the country. By the laws of economics, if money is being spent on the military, then it is not being spent in a place that actually matters, for example, education.

A team is only strong as its weakest link. An additional 90,000 military personnel is nothing compared to the millions of uneducated voters across the nation.

If President Trump truly wants to “Make America Great Again,” he needs to stop caring about the military-industrial complex and start caring about the minds of America’s youth.

Moreover, the United States is not at war with any particular nation. The war on drugs? The war on terror? The war on the Islamic State? Which countries do these enemies call home?  The United States has not declared total war since World War II.  

This means that each time our troops have invaded a foreign country, it has done so out of nothing but pure aggression. Where do we, as a nation, derive the audacity to attack whom we want and take what we want?  

Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq were all quasi-wars that were not only unjustified but also lacked a formal congressional declaration of war.  

The world would benefit if the United States took its greedy paws out of the cookie jar for a change and returned to the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers.  

Former President John Quincy Adams said: “Let our answer be this – America… she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” In simplest terms, the Unites States is not the world police. We were successful in declaring independence from a tyrant. If other nations truly desire to be free from such, then they can do so alone.  

The United States needs to stop intervening in conflicts that cost taxpayers billions and claim lives. 

Another potential justification for armed conflict is to protect our allies abroad. In his farewell address, George Washington warned the public about alliances. He said: “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world.”  

Washington wanted to avoid long-term alliances because they all lead to conflict. If the allies go to war, the U.S. military is expected to support them. If they need financial help, we are promised to aid them while leaving our own country in disarray.

No good comes from increased military spending. No good comes from a military force so large with no declared wars to fight. All that exists is a group of bullies waiting to attack anyone who looks and thinks differently than they do.  

If  Trump wishes to regain the respect of the world, he can start by understanding respect is earned, not given. It is certainly not earned through intimidation and aggression.

Opinion columnist John Brucato is an economics senior and can be reached at [email protected]

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