Trump Now Increases ‘Defense’ Budget 37% Above Obama’s

Eric Zuesse

The Washington Post headlined on January 26th, “Trump plans to ask for $716 billion for national defense in 2019 — a major increase”, and reported that when President Trump had entered the White House in January 2017, the ‘Defense’ budget was $521 billion, but that President Trump will propose in his upcoming State-of-the-Union speech, a 2019 ‘Defense’ budget of $716 billion, which, if it becomes law, would mean a 37% increase, above Obama’s last Pentagon budget (for 2017).

This is in line with President Trump’s recently announced strategic change, away from Obama’s military budget, which was focused mainly against radical Islamic terrorism, now to target, instead, mainly Russia and China, and, secondarily, Iran and North Korea. As CBS News summarized on January 20th, “There is a major change in U.S. military strategy. On Friday [January 19th], more than 16 years after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said terrorism is no longer the No. 1 priority. … Maintaining a military advantage over China and Russia is now Defense Secretary Mattis’ top priority.”

Mattis said, in introducing Trump’s January 18th document, National Defense Strategy 2018, “China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. … Concurrently, Russia seeks veto authority over nations on its periphery in terms of their governmental, economic, and diplomatic decisions, to shatter the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and change European and Middle East security and economic structures to its favor. … Rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran are destabilizing regions through their pursuit of nuclear weapons or sponsorship of terrorism.”

Trump’s National Defense Strategy 2018 document says, “We will continue to prosecute the campaign against terrorists that we are engaged in today, but Great Power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.”

The candidate, Trump, who ran for office criticizing his predecessor, Barack Obama, for not doing enough against “radical Islamic terrorism,” is soaring the ‘Defense’ budget in order to refocus away from that threat, to “Great Power competition,” especially against China and Russia.

Whereas even many Republicans had attacked candidate Trump during his campaign, mainly for being insufficiently neoconservative (imperialistic — such as his allegedly not being sufficiantly anti-Russia), President Trump is turning out to be actually more of a neocon than was his predecessor — not less, such as he had promised.

Millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump because he promised to be less of a neocon than was his predecessor — and far less of one than was Hillary Clinton — are finding out that he might instead be even more of a neocon than she was.

As for the people who voted for Ms. Clinton, they might be pleasantly surprised that as the President, Trump is, at least on this most-basic strategic question, more like was candidate-Clinton, than was candidate-Trump. He doesn’t look like she; he doesn’t speak like she, but he might be outdoing her, as the President — at least on ‘national security’ affairs.

Clearly, the Democratic Party won’t be in much of a position to criticize the Republican President much on ‘Defense’, because they won’t want to seem to have been insincere in their criticisms of him for not being insufficiently neoconservative. They’ll need to satisfy themselves with their Russiagate charges against him — that he colluded with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in order to win the U.S. White House.

Democrats are themselves in a strategically tough position, of leaving themselves vulnerable to accusations that they are, for the most part, similar to Republicans, only more hypocritical. (Trump derisively calls them “politically correct.”)

By Trump’s reorienting away from the cheaper military strategy of anti-terrorism, toward the really costly weapons, which carry nuclear warheads and entail huge missiles and trillion-dollar weapons-systems, Trump will more than earn his keep for America’s largest military contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, which rely solely or mainly upon the U.S. Government and its allies, as their market, rather than upon civilians. The strategic nuclear arsenals are immensely expensive and they were useless against Osama bin Laden and people such as that, but, are essential in order for America to conquer Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. Now is probably a good time to invest in these firms, because President Trump and the Republican Congress are terrific for them. They had overwhelmingly backed Hillary Clinton, but Donald Trump is the person who’ll actually be delivering, to them, the gold.

Who can understand the ways of ‘democracy’? Trump might get a good chuckle at having fooled almost everyone. Perhaps he feels especially proud in such ways as he’d never publicly admit, maybe even despising his voters. But what choice did they have?

Whether or not this is American ‘democracy’, it’s clearly today’s American politics.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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9 Responses to Trump Now Increases ‘Defense’ Budget 37% Above Obama’s

  1. andrew1212 says:

    A huge increase—with NO AUDIT yet performed (as required by law).

    I also heard rumblings that the “audits” currently being performed are by companies with close ties to the Pentagon…so, even IF the DoD releases an audit in 2018, it may not be a truly INDEPENDENT audit.

    As for current politics: Americans should be ABANDONING the corrupt Two Party System–both parties are selling our future to corporations and foreign influence. Future generations of Americans will have to deal with the $20+ Trillion of debt, the failing infrastructure systems (roads, bridges, water, rail), environmental disasters (nuclear waste sites, fracking/pipelines), overpriced healthcare/pharmaceuticals, degraded (privatized) education policies…

    We should be attacking the rules by which our elections empower the corrupt Two Party “fair and open” election system–the Truth is that there’s a Two Party MONOPOLY.

  2. iseeit says:

    Why is trump still alive?
    The military wing of the deep state and
    ‘White hats’ within the operating system of deception?
    Chaos is being unleashed. Methodically and brilliantly.
    Black swans encircle our sky.

  3. ICFubar says:

    What is this? According to some high profile alt right media Trump has been heaven sent, along with a ‘Q anon’, to restore the Republic and free the people from the ravenous grasp of a communist inspired plutocracy. This same alt right media, in a twist of logic aimed at justifying the huge increases in MIC budgeting, now sees Russia as an enemy in bed with the DNC- deep state/shadow government- surveillance state and therefore the Trump Pentagon dollar increases are for the good of the people and republic in a reverse of logic that begs calling it logic.

    Meanwhile within this administration and on Wall Street…..

  4. A Messenger says:

    Very simple math. If a nation needs “Trillions of Dollars” to fight a bunch of impoverished nomads ( but cannot take care of its own) that government needs an “Apocalyptic Disaster” to remove it from the face of the earth; because it is an eternal embarrassment and cannot be allowed to prosper.

    Besides, I am not appealing to the sheep of this earth because they have no ability. I am appealing to the Creator because it is HIS Earth and HIS people they are Murdering. So, unless, the GODS ( I include all possibilities) want to be Eternally ( we will never forget) responsible for the evil the US government has done they better do something! I have some suggestions … You know them well. And, to the world … Your Fault, because You made me pray this way.

    I charge GOD with “FULL Responsibility” because they are murdering the POOR, only because they cannot MURDER HIM. ” and, what so ever you do to the least of them (the poor) you`ve done to me.” -Jesus.

    So … GOD …. Get Your WAR face on because the US government is murdering your people in mass.There are many witnesses and we will not be silent, Nor will we Forget.

  5. Marko says:

    Trump is just fulfilling his campaign promises. When he spoke of re-elevating the “forgotten man” , he was referring to your typical , run-of-the-mill defense industry shareholder.

  6. David S says:

    Meet the new boss….WORSE than the old boss.

  7. says:

    Whooo hooo, taking over the world. Sorry, didn’t they tell you that you were funding the invasion of the world? For democracy and whatnot. Your taxes at work killing kids in third world countries with soldiers forced into the military by our shit economy.

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