2019 US military budget marks another escalation in foreign intervention
Tuesday 3rd July 2018 | David
Last month, the United States Senate approved a 2019 military budget of $716 billion, marking an $82 billion increase on the 2017 total. When you adjust for inflation, this puts the nation’s military spending at its highest since the peak of the Iraq War.
Needless to say, Trump has followed through on his campaign promise to ‘rebuild the military’, despite the absurdity of this goal (in 2016, the US was already spending more on its military than the next eight countries combined), while he continues to contradict the anti-interventionist rhetoric he was spouting for the other half of his campaign trail.
Coming two months after an air strike on Syria that many argued was a violation of international law – and almost 17 years into a seemingly unending war in Afghanistan – this latest development may remind you of a heavily circulated piece of advice from political thinker Noam Chomsky: “Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it.”
It’s a quote that’s frequently dismissed as naïve by the right. Yet back when Trump was on the 2016 campaign trail, even the future president was making the argument that the removal of Saddam Hussein from power was an important factor in the rise of ISIS.
But let’s not forget that just like the war with Iraq (another intervention that was widely regarded as illegal), this popular Chomsky quote is now well over a decade old. While it would it would be convenient to frame America’s objectionable foreign policy as a Trump-based problem, the current president is actually staying pretty faithful to the legacy of Bush and Obama, the latter of whom was the first president in US history to spend two full terms at war. Under Obama’s leadership, the US dropped over 26,000 bombs on seven different countries in 2016 alone, paving the way for the Trump administration to surpass that figure by a few thousand bombs just one year later.
It’s worth noting that this escalation in the military budget is not the will of the American people – who overwhelmingly support less military spending according to a GovSpend survey conducted earlier this year – but it’s certainly the will of Washington.
With the 2019 budget earning its approval with an 85-to-10 Senate vote, it's both evident and unsurprising that many of the same Republicans who regularly show concern over the $21 trillion national debt take no issue with government spending when it comes to giving the military a further boost. What’s more frustrating, however, is that so many of the same Democrats who make a song and dance out of representing ‘the resistance’ apparently see no problem with improving the military might of a president they’ve rightly decried as unstable and thin-skinned.
Meanwhile, almost 80% of Americans are currently living paycheque to paycheque, the country’s infrastructure has a grade of D+, and free healthcare is still dismissed as a pipe dream by some of the most powerful people in the country. That the US Senate decided under these circumstances that there was no better way to spend $716 billion of federal money than on perpetuating endless wars overseas is a sad reflection of the gulf between the needs of the people and interests of the government.