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Friday, January 6, 2017
The Case for a Big Defense Buildup
The left always ignores national defense, and so it should be no surprise to learn that in many ways, Obama has left America's armed forces in worse shape than at any time since the Great Depression. The situation today is similar in some ways to America when Ronald Reagan became president.
Our nation faces myriad threats abroad and is not respected by many of the bad actors who may harm us. The men and women who protect us feel forgotten and neglected. Our economy is in the doldrums, with millions of Americans now feeling hopeless about their economic future.
President Trump can solve several problems with one policy: dramatically increase defense expenditures. Make sure our weapon systems are by far the best in the world, and give us the power to clearly control the sea and air when we need to. Deploy the most advanced missile defense systems we can for America and our allies. Provide adequate compensation to keep men in the service and the training to make sure they are the best in the world.
This would ensure that we win any war we need to wage and allow us to intervene against North Korea and Iran, if those nations acquire nuclear weapons with delivery systems to harm us. We would be able to dictate militarily the outcome of conflicts in regions we consider vital to our national security. An overpowering American military prevents wars by letting any nation that thinks about going to war with us know that it will lose.
This would help incoming President Trump also to do what another brash New Yorker who occupied the White House one century ago was able to do effectively: "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Teddy Roosevelt built up the American Navy so that it would be clear to every power that we had the military muscle to defend our interests around the world and also, just as important, the political will to spend what is necessary for that guarantee on national defense.
It worked, and Teddy Roosevelt was able to win the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War. America was at peace under Teddy Roosevelt and had good relations with rest of the world, and he was respected as well. He did not pursue the dreamy world government nonsense of Woodrow Wilson, but rather rested his foreign policy on respect for America, friendly relations with every nation that would have friendly relations with us, his own indomitable will, and a first-class fleet that could, and did, sail around the world to show without threatening just how powerful we were.
This would give President Trump just what he needs to have friendly meetings with the leaders of Russia and China. He could negotiate tough but fair deals with them on trade and other issues without descending into the sort of childish scolding that is the preferred response of limp-wristed leftism. Let the military leaders of other nations tell their political bosses that their nations would decisively lose a hot war with America, and let President Trump be a congenial, reasonable, serious, tough negotiator on trade and related issues.
A big defense buildup would jump-start the economy and particularly help those areas that are key to long-term prosperity: high-tech industrial production jobs, advanced science and technology work, and the disciplined environment of the military, where young men will have the chance to gain sophisticated job skills.
FDR's Great Depression, which lasted about as long as the Obama Depression has lasted, did not end with FDR's New Deal programs. Rather, it ended when America began a massive military buildup during the early days of the Second World War. This spending led directly to the Eisenhower Boom, during which America still spent an incredible ten percent of our GDP on national defense, vastly higher than what we spend today.
A big defense buildup would also shift the allocation of federal money away from those dreary cadres administering failed social welfare programs and mismanaging goofy green energy projects, whose operators are all committed leftists, and shift that money toward Americans who are much more likely to be hardworking patriots in uniform, in defense factories, and in technology companies.
President Trump has every reason to push a big defense buildup. Both his rhetoric and his appointments suggest that he may do just that.