George B. Reed Jr.

George B. Reed Jr.

In his latest budget harangue President Trump insisted on increased military spending to "catch us up with our adversaries," insinuating we are falling behind China and Russia militarily. As in his other rants and misinformation binges, where is he getting this stuff? Talk about fake news? Wow!

According to the rankings of major world powers by total military expenditures, U.S. spending is higher than the next eight nations combined and almost three times that of our nearest rival, China. And we spend nine times more than Putin’s Russia, the one that’s making all the noise. The U.S. Navy boasts ten modern nuclear-powered aircraft carriers while no other nation has more than two, and all of them of a lesser technology. Trump is not just mistaken about our military underspending, he’s flat-out lying. He knows it and his supporter know it. But they just can’t accept or admit the fact that they made a mistake in electing him.

Aren’t there other studies showing different numbers? Yes; but they, like the one by the International Institute for Strategic Studies based on the Stockholm International Peace Research Fact Sheet, show the U.S. to be even further ahead in military spending than the figures I quoted. And we must remember, the Russians are making a lot of noise deploying troops just across their own borders while we are fighting an ill-considered war halfway around the globe. Other than in total land area, we dwarf Russia in every conceivable category other than sheer audacity. And Putin, Trump and the U.S. military intelligence organizations all know that too. Russia poses little more real military threat to us than Paraguay or the Czech Republic.

In his 1961 farewell address President Eisenhower warned of the potential perils from a powerful military-industrial complex. And I’m sure Ike is turning in his grave today over what’s going on in our nation’s capital between the defense contractors and the high-ranking military staff officers responsible for purchasing, not to mention a compliant Congress. It is distinctly interesting that many of these high-ranking staff officers involved in purchasing fall into cushy executive positions in the defense industry upon retirement. And this didn’t start with Trump; it has been going on since World War II and the first emergence of a permanent defense industry. Today the military-industrial complex has become the military-industrial-congressional complex.

As I have written recently, the Republicans are far guiltier of running up budget deficits and federal debt than the Democrats. Republicans will spend as much as Democrats, even more where defense spending is concerned. But they balk at raising the necessary taxes to pay for it. Ronald Reagan, the modern conservatives’ hero, ran up more debt than any president since World War II. To his everlasting credit he hastened the inevitable breakup of the Soviet Union by increasing defense spending and forcing them to follow suit when they could ill afford it. But I’ll ask again, which is worse for the economy, tax-and-spend Democrats or borrow-and-spend Republicans? Either way, we must ultimately pay the piper.

George B. Reed Jr., who lives in Rossville, can be reached by email at