2 Mars 2017
March 2, 2017
EDITORIAL: Trump’s call to boost military spending could spark arms race
U.S. President Donald Trump again wasted a great opportunity to lay out a clear vision of the role the United States will play in the world under his leadership.
In his first address to Congress on Feb. 28, Trump offered no definitive answers to such vital questions as how America will relate to the rest of the world and how it will work to secure a stable international order under his presidency.
In the speech, Trump stressed his “achievements” during his first 40 days in office and announced big-ticket policy promises, including a 1-trillion-dollar (114 trillion yen) investment in infrastructure and massive tax cuts.
With his presidency hobbled by political confusion from a series of missteps including the resignation of a newly appointed national security adviser and his own controversial remarks, he apparently tried to boost his standing with the public by emphasizing his policy agenda to create jobs and stoke economic growth.
But Trump didn’t give specific answers to such key questions as how to finance huge infrastructure investment while cutting taxes and his blueprints for the future of health-care insurance and social security programs.
The president stuck to the core elements of his policy narrative. He laid particular stress on his commitment to revitalizing the U.S. economy and improving security at home while turning his back on multilateral free trade deals and calling on America’s allies to shoulder more of the burden of their defense.
It is a shame that Trump's first Congressional policy speech was little more than a sales pitch for his “America First” agenda.
What is particularly baffling to the international community is his pledge to seek a historic increase in defense spending.
On the previous day, Trump proposed to boost military spending by about 10 percent. By calling for a large hike in the defense budget, he has made it clear that he will shift U.S. security policy from former President Barack Obama’s strategy, which was focused on international cooperation, toward a “peace by force” approach reminiscent of President Ronald Reagan's era in the 1980s.
U.S. defense spending still accounts for more than a third of the total military expenditures of the world.
Why does this military superpower need to ramp up further its already enormous outlays on arms? How can Trump's call for higher defense spending be consistent with his refusal to commit the United States to playing the role of the “policeman of the world” or his demand that Washington’s allies should bear their fair share of the security burden? He didn’t answer these questions.
Long gone is the Cold War era, when the world was divided into two camps with superpowers locked in a confrontation. The global security landscape has changed radically since those days as terrorism has emerged as the primary threat.
Trump should learn that international cooperation is even more important than military power for responding effectively to security threats transcending national borders.
His call for a sharp increase in military spending may reflect his desire to stoke job growth by supporting the defense industry.
But this strategy could accelerate a global arms race involving China, Russia and Middle Eastern countries.
Trump should reconsider his America First agenda if it means thinking only about his country.
Also worrisome is his reported plan to fund the increase in defense expenditures by slashing the budgets for such policy areas as diplomacy and aid to developing countries.
Financial aid to developing countries has made significant contributions to international efforts to eliminate the root causes of conflict, such as economic disparities and corruption.
Washington’s failure to broker an effective peace deal in Syria, which has become tangled in civil war, has underscored the fact that what the United States lacks is not military power but the diplomatic power for grueling negotiations.
In the United States, Congress has the power to formulate budgets and enact laws.
We are eager to see Congress engaged in tough-minded debate on what kind of policy the United States should pursue to ensure stability and prosperity for both itself and the world without seeking a quick fix based on the peace by force formula.