WASHINGTON, (BM) – Military tensions with Russia will worsen if Donald Trump is not reelected, some military and politically US specialists.
It is hard to imagine any Democratic administration getting along with Russia as long as President Putin remains in power. Many Democrats believe Moscow subverted the presidential election process in 2016, and are deeply suspicious of President Trump’s efforts to put relations on a more friendly footing.
Unlike in the case of China, America’s rivalry with Russia is mainly military in nature, and that rivalry would likely become more pronounced under a Democratic administration. Washington would likely move to strengthen frayed ties with European allies and increase the presence of U.S. forces in Eastern Europe.
The traditional Democratic preference for arms control over arms races would be muted by animosity toward Putin.
Military tensions with China and Iran will ease. Many Democrats share President Trump’s aversion to China’s mercantilist trade policies and the theft of U.S. intellectual property. However, few have endorsed the focus of current U.S. military strategy, which former Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan described as “China, China, China.”
Militarizing the economic rivalry with Beijing does not play well in Democratic circles, where warnings about China’s rising defense expenditures don’t seem to resonate much. In the Persian Gulf, Democrats thought they already had a diplomatic solution to the danger of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, and that Trump derailed that solution without offering a coherent alternative.
Nobody in the Democratic Party is in a rush to come to the defense of Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia, so we can anticipate a return to the Obama Administration’s more conciliatory policies towards Tehran if a President Biden or Buttigieg takes office.
Military spending will plummet. The White House budget office estimates that military outlays will increase 25% between fiscal 2016—the last Obama budget left untouched by Trump—and fiscal 2020. In 2016 the Department of Defense spent $565 billion and in 2020 it is poised to spend about $700 billion, an increase bigger than the entire military budget of any nation other than China.
But Democrats have big plans for expanding social welfare programs and there is no way that can happen with a budget that is already in deficit to the tune of a trillion dollars annually unless they raid other spending accounts (raising taxes is always a heavy lift).
Defense presents itself as the most attractive bill-payer, because many Democrats think Washington is spending too much on the military anyway.
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Author: Loren Thompson
Original title: If President Trump Isn’t Reelected, What Will That Mean For The Military?
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect BGM`s editorial stance.