Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Strident President Donald Trump

This past month I have been regularly watching the CNN news channel. I love the Trump-bashing that goes on in there, in true democratic spirit – reinforcing beyond doubt that USA is indeed the land of the free.

Until now I believed that President Donald Trump was a lot smarter person, in spite of his outlandish campaign rhetoric that he has been dishing out. As I wrote in my earlier post on him, I truly believed that once he became President, he would surprise us all by NOT fulfilling most of his campaign pledges.

It now appears that I may be completely wrong.

This morning when I put on the TV, I did so at the precise moment when President Donald Trump declared:

“We have to start winning wars again"

He is going to declare wars and he is going to win them! --- and to enable him to do that, he is proposing a defense budget of US$603 billion. This sum is more than the sum total spent by the rest of the world’s top 7 countries with the biggest defense budgets:

China                  215.0
Saudi Arabia         87.2
Russia                   66.4
UK                        55.5
India                      51.3
France                   50.9
Japan                     40.9

TOTAL :     US$ 567.0 billion 


The lunacy does not stop there: since he had promised big tax cuts during the campaign, there is no way be is going to be able to wage wars and win them, through increased tax collection. So he proposes what he thinks is the next best thing – he proposes to finance his war mongering through budget cuts in such meaningful areas as foreign aid, healthcare and EPA.

Thirty-five years back (1981) President elect Ronald Reagan, another Republican, was the oldest President of America – at 69 years of age. Donald Trump at 70 now qualifies as the oldest elected US President.

President Reagan too was a great believer in military might. He spent hundreds of billions of dollars to build up American military might, so much so that at one point he told the Pentagon, “Defense is not a budget item. You spend what you need”.

President Reagan was so hell bent on military supremacy that in 1983, he announced the futuristic Strategic Defense Initiative – a hugely expensive Star Wars like missile defense system. There was one good outcome from all that posturing – it forced the USSR to embark on its own military build up, which many believe, ultimately contributed to its bankruptcy and the fall of Communism.

And yet, for all that, during his entire Presidency, Ronald Reason waged only one miserably absurd war – that of the invasion of Grenada, in October of 1983. However, the invasion of the tiny island defended by less than 1,000 militia did not bring any long term, or even short term, honor for the President or the world’s most powerful military power. In fact, in due course, the United Nations General Assembly voted 108:9 – to condemn the invasion as an unwarranted act of international aggression.

President Reagan was a staunch protagonist of  “Peace through strength”. He believed that he could maintain world peace through sheer military might. He was my hero because I believe in that. By contrast, President Trump wants to “Make America Great Again” by waging wars and winning them. I do not believe in that and thus I am not his fan.

The great economic powerhouse that is America gives out less than 1% of its budget in aiding needy foreign nations. Of that, in 2014, US$5.9 billion was spent in financing the purchase of weapons of war.

Instead of curtailing foreign aid and reduce funding for EPA’s programs, America will do well to increase them. I am told that President Trump is stridently against environmental protection because he believes that the claim that the environment is in a depleted state is whole lot of hogwash. But he would do well to listen to others and open his eyes and mind to the state of the environment. He cannot be oblivious to the weather related disasters that the great America has witnessed in recent times.

I think that for America and President Donald Trump, it would be cheaper to win hearts rather than wars. Along the way they will garner respect, esteem and goodwill.

America is a nation of immigrants – its greatness can be attributed to the contributions made by the immigrants – right from its formative years to the present. As on last count, the DHS’ Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) estimated that there were close to 12 million unauthorized immigrants living in America. One has to wonder why the US government did not act, even while the DHS was obviously keeping tract of all the unauthorized aliens. Donald Trump has to consider why the earlier administrations turned a blind eye to the issue, even while they were fully aware. To go blistering against them, as if it were a recent and sudden phenomena, is to invite problems and complications that he cannot even comprehend.

The way to making “America Great Once Again” cannot be through alienation of friends and supporters and partners and neighbors. America cannot survive in isolation - no one can.

"America First" is a gallant aspiration that deserves support, but the manner in which President Trump hopes to accomplish it for America is untenable - he cannot hope to achieve it by trampling on the aspirations of others. If President Trump believes that building the Mexican wall will advance his aspirations for achieving "America First", do it by all means but do not require Mexico to pay for its construction. You want it, you foot the bill.

President Donald Trump has to remember that even the lowly rat catcher is an integral and legitimate member of the human society.

President Donald Trump has to look to history – not a very ancient one at that – and draw lessons from it. For all its military might, for all its pile of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles, atomic and hydrogen bombs, and with a combined military personnel of 1,385,116 – all that it took was one dedicated and determined lunatic to bring the mighty America to its knees and alter the very course of its history forever. 9/11 is proof that US$603 billion military spending is no guarantee that a foolproof defense system can be built.

If wars are to be fought and won, I think they have to be won in the minds of men, and not on battlefields. Subjugating nations and peoples through military aggression is too primeval.

How America behaves impacts us all. I urge President Donald Trump to have consideration for those of us who do not have the wherewithal to wage, or win, wars.

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