Why has the U.S. military budget for 2018, just signed by President Trump, amounted to $700 billion? After all, initially, Trump planned to increase military spending by only $50 billion, but ultimately, this increase was $94 billion compared to last year. That’s almost twice as much.
Why was an increase of $50 billion not enough? One possible reason is that during the 2016 campaign, Trump relied on the level of Russia’s military budget for 2016 – about $50 billion. That is, the initial plan could produce a simple increase in U.S. military expenditures that covers the entire military budget of Russia. But in 2017, Russia’s military spending amounted to about $70 billion. And the U.S. Congress decided that it was time for a spectacular budget démarche.
As a result, for the first time in history, the ratio of the military budgets of Russia and the United States became 1:10.
The round figure 10 looks deliberately chosen precisely to ensure that everyone who still doubts something has finally understood that the train has left the station. Of course, stubborn anti-Trumpers will argue that Trump has criminally (and how else?) conspired with Putin that when Russia increases its military spending, Trump will have every reason to increase U.S. military spending to a nice-looking and comfortable tenfold superiority.
Let me remind you that at the time of Ronald Reagan’s accession to the post of U.S. president, the military budget of the USSR (according to indirect estimates, about $300-310 billion) was superior to the U.S. military budget ($200 billion). By the beginning of Reagan’s second term, the ratio became 1:1, and by the end of Reagan’s second term, the USSR’s military budget had collapsed. Since then, the USSR (now the Russian) military budget has been falling steadily compared to the U.S. military budget.
The tenfold advantage of the military budget, of course, does not guarantee tenfold superiority on the battlefield. I do not like to repeat the truisms, but there is no reliable method to assess the strength of the enemy except for the actual combat. Officially, the Americans fought the Russians a long time ago – in the Korean War. But on the night of February 7, 2018, a unit of Russian mercenaries (more than 500), reinforced with tanks, artillery, and armored personnel carriers, was almost destroyed in a short four-hour battle with American Rangers in Syria.
A small detachment of American Rangers guarded an oil company, which the Russians planned to capture. As is customary, the Rangers hung American flags around the perimeter of the facility. So it’s not entirely clear what the Russians were counting on. All of their artillery was destroyed in the first 30 minutes of the battle with the help of combat drones, then the artillery and the AC-130 “flying tanks.” As a result, only one tank remained unscathed from all Russian equipment. The infantry that survived the artillery raid was finished off by helicopters. Resistance from the Russians did not materialize. Their losses amount to hundreds, and Americans didn’t even have a single soldier wounded.
This battle was made possible by the fact that President Trump canceled the Obama rules of engagement with the enemy. Now the decision on the use of weapons is made by the unit commander on the spot (as it always was throughout military history), and not a military lawyer in a cozy office in the Pentagon.
Two days after these events, American weapons again confronted the Russians on the battlefield. Iran launched a military drone into Israel. It looked as if this drone had been copied from the U.S. reconnaissance drone downed by Iran in 2011. The drone was immediately detected and shot down 90 seconds after penetration into Israel’s airspace. Three hours later, Israeli aircraft bombed the control post of this drone and several of the newest Russian air defense batteries in Syria. Russian missiles damaged only one Israeli plane, but the pilots held on to the territory of Israel, and there they ejected.
In retaliation for a lost aircraft, Israel unleashed the most devastating missile and bomb strike on Iranian and Syrian positions over the past decade. Armed with Russian weapons, Iranians and Syrians could not offer any opposition.
This battle was also possible because, under President Trump, Israel no longer required Washington’s consent for carrying out measures to defend its country.
The events of the past few days are significant. They show the world that the Trump administration not only increased the military budget to a level of dizzying superiority (the U.S. military budget is now higher than the military budget of the subsequent 15 countries combined) but also untied the hands of the U.S. military and its allies in a confrontation with the Axis countries, Russia-Syria-Iran-North Korea.
There is a silver lining even for the Russians in this matter. For example, they will not have to pay for U.S. military spending. Payments are happily made by American citizens themselves. Why? Because pragmatic Americans know that peace is costing the taxpayers much less than war.
For most of the world’s inhabitants, the Second World War ended in 1945, but for American taxpayers, it lasted until 1975, when the federal government paid the last installment for the last 30-year military loan. America did not have money for WWII. The U.S. had to borrow money from its citizens and abroad and then repay this debt with interest.
By 1975, the bitterness of military losses was already in the past, and in all the countries participating in WWII, there was a new life, a new generation, and new worries. However, America continued to pay for its military expenditures, and for the military spending of its allies, Great Britain and the USSR, and for the restoration of Europe, and for the recovery of Southeast Asia and Japan.
We do not want to repeat this. Consequently, we have a military spending ratio of 1:10.
[Originally published in American Thinker]