In its latest budget request, the Trump administration is asking for a near-record $750 billion for the Pentagon and related defense activities, an astonishing figure by any measure. If passed by Congress, it will, in fact, be one of the largest military budgets in American history, topping peak levels reached during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. And keep one thing in mind: that $750 billion represents only part of the actual annual cost of our national security state.
Eight members of Congress have taken a pledge to work to bring ongoing U.S. global military conflicts to a “responsible and expedient” end, the result of a first-of-its kind lobbying effort by military veterans on Capitol Hill. The pledge was written and organized by a group called Common Defense, made up of veterans and military families, which advocates for scaling back U.S. military commitments overseas.
Even as President Donald Trump faces ever-intensifying investigations into the alleged connections between his top aides and family members and powerful Russian figures, he serves as commander in chief over a U.S. military that is killing an astonishing and growing number of civilians. Under Trump, the U.S. is re-escalating its war in Afghanistan, expanding its operations in Iraq and Syria, conducting covert raids in Somalia and Yemen, and openly facilitating the Saudi’s genocidal military destruction of Yemen.
When President Trump’s top foreign policy advisers gathered recently at the White House to discuss plans to revamp the administration’s Afghanistan strategy, the makeup of those in the room was indicative of a significant turn in U.S. foreign policy. Seated front and center at the Situation Room table were four current or retired generals who dominate just about every big national security decision Trump makes.
The Trump administration has ceased disclosing to the public when U.S. troops are deployed on the ground in Iraq and Syria, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Obama administration made a practice of announcing all conventional force deployments, letting the public know when it was sending U.S. service members into harm's way. But Trump, who campaigned on promises to rely on "the element of surprise" in warfare, has in his two months in office already dispatched hundreds of Marines and paratroopers to active war zones in the Middle East without informing the public or Congress.
As a candidate, President Donald Trump was deeply misleading about the sorts of military operations that he would support. He claimed to have opposed the 2003 Iraq War when he actually backed it, and to have opposed the 2011 Libya intervention when he actually strongly endorsed it, including with U.S. ground troops. Yet, Trump and his loyalists consistently implied that he would be less supportive of costly and bloody foreign wars, especially when compared to President Obama, and by extension, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The US has sent 400 additional troops to Syria to support an allied local force aiming to capture the so-called Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. They include Marines, who arrived in the past few days to set up an outpost from which they will be able to fire artillery at IS positions in the city. Several hundred US special forces soldiers are already deployed, advising Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.