Does the United States believe the threat of war exists outside the Korean Peninsula? U.S. President Donald Trump will reportedly ask Congress to approve a massive $716 Billion budget for defense spending in 2019.
The budget is a significant seven percent increase from the 2018 budget and comes at a time when the government is dealing with rising deficits.
U.S. officials say the $716 Billion would include the Pentagon’s annual budget and includes provisions for spending in on-going wars as well as maintenance costs for the United States’ nuclear arsenal.
In December 2016, Trump made his opinions on re-starting the nuclear arms race when he tweeted:
“The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capacity until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes.”
Trump has expressed concern that the United States’ capabilities to defend itself in the event of a nuclear war have regressed while China and North Korea have continued to work on their nuclear arsenal program. Trump said he wanted the United States’ nuclear arsenal to be “top of the pack”.
Mark Cancian, Defense Analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said that the increase in the budget is a sign the U.S. means business when it comes to national defense:
“It’s a big jump in defense and means that the Trump administration is putting resources against an extremely aggressive defense strategy.”
U.S. officials said the request of President Trump is in line with the report that was disclosed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and documented under the National Defense Strategy.
In his report, Mattis cited competition with China and Russia was the biggest threat to U.S. national security not Muslim extremist terrorism.
With China aggressively expanding its economic programs, particularly President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt One Road” initiative, across the continents of Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Pacific and Russia’s growing perception as the most stable economy in Western Europe, competition may refer to geo-political and economic influence.
When the United States scaled back on its trade agreements with Asia, China stepped in and offered countries to join its economic vision for “One Belt One Road”
Russia for its part has benefited from the rising wave of nationalism which has shaken the foundations of countries that were once strongholds of globalism.
Mattis did share President Trump’s view that the U.S. defense program needed to be prioritised:
“As hard as the last 16 years have been, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of the U.S. military than the combined impact of the Budget Control Act, defense spending cuts and operating in nine of the last 10 years under continuing resolutions.”
The National Defense Strategy did not provide information on how its programs on countering China and Russia would be conducted.
However U.S. officials claim the 2019 budget will be used to modernize the military’s ageing weapons system to prepare for conflict with major world powers.