It is nice to finally have a US President who is not a career politician. There is some truth to the Republican/Libertarian trope that lifelong politicians who know nothing but politics are perhaps not the best people to be making decisions on the military, medicine or education as they don’t know about life beyond getting reelected and “working” with lobbyists. Trump’s business background has lead him to making a major policy change that the Mainstream Media has surprisingly ignored that could actually be very good for America’s future.
If we remember back to Trump’s presidential campaign, he rather brazenly promised that he would build The Wall and make the Mexicans somehow “pay for it”. Trump later claimed that through renegotiating trade deals (NAFTA) he ultimately fulfilled his promise, although some would debate this. The interesting thing about this moment in Trump history is that he demonstrated a very different, business oriented, way of thinking that wouldn’t have come from other Republicans/Democrats in Washington.
Candidate Trump was also very vocal on NATO spending and the spending of taxpayer money on the US’s many wars of luxury. President Trump hasn’t ended the Military Industrial Complex but he has been forcing NATO members to pay their dues, which are in the realm of tens of billions of dollars.
This is a much more “realist” perception of NATO by Trump. Officially the organization is a group of allies for self-defense but as we know factually it works like means for the US colonization of Europe. The US military does almost all the work, they project their bases onto the Europeans (never the other way around) and with the recent exception of Turkey all NATO members essentially bow down to any demands made by Washington, however in the past this has come at a price. Empire isn’t cheap and we all know who ultimately paid for the Marshall Plan and the rebuilding of Japan after WWII – US taxpayers. The US has financed the farce of NATO, but Trump wants to change this.
Now breaking with over half a century of a particular tradition Trump is allowing 3000 US troops to go to Saudi Arabia on the Saudi’s dime. Now Trump is offering to provide NATO defense to vassals and “make them pay for it”. This profit-driven policy is a radical departure from the status quo and to be honest is a much wiser wiser way of doing things in the long term with one huge exception depending on your view.
If US forces are to be used under the influence of “market demands” that could really put a dent into the seemingly endless national debt. The US has by far the biggest most expensive military in the world and Washington’s vassals at this point have no other choice but to pay the master for protection, making maintaining US military dominance much cheaper. The only disadvantage (depending on your view) is that if Trump pushes for profitability as a key factor in military decisions/policy then we will never be able have another Vietnam.
There is no way the South Vietnamese could have afforded to pay for US security. Their resources would have run out in a matter of weeks or days. If Trump wants the US to act on a “no money no honey” policy then it makes intervention in a Vietnam-like scenario ultimately impossible. This is good for those of us who want a powerful but respectable America, but for the warhawks this is a nightmare. Financial viability as a key concern in military decisions could spell doom for the parties of war, at least while Trump or a like minded individual is in power.
The Russians have also made a major shift in defense policy. The Soviet Union with less money and a distinct lack of the world’s reserve currency played by similar rules during the Cold War – we will throw money, men and resources at any conflict we see fit in order to ultimately win. But today’s Russia is different and when they entered Syria they made it clear to Assad that they are there to “help” and that Assad’s army is going to have to fight its own battles on its own manpower and resources.
If Russia were to enter a long term expensive military conflict it could possibly sink the entire economy or eliminate for generations Moscow’s debt free status. Sending officially invited advisors and selling top-notch equipment – has no negative long term effects. Trump isn’t the only one who sees the value into playing geopolitics on a strict budget.
This decision by Trump to send troops to defend Saudi Arabia at cost or even for profit could have a much grander resonance than it would seem at first. And hopefully, finally, the burden of Empire can be moved from the shoulders of US taxpayers so that they can enjoy the fruits of that which they have financed for decades.