Trump just called for peace and unity in his first address to joint congress. Fox News anchor Hannity is saying, "what an impressive speech! How could any disagree?"...So I drafted most of this in 20 minutes right then. Within 8 hours of Trump's speech, my comment received more attention on Facebook than any I have ever written before. So I share it here. But I have to start with the answer to all criticisms so far: I am an Oxford scholar, American citizen, and neither liberal nor a democrat.
- First off, which should be well known by everyone by now, but isn't: no other military power has ever successfully occupied Afghanistan, in all known history. Five times in the last two centuries alone, Afghans have repeatedly wiped out armies that were meant to be be far superior in size, armament, and force, mostly via vicious attrition. Severe epidemics of opium and heroine addiction then break out in the aggressor's homeland a decade later, as is happening in the USA right now. But for some reason the heroine is rarely associated with the attempted invasion, despite opium being Afghanistan's main cash crop. It is the worst arrogance to think the USA could ever do any better than prior invaders there, which have included far more war-savvy troops than this nation could possibly muster now.
- Then, after invading Iraq for unwarranted causes, we bombed the entire country's dams and power plants so far into the stone age that Iraq is STILL struggling with cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, and recently, polio too. UNICEF reports than one in three infants conceived last year will still die or suffer permanent deformity due to malnutrition, for which the USA has still not made any significant reparation (for a summary, see its report The Situation of Children and Women in Iraq.")
- Third, in perhaps the greatest irony of the century so far, the USA is now allied with Al'Qaeda in Syria (see "Al Qaeda Turns to Syria, With a Plan to Challenge ISIS").
These basic facts simply illustrate the absurdity of most conceptions by Americans on the need for military action (for more on that, please see also "Absurd Justifications for War: the Hitler Defense" on this site).
Here I will now spell out the dimensions of the absurdity in statistics, which are, for better or worse, the preferred method of proof of fact in the USA now. Then I conclude with some other novel and infrequently aired absurdities now passing for 'irrefutable fact' from Mr. Trump.
So, now, the President calls for peace and unity in a long speech, just after shifting 10% of discretionary budget from state peace programs and national needs to his military budget (a budget already triple that of any other country and seven times more than Russia's).
To answer Mr. Hannity, this does not make Mr Trump seem irrefutable and Presidential. He sounds like a buffoon being manipulated by a 1950s-era industrial military complex that should only be dismantled. We've had 60 years to learn more money for the military only makes things worse. Every time the DoD gets a big handout, a long pointless war is started a few years later, and then lost much longer after that. Killers of any kind will use any possible excuse to play with new deadly toys, and only state diplomacy backed by aid to those in urgent need really makes international peace. The way to stop war is to remove the causes of aggression. THE primary tool for that is to provide aid, so that communities can rebuild after strife or mayhem, instead of making yet more refugee problems. Increased weaponry does exactly the opposite, but Mr. Trump is gutting international aid programs to pay for his military buildup.
In fact, including VA and national-security costs, the military now sucks two out of every three federal tax dollars out of the discretionary budget, which rather accounts for failing infrastructure, failing culture, one of the lowest achieving school systems in the developed world, divisionism, lack of domestic growth, and extreme hostility from other nations towards us, all by itself. Some may try to claim that military spending boosts growth, but that is a rather narrow-sighted view, as the unavoidable consequence of military action is destruction. Investment in the military without a greater investment in state diplomacy either creates no benefit at all, or simply stockpiles weapons that are never used by manpower that also does nothing at all.
But Mr. Trump wants to move $54 billion from civic to military spending, and increase VA benefits, saying soldiers are are 'the greatest people in the USA.' For good reason. With a total expenditure of $700 billion/year and 100,000 actively deployed troops, that works out to spending $7 million a year per active soldier, or, 17.5 times more than the annual Presidential salary for each pair of boots. So it's not surprising the military are so great. If the government spent $7 million on you this year, I hope you'd be really fantastic too.
Now here is a thought experiment. Imagine what would happen if we just handed each soldier $7 million in cash and told them to hand out the cash to anyone in need. No one would ever attack us again. We would have no need for defense. The USA would never need to attack another country again. EVERYONE would be begging us for benevolence on a bended knee. I'm not saying we should do that. It's just a thought experiment.
Let's put $700 billion in a world perspective. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day (see "Poverty Facts and Stats, 2013"). If we just handed our active military cash instead of weapons, one squad of a dozen American soldiers could fund everyone in Iraq a fully-paid week vacation.
Now let's put aside the thought experiment and consider what $54 billion could do in international diplomacy. $39 billion alone would pay for every single child in the world to have a high-school education (see "Malala Yousafzai Calls on World Leaders to Invest in Books, Not Bullets," ABC News, July 7 2015).
$39 billion is enough to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet. How does transferring $54 billion from civic to U.S. military spending make more peace than that?
Is it even possible to imagine how much good will that would generate? Every parent in the world would admire the United States. No one would ever attack us again, at a fraction of the cost of the entire military defense complex. Given the alternatives, why is it sensible to spend so much money on creating enemies when a fraction of it could satisfy the entire plant as an ally?
Thus it is impossible to claim 'national defense' is the sole reason for this $700 billion expenditure. Perhaps that is SO obvious that most Americans just can't recognize it, like a forest for the trees. Perhaps in the marble-pillared halls of congress, where trillions are discussed like butterflies, it just does not seem that transparently inane.
But it is very obvious to an innocent local villager living on $2.50/day, without running water because we bombed their dams, when an American tank battalion rolls by. Last year Mr. Trump said we need to 'put immigration on hold while we understand Islam.' This can only start with understanding how THEY see US. At $7 million per active soldier, we have a very bad case of the Emperor's invisible clothes. We can't see how naked our own upside-down values appear to people living in the countries that we blithely turn into rubble because their ruler is bad. But our values are quite obviously bared to them.
That is only the most obvious example of hypocrisy, and that is just the first of enough criticisms to fill a book. Most ironic is the call for cheaper medical drugs which could only be achieved by price regulation or removal of barriers to import cheaper drugs from other countries. The GOP already tried increasing competition to reduce prescription drug prices during the last Bush administration, and it made no difference at all. It just created a race to the bottom and a myriad of perplexing, continuously modified prescription drug programs, with massive price differences for the same drugs in each program. In one, drug A would be expensive and drug B cheap. In another, it would be the other way around. The actual conditions fluctuated unpredictably, there being no regulation to prevent it. That made the so-called 'coverage' entirely, completely, and totally useless to a person who cannot predict exactly what ailments they would contract.
Given which, most people would rather gamble the money in Las Vegas and have fun at the same time while risking death, rather than pay for prescription drug programs which might cost an arm and a leg for the drugs they actually need. That is already proven, and it not a condemnation of Bush for trying it. It was a good idea. He tried it. It didn't work. That was the lesson learned.
Why Trump claims exactly the same competition will now work for the entire health system is beyond rational comprehension.
We're going back to the days when, if you asked those sick people on the one-armed bandits in Las Vegas why they sat there all day, they'd say it was their best hope of paying hospital bills. That's how it used to be.
As for the wall, if one is built at all, it should be on the far side of Mexico, as the net immigrant flow has been out OUT of the USA INTO Mexico for some time ("More Mexicans Leaving Than Coming to the U.S," Pew Research Center, 2016).
Between 2009 and 2014, 140,000 more people moved to Mexico from the USA than moved from Mexico to here. The wall is in the WRONG PLACE! It should be on the FAR SIDE of Mexico. That's where the problem is!
Moreover, the most problematic residents to the current administration are those who passed THROUGH Mexico from further South. As Mexico has pointed out, our administration's plan to dump such people in Mexico is against international law. Thus, both Mexico AND the USA actually need a wall on the other side. Then Mexico would not only help pay for 'the wall,' but also and would actually have a reason to help us with illegal resident crime in a truly collaborative manner. That is a sensible, non-emotive, considered option that would improve our economy, help Mexico too, and ensure we could move forward in a mutually beneficial way. Mr. Trump's demands just make him sound even more like a buffoon.
We have a President who wants to build a 2,000-mile wall. In the wrong place.
But now, it's way, way too late for saner diplomacy to prevail, and that is simply a short summary why the President sounds like a buffoon--at least to me. But I am only stating the rational and obvious from current fact and historical precedent, which appears not to be any one's concern any more.
In the rapidly declining sensibility of our once great nation, John Oliver's comedy show 'Last Week Tonight' is categorized on my amazing digital TV as 'news analysis,' thus expressing the level of techno-framed profanity, silly simile, and party-dichotomized, single-faceted opinionation that now substitutes for real thought in this once great nation. I'm not saying John Oliver is not funny; he can be very funny. But when I look on the TV listings, John Oliver's series shows up as 'news analysis.' That is a perfect indication of a very fundamental problem.
I would like to think that a joke itself, but most the comments I get which are meant to dispute me sound like one of John Oliver's silly jokes turned into the nastiest ad hominem personal assault which the person can write after reading the first sentence. So it's not really funny at all. This is why I had to mention my background and beliefs in the first paragraph. Previously, the most common response, by a factor of two to one against all others, was 'you're a fucking libtard moron.' Now that is only one in five responses--a massive improvement. That is how much our nation really has fallen.
Neither this nor anything else I say is a partisan attack. It is more stating that the beautiful American experiment of democracy has turned into nothing more than a self-glorifying and self-absorbed farce of partisan dissidence that can't even remember and learn from mistakes made two administrations ago — Unless the REAL objective is to make war, drugs, disease, and disunity great again. After all, we know Mr. Trump can say one thing, mean something totally different, and actually do something that is altogether totally different again. In that case, Mr. Trumps' buffoonery is definitely winning.