Trump’s latest speech is getting noticed for his use of more conventional hawkish rhetoric:
Donald Trump, in a sharp nod to the conservative foreign policy establishment, called Wednesday for a robust expansion of U.S. military capabilities and an end to budget sequestration on defense spending — which he called essential to national security in an effort to draw contrasts with President Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s support for increased military spending is not really new, but his specific proposals for new spending do show that he is now fully on board with the usual Republican hawkish fixations. He says he wants to expand the Army, Navy, and Marines, fritter away money on missile defense boondoggles, and scrap sequestration. Trump claimed that this new spending could be paid for by eliminating waste, which is as tiresome as it is stupid. While there is undoubtedly waste in the Pentagon’s budget, it isn’t going to be enough to fund the exorbitant proposals Trump has made. Since he doesn’t give us a credible explanation, we have to assume that his increased military spending would be funded by borrowing as it has been in previous decades. Besides being fiscally irresponsible, expanding an already bloated military budget is unnecessary excess at a time when the U.S. faces no major threats that justify an expensive build-up.
Trump’s speech could easily have been given by Romney four years ago, and some of the specific proposals aren’t significantly different from what Romney wanted to do. For that matter, it could have been given by any of his most hawkish rivals for the nomination. Thomas Donnelly praises Trump’s speech at The Weekly Standard:
To review the defense proposals first: Without specifying a topline number for the defense budget, Trump presented the argument for a major reinvestment in military capacity and capability well. He promised to build an active-duty Army of 540,000 soldiers from its current (and sinking) level of 480,000, and expand the Marine Corps from 23 to 36 battalions, the Navy from 276 to 350 ships, and the Air Force from 1,100 to 1,200 tactical aircraft, all recommendations that broadly track the report of the bipartisan defense panel. Trump’s text also included a heavy emphasis on ballistic missile defense. In sum, it was not unlike the kind of defense speech given by Jeb Bush or even Marco Rubio earlier this year [bold mine-DL].
While Trump claimed that his foreign policy “will emphasize diplomacy, not destruction,” it is difficult to take that seriously when he has shown such contempt for the results of successful U.S. diplomacy. He can’t help but denounce the nuclear deal with Iran as a disaster, and yet it represents both a major success in U.S. nonproliferation policy and significantly reduces the chances of a war with Iran. Trump fairly denounces Clinton for the destructive effects of the policies she has supported in the Near East, but his own record inspires no confidence when he has supported most of the same bad policies at one time or another. He labeled her as “trigger-happy,” as well he might, but he gives no one any reason to believe that he is capable of exercising the slightest restraint.