Is the US Really the Strongest That It Has Ever Been?

Is the US Really the Strongest That It Has Ever Been?

Well,Trump has pumped up the military budget for the last two budgets.  And the weapons systems have been progressed.  But the military is only one of many technological, environmental, educational, business, social, humanitarian, governmental, economical, and most important, international relations.  

In these other areas, the Trump administration has arguably, and intentionally, weakened the United States, while increasing an amazing amount of uncertainty.  I don’t have to figure how to evaluate all of the areas of human concerns and endeavors, since experts have been doing that for years, and publishing their concerns, even daily.  Other than Fox News and Breitbart, the evaluations are usually very negative.  It was hard enough for me just to think of the incomplete list in the first paragraph. 

Do remember as far back as the campaign, when Trump suggested that he would rebuild the navy to the number of ships that we had at the end of World War I?  Then he would rebuild our nuclear arsenal to the largest size that it had ever been?  Both of these were ridiculous, and are now well established to be the uninformed compulsion of a person suffering from severe Narcissism. 

While our military strength has increased, and our allies have made small contributions to increasing theirs, we have forgotten that our true strength comes from the values of our political, moral, and humanitarian standards and endeavors, as well as from our international partners and allies.  All of our democratic friends have been attacked, Trump now only supports our enemies and dictators.  Even in the rare instances that a few Republicans in the Senate, which is in charge of foreign affairs, have joined with Democrats to oppose Trump, they are far short of overriding his veto, or to reverse his ignoring their limitations on his power.

Trump has threatened all of our world-wide trade alliances.  World trade creates trust and interdependence, provides us influential industrial allies in all trade partners, and balances international tensions and the belligerent impulses of dictators.  Trade is an international salve.

The more distrust we sow with our allies, the more compromises they are forced into with our mutual enemies.  I am particularly thinking of Europe and Russia, as well as South Korea and Japan with North Korea and China.

Does denying that Russia interfered with our 2016 Presidential election help prevent such a foreign attack on our democracy?  And then taking no purposeful Presidential action to prevent such future interference?  And publicly joking with Putin about it?  And holding secret and unmonitored meetings with Putin?

Does the total abandonment of any concerns about human rights and democratic rule help the world respect us as the leader which can keep democracies strong?  Does the abandonment of crucial foreign aid to fight diseases, to provide needed birth control, and clean water, and to fight crime, create a strong defense from these diseases and crime elements entering our country?

While Trump mentioned technology in getting to the Moon again after 50 years, and someday Mars, the only goals he cited were just to plant an American flag on Mars.  Trump has systematically and thoroughly removed Science from its important and legally required roll in government.  He has also forwarded budgets with large cuts in all kinds of science funding, but especially those concerned with climate science and the environment.  This uncertainty takes a toll on science students committing to their futures, and limits the  funding of many new investigators and projects.

The opportunities to mitigate climate change, which is now halted by the Fossil Fuel Takeover of the Federal Government, will take decades to correct.  This means that our efforts to fight to overcome the damages of floods, storms, droughts, wildfires, and sea level rise is nowhere near “the strongest ever”.  This is an enemy set of forces that continually attacks many areas of the country at various times of the year, and Trump has continually disarmed us, from the strength that President Obama had attained.  

The more the world pollutes greenhouse gases, the stronger the enemy grows.  The damages caused by the climate change enemy are of the order of $100 billion a year, which is about the same amount that Trump want to find to improve the military every year.  Trump will have to start building more walls for our defense, in the form of higher dykes, reservoir dams, sea walls, raising roads, fire breaks, and fire resistant houses and buildings.  Many of the states most affected are Trump states, starting with the tossup state of Florida.  Does dropping out of the Paris Agreement under the false premise that you can negotiate a better one, when you really want to destroy it, help our warming future?

Does dropping the signed Iranian denuclearization agreement and sanctioning its co-signers for trading with Iran improve the security of our forces and allies in the Middle East?  Does it improve the security of the countries or states like California which depend on Persian Gulf oil?

I’m not an economist, just someone trying to daily understand Paul Krugman’s graphs and arguments.  But when Trump’s $2 trillion tax cut to businesses and the wealthy mostly ends up in stock buybacks and more investments in the unexpanded company stocks, it sounds like he is creating a bubble time bomb.  Meanwhile, his Treasury Secretary is dismantling defensive and protective economic safeguards, thus removing protective armor against said time bomb.  Investors are flocking to the stocks which have the largest growth, again increasing the bubble.  At the same time that unemployment is at a record low, Trump is cutting immigration and booting out undocumented workers, and threatening two million well educated DACA candidates.  In neither of these areas is Trump creating a strong economy.

Of the two largest aircraft producers, Boeing and Airbus, Boeing has run into trouble with its new 737 Max.  This was an attempt to save fuel that would also help the environment.  Lax FAA regulations may have contributed to the problems with flight stability and training.  Boeing also produces military aircraft, missiles, and satellites.  Trump may have let down the guard on this crucial defense component.

One thing that would have convinced us of our strength and readiness, even on projects that Trumpjlk a whole month to organize, would have been if the broadcast of the President’s speech had been executed without major foul ups.  Even my free weather app said that it was going to rain in Washington D.C.  Why weren’t Trump’s electronic prompters under a canopy?  This supposedly led to the gaffe of the President ascribing air bases to Britain in the Revolutionary War.  The fact that Trump could plow through that without a pause really makes you wonder.  We remember the entire Iraq war being started because milk trucks were being presented to the United Nations as mobile nuclear fuel enrichment facilities.  We also remember that the lengthy and divisive Vietnam War was started after the ambiguous Gulf of Tonkin incident.  As a computer aide to Lifelong Learning, I try to perfect the presentations.  Knowing that it was going to rain, why wasn’t Trump’s bulletproof glass screen also under a canopy, or at least wiped clean before and during the hour long speech?  I would have gotten out there and done it during the speech, even if I knew that I would have been fired for it.

So, who still thinks that we are stronger than ever before?

About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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