Donald Trump’s military policy is a win-win proposition: The United States will win, and then it will win some more. Last week, the White House released its proposed budget, which calls for $639 billion in defense spending—a $54 billion increase from 2017 levels—along with massive cuts for diplomacy and foreign aid. Congress is likely to amend these plans, but they nevertheless signal how the administration views defense policy.
A core tenet of the emerging Trump doctrine is that more military spending will translate into victory on the battlefield. According to the president, “We have to start winning wars again. I have to say, when I was young, in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. We never lost a war, remember? And now we never win a war.” In a speech earlier this month to sailors onboard the USS Gerald R. Ford, a newly built $13-billion aircraft carrier, Trump promised: “We will give our military the tools you need to prevent war and, if required, to fight war and only do one thing. You know what that is? Win. Win! We’re gonna start winning again.”
To sum up: more big-ticket hardware like the Gerald R. Ford—in Trump’s words, “a monument to American might”—means more winning. We might term this philosophy: Tweet loudly and carry a big stick.
In a sense, the president’s vision of swift martial triumph is as American as apple pie. The traditional American way of war is based on using firepower and high technology to destroy enemy countries on the battlefield. General Douglas MacArthur—who Trump once praised as an ideal general to fight ISIS—famously declared, “there is no substitute for victory.” At the same time, the president’s fixation on collecting “wins” is pure Trumpism….