Armed forces in the US without steady course in Trump's era

The President reacts to the facts in an instinctive fashion, without a clear strategy
Photo: EFE
Víctor Sancho / Corresponsal
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Donald Trump is still a mystery. The lack of action from his administration creates uncertainty about the course he wants to take. That includes defense and military issues.

"Trump's strategy is not entirely clear," said to EL UNIVERSAL Richard Betts, director of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. "So far nothing has changed compared to Obama," added Michael O'Hanlon, a defense expert at the Brookings Institution. "He has no strategy," stated Barry Blechman, co-founder of the Stimson Center, a think tank focused on security issues.

For Betts, the White House's schizophrenia has also affected military decisions. "His instincts point to opposite directions," he said.

For Blechman, the US President simply "reacts to events" as they occur, "his instinctive reactions are usually considered rushed."

The experts are relieved by the presence of military officials with knowledge of what they are doing. "These generals are excellent and very experienced, who understand the limits of the military force more than many civilians," explained O'Hanlon.

In particular, the Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, and the National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster, balance the "ignorance and impulsiveness" of the President's nature, in Betts's words.

Blechman applauds the fact that "moderate" military officials have taken over and are in control of the US military strategy.

For his part, Betts points to more or less dominant directions: a certain emphasis on anti-Iran initiatives, a limited increase in military aid in Afghanistan, and an increase in defense spending.

It is precisely this increase in the budget to "upgrade and modernize" the army one of the President's mantras. But O'Hanlon warns that the USD$639 billion budget for 2018, the main federal spending, will only be feasible "if Congress finds a way to pay and approve it."

The Commander in Chief of the armed forces is Donald Trump, the real estate magnate with no military experience and, apparently, with no clear idea of what he wants to do with them.


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