“There aren’t that many hate crimes occurring in the country” – Tucker Carlson (2-22-19)

Defense spending is an important economic factor, especially in North Carolina and the rest of the South.  Defense personnel spending in NC had an annual impact of 7.1 billion in 2017; NC is the fifth highest such state with only VA, CA, TX and Maryland spending more. Generating over $1,000 annually in defense spending per resident (oea.gov) and 140,434 jobs, many in this area of the state, the military is a driver of the local economy. 

More importantly, if not for our vaunted military, I would not be free. Neither would the reader nor any other American.

Our military has certainly been shown to be effective in promoting the dual goals of world order and democracy. We have been a steady force, supporting our allies…which is why both Democrats and Republican politicians are so upset at Trump’s decision to let our Kurdish allies be slaughtered by Turkey, which considers them terrorists.

I fully agree with the President that we have got to get out of permanent wars. But there are certain areas where we must have a presence because if we are not, a power vacuum is created. In this case, filled by Iran, Syria, Russia and Turkey. None of these nations are friendly to democracy.

I don’t understand why any Senator, Republican or Democrat, would say that we do not have the resources (see below) to help protect our Kurdish allies at least until an equitable withdrawal can be arranged. And, I cannot understand why Tillis (or any) Senator would give our erratic, spontaneous, unknowledgeable President the “benefit of the doubt” when he was obviously suckered by a Turkish despot into making an impromptu phone call decision to withdraw our forces and leave our longtime allies to be slaughtered. 

We are without any doubt the strongest military power the earth has ever known, spending as much as the next ten major powers combined on defense. Military spending has already doubled in the last 10 years to over $700 billion dollars annually. We also spend 4% of our gross national product on the military, while most NATO nations spend around 1%.

So, the national resources are clearly there to achieve our aims. But Congress must determine if our military spending is both efficient and effective, a constitutionally mandated role that Tillis and those like him refuse to play, preferring to look the other way while this President makes all decisions unilaterally (including abandoning the Kurds, as well as reallocating NC military projects and spending the money on an ineffective border “wall”).  

As a fiscal conservative and former corporate exec, the questions that must be asked by Congress are: “what is the appropriate level of funding for defense?” and “where should that money be spent”? Tillis and other supposed conservatives have simply got to get over their long-time addiction to blindly increasing our military spending and then delegating responsibility to this President without any public oversight. 

The Syrian Kurdish situation is just the latest example. Trump’s erratic move will simply cause greater instability and conflict in the region, which will inevitably lead to more American involvement later on. And, much greater long-term expenditures by the USA. Senator Tillis, how is this being fiscally responsible, conservative… or rational?


Image Credit: The blazing golden sun emblem "Roj," symbol of the Kurds – Sundisk with 21 rays, equal in size and shape – art created by TaysheyiWikipedia.org/Creative Commons; Senator Thom Tillis taken by United States Senate Photography StudioWikipedia.org/Public domain; Military Expenditures by Country in US$ billions, 2018 according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in a pie chart – Wikipedia.org/Creative Commons.

Jack Bernard

Jack Bernard

Jack A Bernard is a retired SVP with a national healthcare corporation. He was Chair of the Jasper County, Ga Board of Commissioners and Republican Party. He was also on the Board of Health for Jasper County and is currently on the Fayette County BOH. Bernard has over 100 columns published annually, primarily in the South.