It seems that almost every week – if not every day – leftists, Never Trumpers, and other assorted critics of President Trump and his policies, especially on immigration and border security, manage to find something to be outraged and up-in-arms about. This week, the faux controversy centers around (gasp!) Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s order redirecting $545 million previously intended for foreign military construction projects – in particular those aimed at curbing Russian expansionism – towards securing America’s southwestern border by funding continuing border wall construction.
This is certainly a reversal of the policy priorities of globalist think-tank types and previous administrations, which largely tolerated a porous and unsecured U.S. southern border while attaching considerable importance (and spending considerable resources) on the security needs of so many other countries throughout the world.
Predictably, the president’s usual detractors are in an uproar. Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) complained that “our partners and allies rely on [these]funds to prevent Russian aggression in the region and these cuts will have real, lasting effects on our national security.” For many liberals, this is undoubtedly an example of “Putin’s puppet” helping the Russians while building “his monument to hate.” (Of course, not that long ago many of these same liberals supported President Obama’s “reset” with Putin’s Russia and opposed President Reagan’s tough policy towards the Soviet empire.)
Without getting to deep into the weeds, the projects that were either deferred or cancelled were in Spain, Germany, Norway, Jordan, Bahrain, and Japan. According to Stars and Stripes, “all the Europe projects [$270 million] were connected to the European Deterrence Initiative, which sets aside money for countering Russia.”
And here’s the really important part (with emphasis added): “Although Pentagon officials described the deferments as temporary, it could be up to Congress to fund them again.” In other words, the Democratic-controlled House could simply fund the projects in question. Similarly, it could also fund the border wall if it is so upset with the administration for redirecting funds towards what is a legitimate national security and urgent border security priority for America.
None of this is to suggest that funding military projects to help our allies is illegitimate or non-urgent. In fact, as an immigrant from Poland – a country that has a long history of aggression, invasion, and conquest by Russia – this author is well aware of the geopolitical threat posed by Moscow. However, as a legal immigrant who followed the rules, this author also recognizes the fact that secure borders help repel geopolitical and other threats, whether they emanate from Russia or elsewhere.
Indeed, a rational Congress would fund both the border wall and overseas projects that help our allies, rather than misleadingly presenting us with a false dichotomy. This isn’t a zero-sum-game. And if Congressional Democrats were more fiscally responsible, they could easily fund both projects. Instead, they have shown that they would rather obstruct border wall construction, recklessly encourage mass illegal migration, and even funnel taxpayer funds to illegal aliens – foreigners who have violated our borders and broken our laws. If that is not a case of Bizarro-world-style inverted priorities, then what is?!
As an aside, we should also remember an inconvenient truth that so many seem to ignore: wealthy countries like Germany, Norway, Bahrain, and Japan can surely afford to spend more on their own defense. If a country like Poland – by no means a wealthy nation, but one very serious about deterring potential Russian aggression – offered to pay up to $2 billion to host permanent U.S. bases, in addition to purchasing billions more in American arms, why can’t much richer countries pay more for their own defense? Why must the U.S. constantly serve as the world’s piggy bank while some of its own urgent needs and priorities are ridiculously under-funded?
If we are forced to choose between military assistance to allies and border security it is our obligation to address American needs first.