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Trump Slashes Neocon Dreams by Cutting Bloated F-35 Budget to Pay for Border Wall

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The Pentagon is looking to divert $3.8 billion, mostly from its fiscal 2020 weapons procurement budget, to help fund President Donald Trump’s border wall, according to a report from Defense News.

Defense News listed the items that are expected to be cut:

A mass of aircraft purchases including F-35 joint strike fighters, C-130J cargo aircraft, MQ-9 Reaper drones and P-8 maritime surveillance planes, as well as ground vehicles and naval priorities.

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In sum, the plan would take $2.202 billion in FY20 defense appropriations and $1.629 billion in FY20 overseas contingency operations funding and direct it towards the wall. The wall on the southern border is a crucial plank of President Donald Trump’s campaign.

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Air Force and Navy aviation spending make up the bulk of the Pentagon’s cuts, with aircraft procurement being slashed by $558 million for Navy and Marine Corps and $861 million for the Air Force.

In the Navy’s case, the Pentagon plans on cutting two of the six F-35B short takeoff and landing aircraft that Congress tacked on to the FY20 budget. It will also slash two MV-22 Ospreys, claiming that “current funding is more than sufficient to keep the production line open.” Further, the Navy plans on eliminating funding for one of the nine P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft funded in FY20, declaring that the additional aircraft is “[in] excess to the 117 aircraft required.”

As far as the Air Force’s budget is concerned, the Pentagon cut funding for four of the eight C-130Js that Congress added for the Reserve and Air National Guard. The department said that funding for those aircrafts can be re-allocated for fiscal year 2021.

The request would get rid of eight MQ-9 Reaper drones, cutting off most of the funding Congress added for an increase of 12 MQ-9s. “The program is currently undergoing a strategic review,” the department noted in a written justification. “Procurement, if necessary, can be rescheduled to a later fiscal year.”

It additionally peels off $156 million for advanced procurement for the F-35A and cuts $180 million for light attack aircraft for the Air Force.

The Army expects to lose $100 million in funding for National Guard Humvee modernization and $194.5 million in Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck funding.

The reprogramming request also implements cutbacks of $650 million in advanced procurement funding for an America-class Amphibious Assault Ship, LHA-9. This ship is currently being built in Mississippi at Ingalls Shipbuilding. According its website, Huntington Ingalls Industries claims that the advanced funding Congress provided, “enables a hot production line and a supplier base of 457 companies in 39 states to build this powerful warship.”

The reprogramming also reduces funding for one expeditionary fast transport ship, which is built in Alabama at Austal USA. The Republican Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby has taken a particular interest in this project. According to the reprogramming document, the ship was viewed as “excess to current programmatic need.”

“The procurement exceeds the program-of-record requirement,” the document highlighted. “This is a congressional special interest item.”

Furthermore, the National Guard and reserves are set to lose approximately $1.3 billion in what the reprogramming request views as unnecessary funding. This decision was made due to historic under-execution of the previous year’s funds.

This is a solid win for America First and big blow against neoconservatives, neoliberals, and other factions that suck up the military-industrial complex.

The quicker that Trump’s wall can be built, the better.

Big League National Security

Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?

America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad

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Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.

Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards  questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy. 

In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”

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Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.

That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.

Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:

Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”

Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans. 

After looking at the list of people who have been tapped to join the Biden administration, Hawley tweeted, “What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”

The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change. 

Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.

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