Sputnik has discussed the report with Mark Gubrud, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of North Carolina.
Sputnik: How much of a big deal is what the report presented? Were you particularly surprised by it?
Sputnik: Would you characterize the Chinese arms build-up or increased military spending to be more frightening than the US military's? We just saw the US adopting the biggest military budget it's had since the Iraq war was in full swing.
Mark Gubrud: Yes, that's certainly correct. The thing is, that China due to its rapid economic growth over the past decades, China's been growing at up to 10% per year in GDP, I think it's slower than that now, it's maybe 5%, estimates vary, but China's growth has been spectacular and as a result, although they've held their military spending as a fraction of the GDP; at a constant roughly 2%, but the GDP has been growing at 5-10% per year and so that is extraordinary growth in the size of China's military enterprise. This has the United States very alarmed. The fact is, China is still playing catch-up, but there is a very serious question: what happens in future years? And I think that we need to move away from thinking in terms of staying ahead of the race and instead start to think in terms of calling for arms control.
Sputnik: It seems that the US and China have really deteriorating relations surrounding trade, do you think that this somehow is affected by the increasing military tension, are these related issues?
Mark Gubrud: Are they related? Yes and no. I think they're not as related as you might think. The trade war that's going on, this is the Trump administration attempting to turn back the clock of history. I don't think it's going to get a whole lot worse. I don't have much expectation that the Trump administration is going to stay in power for four years even, but the military competition has been escalating over the past two decades of its own accord, without anything to do with trade. The trade issue is somewhat separate, but again these things get mixed in people's minds, so there is some political linkage.
Sputnik: Now it's strange, I mean, you feel that there's a risk that Trump might not be in power much longer and yet we have the largest military budget and we've heard concerns even before Trump was elected from high-ranking officials in the US military and service structures that they were very concerned about Donald Trump becoming the commander-in-chief and not happy about it, and some even going as far as to say that they wouldn't accept his command, and yet both parties pushed through this bill, which gives $716 billion as a potential budget for next year?
Mark Gubrud: Yes, and I think part of this is economic policy. Donald Trump wants to have some results. He wants to see some economic stimulation happening in the United States. He wants to see some growth and about the only thing that the president can really do, is spend on the military. Ronald Reagan did this; he basically pumped up the economy by pumping a lot of money into the military. Trump may be doing a similar thing. Trump's hostility to China is widely noted. And again there's probably some linkage there in terms of what's happening on the military side, but this has been going on for a long time now. I remember in the early 90s there were hearings in Capitol Hill where you had congressman saying things like, we need an enemy. I mean literally lamenting the fact that with the fall of the Soviet Union, the United States no longer had a strategic enemy to motivate high-level military enterprise and they were saying we need another enemy.
The views and opinions expressed by Mark Gubrud are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.