As our infographic shows, the spending spikes, apart from when Ronald Reagan held office during the last phase of the Cold War, were related to actual wars. The steepest hike in recent history was during the War on Terror, fought most notably in Afghanistan and Iraq, the other had to do with the Vietnam War.
Looking at the spending history, makes one wonder why Trump proposes to up the defense budget, with neither a massive strategic investment program in sight (like the so-called Star Wars under Reagan) nor an enemy you could break by outspending him in terms of defense investment (like the Soviet Union). Neither is there a high-intensity war going on which would necessitate a massive build-up and in-theater sustainment of ground forces.
The Romans said "si vis pacem, para bellum" ("If you want peace, prepare for war"). It’s just as likely though, that if you prepare for war, war is what you’ll get.
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