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investments it already makes. As Richard Betts once suggested of the annual defense budget, half a trillion dollars is more than enough.67It is in the size of the policy ambition relative to capabilities, ratherthan merely the size of those capabilities, where the dangerous imbalance lies. Despite his threats to overturn the old order, the power of the foreign policy establishment and its habitual ideas have steered Trump to quickly conform to the fundamentals of traditional U.S. grand strategy.68 He now aggressively reasserts U.S. primacy. If he poses a danger, it is not from abandonment but overreach. On its current course, the United States is prone to two forms of self-inflicted wounds: self-encirclement, whereby a state undermines its own security by provoking resistance and counterpower; and imperial overextension, whereby a state expands to the point where the costs outstrip the benefits.69 The UnitedStates is accumulating record deficits and growing, unsustainable debts. According to the Congressional Budget Office, federal debt will reach 150 percent of GDP by 2047.70 Because repayment obligations are the first, compulsory items in expenditure and because heavy fiscal burdens beyond a certain proportionof debt-to-GDP tend to choke economic growth,71 a growing debt load directly impedes the country’s ability to sustain its way of life alongside its extensive international commitments. U.S. grand strategy also gives Washington a proclivity to continuous wars that it chooses to fund through deficits. According to one estimate, U.S. wars from 2001 to 2016 had a budgetary cost of approximately $4.79 trillion, takinginto account indirect costs such as interest on borrowing and through-life care for veterans.72 Those wars have led to further geopolitical crises and demand for further commitment.Conflict-induced anarchy in Iraq and Libya created footholds for the Islamic State and, by upsetting the balance of power in the Persian Gulf, opened the way to a Saudi-Iran cold war that now implicates the United States. The Trump administration has not reversed this imbalance but aggravated it.It has significantly increased the defense budget, while significantly reducing taxes. It has embarked on a deficit-financed military buildup, a pattern that historically increases imbalances in the economy and triggers a “boom-bust” cycle, and where overreaching wars (like Iraq) and financial meltdowns (like the global financial crisis) are linked.73 The final 2018 defense budget is expected to be 13 percent higher than that of 2017.74 The United States’ grand strategy of primacy saddles it with defense and national security expenditures
that amount to over 68 percent of discretionary spending, taking into account the base budget and overseas contingency operations and support for veterans affairs, homeland security, and the nuclear weapons program.75 Meanwhile, the overall direction so far of President Trump’s foreign policy has been to multiply America’s security commitments and entanglements. The United States has implicated itself more deeply in the geopolitics of the Persian Gulf. Trump has intensified America’s confrontation