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What if the world's most dangerous man gets to lead the world's mightiest military?

It is a terrifying prospect to imagine how a US President Donald Trump would wield such executive power against enemies near and far

On the same day Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine identified Donald Trump as “the world’s most dangerous man,” a major online betting agency gave the celebrity billionaire a 70 percent chance of winning the Republican Party nomination, which means the world’s most dangerous man is now an even-money chance to be commander-in-chief of the world’s most dangerous military.

Even more worryingly, Trump’s reckless, hyper-militaristic bombast does not make him an outlier in the GOP’s process to vet the party’s eventual nominee. His nearest rivals - Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio – speak equally in a language more commonly associated with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un than that of a Nobel Peace Prize winner – especially when it comes to the application of US military force in the Middle East.

When Cruz isn’t threatening to find out whether sand in Iraq and Syria “glows in the dark,” Rubio is promising the deployment of more US combat troops, and Trump is promising torture.

Indeed, each of the three GOP frontrunners is scary enough in their own right. But of all their scary right-wing memes, it’s the scariest of all that goes unnoticed, and it’s a meme all candidates share – including the frontrunners in the Democratic race. 

If you were given one dollar for every time you who heard the words, “We must rebuild the US military” during any of the umpteen presidential debates, you’d now have enough money to afford at least one night in a deluxe suite at a Trump-owned hotel.

Candidates have asserted that “the world is a safer and better place when America has the strongest military in the world” more times than can be remembered, along with the claim the US military has been “dramatically degraded under Obama”.

This meme is repeated often and loudly on both neo-conservative and neo-liberal talk shows, magazines, and blogs – and it’s a meme that not only has no basis in reality, but also it has dangerous implications for US foreign policy.

The world is arguably a more dangerous place than any time since the end of the Second World War for the very reason the US is the world’s strongest military.

The notion the US military has “degraded” since the Iraq war or under Obama is a dangerous lie that hovers like a cloud above the 2016 presidential race. It’s a lie that gives cover to not only more disproportionate US military spending, but also to an already overheated global arms race.

It’s a lie told by those who are financed by the vast military-industrial complex. It’s a lie that calls on the US to spend an even greater share of its GDP and discretionary spending on bombs, tanks and fighter jets at the expense of the US citizen.

The US military machine has not been “degraded” under Obama. In fact, the Obama White House has presided over the largest US military budget since the Second World War. Moreover, military spending under Obama has already exceeded spending under George W Bush by more than $30 billion, bringing total military spending to 56 percent of all discretionary spending.

The US now spends more on the military than the next eight countries combined, six of whom are allies. Thus to suggest anything other than the fact Obama has enhanced US military might is laughable.

While Obama was swept into power by an American electorate that craved an end to a domestic policy that encroached on civil liberties and a foreign policy that encroached on basic human decency, what it got was a president who extended and validated many of the policies he inherited.

“He [Obama] surrounded himself with advisors who had been deeply enmeshed in the Bush administration’s most contentious national security policies," observes James Risen, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist. 

"He expanded the use of drones in so-called targeted killings around the world, continued the use of military tribunals to try terrorism suspects, allowed investigators to question such suspects captured in the United States without reading them their Miranda rights, and approved the non-judicial killing of American citizens who joined al-Qaeda. He did virtually nothing to rein in widespread contracting abuse in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the broader global war on terror.” 

If a president who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize at the very beginning of his term can so easily succumb to the intoxicating power of the Oval Office, and in doing so putting the US economy into a permanent state of war, it is a terrifying prospect to imagine how a President Trump would wield such executive power against enemies near and far.

“Believe me, I’ll change things. And again, we’re going to be so respected. I don’t want to use the word ‘feared,’” promised Trump during a recent GOP debate. But as Der Spiegel rightfully contends, to be “feared” is exactly what Trump seeks. His campaign message is built upon creating a hypnotic imperialistic and authoritarian throne in the minds of his supporters.

He has pledged to “bomb the shit” out of the Islamic State (IS) group; threatened torture; told tales about using bullets soaked in pig’s blood against Muslim enemies; and promised to attack the families of those who attack US soldiers. The Geneva Convention, international law and human rights be damned - Trump is a mere one or two obstacles away from commanding the most powerful military ever known.

If the contemplative and liberal Obama ordered 10 times as many drone strikes as Bush, how many more will the reactionary and bombastic Trump order than Obama? If Obama expanded the war on terror to include Yemen, Libya and Syria, how many more countries will be added under Trump? If Obama opposed all investigations into the Bush administration’s use of torture, what’ll prevent Trump from picking up where Bush left off?

All of these questions lead to dark places, many of whose answers are built on the myth of a degraded US military. 

- CJ Werleman is the author of Crucifying America (2013), God Hates You. Hate Him Back (2009), and Koran Curious (2011), and he is the host of Foreign Object. Follow him on twitter: @cjwerleman

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump talks to supporters at a campaign rally in an airplane hanger at Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport on 27 February, 2016 in Bentonville, Arkansas (AFP).

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