Until today, I considered Trump’s discussion about the Wall to be just another distraction while he revved up his political base and conspired to build his personal empire. Trump is a master of smoke and mirror tactics and he’s kept the nation in the dark about our national security in the Arctic Sea.
According to Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif), "The United States is at an increasing disadvantage in the Arctic compared to the Russian fleet and we can no longer afford to delay," she said. "This is a major area of weakness in our national security." Russia has stepped up its production of icebreaker ships to meet President Putin’s vision of the Arctic Sea as the future of the Russian empire. As the world’s super power, the United States is not prepared to protect this region.
I knew he was pulling funds to build the Wall from somewhere, but didn’t know where until now. The 2018 budget originally included $169 million for the Coast Guard’s Icebreaker Program to build another 1 icebreaker ship to replace our only ship capable of handling national security and emergency services in the Arctic Sea. Russia has 40 icebreakers – almost more than all nations combined. We have just 4; but only 2 for military purposes.
Although $750 million had been approved to build the new icebreaker ship in the 2019 budget, the House recently stripped ALL icebreaker funds in order to build the $5 BILLION wall. The lame duck Congress faces a crucial decision to approve the construction of the icebreaker or divert funds for the wall by Dec. 21st. Seriously, this wall nonsense has gone on for too long.
The Coast Guard’s polar mission also includes gathering scientific data, rescuing ships stranded in ice, and investigating oil spills. The Coast Guard’s only icebreaker, the Polar Star, is over 40 years old and more than 12 years past the recommended date to replace it.
What’s worse, more ships are traveling through the Arctic Sea because of the vast melting of the glaciers. With more traffic, ships are spilling oil, smuggling illegal cargo, and getting stranded. We need more icebreakers to provide both environmental and humanitarian crises.
Don’t get distracted by all the noise from the White House. Follow the money to see what is really going on. I could think of a dozen real issues that could benefit from the $5 billion dollars that Trump has allocated to build that ridiculous wall!