Trump's decision to send troops to the border to fight a non-existent threat could be the most expensive campaign season ploy ever.
Trump's campaign season stunt of sending thousands of U.S. active duty troops to the Mexico border to fend off a non-existent "invasion" will likely come with gigantic price tag of hundreds of millions of dollars. And that cost could balloon if the political production is extended into 2019.
For now, Trump has ordered approximately 8,000 troops be dispatched to the border to supposedly reinforce security as refugees from Central American slowly make their way to the United States in search of asylum.
Based on Pentagon estimates for how much it costs to deploy active duty troops, and the machinery that accompanies whenever they go into action, the border stunt "could cost between $200 million and $300 million" this year, CNN reports.
That estimate includes the ongoing costs for the 2,000 National Guardsmen Trump already sent to the border back in spring.
Trying to turn asylum-seekers into objects of white-hot conservative hatred during the campaign season, Trump and the right-wing media have unleashed baseless and dangerous attacks, suggesting the crowd of migrants is filled with killers and disease-infested refugees.
Mike Pence claimed it was "inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border," and insisted he had "the statistics" to back that up. (He did not.)
"It’s a political ploy to blow upon the embers of racism and nativism, and he is using the military again as a political prop to advance his own agenda," said former Marine Will Fischer, now with the advocacy group VoteVets.
Soon after making the announcement about the active duty deployment, and without consulting military officials, Trump publicly announced the U.S. was going to send far more troops — as many as 15,000 U.S. personnel.
The AP provided context for that enormous number. "A deployment of 15,000 would bring the military commitment on the border to roughly the same level as in war-torn Afghanistan."
In Afghanistan, U.S. troops are fighting the Taliban. At the border, U.S. troops would square off against unarmed refugees, mostly women and children.
But even that's not quite accurate, because according to federal law, established to make sure the military would not police its own population, U.S. soldiers are restricted in what they can do on American soil with regards to law enforcement.
That means, despite Trump's reckless threats about how federal troops may open fire on the refugees, deployed personnel at the border won’t be able to seize illegal drugs, detain migrants, or an in away directly stop people from crossing into the U.S.
That's likely one reason why key voices within the military community continue to condemn Trump's blatantly partisan move.
"This operation is a political stunt," wrote Ret. Col. Paul Yingling, who commanded U.S. troops in Iraq.
In a tweet last week, Gen. Martin Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, derided the border operation as a "wasteful deployment of over-stretched Soldiers and Marines."
And VoteVets' Fischer noted, "Unless there is a Democratic Congress that actually does oversight, Trump and the GOP will keep blowing Americans’ hard-earned dollars on ridiculous stunts like this, further running up record deficits, and use that as their excuse to cut Social Security, Medicare, health care, destroy and privatize the VA, and more."
For Trump, his personal corruption extends to all branches of the government.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.