Just about every major public policy issue has been a point of intense contention between Trump and the Democratic party. There is, however, one area where they see eye to eye.

Khury Petersen-Smith joined Rising Up With Sonali to discuss how a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate joined their Republican colleagues in voting for the grossly bloated $716 billion 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Also discussed is how the U.S. continues to expand its war economy even in the wake of the destruction its military leaves behind. “When it comes to militarism and U.S. [imperialism],” Petersen-Smith said, the two parties “are absolutely united.”

Not only did Democrats fail to oppose Trump’s request for an increased military budget, he added,“they gave him even more than he wanted.”

The new defense budget has major implications for conflicts around the globe, and Yemen in particular. Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. are leading a devastating bombing campaign there with weapons, intelligence, and mid-air refueling provided by the U.S.

Reports emerged recently that al Qaeda and the American-backed Saudi coalition recently forged a deal in Yemen. Usually, Petersen-Smith explained, Congress prohibits “the sale of weapons and aiding of organizations like al Qaeda.” But “by virtue of its alliances” with the Saudi coalition, the United States “is, in fact, doing that.”

The new military spending bill also includes “$65 million for new research and development in so-called low-yield nuclear weapons,” said Petersen-Smith. The idea behind weapons like these is that they “aren’t quite as destructive,” meaning they can be used more “tactically.”

But that idea is backward, he argued. “These weapons, unfortunately, make the use of nuclear weapons more likely.”

Other topics discussed in this interview include: what the new military spending bill means for Guantanamo Bay, how U.S. militarism is largely implicated in the global refugee and immigration crisis, and how the $716 billion might be better spent on issues such as education and universal healthcare.

Watch the full interview on Rising Up With Sonali.

Khury Petersen-Smith is the Michael Ratner Middle East Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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