In August 2017, tensions between the United States and North Korea reached a new high. Sniping between the leaders of the two countries led North Korea to threaten to fire missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam, home to some 160,000 people.
“If anything happens to Guam, there’s going to big, big trouble in North Korea,” President Trump said to reporters at the time, reinforcing the seriousness of the incident.
Happily, the situation defused, but it was one of the most direct military threats to American territory the United States has experienced in recent years.
Two years later, the Trump administration appears to be much more comfortable with Guam’s position. After Trump ordered the Defense Department to redirect money from planned construction projects and upgrades to fund the building of a wall on the border with Mexico — a response to a national emergency Trump declared this year — the Joint Region Marianas military command in Guam was one of the largest losers.
Of the $1.8 billion in funding being withdrawn from projects in the United States and its territories, 14 percent will come from projects that had been planned for that command. An additional 23 percent will come from projects that had been planned at several facilities in Puerto Rico — the territory still recovering from 2017′s Hurricane Maria.
Less than half will come from the contiguous United States. Of that funding, $202 million will come from projects planned in states that abut Mexico. About $740 million will come from the rest of the contiguous United States, including $160 million diverted from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. That sum constitutes 9 percent of the $1.8 billion.
It’s important to note that these projects aren’t related directly to military defensiveness. The diversions at West Point, for example, mean delays in the construction of an engineering center ($95 million) and a parking structure ($65 million). In Guam, the diversions include delays to construction related to a machine gun range and munitions storage projects, among other things.
The diversions do mean that injections of money into local economies (hiring construction workers, etc.) will be delayed. The pain of those shifts isn’t evenly split between states that did and didn’t support Trump in the 2016 election. About $488 million will be diverted from the 30 states that backed Trump and $588 million from the 20 that backed Hillary Clinton. The rest, about $687 million, is coming from U.S. territories.
The funding will be diverted back to construction on the border, of course. Much of that will probably be in Texas, the state with the longest stretch of border that doesn’t have any existing barrier.
For what it’s worth, it’s also a state that Trump very much needs to win in 2020. Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands don’t have any electoral votes.