The Bring the War $$ Home resolution passed by the US Conference of Mayors on June 20, 2011 is sparking a grassroots movement to end the wars in the Middle East and Africa and re-direct the funds to domestic priorities. The resolution uses cautious language, stating a “drawdown of troops should be done in a measured way…” and “as soon as strategically possible” from Afghanistan and Iraq. The resolution does not mention the wars in Libya, Yemen and Pakistan. Duke Augustus is working with other local peace activists to bring a similar (but stronger) resolution before his locality, and you should, too. A copy of the Conference of US Mayors resolution is reproduced at the end of this post. (You may need to refresh to see the video below.)
Los Angeles passed a similar resolution on July 13, 2011 which uses similarly cautious language calling for a “safe and orderly withdrawal”, but it does expand the withdrawal from just ‘US troops” to also include “contractors” [read: mercenaries] from Iraq and Afghanistan. The Los Angeles resolution also calls on the federal government to “cut non-essential defense budget appropriations.”
If you want to see the numbers underlying the budget, the National Priorities Project website lays it out. I think this chart of discretionary spending in the US budget says it all:
First, in real or inflation adjusted dollars, it is higher than at any time since World War II, including the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the height of the Reagan buildup. The Korean War peak was $485 billion in FY 1952, Vietnam $409 billion in FY 1968, and the Reagan buildup $546 billion in FY 1985. The baseline defense budget for FY2012 is $585 billion. If one adds in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the total defense budget for the upcoming fiscal year rises to about $700 billion.
Remember there is no more Soviet Union. We were supposed to reap a Peace Dividend back when Reagan was president. Yes, you say but we have to worry about Al-Queda. Retired admiral and former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair doesn’t think the drone war, and possibly the whole so-called War on Terror, is worth the cost. He points out in a Wired magazine article that we are spending $20 million dollars per year per terrorist.
“You think — woah, $20 million. Is that proportionate?” he asked. “So I think we need to relook at the strategy to get the money in the right places.”
So how do you decide how to cut the military budget? The National Priorities Project reports that its already been done. 55 congresspersons as diverse as Barney Frank and Ron Paul formed a group that came out with military budget cutting proposals:
Many of the proposals included by Reps. Frank and Paul – cutting the number of U.S. military personnel based overseas, canceling unneeded Cold War weapons program, and improving the Pentagon’s acquisition system, for example – are drawn from “Debt, Deficits, and Defense: A Way Forward,” the report of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, which was released back in June.
There are other benefits to cutting the size of the federal military budget. The Department of Defense is the worst polluter and cause of global warming in the world. The invasion of Iraq accounted for 1% of all oil use on that day. A smaller military means a smaller carbon (and other pollutants) footprint.
We can also learn from this for future decisions. There are much less costly (in dollars and lives) roots to accomplishing the goal of dealing with terrorism. A study of alternatives can be found at Costs of War, along with this chart. This website has a similar name to the one that provide the cost counter above. both provide excellent information
US Conference of Mayors Resolution: CALLING ON CONGRESS TO REDIRECT MILITARY SPENDING TO DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
WHEREAS, every member of the US Conference of Mayors and the Americans they represent, support our brave men and women in uniform and their families;
WHEREAS, the drawdown of troops should be done in a measured way that does not
destabilize the region and that can accelerate the transfer of responsibility to regional authorities;
WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States are collectively paying approximately $126 billion dollars per year to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, 6,024 members of the US armed forces have died in these wars; and at least
120,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the coalition attacks began.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors
supports efforts to speed up the ending of these wars; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors calls on the
President and U.S. Congress to end the wars as soon as strategically possible and bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy and reduce the federal debt
- Mayors See End to Wars as Fix for Struggling Cities (wilderside.wordpress.com)
- U.S. mayors: End wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (cnn.com)