I support the national “Move the Money Campaign.” The campaign calls for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a substantial reduction in the military budget. It calls for the monies saved to be used to fund our needs here at home. I believe that it is essential, however, to emphasize that these wars must be ended, not simply for fiscal reasons. If the wars were not costly, and if our economy were not in such a terrible state, the wars would still be wrong and should still be ended.
Simply put, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are both illegal and immoral. There are, no doubt, many reasons for these wars. Corporate and imperial influence, I believe, are two of the factors that fuel these wars. It is notable that Iraq has vast oil resources, and Afghanistan has the potential to provide a valuable route for a natural gas pipeline. The military-industrial complex, I believe, is also a substantial influence. The armaments industry profits mightily from the sale of the weapons used in these wars. The industry even goes out of its way to establish its factories in several different states throughout the US, in order to garner broader support from Congress. (For more on the military-industrial complex, and a short video of key excerpts from Eisenhower’s speech, click here.) The war contractors provide mercenaries to support the war effort. Blackwater (now called, “Xe”) has received more than one billion dollars in US government contracts.
I certainly acknowledge, too, that many who support these wars do so because they believe that fighting these wars protects the United States and is helpful to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. What we seem to see, however, instead, is that these wars often contribute to a rise in the prevalence of extremist ideology and an increase in the incidence of terrorism. The majority of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan want us to end these wars. A recent poll has indicated that, now, more than 60% of Americans believe we should promptly end the war in Afghanistan. These wars are wrong. The Iraqis, the Afghans, and most Americans want them to end.
The Move the Money Campaign addresses the fact that we have spent over one trillion dollars on these wars. This needs to stop. We need to use the monies that now fund the wars, instead, to provide jobs here at home. US Labor Against the War estimates that with the monies saved, for each soldier we bring home, we could provide twenty-three good-paying, union jobs, here in the US. We need to rebuild our infrastructure. We need to better fund our schools. We need to provide universal health care. We need to develop and implement an energy program that relies upon the use of clean, sustainable energy, such as solar, wind, and geothermal. We need to quickly move our nation away from the use of oil, gas, coal (There is no such thing as “clean coal.”), and nuclear power.
The Pentagon’s budget has doubled over the last thirteen years. The United States now spends almost as much on its military as do all other nations combined. The “cuts” that Secretary Gates has recently proposed are not really cuts at all. They are simply reductions in the rate of growth of the military budget. Our oversized military budget is simply unaffordable. Also, it promotes a militaristic approach to foreign policy, rather than one that places an emphasis upon diplomacy and development.
The New Priorities Network (NPN) urges us to cut military spending and to utilize the funds to create jobs and provide important public services.
The National Priorities Project (NPP) tells us that, for the amount currently budgeted to fund the Department of Defense for one year, we could, instead, provide health care to 95 million veterans, or provide solar-powered electricity to 445 million households, or provide Head Start program services to 97 million children, or provide college scholarships to 94 million students, or provide health care to 378 million children, etc., etc.
The funds are there. We need to alter our priorities, as we determine how we use our resources. Additionally, there would be still more funds available, if we modify our income tax structure, insisting that the wealthy more reasonably meet their responsibility.
The National Priorities Project and the New Priorities Network both provide quite a bit of valuable info, along with several helpful resources. For more about the NPP and the NPN, along with links to some of the resources they provide, please see their respective entries in the Peace and Justice Online Directory of Resources.
Michael Zweig, Professor of Economics at Stony Brook University, was recently a guest on Democracy Now. Michael is a member of the Steering Committee of US Labor Against the War and the Director of the Center for the Study of Working Class Life. In this video excerpt of Michael’s interview, he says that we can “change the priorities of the country and move the money.” He points out, “If we had different priorities, we could redirect that money to social purposes.” (The full interview can be viewed on the Democracy Now website, in the archives.)