All U.S. Troops Home Now
All U.S. Troops Home Now
NO TO A WAR BUDGET!
The American people have made clear through many actions, letters, petitions, campaigns and again in the November elections themselves, that they want the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ended now and all U.S. troops home now. They want an end to funding war crimes and crimes against humanity on a world scale and they want government to take responsibility for meeting the needs of the people. This stand of the people against war and for rights can readily be seen in signs and banners in demonstrations across the country: Money for Education, Not for Occupation; Money for the Workers and Our Cities, Not for War Profiteers; Reparations Now; Fund Human Needs not War and more. This popular will of the people however does not find its reflection in the budget just introduced by President Barack Obama.
The Obama budget calls for increasing the Pentagon 2009 budget by $20.4 billion, or about 4 percent, to a base rate of $533.7 billion. The increase serves in part to increase the number of U.S. troops in both the Army and Marines, to 547,400 and 202,000 respectively. There is an additional $75.5 billion for funding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in 2009 and $130 billion more for 2010. In addition the recently passed Recovery Act includes $7.4 billion for the Pentagon. That is $746.6 billion for the Pentagon alone for fiscal year 2009-10. Interest on the national debt from military spending is about $360 billion. The two together are more than $1 trillion. When funding for nuclear weapons and that for the National Intelligence Program for the many spy agencies, including the CIA are also added it is estimated that there is more than $1.4 trillion yearly in war funding alone.
Eliminating one year of the war budget would provide funding for reparations for those countries where the U.S. has committed war crimes and genocide, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Colombia and elsewhere. It is estimated that simply closing 200 of the 1,000 U.S. bases worldwide would save about $12 billion. The UN estimates it needs an additional $13 billion a year to provide the basic health and nutrition needs of the world’s poorest people, as one example of what these funds could serve.
Closing all U.S. bases would further cut the war budget. It is an action to increase security and set an example for solving problems without use of force. This is the leadership the people are demanding.
Obama emerged as champion of the ruling circles as a war president. He finds himself caught in the necessity to defend U.S. empire, or as he put, making the investments necessary “to keep us strong and competitive in the 21st Century.” He is attempting to draw people into supporting the U.S. war drive by appealing to everyone to “make America great” again. He focuses attention on the economic crisis, as certainly no one wants this crisis to deepen.
One way that he attempts to contend with the anti-war stand of the people is making it appear that the economic crisis has nothing to do with the war budget. His presentation on the budget, titled “A New Era of Responsibility,” begins with a 15 page section on “Inheriting a Legacy of Misplaced Priorities.” It warns that “tough choices lie ahead,” and provides numerous facts and charts on the severity of conditions facing workers, in terms of wages stagnating, massive unemployment, and so forth. But the “misplaced priority” of waging war worldwide, keeping 1,000 U.S. military bases worldwide and a steadily increasing war budget, is not mentioned. There are no facts presented on the damage a war budget has on the economy and the fact that it worsens the recession.
The war budget drains $1.4 trillion every year out of the economy, funds that could be invested in the economy. Put another way, the need for providing healthcare is spoken to by Obama — but the fact that one year of the war budget, $1.4 trillion, would be sufficient to provide at least health insurance to all Americans, is kept hidden.
These matters of war and peace, and a budget reflecting the priority of waging war, or the priority of defending rights are all matters for public discussion. And on this issue, the American public has made clear its view that security does not come from more war and aggression, but from ending wars and bringing all U.S. troops home now. We do not want or need a war president with a war budget.
Obama also attempts to speak to the current lack of trust among the people in government. He states, “We must usher in a new era of responsibility in which we empower citizens with the information they need to hold their elected representatives accountable for the decisions they make.” As an example of this “information,” he puts forward the fact that his Pentagon budget included the funding for the wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than leaving them as separate supplemental funding. And the nearly 50 pages of various facts on conditions and to justify the budget are clearly aimed at this same purpose.
Two things stand out. One is that the social relations fundamental to the economy, and to its current crisis, are left out. This is also why the relationship between the war budget and the economy is left out. The social relations, where the working class produces the social wealth of society, while the handful of monopoly owners privately appropriate that wealth and use it for their own narrow interests, is fundamental to the current situation. It is this contradiction that must be addressed and solved. But it is precisely this contradiction that is kept hidden. So long as it is ignored, there is no hope for the “new foundation of growth,” Obama calls for.
Secondly, when it comes to empowerment, the problem that is presenting is the need for the people themselves to be empowered to make the decisions. That is the mechanism required for accountability in this modern era. People want and need the political power to decide these urgent matters of war and peace. They want and need to themselves be in power so that they can resolve the conflict between their popular will, which is anti-war, and the existing legal will, as represented in government, which is pro-war and anti-people.
Resolving this conflict between the popular will and legal will by bringing the people themselves to power is the work of the people themselves and it is this fight that is indeed a priority.
No to a War Budget!
The costs of war keep adding up, in lives and dollars. For over six years peace activists have voted, lobbied, marched, and taken direct action to first prevent and then end the illegal war and occupation in Iraq. Courageous soldiers have refused to fight the war. In Iraq and around the world peace-loving people have called for an end to the violence. But the Bush administration and Congress continue to authorize over $8 billion a month for the war on terror while the U.S. economy is in a tailspin and budget cuts are hitting services across the country. Politicians cannot be trusted with our money.
The War Tax Boycott campaign unites taxpayers who oppose this war in a powerful act of nonviolent civil disobedience — saying NO! to war with our money. Thousands of individuals in the U.S. take this stand despite the risks. Uniting our voices and actions through the War Tax Boycott strengthens our demand that Congress cut off the funds for this war and redirect resources to the pressing needs of people.
The War Tax Boycott was initiated in September 2007 by the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC). The 2008 campaign was promoted by Voices for Creative Nonviolence, War Resisters League, the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, Veterans for Peace, Nonviolent Direct Action Working Group of United for Peace and Justice, and “Don’t Buy Bush’s War” campaign.
More than 500 people around the U.S. joined the War Tax Boycott during the 2008 tax season, ending April 15, 2008. They redirected over $300,000 to humanitarian programs, including medical aid for Katrina survivors, support for Iraqi refugees in Jordan, food banks, programs for the homeless, books for prisoners, environmental projects, peace groups, and hundreds of other nonprofit organizations in the U.S. and around the world.
Please contact NWTRCC if your group is interested in co-sponsoring or promoting the 2009 campaign (www.wartaxboycott.org).
• Base 2010 budget for the Pentagon increased to $533.7 billion for the 2010 fiscal year, an increase of more than $20.4 billion. Pentagon funding since 2001 has increased by about 80 percent.
• War funding includes $75.5 billion in additional funding for wars against Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009 and $130 billion more in 2010. The Iraq war has already taken $600.9 billion out of the economy and continues to do so at a rate of $430 million each day.
• Interest on the national debt created by military spending (80 percent of it) is about $390 billion.
War Funding More than 50 percent of Budget
The information in the pie-graph below is for fiscal year 2009, which runs from October of 2008-September 2009. President Barack Obama’s budget is for fiscal year 2010 and includes even higher levels for the Pentagon than indicated here. The “Analytical Perspective” books for his budget will not be released until the spring.
Total Outlays (Federal Funds): $2,650 billion
On the pie-graph, “current military” accounts for $965 billion. It includes Pentagon ($653 billion), the military portion from other departments ($150 billion), and an additional $162 billion to supplement the Budget’s misleading underestimate of only $38 billion for the “war on terror.” Among the specific items included are:
• Military Personnel $129 billion
• Operation & Maint. $241 billion
• Procurement $143 billion
• Research & Dev. $79 billion
• Construction $15 billion
• Retired Pay $70 billion
• DoE nuclear weapons $17 billion
• NASA (50 percent) $9 billion
• International Security $9 billion
• Homeland Secururity (military) $35 billion
• State Department (partial) $6 billion
• “Global War on Terror” $200 billion [We added $162 billion to the last item to supplement the Budget’s grossly underestimated $38 billion in “allowances” to be spent in 2009 for the “War on Terror,” which includes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan]
Past Military, of $484 billion includes
• Veterans’ Benefits $94 billion
• Interest on national debt (80%) created by military spending, $390 billion
These figures are from an analysis of detailed tables in the “Analytical Perspectives” book of the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009. The figures are federal funds, which do not include trust funds — such as Social Security — that are raised and spent separately from income taxes. What you pay (or do not pay) by April 15, 2009, goes to the federal funds portion of the budget. The government practice of combining trust and federal funds began during the Vietnam War, thus making the human needs portion of the budget seem larger and the military portion smaller.
U.S. Military Spending vs. The World
U.S. military spending — including Pentagon plus nuclear weapons — is now equal to the military spending of the rest of the world combined. The graph below, on right, shows military expenditures for the top 15 countries combined, for 2006. Some say that U.S. military spending will naturally be higher because it has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any country. The United States accounts for 47 percent of the world’s total military spending, however the U.S.’s share of the world’s GDP is about 21 percent. Als o note that of the top 15 countries shown, at least 12 are considered allies of the U.S. The U.S. outspends Iran and the Democratic Republic of Korea by a ratio of 72 to one.
Source: White House budget and War Resisters League
Early this winter, the PBS “NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” interviewed the medical director at a community clinic in Northern California. He recalled the sight of military equipment moving along railroad tracks next to his office. “I’ve joked with my colleagues,” Dr. David Katz said, “if we could just get one of those Abrams tanks we could probably fund all the primary care clinics for a year.”
The comment did not make it on the air — it was only included in video on a PBS Web site — and that was unfortunate. We need more public focus on what our tax dollars are buying.
As medical providers and patients struggle with low funding and high barriers to adequate healthcare, the nation’s largesse for war continues to soar. Every day, the U.S. Treasury spends close to $2 billion on the military. Such big numbers are hard to fathom, but it’s worth doing the math.
In Yolo County, for instance, where Dr. Katz watches Abrams tanks roll by his beleaguered clinic, taxpayers have already provided the IRS with $449.8 million to fund the Iraq war. That’s enough to provide health care to 168,154 children for a full year.
Those figures come from the National Priorities Project, a nonpartisan group with a nifty — and often chilling — online calculator (www. nationalpriorities.org). Type in the name of your locality, and huge military costs suddenly hit close to home.
More than 40 percent of federal tax dollars go to military spending. The outlays buy a mighty war machine while depleting our own communities.
In San Francisco, taxpayers have already sent the U.S. government $2.2 billion for the Iraq war — enough to provide healthcare to 828,378 children for a year. In Oakland, the figure is $826.7 million, costing out to a year of health care for 309,036 children. In San Mateo County, taxpayers’ tab for the war in Iraq has reached $2.6 billion, enough to cover a year of healthcare for nearly 1 million kids.
To make matters worse, this money wasn’t just squandered. It financed warfare that damaged — often fatally — the health of Americans and Iraqis.
When the National Priorities Project crunched the numbers for the entire Bay Area, it found that taxpayers have already sent the IRS a total of $22.6 billion for the Iraq war. In retrospect, other options for that money are heartbreaking. For a full year, it could have provided 9,284,504 people with healthcare. Or it could have paid for 67,522 affordable housing units.
In pursuit of green goals, the Bay Area’s share of expenditures for the Iraq war could have provided upward of 10 million homes with renewable electricity for four years.
Mostly, the dividing line between foreign policy and domestic economy has narrowed to the vanishing point. As we know from our personal lives, priorities — whether openly examined or not — are pivotal. And government budgets tell the tale of social priorities writ large.
Here’s a fact worth pondering: If the money that taxpayers in the state have already provided for the Iraq war — $83.1 billion — could somehow be magically rerouted to the state government’s coffers, the lawmakers in Sacramento would now be faced with the problem of what to do with a massive surplus.
We should not expect that a reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq will do much to slow the rocketing costs of America’s global military ventures. The Obama administration plans to double U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan by early 2010, which will set a new deployment baseline in that country for years to come. And a significant boost in the overall size of the U.S. armed forces is on the bipartisan agenda in Washington.
Meanwhile, along the railroad tracks near Katz’s clinic in Yolo County, the Abrams tanks are likely to keep rolling. Each one has a price tag of $4.3 million. And we’re paying for it.
Norman Solomon, a national co-chair of the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign, lives in Marin County. He is the author of “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”
The fact that the United States has military bases all over the world is not news; neither is it news that it uses them to back its imperialist geopolitical strategies. What is new is that what until now was accepted as the unavoidable “right” of a large power is beginning to be questioned by a growing movement committed to peace and the survival of those of us who inhabit the Earth.
From March 5 to 9, 2008 activists, academics, Nobel laureates, and representatives of social and political movements planned to meet in Quito, Ecuador for the International Conference on the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases — 95 percent of which belong to the United States. There, they will discuss and adopt common actions for turning back the grand objective of the U.S. government: constituting a global empire and destroying — as was the case with Carthage, the Roman Empire — all peoples and nations that oppose it.
It was not accidental that President George W. Bush said he would invade 60 or more “dark corners” of the Earth when he officially inaugurated his crusade of death under the pretext of a war on terrorism.
To do so, of course, he was counting on his impressive genocidal logistics: 737 military bases installed on all five continents, with approximately two million troops, according to revelations by Elsie Monge, president of the Human Rights Commission in Ecuador and by U.S. historian Chalmers Johnson, a scholar on the issue.
The figures, confirmed by the Pentagon, do not include — according to the professor — the 106 military garrisons in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor those in Israel, Qatar, Kirghizstan or Uzbekistan, nor the 20 it shares with Turkey.
Diverse sources affirm that, given its control over those installations, the United States has become the largest landowner in the world, situated on 5,443,077 acres of land.
That entire apparatus is accompanied by the most sophisticated means of war, and by agreements and treaties with countries willing to obey its dictates with docility and servility, allowing it to spread its tentacles over more than 1,000 locations on the planet.
These agreements, to cite just a few, include the so-called “Forward Operating Locations” or “Cooperative Security Locations,” and the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP), all with the common denominator of guaranteeing impunity and intervention by U.S. troops, mostly in the Third World — given that is where the world’s greatest reserves of hydrocarbons, fresh water and other natural resources are located — all needed for its unbridled consumerist society.
In Latin America, our region, considered to date by our powerful northern neighbor to be its back yard, the United States maintains more than a few military bases whose strategic importance has grown in recent years to the same extent that there are more governments willing to put a stop to Yankee impunity and intervention, and thus rescue their already besmirched sovereignty.
The naval base that Washington maintains on the illegally-usurped Cuban territory of Guantánamo is an example of the diabolical use that the empire is capable of giving to these facilities. Since its invasion of Afghanistan and its genocidal war on Iraq, the Guantánamo base has become a detention and torture center, with the apathetic complicity of European governments who did not dare to support Cuba’s proposal to condemn those actions in the UN Human Rights Commission.
From that moment and given the revelations of former prisoners, the movement to close the Guantánamo base, because of its justness, has confronted the double standards that the White House tends to use to address the human rights issue.
Popular mobilizations in Puerto Rico forced the U.S. Republican administration to close down its military base on Vieques, responsible for destroying the environment and the health of that island’s inhabitants.
With that fighting spirit, the movement is going to Ecuador, where a 10-year agreement signed in 1999 by the Ecuadorian government gave the United States the right to occupy and operate the Manta military base, which it uses to back its Plan Colombia, and which has become a launching pad for actions against our nations.
In Honduras, moreover, the Pentagon maintains the Soto Cano/Palmerolas base; in El Salvador, the Compalapa; in Peru, the Iquique; in Aruba, the Queen Beatrice; and in Curacao, the Hato Rey. That does not include the presence of Yankee military forces in Paraguay under the pretext of combating drug trafficking and terrorism in the so-called Triple Border area that unites that nation with Brazil and Argentina, which “coincidentally” possess the strongest economies to date in Latin America.
In the 1980s, moreover, the Pentagon built – in Paraguay’s El Chaco – a base 120 miles from Bolivia and Argentina, and 190 miles from Brazil which, in the Latin American scenario, constitutes a perfect flank for aggression against those countries.
Ecuador, the country chosen for the International Conference for the International Abolition of Foreign Military Bases, is at the center of heavy pressure brought to bear by the United States, given that there, 160 miles southeast of the capital of Quito, the Manta air base has one of the largest landing strips in the region, where U.S. planes fly over the waters and coasts of the eastern Pacific and the Caribbean to Florida, supposedly fighting drug trafficking.
A statement by Colonel Javier Delucca, the U.S. administrator of the euphemistically dubbed Forward Operating Location in Manta, reflected his concern and that of his government’s regarding anti-U.S. sentiment among Ecuadorians and opposition by newly-elected President Rafael Correa to extending the 1999 contract, which is due to expire in 2009. Delucca is worried because, according to the United States, Manta is an important location in the Latin American and Caribbean context, “because we are in a magnificent location for carrying out our mission.” No comment is needed.
Those meeting in Quito to protest the military bases imposed by the United States and other world powers no doubt constitute the advance force of the increasingly growing human conglomerate that, beyond political and ideological differences and positions, is convinced that as History has shown by the fall of ancient empires, the new Caesars are willing to do anything to protect their interests and their delusion s of grandeur.
In 2003 and 2004, President George W. Bush announced his intention to initiate a major realignment and shrinkage of what his administration described as an economically wasteful and outdated U.S. overseas basing structure. The plan was to close more than a third of the nation’s Cold War-era bases in Europe, South Korea, and Japan. Troops were to be shifted east and south, to be closer to current and predicted conflict zones from the Andes to North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Over a planned six to eight years, as many as 70,000 U.S. troops and 100,000 family members and civilians would return to bases in the United States.
In place of big Cold War bases, the Pentagon would focus on creating smaller and more flexible “forward operating bases” and even more austere “lily pad” bases across the so- called “arc of instability.” Guam and Diego Garcia were readied for major expansions, building on pre-9/11 plans. However, rather than shrinking, the overseas base network has expanded in scope and size
In Germany, the military still maintains 268 installations, including massive bases at Ramstein and Spangdahlem; the planned removal of two army brigades is now in doubt after the commander of the army’s forces in Europe recently called for them to stay in Germany. In Japan, the planned move of 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam may be delayed beyond a 2014 target date. In South Korea, U.S. troops left the demilitarized zone and moved from Seoul to expanded bases south of the capital, using the violent seizure of land from villagers in Daechuri to secure their space. Massive war exercises are now underway in Korea, with more troops brought to the peninsula.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and broader U.S. efforts to gain geopolitical dominance in the Middle East, Central Asia, and globally, has meant major extension of U.S. bases in the region. Since the Afghanistan invasion of 2001 and Iraq invasion of 2003, the U.S. has created or expanded bases in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Kuwait. In Iraq it is estimated that there are 100 military installations, not including the massive Embassy, and in Afghanistan about 80. with plans to expand as the U.S. increases it troops occupying Afghanistan.
In Eastern and Central Europe, installations have been created or are in development in Bulgaria, Poland, Romania, and the Czech Republic, and are contributing to rising tensions with Russia. In Africa, as part of the development of the new African Command, the Pentagon has created or investigated the creation of installations in Algeria, Djibouti, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, and Uganda. In the Western Hemisphere, the United States maintains a sizable collection of bases throughout South America and the Caribbean, with the Pentagon exploring the creation of new bases in Colombia and Peru in response to its pending eviction from Manta, Ecuador. The U.S. has so far refused to close and vacate its illegal Guantánamo base in Cuba.
In total, the Pentagon claims it has 865 base sites outside the 50 states and Washington, DC, a total that omits bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other well-known and secret bases. The actual number is estimated at 1,000.
Saturday March 21
People across the country are organizing for demonstrations marking the sixth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Demonstrations are planned in Washington, DC as well as San Francisco and Los Angeles. Local actions are being organized in cities and towns large and small. The stand of the poeple is firm: End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan Now! All U.S. Troops Home Now! Below are excerpts from the call for the DC action:
“The war in Afghanistan is expanding and widening. President Obama announced last week that another 17,000 troops are on their way to Afghanistan. This is a colonial war. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was not involved in the decision to add more occupying troops into his country. Rather, he was “informed of the deployments in a telephone call with Obama” on February 17, according to the Washington Post (February 18, 2009).
“About 350,000 U.S. troops and U.S.-paid private contractors (mercenaries) still occupy Iraq. The Iraqi people want the occupation to end. General Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is insisting that only two of the 14 combat brigades in Iraq exit in 2009. The war and occupation of Iraq costs $430 million each day.”
Demonstrators are also taking their stand against the continued seige of Gaza and the U.S.-Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. As the call brings out, “The U.S. government has continued to fund Israel’s war and blockade against the people of Gaza. The Pentagon provided the funding, and technical and logistical support for the establishment of the Israeli war machine, including its massive cluster and white phosphorous bomb arsenal, and the country’s large cache of nuclear bombs.”
The call continues, “The Justice Department has announced that it will continue the policy of renditions, meaning the CIA and Pentagon will capture and kidnap individuals anywhere in the world and transfer them to other countries. “The Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.” (Los Angeles Times, Feb. 1, 2009).” It adds that Obama “has stepped up the air strikes that are killing an increasingly large number of Pakistani civilians. Unmanned drone bombing attacks violate Pakistani sovereignty and are creating an ocean of resentment and anger inside of Pakistan. The U.S. government has no right to carry out these drone bombing strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.” The call concludes, “More than 20 million people are now unemployed and under-employed. Nine million families are either in foreclosure or are at risk of foreclosure this year, according to the statistics just released by the government. Forty-seven million people are without health care. College tuition hikes are soaring and millions of students are at risk of being forced out of school. The people want change. They want an end to wars of aggression that are wreaking havoc, death and destruction abroad, and diverting urgently needed resources in the service of Empire.”