KC Peace Measure Wins Nearly One-Quarter of the Vote, Succeeds in Public Education

April 5, 2013

By Jane Stoever, PeaceWorks Kansas City

Kansas City, Mo., voters received a barrage of negative publicity from the “vote no” camp before the April 2 election, but 23 percent of the voters still said yes to stopping future KC financing for producing parts for nuclear weapons. The vote tally was 25,006 against and 7,559 for the measure.

“It’s a win!” said Rachel MacNair, campaign coordinator for “vote yes” proponents, after the polls closed April 2. “We’ve always said our strategy was to educate the public about the nuclear weapons parts plant, and our goal of making the plant and the nuclear weapons upgrade program more controversial has been achieved.” She said it was amazing to gain 23 percent of the vote in the face of the negative publicity from the opposition.

That publicity, focusing on jobs and national security, included three pricey mailers, robo calls from Mayor Sly James, handouts from paid workers at polls, and ads in local papers. For example, a promotional insert from Freedom Inc. in The Pitch in late March said of the ballot measure, “This is a rogue issue that was placed on the ballot by initiative petition, motivated by anti-nuclear extremists who want the United States to dispose of its nuclear weapons while other nations keep theirs.”

When, earlier, the second mailer from the “vote no” camp made the same charge, MacNair countered that peace groups are calling for multilateral, not unilateral, disarmament, and the third mailer carried revised language. However, that third mailing featured North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s threat to turn Washington, D.C., into a sea of fire—a way to call for strengthening the U.S. nuclear deterrent. Despite the fear-based mailers, many voters talked with peace activists outside the polls, and some voters said they’d vote yes because of those contacts. One voter who, on leaving the poll, said she had voted yes, was asked why. In a quiet voice, she replied, “It’s just terrible to make those weapons.”

Before election day, PeaceWorks members informed the community about the peace measure through multiple activities. KKFI community radio interviewed various proponents on four programs and played a public service announcement. KCUR, an affiliate of National Public Radio, played and replayed a segment quoting MacNair and City Councilman Scott Taylor, who opposed the measure. Local TV programs such as “Week in Review” discussed all the election issues. Although The Kansas City Star editors recommended a no vote on the measure, news reporter Lynn Horsley quoted heavily from MacNair in her story originally titled “David vs. Goliath in Measure on Weapons Manufacturing.” PeaceWorks members circulated flyers at churches, offered informational cards to “Disney on Ice” attendees and to community groups, and leafleted on sidewalks. Perhaps the most flamboyant stint was the dropping of three banners above highways 71 and 670. The banners flew a few days.

PeaceWorks committed $4,000 to the campaign as its major contributor. The opposition amassed more than $123,000, with donors including Honeywell, which manages the current and new KC plants for the National Nuclear Security Administration; J.E. Dunn Construction Co., which heads up construction for the new plant; and the Chicago law firm Richmond Breslin, home base to Kevin Breslin, lawyer for CenterPoint, the development company that worked with KC on the plan for public/private ownership of the new plant.

Ann Suellentrop of PeaceWorks shared election results with national peace leaders on behalf of the KC peace community. The American Friends Service Committee disarmament coordinator, Joseph Gerson, replied, “Thank you for all that you’ve done. Born Jewish in 1946, in many ways my frames of reference are from the Second World War and the Holocaust. It would seem that … the majority of voters in KC seem to care in the short term about their well-being but, in what Hannah Arendt once termed the ‘banality of evil,’ put jobs and comfort ahead of nuclear genocide or omnicide.”


Towards a Foreign Policy for the 99%

December 18, 2012

published by Foreign Policy in Focus

Towards a Foreign Policy for the 99 Percent

By Kevin Martin, December 18, 2012

Relief, rather than elation, was probably the emotion most U.S. peace activists felt when President Barack Obama won re-election. While Obama has been very disappointing on most peace issues, Mitt Romney would have been all the worse. So what now to expect from a second Obama term?

Most likely, more of the same; anyone expecting Obama to be decidedly more pro-peace this time around is likely to be sorely dispirited. However, there is a diverse, growing peoples’ movement in the United States linking human and environmental needs with a demand to end our wars and liberate the vast resources they consume. This, combined with budgetary pressures that should dictate at least modest cuts in the gargantuan Pentagon budget, could lead to serious constraints on new militaristic ventures such as an attack on Iran, “modernization” of the entire U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise at a cost of over $200 billion, a permanent U.S. force of up to 25,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, or an absurd military “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific aimed at isolating Russia and especially China.

We in the peace movement need to be able to think, and act, with both a short- and long-term perspective. In the near term, swiftly ending the war in Afghanistan and ensuring no long-term U.S./NATO troop presence, stopping drone strikes, preventing a war with Iran and building support for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, pushing for serious cuts to the Pentagon budget, and advocating progress toward nuclear disarmament will consume most of our energies. Renewed emphasis on a just and lasting peace between Palestine and Israel should also garner more attention and activism. Finally, peace activists will need to lend solidarity those working to save social programs from austerity-minded elites and to address climate chaos.

In the longer term, we need to hasten what Professor Johann Galtung calls “The Decline of the U.S. Empire and the Flowering of the U.S. Republic.” We have an opportunity in opposing the outrageous “Asia-Pacific Pivot,” which the military-industrial complex has concocted without asking the American people if we support it or want to continue borrowing from China to pay for it (too weird, right?). We can point out the insanity of this policy, but we can also devise a better alternative, including building solidarity with the peoples of Okinawa, Jeju Island, Guam, the Philippines, Hawaii, and other nations in the region opposing the spread of U.S. militarism and advocating peaceful relations with China.

Defining the Democratic Deficit

This pivot is just the latest example of the fundamentally undemocratic nature of U.S. foreign policy.

The more we in the peace movement can point out that our tax dollars fund policies contrary to our interests, the easier it will be not just to build specific campaigns for more peaceful and just policies, but also to create a new vision for our country’s role in the world—to create a new foreign policy for the 99 percent.

So we peace activists need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to offer credible, sustainable alternatives on the issues listed above, with specific actions ordinary people can take that make a difference. But we must go further and advocate a foreign and military policy that is in the interest of the majority of this country, one that comports with widely shared ideals of democracy, justice, human rights, international cooperation, and sustainability.

It’s no news flash that elite and corporate interests have long dominated U.S. foreign policy. Illustrating this democratic deficit has two related aspects. The first is the question of access: “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” Currently, although it technically foots the bill, Congress—let alone the public—has barely any say in how U.S. foreign policy is set or implemented. On a second and integrally related note, in whose interest is it to perpetuate a gargantuan military budget, maintain a vast and expensive nuclear arsenal, or start an arms race with our banker, China? It’s hard to imagine that any ordinary person could conclude these policies serve anyone but the 1 percent.

Notions of justice and human rights are widely resonant in the United States, but they require careful consideration and explanation. “Justice” should not be invoked simply as it concerns parties to a conflict, but rather should entail racial, social, and economic fairness for all those who are affected by the grinding military machine. Emphasizing the broader social consequences of militarism will be key for growing our ranks, especially among people of color, community activists, and human needs groups. And while “human rights” is a no-brainer, it requires courage and commitment to communicate how U.S. foreign policy constantly contradicts this ideal abroad, even as our government selectively preaches to other countries on the subject.

International cooperation, while it can seem vague or milquetoast—especially given the neglect or outright stifling of “global governance” structures by the United States—is a highly shared value among people in this country and around the world. Selling cooperation as a meaningful value is fundamentally important for undermining the myth of American exceptionalism, which so many politicians peddle to sell policies that only harm our country in the long run.

Finally, while the environmental movement still has loads of work to do, the successful promulgation of the concept of sustainability is an important achievement, one we can easily adapt to military spending, the overall economy, and a longer-term view of what kind of foreign policy would be sustainable and in the interest of the 99 percent. Climate activists and peace activists need to know that they have a vital stake in each other’s work.

A glimpse of the power of democracy was in evidence on Election Day, and not just in the legalization of gay marriage and recreational marijuana in a few states. When given a choice, as in referenda in Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut advocating slashing military spending and funding human needs, people will choose the right policies and priorities; both initiatives won overwhelmingly.

Contrary to the hopes many people in this country and around the world invested in Barack Obama (which he didn’t deserve and frankly he never asked for), it’s never been about him. It’s about the entrenched power of the U.S. war machine, and about how we the peoples of this country and around the world can work together to create more peaceful, just, and sustainable policies. We can do it; in fact we have no choice but to do it.

Kevin Martin has served as Executive Director of Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund since September 4, 2001, and has worked with the organization in various capacities since 1985. Peace Action is the country’s largest peace and disarmament organization with 90,000 members nationwide.

Recommended Citation:

Kevin Martin, “Towards a Foreign Policy for the 99 Percent” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, December 18, 2012)


Take Action: Tell President Obama and Congress – Jobs Not Wars!

December 11, 2012

                      Send President Obama and Congress a Message

On Election Day, we sent a message.  Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. End the wars and reinvest in our communities.

The wars and tax breaks for the rich and corporations got us into this mess. Move the money from wars and weapons to fund jobs and human services and make the rich pay their fair share of taxes.

Sign the Jobs not Wars Petition. http://bit.ly/jobs-not-wars-PA

 

One of the best ways to reduce the deficit is to put people back to work.  It’s time to invest in our people and our communities to create stable jobs at living wages, rehabilitate our nation’s infrastructure and programs that serve the needs of people and communities, and develop a sustainable economy that protects the planet for future generations.

We want the war in Afghanistan to endand for substantial cuts to be made to runaway Pentagon spending.

Sign the Jobs not Wars Petition. http://bit.ly/jobs-not-wars-PA

 

Over 80 organizations are gathering signatures to remind Congress and the Obama administration we need to fundamentally change Federal budget priorities from wars and ever more deadly weapons to jobs and meeting the needs of our communities.

We will present the Jobs Not Wars Petition to Congress & President Obama around the time of the Inauguration.

Forward this email. Ask your friends and family to join you in signing the Jobs Not Wars Petition.  Post this link http://bit.ly/jobs-not-wars-PA on your Facebook page and Tweet it to your social network.  There is strength in numbers.

Don’t let our elected officials forget what we voted for. Time to change federal spending priorities from the “military industrial complex” to reinvest in our communities.

Humbly for peace,

 

Kevin Martin


It’s Not About Obama, It’s About Us!

November 26, 2012

–Kevin Martin

I was asked by our colleagues at the French Peace Movement (Mouvement de la Paix) to write an article a couple of weeks ago for their excellent magazine Planete Paix on the outcome of the presidential election and what it will mean for our work in the next few years. Here it is, and it may appear in longer form somewhere else soon. I’d be interested in your comments!

Relief, rather than elation, was the emotion most U.S. peace activists felt November 6 when President Obama won re-election. While President Obama has been very disappointing on most peace issues (and right now most peace activists are furious at him for drone strikes killing civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and maybe other countries), Mitt Romney would have been awful as president. So what now to expect from a second Obama term?

Most likely, more of the same policies of the first term. Anyone expecting Obama to be decidedly more pro-peace than in his first term is likely to be sorely dispirited. However, there is a diverse, growing peoples’ movement in the U.S. linking human and environmental needs with a demand to end our wars and liberate the vast resources they consume. This, combined with difficult budgetary pressures (which should dictate at least modest cuts in the gargantuan Pentagon budget) could lead to serious restraints on possible militaristic policies such as an attack on Iran, “modernization” of the entire U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise at a cost of over $200 billion, a permanent U.S. force of 25,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014 and an absurd military “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific aimed at isolating Russia and especially China.

We in the peace movement need to be able to think, and act, with both a short- and long-term perspective. In the near term, swiftly ending the war in Afghanistan and ensuring no long-term U.S./NATO troop presence, ending drone strikes, preventing a war with Iran and building support for a WMD Free Zone in the Middle East, pushing for serious cuts to the Pentagon and advocating progress toward nuclear disarmament (including building new boycott/divestment campaigns utilizing the excellent International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons  “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” report) will consume most of our energies. Also, peace activists will build alliances with and lend solidarity to efforts to those working to save social programs and address climate chaos.

In the longer term (and looking through a broader lens), the U.S. is hopefully heading toward, in the analysis of Johann Galtung, “The Decline of the U.S. Empire and the Flowering of the U.S. Republic.” We need to understand and hasten that process as much as we can. We have an opportunity in opposing the outrageous “Asia-Pacific Pivot” (which the military-industrial complex has concocted, without asking the American people if we support or want to pay for it, as an obvious attempt the justify its continuing rasion d’etre), building solidarity with the peoples of Okinawa, Jeju Island, Guam, Hawaii and other nations in the region opposing the spread of U.S. militarism there and advocating peaceful relations with China and all in the region. Surely that is a better idea than trying to isolate China militarily, politically, economically and geo-strategically.

Contrary to the hopes many around the world invested in him (which he didn’t deserve and frankly he never asked for), it’s never been about Obama. It’s about the entrenched power of the U.S. war machine, and about how we the peoples of this country and around the world can work together to demand and create more peaceful and just policies.

 


A Huge Election Victory You Probably Didn’t Hear About – Budget for All Initiative Wins by 3 to 1 in Massachusetts!

November 7, 2012

You’ll hear more soon about big successes in Peace Action and Peace Action PAC’s electoral work (a strong majority of our endorsed pro-peace candidates for House and Senate won yesterday), but Massachusetts Peace Action and its allies deserve special kudos for the landslide victory of the Budget for All, which won 74% of the vote in towns and cities across the Commonwealth. The B4All calls for ending the wars, cutting Pentagon spending, investing in human needs and fair taxation. Here’s their press release:

PRESS RELEASE

Paul Shannon American Friends Service Committee

(617) 623-5288 pshannon@afsc.org

Laurie Taymor-Berry Survivors Inc

(617) 491-1318 laurietaymorberry@yahoo.com

 

Budget for All!

Stop the Cuts · Invest in Jobs · Fair Taxes · End the Wars

11 Garden St., Cambridge, MA 02138

www.budget4allmass.org   617-354-2169

 

 

Mass. Voters Urge Tax Fairness, Military Cuts

to Avoid “Fiscal Cliff” and Protect Vital Programs

 

Boston, November 7, 2012 – By a three to one margin, Massachusetts voters yesterday sent a clear message to both Democrats and Republicans in Washington about the federal budget crisis and the impending “fiscal cliff”.  The Budget for All ballot question passed by 661,033 to 222,514 votes.  It calls for no cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or other vital programs; investment in useful jobs; an end to corporate tax loopholes and to the Bush cuts on taxes on high incomes; withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan now; and redirection of military spending to domestic needs and job creation.  The question passed by a wide margin in every district and all 91 Massachusetts cities and towns where it appeared on the ballot, ranging from most of Greater Boston to Holyoke to Norwood, Lawrence and Fall River.

 

“The election was just yesterday, but already Washington elites are talking about a ‘Grand Bargain’ that would cut Social Security, Medicare and programs for the poor with only token tax increases on the rich and cuts to the bloated military budget,” commented Michael Kane, executive director of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants. “The reported ‘Grand Bargain’ would cut two and half times the amount raised in new revenues to reduce the federal deficit.   The people of our state have voted for an alternative to prevent cuts to programs that benefit us all and to invest in jobs instead.”

 

The Budget for All passes at a critical moment as the “fiscal cliff” and “sequestration” loom on Washington’s horizon.  Unless Congress acts now, automatic cuts in needed programs will go into effect beginning January 1.  And even bigger cuts will follow.

 

“We see there’s a war going on in our own neighborhoods, where people are dying from shootings and killings and issues in our communities.   It frustrates residents to see that so much is being spent on the military and overseas instead of bringing those resources right here in our own neighborhoods,” said Mimi Ramos, Executive Director of New England United for Justice.

 

Adds Laurie Taymor-Berry of Survivors, Inc., “Yesterday’s vote sends a clear message to Senator Kerry, Senator Brown, Senator-Elect Warren, President Obama and other elected officials to deal with the deficit by changing the policies that caused it, not by cutting teachers’ jobs, mass transit, Medicaid and food aid.”

 

Initiated by over 80 community, peace, labor, and faith groups, the Budget for All is supported by State Treasurer Steve Grossman, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, and Representatives Barney Frank, Mike Capuano, Jim McGovern and Ed Markey, along with 10 State Senators, 18 State Representatives, and 15 city councilors.

 

The Budget for All Coalition is gearing up to expand its work to ensure that Congress heeds the expressed will of the people of Massachusetts.

 

#  #  #

 


Ignoring Climate Chaos, Sowing Disaster Relief Chaos are InSane!

October 29, 2012

A pox on both presidential tickets for their shameful ignoring of climate chaos in the debates and the campaign overall. Hurricane Sandy seems timed to remind us all this issue is real, denial by candidates focused on other concerns notwithstanding. Here’s hoping folks on the East Coast can ride out the storm safely, and a hearty early thanks to all first responders, emergency crews and utility workers who will have huge jobs ahead of them.

My guess is at some point the shape shifting Mitt Romney will say something about these brave folks, and like most things that escape his lips it will be drenched in hypocrisy. Romney and Ryan want to privatize emergency relief services, or at least they have said so plainly in the recent past. Is this another position Romney will, at least rhetorically, change in his desperate attempt to appear reasonable? Whatever, his advocacy of privatization of disaster recovery services was and is InSane. (Especially considering his plan to increase Pentagon spending would require across the board cuts of 34% in all domestic discretionary spending. Is he going to tell the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea to churn up 34% fewer hurricanes?)


Excellent Op-Ed by Jon Rainwater of Peace Action West – Two Questions for Obama and Romney on Afghanistan

October 18, 2012

Published by The Hill, an influential Capitol Hill publication

By Jon Rainwater, executive director, Peace Action West and the Peace Education Fund – 10/18/12 02:30 PM ET

When voters mark their ballots on November 6th, there will be 68,000 U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan. In spite of a long campaign, it’s still unclear what each candidate believes should happen with those soldiers after Election Day.

Nothing captures the ambiguity better than Tuesday’s news from the State Department about the formal opening of negotiations to extend the US troop presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014. This follows on the heels of Vice President Biden’s much-noted statements in the vice presidential debate that, “We are leaving in 2014, period.” President Obama has also been trumpeting the coming end of the war, with a partial withdrawal completed this summer. But the U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership agreement he signed this year, along with statements from the Pentagon, leave the door wide open to a large troop presence as far out as 2024.

In his recent foreign policy address, Gov. Romney tried to distinguish himself from the president on the war, but offered little proof of a real difference between them. Both candidates are keeping their options open, essentially only committing to figuring it out as they go.

 

 

After 11 years, that’s not good enough. Next week’s foreign policy debate could be voters’ last opportunity for answers before November 6. Here are two questions about the war that voters should be asking.

First, what are we waiting for? Neither candidate has publicly considered withdrawing before the end 2014. But they have also failed to offer a compelling case that another two years will strengthen US and Afghan security.

There are fewer than 150 al Qaeda operatives left in Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden has been dead for more than a year. The original rationales for military action are no longer relevant.

The main thrust of current U.S. strategy is the operation aimed at training Afghan security forces. But there has been widespread evidence of problems with that program. Nothing exemplifies this better than the huge spike in insider attacks by Afghan security forces. Just this year, more than 50 US and NATO troops have died in attacks orchestrated by insurgents infiltrating the training program. Those attacks have sent shockwaves throughout the entire operation. As U.S. General John Allen, Commander of U.S. and NATO forces, put it, “You know, we’re willing to sacrifice a lot for this campaign. But we’re not willing to be murdered for it.”

We are losing lives and spending billions to at best spin our wheels, and at worst, arm and train insurgents. The candidates need to clarify how long they plan to keep troops on the ground, and if they want more time, offer evidence that it will make a difference.

The second question we should be asking is, if there are gains to be made, are they worth the cost? In Romney’s terms, is this war worth borrowing even more from China to pay for? And the far more serious question: is this war worth dying for?

The federal government is facing looming spending cuts due to a financial crisis partially driven by more than eleven years of off-books war spending. Neither candidate has detailed how much the taxpayers will shell out for an extended military presence in Afghanistan, but we’re already looking at $88 billion for 2013. Can either candidate argue that this spending is worth it, when the $1 million it takes to keep just one soldier in Afghanistan for a year could create 14 jobs in health care or 15 in public education here at home?

In addition to the financial cost, our armed forces have been overworked and stretched thin, and we have not adequately cared for our veterans. More than 2,000 soldiers have died in Afghanistan; 1,000 were killed in the last 27 months of an eleven-year war. More than 17,000 have been wounded. The presidential candidates have flown under the radar on this issue, but the stakes continue to be great for Americans, and for Afghans. In recent surveys, 66 percent of Americans say they oppose the war, and 49 percent want it to end immediately. The presidential candidates owe us an answer as to why neither of them has made a clear commitment to making that happen.

Rainwater is executive director of Peace Action West and the Peace Education Fund.


Before the debate, tell Romney and Obama you want to end the war in Afghanistan now!

October 15, 2012

Tomorrow night’s second presidential debate may, or may not, surface big differences between the two candidates on various foreign and domestic policy issues.

One crucial issue on which we know there is not a lot of space between the candidates is ending our country’s longest war, now beginning its 12th year. President Obama has stated the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan will end in 2014 (though there is not clarity on whether this means the end of 2014, or earlier in the year). Mitt Romney has largely agreed with this.

However, the Administration is said to be negotiating with the Afghan government for up to 25,000 U.S. troops to remain for over a decade. Unlike other countries where U.S. forces are often paid for by the host government, this is likely to all be on the U.S. taxpayers’ tab.

There’s no reason in the world we should pay for that, nor for up to two more years of a miserably failed war. Sunday’s New York Times editorial comprehensively lays out why we should get out as soon as safely possible, not sometime in 2014.

Let the candidates hear, loud and clear, before the debate, that the war needs to end and the sooner the better. Take this quick action – copy and post the link to the Times editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/opinion/sunday/time-to-pack-up.html) with a quick comment of your own (“I AGREE – END THE WAR NOW!” would work just fine) to the Obama and Romney campaign websites: Romney http://www.mittromney.com/forms/suggestions  Obama http://barackobama.force.com/questions.

Thanks for taking this simple action, and encourage your friends to do so as well.


Romney’s China Zinger Offers an Opening for a Serious Debate on U.S. Asia Policy (not his intention I’m sure!)

October 4, 2012

So I have to admit that when I heard it last night during the presidential debate, I thought this was a clever zinger by Mitt Romney (or his speech writers more likely):

“What things will I cut from spending? Well, first of all, I will eliminate all programs by this test, if they don’t pass it: Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it? And if not, I’ll get rid of it.”

This needs a bit of unpacking (and my few points about this quote are far from comprehensive, I’m sure others have very different takes in it).

First, Romney’s “test” is somewhat appealing, purposely so I’m sure, to folks who are concerned about the U.S. debt, much of which is owned by China. However, one could have made the point in a generic way, leaving out the fact that China is our largest banker (“Is the program worth continuing to borrow money to pay for it?”). That would still be a good test, yes? In addition to judging government programs by that standard, people make that judgement in their personal lives all the time, determining whether to borrow money to buy a car or a house or to go to college is a smart move.

So was Romney’s mention of China just an off-hand remark? I don’t think so. “China” to many Americans can mean very different things, but many of them are, in my observation, unfortunately pejorative. So my guess is this was intentional, meant to raise unhelpful and maybe even racist stereotypes about China, and concerns about the U.S.-China economic relationship.

However, Romney gave us an opening, unwittingly I presume, for deeper analysis and conversation about the U.S.-China relationship, especially in the “security” realm (others could certainly go much deeper than I into the economic interdependency, not always healthy, between the world’s two largest economies).

Josh Rogin, blogging for Foreign Policy, captured this very nicely: “Is Romney saying it’s worth borrowing from China to build more ships to contain China?” This is so brilliant and succinct because this is exactly what the U.S. is doing now, and planning to increase in the future, under the military’s much-ballyhood but little understood “Asia-Pacific pivot.” (For example, and speaking directly to Rogin’s point, the U.S. Navy has announced it plans to station 60% of the overall fleet in the Pacific.)

While Romney won’t publicly say this (and neither will Obama), the U.S. war machine needs an enemy to continue to justify its raison d’etre and its stranglehold on the lion’s share of our federal tax dollars. “International terrorism” just doesn’t cut the mustard. China is the only plausible “enemy” that might fit the bill.

Except China, which certainly has many economic, environmental, energy, human rights and democracy challenges, has no real interest in an arms race or global competition for military hegemony with the U.S. China certainly has regional interests that are of serious concerns to its neighbors, but it is simply not an expansionist power to anything like the degree the U.S. is. A few factoids on this are instructive:

-The U.S. has somewhere between 800 and 1000 foreign military bases (there is no agreement on the number or even the definition of a “base,” which is why the number is so imprecise). China has one, a relatively new one at that, in Seychelles (which is telling, representing as it does a key Chinese concern, keeping open shipping lanes).

- At $711 billion per year, the U.S. spends about as much on the military as the rest of the world combined (and the full “national security” budget is over $1 trillion per year). China, with the number two military budget, spends about one-fifth of what the U.S. does, at $143 billion (figures from SIPRI, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute).

-The U.S. has a dozen aircraft carrier battle groups, able to project fearsome military might worldwide (to say nothing of our nuclear arsenal). China just recently inaugurated its first aircraft carrier, which experts say is at least several years away from minimal combat readiness, according to a recent Wall St. Journal article. At present it is fit only for training purposes, and China doesn’t have any jets that can land on it. So by U.S. standards, the number of Chinese aircraft carriers would be “none.”

-The U.S. military divides the entire planet into regional “commands,” with forces and power projection plans covering basically the whole planet. Neither China nor any other country has any such structure or capability.

So the wisdom and advisability of “pivoting” in order to economically, militarily and politically isolate your main banker is a head scratcher. Why would China want to underwrite that? Especially when its biggest economic interest will soon probably be to stimulate domestic consumer demand.

And why would this pivot, offering only a pointless, counter-productive military competition with China, be in the interests of the people of this country? It would certainly fail this test – should we spend our tax dollars on an idiotic, open-ended military buildup to “contain” China (when the best policy would be to rely on non-coercive diplomacy to balance the interests of all the peoples of the region), instead of on schools, sustainable energy and jobs, affordable housing, infrastructure and addressing climate change?


Train for Change! Peace Action Education Fund’s Move the Money Training Program, and FaceBook Action to Press Prez Candidates to Cut Pentagon Budget!

September 14, 2012
President   Dwight Eisenhower warned the nation of the dangers of a military   industrial complex which had begun to influence all aspects of our society   – “economic, political, even spiritual — felt in every city, every   State house, every office of the Federal government.”Ike   was right!

More   than half of all yearly discretionary spending goes to the Pentagon budget   separate and apart from the costs of the wars. Now they employ more than   1,000 lobbyists, nearly two for every Congressional representative. Take a   moment to go to Facebook and let the presidential, and your congressional,   candidates know that Ike was right!

Post   to Facebook: “Time to change national spending priorities, move the   money from the Pentagon budget to fund jobs and community services.” http://www.facebook.com/mittromney and http://www.facebook.com/barackobama

A   new grassroots movement is growing in support of moving the money from   weapons and wars to funding our communities. The movement is mobilizing to   pass city council resolutions calling on their Congresspeople to cut the   Pentagon budget and bring the war dollars home.

NC Peace Action organized in Burlington, NC for passage of the most recent   local resolution in a town of 50,000 where 14% of the population lives below   the poverty line. They may have lobbyists, but we are organizing a   politically empowered grassroots movement.

Peace   Action has partnered with National   Priorities Project to   create a model for a one day Move the Money Training. The trial runs in New   York City, Ohio and Maryland brought together community groups organizing on   labor and voters rights, poverty issues, veterans’ issues, along with faith   communities and peace activists. The participants are on the front lines of   the struggle for our communities.

The   Move the Money Training drills down into the details of the federal budget   spending priorities and how it prioritizes the Pentagon over human needs .

The   federal budget is a document much like the US Constitution and the Bill of   Rights which shapes and, in some cases, dictates how we function as a society   and therefore should reflect our core values and priorities. Through   interactive exercises, the Move the Money Training provides an opportunity to   explore the roots of the fear mongering on reducing the Pentagon budget. We   examine the ways we can take action together to weigh in on the national   debate underway in the 2012 elections and in the halls of Congress.

We   are still refining the Move the Money Training curriculum. We are preparing   to give the trainings in other parts of the country and then provide the   training materials for others to use.

Until   we are effectively mobilizing tens of thousands of everyday people into the   debate with the knowledge of the federal budget and a sense of grassroots   political power to counter the fear mongering, we will not change national   spending priorities. The Move the Money Training plus the local initiatives   to press local elected officials to take a stand are critical elements of   movement building to challenge the might of the military industrial complex.

Weigh   in with the presidential and congressional candidates and tell them: ”   All the polls show that a majority want the Pentagon budget cut at least 18%   What are you going to do to change national spending priorities?” Mitt Romney on Facebook and President Obama on Facebook

And   Like Peace Action on Facebook

The   Move the Money Trainings is one effort to strengthen community, labor and   peace movement alliances for a fundamental shift away from a militarized   federal budget and foreign policy. Please post information on your efforts at   http://www.facebook.com/peaceaction

Power to the Peaceful,
Judith LeBlanc
Field Director
Peace Action Education Fund

 


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 13,250 other followers

%d bloggers like this: