Today is Tax Day and also the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS.) On every continent, peace and disarmament, sustainable development groups will hold events.
In 70 locations across the US, activities, forums and vigils will be held to raise the call to Move the Money from wars and weapons to fund jobs, public services and transition jobs in defense industries to green sustainable manufacturing.
Tell your Senator and Representative: Cut $100 billion over ten years wasted on nuclear weapons. Urge your Senators to co-sponsor the SANE Act, S. 2070 and your Representative to cosponsor the REIN IN Act, H. R. 4107.
Join the Tax Day/GDAMS actions on social media: Sign onto the Thunderclap asking Congress to eliminate the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), also known as the Pentagon” slush fund.” It is a simple one step action that can reach tens of thousands. Just click on this link.
Join an event in your area. US Tax Day/GDAMS sponsored by: Alliance for Global Justice, American Friends Service Committee, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Foreign Policy in Focus, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Priorities Project, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, USAction, US Labor Against the War, War Resisters League, Women’s Action for New Directions & Women’s Legislators
Readers discuss what kind of armed forces we need to face the threats of the 21st century.
To the Editor:
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s plan to reduce the size of the Army is a step in the right direction. It underscores the fact that waging a large-scale ground war in Iraq and a major counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan were tragic mistakes that should not be repeated.
Critics of the proposal will argue that it will hobble our ability to wage two ground wars at once, without acknowledging that it was not in our interest to do so in the early 2000s and will not be in our interest to do so in the foreseeable future, if ever. This is particularly true with respect to the current situation in Ukraine, where it makes no sense for the United States to take military action regardless of the size of our armed forces.
I hope that Mr. Hagel’s move will set off a larger debate: What kind of armed forces do we need to face the most likely threats of the 21st century?
Given that the most urgent threats we face, from climate change to cyberattacks, cannot be solved with military force, we should substantially downsize our armed forces across the board and invest some of the resulting savings in diplomacy, targeted economic assistance and other nonmilitary foreign policy tools.
WILLIAM D. HARTUNG
New York, March 4, 2014
The writer is director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy.
Mr. Hartung poses an important question — what sort of armed forces do we need to deal with 21st-century threats to the United States? — and leaps to unwarranted conclusions in trying to provide an answer.
His assertion that it will not be in our interest to wage simultaneous large ground wars “in the foreseeable future, if ever” is particularly brazen. Can he state with confidence that the complex and evolving geopolitics of this century will not produce a situation in which the United States must take on two large adversaries at once? I might on the contrary suggest that the relative decline of America, along with the rise of China and other assertive new powers, makes such a situation increasingly plausible.
Mr. Hartung claims that the most significant threats of the present and future, “from climate change to cyberattacks, cannot be solved with military force.” It is true that larger numbers of soldiers will not solve these problems. But dealing with cyberattacks, for example, requires not a diminution of military forces but a repurposing of those forces to take on new foes in new ways.
Climate change is not in itself a military problem, but science tells us that it will likely lead to a world of overstretched resources, increased natural disasters and displaced populations — a world, that is, in which wars and conflicts are ever more likely to break out. This is not a convincing argument for a reduction in the armed forces.
It is common sense to think about the future security challenges we face, and how best to adapt to them; but it is nonsense to assume that, in the 21st century, we no longer have to worry about land wars and threats of a more traditional nature.
DAVID A. McM. WILSON
Brookline, Mass., March 5, 2014
The true issue that should be addressed is not whether we can fight one small war or two but rather, under our nation’s current financial constraints, whether we can continue to afford our existing military establishment. If we opt for the quick solution of fewer “boots on the ground,” it will simply further reduce our capability to respond militarily in settings varying from local weather disasters to major geopolitical conflicts.
What is really required is an attack by the Defense Department on the gross overlapping of military responsibilities, and the concomitant bureaucratic conflicts, delays and simple waste of scarce financial and human resources.
Numerous obvious opportunities exist. Does the Army treat wounds differently from the Navy? Does a chaplain say Mass differently in the Air Force? Are the rules for procurement different? If not, why are these functions not consolidated?
Indeed, does there remain any logic, other than simple hubris, for separate services?
FRANKLIN L. GREENE
Loudon, Tenn., March 5, 2014
The writer is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Air Force.
I agree that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s plan to draw down the Army is a step in the right direction. As Mr. Hartung says, the simultaneous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were catastrophic mistakes that should not be repeated, so there is no reason to keep the Army at its current size.
But even if we did repeat those mistakes in the future — sadly, not a wholly implausible prospect, given that less than 30 years separated the fall of Saigon from our invasion of Afghanistan — that possibility would still not be an argument for keeping the Army at its present size. Historically, we’ve drawn down our forces after wars, without thinking that we weren’t going to have similar wars in the future. When we decided to go to war again, we increased the size of the Army again.
Policy Director, Just Foreign Policy
Urbana, Ill., March 5, 2014
The proposed reduction in troop levels could be the beginning of a new direction of American foreign policy by reducing our capacity for ground wars and occupations. If the reductions were enacted, it would restrict future presidents from pursuing land wars, which would be welcomed by a war-weary public.
Unfortunately, the debate over reducing troop levels is usually derailed by fear mongering on national security. Never has the argument supporting troop reductions been stronger.
The Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon’s strategy document, issued this month, outlines an approach that relies on multilateral military actions, with allies as partners in addressing security issues or natural disasters.
National security and most pressing global issues, such as the climate crisis or cyberattacks or civil conflicts, cannot be solved through military action, or through the action of one country alone. Multilateral action and cooperation are crucial. The situation in Ukraine is yet another example of that reality.
JUDITH LE BLANC
New York, March 5, 2014
The writer is the field director for Peace Action.
Mr. Hartung asks, “What kind of armed forces do we need to face the most likely threats of the 21st century?”
If this had been asked a hundred years ago, in March 1914, what would the answer have been? No one knew that World War I would soon break out, nor could anyone have anticipated World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, Afghanistan or any other military actions that we have been involved in.
Besides, unanticipated world events that changed our military needs have arisen without warning, or our ability to control them — the Communist revolutions in Russia and China, the violent tensions in the Middle East. Is there any reason to think that war game policy planners can find the answer to Mr. Hartung’s question today?
Do we still wish to be a world power, and, if so, what defines that role today and tomorrow? This is what we need to ask before we determine the new size of our armed forces.
Easton, Pa., March 5, 2014
The writer is a professor of sociology at Lafayette College.
The Writer Responds
The responses strike a good balance in asking not just how large our armed forces should be, but also how we should prepare for an uncertain future and what role the United States should play in the world.
Mr. Wilson asserts that it is “increasingly plausible” that the United States might have to fight two large adversaries at once. But he does not say who those adversaries might be. No American leader would be reckless enough to engage in a land war against Russia or China, and there are no other large adversaries on the horizon.
Mr. Schneiderman points out that it is extremely hard to predict the next war. But the most damaging and costly American wars of the past half century — Vietnam and Iraq — should have never been fought. Opponents of these conflicts rightly predicted that they would have disastrous consequences. And as Mr. Naiman indicates, the United States has increased the size of our forces at times of war rather than keeping the Army on a permanent war footing between conflicts. Uncertainty is not a valid reason for giving the Pentagon nearly half a trillion dollars a year.
American foreign policy needs to move beyond a narrow focus on military solutions and invest more in civilian institutions and programs that can help address pressing problems like extreme poverty, climate change and the spread of nuclear weapons. The United States can’t be the world’s policeman, but it can be a leader in addressing the most urgent threats to America and the world.
Rethink Media has prepared fabulous sample tweets and posts for Facebook for social media response to today’s announcement of the President’s budget. Our aim is to shine a spotlight on the wasteful spending in the Pentagon budget.
Sample Tweets on Budget Release:
When we’re winding down two wars, why does the #DoDBudget remain sky-high? http://ow.ly/udU7P
The #Pentagon wastes billions of #DoDBudget on programs driven by special interests that do not advance American security
#DoDBudget should prioritize needs for 21st Century threats, not special interests pet projects http://ow.ly/udV2K
Tax Day: Global Day of Action on Military Spending
Move the Money!
April 15 is Tax Day, a day to reflect on how Congress spends our tax dollars. We are also reminded that not all are paying their fair share. As economic inequality grows, we need a Congress who makes the hard choices on federal spending priorities. It is time to Move the Money from the wasteful Pentagon budget to fund jobs and community services.
April 15 is also the Global Day of Action on Military Spending when community, economic justice, faith, labor, environmental and peace groups will gather in their communities on every continent to call attention to the domestic impact of money poured into military arms and war preparation by governments across the globe while urgent human needs go unmet. Read a roundup of the 2013 US activities here.
The New Priorities Network, one of the supporters of the April 15 Tax Day/GDAMS activities is sponsoring a briefing:
Wednesday March 5 at 8pm EST
Explore creative tactics for local actions on April 15 Tax Day/GDAMS
Other webinars are being planned: March 19 at 7pm EST: Webinar on Federal Budget 101 and Taxes with National Priorities Project, Wand/WILL & Peace Action. A webinar on the Overseas Contingency Operating (OCO) account with Stephen Miles from Win Without War. The OCO (separate from the Pentagon budget) continues to grow even as the wars are beginning to wind down. It amounts to a slush fund to blunt the impact of budget cuts. While the wars are winding down, the OCO is bumping up!
VA Organizing at teh Richmond, VA post office on April 15, 2013
By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director
The International Peace Bureau’s Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is April 15, US Tax Day. Peace Action is convening a cross section of peace and community, faith-based national groups who are supporting local actions across the country on Tax Day. Tax Day will be a day to shine a light on the Pentagon budget and how it drains the resources needed for our communities.
Not only does our government allocate a majority of the discretionary spending every year on the Pentagon at the expense of human needs and diplomacy, it also is one of the world’s biggest arms dealers.
The Tax Day actions are a call for changing national spending priorities, it is also a day of solidarity with all those who suffer from US wars past and present and the presence of over 1,000 bases around the world. The actions will call attention to the domestic impact of continuing to pour money into the Pentagon budget while community services are cut.
The recent Congressional budget deal delayed the next round of ”sequestration” or across the board budget cuts. Federal budget cuts were made but the Pentagon came out the big winner. In fact, the Overseas Contingency Operations account got bumped up while the war in Afghanistan is winding down creating a slush fund to blunt the impact of cuts!
Initial reports are that the Pentagon will announce their budget on February 24 and will include a $26-28 billion dollar “investment fund.” Yet another maneuver to add money to the budget and relieve the pressure to cut the Pentagon budget!
The April 15 Tax Day local actions will focus on Congress. In April, the Congress will be in the midst of working on the federal budget.
We will send a clear message to our Congressional representatives: ”Move the Money” from wars and weapons to human services and convert military industries into civilian use.
We have commitments from 10 Peace Action affiliates to work with their community allies to organize Congressional lobby visits, town hall meetings, and vigils, leafleting, banner drops or other visibility actions. Please post your event here.
Soon a US website will be up with materials, information and organizing tips. Find out more about what is going on around the world at http://demilitarize.org/
For more information email: JLeBlanc@peace-action.org.
A great way to end the year is to toast yet another step forward in the Move the Money Campaign.
Peace Action, national and WI are working with WAND/WILL state legislators, National Priorities Project and the WI Network for Peace and Justice to introduce a CT style state bill to create a commission to explore ways for the local economy to move from dependence on defense contracts for good paying manufacturing jobs to producing for civilian needs.
The South Central Federation of Labor in WI passed a resolution in support of such a bill, following in the steps of the CT State Federation of AFL-CIO and the MD-DC Federation in support of the bill being worked on in MD.
The introduction of bills in other states are being explored by WAND/WILL state legislators with the support of Peace Action and National Priorities Project.
Time is now to move the money from weapons and wars to fund jobs and human services.
Regional labor council takes stand against military spending. Calls for WI Futures Commission to help transition to sustainable economy
The South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL), AFL-CIO passed a resolution this week, calling on Wisconsin to shift away from military spending towards a more sustainable economy. SCFL includes 100 affiliated unions representing working families in south-central Wisconsin.
The resolution notes that “Wisconsin’s economy is highly dependent on military spending,” and that “Oshkosh Truck, which develops military trucks for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan … has laid off 1,200 workers in the past year due to a decrease in federal contracts.”
It supports the formation of a Futures Commission, similar to one established by Connecticut, to “help the state convert from defense spending to more sustainable job creation, such as construction, clean energy, rebuilding national infrastructure and transportation.”
SCFL President Kevin Gundlach said, “Upon my arrival in Madison over 20 years ago, one of my first jobs was working with the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. The issues were clear. It was time to cut the wasteful military spending and start producing domestic products and create jobs. The campaign started locally and succeeded nationally.”
He added, “Today, we face yet again an economic system dependent on military spending that is unsustainable and has outlived its stated purpose. It’s time we start putting in place the steps for a fair and just transition to an economy that works for all working families, for our veterans, the elderly, differently abled and our children alike.”
SCFL’s resolution is the sixth to be passed in Wisconsin. Dane County and the city of Milwaukee previously passed Move the Money / War Dollars Home resolutions, along with the American Federation of Teachers – WI union, Madison Friends Meeting and Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay. Nationally, more than 150 such resolutions have been passed by city councils, county boards and labor unions.
11/8/13 – NORTHAMPTON, MASS.–Judith LeBlanc has been recognized as a Democracy Champion by National Priorities Project (NPP). Selected as one of 32 allies and partners from across the country, NPP recognizes LeBlanc for exemplary leadership and tenacious commitment to the democratic ideals upon which our nation was founded.
“We are honored to celebrate our remarkable allies and partners, without whom our work to democratize the federal budget would be impossible. These Democracy Champions represent a broad cross-section of social movements. We are proud to partner with them as we work towards a federal budget that reflects Americans’ priorities,” NPP Executive Director Jo Comerford said.
National Priorities Project is a national non-profit, non-partisan research organization dedicated to making federal budget information accessible so people can both understand and influence federal spending and revenue decisions. Over the past 30 years, NPP has reached well-over 40 million people and leveraged its research to support thousands of national, regional and state organizations.
“Peace Action and I are honored to be among the awardees, and we treasure our partnership with the National Priorities Project, especially our joint Move the Money grassroots training program on cutting Pentagon spending in order to invest in better human and environmental priorities,” said Le Blanc.
Congrats to the US Peace Council, the New Haven Peace Commission, No Nukes No War, the CT AFL-CIO and International Association of Machinists on the passage of the bill for a state commission on converting defense work to green jobs.
There is a push being made now to insure the Governor signs the recently passed bill into law. Peace Action sent the email below to our members in CT and hopes other national groups will do the same.
From a grassroots organizing perspective, the bill opens up many opportunities for CT organizers for public education and also pressing Congress to cut the Pentagon budget and address the impact on workers and our communities.
Miriam Pemberton from the Institute for Policy Studies drafted Defense Transition proposals for Congressional action.
SAVE THE DATE: June 20 at 8pm EST, USLAW and Peace Action will host a webinar on those proposals.
For those in other states, this bill is an excellent model for how we can begin to respond to the lay offs that have and will begin as the Pentagon budget is cut.
The Congress has its role to play as well. As cuts are made to the Pentagon budget, money should be moved to fund commissions, job development, job retraining and other support for workers and their communities to make the transition from military production to green, sustainable industries.
Military sector workers and their families should not bear the social cost of making the transition to a sustainable peace economy. This commission is a step in the right direction.
Move the Money!
Pass this message on!
Congratulations! On May 14, the CT House followed the State Senate, in passing State Bill 619 creating aCommission on Connecticut’s Future to find ways to keep manufacturing jobs in CT and convert to green industries as the Pentagon budget begins to be reduced. The first in the nation!
The bill passed on a bipartisan 121-15 vote. The bill includes a provision for representatives from labor, environmental and peace organizations seats on the commission. An amendment was defeated which would have stripped the peace and environmental participation.
The “Dream Team” of labor and community groups worked together to get the bill introduced and passed. The team included the City of New Haven Peace Commission, US Peace Council, No Nukes No War, the CT AFL-CIO and International Association of Machinists worked.
The Congress has its role to play as well. As cuts are made to the Pentagon budget, that money should be moved to fund commissions, job retraining and support for workers and their communities to transition from military production to green, sustainable industries.
One of the great benefits of my job is traveling the country and observing/supporting/learning from the outstanding work Peace Action affiliates, chapters and activists carry out every day of the year. Last week I was in Boston for a terrific rally protesting sequestration and budget cuts to human needs programs, and calling instead for cuts to the bloated Pentagon budget. Hats off to Massachusetts Peace Action and their allies in the Budget for All coalition (which organized the wonderful referendum of the same name last November that passed overwhelmingly everywhere around the state it appeared on the ballot). The rally was energetic, diverse (people of color, labor, education, housing and education advocates all spoke and turned out their members, as well as Peace Action and American Friends Service Committee) and militant yet welcoming. Also some great slogans and songs (including the one in the title of this post). Enjoy these photos and be inspired to organize for peace and justice in your community!