Move the Money on Tax Day

April 15, 2014

30927_10150183416160391_1940262_nBy Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director

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.

Join the global action by calling Congress 202-224-3121

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.

Background:

MA Senator Ed Markey introduced Senate bill S. 2070, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act. OR Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced a companion bill in the House, H.R.4107, the Reduce Expenditures in Nuclear Infrastructure Now (REIN-IN) Act. 

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


Calling All Women State Legislators: You can help Move the Money!

April 1, 2014

By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director MOVE Square

WAND/Will, one of Peace Action’s strategic partners in the Move the Money Campaign, has launched a drive to get women state legislators to sign onto a Congressional letter calling for cutting the Pentagon budget to fund human services.

Please, take a minute and send the appeal below to your state representatives. Get a copy of the Congressional sign on letter here.

Why is this important? It opens the door for a conversation with a state level elected who can become an ally in building a strong grassroots movement to change national spending priorities. The only way real cuts in the Pentagon budget will be made, and a just transition for communities who have depended on defense contracts for good paying jobs will happen is if a strong grassroots movement draws all the stake holders together to press Congress to act.

The WAND/WiLL Congressional Letter will be released to the press on Tax Day as part of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS.) Time is short, please join this important initiative!

Sample EMAIL/LETTER to send to your state legislator:

Dear XXX,

Women state legislators across the nation are urging Congress to adopt a federal budget that reflects the values and best interests of the American people. Please join this national effort today, organized by the Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL).

As you know, year after year, more than 50% of our discretionary budget – the budget Congress debates and votes on every year – goes to the Pentagon. We cannot keep America economically strong and competitive if we are squandering money on expensive outdated weapons systems we don’t need. Continued overspending at the Pentagon budget comes at the expense of necessary, vital programs that feed and teach our children, provide healthcare to our elderly, train our unemployed, and support our veterans. State legislators understand the impact of these federal budget priorities on states and communities.

Support what is best for your constituents, our communities, and our states: investing federal dollars in sectors that will create productive jobs and help our economy grow for years to come. The deadline to sign is Monday, April 7 but please ask your legislators to sign on today!

Women state legislators can sign on to the letter to Congress by emailing Adzi Vokhiwa at avokhiwa@wand.org or calling 202-544-5055, ext. 2603.

Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL) is a program of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND).

Thank you,

XXXX


Peace Action in the NY Times

March 17, 2014

By Kevin Martin, Executive Director Peace Action

If you read the New York Times, you might have seen this last Sunday:

“National security and most pressing global issues, such as the climate crisis or cyber attacks 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, our Field Director,  was part of theSunday Dialogue exchange on Pentagon spendingon the Times op-ed page.

It is no mystery why the Times turned to Judith and Peace Action to weigh in on this pressing issue which has been in the headlines of late. Your support can help amplify Peace Action’s voice and continue our important and urgent work.

Peace Action is a national leader in the movement to build support for Moving the Money – our tax dollars — from war and weapons to investing in human and environmental needs and diplomacy.

From participating in the national debate via the mainstream media, to building national coalitions, to taking our demands to Congress, to our unique grassroots “Move the Money” training program (devised by Judith, and being conducted this year in several states around the country!), Peace Action’s work is crucial to building an unstoppable movement for peaceful priorities.

We need to move some money too, to support our vital organizing. Please give $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $250 or whatever fits your budget via our secure online portal.

 


Join us March 5: Creative Tactics for Tax Day Organizers

February 28, 2014

+GDAMS-Ad

April 15, 2014

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 

with Beautiful Trouble’s Nadine Bloch. 

Conference call number: 712-775-7000 Code: 637020#

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!

More info on US Tax Day/ Global Day of Action on Military Funding at http://demilitarize.org/

If your group is already planning event, please post the details here so others can join. Or email jleblanc@peace-action.org.


Labor says: WI must shift from military spending to sustainable economy

December 21, 2013

By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field DirectorMOVE circle

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.


Move the Money Op-Ed in Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

March 7, 2013

Great job by Peace Action Wisconsin Program Director Mike Helbick, who got help on this from our friends at the Coalition for Human Needs.

Cuts Threaten Milwaukee, our Economy
By Mike Helbick
March 6, 2013

This year alone, Milwaukee taxpayers will contribute $695 million to the U.S. Department of Defense. That would be enough to provide Milwaukee with 10,700 elementary school teachers, 10,500 police officers or medical care for 96,400 veterans. Instead, Milwaukee’s hard-earned tax dollars are paying for foreign military interventions and ineffective weapons systems at a time when Milwaukee desperately needs these funds here at home.

The implications of this budget choice are even worse when you consider that money spent on domestic priorities such as education, health care, housing and clean energy creates more jobs than military spending. For example, when Congress spends $1 billion on the military, it creates 11,200 jobs, but when it spends the same amount on education, it creates 26,700 jobs.

So it’s easy to see why last September, Milwaukee’s Common Council unanimously adopted a “Move the Money” resolution calling for the United States to redirect federal spending from foreign military interventions to investing in programs to address critical domestic and urban needs. What’s difficult to understand is how last week Congress could make life even harder for Milwaukee residents.

On March 1, Congress allowed indiscriminate across-the-board cuts to go into effect. These cuts are harming thousands of Wisconsin residents. We may not see the results yet, but we will soon. Because of the cuts, people in our state will go without food, lose jobs and income and get pushed toward homelessness. The cuts are dangerous. They are also unnecessary. And they come on top of $1.9 trillion in spending cuts and interest savings that have already happened. Wisconsin has lost 8.3% of its federal funds since 2010. We can’t afford to lose more.

The U.S. Senate considered, but failed to pass, legislation to replace these cuts in February. The Democratic leadership offered a proposal that would prevent cuts to education, public health, nutrition and other vital services by replacing them with more gradual cuts to the Pentagon, ending some farm subsidies, setting a minimum tax for millionaires and closing other tax loopholes. This is a balanced, sensible approach to reducing the deficit that will protect Wisconsin’s economy and residents. It is supported by most Americans.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) voted for this pragmatic approach, but Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) did not.

While the March 1 cuts affect a broad range of services touching the lives of most Americans, many reductions will hit low-income people particularly hard. For example, according to a new report by the Coalition on Human Needs, 8,100 low-income young children and mothers in Wisconsin will lose access to nutritious food. An estimated 1,377 low-income families will lose rental housing vouchers – for most, that probably means they will lose their homes. Nationally, nearly 5 million people have been out of work at least six months, but unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed will be cut 9.4%. In Wisconsin, 900 children will lose their place in Head Start and 500 will lose the help they need to pay for quality child care. These cuts will slash education, meals for low-income seniors, mental health treatment, environmental cleanup, food safety protections and much more.

The cuts also will harm our fragile economy, eliminating 700,000 jobs nationwide just when the economy is finally beginning to recover.

Milwaukee will be hit even harder than the rest of Wisconsin. Because nearly one out of three Milwaukee residents lives below the poverty line ($23,550 for a family of four), Milwaukee has more residents in need of help with basic needs such as nutrition and housing, and less local funds to help meet their needs.

Pushing more families and seniors into poverty and reducing our investment in education even further is simply not necessary. Instead of this self-inflicted wound, we should reduce bloated, wasteful Pentagon spending and move the money we save to job creation, education, health care and other priorities.

We should ask millionaires and top corporations to pay more of their share. A 5.6% surtax on income over $1 million could raise more than $450 billion over 10 years, which would replace most of the next decade’s domestic cuts. Options to tax offshore profits of corporations would raise hundreds of billions more.

When the Common Council passed the “Move the Money” resolution, it called for our nation to change its priorities and put domestic challenges first. Congress needs to give the balanced approach a second chance, in order to prevent real harm to Wisconsin’s people and economy.

Mike Helbick is program director with Peace Action-Wisconsin. Email Mike@peaceactionwi.org


Action Alert: Your Chance to Respond to the State of the Union

February 14, 2013

Tuesday night, President Obama delivered his first State of the Union
speech of his second term. While it was a mixed bag for progressives on various domestic and foreign policy issues, there was a bit (but not much) on cutting Pentagon spending.

Of course, you already know Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund, at the national and local levels, are helping lead a growing movement to demand not just more peaceful foreign policies, but also Moving the Money from war and weapons to investments in our communities’ needs. Peace Action affiliates and chapters are having terrific success building coalitions, passing referenda and resolutions calling for cutting Pentagon spending, lobbying Congress, and getting our message out in the media.

On this last, crucial task, we need your help. Please use our model to send a letter to the editor of your local newspaper on the issue of Pentagon spending. The time is ripe, as Congress is
currently wrestling with severe budget challenges. Members of Congress, and the public, need to hear our voices, and letters to the editor are one of the best ways for us to be heard. This is a coordinated campaign involving individual supporters like you and our chapter and affiliate leaders, so your efforts and support are part of a rising tide of peace and justice mongers!

Please click here to get started, it will only take a few minutes to use (and feel free to edit and customize) our letter template.

For Peace and Moving the Money!

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


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)


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.

 

#  #  #

 


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?


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