April 15th, 2019 - by Gar Smith / War Is A Crime & Truthout
Does Paying U.S. Taxes Violate a Law Against Providing Aid and Support to Terrorist Organizations?
BERKELEY, Calif. (April 17, 2014) — I have just finished mailing my 1040. This year, I didn’t owe taxes and, boy, am I relieved. Not because I can’t afford to cut a check, it’s just that I don’t want to spend the next six years in a federal prison for violating the provisions of US Code Title 18 — Crimes and Criminal Procedures.
exactly what happened to Ahmed Taalil Mohamud, a cab driver in Anaheim, California,
who was sentenced to six years in prison for—as the Associated Press put it—“funneling thousands of dollars
to a terrorist organization” in Somalia.
one of four Somali immigrants convicted of sending nearly $11,000 to al-Shabab,
a militant group linked to Al Qaeda. The other co-conspirators received prison
sentences ranging between 10 and 18 years.
ran afoul of Title 18 — specifically Article 2339C, which sets forth “Prohibitions
against the financing of terrorism.”
stipulates that it is a crime to collect funds with the intention or knowledge
that such funds might be used to carry out any “act intended to cause death or
serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an
active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed combat, when the purpose
of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to
compel government or an international organization to do or to abstain from
doing any act.”
18’s Article 2339B further states that:
“whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign
terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under
this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years or both, and, if the death of
any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”
Any act “intended
to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian” — that stands as a
perfectly legitimate definition of terrorism. President Barack Obama offered an
equally straightforward definition of terrorism on the eve of the first
anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings when he stated: “Any time bombs are
used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.”
My concern is that my government has a long and abiding history of engaging in acts that clearly meet all-of-the-above definitions of terrorism.
A Long, Proud History of Bombing Civilians
US bombs have
been killing civilians in great numbers ever since the end of WWII when the
detonation of a single bomb over the city of Hiroshima incinerated 220,000 men, women and children.
and 1973, America’s secret bombing raids over Cambodia may have killed as many
as 150,000 civilians.
13, 1991, more than 408 civilians were blown to bits in an
aerial attack on the Amiriyah shelter (aka “Public Shelter No. 25”) in Iraq.
The attack was carried out by the US Air Force, using two laser-guided “smart
Allied Force, the US-led assault on Kosovo, Human Rights Watch documented 528 civilians killed in 90 different
In March 2011,
a CIA drone attack killed scores of Pakistanis — mainly civilians and tribal
elders — as they gathered to discuss a local land dispute. “Maybe there were
one or two Taliban at that jirga,” Brig. Abdullah Dogar told the London Sunday
Times, “but does that justify a drone strike which kills 42 mostly innocent people?”
2011 and January 12, 2013, the US had conducted at least 23 air attacks inside
Somalia, nine of which involved drones. Investigations by journalists determined
that between 58 to 170 people were killed in these attacks, including 11 to 57 civilians and 3 children.
2014, Time magazine (citing a 2013 report by the Bureau of
Investigative Journalism) reported “US drone attacks have killed an
estimated 900 civilians in Pakistan since
2004.” The latest BIJ figures list 383 drone strikes (87 percent authorized by
Barack Obama) with as many as 957 civilians and 202 children killed.
And the White
House has not done the country any favors by lowering its terrorism bar. Only a
few days after the murder of a two-year-old child inflamed Afghan anger against
the US, the White House radically revised its rules of engagement. The
previous standard required that the US military was to “ensure” that civilians
were not targeted. Now, troops are merely advised to “avoid targeting”
civilians. Civilian deaths are now acceptable. The only limitation is that they
“must not be excessive” — a slippery word that is open to interpretation.
the “jurisdiction” section of article 2339C, the potential targets of the law
are not limited to immigrant cabdrivers. American citizens are also placed in
the legal crosshairs. The law makes it clear that its enforcement also applies
when “a perpetrator is a national of United States.”
What kind of
crimes are we talking about? They can include assaults against a government
building, acts directed against “any person or property within the US,” or any
offense “committed onboard” an aircraft registered under US law or a vessel
flying the US flag. Taking a cue from the USA PATRIOT Act, the law criminalizes
any “predicate act committed in an attempt to compel United States to do or
abstain from doing any act.” This would seem to include everything from
firebombing the Pentagon to staging vigils at US military bases or holding mass
rallies in the Capital Mall.
for violating this law are severe, including fines and imprisonment “for not
more than 20 years, or both.” And the Department of Justice is not even
required to prove that funds volunteered by a would-be terrorist — or taxpayer
— were actually used to finance, support or provoke some proscribed act. As
Article 2339C clearly stipulates: “[F]or an act to constitute an offense set
forth in this subsection, it shall not be necessary that the funds were
actually used to carry out a predicate act.”
activities” include knowingly providing material support or resources.
Individuals or financial institutions found to have “possessed or controlled
funds used by any designated terrorist organizations” are liable to a fine of
$50,000 or imprisonment “for not more than 15 years or both.” If someone is
killed as a result of the “predicate act,” US law requires a life sentence.
US Code, Article 2339B: “A person must have knowledge that the organization is
designated terrorist organization. . . , that the organization has engaged or
engages in terrorist activity. . . or that the organization has engaged or
engages in terrorism.”
In light of
this definition, a taxpayer’s only defense against a charge of complicity in
supporting state-sponsored terrorism would be to claim total ignorance of the
Pentagon’s long history of collateral damage and civilian carnage. But, given
the state of the US media and education, such claims might prove persuasive in
a court of law.
contains a curious escape clause. “No person may be prosecuted under this
section . . . if the provision of that materiel support or resources to a
foreign terrorist organization was approved by the Secretary of State with the
concurrence of the Attorney General.” Article 2339B then seems to double back
on itself by adding: “the Secretary of State may not approve the provision of
any material support that may be used to carry out terrorist activity.”
provides a possible loophole for taxpayers who fear being prosecuted under to
Article 2339C when it states “whoever knowingly provides material support or
resources to a foreignterrorist organization . . . shall be fined
under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both . . . .”
even the government itself has not been able to avoid violating its own laws.
According to “Contracting with the Enemy,” an April 2014
report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction,
taxpayer money is already being used to finance terrorism in Afghanistan.
In 2013, $1.7
million worth of tax dollars were handed over to 9,733 Afghan contractors but,
because of the way law is written, 80 percent of these contracts were granted
without scrutiny. As a result, the report notes, “millions of contracting
dollars could be diverted to forces seeking to harm US Military and civilian
Pentagon is not only perpetrating acts of terror against civilians from the
Middle East to Panama; it is now in the position of financing terrorism against
Gar Smith is editor emeritus of Earth Island Journal, a Project Censored award-winning investigative journalist, and co-founder of Environmentalists Against War. He has covered revolutions in Central America and has engaged in environmental campaigns on three continents and currently serves on the Coordinating Council of World BEYOND War. He is the author of Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2012) and The War and Environment Reader (Just World Books, 2017).
accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational
April 15th, 2019 - by Jamshed Baruah / InDepthNews
BASEL (April 11, 2019)—While Fridays for
Future protests underline a global dissatisfaction with the
continuing failure of governments and industry to protect the climate, the
setting of the Doomsday Clock
hands to 2 minutes to midnight in January 2019 signifies a continuing high risk
of a nuclear clash with disastrous consequences for human beings and the planet
devastating climate change and the risk of a nuclear war will not be prevented
unless the international community tackles the economic and political influence
of the fossil fuel and nuclear weapons industries: this is the crux of the
message expected to emerge from an international conference organized by
the Basel Peace
Office and taking place in Basel, Switzerland on April 12-13,
manufacturing nuclear weapons and producing fossil fuels are making billions—if
not trillions—of dollars fostering a nuclear arms race and destroying the
climate,” explains Australia’s Dr. Keith Suter the logic behind the
conference titled Move the Nuclear
Weapons Money. He is Economics Futurist and member of
the Club of Rome.
adds: “They have vested financial interests in producing more and more
nuclear weapons and in preventing a shift from fossil fuels to renewable
energy, and they exert intense political power on decision makers to protect
these interests. We must shift the economic incentives from destroying the
planet to instead support peace and the environment.”
conference is part of the move the nuclear
weapons money campaign which is gaining traction around the
world, says a press release. “Already a number of sovereign wealth
(national government) funds, pension funds, city and state funds, banks,
universities and religious organisations have decided to end their investments
in the nuclear weapons and/or fossil fuel industries,” says Thies Kätow, researcher
for the World Future
Council, one of the co-sponsors of the conference.
portion of the trillions of dollars of global investment money, the amount
divested to date is only moderate,” adds Kätow. “However, as
the nuclear weapons and fossil fuel divestment campaigns grow, their
political impact could be as powerful as the divestment campaign against South
Africa in the late 20th Century, which was a critical factor in moving the
South African government to end apartheid in 1994.”
including mayors, city councillors and parliamentarians, financial managers,
civil society representatives and experts in disarmament and climate change are
attending the conference, which is focusing on socially responsible investment
(SRI) as a powerful tool to shift this economic and political power.
includes divestment, that is, ending investments in nuclear weapons and fossil
fuels, and re-investing in sustainability also described as impact investment.
of us are currently supporting fossil fuels and nuclear weapons through
investments made in these industries on our behalf by our governments, cities,
universities, religious organisations, banks or pension funds,” says
Professor (em) Andreas Nidecker MD, President of the Basel Peace Office.
“We can each make a difference by calling on them to end these
action highlights the immorality (and stupidity) of making vast profits on the
destruction of the planet. It also gives support to legislators who are trying
to adopt and implement policies for nuclear disarmament and climate protection,”
adds Dr. Finckh-Krämer in a press release.
investment is the other side of the Socially Responsible Investment coin,”
says Professor Laurent Goetschel, Executive Director of swisspeace.
“By focusing investments on economic enterprises which support sustainable
development, investors can benefit from stable returns as well as the
satisfaction that their investment funds are being used for the improvement of
human lives and the environment. It’s a win-win for all and should be a guiding
principle, at least for all public investment funds.”
significance of the conference is highlighted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ warning in
the letter on June 30, 2018 to member states and the UN staff that the world
body is $140 million short of its budget and could run out of cash, due to late
and non-payment of UN dues by member states.
The Union of
Concerned Scientists pointed out then that the cost to extend the lifetime of each
U.S. Trident nuclear missile is $140 million, the same amount as the UN
yet, if all the nuclear armed States abandoned their plans to upgrade current
nuclear weapons and build new weapons and delivery systems, nearly $100 billion
could be saved. This could then re-directed into the economy for job creation,
climate protection, education, health, peace, diplomacy and sustainable
security,” added Ware then.
Reversing the financial interests in fossil fuels and the nuclear arms race.
International Conference: Move the Nuclear Weapons Money
An international conference on divestment and
other actions to reverse the nuclear arms race and protect the climate
Switzerland (April 12-13, 2019) — Nuclear weapons and
climate change create existential threats to humanity and the environment.
Federal governments have committed to eliminating both threats—nuclear weapons
through the disarmament obligation in the Non-Proliferation Treaty and climate
change through the Paris Agreement. However, implementation of these
obligations is being prevented by institutional inertia and vested financial
interests in the status quo, especially from the fossil fuel and nuclear
Corporations involved in the nuclear
weapons industry, for example, actively lobby their parliaments and governments
to allocate even more funds to nuclear weapons. And they support think tanks
and other public relations initiatives to promote the ‘need’ for nuclear
weapons to be maintained, modernized and deployed.
Basel Peace Office has joined with
other partners in launching Move the Nuclear Weapons Money,
a global initiative to cut nuclear weapons budgets and investments, and
reinvest these in climate protection, peace and key areas of a sustainable
economy, such as education, renewable energy, health, job creation and
One of the most effective tools for
non-nuclear governments, cities, universities and civil society is nuclear
weapons divestment. Such action puts economic and political pressure on
corporations to abandon their involvement in the nuclear weapons industry or
convert such production to civilian purposes. Similar divestment from the
fossil fuel industry can assist in cutting carbon use and supporting renewable
Already several governments, cities,
religious institutions and universities in Europe, USA and globally have adopted
nuclear weapons and or fossil fuel divestment policies. These include the Swiss
War Materials Act of 2012, Berlin city policy on non-investment in armed
warfare, Göttingen University policy of non-investment in fossil fuels or
nuclear weapons, Cambridge MA city policy of divesting from nuclear weapons,
and the UK Quaker meetings divestment from fossil fuels.
Additional impetus for nuclear weapons
divestment comes from the 1996 International Court of Justice
opinion on nuclear weapons, United Nations adoption of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017 and the UN Human Rights Committee affirmation in October 2018 that
nuclear weapons violate the Right to Life as codified in the International Covenant on Civil and Political
This conference will bring together
legislators (mayors, city councilors and parliamentarians), financial managers,
and experts in disarmament and climate change to examine successful divestment
policies and support their expansion and replication. The conference will also
address impact investment and build cooperation to advance related nuclear
The conference will build upon
previous Basel events including a European Regional Meeting of Mayors for
Peace and PNND held
in January 2019, the 2019 Basel Peace Forum which focused on impact investment,
and an international conference in Basel in September 2017 on Human Rights, Future Generations and Crimes in the
Mayors, city officials,
parliamentarians, financial managers, policy analysts, experts in nuclear
disarmament and climate change, university students and nuclear disarmament
campaigners from Europe and North America, with a focus on Switzerland, Germany
The conference will consist of six
sessions, two on the afternoon of Friday April 12 and four on Saturday April
13. The Friday sessions will be public and consist of presentations followed by
Q&A from the audience. The Saturday sessions will be restricted to
conference participants and will be in seminar workshop format.
Confirmed Speakers Include
Lukas Ott, Head of Cantonal and City
Development Unit, Basel-Stadt Kanton President’s Department;
April 15th, 2019 - by Nicolas J. S. Davies / AntiWar.com
(April 15, 2019) — The U.S. Congress has begun
debate on the FY2020 military budget. The FY2019
budget for the US Department of Defense is $695 billion dollars. President
request for FY 2020 would increase it to $718 billion.
Spending by other federal Departments adds over
$200 billion to the total “national security” budget ($93 billion
to Veterans’ Affairs; $16.5 billion to the Department of Energy for nuclear
weapons; $43 billion to the State Department; and $52 billion to the Dept. of
These sums don’t include the interest on US debts incurred
to fund past wars and military buildups, which boost the real cost of the US
Military-Industrial Complex to well over a trillion dollars per year.
Depending which of these sums one counts as military
spending, they already eat up between 53% and 66% of federal discretionary
spending (interest payments are not part of this calculation because they are
not discretionary), leaving only a third of discretionary spending for
At the April 4th NATO summit in Washington, the US pressed
its NATO allies to increase their military spending to 2% of GDP. But a July
2018 article by Jeff Stein in the Washington
Post flipped that on its head and examined how the US could fund many of
our unmet social needs by instead reducingourown military spending to 2% of GDP from its current 3.5%-4%. Stein
calculated that that would release $300 billion per year for other national
priorities, and he explored some of the ways those funds could be used, from
balancing the federal budget to eliminating child poverty and homelessness.
Perhaps to create an illusion of balance, Jeff Stein quoted
Brian Riedl of the Manhattan Institute, who tried to pour cold water on his
idea. “It’s not just a matter of buying fewer bombs,” Riedl told him.
“The United States spends $100,000 per troop on compensation – such as
salaries, housing (and) healthcare.”
But Riedl was being disingenuous. Only
one eighth of the post-Cold War increase in US military spending is for pay
and benefits for US troops. Since US military spending bottomed out in 1998
after the end of the Cold war, inflation-adjusted “Personnel” costs
have only risen by about 30%, or $39 billion per year. But the Pentagon is
spending $144.5 billion on “Procurement” of new warships, warplanes
and other weapons and equipment. That is more than double what it spent in
1998, an increase of 124% or $80 billion per year. As for housing, the Pentagon
has slashed funds for military family housing by over 70%, just to save $4
billion per year.
The largest category of military spending is “Operation and Maintenance,” which now accounts for $284 billion per year, or 41% of the Pentagon budget. That’s $123 billion (76%) more than in 1998. “RDT&E” (research, development, testing & evaluation) accounts for another $92 billion, a 72% or $39 billion increase over 1998. (All these figures are inflation-adjusted, using the Pentagon’s own “constant dollar” amounts from the FY2019 DOD Green Book.) So net increases in personnel costs, including family housing, account for only $35 billion, one eighth of the $278 billion per year rise in military spending since 1998.
A major factor in rising costs at the Pentagon, especially
in the most expensive “Operation and Maintenance” portion of the
budget, has been the policy of contracting out functions traditionally
performed by military personnel to for-profit corporate
“contractors.” This outsourcing drive has been an unprecedented gravy
train for hundreds of for-profit corporations.
study by the Congressional Research Service found that an incredible $380
billion of the $605 billion FY2017 Pentagon base budget ended up in the coffers
of corporate contractors. The portion of the “Operation and
Maintenance” budget that is contracted out has grown from about 40% in
1999 to 57% of today’s much larger budget – a bigger share of a much larger
The largest US weapons makers have developed, lobbied for
and now profit enormously from this new business model. In their book, Top Secret America, Dana Priest and
William Arkin revealed how General Dynamics, founded and headed for most of its
history by Barack
Obama’s patrons, the Crown family of Chicago, has exploited this
outsourcing surge to become the largest supplier of IT services to the US
Priest and Arkin described how Pentagon contractors like
General Dynamics have evolved from simply manufacturing weapons to playing an
integrated role in military operations, targeted killings and the new
surveillance state. “The evolution of General Dynamics was based on one
simple strategy,” they wrote: “Follow the money.”
Priest and Arkin revealed that the largest weapons makers
have secured the lions’ share of the most lucrative new contracts. “Of the
1,900 or so companies working on top secret contracts in mid-2010, roughly 90
percent of the work was done by 6% (110) of them,” Priest and Arkin
explained. “To understand how these firms have come to dominate the
post-9/11 era, there’s no place better to look than…General Dynamics.”
Trump’s choice of General Dynamics board member General James Mattis as his first Defense Secretary personified the revolving door between the upper echelons of the armed forces, weapons manufacturers and the civilian branches of government that fuels this corrupt system of corporate militarism. This is exactly what President Eisenhower warned the American public against in his farewell speech in 1960, when he coined the term “Military-Industrial Complex.”
What To Do?
By contrast with Riedl, William Hartung, the director of the
Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, told the Washington Post that the substantial
cuts in military spending Jeff Stein was considering were not
unreasonable. “I think it’s very reasonable in terms of still
defending the country,” said Hartung, “Though you would need a
strategy to do it.”
Such a strategy would have to start from a clear-eyed
analysis of the 67%, or $278 billion per year, inflation-adjusted increase in
military spending between 1998 and 2019.
– How much of this increase is the result of US leaders’
decisions to wage disastrous wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia,
Libya, Syria and Yemen?
– And how much is the result of military-industrial
interests leveraging this state of war to cash in on wish-lists of expensive
new warships, warplanes and other weapons systems and the corrupt gravy train
of corporate outsourcing I have already described?
The bipartisan 2010 Sustainable Defense
Task Force convened by Congressman Barney Frank in 2010 answered these
questions for the period 2001-2010, concluding that only 43% of military
spending increases were related to the wars US forces were actually fighting,
while 57% were not related to current wars.
Since 2010, while the US has continued and even expanded its
wars and covert
operations, it has brought home most of its occupation forces from
Afghanistan and Iraq, handing over bases and ground combat operations to local
proxy forces. The FY2010 Pentagon budget was $801.5
billion, only a few billion shy of Bush’s $806 billion FY2008 budget, a
post-WW II record. But in 2019, US military spending is only $106 billion (or
13%) lower than in 2010.
A breakdown of the small cuts since 2010 makes it clear that
an even higher proportion of today’s military spending is non-war-related.
While Operation and Maintenance costs have dropped by 15.5% and Military
Construction costs have shrunk by 62.5%, the Pentagon’s budget for Procurement
and RDT&E has only been cut by 4.5% since the 2010 peak of Obama’s
escalation in Afghanistan. (Once again, these figures are all in “FY2019
Constant Dollars” from the Pentagon’s DOD Green
So large amounts of money can be cut from the military
budget just by seriously applying the discipline on which the military prides
itself to the way it spends our country’s money. The Pentagon has already
determined it should close
22% of its military bases in the US and around the world, but the trillions
of dollars with which Trump and Congress keep flooding its accounts have
persuaded it to put off closing hundreds of redundant bases.
But reforming US military and foreign policy requires more
than just closing redundant bases and fighting rampant waste, fraud and abuse.
After 20 years of war, it is way past time to admit that the aggressive
militarism that the US adopted to exploit its position as a “sole
superpower” after the end of the Cold War, and then to respond to
the crimes of September 11th, has been a catastrophic and bloody failure,
making the world much more dangerous without making Americans any safer.
So the US also faces an urgent foreign policy imperative for
a new commitment to international cooperation, diplomacy and the rule of
international law. The US’s illegal reliance on the threat and use of force as
our country’s main foreign policy tool is a greater threat to the whole world
than any of the countries the US has attacked since 2001 ever were to the
But whether the Military-Industrial Complex uses our nation’s
resources to fight catastrophic wars or just to line its own pockets,
maintaining a trillion-dollar war machine that costs more than the seven
to ten next largest militaries in the world put together creates an
ever-present danger. Like Madeleine
Albright on the Clinton transition team in 1992, new US administrations
come into office asking, “What’s the good of having this wonderful
military you’re always talking about if we’re not allowed to use it?”
So the very existence of this war machine and the rationales
conjured up to justify it become self-fulfilling, leading to the dangerous
illusion that the US can and therefore should try to impose its political will
by force on other countries and people around the world.
A Progressive Foreign
So what would an alternative, progressive US foreign policy
If the United States were to comply with the renunciation of war as an “instrument of national policy” in the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact and the prohibition against the threat or use of force in the UN Charter, what kind of Department of Defense would we actually need? The answer is self-evident: a Department of Defense.
If the US was committed to serious diplomacy with Russia, China and other nuclear-armed nations to gradually dismantle our nuclear arsenals, as they already agreed to in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), how quickly could the US join the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), to eliminate the greatest existential threat facing us all? This answer is also self-evident: the sooner the better.
Once we no longer wield our military forces and weapons to threaten illegal aggression against other countries, which of our budget-busting weapons systems can we manufacture and maintain in much smaller numbers? And which can we do without altogether? These questions would require some detailed and hard-nosed analysis, but they must be asked — and answered.
Phyllis Bennis of the Institute for Policy Studies made a
good start on answering some of these questions at the underlying policy level
in an August
2018 article in In These Times titled,
“A Bold Foreign Policy Platform for the New Wave of Left Lawmakers.”
Bennis wrote that,
“A progressive foreign policy must reject US military
and economic domination and instead be grounded in global cooperation, human
rights, respect for international law and privileging diplomacy over war.”
Serious diplomacy for peace and disarmament with Russia, China, North Korea and Iran;
Abolishing NATO as an obsolete and dangerous relic of the Cold War;
Ending the self-fulfilling cycle of violence and chaos unleashed by the US’s militarized “War on Terror”;
Ending US military aid and unconditional diplomatic support for Israel;
Ending US military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen;
Ending US threats and economic sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Venezuela;
Reversing the creeping militarization of US relations with Africa and Latin America.
Even without a progressive policy platform that would
transform the U.S.’s existing aggressive military posture, Barney Frank’s 2010 Sustainable Defense
Task Force proposed cuts of about a trillion dollars over ten years. The
main details of its recommendations were:
Reduce US nuclear posture to 1,000 nuclear warheads on 7 submarines and 160 Minuteman missiles;
Reduce overall troop strength by 50,000 (with partial withdrawals from Asia and Europe);
A 230 ship navy, with 9 “big-deck” aircraft carriers (we now have 11, plus 2 under construction and 2 more on order, plus 9 smaller amphibious assault ships or helicopter carriers);
Two fewer Air Force wings;
Buy less costly alternatives to the F-35 fighter, MV-22 Osprey vertical takeoff plane, Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and KC-X air tanker;
Reform top-heavy military command structures (one general or admiral per 1,500 troops in 2019);
Reform the military healthcare system.
So how much more could we cut from the bloated military
budget in the context of serious progressive reforms to US foreign policy and a
new commitment to the rule of international law?
The US has designed and built a war machine to threaten and
conduct offensive military operations anywhere in the world. It responds to
crises, wherever they are and including ones it created itself, by declaring
that “all options are on the table,” including the threat of military
force. That is an illegal threat, in violation of the UN
Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of force.
US officials politically justify their threats and uses of
force by claiming that they are to “defend US vital interests.” But, as the
U.K.’s senior legal adviser
told his government during the Suez crisis in 1956, “The plea of vital
interests, which has been one of the main justifications for wars in the past,
is indeed the very one which the (UN) Charter was intended to exclude as a
basis for armed intervention in another country.”
One country trying to impose its will on countries and people all over the world by the threat and use of force is not the rule of law — it is imperialism. Progressive policymakers and politicians should insist that the United States must live by the binding rules of international law that previous generations of US leaders and statesmen have agreed to and by which we judge other countries’ behavior. As our recent history demonstrates, the alternative is a predictable downward slide into the law of the jungle, with ever-proliferating violence and chaos in country after country.
First of all, eliminating our nuclear arsenal through
multilateral treaties and disarmament agreements is not just possible. It is
Next, how many “big-deck” nuclear-powered aircraft
carriers will we need to defend our own shores, play a cooperative role in
keeping the world’s shipping lanes safe and take part in legitimate UN
peacekeeping missions? The answer to this question is the number we should keep
and maintain, even if it is zero.
The same hard-nosed analysis must be applied to each element
in the military budget, from closing bases to buying more of existing or new
weapons systems. The answers to all these questions must be based on our
country’s legitimate defense needs, not on any US politician or general’s
ambitions to “win” illegal wars or bend other countries to their will by
economic warfare and “all options are on the table” threats.
This reform of US foreign and defense policy should be
conducted with one eye on a transcript of President Eisenhower’s farewell speech. We must not
allow the vital transformation of the US war machine into a legitimate
Department of Defense to be controlled or corrupted by the “unwarranted
influence” of the Military-Industrial Complex.
As Eisenhower said, “Only an alert and knowledgeable
citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military
machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and
liberty may prosper together.”
A legitimate Department of Defense should provide the United
States with better foreign policy outcomes for no more than half the cost of
our current budget-busting war machine. Every Member of Congress should
therefore vote against final passage of the wasteful, corrupt and dangerous
FY2020 military budget.
And as part of a progressive and legitimate reform of US
foreign and defense policy, the next President of the United States, whoever he
or she may be, must make it a national priority to cut US military spending by
at least 50%.
Nicolas J S Davies is the
author of Blood
On Our hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq, and of the chapter on “Obama At War” in Grading the 44th
President. He is a researcher for
CODEPINK: Women For Peace, and a freelance writer whose work has been widely
published by independent, non-corporate media.
accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational
An Unheard-of Progressive Rebellion in the Democratic Caucus
WASHINGTON,DC (April 14, 2019) —We are in an uphill battle to stop the Pentagon from gobbling up all our resources, and we need your help to fight back. Donald Trump’s team proposed increasing Pentagon spending to an inexplicable, mind-boggling 750 BILLION DOLLARS next year. And this came just weeks after he dipped into the Pentagon’s overflowing coffers to build his racist, unnecessary, hugely expensive border wall in an unconstitutional power grab.
Instead of opposing this absurd proposal, House Democrats
“countered” by offering 733 BILLION DOLLARS to the Pentagon — a figure Trump’s
Republican Congressional allies have called for — continuing to make funding
for the war machine a priority.
Democrats control the House, which means they control the purse-strings, so why on earth would they give Trump exactly what he wants?! And that’s why it’s a HUGE deal that last week, an unheard-of rebellion in the Democratic caucus, led by progressives, beat back the obscene budget proposal.
We cracked the door open for the fight to
come and showed that we won’t stay quiet for political expediency. And it
wouldn’t have happened without progressives like you making a ruckus.
But this is only the beginning and it’s going to be a uphill
battle to prevent the Pentagon from gobbling up all our resources, so we need
your help to fight back.
Progressives Applaud House Dems For Pulling Unworkable Budget Bill
CREDO Action, Indivisible, MoveOn, and Win Without War
2019) — CREDO
Action, Indivisible, MoveOn, and Win Without War released the following
statement in response to the reports that House Democratic leadership has
withdrawn its budget caps-raising bill, H.R. 2021, from the floor:
“Last week, we asked House
Democrats to scrap their budget proposal which would have thrown even more
money at the Pentagon’s already overflowing coffers at the expense of investing
in our communities and in solutions to real global challenges like climate
“We were encouraged that House progressives agreed, and we commend House
leadership for ultimately pulling the bill from consideration.
“Now that the public and the progressive movement has spoken, we urge Democratic leadership to come up with a new plan based on the realities that are facing our country, and that prioritizes human needs over an already-bloated Pentagon budget.”
(March 11, 2019) — Win Without War Director Stephen Miles
released the following statement regarding President Trump’s proposed FY2020
“The Trump administration’s proposed $750 billion
so-called defense budget is yet another disgraceful corporate giveaway that
will only serve to further line the pockets of defense industry CEOs rather
than making us more secure. This unprecedented spending spree at the Pentagon
is based on politics and greed, not security or need.
The United States already outspends the next ten countries
combined (most of which are our allies). And there’s no reason to throw more
money at the Pentagon amid continued waste, fraud, and abuse, and its inability
to pass a financial audit.
“In fact, the $750 billion proposal is so outlandish that
it’s nearly $20 billion more than defense officials were originally asking for,
and it’s more than $30 billion above the $716 billion figure Trump himself
called ‘crazy’ as recently as last December.
“Instead of rewarding Pentagon corruption and waste, the
White House and the Congress should set
the national defense budget at or below $576 billion — the level established by
the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 for FY2020 — eliminate the off-books slush
fund the Pentagon uses to avoid budget caps, and work towards a budget that is
more aligned with the priorities of the American people, not corporate CEOs.”
House Dem Budget Plan Must be Reworked to Fund People Not War and Waste
“While we agree with the House Democrats in their
rejection of Donald Trump’s immoral and draconian budget, the solution cannot
and must not be to put even more money into an already bloated and wasteful
budget for the Pentagon.
“House Democrats appear to be accepting at face value the absurd notion that the Pentagon needs more money, when it can’t even account for what it already spends, can’t even spend the obscene amount of money Congress already appropriates, and can’t rein in waste, fraud, and abuse.
This proposal also ignores the reality that Donald Trump is using the Pentagon’s overflowing coffers to advance anti-immigrant, extremist policies including needlessly deploying thousands of U.S. military personnel to the border and building his wall. Giving Donald Trump essentially what he wants and hoping that he returns the favor is nothing more than delusion masquerading as strategy.
“House Democrats should immediately drop this plan and instead put forward a bold vision that shows what it would actually look like to invest in people and our communities through much-needed domestic programs and to deal with real global challenges like climate change. ”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.