Despite the fact that we inhabit a war culture and machine with a vast reach and capacity never seen before, we must stand strong in opposition to endless war. It falls upon us as peace activists to inspire American people – and people around the world – to call for an end to war, to protest drone attacks and nuclear weapons modernization, to wage campaigns to cut the military, to stand up in our communities to bring attention to the futility of war, and to demand a full focused effort on diplomacy and redirection of resources to meet human needs and protect mother earth. It’s time for the movement for peace and justice to rise again! Join the 2016 Global Days of Action on Military Spending.
The Middle East and Central Asia
U.S. military intervention continues unabated – in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya, leaving chaos in its wake and millions of refugees fleeing war zones. Administration advisors push to return boots on the ground in areas that Daesh (ISIS) moves into. In Syria, the U.S., Russia and now France – three nuclear-armed nations – are bombing side-by-side and on different sides. Turkey, a NATO member with U.S. nuclear weapons based on its soil, faces off against Russia,and it appears that the U.S. is arming Kurdish Turkish opponents fighting Daesh across the border in Syria.
The humanitarian crises resulting from these wars are horrific and include: the bombing of hospitals – allegedly by both the U.S. and Russia, lack of food and water in war-torn areas, destruction of entire cities and communities, millions of children losing years of education, (can add some more horrors).
The U.S. (the largest weapons seller in the world) and European allies also are selling Saudi Arabia – the biggest supporter of terrorism in the world — billions of dollars of weapons, which then are being used to slaughter innocent civilians in Yemen and repress democracy in Saudi Arabia..
Europe and NATO
In Ukraine and Eastern Europe, the U.S. and its NATO allies and Russia are backing opposite sides in a confrontation involving four nuclear-armed countries. Both NATO and Russia are building up their forces along Russia’s border, and increasing the tempo of exercises of both nuclear and conventional forces. The Obama administration’s new military budget calls for a massive increase in funding to support this dangerous buildup.
These military interventions continue with little Congressional debate and no real discussion about the merits (if any) and risks (many) involved – leaving the American people on the sidelines and further endangering U.S. troops in futile, endless wars.
The Far East
To add to these dangerous conflicts, the U.S. and China, another nuclear-armed nation, are facing off against each other in the seas bordering China and other Asian nations. In January, North Korea conducted its 4th nuclear test (claiming it was an H-bomb). In a show of force, the U.S. responded by deploying a B-52 bomber capable of carrying nuclear weapons on a low-level flight over its ally South Korea. North Korea’s subsequent satellite launch has further inflamed tensions in the region.
As the U.S., Russia, China and the other nuclear-armed nations spend billions of dollars to modernize their nuclear arsenals, the danger of wars among nuclear-armed states is growing.
The War at Home
The increasing militarization of police in communities across the U.S., coupled with an ever-growing disparity in wealth, adds to the violence, racism, and oppression experienced by those marginalized by our society. People of color, immigrants, low-income workers and homeless people face unending harassment, intimidation, aggression, incarceration, and even murder by police and vigilantes. The legal system is failing to provide justice as erroneous or draconian use of the criminal justice process ruins the lives and futures of many.
An increasing technological “surveillance state” monitors civilian activities and conceals governmental and corporate criminality. Calls for closing borders, monitoring of Muslim communities, and ever-present racism fuel xenophobia, islamophobia, and hate crimes. In the face of these threats new campaigns are emerging. Black Lives Matter, Immigrant Rights, and Indigenous Rights movements are demanding self-determination and real security. As peace activists we must also confront this never-ending war at home and stand with our fellow activists who are calling for economic and racial justice.
Cutting Military Spending
Total military spending in the Administration’s recently released FY 2017 budget request continues to increase, amounting to nearly $623 billion, including the Pentagon budget, nuclear weapons and aid to foreign militaries. The budget provides $583 billion for the Pentagon alone in 2017, a $2 billion increase over 2016.The Pentagon budget is more than ten times the budget allocated for diplomacy under the Department of State. Compared to $7.5 billion for military efforts to fight Daesh, the budget provides just $4 billion for dedicated diplomacy and humanitarian relief around the region.
These endless wars have cost millions of lives and trillions of dollars, while the needs of growing numbers of Americans here at home go unmet. Europe is overwhelmed by the largest refugee crisis since World War II, with huge daily migrations (6,000 people per day) and drownings of people so desperate to escape war zones that they undertake perilous journeys to a place that might be safer. Meanwhile, the United Nations is begging for a mere $550 million in aid for the refugees who are the victims of war.