Cost of War
HOUSE: IT'S TIME TO STAND FOR PEACE
Here is a new action we can all take – with the help of Peace Action West – regarding the nuclear weapons talks with Iran. Pro-Peace Representatives are standing up for diplomacy and against loose war talk.
There has been more talk of military attacks on Iran in the last few weeks. Sen. Tom Cotton (the author of the infamous letter from 47 Republicans to Iran’s Prime Minister) and conservative pundit Bill Kristol have joined Sen. John McCain as well as Bush-era neocon John Bolton in calling for war.
But the historic framework reached with Iran was an impressive step forward that cannot be ignored. To that end, three House members, Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.), and David Price (D-N.C.) are organizing members of Congress to support talks over war. They are leading a letter supporting the administrations' diplomacy.
Strategically, this letter can have a number of key political impacts:
• The letter backs up U.S. diplomats by showing support for the talks in Congress. Iranians are looking at recent actions in Congress and wondering if the U.S. can deliver on its promises.
• The letter explicitly pushes back on the war talk coming from people like Tom Cotton, John McCain, Bill Kristol and John Bolton.
• By building political support for a final deal, the letter is vital in preventing a deal from being voted down. There will likely be votes in Congress on a final agreement shortly after it's signed, and we need to work towards those votes now. This helps us build support by identifying likely yes votes as well as those on whom we need to bring pressure to bear.
We're on the verge of a historic breakthrough for peace. As the letter states: “This issue is above politics. The stakes are too great, and the alternatives are too dire.”
ACTION: Call Rep Jackie Speier or Anna Eshoo, or whomever represents you, and urge them to join the Talks-not-War effort. The letter may close for signatures as early as this Thursday. Suggest that it’s time to throw their support behind this international attempt at cooperation – at a time when a real agreement designed to achieve peace and disarmament is very close.
SIGN THE PEACE AND PLANET NUCLEAR WEAPONS ABOLITION PETITION
This April, most of the world’s governments meet at the United Nations for the month-long Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. Peace Action is part of an international movement to abolish nuclear weapons and here’s an opportunity to join with people all over the world calling for zero nuclear weapons!
In a demonstration of our determination to build a fair, democratic, ecologically sustainable, and peaceful future, people will gather in New York City and around the world for international days of action April 24 – 26, 2015, just before the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations.
We call upon the parties to the NPT to use the 2015 Review Conference to immediately, without delay, develop a timetable to ban and eliminate all nuclear weapons.
We call upon the four states outside the Treaty that have nuclear arms, India, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan, to join this process, immediately and without delay.
We are at a crucial juncture, a time when the unresolved tensions of a deeply inequitable society, great power ambitions, and the destructive effects of an unsustainable economic system are exploding into overlapping crises.
Click here to sign the petition for nuclear weapons abolition!
Yes to a Nuclear-Free World!
Yes to Nonviolence!
Yes to Economic Justice and Environmental Sustainability!
Yes to Peace!!
END FUNDS FOR ENDLESS WAR
That same week of April 13, the Senate and House will begin work on the FY 2016 budget resolution. The tens of billions of dollars in increases for military spending (projected to reach nearly $500 billion) coupled with proposed decreases in Medicaid, Medicare and other assistance programs is maddening enough; but that military increase also again includes an Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) line item, which specifically covers war-related operations. Next year OCO would get $40 billion more, to a total of some $90 billion.
This is basically a “slush fund” that the Pentagon can use for getting around military budget caps that were installed in the name of deficit reduction. It is separate and lacking any oversight – Congress approves it and the Pentagon can do with it what it likes. And the Pentagon’s inability to pass a simple audit regarding what it spends on weapons, spare parts, military contractors and other expenditures suggests such funding is going into the wrong hands. They want to make sure we’re ready for war? Obama’s request to fight ISIS is $5.3 billion – a ridiculous amount of money by our standards, but a drop in the bucket compared to the proposed OCO budget.
If Congress is serious about reducing the deficit and balancing the budget, it needs to close the OCO budget and make the Pentagon tell us and Congress how it will spend our money.
ACTION: Contact Rep. Jackie Speier or Anna Eshoo, or whomever represents you, and tell them to support closing the Overseas Contingency Operations account. Convey the same message to Sens. Boxer and Feinstein. Suggest that unless the military accounts for its war spending, it will have no incentive to end its wars and we will never have enough for real human needs.
THE SANE ACT IS BACK
Senator Ed Markey in the Senate and Rep. Earl Blumenauer in the House have re-introduced corresponding bills meant to rein in excessive wasteful spending on cold war-era or just overly destructive and destabilizing nuclear weapons programs. Nicknamed the SANE (Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures) Act, this legislation would save upwards of $100 billion over the next 10 years by reducing or eliminating such programs.
S. 831 in the Senate and H. 1534 in the House would do a number of things: Reduce the ballistic missile submarine fleet from 14 to 8 and reduce the purchase of replacement submarines from 12 to 8, saving $21 billion; cancel nuclear weapons-making facilities and the missile defense program, saving $21 billion; defer development of new land-based missiles and cut warhead life extension programs, saving $16 billion; delay the new long-range bomber and remove the nuclear mission from the F-35 fighter-bomber, saving more than $34 billion; and reduce the B61 nuclear gravity bomb life extension program as well as cancel the development of a new air-launched cruise missile, saving $7 billion.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the U.S. plans to spend roughly $348 billion over the next 10 years on modernizing and maintaining our nuclear arsenal. These weapons would pose devastating humanitarian consequences if used, and they fail to address the real risks we face such as climate change, terrorism, and cyber security. At this point, investing billions to improve these weapons makes no sense.
The Senate’s version has just three co-sponsors, not including either Sen. Boxer or Feinstein. The House version’s 11 co-sponsors include Rep. Speier but not Eshoo.
ACTION: Contact both Feinstein and Boxer and tell them to sign on to S. 831, and help move us toward a less destabilizing world situation as well as the kind of truly practical Federal deficit reduction for which Republicans (and other hawks) have been calling. Rep. Eshoo’s constituents should contact her with the same message regarding H. 1534. Suggest these billions of dollars should be better spent on programs that help our communities and health. Rep. Speier’s people can thank her for getting on board this legislation early.
TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP – OUT OF THE SHADOWS
Recent U.S. history has seen a series of dubious international trade agreements that seem meant to help wealthy corporations at the expense of working people around the world. A significant hallmark of such agreements is the element of skirting U.S. laws by turning damaging policies into international agreements that become “the law of the land”. The latest such accord in the (mostly alternative) news is the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We turn to the organization RootsAction for a few details about this dangerous agreement:
“The TPP would provide special benefits to, and eliminate risks for, companies that offshore jobs (and) would push wages downward. The TPP would impose limits on labeling food to let you know where it comes from or how it was produced; the only way to know may be if you grow it or buy it from a neighbor who grew it. But the odds will be stacked even more heavily against the small farmer if the TPP is enacted.
“Corporations would be able to overturn domestic patent and drug-pricing laws. The big drug companies would be able to raise prices with extended monopolies over drugs and over surgical procedures. Internet censorship, defeated in Congress, would be snuck through within the TPP. Serious bank regulation or a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions would be forbidden.”
There is more: “Under the TPP, foreign or domestic corporations could force governments to change their laws on healthcare, the environment, banking, or other public policies – by appealing to a special tribunal of three corporate lawyers accountable to no voters, no precedents, and no appeals process.”
None of the 600 corporate lawyers writing this accord want the public to see it. They would prefer that Congress put it on a “fast track” to ratification without amendments or even a proper vetting. A brave whistleblower (who as far as we know has not had “war” made upon him or her) did help get these particular details into public view. And there are many more details of TPP to see, if only Congress would insist they be seen. As with 16 other questionable trade agreements that did not survive public opposition, how Congress deals with TPP may be up to us.
ACTION: Contact Rep. Speier or Eshoo, as well as Sens. Boxer and Feinstein, to tell them to oppose fast-tracking of the TPP and instead make the entire agreement public. Contact the White House with the same request. Suggest, as has RootsAction, that “If it’s as good as (you) seem to think, what have (we) got to lose?”
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121
Senator Dianne Feinstein
One Post St., Ste 2450 San Francisco, CA 94104
(202) 224-3841 FAX: (202) 228-3954
(415) 393-0707 FAX: (415)393-0710
Senator Barbara Boxer
70 Washington St. suite #203 Oakland CA 94607
(510) 286-8537 FAX: (202) 224-0454
Representative Jackie Speier
155 Bovet Rd., Ste 780 San Mateo, CA 94402
(202) 225-3531 FAX: (202) 226-4183
(650) 342-0300 FAX: (650) 375-8270
Representative Anna Eshoo
698 Emerson Street Palo Alto, CA 94301
(202) 225-8104 FAX: (202) 225-8890
(650) 323-2984 FAX: (650) 323-3498
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20500
(202)456-1111: FAX: (202)456-2461
Secretary of State John Kerry, U.S. Department of State:
(202)647-6607 FAX: (202)647-2283