Welcome to The Peace Action of San Mateo County Newsletter UPDATE
October 24 Meeting
Professor David Vine Speaks on Moving Away From War
It was hardly an ideal situation, but the U.S. finally got its military out of Afghanistan. Nearly 20 years ago we initially gave the appearance of winning a war…but without winning a peace, it all dragged on until we effectively lost. It could have gone on another 20 years, but there is no evidence that anything more would have been accomplished.
In the meantime, the U.S. continued the “global war on terror” all around that part of the world, with drones, torture, and killing. It still seems like the wars will never end, and some of us wonder how we got into this position.
To help us come to terms with where we are as an aggressor nation and where we might go, PASMC will present author, academic and activist David Vine, who will give a talk entitled “What we should learn from 20 years of post-9/11 wars, and how we can move the U.S. away from war”. David will give us the benefit of his research aimed at understanding the history of U.S. wars, empire and imperialism, and will offer different ways of thinking and possible solutions.
The event will take place Sunday, October 24 at 7 PM on the Zoom platform. For the link, email email@example.com (or if you’re on our listserve, wait for it there). You can also go to www.sanmateopeaceaction.org closer to the date of the event.
David Vine is a Professor of Political Anthropology at American University in Washington, DC. His latest book, “The United States of War: A Global History of America's Endless Conflicts, from Columbus to the Islamic State”, (University of California Press), was a finalist for the 2020 L.A. Times Book Prize in History.
“The United States of War” is the third in a trilogy of books about war and peace; the first two are “Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World” and “Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia”
As part of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, David helped compile and write “Militarization: A Reader” and “The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual or, Notes on Demilitarizing American Society”. His numerous articles have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, Mother Jones, and Huffington Post, among others outlets.
David is a board member of the Costs of War Project and a co-founder of the Overseas Base Realignment and Closure Coalition. He is also a contributor to TomDispatch.com and Foreign Policy in Focus.
Come join us on October 24 for some studied insights into our country and its recent “endless wars”.
Summary of 8/1 Film Screening
“Flashes of Hope” From Atomic Bomb Survivors
As the 76th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki approached, acknowledgement was again a focus for PASMC, and there seemed no better way than to show a film about the Hibakusha – the survivors of the bombings. In 2008 a Japan-based organization called Peace Boat, which works to promote peace and human rights, brought 103 Hibakusha around the world to 22 countries on a passenger ship to tell their stories and spread word of the need to abolish nuclear weapons. The 2009 documentary film, “Flashes of Hope: Hibakusha Traveling the World” chronicles the journey while delivering searing images of the bombings and facts from experts about nuclear weapons.
The film articulates four different types of Hibakusha: Those exposed directly to the bombing; those exposed to radiation from the bombing; those who helped rescue bombing victims; and those not yet born when the bombs were dropped. The average age at the time of the film was 75, which underscores the need to hear from those still left to give a mostly first-hand account.
We see and hear most from Setsuko Thurlow, who talks about her experience in Hiroshima on August 6, but also asserts the need – in front of both the film’s camera and a United Nations conference – to assume anger and outrage toward abolishing nuclear weapons. “I knew I was going to die there”, she says about that morning, adding that she never panicked as she faced death. Setsuko was urged to “crawl to safety”, after which she watched Hiroshima burn, and watched people die. She also lost 8 from her own family. There are descriptions from other survivors that are equally graphic, interspersed with clips from the “Barefoot Gen” animated film depicting the dropping of the bomb, the explosions, bodies and faces melting and people begging for water as some jumped into the city’s river.
Experts on nuclear weapons offer their knowledge: Dr. Kathleen Sullivan talks about the “instantaneous” impact of the bomb, when the light is joined by a “super-inferno” that sucks away oxygen. Dr. Paul Ham talks about the unforeseen lingering effects of radiation, and the resulting sickness. Dr. Ham also compares the bombings to the Holocaust, calling the former an act of genocide rather than only an act of warfare. Both of these doctors’ testimonies are accompanied by newsreel footage that shows the assessments of the damage, as well as clips and photographs of survivors with burns on their bodies. There is also a clip of the animated story of Sadako, who died of leukemia before she could make 1000 paper cranes to grant her wish to live.
The film turns to the journey of the Hibakusha on the “peace boat”. The first stop shown is Da Nang, Vietnam, where the travelers draw a parallel between survivors of the bomb and of Agent Orange, the crippling defoliant the U.S. used during the Vietnam war. A stop in Kochi, India (a country, it is asserted, that spends tens of billions on its military while millions of its children live on the street) includes a presentation – one of many throughout the trip – calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
The boat continues on to Massawa, Eritrea, through the Suez Canal and to Izmir, Turkey. The passengers’ time on board and in the various ports includes singing, creating art, language lessons and exchanging stories and wishes for peace. The reaction from the people of the various ports is positive…a lot of peace signs and smiles. A stop in Barcelona, Spain features a radio interview with Setsuko, who describes the “hell on earth” of the bombing and her need to “warn the world what could happen if we are not smart enough never to use (an atomic bomb) again.” Here the passengers also meet with members of Greenpeace and discuss nuclear power and the role it plays leading to weapons. In Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, the Hibakusha encounter “Hiroshima and Nagasaki Square”, including a monument to Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, renouncing the use of armed forces.
The boat heads across the Atlantic for stops in Latin America – noted in the film as the first Nuclear Free Zone. Visits to the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and through the Panama Canal are marked by cultural experiences and exchanges of ideas. The journey continues across the South Pacific, first to Tahiti in French Polynesia. The passengers take part in a ceremony involving the thousand cranes legend – and listen to the locals call out France for 30 years of nuclear testing which resulted in many cancer cases.
The boat stops in New Zealand, another nuclear weapons free zone, where the people espouse neutrality, the need to educate children about war, and of course solidarity regarding resistance to nuclear weapons. Here also is another cultural experience in a ceremony by indigenous Maori tribespeople. In Papua New Guinea, the Hibakusha are paid tribute with a Japanese Peace Memorial monument. More presentations and conversations follow in Sydney, Australia.
At this point the 2009 film turns to international politics, beginning with a discussion about the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its provision for the (then) five nuclear weapons states to get rid of their arsenals while the non-nuclear states stay that way in exchange for being able to develop nuclear power – seen as problematic from the film’s point of view. A new President Barack Obama addresses his hopes for the passage of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This is followed by a clip of nuclear weapons scientist Robert Oppenheimer reflecting on what he helped bring about. (“Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”, he says. “I suppose we all thought that, one way or another.”) Setsuko rounds out this sequence in a portion of her speech to the UN about the need for both knowledge and outrage toward abolishing nuclear weapons.
The Peace Boat returns to Japan, but the film’s denouement focuses on an American teacher explaining the importance of paying his respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. This is followed by an elderly Japanese man – presumably a Hibakusha – leaving flowers and taking off his hat at the ground zero monument in Nagasaki. Such homages serve as statements about the need and ability to come back from the ruins of these nuclear bombings. Twelve years after “Flashes of Hope” was created, there are many more statements for the rest of us to make.
To view the film, go to https://vimeo.com/240757337
2021-22 PASMC Board and Officers
On August 1 we also conducted our annual Board and Officer elections, and the following slate will serve for the next year:
President: Mike Caggiano
Vice President: Cheryl Kozanitas
Secretary: Mary Beavins
At-large Board Members:
Max Bollock, Laura Hinz, Andrew Magee, Gary Parma, Bill Wolfe, Ron Zucker
Your input and your participation are always welcome. Let us know what’s on your mind!
October 17 East Bay Peace Action Meeting
The Intersection of Racism and Militarism
Join East Bay Peace Action online Sunday October 17 at 2 PM, for a presentation by activist Brittany Ramos DeBarros, who will share her unique insight into the connection between racism and militarism.
This will be the program for EBPA’s 2021 Annual Gathering. The Afro-Latina Afghanistan War vet and former organizing director of About Face: Veterans Against the War will be the keynote speaker.
Brittany joined the military to pay for college and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, believing the U.S. government was interested in helping the Afghani people. But she came home hurt, angry and feeling betrayed by a system that covered up greed and corruption with the veneer of freedom. When she spoke out against the war, she was threatened with court martial.
She describes coming from a conservative, patriotic, military family, but adds, “being bi-racial, I could see that the America my white family lived in was different from what my Black and Puerto Rican family experienced.”
Members of the Staten Island community asked Brittany to run for Congress, and she has taken up the challenge. Join East Bay Peace Action to learn more about racism and our militaristic society, and about this champion for peace. To register in advance for the meeting, log on to www.eastbaypeaceaction.org.
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Summary of September 12 Meeting
The Military, Climate Crisis and More
Cindy Piester has for a couple of years been spreading the word about “Climate Disruption and U.S. Militarism”, the title and main theme of her online presentation to PASMC. “U.S military missions have circled back to us as dire climate catastrophe,” said the Ventura, CA-based Veterans for Peace member, “that has now put all humanity at risk”. Cindy’s main work with VfP is with its Climate Crisis and Militarism Working Group. But her lifelong activism and her concerns span the spectrum of issues, with some of which she made connections in her spoken-word presentation also laden with graphics and numbers.
Cindy cited the “code red for humanity” quote from United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his release of the recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. While some climate trends are irreversible, she said, and a 1.5-degree Celsius temperature rise is likely leading up to the mid-century, there is a chance for reductions and progress beyond that time if we act to curb greenhouse gases (GHG). Cindy added there were 285 climate disasters over the last 20 years, with such incidents in 2020 costing $22 billion. “We are the last generation” to determine global warming and livability on the planet, she declared.
She proceeded to implicate the U.S. military in climate change, with such statistics as the Department of Defense consuming up to 80% of the government’s energy. She noted the military is the world’s largest user of fossil fuels (their “lifeblood” since the First World War) and the largest producer of GHG emissions. Cindy also showed a graph of the remaining life of the world’s fossil fuel supply, showing just 30 years of oil left. There is a longer period for coal and gas reserves, but her point was the coming challenge for the military to function without an alternative to fossil fuels.
Cindy’s indictment of the military included its stated plan (born in 2001) for “Full Spectrum Dominance”, an attempt to control all dimensions of “battlespace” – land, air, sea, space, cyberspace and more. The aim, she said, is to create a “national security state” with no interference with its warmaking and overall control. This of course presents costs to the environment and the climate, and she decried the Biden administration and the Secretary of Defense for their failure to address the military’s role in the climate crisis. She also pointed up some of its victims – Iraqis, Afghanis, Palestinians and Yemenis. There is an effect on the global south, and a racist element to U.S. actions.
Cindy referred to what she called the U.S. military “bootprint” on the planet. The Air Force, she said, consumes massive amounts of jet fuel; the manufacture of warships and fighter aircraft requires tons of steel and results in even more tons in emissions; nuclear weapons are an obvious risk; and the weaponization of space (including the Space Force) all have negative implications for the climate. Cindy also invoked the “bootprint of empire”, with hundreds of military bases projecting power all over the world and leaving environmental contamination in the form of burn pits and toxic dumps that need to be cleaned up. Military war games and weapons testing, she added, have a similar effect. A significant role for the military is to preserve a status quo of inequality among nations, which can hinder negotiations.
Cindy next talked about military secrecy where climate is concerned: The Department of Defense, while conducting “special ops” around the world, hides information from Congress and the public about its fuel usage. The 1992 Kyoto Protocol amazingly did not cover emissions from the military. And she related how (as exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden) the 2009 COP (Conference of the Parties on climate change) was spied on by the U.S. National Security Agency.
Cindy next took on U.S. spending, pointing out that about half of our tax dollars goes to the military, which doles out money to military contractors, who in turn fund legislative political campaigns. The winners then vote massive funding for weapons programs. This, she said, is at the expense of programs that could help the climate and other human needs, as well as diplomatic efforts that could keep us safer. Now the Biden administration and Congress are entertaining an increase over the previous year’s military budget by some $25 billion. Cindy showed a quote from antiwar activist Daniel Ellsberg, advocating converting a military economy to a climate economy. In that vein, she noted an estimate of $4.5 trillion needed to completely shift our power grid to renewable energy. Reducing military spending would make progress toward such a goal.
As for the wars Congress has also authorized, Cindy cited a Brown University estimate of 1.2 billion metric tons of GHG between 2000 and 2019 – a result of the Global War on Terror. She noted the widely-held concept of “wars for oil”, estimated at a quarter to half of all wars, with the Iraq war a classic example of a war “on the basis of lies” – in this case about weapons of mass destruction. The “asymmetrical use of force” resulted in death and destruction along with the spread of GHG. In the case of Afghanistan, she called out a war with confusing motivations, disregard for civilian lives and human rights, and an end result of a country’s population largely turning against us.
Cindy reported on the efforts of Veterans for Peace, which has drafted a resolution demanding transparency from the DOD about its greenhouse gas emissions, as well as significant reduction targets…in the interests of saving our planet. East Bay Representative Barbara Lee has promised to forward the resolution in Congress, with legislation and possibly a sign-on letter to be circulated in the House. Cindy called for everyone’s support for the resolution. VfP seems well-suited to amplify this issue of the military’s role in climate change to which Cindy feels people around the world are waking up. “For generations”, she declared near the end of her talk, “our veterans have been killing, dying and polluting, to ensure our access to the same fossil fuels that have now put all species and humanity, ourselves included, at risk.”
Peace Action of San Mateo County extends a big
welcome to our newest members:
Theresa Cameranesi, Marianna LeFever
And we warmly welcome back these renewing members:
Mary Beavins, Nancy and David Crabbe, Alan Dean, Linda Durkee, Daniel Gilbrech, Vany Laurenti, Louis Maraviglia, Judy Starling, Ron Visconti
The Value of Looking Backward
By Christina Cowger and Joe Burton,
NC Policy Watch September 22
An honest assessment of the disastrous U.S. occupation of Afghanistan leads to some hard truths and painful lessons
Former President Obama famously expressed his belief about the “war on terror” that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backward.”
Will we learn from the unfolding disaster in Afghanistan? Only by looking backward.
An honest assessment would show:
- The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan was avoidable. In late 2001, Taliban leaders were reeling from our invasion, and sought a deal that could have led to peace and a broad government. But the Bush Administration rebuffed them, with Donald Rumsfeld saying, “The United States is not inclined to negotiate surrenders.” It is appalling and tragic that so many Americans and Afghans have since lost their lives in a conflict that did not have to be.
- U.S. security operations alienated the Afghan people. U.S. drones have killed many innocent civilians in Afghanistan and the adjacent Pakistani war zone, as depicted in the documentary “Wounds of Waziristan” and accounts of drone operators. CIA-led night raids on civilian homes caused widespread outrage and boosted support for the Taliban. The Afghan war was used to justify opening the offshore prison at Guantanamo Bay, where more than 220 Afghans experienced indefinite detention without charges.
Prisoner abuse and deaths made Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan another international symbol of U.S. brutality. The CIA operated four “black sites” in Afghanistan where, as the Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed, it secretly interrogated captives using a variety of barbaric torture methods. Instead of holding ourselves accountable, the U.S. has sought to squelch the Afghan war crimes investigation of the International Criminal Court.
- Thanks to corruption and misplaced priorities, 20 years of occupation have left Afghans worse off. Half the population lives in poverty. Nearly two-thirds of Afghans lack access to electricity. In 2016, the Afghan Education Minister reported that only 6 million Afghan children attended school, and not 11 million as the previous government had claimed. The U.S. spent $2.3 trillion in Afghanistan over the past 20 years, but the main beneficiaries were defense contractors.
The ease with which the Taliban was able to take control of Kabul is reminiscent of the end of the Vietnam War. In both cases, armies trained and armed by the U.S. were rapidly defeated, and surrendered.
Are we condemned to pursue an endless series of failed wars? This is not an abstract question: the CIA is considering how to continue Afghan operations as what the New York Times calls “a paramilitary organization focused on manhunts and killing.”
In addition to supporting the flood of refugees now leaving Afghanistan, how should we act upon the lessons we learn from looking back?
We must acknowledge the damage done to Afghanistan, accept responsibility, and provide funding for reparations and humanitarian relief.
We must close the prison at Guantanamo, a symbol of lawlessness. North Carolina Congressman David Price deserves praise for leading a recent effort in this direction.
And we must face up to our record of torture at Bagram, Guantanamo, and the CIA black sites, and acknowledge what we owe to the victims and survivors.
Over the past 20 years, this needless war has exacted a heavy toll on our own service members and on the people of Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands have died there and next door in Pakistani Waziristan, and neither terrorism nor the Taliban was defeated. One can only conclude that the “war on terror” has been an abject failure. The other lesson to be learned is an ancient one: violence only breeds more violence.
In short, looking backward is exactly what we need to do in order to move forward.
Christina Cowger served on the board of the NC Commission of Inquiry on Torture, the nation’s only state-level non-governmental blue ribbon panel to investigate U.S. post-9/11 rendition and torture.
Joe Burton has been an active member of Peace Action for 40 years, serving on the North Carolina Peace Action board and on the National Peace Action board.
From the Twitter Storm
@JStein_WaPo September 25
House by an overwhelming bipartisan margin approved a $778 billion military budget
That roughly translates to ~$8 trillion over 10 years; or, put another way...
More than double the cost of the Biden safety net + climate package of $3.5T over a decade
Ah, here’s the 2020 figures: a single round for the F-35’s gun now goes for $148, so a $1,400 stimulus could get you 9 bullets for an F-35.
Money Pit Missile vs. Nuclear Ban
Activists have leverage to convince nuclear countries of disarmament because of ban treaty
By Judith Mohling, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center March 26
The U.S. Air Force’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) – or what some are calling “the Money Pit Missile” – is designed to replace the existing fleet of Minuteman III missiles. Like its predecessors, the 400 missiles of the GBSD fleet or ICBMs (intercontinental ballistic missiles) will be lodged in underground silos and widely scattered in three groups known as “wings” across five states: Colorado, North Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Montana.
The official purpose of American ICBMs goes beyond responding to nuclear assault. It is also intended to deter attacks and serve as targets in case of an attack – the concept of “nuclear sponge.”
The GBSD will also include a full set of test-launch missiles as well as upgrades to the existing launch facilities. The missile fields are also embedded in the local economies and have been since 1959 when the first ICBMs came into Wyoming. According to Elisabeth Eaves, a contributing editor for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, said that local communities are nervous about the idea of a nuclear-free world. In the article, “Why Is America Getting a New $100 Billion Nuclear Weapon?” Eaves wrote that these communities depend on the lively exchange of goods and profit from the thousands of workers and their families who are well-established around the missile sites.
The New START Treaty (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) between Russia and the U.S. (that the countries have agreed to extend for five years) places limitations on both countries’ number of deployed nuclear warheads. It must be tricky for the Department of Energy, Northrop Grumman – which is the main contractor – and other military industrial companies involved, to say on one hand that the existing ICBMs are keeping us safe, but at the same time need replacing.
This is all in contrast to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons that declares nuclear weapons to be illegal. On Jan. 22, 2021, yellow banners were unfurled across the U.S. at more than 50 sites celebrating the entry into force of the treaty.
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or the Nuclear Ban Treaty, is the first legally binding international agreement to comprehensively prohibit nuclear weapons with an ultimate goal of total elimination. The treaty was adopted by the United Nations on 7 July 2017 (by a vote of 122 states in favor, with one vote against and one in abstention) and opened for signature by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Sept. 20, 2017.
It was agreed that once 50 countries had both signed and ratified the Nuclear Ban Treaty, it would become international law 90 days from that point. Currently, none of the countries with nuclear weapons have signed or ratified the treaty. But activists have much greater leverage in their ability to convince the nuclear countries of disarming because of the 50 countries that have both signed and ratified the treaty. They are now bound by the treaty as international law.
ICAN, the International Campaign for the Abolishment of Nuclear Weapons, has been at the heart of the campaign since 2017 and has involved organizations around the world that culminated in the treaty becoming law.
Let’s rejoice and broaden the movement exponentially.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily
The Four Horsemen
Most everyone has heard of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – War, Death, Pestilence and Famine. Well, to take Death off the list as redundant and replace it with fire, flood, pollution and plunder (of earth’s resources in non-sustainable ways) might be more accurate for today’s reality. Although we might be turning the horsemen into more of a posse, bringing multiple scourges to humanity.
As a chronic optimist, I like to think we have a goodly amount of control over these characters. War we can certainly control by negotiating with our perceived adversaries. The fires, floods, pestilence and the rest can be controlled and mitigated with actions taken in common by humanity as a whole. Again, more negotiation and compromise just might get us past those tipping points that are close and getting closer each day we procrastinate.
Yep, we are indeed good at “procrastination”. Maybe that guy needs a horse as well.
Slow Down On China
During our May meeting with Michael Klare in his position as co-founder of the Committee for a Sane U.S.-China Policy, he cautioned us about a then-new bill called the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 (S.1169), introduced by New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez. It seems that in the midst of military and economic tensions with China, factions in the U.S. are inclined toward antagonism – perhaps to assert our military and economic dominance in and around Asia.
In its language and its elements, the bill is a stare-down – a de facto declaration of a new “cold war”. It calls China the “biggest threat” to the U.S., disparages its Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, and aims to align us more closely with Taiwan – historically counter to China’s wishes. The bill’s proposed increase in our military presence includes more of our Navy in the region, plus a call for increased funding for hypersonic missiles. It endeavors to involve other nations in the region, such as Japan, India and Australia, and it even includes language opposing both a “no-first-use” policy of nuclear weapons, and the nuclear agreement with Iran.
In times of pandemic, global warming and a worldwide nuclear threat, aggressive behavior toward another large country would seem a case of misplaced priorities. With only six co-sponsors since its May introduction, the bill’s progress looks slow, but it ought not be allowed to get rolling.
Action: Contact Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, and tell them to oppose and speak out against S.1169, the Strategic Competition Act of 2021. Suggest we don’t need a new “cold war” with China, which always has the potential for leading to ever-larger increases in military spending – as well as “heating up” into the real thing.
How Much More for Israel’s Military?
In late September, the House of Representatives voted 420-9 to send an additional $1 billion to Israel, ostensibly for its “Iron Dome” anti-missile system. The U.S. line is that Iron Dome is a “purely defensive” program.
One problem is that we already help fund it as part of our $3.8 billion-per-year unconditional support for the Israeli military, which raises the question of how much more they need in their ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. Another problem is that “purely defensive” is a dubious term considering the money that could be thus freed up for more “offensive” plans such as Israel’s continuing deadly bombardment of Gaza. Surely there was virtually no mention in the House of what the people there are going through, nor of the fact that Israel is under investigation by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Gaza.
Neither Rep. Jackie Speier nor Anna Eshoo were among the 9 “no” votes for the additional $1 billion. And it’s very possible that both Sens. Feinstein and Padilla will vote for Ted Cruz’s companion bill in the Senate. But Congress should hear from anyone who opposes this funding – toward changing its members’ minds as well as being a counterweight to the many pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian voices they are hearing.
Action: Contact Rep. Speier or Eshoo, or whomever represents you, and tell them how you feel about the extra $1 billion for the Israeli military. Likewise contact Sens. Feinstein and Padilla and urge their “no” vote on S.2839, the Senate version to send Israel the $1 billion. Suggest that we send more than enough to their military and their “defense”, especially in light of our own country’s health and safety needs. Or those of Gaza.
Space Without Force
One of Donald Trump’s flights of fancy (so to speak) was the establishment, in 2019, of the U.S. Space Force. Part of the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, approval of the Space Force codified the notion of space as a theatre of war. It runs counter to our commitment to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which restricts the placement of weapons of mass destruction in space and banned military maneuvers on celestial bodies. It also added an initial $15.5 billion to our military budget (with the promise of much more), for a program that creates more military bureaucracy, duplicates much of the existing work within the Air Force, and poses a threat to national and world security.
In late September, North Bay Rep. Jared Huffman introduced the No Militarization of Space Act (HR 5335), which would abolish the Space Force and return what is left of its mission to the Air Force. It would leave the military budget with one less line item and one less unnecessary footprint in space.
Sean Vitka, senior policy counsel for Demand Progress, put it as well as anyone: “Militarizing space is an unconscionable waste of billions of tax dollars, and it risks extending the worst mistakes of history to the final frontier by inviting conflict and escalation”. Rep. Huffman said, “It’s time we turn our attention back to where it belongs: addressing urgent domestic and international priorities like battling COVID-19, climate change, and growing economic inequality.”
Action: Contact Reps. Speier or Eshoo, or whomever represents you, and urge their co-sponsorship of HR 5335, the No Militarization of Space Act. Suggest that we have far larger domestic priorities than this redundant branch of the military, which could take another step toward destabilizing our planet from thousands of miles above it.
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 Alex Padilla
333 Bush Street, Ste. 3225 San Francisco, CA 94104
(202) 224-3553 fax: (202) 224-2200
(415) 981-9369 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 (650) 375-8270
Representative Anna Eshoo
698 Emerson Street Palo Alto, CA 94301
(202) 225-8104 fax: (202) 225-8890
(650) 323-2984 (650) 323-3498
Rep. Nancy Pelosi D-CA - Speaker of the House
President Joe Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20500 (202)456-1111: fax: (202)456-2461
Find out who your Representative is: www.house.gov
If you are not in California, identify your senators here: www.senate.gov
The Update is published quarterly by Peace Action of San Mateo County. We welcome all submissions and letters, and reserve the right to exclude or edit for content and other considerations. The views expressed within are not necessarily those of the members of Peace Action of San Mateo County or Peace Action.