Fear can be a great motivator – and a great manipulator. Those who oppose cuts to military funding play on our fears to convince us that any reduction in the defense budget would be a dangerous threat to our national security and to our economy. But is this level of panic justified? An examination of the assumptions that underlie the fears will expose just how shaky those assumptions are.
Shaky Assumption 1: The US must control, by force, the air, seas, and land of the entire planet.
Why such overwhelming military power? The United States spends more on our military than our next 14 military competitors combined -- six times more than China, 13 times more than Russia, and 73 times more than Iran. While we funnel roughly half of our discretionary tax dollars into military programs, China is capturing the market for solar panels. Most countries are fearlessly investing in health care and education for their citizens while the U.S. is pulling funding from those very hallmarks of a great society. The result is that the U.S. now ranks 37th on health indicators and our students rank 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.
Shaky Assumption 2: We need high priced weapons systems such as the F-15 and the “advanced multi-role stealth fighter jet” to keep us safe.
Our current “enemies” have no air force and no navy, and it is a stretch to claim that terrorists even have an army. The Rand Corporation, a think-tank allied with U.S. government military and intelligence forces, concluded that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism. Since 1968, only 7 percent of all terrorist groups were taken down by military force. In contrast, 40 percent of those groups were defeated through police and intelligence work, and 43 percent gave up their terrorist tactics as they were integrated into the political process.
Shaky Assumption 3: The military is a good jobs program.
According to analysts at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, spending $1 billon on education and mass transit would produce more than twice as many jobs as spending $1 billion on defense. Spending on healthcare and construction for home weatherization and infrastructure would produce about 1-1/2 times as many jobs. The Pentagon spends $1 million a year to field a soldier in Afghanistan. With that same amount, we could hire nearly 30 teachers for a year. Additionally, many jobs learned in the military do not translate to civilian employment, so the jobless rate for returning veterans is far higher than for the general population.
Shaky Assumption 4: Reducing military industries will hurt our economy.
Many people are employed by military contractors and in service industries near military bases, but does our economic health depend on this? Military spending has grown by 81 percent in the past decade, the period of the worst recession since World War II. Clearly, high military spending is not the key to our economic well-being. People employed in weapons industries, making products that kill people and destroy property and ecosystems, could just as well be working in jobs that improve our communities and our quality of life here at home.
Shaky Assumption 5: We need the military for innovations such as the microwave oven, the GPS and the Internet.
The U.S. military has a very large budget to fund research and development, but innovation can, and does, come from anywhere. On June 26, 100 university presidents from across the U.S. sent a letter to President Obama calling for an easier path to permanent resident status for foreign students. Why? Because they found that of the 1,500 patents awarded to the top 10 patent-producing universities in the U.S., three-quarters had at least one foreign inventor. All-told they represented 88 countries.
Rather than triggering that old “fight or flight response “at the mere mention of reducing military spending, let’s develop a new adaptive “stop and think” response. We will survive a reduction in military spending. We could even thrive if we redirected our tax dollars to productive and innovative ways of improving the well-being of our citizens and the world at large.
End Wars and Occupations -
As President Obama hosts a press conference at the National Defense University CODEPINK and other activists will vigiling outside. President Obama will be speaking at the National Defense University on the topic of two of the most egregious crimes committed by this administration: drone strikes and Guantanamo Bay. CODEPINK and allies will rally outside the premises calling for an end to targeted assassinations and indefinite detention. Visuals include people in Guantanamo jumpsuits, life-sized Obama renditions, and a large model drone.
“We are anxious to hear what President Obama has to say,...
Alli McCracken | CodePink 22 May 2013 Hits:82 EWO Articles
The communist enemy, with the "world's fourth largest military", has been trundling missiles around and threatening the United States with nuclear obliteration. Guam, Hawaii, Washington: all, it claims, are targetable. The coverage in the media has been hair-raising. The US is rushing an untested missile defense system to Guam, deploying missile-interceptor ships off the South Korean coast, sending "nuclear capable" B-2 Stealth bombers thousands of miles on mock bombing runs, pressuring China, and conducting large-scale war games with its South Korean ally.
Only one small problem: there is as...
Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com 22 Apr 2013 Hits:262 EWO Articles
Ann Wright addresses the crowd outside Rockefeller Center. (WNV/Eric Stoner)
With drones seemingly more in the public’s conscience than ever, anti-drone activists have just launched their most ambitious campaign to date. Called the “April Days of Action,” the newly-formed Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare is coordinating protests in dozens of cities around the country — including Washington D.C., Atlanta, Philadelphia, Honolulu, San Francisco, Sacramento, Minneapolis, St. Louis and Des Moines — over the course of the month. (The full list of actions can be found here and new ones can...
Eric Stoner | Waging Nonviolence 12 Apr 2013 Hits:367 EWO Articles
WASHINGTON -- Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.
(photo: Pakistani soldiers stand guard at the Shamsi Airbase located some 320 kilometers southwest of Quetta in southwest Pakistan, on December 11, 2011.Yslb Pak Zhang Qi/Xinhua / MCT)
The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and...
Jonathan S Landay | Miami Herald 10 Apr 2013 Hits:240 EWO Articles
On Tuesday March 27th 2013, Kofi Annan gave a speech at the Graduate Institute in Geneva. In his usual careful and diplomatic tone, Annan spoke firmly against Western calls for more direct military intervention in Syria.
"Further militarization of the conflict, I'm not sure that is the way to help the Syrian people," Annan said, "They are waiting for the killing to stop. You find some people far away from Syria are the ones very keen for putting in weapons. My own view is that as late as it is we...
Nicolas J.S. Davies | AlterNet 09 Apr 2013 Hits:273 EWO Articles
Iran is hobbled by sanctions, its skies filled with U.S. spy drones, its offshore waters with U.S. warships--and yet all we ever hear about is the existential threat they pose.
Had you searched for “Israel, nuclear weapons” at Google News in the wake of President Obama’s recent trip to the Middle East, you would have gotten a series of headlines like this: “ Obama: Iran more than a year away from developing nuclear weapon” (CNN), “ Obama vows to thwart Tehran's nuclear drive” (the Times of Israel), Obama: No nuclear weapons...
Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com 03 Apr 2013 Hits:339 EWO Articles
The Pentagon’s budget is now on a downward path which just got steeper with the advent of sequester. Declining budgets may last a decade or more. However, the Pentagon and the White House are well behind the curve when it comes to making appropriate changes to defense posture and strategy.
Such was a recurring assessment of six expert panelists who addressed 80 participants at a March 26 leadership conference entitled “Time to Reset Defense: Guidance for a More Effective and Affordable US Defense Posture.” The meeting was sponsored by the Project...
PDA (Project on Defense Alternatives | Press Release 02 Apr 2013 Hits:263 EWO Articles
Ten years after the Iraq debacle, are we -- mind-bogglingly -- headed to war with Iran? Signs increasingly point to yes.
A gold star if you can guess who made the following four statements without clicking on the links. Hint: Two were by an aggressive, hawkish, Republican, one of which was famously said over 10 years ago. Two others are by the more erudite, constitutionally savvy, liberal, moderate, current president. You remember him: He’s the one Hillary Clinton taunted in 2008 as not being tough enough to answer the phone at 3 a.m....
Falguni A. Sheth | Salon.com 01 Apr 2013 Hits:352 EWO Articles
Six religious leaders from across the country joined together during the week of Easter to call on President Obama to reexamine his position on drone strikes. In briefings and explanations to the American public President Obama's administration has used Just War Theory to justify CIA and U.S. military use of drone strikes throughout the world. Joining forces with director and producer Robert Greenwald, these rabbis, reverends, and priests created a short video sharing why drone strikes in Pakistan violate Just War Theory.
As a religious leader, I feel compelled to speak...
Robert Greenwald | Brave New Foundation 30 Mar 2013 Hits:364 EWO Articles
Rand Paul’s marathon 13-hour filibuster was not the end of the conversation on drones. Suddenly, drones are everywhere, and so is the backlash. Efforts to counter drones at home and abroad are growing in the courts, at places of worship, outside air force bases, inside the UN, at state legislatures, inside Congress--and having an effect on policy.
April marks thenational month of uprising against drone warfare. Activists in upstate New York are converging on the Hancock Air National Guard Base where Predator drones are operated. In San Diego, they will take...
Medea Benjamin and Noor Mir 25 Mar 2013 Hits:420 EWO Articles
Three days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Congress approved the Authorization for Use of Military Force. It was enacted with good intentions — to give President George W. Bush the authority to invade Afghanistan and go after Al Qaeda and the Taliban rulers who sheltered and aided the terrorists who had attacked the United States.
But over time, that resolution became warped into something else: the basis for a vast overreaching of power by one president, Mr. Bush, and less outrageous but still dangerous policies by another, Barack Obama.
Editorial | The New York Times 10 Mar 2013 Hits:403 EWO Articles
The business of war is profitable. In 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services. Just 10 of those companies sold over $208 billion. Based on a list of the top 100 arms-producing and military services companies in 2011 compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 companies with the most military sales worldwide.
These companies have benefited tremendously from the growth in military spending in the U.S., which by far has the largest military budget in the world....
Mike Sauter | 24/7 Wall Street 10 Mar 2013 Hits:516 EWO Articles
The most positive outcome of Rand Paul’s 13-hour filibuster—which ended when Paul was forced to take a bathroom break—was giving the American public a sense of the treacherous path that President Obama’s drone program could take, i.e. the targeted killing of Americans here at home. It was a marathon civics lesson and a scathing critique of President Obama’s civil liberties record.
The biggest flaw, however, was Rand’s refusal to strongly condemn the way drones are already being used overseas and to blame CIA nominee ...
Medea Benjamin | Common Dreams 07 Mar 2013 Hits:387 EWO Articles
A bloc of conservatives led by libertarian Sen. Rand Paul seized control of the Senate on Wednesday with an attack against what they called the danger of drone strikes against American citizens inside the U.S., successfully pushing President Barack Obama’s nominee to run the CIA off the day’s agenda.
Paul’s move at first surprised the Senate, in which many members had been prepared to vote to confirm John Brennan to take over the spy agency. But then several of his colleagues — as well as one Democrat — joined him to...
Philip Ewing | Politico 06 Mar 2013 Hits:424 EWO Articles
CARACAS, Venezuela -- In a move that heightened tensions surrounding the health of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez, his vice president on Tuesday expelled the U.S. Embassy's military attache, accusing him of "proposing destabilizing plans" to members of Venezuelan armed forces.
Speaking at the Miraflores presidential palace after conferring with Cabinet ministers, 20 state governors and the military chiefs of staff, Vice President Nicolas Maduro accused attache David delMonaco of "illegal activity that mocks international conventions."
"He has had meetings in recent weeks with active military members that go against the military stability of Venezuela," Maduro said...
Chris Kraul and Mery Mogollon | Los Angeles Times 05 Mar 2013 Hits:481 EWO Articles
Remember when we pilloried John McCain for singing about bombing Iran?
Wouldn't it be a scandal if it turned out that California Senator Barbara Boxer and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden were pushing the same agenda?
I have bad news, I'm afraid. They are.
Senator Boxer and Senator Wyden are original co-sponsors of a bill -- the "Back Door to Iran War" bill -- being promoted by AIPAC that would endorse an Israeli attack on Iran. The bill, sponsored by Senator Lindsey Graham (shocked!) says that if Israel attacks Iran, then the U.S. should support Israel...
Robert Naiman | Huffington Post 04 Mar 2013 Hits:238 EWO Articles
After two intense days of nuclear talks in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Tehran issued a statement that described negotiations as a positive step forward due to a "more realistic" position adopted by the "Iran six" nations that compromise the UN Security Council's permanent five members plus Germany.
Iran's February 27 statement is worth quoting at length: "Six months ago, I.R. [the Islamic Republic] of Iran in Moscow presented a comprehensive proposal for the talks. The proposal included five pillars for cooperation and set principals and objectives for...
Kaveh Afrasiabi | Asia Times 03 Mar 2013 Hits:326 EWO Articles
AT A TIME WHEN THE CIA is still hiding the details of its extrajuridical drone strike assassination program from congressional watchdogs and the media, one would think it an awkward moment for Hollywood to confer Academy Awards on films that celebrate its secret agents.
But apparently not. While a robust debate has emerged about Zero Dark Thirty’s depiction of torture, the film largely celebrates the tireless spycraft of a CIA analyst who was complicit. Meanwhile, is an unqualified nod towards the CIA’s collaboration with Hollywood in liberating hostages held in Iran in 1979.
Tom Hayden | Los Angeles Review of Books 03 Mar 2013 Hits:472 EWO Articles
Malalai Joya, 34, first gained international attention in 2003 when she spoke out publicly against the domination of warlords. She was at that time serving as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga that was convened to ratify the Constitution of Afghanistan; in 2005 she became one of 68 women elected to the 249-seat National Assembly, or Wolesi Jirga, and was the youngest member of the Afghan parliament.
In 2007 she again spoke out against former warlords and war criminals in the Afghan ...
Common Dreams 02 Mar 2013 Hits:375 EWO Articles
The Afghan president has ordered US special forces to leave Wardak province within two weeks over allegations of disappearances and torture.
The measures were being taken due to the actions of Afghans considered to be part of US special forces, said a spokesman for Hamid Karzai.
The strategically significant, central province of Wardak has been the recent focus of counter-insurgency operations.
A US spokesman said it took all allegations of misconduct seriously.
But he said he could not comment specifically on this latest development.
In a hastily convened news conference, the...
BBC News 24 Feb 2013 Hits:385 EWO Articles
Following a flurry of media attention concerning a possible military training center at the Yale School of Medicine, the University issued a statement Tuesday afternoon maintaining that the potential program would meet appropriate academic standards but also denying that it has yet been formally proposed.
School of Medicine psychiatry professor Charles Morgan told the News in January that he hopes to propose the creation of a center at the Medical School in cooperation with the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces called the U.S. Special...
Julia Zorthian | Yale Daily News 21 Feb 2013 Hits:286 EWO Articles
War is a racket, and perpetual war is a money-printing machine. Though the defense industry as a whole contributes relatively little to members of Congress compared to, say, the pharmaceutical lobby, it remains an incredibly powerful and influential lobby. Below are the six members of the House whose primary industry donor in the 2012 election cycle was the defense sector. (Numbers are from the Center for Responsive Politics, unless otherwise noted.)
1. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA): $566,100 in 2012 cycle defense sector donations.
It's impossible to talk about defense...
John Knefel | Alter.net 19 Feb 2013 Hits:592 EWO Articles
Nine opponents of killing human beings with missiles shot from drones were arrested on Wednesday nonviolently interfering with the drone kill program (taken to include the routine use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as the targeted kill list) at Hancock Air Base near Syracuse, NY.
The nine arrested for disturbing the war were: Matt Ryan, Carmen Trotta, Nancy Gowan, Bill Pickard, Bill Streit, Jim Clune, Ellen Grady, Linda Letender, and Mary Anne Grady Flores.
(above and) Below are signs they displayed while blocking...
David Swanson | War Is A Crime.org 13 Feb 2013 Hits:482 EWO Articles
I find deeply troubling the White House claim that their use of drones to assassinate suspected terrorists is "legal, ethical and wise". The release of a Department of Justice "White Paper" that purports to establish the Administration's legal justification for these killings only compounds my concern.
In response to the excesses of his predecessor, President Obama promised an Administration that would respect due process, rule of law, judicial oversight, and a government that would be transparent and accountable. The "White Paper" fails to deliver...
Dr. Zobgy | Arab America Institute 11 Feb 2013 Hits:298 EWO Articles
The Federal Aviation Administration has finally released a new drone authorization list. This list, released in response to EFF’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, includes law enforcement agencies and universities across the country, and—for the first time—an Indian tribal agency. In all, the list includes more than 20 new entities over the FAA’s original list, bringing to 81 the total number of public entities that have applied for FAA drone authorizations through October 2012.
Some of these new drone license applicants include:
The State Department
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Barona Band of Mission...
JENNIFER LYNCH | Electronic Frontier Foundation 07 Feb 2013 Hits:1134 EWO Articles
The most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice. In September 2011, it killed US citizen Anwar Awlaki in a drone strike inYemen, along with US citizen Samir Khan, and then, in circumstances that are still unexplained, two weeks later killed Awlaki's 16-year-old American son Abdulrahman with a separate drone strike in Yemen.
The Guardian | Glenn Greenwald 06 Feb 2013 Hits:439 EWO Articles
A total of 54 countries around the globe were complicit in the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) program of extraordinary rendition, which refers to the practice of capturing terrorist suspects and whisking them off to another country where torture would be used. The news comes in a report published by the Open Society Foundation, which also highlights how the CIA was permitted to run secret interrogation prisons where torture was used and to refuel airplanes that were used to transport prisoners.
The secret interrogation prisons used by the CIA were known as “black...
Alex Kane | AlterNet 05 Feb 2013 Hits:375 EWO Articles
WHEN the International Criminal Courtmade public an arrest warrant in November for Simone Gbagbo, a former first lady of Ivory Coast, on charges of crimes against humanity, it set…
PDA has organized to end wars and occupations since our founding in 2004. We are an original member of the Jobs Not War coalition, and helped build the peace movement…
Day after day, U.S. air strikes have conclusively answered the familiar question of 9/11: "Why do they hate us?"
January 20, 2013 |
Many people around the world are disturbed by U.S.…
As members of opposing parties, we often have legitimate differences of opinion on what is best for the country. But differences of opinion do not mean that we cannot work…
Nuclear weapons were born in the crucible of war. Their parents were fear and science.
The Manhattan Project, under the military leadership of General Leslie Groves and scientific leadership of…
Many of us in the Congressional Progressive Caucus recognize that no serious plan to address the deficit can go forward without defense spending reforms on the table. The bloated Pentagon…
The US Senate voted 62-33 on Thursday for an “accelerated” withdrawal of American combat troops from Afghanistan to be completed no later than the scheduled December 31, 2014, deadline or…
The first four members of the Emergency International Delegation to Gaza entered the Gaza Strip on Monday, November 26th. Three more members of the delegation entered early this morning…
WASHINGTON — American and allied military planners are drawing up the broad outlines of a force that would remain in Afghanistan following the handover to Afghan security after 2014, including a…
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PDA is organized around several core issues. These issues include:
Each team hosts a monthly conference call. Calls feature legislators, staffers and other policy experts. On these calls we determine PDA legislation to support as well as actions and future events.
Special guest, Teddy Miller from Congresswoman Barbara Lee's Office, will be discussing current legislation before Congress regarding Afghanistan, Iran, and the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).
Guest speaker: Judith LeBlanc, Field Director for Peace Action, will speak about how PDA and Peace Action can work together, and update us on the April 15, 2013, Global Day of Action Against Military Spending. Nicolas J. S. Davies will also...
Discussion of HR 198 Repeal of the Authorization for Use of Military Force, HB 200 Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act, HB 783 Prevent Iran from Acquiring Nuclear Weapons and Stop War Through Diplomacy Act, and HB 808 To establish...
Monthly call with special guest speaker Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of the Americas (SOA) Watch.
Rich Gardner reports:
General introductions began at the 3:40 minute mark. Marc Levin started speaking on the conflict in the Congo starting at the 7:55 mark.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo could very well be the next hotspot once Afghanistan...