The high cost of war

July 28, 2011

I received the following email from former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson about a week ago, and think it important enough to share with you. Our news media keep us distracted with non-news; smoke and mirrors. The bogeyman which confronts us isn’t taxes, the high price of gasoline, or child murderers, etc., as horrific as these are, but rather the high cost of constant war. The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya consume nearly 50% of the United States budget, and enrich the few at the expense of the many. These wars are directly responsible for millions of Americans being out of work, and for the middle-class erosion that continues. Following is the text of Alan Grayson’s letter:

There are 23 million Americans who can’t find full-time work, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are 50 million Americans who can’t see a doctor when they are sick, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

There are more than 15 million American families who owe more on their mortgage than their homes are worth, according to Zillow.  That’s almost a third of all the families who own homes.

If I were in Congress right now, these are the problems that I would be trying to solve.

But instead, we see a bizarre preoccupation—no, really, an obsession—with cutting federal benefits.  Some kind of weird contest to see who can inflict the most pain on the American people.  With the proponent of each new sadistic plan announcing proudly, “mine is bigger than yours.”

I’ll be honest—the federal deficit for the year 2021 is not something that I spend a lot of time thinking about, these days.  But let’s assume—arguendo, as they used to say back in Ancient Rome – that for some reason, there were some compelling, emergency need to work out how to cut $2 trillion from projected federal budget deficits over the next ten years.

I have an idea about how to do that.  It’s a very simple idea.  In fact, I can sum it up in one word, with five letters:

PEACE.

 

Now, I know that peace may not be as popular as it used to be.  The polling is very iffy.  The focus groups are mixed.  But let’s look at the facts.

Last year, we spent $154 billion in appropriated funds on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That is in addition to the $549 billion in appropriated funds for the Pentagon – you know, just to keep the lights on.  And the non-appropriated cost of war was even higher – especially when you include the cost of care for the 15% of all the American troops in Iraq who come home with permanent brain abnormalities.  According to Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, the war in Iraq alone is costing us $4 trillion and counting. That’s more than $13,000 for every one of us, and roughly 8% of our entire net worth as a nation.

The cost of war is enormous.  So enormous that, as I pointed out in H.R. 5353, The War is Making You Poor Act, if we simply funded that cost through the Pentagon’s own budget, rather than through supplemental appropriations, we could eliminate taxes on everyone’s first $35,000 of income ($70,000 for married couples), and still reduce the deficit by more than $10 billion a year.

And that was last year.  Since then, the number of wars has gone up by 50%.

This is what Pat Buchanan—of all people, Pat Buchanan—said two weeks ago:

“The United States is strategically over-extended, worldwide. What are we doing borrowing money from Japan to defend Japan. Borrow money from Europe to defend Europe. Borrow money from the Persian Gulf to defend the Persian Gulf. This country is over-extended. It is an empire and the empire is coming down.”

You say that you want to save $2 trillion in ten years?  It’s simple:  end the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and end whatever it is that they are calling it now in Libya.  I’d rather do that than throw Granny from the train.

But that’s just me. 

Guns or butter.  It’s not a new choice.

I prefer butter.

What about you?

Courage,

Alan Grayson


Vote for Peace

February 21, 2010

Click here to register your vote to establish a U.S. Department of Peace, and send your message to Congress here. The bill to establish a Department of Peace is now before the House of Representatives, and, among other things, would provide funding to establish a U.S. Peace Academy which would act as a counterpart to the U.S. Military Academy, teach violence prevention and mediation to America’s school children, and provide complimentary support to our military by engaging in parallel peace-building activities.

The Woodstock Council for World Peace has already sent a letter of support for the Department of Peace to Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who first introduced this bill in July 2001, shortly before the attacks of 9/11. Unfortunately, our country’s reaction to those attacks, and George W. Bush’s mistaken policy of GWOT (Global War on Terror) has allowed this bill to languish. Make your voices heard, and tell Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and your representatives that you want the United States Department of Peace to become a reality.

We are living in a world that is witnessing the threats of habitat and biodiversity loss, fisheries depletion, global economic stress and world hunger; in such a world, war is unsustainable.

The above views are my own, and do not necessarily represent the views of The Woodstock Council for World Peace.


A letter from the White House

January 24, 2010

President Barack Obama

We received a letter from President Barack Obama two days ago, in response to our letter of July 22nd, 2009. While the President did not grant our wish, he did at least reply personally; that gives us hope that we can make the weekend nearest Universal Peace Day (commemorating the dead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) a worldwide weekend of peace; we want all nations to agree to stand down from any offensive actions on this weekend; this year, and every year.

The reply from our President has encouraged us to renew our efforts toward this end, and we will be composing and sending similar letters to the Head of State of every nation on earth in the very near future; we will post the text here.

And we will be holding LivePeace© this summer on August 7th and 8th, a worldwide series of concerts and prayerful gatherings, in Woodstock, NY, and in many other towns and cities around the world  to further the cause of peace. Save the dates!


Council Meeting Postponed

December 13, 2009

Due to the extreme inclement weather, tonight’s Council meeting has been postponed; we expect to be meeting next Sunday at the Community Center instead. We will post the time as soon as we have the details.


Woodstock Council Meeting

December 13, 2009

Tomorrow, December 13, 2009, the Woodstock Council for World Peace is meeting at the Woodstock Community Center, 56 Rock City Road in Woodstock, NY, from 6:30 p.m.–8:00 p.m. All are invited; among the subjects for discussion are website development, fund raising, and projects to be taken on/promoted by the Council. We must choose the work we will do that will best sustain the Council and most effectively promote the cause of peace. Please come; we invite and need your input on these important matters.


Obama speeches

December 12, 2009

On December 1, 2009, President Barack Obama gave this historic speech at West Point. While we disagree with the concept of “just war”; we do live in a troubled world, and we understand that we cannot simply withdraw all troops from Afghanistan; to do so would bring more chaos and death to this troubled region of the world.

In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, President Obama made his position clear; while we desire peace and brotherhood with all, we cannot shrink from our responsibilities. The following three paragraphs from this historic speech bring us great sadness, yet the inherent truth in these words cannot be denied:

“We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations—acting individually or in concert—will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

“I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago—”Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak—nothing passive—nothing naïve—in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.

“But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al-Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism—it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.”

Let these words remind us that we must continue and strengthen our efforts to do all we can to bring peace to this troubled world; we must work harder to bring economic justice, education, housing, clean water, sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, and medical care to all the people of the world. If each one of us does all that we are capable of towards meeting these goals, we can bring peace to the world.


World March post

December 2, 2009

Thanks to all who braved the cold, wind and rain to participate in the World March for Peace and Nonviolence—you all made a difference. Click here for their article. And just say no to more war!