By David Swanson
President Obama waited until after the election last week to propose an unpopular idea. He asked Congress for $11.6 billion extra — outside the huge existing military budget — for wars. Here’s his letter including all the gory details. Please read it yourself when you begin to hope that I’m making up some of what follows.
This massive pile of money, equivalent to the annual spending that the United Nations says could end the lack of clean drinking water globally, adds between 1% and 2% to U.S. military spending — but is by itself more than the entire military budget of all but 14 other nations on earth, 12 of which top-spending nations are U.S. allies.
This $11.6 billion would be added to another $73.7 billion in off-the-books war spending already appropriated. That’s military spending outside the gargantuan military budget and supposedly for emergency wars that just shockingly arose, although actually for a half-dozen permawars plus basic profiteering and preparation for future slaughters.
While nothing would prevent this new money from being used for any war that the current or next president desires, it is requested in large part for the wars in Afghanistan and Syria/Iraq. That includes supplying other militaries such as the Iraqi, Afghan, and Kurdish armed forces with free gifts of instruments of mass murder, as well as expanding U.S. military facilities in Somalia, Mauritania, Chad, Turkey, and elsewhere.
The unfathomable sum of $11.6 billion would go to fund war efforts that the next U.S. president has sometimes said he wants to end (the arming of fighters in Syria) or not commented on at all. It would also give the Afghan military U.S.-made helicopters so that it no longer uses Russian ones. This follows lobbying by Lockheed Martin and Textron that warned of “tensions over President Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Ukraine and Syria,” tensions that may not apply come January 20.
Also requested: miniature killer drones that can be launched by U.S. troops in Iraq — troops whose boots are, despite White House rhetoric, on the ground.
Also requested: a big chunk of change for secret operations that Congress is expected to fund with our money despite not knowing what they are. And another for secret research and testing (which sounds less like an “emergency” war than profiteering on the preparations for more wars down the road).
Also in there: funding for a major war on drugs in Libya and West Africa. Not to mention: funds for USAID operations of the sort that have facilitated violent coups in places like Ukraine.
While the President’s request claims to devote 50% to non-defense efforts and includes aid for refugees while funding the creation of more of them, in fact 0% of this is related to defending the United States, and only 14% of people in the U.S. believe these wars are making us safer. Meanwhile, most of the supposedly “non-defense” spending requested is part and parcel of a military mission and devoted to things like “security,” “stabilization,” and “police training.”
A petition has been launched opposing this war bill. One reason it might gain traction, ironically, is that resistance has begun to build against Republican wars (what the large peace movement of 2002-2006 was aimed at). It’s ironic because these are, of course, the Wars that President Obama has continued or begun during the last nearly eight years. We can’t know which good and which horrible statements a President Trump will follow through on. But it’s possible that with the right pressure and influences he will end some of these wars — also that, if we cannot prevent it, he will escalate or initiate others. All we can know for sure is that millions of people in the United States will be suddenly more willing to oppose the wars Trump tries to wage.
Some months back, Obama was absurdly talking about undoing his self-created permission to kill anyone anywhere with a missile from a drone, so that nobody would suffer the indignity of being dismembered by a Republican. Yet, now, post-election, Obama has dropped that idea. After all, once you’ve firmly established the presidential power of inventing “laws” and violating “laws” and shredding the “laws” of the previous president, what difference does it make what you try to impose on the next emperor?
Not only is Obama passing along unprecedented powers to spy, imprison, torture, kill, operate in secret, and persecture whistleblowers, but he is now trying to make sure all war operations are abundantly funded for his successor. There ought, in a reasonable world, to be a huge percentage of us across the political spectrum prepared to stop this cold.Φ
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.