ROBERT C. KOEHLER – Democratic majorities were crucial this summer to the defeat of three separate bills, introduced by progressive Democrats, to reduce military spending and/or undo the militarization of police departments. These included amendments in both the Senate and the House to the National Defense Authorization Act, diverting 10 percent of the Department of Defense budget to health care, education and jobs; as well as a Senate proposal to end the 1033 Program, which allows the Pentagon to transfer military gear to the police. The amendmentâ€™s defeat in the House was especially an outrage in that the Dems hold a majority in the House and could have passed it.
WILLIAM D. HARTUNG and MANDY SMITHBERGER – There are at least 10 separate pots of money dedicated to fighting wars, preparing for yet more wars, and dealing with the consequences of wars already fought. So the next time a president, a general, a secretary of defense, or a hawkish member of Congress insists that the U.S. military is woefully underfunded, think twice. A careful look at U.S. defense expenditures offers a healthy corrective to such wildly inaccurate claims.
ALLEGRA HARPOOTLIAN – What if thereâ€™s an antiwar movement growing right under our noses and we just havenâ€™t noticed? What if we donâ€™t see it, in part, because it doesnâ€™t look like any antiwar movement weâ€™ve even imagined?
PRESS RELEASE from THE LOS ALAMOS STUDY GROUP – On Oct. 31, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its 73-page [analysis] of the future costs of maintaining and modernizing US nuclear weapons, entitled â€œApproaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046.â€ The total cost estimated by CBO was $1.242 trillion (T), of which $800 billion (B) is estimated as necessary to maintain and operate planned forces. The remainder ($400 B) is CBOâ€™s estimate of the cost to modernize these forces. According to CBO, it will cost $4.6 million (M) per hour, 24/7, to keep US nuclear forces for the next 30 years.
WILLIAM D. HARTUNG – Never has a society spent more for less.
KATHY KELLY – December 10th marks the U.N. Human Rights Day, celebrating and upholding the indispensable and crucial declaration of universal human rights. On the eve of this event, I visited a refugee camp housing 700 families in Kabul. Conditions in refugee camps can be deplorable, intolerable. Here, the situation is best described as surreal.
JAY SYRMOPOULOS – A new Department of Defense Inspector Generalâ€™s report, released last week, has left Americans stunned at the jaw-dropping lack of accountability and oversight. The glaring report revealed the Pentagon couldnâ€™t account for $6.5 trillion dollars worth of Army general fund transactions and data, according to a report by the Fiscal Times. The Pentagon, which has been notoriously lax in its accounting practices, has never completed an audit, [which] would reveal how the agency has specifically spent the trillions of dollars allocated for wars, equipment, personnel, housing, healthcare and procurements allotted to them by Congress.
ERIN NIEMELA – I am a parent of a an elementary school student in Portland, Ore., and early this week I discovered our school is participating in the STARBASE program. STARBASE is a Department of Defense initiative offering science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) training to at-risk public school students. . . .While some parents applaud STARBASE for bringing STEM subjects to students in an engaging, exciting way, others â€“ myself included â€“ are concerned about the intentions of the program.
GRANT SMITH – In surveying the energy landscape, thereâ€™s an emerging, inevitable trend. Old coal and nuclear plants are being decommissioned while new ones are extremely difficult to keep within estimated construction budgets. Moreover, the next nail in the coffin for these passÃ© technologies is water. The water/energy nexus, as it is known, is a big deal.
JEFF MERKLEY – This letter is a reply from Sen. Jeff Merkley to PeaceWorker Editor Peter Bergel in response to Bergelâ€™s request that Merkley support major cuts to the military budget during the upcoming â€œfiscal cliffâ€ debate, rather than allow cuts to social security, medicare, or other remaining components of the safety net. Letâ€™s hold Merkley to this encouraging approach.
ALLISON BARRIE – Lurking (and leaking) beneath the world’s oceans are an estimated 200 million pounds of unexploded and potentially dangerous explosives — from bombs to missiles to mustard gas. Texas A&M oceanographers William Bryant and Niall Slowey documented two such dumpsites in the Gulf of Mexico recently. They conservatively guess that at least 31 million pounds of bombs can be found not just in the Gulf, but also off the coasts of at least 16 states, from New Jersey to Hawaii.
JOSH LEVS – The U.S. Defense Department cannot account for about $2 billion it was given to cover Iraq-related expenses and is not providing Iraq with a complete list of U.S.-funded reconstruction projects, according to two new government audits.
DAVID SWANSON – Did you know that the U.S. public wants military spending cut? Did you know that President Barack Obama wants to increase it for his third year in a row? Actually I already know that most of you didn’t know either of these things.
CRAIG CLINE – There appear to be no easy ways out of the financial difficulties we face. We have “money messes” at our local, state, and federal levels. There is one big thing that can help us though, and I propose that all of us get behind the following objective, with all the political and financial power we can muster, starting right here in Salem-Keizer.
NORMAN SOLOMON: The new budget from the White House will push U.S. military spending well above $2 billion a day. This isnâ€™t â€œdefense.â€ Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it.
JEREMY SCAHILL: A hearing in Sen. Claire McCaskillâ€™s Contract Oversight subcommittee on contracting in Afghanistan has highlighted some important statistics that provide a window into the extent to which the Obama administration has picked up the Bush-era war privatization baton and sprinted with it.