On Tuesday, protesters from #FreedomPlaza and #occupydc in Washington #occupied the Senate. In the morning, they #occupied the Senate Hart office building. The Hart office building has an atrium which is a great protest space. Protesters chanted, "End the Wars!"
This demand has widespread support. Sixty-two percent of Americans want U.S. troops out of Afghanistan in two years or less. Seventy Members of the House have written to the debt-reduction Supercommittee, asking it to end the wars as part of its deficit reduction plan. But the Pentagon is planning to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan for another decade or more.
In this Guardian video, you can see that there was no way to be in the Hart building and not know that there was a protest going on demanding that the wars end.
In the afternoon, protesters #occupied the Senate Finance Committee, which was considering three trade deals being pushed by Wall Street: with Colombia, Korea and Panama.
I marched through downtown Washington Saturday afternoon with the "#OccupyDC" folks. One of the most popular chants around me was: "How to end this deficit? End the wars, tax the rich!" Apparently the 99% in DC have no trouble talking about ending the wars and taxing the rich in the same breath. I hope that others will emulate them.
I take it as obvious that "end the wars" means not only that we should get all our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, but that we shouldn't start a new war with Iran. Don't you? Surely a key lesson of the last ten years is that once a war is started, it can be incredibly difficult to end it. This is one of the reasons that the neocons love starting wars. Starting a war allows them to create a long-term structural change in the political terrain - one that can long outlast their time in office - sucking resources and focus from the productive, domestic economy that employs and nourishes the 99% to the military economy that makes the military contractors rich but creates few jobs in the U.S. compared to domestic private and public spending.
And another key lesson of the last ten years is this: if we want to stop wars in the future, we can't wait to act until the war advocates have all their ducks in a row. We have to "disrupt their plots," to borrow a phrase. Millions marched worldwide a month before the start of the Iraq war. As an expression of popular clamor for peace, it was great. But as a means of stopping the war, it was too late. The war train had already left the station.
After ten years of war, now is a perfect time to act to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Friends Committee on National Legislation has set up a toll-free number for us to call Congress: 1-877-429-0678. A Congressional "Supercommittee" is charged with coming up with $1.5 trillion in reduced debt over ten years, and the wars and the bloated Pentagon budget dangle before the Supercommittee like overripe fruit.
So what else is new, you may say. The Pentagon wants to stay everywhere forever.
Report back here concerning your call to Congress on this the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.
Lee-Campbell Bipartisan Letter to Super Committee on Military Spending:
As the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, or the ‘Supercommittee’, seeks out savings and works to end wasteful spending throughout the federal budget, it is critical that all federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, are subject to the same level of scrutiny and consideration. Significant savings can be realized without compromising our national security.
One of the main drivers of our deficit is military spending and it must be on the table for the committee to consider as they seek to reduce our deficit.
Please join us in calling for the Supercommittee to consider savings opportunities throughout our defense spending.
Please note that the letter specifically rejects any cuts that would compromise the security of American troops in the field, as well as any cuts in services and increases in fees for our veterans and military retirees.
If you are interested in signing on or have any questions about the letter, please contact Teddy Miller in Congresswoman Lee’s office; or Christopher Bognanno in Rep. Campbell’s office.
Barbara Lee John Campbell
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Barney Frank Ron Paul
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Gwen Moore Rush Holt
Member of Congress Member of Congress
October __, 2011
Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction Chairman Mark Prater
Senator Patty Murray (Co-Chair)
Senator Max Baucus
Senator John Kerry
Senator Jon Kyl
Senator Pat Toomey
Senator Rob Portman
Representative Jeb Hersarling (Co-Chair)
Representative James Clyburn
Ordinarily, I think of myself as a card-carrying liberal. But lately, I'm getting the feeling that Liberal America had a meeting to decide on our current priorities and peace advocates weren't invited. I open my email and it's full of rallying cries about the urgency of taxing the rich. When was it decided that taxing the rich was the marquee demand of Liberal America at this juncture? Were peace advocates invited to this meeting? I see no evidence that we were.
In a different political juncture, I would be happy to march behind the banner of taxing the rich. But at this political juncture, when the war budget is half of federal discretionary spending, and when because of the Budget Control Act and the Supercommittee, we have a historic opportunity to cut the war budget - a much better prospect, at present, than our prospects for raising tax rates on rich people - I ain't marching for this dogwhistle anymore.
Suppose there were a massive government program to dump truckloads of dioxin in Lake Michigan. And suppose that - in addition to the direct effects of poisoning a major source of drinking water - this program were tremendously expensive in blood and treasure. Suppose that since October 7, 2001, more than five thousand American workers had been killed carrying out the Lake Michigan-poisoning project, with tens of thousands of American workers counted as wounded, and the real toll of wounded American workers many times higher. And suppose that the budgeted cost so far of the massive government program to dump poison in Lake Michigan were over a trillion dollars so far, with the real financial cost to society, when you count things like the future health costs of the poisoned American workers, much higher.
Would the marquee demand of Liberal America be to make Warren Buffett pay his fair share for the Lake Michigan-poisoning program? Or would the marquee demand of Liberal America be to stop dumping poison in Lake Michigan?
On October 7, 2011, the United States will have been at war for ten years.
Let's mark the occasion by making a national clamor for peace so loud that Congress, the President, and big media will have to pay attention.
October 7 happens to fall on a Friday this year. If you get to choose, Friday is not necessarily the most strategic day to make a national clamor for peace, because 1) Congress will likely not be in session 2) Friday is, in general, a crummy day to try to get media attention and 3) even if these two things weren't true or relevant, Friday is not a great day to try to hold public attention. People's thoughts are turning to the weekend, and then the weekend erases the chalkboard.
Moreover, the press has to cover the anniversary of the war, but these stories are going to be largely written and produced before Friday. The default media narrative will be: America has lost interest in the wars, because of the economy and unemployment, because "the wars are already winding down," or some other story that journalists or editors will make up. We have to beat this default media narrative. To beat it, we need to get in front of it.
So let's mark the occasion on Thursday, October 6. Let's have a national, "ecumenical" day of action for peace: to end the wars and cut the military budget.
“Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward. And freedom will be defended.”
The memory most often recounted by those in New York on September 11th must be how clear and blue the sky was that day. I, for one, will never forget that sky. It was unblemished, a pure cerulean dream. And then came the cloud, though it was not the sort that carried rain—it held the sins of men. When the wind blew north the next day, I breathed in that cloud—that acrid, deathly thing—and I, and all Americans, have borne its burden ever since.
But many Americans do not see this burden for what it is, for it is not simply a grief for the events of that day. One of the lessons of September 11th should have been that events do not stand in isolation: causes extend far and wide, in time and space, and so do consequences. And perhaps now, more than ten years ago, there is a greater understanding among the general public of the hidden nature and history of U.S. foreign policy. I know that my own understanding and perception of things has grown and changed. Albeit I was only 17 on that fateful day, a college freshman for a mere week, but having been a JROTC cadet in high school, required to deliver a weekly presentation on international issues, I fancied that I was more knowledgeable than most my age. It turned out that I was quite in the dark. So, after September 11th, I wondered “why?” Many Americans did, and some even asked it of our leaders. But the answer they received was deceit.
In the days following that infamous Tuesday, I watched no television, avoiding the news or tuning it out when it happened to be on in the room. Even then I felt uneasy about the effects such programs would have on my conception of recent events. I saw the effects that it had on the people around me—their anger, their impetuousness—which seemed counterproductive given the moment.
In an interview today, Just Foreign Policy explained to RT why ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would save at least 400,000 jobs:
President Obama is preparing to deliver a major address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday, outlining his plans for spending and tax cuts to create jobs.
Here's a plan that would likely save at least 400,000 jobs over the next ten years, without increasing the deficit or raising a dollar of additional revenue: bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan as previously scheduled, and use the savings to reduce the debt in place of proposed cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits - or other cuts in domestic spending.
The total savings to the federal budget of using the chained CPI as a measure of inflation (including cuts in Social Security benefits) and raising the Medicare retirement age appear to be on the order of $200 billion over 2012-2021. This proposal was a key feature of the deal that President Obama and Speaker Boehner agreed to in the debt ceiling negotiations. The deal collapsed, because Speaker Boehner could not deliver the House on the deal, since it also included revenue increases. Judging from press reports, the President and others would like to revive this deal. So - unfortunately, from the point of view of the values and interests of the overwhelming majority of Americans - this proposal appears to still be on the table.