Article – David Swanson
I know you like the elephants and the acrobats, but we really do not have time for this.Panem et Presidential Elections
By David Swanson
I know you like the elephants and the acrobats, but we really do not have time for this.
The U.S. presidential election is very far away. There’s a measurable rise in the ocean, the construction of numerous new military bases, a decision on peace or war with Iran, a push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, intense antagonization of Russia, and more than likely another month-long bombing of Gaza between now and then.
We should be engaged in intense, all-out, creative, nonviolent resistance. We should be reforming or revolutionizing the election process, among much else. Even when elections have not been financed and reported on primarily by a wealthy elite with debates run by two parties, they haven’t tended to be the means by which important social change has come.
We need radical change, and the election process isn’t even advertising it. One of the chief sources of U.S. election funding, Sheldon Adelson, dismisses the idea of democracy because it’s not in the Bible. And of course Adelson is up-to-date compared with some of the people he funds. At least 32 Republicans are running, apparently with a collective IQ that hardly reaches three figures. For them I’d be willing to revive the Confederacy, give it lots of flags, and locate it in the portions of the Southeast expected to fall below the rising ocean (as long as Donald Trump is charged extra for beach properties!).
Of course Jill Stein has great positions, but let’s face it, the Democrats are not up to the task. Hillary Clinton has replaced FDR’s four freedoms with “the four fights.” It turns out she’s in favor of families, America, democracy, and economics (who knew?), or at least she wants to fight with them. Oh, and she also wants to fight with Iran, ISIS, China, and Russia — each of which is apparently somehow harming our “values.” Then there’s Bernie Sanders who pretends that the 55% of federal discretionary spending that goes to militarism just doesn’t exist. Military? What military? Martin O’Malley has the same approach. Lincoln Chafee claims very briefly and vaguely to oppose wars. Jim Webb adds a bit more to his claim to oppose wars, but makes clear that he wants to fund militarism while expecting doing so not to produce more wars. Chafee and Webb are the worst on non-war issues, unless you compare Clinton and O’Malley’s actual records to their stated desires. Sanders is the best on non-war issues but might do little to slow the rush toward bigger and more frequent wars.
A decent candidate with a basic grasp of the problem of war addiction would say something like this, and no Democrat or Republican is anywhere close to saying it:
As president I will work to change U.S. relations with the rest of the world to relations of respect, cooperation, and demilitarization. A Gallup poll at the end of 2013 found the United States widely believed to be the top threat to peace in the world. One reason for that could be that the United States spends far more on militarism than any other nation, engages in more military actions abroad than any other nation, and maintains many times as many foreign military bases as all other nations combined — all at great human, financial, and environmental cost.
Preparing for wars does not need to be the primary thing we do. In the analysis of the National Priorities Project military spending is 54% of U.S. federal discretionary spending. In 2001, U.S. military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015. These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now. We need to return to 2001 levels and reduce from there.
The attacks of September 11, 2001, did not happen because military spending was too low. Thousands of nuclear weapons were of no value against an attack that used box cutters. In fact, the increased spending has been increasing dangers rather than reducing them, as former President Dwight Eisenhower warned it might, and as our experts say it has. Former Directors of National Intelligence Michael Flynn and Dennis Blair have called the drone wars counterproductive, as has an internal CIA report. Michael Boyle, Former Counter-Terrorism Adviser, agrees, as does General James Cartwright, former Vice-Chair, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. Flynn has said the same of the war on ISIS and the war begun in Iraq in 2003. Former CIA Bin Laden Unit Chief Michael Scheuer says the more the United States fights terrorism, the more it creates terrorism. Statistics seem to bear that out. Numerous other former top officials agree.
The United States is spending at least $100 billion a year on over 800 bases in 70 nations, not counting permanent ongoing trainings and exercises, even though airplanes now allow the U.S. to get troops anywhere in the world without keeping them permanently stationed abroad. We need to close these foreign bases, beginning with the large ones in Germany, Italy, Japan, and South Korea.
As president I will put a stop to the practice of giving free weaponry to Egypt, Israel, and other nations — which are not benefitted by increased militarism. And I will put a stop to the sale of weaponry to foreign nations, beginning with those guilty of serious human rights abuses.
As president I will abolish the presidential kill list, propose a global treaty banning weaponized drones, cease the practice of launching wars not authorized by Congress or the United Nations, maintain peace with Iran, remove the missile defense systems from Europe that were justified by the idea of a threat from Iran, propose a global treaty banning nuclear weapons, remove the United States from NATO, and initiate a process of democratizing the United Nations.
As president I will propose dramatic increases in investment, using funds withdrawn from military spending, including new investment in foreign aid, green energy, infrastructure, education, housing, tax cuts for the lowest incomes, and payment of debts. I will introduce a program of transition to assist communities and workers deprived of military industry jobs.
As president I will reward whistleblowers, end unconstitutional mass surveillance, forbid the transfer of war weaponry to local police departments, and appoint a Secretary of Peace to advise me and my cabinet on alternatives to war in resolving conflicts.