Nonviolence Just Peace
Evaluate War's True Costs, Including Massive Debt
by Ed Flaherty and Veterans for Peace Chapter #161 Eastern Iowa
The Threat of War with IranWe are currently witnessing the escalation of threats and the misuse of power between the United States and Iran that has the potential to lead to war. The U.S. backed out of the Iran nuclear deal, against the advice of allies; inflicted and continues to inflict harmful sanctions on Iran's economy; orchestrated a cyberattack; and sent air craft carriers, bomber planes, and troops to the Middle East. Iran shot down a U.S. military drone and continues to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium, a component of the nuclear industry. It was reported that last Thursday, President Trump had initiated and then subsequently called off an air strike on Iran in retaliation.
As tensions rise, Pax Christi USA has two major concerns...
Have we become a welfare state for the military-industrial complex? In August, 2018, Congress passed the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with overwhelming bi-partisan support. It authorized a whopping $717 BILLION in military expenditures, a $98 Billion increase over the 2017 NDAA. Only ten senators voted against this bill, and neither of Iowa’s two senators wasamong the ten.Why is this important?First, and most easily understood, is that the FY 2019 military budget translates into about $2,200 per person in the United States. Repeat, $2,200 per person. Of course, that is not proportionally reflected in the taxes that we pay. This gargantuan expenditure is mostly funded by new Federal debt. The deficit for FY 2018 was $782 billion, and is projected to be over $1 trillion in FY 2019. So, we will let our grandchildren carry that burden.
Second, with funding for the military consuming 58% of total Federal discretionary spending, all other programs are suffocated. For example, military funding is 81.5 times more than the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency.
Funding for transportation, mental health, food safety, education, and many other programs are cut, while the Pentagon goes unaudited and military contractors get rich. (Most generals, when they retire, go to work for military contractors or consultants and get richer.)
Third, the only possible legal and moral justification for our huge military establishment would be that it is defending our country from enemies outside our borders. However, we have not fought a war of defense since World War II. In the past 18 years we have spent six trillion dollars on our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and numerous other conflicts. All of those were wars of intervention in the affairs of other countries, where the safety of this country was not under threat. Rather than a defender of freedom, the United States has become the bully of the world. That is immoral and un-American.
Read the rest of this op-ed letter written for, and first published in, the Cedar Rapids Post Gazette here.
PaxChristi Video Nonviolence and Just Peace: Moving Beyond War
*Sponsored by the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative Affirming the vision and practice of active nonviolence at the heart of the Catholic Church. A project of Pax Christi International.
World Day of Peace 2017 - In August, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has chosen “Nonviolence: A style of politics for peace” as the theme for the 2017 World Day of Peace. Read the press statement from Vatican Radio here. Inspired by both St. Pope John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in terris and his own encyclical Populorum progressio, Pope Paul VI introduced the commemoration of the World Day of Peace in 1967; it is now celebrated every year on 1 January.