Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Time for an anti-war era of military budget cuts" @ Prosperity Agenda

War spending undermines the economy, more than we knew. It is time for an anti-war era of cuts to the military budget.

Dear Michael Caddell,

After World War I ended there was a re-consideration of the decision to enter that war. This led to cuts in military spending, reductions in the size of the military, and an era of anti-war opposition. The war was costly with horrific injuries to soldiers and seemed to serve no national interest. Even in victory, the war was questioned.

Now the U.S. is engaged in multiple wars – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and now, it seems, Yemen is next. For what purpose? At what cost? What can we do to make sure these wars are followed by an era of opposition to war and shrinking military budgets?

Today’s wars will not end in clear victory, unlike World War I. That alone gives us an advantage over the anti-war advocates of the last century.

In addition, these wars are more costly. Recently two leading economists put out a report estimating the cost of the Iraq War. They measured not only the cost of fighting in Iraq, but the real costs, especially the cost of treating returning vets. Their estimate: the war could cost the United States up to $6 trillion dollars. This is an astounding figure that is 100 times more than the Bush administration’s initial estimate of up to $60 billion.
Click here to read an article they wrote about the cost of the Iraq War.

The authors, Joseph Stiglitz, a former Chief Economist for the World Bank and the winner of the Nobel Prize for economics in 2001; and Linda J. Bilmes, a professor at Harvard University, point out that war spending helped undermine the economy. The borrowed dollars for war could have produced many more jobs and economic activity at home if those dollars had been spent on more economy-boosting programs. And, they point out how the wars continue to be a drag on the economy, making it more difficult for the government to take appropriate action. They write:

“Increased indebtedness meant that the government had far less room to maneuver than it otherwise would have had. More specifically, worries about the (war-inflated) debt and deficit constrained the size of the stimulus, and they continue to hamper our ability to respond to the recession. With the unemployment rate remaining stubbornly high, the country needs a second stimulus. But mounting government debt means support for this is low. The result is that the recession will be longer, output lower, unemployment higher and deficits larger than they would have been absent the war.”

The economy was the driving force in the midterm elections. If the weak economy continues, it will be the leading issue in 2012 as well. Please join me in warning the White House and elected officials in Congress that continued war spending jeopardizes the economy and their political careers. It is time for tax dollars to be focused on rebuilding the economy at home. We need to stop borrowing money to fight wars abroad. Please join Voters For Peace in writing the president and members of Congress.

Thank you for your support throughout the year. I know the frustration of seeing these senseless wars continuing and even expanding. It is no easy task to end a war, but I’m convinced that Americans will see these wars as major blunders and politicians will have to change their view if they want to remain in office – if we work together to make sure all Americans see the folly of war.


Kevin Zeese

Executive Director

P.S. This is a great time to make an end of the year donation. The economy is still in the doldrums so I know how difficult it is to donate, but it is equally difficult on our side to continue our work without financial support. So,
if you can donate, please do so today by clicking here now.

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