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Help Support a More Responsible US Foreign Policy

Dear readers: In this giving season, I’m asking for contributions to help advocate for a responsible US foreign policy centered on peace, diplomacy, and human rights, and to spend our military budget more responsibly. These organizations conduct research, mobilize voters, and educate policymakers to do just that: Win Without War

The endless wars of our military-industrial complex are a core feature of our society, yet are so embedded into our political system that they are seldom debated. Supported by our own tax dollars, our military interventions drive global insecurity and instability, representing an urgent threat to the welfare of our planet and those who inhabit it. Here is how: 1. Our global empire is overstretched

The US has about 750 military bases in over 80 countries, spending more on its military than the next ten countries combined. From 2018 to 2020 alone, the US conducted counterterrorism operations in 85 countries. By comparison, China has only one official military base on foreign soil, has not been involved in a major war since 1979, and spends substantially less than we do on its military.

2. Our military interventions kill, maim, and displace millions

Since 9/11, US wars have directly or indirectly caused the deaths of at least 4.5 million civilians and displaced 38 million people from North Africa to the Middle East – triggering refugee crises that have fueled the far-right and destabilized countries across the global north.

3. The Pentagon is a top global contributor to climate change

The US military uses more oil than any other institution on the planet. It is a bigger polluter than 140 countries and consumes up to 80% of all federal energy use – making the Pentagon one of the world’s single largest contributors to climate change.

4. The defense budget is out of control

We put an unprecedented $886 billion aside for the military in FY2024. Over half of all US discretionary spending goes to the military (over non-military services). This is driven largely by the price gouging of private contractors and other fraudulent practices of war profiteers. It is little wonder that the Defense Department has never passed an audit – having just failed its sixth in a row – and the House Oversight Committee is investigating why the Pentagon can’t account for 61% of its nearly $3.5 trillion in assets (or about 78% of the entire federal government).

Here are a few ways in which our hard-earned tax dollars are spent:

• In 2018, the average U.S. taxpayer worked 63 days to fund military spending.

• Of every dollar taxpayers paid in income taxes, 24¢ went to the military. Half of that went directly to private contractors like Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

• The average taxpayer paid nearly $3,500 for defense – almost 19 times more than for all diplomacy and foreign aid.

• The US spends more on researching and producing weapons of mass destruction than on foreign aid.

Despite this, each year we continue to pour billions into the military-industrial complex while neglecting housing, healthcare, education, and the fight against climate change. A 10% cut in the Pentagon budget could help us end homelessness, create green jobs, invest in clean energy, and provide free education to millions of low-income students.

Anti-war activism and the Ukraine dilemma

You may be wondering: how can we reconcile anti-war activism in the context of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine? It’s simple: we can help Ukraine defend itself while also calling for a reduction of our military budget. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive.

Defense Department waste dwarfs the support needed by our allies. Since Russia's invasion, the US has provided $46 billion in military aid to Ukraine – but as far back as 2015, the Pentagon identified $125 billion in “administrative waste” in its own internal study. There has been so little transparency and accountability that our taxpayer dollars have even gone to buying $14,000 toilet seats. We could also save billions by cutting wasteful spending like the failed F-35 program.

The US already accounts for 40% of global arms exports, fueling human rights abuses from Saudi Arabia to Yemen and Egypt to Israel. Surely, we can provide much-needed assistance to Ukraine while also reducing our arms trafficking to dictatorial regimes.

We are also responsible for 39% of all global military spending, even though NATO member states have repeatedly failed to meet their commitment to spend their share of 2% of GDP on defense. We clearly have the resources to assist Ukraine – we just have our priorities wrong.

The organizations I’ve listed favor peaceful alternatives to militaristic solutions by working to free up funds destined for the already bloated Pentagon, and spend them instead on much-needed investments at home. I encourage you to support these organizations, which are working to secure a more peaceful global future.

"We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions [...] In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist." -President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell speech

Responsible US foreign policy
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