Sunday, February 27, 2011

War, Economic Disaster, and Protest!

I have a radical, but reality-based proposition for you. The United States does not have a Department of Defense. It has instead a Department of War. The official name change ("War" to "Defense") happened in the 1940s, right after World War II. The United States spends an obscene amount of money on its War Department. It spends so much money on it that I think it cannot be credibly called a "Department of Defense", as it is by almost everybody in our country now. The purpose of spending this much money is not national defense, it is world domination, or if that sounds too far fetched, the projection of U.S. power globally to further the interests of the wealthy and well connected in our society.

In President Obama's latest budget proposal for 2011 the War Department and the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (these latter two dubbed, depressingly, "Overseas Contingency Operations") are funded at $549 billion (p. 64) and $164 billion (p. 140) respectively for a grand total of $713 billion. In 2009 the United States accounted for 46.5% of global military spending. The next highest country, China, which has about 4 times the population as the U.S., was responsible for only 6.6% of global military expenditure that year, less than $100 billion.

People, this is insane.

In my state, California, unemployment is 12.5%. Nationally, it's 9.0%. The national unemployment rate for African Americans is 15.7%. This translates into real human suffering on a massive scale. We didn't do enough stimulus to get our economy out of its funk, and now the new trend in Washington is to be freaked out by the deficit. Well, there are basically three reasons why we have huge deficits as far as I'm concerned:

1) We spend way too much money on war and on our War Department
2) We give out too many tax breaks, especially to rich people who don't need them
3) We're in a weak economy, which lowers tax revenue, and we have taken some action to address it (but not enough)

The ANSWER Coalition, Los Angeles is holding a war protest in Hollywood, March 19th. These people were organizing anti-war protests since immediately after 9/11, or in other words, before it felt safe. At that time, to be honest, anti-war people kept their mouths shut to a shameful degree because we were afraid.

We shouldn't be afraid to speak out against this insanity. Violence breeds more violence and it is folly to think that our wars will bring an end to the hatred of America that motivates terrorists. This is even clearer ten years after 9/11 than it was then. Speak up, or our beloved country will strangle itself on its own rage and arrogance. This is not a joke.

Saturday, March 19th 
Hollywod and Vine

You have no excuse if you care about this, live close to LA, and have the day off. It's even transit oriented (that's a Red Line stop). If we get this war spending under control, we might actually have some money to build transit in this country. These topics are connected, intimately, and we transit and urban advocates ignore this connection at our own peril.

Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!


  1. Sadly, I'll be on a plane/in the Bay Area that day. I'll be there in spirit!

  2. You may be in luck, because there's also a protest in San Francisco on the same date and time:

  3. Aye, but there's also a birthday party for my grandfather. I don't think my family would take kindly to my rabble-rousing.