Posts Tagged ‘war costs’

“A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

“America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing except a tragic death wish to prevent us from reordering our priorities so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.” –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (.pdf), the U.S. spends around $700 billion per year on the military. That sum roughly doubled since 2001, and it accounts for about 43 percent of all military spending in the world in 2010. Yet, even in the context of an ongoing unemployment crisis and widespread opposition for the major war in which the U.S. is embroiled, the Pentagon had the audacity to drop a spending plan (.pdf) earlier this month that calls for a continued increase in military spending and to portray the massive levels of outlays on war made at the height of the Iraq War as “breaking faith” with the military. To paraphrase Dr. King, to use for violence these resources better spent rescuing the 50 percent of Americans now in or near poverty is demonic.

The giant named Militarism is nothing if not nimble: last year at this time, the Pentagon used the words of a friend of the King family to insinuate that, though King’s plain words decry all forms of violence and war, today’s wars are different and he would “understand” them. That’s almost as brazen as war industry giant Boeing’s attempt to capture the King mojo for their public relations efforts, donating to the fund for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial fund while making billions from the “business of burning human beings.” We need a new phrase–“King-washing,” maybe?–to describe the efforts of career militarists and war profiteers to grasp at the King mantle.

It is natural for people and organizations to want to associate with King. He was a true prophet in the best sense of the word, someone whose courage, dignity and clear moral vision burned so hot and bright that his after-image remains in our eyes long after he’s gone. But there is a deep, deep difference between trying to associate by emulation and association by manipulation.

Today is MLK Day. For many, it will be a day of service, and that’s certainly an incredibly powerful way to honor King’s memory. But equally powerful is the demand that we hear his message–his whole message, including his condemnation of war as a means to settle conflict–and use it as a genuine opportunity for reflection and action. This year it is especially critical that we do so, as the policy choices waiting in the wings in Washington, D.C. over the next few months so tragically resemble those made regarding the poverty programs of King’s day and the Vietnam War.

Please take a moment to share our latest video. Then, write to President Obama and tell him to honor Dr. King by repudiating the Pentagon’s bid to grow while other programs are cut. Tell him you want him to lead the revolution of values talked about by King–and that that revolution must start by shutting off the “demonic, destructive suction tube” at the Pentagon.

Join the War Costs campaign on Facebook, and follow Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe on Twitter.


Before moving past President Obama’s underwhelming speech explaining his misguided decision to send 30,000 more kids with guns to kill and die in Afghanistan, it’s worth pointing out one more big omission: The War of Necessity was nowhere to be found.

The president said:

I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan…To abandon this area now – and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance – would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.

But, take note of this:

The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers.

This is as close as the president gets to admitting the stark reality that there are virtually no more troops to send, and that’s one reason the U.S. cannot even begin to deploy new forces until the first half of 2010. This force brings us nowhere near the number posited by the counterinsurgency fantasy doctrine much beloved by Petraeus, McChrystal and arm-chair generals. And, the Pentagon says they are running out of money and that Democrats will have to break their promises to fund the Afghan misadventure through the regular budget process. Given that reality, everyone should take note that the only group asked explicitly for patriotic sacrifice on Tuesday night were members of the U.S. military and their families.

At this point, no one should take any policymaker or armchair general seriously when they argue that the U.S. is fighting a war of necessity to defeat an existential threat unless they propose:

  1. a draft; and
  2. steep war taxes.

Of course, that little duo is a non-starter after 8 years of inconclusive killing and dying during which Americans outside the military were only asked to go shopping [although, to his credit, Rep. David Obey (D-Wisc.) has proposed a war surtax]. American politicians’ unwillingness to do so, however, shows that the war in Afghanistan is not, in fact, a war of survival.

But if the war in Afghanistan is not a war of survival, then American political leadership also lacks justification to squander $100,000,000,000 to send 100,000 troops to chase 100 al-Qaida thugs around someone else’s homeland.

Sign the petition to bring those troops home, now.

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Say no to escalation in Afghanistan by signing our CREDO petition at For each signature, CREDO will donate a dollar to support Crowe’s work. You can also join Brave New Foundation’s #NoWar candlelight vigil on Facebook and Twitter to show your opposition to the war. But make these your first steps as an activist to end this war, not your last.

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Learn how the war in Afghanistan undermines U.S. security: watch Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six), & visit

President Obama wants you to know he can be tough like Sarah Palin:

President Barack Obama on Tuesday ruled out shrinking the Afghanistan war to a counterterrorism campaign. Yet he did not signal whether he is prepared to send any more troops to the war zone — either the 40,000 his top commander wants or a smaller buildup, according to several officials.

Obama said the war would not be reduced to a narrowly defined counterterrorism effort…[S]uch a scenario has been inaccurately characterized and linked to Vice President Joe Biden, and…Obama wanted to make clear he is considering no such plan.

So, contrary to all the propaganda, the White House Afghanistan Huddle is only considering a very narrow set of options, all apparently within the counterinsurgency domain. What’s been hyped as wide-ranging debate challenging fundamental assumptions turns out to be a chat in the minivan about whether or not to SuperSize the value meal. Go, team.

Oh, and we’re putting it on the credit card. You know, the same credit card that brought you our current economic apocalypse.

Here’s the balance sheet:

According to the National Priorities Project,

Taxpayers in the United States will pay $228 billion for total Afghanistan war spending since 2001. For the same amount of money, the following could have been provided:

  • 67,197,963 People with Health Care for One Year OR
  • 236,038,753 Homes with Renewable Electricity for One Year OR
  • 4,924,406 Public Safety Officers for One year OR
  • 3,909,968 Music and Arts Teachers for One Year OR
  • 35,250,464 Scholarships for University Students for One Year OR
  • 42,616,822 Students receiving Pell Grants of $5350 OR
  • 1,773,590 Affordable Housing Units OR
  • 100,491,438 Children with Health Care for One Year OR
  • 31,288,596 Head Start Places for Children for One Year OR
  • 3,745,380 Elementary School Teachers for One Year OR
  • 3,294,203 Port Container Inspectors for One year

And here’s the butcher’s bill:

Here’s a graphic that provides a succinct synopsis of the above:

Engraving of the Roman armies defeating elephant troops of Pyrrhus during the Battle of Asculum in 280 BC which was a costly victory for Pyrrhus, giving rise to the phrase a Pyrrhic victory.

"Engraving of the Roman armies defeating elephant troops of Pyrrhus during the Battle of Asculum in 280 BC which was a costly victory for Pyrrhus, giving rise to the phrase 'a Pyrrhic victory'."

If this is the path to victory, it won’t take many more such victories to ruin us.

Eight years is enough. Sign the petition to end the war in Afghanistan.

I’ve just launched an petition asking the White House to end the war in Afghanistan. Please sign it (you must have a Twitter account to do so) and forward it around to your networks. It includes an embedded section of the Rethink Afghanistan documentary and a link to Peace Action West’s Facebook vigil at the White House.

Here’s the link:

Here’s the text of the petition:

Eight Years is Enough: Tell the White House to End the War in Afghanistan

As President Obama considers the way forward in Afghanistan, he should listen to the fifty-seven percent of Americans who oppose the war [AP-GfK poll, Oct. 1-5]. Eight years is enough—it’s time to end the war in Afghanistan.

So far, this war has cost us:

  • $228 billion,
  • 869 dead American troops, and
  • thousands of Afghan civilian casualties (roughly 5200 since the U.N. started counting in 2007).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009 marks the eighth anniversary of the war in Afghanistan. Eight years is enough. It’s time to bring the troops home.

Here’s how you can help end the war:

Eight years is enough. Tell the White House to end the war in Afghanistan.

For those who aren’t familiar with, it’s a web advocacy tool that allows you to sign and retweet petitions via Twitter. It targets a Twitter user and tracks how long its been since they responded to you.

Please sign and pass along, and share it on your other social networks.

Note: Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. Learn how the war in Afghanistan undermines U.S. security: watch Rethink Afghanistan (Part Six), & visit