Feminist case for the reduction of the Pentagon budget


Twenty years after the US invasion of Afghanistan, the peace activists and feminists who have opposed the war from the start have been right. Now let’s listen to them and slash the Pentagon budget to reinvest in our communities.

I was eight years old old when the United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001. By that time, politicians and the media had used all the tricks in the book to justify invading an entire country that had nothing to do with it with the terrorist attacks of September 11.

Although I don’t remember much of the months leading up to the war, one argument – that the bombing of Afghanistan would bring democracy to the region and, by extension, free oppressed Afghan women – has stuck with me.

Twenty years later, I watched in horror the rapid takeover of Kabul by the Taliban as US troops retreated from the country in defeat, leaving behind the Afghan women the US was supposed to want to help. As someone who grew up in the shadow of America’s “war on terror”, watching Kabul sink into chaos was the perfect distillation of the utter depravity of spending $ 2,000 billion to invade and occupy a city. another country for two decades.

After spending over $ 300 million a day and killing over 70,000 innocent Afghan civilians, while also creating fertile ground for the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, the cynical claim that the United States bombing countries for women’s equality is revealed as a hideous lie. Despite this fact, there remains a persistent narrative that American militarism can still be deployed in the name of women’s rights around the world.

Cutting the Pentagon budget would mean more money to invest in an economy of peace that puts people and the planet first.

In the wake of the death and destruction left by the United States’ “war on terror”, it is time to take stock. Gone are the days when anyone should take seriously the same politicians and political commentators who are funded by companies that profit from war.

Rather, it is time to listen to the peace activists and feminists who were right from the start, including Representative Barbara Lee, who alone voted against allowing the use of military force in 2001. In this speech now Famously, Representative Barbara Lee warned against resorting to military action, saying it “would present too great a risk that women, children and other non-combatants could be caught in the crossfire.”

Earlier this year, Representative Barbara Lee proposed legislation that would redirect $ 350 billion in Pentagon funding (roughly 50% of the total budget) to socially necessary programs that would disproportionately benefit women, people of color, and people of color and society. working class.

If we are serious about advancing women’s rights and addressing some of the most pressing challenges facing our planet, slash the Pentagon’s massive $ 741 billion budget and prioritize spending on education, health, and life. climate change must be at the heart of our work.

Reducing taxpayer subsidies to private military contractors would prevent future wars that kill innocent civilians, including women and children.

Since the start of the so-called “war on terror”, the US Pentagon’s budget has become increasingly commercialized, which means that a larger percentage of our taxes are spent on private military contractors. In 2020, well over half of the Pentagon’s budget, $ 437 billion, went directly into the pockets of private military contractors, including $ 158 billion that went to the top five arms contractors. from the country. These same companies are using their huge profits from American taxpayers ‘money to fund politicians’ campaigns and pressure Congress to approve more Pentagon funding. This creates a perverse incentive to continue murderous, unpopular and dangerous wars that leave innocent civilians dead in their wake to continue the flow of taxpayer money into the coffers of private military contractors. This vicious cycle continues year after year, despite the fact that private military contractors are notorious for waste, fraud and price hikes.

This is one of the many reasons why, despite popular support for the Pentagon’s spending cuts, Congress continues to increase the Pentagon’s budget year after year. By reducing taxpayer subsidies to arms companies, we could begin to fight the corporate capture of our politicians and end this obvious conflict of interest.

Cutting the Pentagon budget would mean more money to invest in an economy of peace that puts people and the planet first.

It is not enough to cut taxpayer subsidies to private military contractors. The end of the US war on Afghanistan should be a wake-up call for our national budget priorities, for we cannot continue on the path of murderous and destructive US militarism. Instead, we need to invest in what feminists and peace activists have stood for for decades: the healthcare, infrastructure, and climate solutions we desperately need.

A new study from the National Priorities Project estimates that we have spent $ 21 trillion on militarization since the start of the so-called “war on terror” – a fraction of which could have funded programs like Medicare for All that were dismissed as “too expensive.” An exciting new bill from Representative Mark Pocan is a prime example of how much we could gain if we began to prioritize global solidarity and peace over American militarism. Bill would reallocate just over one percent of Pentagon spending to pay for immunizations for 30 percent of the world’s population.

Clearly, we could achieve ambitious progressive policies by redirecting even a fraction of Pentagon funding. However, there is a lingering myth that despite numerous documented cases of waste and fraud, Pentagon spending is justified because it creates so many jobs. However, dollar-for-dollar spending on the Pentagon budget is an opportunity cost compared to funding education, health care, or green infrastructure. Consider that for every billion dollars, we could generate 26,700 jobs in education and 16,800 in clean energy, compared to only 11,200 jobs in the military.

This means that redirecting Pentagon funding to socially necessary programs would create more job opportunities in industries that are often dominated by women and that are also better for the environment than more extractive industries.

For too long, our national budget has prioritized funding the Pentagon and private military contractors over people and the planet. Now that the United States has finally begun the long task of ending Eternal Wars, we have reached a critical juncture. We can either continue on the failed path of injecting money into America’s enormous destructive and wasteful war machine, or radically change course and invest in an economy of peace.

This time, we should choose to be on the right side of history.

Carley Towne
Common dreams

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