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We must halt war funding and slash the giant Pentagon budget.

As We Work to Prevent Iran War, It’s Time to End All Our Wars, We must halt war funding and slash the giant Pentagon budget.LAUREN WALKER / TRUTHOUT, 21 Dec 19

Progressives are rightly mobilizing in force against with Iran. Preventing another war is certainly imperative. In addition, we must recognize it is Browse revisions past time to end the endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With a foreign policy that is increasingly synonymous with war, will profit-minded Pentagon contractors and a politicized military leadership win another year of pointless world domination, as if it’s all a big game of Risk?

Pentagon contractors saw their stock prices — and their CEOs’ stock holdings — spike after the Trump administration courted war by killing Iranian military commander Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani. And those same contractors checked a major item off their Christmas lists in early December with the bipartisan passage of a military spending bill that provides another year of funding for endless war and another year of champagne-popping profits. The Pentagon spending deal was made just days before The Washington Post published a harrowing account of how military leaders covered up the failure of the war in Afghanistan, painting the clearest picture yet of how the military has misled the public for nearly 20 years.

The spending bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act, handed $738 billion to the military, including $71.5 billion in war funding, as part of a prior agreement that puts the Pentagon on a path toward record-breaking spending. Just days before news of the “Afghanistan Papers” broke, the negotiation cut a handful of critical antiwar provisions that were included in an earlier House-passed version.

This calls for a do-over. In February, budget negotiations for 2021 will begin. The game is rigged, in that total military spending for 2021 was already set at $740 billion by the 2019 Bipartisan Budget Act. Apologists for the forever wars and Pentagon profiteers are guaranteed at least one more year of soaring Pentagon spending.

But while the money will be spent, the stakes are still life and death. The 2021 budget could spell the end of the wars if Congress sees fit to finally take on its rightful role as the sole declarer of wars……..

Progressive Measures Left on the Cutting Room FloorThe 2020 military budget negotiations left some game-changing progressive measures on the cutting room floor. Those measures are exactly what progressives need to dust off and rally behind.

A House version of the bill that passed over the summer included the same egregious level of spending, but it also imposed some long-overdue limits on presidential war powers, including measures that would have prevented further U.S. complicity in the war in Yemen, limited presidential power to start a war with Iran, and made major steps toward finally ending the forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The House version also would have prevented the president from shifting military funds to build a wall at the southern border; prevented spending on a new class of more “usable” nuclear weapons; and protected the right of trans people to serve openly in the military. Despite its major flaw — a deeply excessive Pentagon budget — the House version would have done a lot to minimize the damage.

None of those progressive provisions made it into the final deal. Instead, the most progressive advance in the new bill is a provision for paid parental leave for federal employees. The leave policy is an important and welcome change, and long overdue, but it was also a hastily passed, partial measure that leaves much to be desired.

First, End the Wars

Barring another Trump stunt to throw a bone to hungry progressives, the military budget for 2021 must involve a tougher negotiation that results in real changes to Pentagon and presidential war powers. No parade of partial victories is worth the continuation of endless war, or the bankrupting of our nation that the $6.4 trillion (and counting) federal war budget represents.

The country has been at war in Afghanistan for 18 years, the longest war in U.S. history, and so far, the 21st century has been a story of constantly expanding Pentagon power. The war budget for 2020 — for Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere — is $71 billion, though it’s widely acknowledged that the war fund has also become a convenient way for military leaders to skirt legal spending limits. A new war with Iran would only increase the feeding frenzy….

Any meaningful reining in of the Pentagon budget must start with ending the wars, both because of the savings inherent in finally bringing the troops home (and the contractors, weaponry and entire machinery of war with them), but also because a reduced Pentagon budget will depend on establishing a common perception of our relative safety in the world. As long as the country remains at war, the Pentagon is politically untouchable. …….

January 11, 2020 - Posted by | USA, weapons and war

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