Raleigh City Council calls on Congress to “Bring Our War Dollars Home”

January 16, 2013

Press Release

CONTACT: JOE BURTON 919-851-5596

At its January 15th meeting, the Raleigh City Council joined the US Conference of Mayors and cities in 14 other states in approving a “Bring Our War Dollars Home Resolution.” The original resolution was submitted to the Council by ROWD (Return Our War Dollars) of Wake County with support from NC Peace Action and American Friends Service Committee.

After amending the wording, the Council approved the following: BE IT RESOLVED that the Raleigh City Council call upon the U.S. Congress and President Obama to end our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our war dollars home, and use those and other savings in Pentagon spending to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.

ROWD of Wake County coordinator Joe Burton (pictured above) said: “Thanks to the Raleigh City Council for its approval of the Bring Our War Dollars Home resolution and the good message it sends to North Carolina’s Congressional delegation regarding federal funding priorities, as budget negotiations go forward in Washington.”

To read the rest of the resolution, please click here.

Raleigh City Council Resolution

 

January 2013

Proclamation calling on Congress to Fund Urgently Needed Services and Infrastructure Repair in Raleigh and Throughout the United States by Bringing Our War Dollars Home and Reducing Military Spending.

WHEREAS the members of the Raleigh City Council and the constituents we represent want to ensure the safety, as well as the physical and mental well-being of U.S. soldiers, veterans, and their families, and

WHEREAS more than 100,000 American soldiers have been officially injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 520,000 veterans or our Middle Eastern wars have filed disability claims with costs of their care expected to total between $600 billion and $1 trillion by 2040 (1), and WHEREAS, the US government has spent well over 1 trillion dollars nationally on the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, with North Carolina taxpayers’ share of that total at $34 billion, and Raleigh taxpayer’s share of that total is $1.7 billion (3), and

WHEREAS the core defense budget has gone up for an unprecedented 13 straight years and reduction in defense spending will help reduce the federal deficit (2), and

WHEREAS the $50 billion reduction in defense spending required by sequestration under the Budget Control Act (adjusted in real dollars) is equivalent to what was spent in FY2007 and will keep defense spending above the Cold War average (2), and

WHEREAS even with a reduction of $50 billion, the United States will spend more on defense than the next 17 nations combined, most of whom are our allies, and 3 times more than the Chinese (2), and

WHEREAS the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to reexamine our national spending priorities; and in Wake County budget cuts causing layoffs, cutbacks, and continual damage to our public education system (4), and

WHEREAS 1.6 million residents of NC live in poverty with nearly 50% of those having incomes less than half of the federal poverty level; in Wake County 1 in 6 children live in poverty (5, 6, 7), and

WHEREAS, cuts to federal programs such as Community Block Development Grants (CDBGs) and the Home Investment Partnership program (HOME) have forced Raleigh and local agencies and non-profits to lay off staff, reduce or eliminate services, delay infrastructure projects and reduce program benefits to low and moderate income families; and

WHEREAS, funding for a constructive economy that sustains high level educational services for the K through college, job growth, equal access to medical care, low cost housing, infrastructure repair, environmental protections, and family financing throughout North Carolina, especially in cities such as Raleigh, has been diverted to wars and occupations, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED that the Raleigh City Council call upon the U.S. Congress and President Obama to end our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our war dollars home, and use those and other savings in military spending to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.

 

1. Gusterson, Hugh, “The Costs of War”, 2011 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 6, 2011

2. Korb, Lawrence J., “6 Reasons to Keep the Defense Budget Sequestration Cuts”, Center for American Progress, April 3, 2012.

3. National Priorities Project, http://costofwar.com, Nov. 1, 2012.

4. Warren, Louisa B. “A Better Future Begins in Pre-K,” Policy & Progress, North Carolina Justice Center, Spring 2012, p. 13.

5. Hawes, Julia, “Poverty Tour Exposes Lack of Economic Opportunity,” Policy & Progress, North Carolina Justice Center, Spring 2012, p. 1.

6. Sirota, Alexandra Forter and Burch, Brenna Elford, “Dismantling Pathways to Economic Mobility in NC,” Policy & Progress, North Carolina Justice Center, Spring 2012, p. 1, 10-11.

7. http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/NC-County-Data-Poverty-and-Deep-Poverty-Rates.pdf

 

2012 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference Report

“Love in Action:

The Transformative Power of Nonviolence”

The 2012 Lake Junaluska Peace Conference

November 8th-11th  Report

North Carolina Peace Action was well represented at the 5th annual peace conference held at the Lake Junaluska Conference Center in western NC, November 8–11.  NC Peace Action leaders were an integral part of planning this year’s program which included:
 
·        Rev. Dr. Bernard LaFayette Jr., Distinguished Scholar in residence at Candler School of Theology
·        Dr. Michael Nagler, founder and president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence in Petaluma, CA
·        Rev. Alan Storey, Central Methodist Mission, Cape town, Africa
·        Ms. Leymah Gbowee, Liberian peace activist and Nobel Prize winner.
 
Each of these speakers provided riveting presentations describing events where otherwise ordinary people joined together to overcome seemingly insurmountable forces of violence and oppression.
 
Conference workshops were an opportunity to delve in to case studies of the use of nonviolence.  “How to Start a Revolution” featured a screening of the film “From Dictatorship to Democracy” about the work of Gene Sharpe, with discussion led by Doug Wingeier; and “Civilian Diplomacy,” led by Fellowship of Reconciliation Director Mark Johnson.  Following Mark’s description of FOR’s world-wide witness, our group engaged in a round table expression of personal experiences as “citizen diplomats.”
 
One unforgettable presentation was provided by a young Congolese student who overcame extraordinary odds to organize soccer games between warring factions in the Congo and Rwanda.
 
Another highlight of the conference was a Saturday afternoon workshop moderated by NCPA’s Betsy Crites and Michael Nagler, featuring an opening, interactive exercise conducted by Clare Hanrahan and Coleman Smith of the New South Network of War Resisters.  The workshop was designed as “An Activists’ Dialogue” with the following description: “Pacifism, Nonviolence, Diversity of Tactics;  How can we engage these concepts in ways that build toward a broader, deeper justice movement?
 
“Join Peace Conference speaker Michael Nagler, NC Peace Action, Veterans For Peace, the New South Network of War Resisters, Katuah Earth First! & Occupy Asheville’s Nonviolent Direct Action Trainers Group in an interactive dialogue on effective strategies and tactics for fundamental social, economic, and political change.”

Fifty people attended the two-hour discussion, which then led to another hour long conversation about how to continue this dialogue.

NC Peace Action board member Rachael Bliss described her impressions of the Saturday events:
“I’m so pleased that NC Peace Action made it possible for a van load of us peace activists from Asheville to attend some of Saturday’s events.  An extra benefit was to meet new people in our region who have devoted years of their lives to cultivating peace and putting their bodies and minds on the line.
 
“Although I was familiar with Gene Sharpe’s list of nonviolent strategies to promote change, I particularly liked material provided by Michael Nagler.  He was able to summarize degrees of risk along a timeline.  In most instances, promoters of change increase their personal risks (up to even death) when other less risky strategies fail to bring about desired changes.  His insights were useful for our struggles.
 
“Lastly, the featured speaker Nobel Peace Prize Winner from Liberia Leymah Gbowee challenged us to not let rage cause us to exchange violence with more violence, but instead to “pour our rage” into nonviolent containers, so true and lasting improvements can be realized even in the most dire circumstances.
 
“This was truly a good day for the Spirit of Peace to bring hope into my life.”
 
NCPA Director John Heuer is a member of the Lake Junaluska Peace Conference planning committee, and welcomes your suggestions for future conference themes and events.

 

 

6 Reasons to Keep the Defense Budget Sequestration Cuts

By Lawrence J. Korb

Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress

April 3, 2012

About Lawrence J. Korb: Lawrence J. Korb, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, served as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.

Unless Congress acts to repeal sequestration, the core defense budget (exclusive of war costs) for FY 2013 will be “only” $472 billion, about $50 billion less than the Pentagon requested. There are at least six reasons why Congress should not act.

1. First, a budget of $472 billion is more than sufficient to protect our national security. In inflation adjusted or real dollars, this is what we spent in FY 2007, the penultimate year of the Bush administration, when not even defense hawks were complaining about the budget being too low. Additionally, this budget would keep real defense spending above the Cold War average, despite the fact that we then faced an existential threat from Soviet Russia, a real “geopolitical foe.”

2. Second, in real terms, the core defense budget has gone up for an unprecedented 13 straight years. As Dick Armey, the former House leader, has noted, despite their rhetoric, the Pentagon has not yet made any real reductions.

3. Third, if Congress allows sequestration to remain in effect over the next decade, the total reductions in projected levels of defense spending will be $500 billion or 14 percent, much smaller than previous reductions. Dwight Eisenhower reduced defense spending by 27 percent in real terms over eight years, Richard Nixon by 29 percent in six years, and Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton by 35 percent in 11 years.

4. Fourth, reducing defense spending by $500 billion over the next decade will help reduce the federal deficit, which military leaders, like former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen, correctly label the greatest threat to our national security.

5. Fifth, sequestration will force the Pentagon’s leaders to make the tough decisions, which even they admit they have not had to make over the past decade. These include: reforming the military retirement, healthcare, and compensation systems, as recommended by their own task forces; canceling or reducing the numbers of unnecessary or underperforming systems like the V-22 and the F-35; and cutting our nuclear arsenal to a realistic level, as recommended by the Air War College’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.

6. Sixth, and most important, the alarmist claims of those opposed to cuts are bogus. Even with a FY 2007 level budget, the United States will still spend more on defense than the next 17 nations combined, most of whom are our allies, and three times more than the Chinese. We would still have more ships than the next 11 navies in the world combined, more manned and unmanned aircraft than any other nation, and a total ground force (active duty and reserve) of 1.5 million highly-trained people. As Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was forced to admit, even with these cuts the United States will still be a global power.

Shaky Assumptions about Military Spending

 

June 28th 2012

 

Fear can be a great motivator – and a great manipulator. Those who oppose cuts to military funding play on our fears to convince us that any reduction in the defense budget would be a dangerous threat to our national security and to our economy. But is this level of panic justified? An examination of the assumptions that underlie the fears will expose just how shaky those assumptions are.

 

Shaky Assumption 1: The US must control, by force, the air, seas, and land of the entire planet.

Why such overwhelming military power? The US spends more on our military than our next 14 military competitors combined — six times more than China, 13 times more than Russia, and 73 times more than Iran. While we funnel roughly half of our discretionary tax dollars into military programs, China is capturing the market for solar panels. Most countries are fearlessly investing in health care and education for their citizens while the US is pulling funding from those very hallmarks of a great society. The result is that the US now ranks 37th on health indicators and our students rank 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.

 

Shaky Assumption 2: We need high priced weapons systems such as the F-15 and the “advanced multi-role stealth fighter jet” to keep us safe.

Our current “enemies” have no air force and no navy, and it is a stretch to claim that terrorists even have an army. The Rand Corporation, a think-tank allied with U.S. government military and intelligence forces, concluded that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism. Since 1968, only 7% of all terrorist groups were taken down by military force. In contrast, 40% of those groups were defeated through police and intelligence work, and 43% gave up their terrorist tactics as they were integrated into the political process.

 

Shaky Assumption 3: The military is a good jobs program.

According to analysts at the University of MA-Amherst, spending $1 billon on education and mass transit would produce more than twice as many jobs as spending $1 billion on defense. Spending on healthcare and construction for home weatherization and infrastructure would produce about 1-1/2 times as many jobs. The Pentagon spends $1 million/year to field a soldier in Afghanistan. With that same amount, we could hire nearly 30 teachers for a year. Additionally, many jobs learned in the military do not translate to civilian employment so the jobless rate for returning veterans is far higher than for the general population.

 

Shaky Assumption 4: Reducing military industries will hurt our economy. 

Many people are employed by military contractors and in service industries near military bases, but does our economic health depend on this? Military spending has grown by 81% in the last decade, the period of the worst recession since WWII. Clearly, high military spending is not the key to our economic well-being. People employed in weapons industries, making products that kill people and destroy property and ecosystems, could just as well be working in jobs that improve our communities and our quality of life here at home.

 

Shaky Assumption 5: We need the military for innovations such as the microwave oven, the GPS, and the Internet.

The US military has a very large budget to fund research and development, but innovation can, and does, come from anywhere. On June 26, 100 university presidents from across the US sent a letter to President Obama calling for an easier path to permanent resident status for foreign students. Why? Because they found that of the 1,500 patents awarded to the top 10 patent-producing universities in the US, three-quarters had at least one foreign inventor, all-told they represented 88 countries. Rather than triggering that old “fight or flight response “at the mere mention of reducing military spending, let’s develop a new adaptive “stop and think” response. We will survive a reduction in military spending. We could even thrive if we redirected our tax dollars to productive and innovative ways of improving the well-being of our citizens and the world at large.

 

Betsy Crites

Durham, NC

 

Report on the Celebration of Student Peacemakers

Student Peacemakers with the NC Peace Action Board of Directors and Hip Hop for Justice.
The Celebration of Student Peacemakers on Friday April 27 was a joyful event shared by 65 friends, family, donors and well-wishers who packed the Clara Barton room at UU Fellowship of Raleigh. They came to hear how young peacemakers are literally viewing the world and developing a worldview as part of NC Peace Action’s Student and Young Adult Peacemakers’ scholarships.
John Heuer, NCPA Chair, pictured with Emily and the 2011 Grand Prize Awardees, Lauren Zalla and Lauren Traugott-Campbell.

Now in it’s second year, the program featured 2010-11 Grand Prize winners Lauren Zalla and Lauren Traugott-Campbell. They showed slides and spoke about their travel to Cuba with Witness for Peace in November 2011. Lauren T-C said the transition Cuba went through as it adjusted to the loss of imports from the Soviet Union and the blockade of the US may well serve as a model to many countries in the future who must learn to live without oil and other advanced technologies.

Ana Maria Reichenbach spoke about her trip to Washington, DC with co-awardee Courtney Newsome to attend the Spring Lobby Weekend of Friends Committee on National Legislation. She spoke about the training on peace issues and the experience of lobbying Congress, which, she said insightfully, “has one kind of power”.
Special invitees, Yuwsuf Bell and Angaza Samora Laughinghouse delighted the audience with their introduction to Hip Hop for Justice, which they coordinate. They showed a video of spoken word and dance artists from their group.
NCPA Director, Betsy Crites with Emily Zuccino, Assc Dir. of Witness for Peace SE and the 2012 Grand Prize Awardees for the WFP trip, Monserrat Alvarez and Owen Clapp

Finally, the 2012 Grand Prize Awardees Monserrat Alvarez and Owen Clapp were recognized and they each spoke about their anticipated travel to Cuba and Nicaragua with Witness for Peace.

The talent, exuberance and love of the Student Peacemakers, ranging in age from 13-23, was clearly a thrill to the older generation there to honor them. These students already committed to peace and working for justice so early in their lives reassured everyone that our future is in good hands. This Celebration was a kind of blessing and dedication as they go forth in their endeavors to create a more just world for all its inhabitants.
Funds for the scholarships come from donations to NC Peace Action earmarked for the Peace Legacy Fund, founded by Joe Burton, Curry First, Sandy Irving, Cy King, Slater Newman, Kim Porter, and Bill Towe.
Courtney Newsome (2012 awardee), Jenn MacCormack (Assistant to Director), Betsy Crites (Director), Ana Maria Reichenbach (2012 awardee) at Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington on Spring Lobby weekend w/ FCNL.

Tax Day 2012: Report

NC Peace Action helped organize a very active presence in Chapel Hill with John Heuer and an SDS student speaking, entertainment by the Raging Grannies and Sacrificial Poets, and smaller groups at two sites in Raleigh.  We got a total of about 100 signatures on a Costs of War petition, great picture and description in the Raleigh paper about the the display brought by Vicki Ryder with beads on a dowel.  “They represented the projected 2012 US tax dollars that would go for military needs as opposed to other government programs.”  Another small local paper, Carrboro, will publish a picture in its weekly edition.

In Raleigh, the large 40′ banner on the ground is the AFSC representation of their “One Minute for Peace” strip that lines up discretionary spending for the various departments. We also had a penny poll which engaged several passersby.  In Chapel Hill, the balloons also represented the size of the military vs other departments.

The bottom photos are of the 2nd part of the event in Chapel Hill that merged with a protest of the Bank of America organized by a coalition planning a big action in Charlotte in May.  We marched down to the BOA to deliver a letter to the CEO.  They got the branch manager to fax the letter.

Betsy Crites

      

 


    

War Warnings

Letter to the Editor, by Betsy Crites. Published March 2nd 2012, News & Observer. 

As Afghanistan comes unraveled and U.S. officials scramble to justify 11 years of war, four North Carolina members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama saying it’s time to leave, and sooner is better than later. As The N&O reported, U.S. Reps. Walter Jones, Brad Miller and David Price all spoke to the issue at a Town Hall Meeting on Feb. 20. (The fourth congressman, Howard Coble, was not present.) Jones was especially passionate about questioning the human and economic toll, asking “Where is the outrage?”

At the same meeting Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department official in Afghanistan, who resigned in protest of U.S. policies, said our soldiers are caught in the middle of local feuds that have nothing to do with our security. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the U.S. $1.5 trillion in direct costs and will cost at least that much in ongoing care of wounded vets and war debt, according to Hoh.

Now, some U.S. senators and media are pushing for war in Iran. As Gen. Anthony Zinni said, if you liked Iraq and Afghanistan, you’ll love Iran.

See the original Letter to the Editor here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/03/02/1897373/war-warnings.html#storylink=cpy

 

February 20, 2012: Bring The War Dollars Home: Raleigh

 

Matthew Hoh addresses town hall attendees - with (from left to right) Congressmen Walter Jones (Dist 3), Brad Miller (Dist 13), and David Price (Dist 4); NC State Senator Ellie Kinnaird, Representative Paul Luebke, & NC Peace Action Director, Betsy Crites.

The Town Hall Meeting in Raleigh, February 20th, brought together 150 peace advocates to send the message for a need to reorder our priorities.  We need to “Bring Our War Dollars Home and Restore Our Communities.“

The keynote speaker was Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Dept. official who resigned his post in Afghanistan in protest of US policies.  He encouraged people to advocate for hearings for Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, the recent whistle blower on Afghanistan.  See the NY Times brief and a link to the full report. Also view the video interview with PBS Newshour.

Mr. Hoh also quoted the World Economic Forum, which ranks the US 52nd in the world for math and science education.  Even if you believe we need a strong military, he said, “you can’t have kids steering air craft carriers who don’t know math and science”. Read more about this in The Independent article about the event.

Hear more from Matthew Hoh on Frank Stacio’s “The State of Things”, airing on WUNC radio Thursday Feb 23rd, 9:00 and 12:00.

Congressman Walter Jones

Three North Carolina Congressmen were present, Walter Jones (Dist 3), Brad Miller (Dist 13), and David Price (Dist 4).  Each presented their views on the theme to “Bring Our War Dollars Home, Restore Our Communities.”

The three US Representatives were applauded for uniting around the message to move up the timetable for withdrawal of combat troops form Afghanistan to the end of 2013.  See N&O article on the event and this issue.

Along with 84 others, including NC Rep. Howard Coble, they all signed a letter to the President, stating in part:

The United States intervened in Afghanistan to destroy al Qaeda’s safe haven, remove the Taliban government that sheltered al Qaeda, and pursue those who planned the September 11th attacks on the United States; those objectives have largely been met and no longer require a large presence of combat troops in Afghanistan.”

Congressman David Price

State Representative Paul Luebke introduced the event.  He spoke about how the Triangle cannot afford a regional mass transportation system.  We finally had to pass a ½ cent sales tax increase to try to develop a fund for the system.  Meanwhile we send away billions of dollars a year to be used for war making.   Also participating as moderator of the press conference was State Senator, Ellie Kinnaird.

Several speakers from the audience talked about the hardships they face or the people they work with are facing.  In an economic downturn, with so many people without work, how can we afford to continue funding a military bigger than the next 14 countries combined? (Even if we could afford it, is it wise?)

Rev. Nancy Petty, Senior Pastor of Pullen Baptist Church, closed the event encouraging the audience to make peace not war and be foolish enough to think that we can make a difference.

We extend our gratitude to the Congressmen, Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, Rep. Paul Luebke, and Matthew Hoh for their presentations and leadership and to all who attended, participated, and helped with organizing.

Please continue to be involved through our “Cost of War” groups.  We need people to write letters to the editor, call Congress, plan educational events, fund-raise, and strategize.  The next step of the campaign will be called “Peace Voter”.  We will send a questionnaire to all candidates about these issues.  Contact Betsy Crites at (919) 381-5969.

Bring The War Dollars Home: Restore Our Communities

Town Hall Meeting
Raleigh, Legislative Buidling
February 20th, 2012

Read more