Hawkins Joins Saratoga Peace Vigil

Howie Hawkins - Green for Governor
Media Release
www.howiehawkins.org - www.gpny.org

For Immediate Release: September 4, 2010
For More Info: Mark Dunlea, 518 860-3725

Calls for at Least 50% Cut in Spending on the Military
Invest Peace Dividend in Job Creation and Clean Energy Transition


Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, called today for a 50 to 75% cut in the military budget as he attended the weekly Peace Vigil in Saratoga Springs. Hawkins said that as Governor he would recall the NY National Guard from overseas wars and occupations


Hawkins added that the federal government should bring all troops home from Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign countries. With more than 50,000 American troops still in Iraq, plus an untold number of private contractors, he disputed President Obama's assertion that combat by American troops in Iraq has ended.


Hawkins earlier this week participated in a protest at the State Fair against the use of reaper drones, which are operated by the NY Air National Guard Hancock Air Base in Syracuse. The drones make Central New York part of the Afghanistan/Pakistan as well as Yemeni and Somalian battlefields because the drones are being piloted from Hancock Air Base.


"As Governor I will rally other states to demand large cuts in the military budget to provide fiscal relief to state and local governments, support the conversion to a green energy system, and to create jobs through increased investments in housing, child care, anti?hunger programs, mass transit, schools and environmental initiatives," he said. Hawkins supports a WPA?style direct government employment in public works and services.


"We need to go beyond ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan and bringing our troops home now. We need to make the Clean Energy Transition the moral equivalent of war, a World War II scale mobilization to transform our energy system rapidly to stem global warming. We need to reject spending half of our federal budget on a military budget that enriches war profiteers but harms our civilian economy. The military budget diverts funding from essential domestic needs while causing our federal budget deficit to soar," said Hawkins, a former Marine who organized opposition to the Vietnam War.


Hawkins said that he supports a reduction in military spending in the 50 to 70% range. "The mission of the US military should be defending our republic, not policing an empire on behalf of global corporations, the Pentagon bureaucracy, and the private contractors that feed off of it," stated Hawkins.


New York taxpayers have spent $93.9 billion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan since 2001. New York taxpayers will have to shell $67 billion for Total Defense Spending just for FY2011 ? more than 7 times the size of the state's projected budget deficit.


Hawkins said the bipartisan war on terrorism has been a disaster for America, undermining our national security while bankrupting the economy and curtailing civil rights. "Under President Obama, we have escalated the counter-productive war in Afghanistan, continuing the destruction of that country that we started under President Carter. We have expanded that war into Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Torture continues, as does illegal spying on Americans. Under Obama we remain the bullies of the planet, using our enormous military might to promote the agenda of multinational corporations, the Pentagon bureaucracy, and legions of private military contractors, not defend the American people. If we leave people in the Middle East alone, they will leave us alone. If we occupy and wage war on their countries, the blowback will include desperate acts of terrorist revenge. We spend enormous amounts of tax dollars to maintain military bases in more than a hundred countries whose people resent foreign occupation. We continue to fight wars in the Middle East in a futile attempt to prop up an unsustainable petroleum?based economy," stated Hawkins.


Hawkins reminded us that a half century ago, President Eisenhower, who successfully led the allied forces in World War II, warned the American people about the social and budget dangers posed by the military industrial complex. The American people had to be careful that they did not allow special interests to absorb an ever?increasing share of national wealth.Eisenhower proclaimed that "every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired" was "a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed."


Hawkins pointed out that the US set an official record with a $700 billion plus dollar military budget. However, the actual spending for the military, including military spending in other departments besides Defense, has increased to over $1 trillion dollars. The United States spends far more than any other country in the world on the military, which is a major cause of our national debt, which is also the highest on earth. This huge expansion of debt, made worse by the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and declining tax revenues during current Great Recession, is one of the underlying causes of persistent economic stagnation in the US economy.


"Both Democrats and Republicans refuse to acknowledge the central role of the military budget in causing our escalating federal budget deficit. Instead President Obama and the Congressional Democrats are preparing to support cuts to Social Security and Medicare once the so?called Deficit Commission submits its report to the lame duck Congressional session. President Obama has already called for a freeze on all federal discretionary spending except the military. Congressional Republicans use the deficit to justify their defeat of essential funding for job creation, extension of unemployment benefits, and state fiscal relief. Increasingly, Democratic leaders like Obama with his federal spending freeze, and Andrew Cuomo with his proposed state spending freeze, are echoing and reinforcing this Republican recipe for a prolonged economic stagnation," added Hawkins.


According to the World Policy Institute, last year's military budget " represents 58 cents out of every dollar spent by the U.S. government on discretionary programs ? the items that Congress gets to vote up or down on an annual basis. This means that military spending is more than the combined totals of spending on education, environmental protection, administration of justice, veteran's benefits, housing assistance, transportation, job training, agriculture, energy, and economic development."


"$700 plus billion is not needed to defend against the unconventional warfare of our only adversary, a handful of terrorist organizations armed with explosives, shoulder?fired missiles, AK?47s and video cameras. American military contractors have looted much of the money we sunk into the ill?conceived occupation of Iraq, which never threatened the US. Billions are wasted on military systems whose prime purpose is pork barrel spending on military contractors in almost every Congressional district," Hawkins said. The F?22 fighter ($4.6 billion), the V?22 Osprey ($2.6 billion), the CVN?21 aircraft carrier ($3.1 billion), the SSN?774 Virginia attack submarine ($2.7 billion), the Trident D?5 Submarine?Launched Ballistic Missile ($1.2 billion), and Ballistic Missile Defense ($10.8 billion) were cited by Hawkins as examples of weapons that are unnecessary, unworkable, or both.

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