by Leah Bolger , CDR, USN (Ret)
On the first Earth Day in 1970, the U.S. military was fully engaged in the Vietnam war, a war that killed or wounded millions of people, laid waste to wide swaths of Vietnamese countryside using Agent Orange, caused untold suffering by people who were guilty of nothing, and cost the U.S. taxpayers $738 billion .
Today, 43 years later, the U.S. continues to spend more on war and the military than the rest of the world combined , is responsible for the deaths and injuries of millions of people, poisons the Earth using Depleted Uranium weapons, and has caused untold suffering by people who were guilty of nothing.
Sailors refuel an aircraft aboard USS Nimitz. by Official U.S. Navy Imagery
Additionally, the U.S. military is the biggest consumer of fossil fuels in the world , burning 300,000 barrels of oil per day at a cost of more than $30 million in fuel per day. In the pursuit of imperialistic and aggressive military policies, the government of the United States has violated the UN Charter, the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution while squandering trillions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, money that could have been used to eradicate hunger, house the homeless, provide comprehensive health care, educate millions, create jobs, or a myriad other programs which would benefit humanity.
To add salt to the wound, our military's gross consumption of fossil fuels has contributed enormously to the problem of greenhouse gases and climate change.
In the past 43 years since the first Earth Day, these militaristic and war-mongering policies have been conducted by both the Republican and Democratic parties. Despite quantitative evidence that shows that the American people want their tax dollars spent on health care and education, neither party listens.
Every year the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago conducts a poll to survey Americans opinions about where their tax dollars should be spent. Every year, the American people put human needs programs ahead of defense spending, which they say should be cut.
On this Earth Day 2013, the Green Shadow Cabinet (GSC) is launched . The people who make up the GSC are concerned citizens who believe that the American people deserve much better than what our two-party system is providing, and as a body, the GSC will be advocating for programs and policies which benefit people and address their priorities.
Green Shadow Defense policies will include immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, a closure of all foreign bases, a cessation of combat drone attacks and a cut of 50% to the Pentagon budget. There will be a strict adherence to international law, and military force will only be used in situations of legitimate self-defense. The U.S. will not participate in illegal wars of aggression, thus saving the lives of innocent people, and saving the U.S. taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars to be reallocated for programs of social uplift.
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom." Martin Luther King, Jr.
Leah Bolger is a retired U.S. Naval commander who served 20 years on active duty (1980-2000). She served tours in Iceland, Bermuda, Japan and Tunisia and earned her masters degree in National Security and Strategic Affairs from the Naval War College in 1994. In 1997 she served as a Military Fellow for the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2012 she was elected as the first female president of Veterans For Peace, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. She serves as the Green Shadow Cabinet Secretary of Defense. Her Twitter is @leahbolger.