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BRING OUR WAR $$ HOME: How's the war economy working for you?

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Message Lisa Savage
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Is the U.S. really leaving Iraq? And will we be at war with Iran soon? While still mired in Afghanistan?

While the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will be reduced from a high of 165,000, many of those will be redeployed to Afghanistan. And after Aug 31 there will still be 50,000 troops left in Iraq, at five huge "enduring bases" and an Embassy the size of Vatican City. Plus approximately 75,000 contractors.

Aside from whether you consider this a withdrawal or not, what do you suppose the price tag is? Can the U.S. afford this level of military operations around the globe indefinitely? Congress just voted to borrow another $37 billion for next year's cost of wars while the war in Afghanistan alone costs about $48,000 a minute.

Economists think around one in five people are unemployed in the U.S. today. The official figure is just hitting double digits, but that doesn't count people who have given up looking for work because there aren't any jobs for them. Except in the military, where there are endless jobs.

Many in the U.S. are now reaching the end of the 99 weeks of unemployment payments laid-off workers receive. Foreclosures continue to pile up. New jobs are not being created, and retirement savings are going to meet living expenses while deficit hawks threaten Social Security. Thirty thousand people mobbed a distribution of applications for public housing in Georgia this week.

It is time to bring our war dollars home to fix the domestic budget crisis! At present 54% of the discretionary federal budget is spent for wars. The current level of borrowing for war spending is not sustainable.

Some claim it is necessary to spend money on defense in order to keep the U.S. safe. "Fight them over there etc."

We are making enemies with civilian bombings that continue to rain down on many countries, while we rush toward bankruptcy. It would make us safer to keep fire fighters, police, road crews and health care providers on the job with that money. What would it make more sense for us to do rebuild America, or bomb Afghanistan?

The U.S. also uses our taxes to give aid in the form of credit for weapon systems. Even countries like Israel, the 5th wealthiest country in the world, which receives $3 billion a year in aid from U.S. taxes. We cannot and will not continue to afford this.

History has seen our kind before. Elite rulers of empires become smug and feel invincible while wrapping themselves in the cocoons of power. They stay in "the bubble" of air conditioned limos and resort hotels while outside the world's ocean fills with oil and chemicals. They fiddle while Rome burns.

Conversion of U.S. manufacturing plants to green energy, public transit, and other products that build infrastructure rather than destroying it will be needed to pull us out of our slump. Research shows these investments will generate far more jobs than building WMDs too. Federal job programs that aren't tied to WMDs are what Rep. Mike Michaud and Rep. Chellie Pingree, Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Olympia Snowe should be bringing to Maine -- not more defense contracting.

Veterans for Peace will soon hold their 25th anniversary convention in my home state where the organization was founded. Lately VFP groups have been displaying a large banner on the side of abandoned buildings and closed factories in U.S. cities. It reads: How's the war economy working for you?
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Lisa Savage is a Local Coordinator for CODEPINK in Maine, and an active organizer for the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign.
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