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Can the U.S. Afford Another War?

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Can the United States afford another war?

Despite the answer being a resounding NO! it seems our elected officials are determined to start another war, this time against Iran.

Almost exactly 9 years ago, on February 19, 2003, approximately 20 million people took to the streets in cities all around the world to oppose the United States invasion of Iraq. Many Bloomfield residents, as well as residents of Essex County, braved the below freezing temperatures and headed into New York City, to join at least 250,000 people protesting against the war.

At that time, slightly less than half those polled in the United States opposed the war, but the United States invaded nonetheless on March 19, 2003. As of today, the United States has spent $1.3 trillion, suffered 4484 casualties in Iraq, and 1,889 American casualties in Afghanistan, yet our elected officials are threatening to start another war. The majority of those polled now recognize that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were a mistake and many connect our economic woes to military spending. The U.S. economy is straining to keep up with the costs of these two ongoing wars and dwindling U.S. and state treasuries.

When will our elected officials learn the consequences of war and use diplomacy instead?

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation overwhelmingly which limits the ability of U.S. government officials to speak with Iranian officials, effectively limiting our efforts at diplomacy. Diplomacy is never easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is.

There is still time to persuade the U.S. Senate to reject legislation that restricts the ability of the United States to engage in diplomacy with Iran. And New Jersey Peace Action (NJPA) continues to work to prevent a war, something that could have already happened without public opposition. A good-sized contingent of Bloomfield residents joined about 50 residents from all over Northern New Jersey at a February 4 th vigil in Montclair because of the high costs, both human and financial, of another war. This was part of a national day of action to prevent war against Iran. 

In early February 2012, Senator John McCain and five other United States senators introduced legislation, "The Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012" that would protect the Pentagon's budget from the automatic cuts required by the debt deal reached last fall. In exchange, Senator McCain's bill proposes cuts through federal employee attrition and a pay freeze for federal employees.

The debt deal requires cutting back nearly $1 trillion from planned Pentagon spending over the next 10 years. Even with those cuts, the Pentagon budget will still be larger than it is today . The United States will still spend more on defense than the next ten nations in the world combined and account for about 40 percent of the world's military expenditures.

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Madelyn Hoffman is the Executive Director of NJ Peace Action, based in Bloomfield, New Jersey. She has held that position since August 2000. Madelyn Hoffman traveled to Afghanistan with Global Exchange in June 2005 and has given dozens of (more...)
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