The City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, home of Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and the University of Virginia, passed on Tuesday evening, January 17, 2012, a resolution believed to be a first in the country, opposing the launching of a war on Iran, as well as calling for an end to current ground and drone wars engaged in by the United States and urging Congress and the President of the United States to significantly reduce military spending. Below is the text of the resolution, followed by an account of how it came to be. As other towns and cities have been inquiring about how they can do the same, this may prove helpful.
Calling on Congress and the President to Redirect Military Spending to Domestic Priorities
WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and
WHEREAS, every dollar spent on the military produces fewer jobs than spending the same dollar on education, healthcare, clean energy, or even tax cuts for household consumption; and
WHEREAS, U.S. military spending has approximately doubled in the past decade, in real dollars and as a percentage of federal discretionary spending, and well over half of federal discretionary spending is now spent on the military, and we are spending more money on the military now than during the Cold War, the Vietnam War, or the Korean War; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. military budget could be cut by 80% and remain the largest in the world; and
WHEREAS, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed major reductions in military spending in both its Co-Chairs' proposal in November 2010 and its final report in December 2010; and
WHEREAS, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, with the support of Charlottesville's then Mayor Dave Norris, passed a resolution in June 2011 calling on Congress to redirect spending to domestic priorities; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States, in numerous opinion polls, favor redirecting spending to domestic priorities and withdrawing the U.S. military from Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, the United States has armed forces stationed at approximately 1,000 foreign bases in approximately 150 foreign countries; and
WHEREAS, the United States is the wealthiest nation on earth but trails many other nations in life expectancy, infant mortality, education level, housing, and environmental sustainability, as well as non-military aid to foreign nations;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the City Council of Charlottesville, Virginia, calls on the U.S. Congress and the U.S. President to end foreign ground and drone wars, refrain from entering new military ventures in Iran, and reduce base military spending in order to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, re-train and re-employ those losing jobs in the process of conversion to non-military industries, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.
The story behind this resolution begins with a conference held in September, 2011, in Charlottesville at which experts from around the country presented their views on the growth of the Military Industrial Complex. The proceedings of that conference were published as a book on Martin Luther King Day, the day prior to passage of the resolution. They can be found at http://MIC50.org
The resolution was passed on the 51st anniversary of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's warning of the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex.
Two city council members in September attended the conference, Dave Norris and Kristin Szakos. A candidate for city council who was elected in November also attended, Dede Smith. Those three members were well informed, understood the issues, understood the public's position, and had enough backbone to face controversy. Norris had already been an early supporter of a resolution on military spending passed in 2011 by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.