commondreams.com WASHINGTON – Congressional leadership must ensure that future COVID-19 response bills do not include any additional funds for the Pentagon, 61 organizations representing pro-diplomacy, veteran, faith, environmental, and anti-war communities, and more, from across the country, said in a letter today.
The letter, led by Win Without War, states that the Pentagon’s $756 billion budget provides more than enough resources to respond to the crisis caused by the pandemic. While there may be a limited role for the Pentagon in responding to the crisis — by, for example, aiding with construction of hospitals — the letter’s signers agree that these activities should be funded by the already-oversized Pentagon budget.
“The COVID-19 crisis has revealed that decades of funneling trillions of dollars into the Pentagon while gutting critical social services, including public health measures, has made us less safe, not more,” said Stephen Miles, Executive Director of Win Without War. “Now of all times, it should be clear that the Pentagon does not need more money.”
“The U.S. spends a grotesque and unacceptable amount on its wasteful war machine,” agreed Savannah Wooten, Campaign Coordinator, People Over the Pentagon. “Throwing additional money at the Pentagon will also continue a cycle of reckless, misallocated spending that got us into this vulnerable position to begin with and further enriches unchecked defense contractors. That funding should instead be used to support the health, wellbeing, and dignity of impacted Americans.”
The costs of these misaligned priorities is clear. “Seeing our family and friends, neighbors, and fellow New Yorkers struggling with the lack of personal protective equipment, medical supplies and economic support,” says Emily Rubino, Director of Policy and Outreach at Peace Action New York State, “it feels unconscionable to direct any COVID-19 response money towards the Pentagon — which already has by far the largest budget of any federal agency — when too little has been distributed to people to meet every day needs. More Pentagon spending fails to make New Yorkers, living at the epicenter of this pandemic, any safer or more secure. Cancelling rent and mortgage payments, investing in healthcare, and providing more direct economic support to people and small businesses does.”
The U.S.’s lack of preparedness for this pandemic has laid bare that while we have overspent on fruitless wars, we have underinvested in strategies to address the true threats to our safety — threats like the climate crisis. “At a time of crisis, we need to prioritize the needs of frontline communities and move away from institutions and industries that endanger peoples’ and the planet’s health,” said Gaurav Madan, Senior Forests and Lands Campaigner at Friends of the Earth US. “This includes de-funding a bloated and wasteful Pentagon budget and investing in public health, economic security, and ecological stability. The US military remains one of the largest polluters in the world. As we move toward recovery, we should shift away from this type of destruction toward building a healthy and just world.”
Meanwhile, as defense contractors and weapons manufacturers lobby for billions of dollars, our state and local governments are struggling to confront the crisis. “Impacts of COVID-19 are a financial hardship for states. We need more federal support, as states are facing dire fiscal outlooks with increases in public health demands, especially in underserved communities; and decreases in economic activity as unemployment rates reach historic levels,” said State Delegate Pam Queen (D-Maryland), member of the Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL), Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND).
“We have spent trillions of dollars, and lost thousands of lives, fighting endless wars that the Pentagon claimed would make us safer,” said Pam Campos-Palma, Director of Vets for the People. “They didn’t. Now that our security is fundamentally at risk — from a threat that no weapon can fight — they’re asking for more. We cannot continue spending billions of dollars on weapons of war while people across the country struggle to buy food, pay rent, and survive a pandemic.”
Read the full letter here.
Founded in 1957, Peace Action, the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs and encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights.