The DSA International Committee calls for defunding the military industrial complex and moving the money currently spent on overseas bases, weapons of mass destruction, and other weapons systems toward social programs that will benefit the working class and head off global climate catastrophe.
Perhaps due to his military background and despite the U.S.-backed coups in Iran and Guatemala during his administration, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower uttered a crucial truth in his speech to Charter of Peace:
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
The U.S. military causes great harm to the people of the world, especially to people of color in the global south. The need to defend and expand the profits of the U.S. ruling class and their global empire is an intrinsic part of their capitalist system. The effects inevitably come home in the form of unfunded domestic priorities, austerity budgets, and surplus military equipment transferred to police. We join peace and justice groups worldwide as well as the sponsors of Rep. Barbara Lee’s H.Res. 476, “Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding wasteful Pentagon spending and supporting cuts to the bloated defense budget,” in calling for a 50 percent reduction in military spending.
- The 2021 military budget is $741 billion. The Biden administration has proposed an increase to $753 billion. With expenses channeled through other departments, e.g., care for veterans and nuclear arms development (Department of Energy), the real figure is closer to $1 trillion.
- More than 800,000 people were killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Millions more were wounded or had their homes and villages destroyed.
- Meanwhile, large numbers of veterans in the United States are unhoused and untreated for physical and psychological wounds suffered as a result of their service.
- The United States spends more on the military than the next 10 countries combined, four times more than China and 11 times more than Russia.
- The United States has over 800 military bases in more than 70 countries, a global footprint that singularly surpasses all other militaries on earth combined.
- The proposed Biden budget allocates more than $30 billion for new nuclear weapons that increase the danger of a nuclear war.
- The Defense Department alone gets more than half of discretionary spending.
- The Pentagon cannot pass an audit, so there is zero accountability for funds allocated to the DoD at this time.
- Half of the Pentagon budget goes directly to private military contractors.
With our economy struggling to rebound from the effects of a deadly pandemic, the need to funnel money away from the military budget toward social programs that would benefit hundreds of millions of workers, like Medicare for All, public housing, public education, basic scientific research, and a Decolonial Global Green New Deal has never been more clear. Reparations to countries shattered and destroyed by the U.S. empire would also be a fair and just way to repurpose that money. If half our military budget were repurposed toward feeding the hungry and housing the homeless, we could abolish hunger and homelessness in the United States.
With the withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, there has never been a better time to end the policy of limitless military spending. While this 20-year war may be over, others go on, as does the bloated public and private war economy. These annual military budgets and perpetual deployments are further impoverishing the working class while killing innocents and devastating countries from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. The time to turn our swords into plowshares is now.
We reject any continuation of our bloated military spending for the cause of imperialism and we will fight any politician who ratifies it! Not in our name, and not on our dime!
In view of the above history and current reality and in solidarity with the people of the United States and of the world, we support reducing the military budget by 50 percent and repurposing that money from warfare to human needs. We call on all DSA members and members of the public to pressure their congressional representatives to co-sponsor and vote for H.Res. 476 and to refuse to pass military spending legislation for 2022 without at least a 10 percent reduction from the 2021 budget.