The economic crisis continues to strain our city and town budgets. Layoffs, concessions, and budget cuts have become familiar words in many homes. Yet our federal government and President Obama seek to keep the wheels of the war machine grinding on at any cost. Including new wars in Libya and Somalia, our tax dollars fund bloody attacks on workers abroad instead of health care, education, housing, and jobs at home.
How unpopular is war and war spending in the United States? Until recent weeks it was impossible to discern from the corporate media that popular sentiment in the U.S. is opposed to the wars and occupations in the Middle East.
Why then has opposition to U.S. wars seen a revival in the headlines of major media outlets such as MSNBC, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times? A recent CNN poll shows that 60 percent of Americans oppose the occupation of Afghanistan, which was at one time considered by many to be the “good war”.
Also, on June 20 in Baltimore peace activists from across the U.S. successfully urged a national convention of 1200 mayors to pass a resolution demanding that the federal government bring our war dollars home.
The movement to Bring Our War Dollars Home is rapidly growing. Activists in Maine, Massachusetts, and Connecticut were the first to pass resolutions through city councils. From organized labor in New Jersey to street theater in Cleveland to peace activists in Eugene, Ore., Bring Our War Dollars Home activists are working to turn sentiment against the war into action.
In Hartford, Conn., Socialist Action was one of several groups working together to pass a city council resolution that called for an immediate end to the wars. The resolution also supports public-sector workers in their fight against concessions and layoffs. The Hartford campaign to Bring Our War Dollars Home is currently working to put a referendum on the ballot in the 2011 municipal elections. Connecting the attacks on the livelihood of workers at home with war spending is an important part of our outreach.
As Socialist Action goes to print, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy is preparing to lay off thousands of state workers. This unbridled attack by the so-called “friend of labor” will smash the unions by privatizing large sectors of public services.
Antiwar activists are making it absolutely clear that the budget crisis in Connecticut is nothing more than a scare tactic to force concessions from working people. There is plenty of money. It exists in the pockets of wealthy tax dodgers and in capital-intensive war production.
People are outraged that President Obama will take 222 million tax dollars this year from Hartford alone to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With that money you could provide the following for one year: 8610 Head Start slots for children or 19,369 households with renewable electricity (i.e., solar photovoltaic) or 6874 scholarships for university students or 25,627 children receiving low-income health care.
These figures from costofwar.com do not include soldiers’ regular pay or the cost of new wars.
A Bring Our War Dollars Home campaign puts forward the “radical” notion that human needs should be funded instead of war. We urge our brothers and sisters to bring that message via resolutions to their unions, labor councils, city councils, school boards, student councils, communities of faith, and so on. Find out what is being coordinated nationally and plug into the larger antiwar movement by working with the United National Antiwar Committee (UNACpeace.org) and help us build a movement that shuts down the war makers once and for all.
> The article above was written by Chris Hutchinson. It first appeared in the July 2011 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.