Wars/Military Spending


Veteran's Day Should Mean Something More

By Jessica Bartholow

Western Center on Law & Poverty

Yesterday, America took a day to honor the commitment of men and women who have served our country. In California, this day is significant because it is home to more returning veterans than any other state in the Nation.

But for too many veterans, the November 11th holiday is nothing more than a gateway to a stressful holiday season filled with cold months, high utility bills and empty plates. I know this because my dad is a disabled Veteran who suffered for years with untreated and debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We were never invited to a Veteran’s Day parade or a pancake breakfast, just left to find our own way, many times our basic needs going unmet.

California Sea Otters Targeted in Defense Authorization Bill

By Michael Jasny

Natural Resources Defense Council

The Senate will shortly be voting on a bill that would allow the U.S. Navy to injure and kill California sea otters, without complying with the core wildlife statutes protecting this threatened species.

Recently, the House added language to this year’s defense authorization bill that outright exempts the Navy from two federal laws, the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act, for any harm it causes sea otters off its Southern California bases.

Uncle Sam and Corporate Tech: Domestic Partners Raising Digital Big Brother

Norman SolomanBy Norman Soloman

A terrible formula has taken hold:
warfare state + corporate digital power = surveillance state.

"National security" agencies and major tech sectors have teamed up to make Big Brother a reality. "Of the estimated $80 billion the government will spend on intelligence this year, most is spent on private contractors," the New York Times noted. The synergy is great for war-crazed snoops in Washington and profit-crazed moguls in Silicon Valley, but poisonous for civil liberties and democracy.

Bradley Manning is Guilty of "Aiding the Enemy" - if the Enemy is Democracy

Norman SolomanBy Norman Soloman

Of all the charges against Bradley Manning, the most pernicious - and revealing - is "aiding the enemy."

A blogger at The New Yorker, Amy Davidson, raised a pair of big questions that now loom over the courtroom at Fort Meade and over the entire country:

  • "Would it aid the enemy, for example, to expose war crimes committed by American forces or lies told by the American government?"
  • "In that case, who is aiding the enemy - the whistleblower or the perpetrators themselves?"

When the deceptive operation of the warfare state can't stand the light of day, truth-tellers are a constant hazard. And culpability must stay turned on its head.

Paying the Debt of War

By Rev. Jim Conn

Some 53 percent of Americans say that the second Iraq war was a mistake. A recent Los Angeles Times article asked if the war brought change for the better. But no one asks what that war cost this country. The first trillion dollars we spent on it was only a down payment on what experts have estimated to be probably two trillion or more that we will spend over the next few decades to take care of America's wounded and maimed. Our taxes provide care for those veterans, but both parties regularly propose cutting the Department of Veterans Affairs as a quick fix to balance the federal budget.

"Other People's Children": The Corollary of Bad Policy

By Mark Naison

For some time, I have argued that School Reform is the most destructive bi-partisan initiative we have suffered in the United States since the Vietnam War, a policy which has, and will continue to inspire mass movements to limit the damage it inflicts through universal testing of the nation's children, and the humiliation and micro-management of the nation's teachers.

Some have argued, correctly, that people have not lost their lives as a result of School Reform even when schools are closed, teachers are fired, communities destabilized, instruction has been reduced to test prep, and young people's minds have been reduced to mush by relentless testing. That is certainly true. But one thing does seem similar. Both produced PTSD.

Study: One in 10 U.S. Veterans Has No Health Insurance

By Peter Schurmann
New America Media

One in 10 veterans under the age of 65 is currently living without health insurance and reports not using Veterans Affairs (VA) health care, according to a new study examining health care access for retired service members.

The report, which also found a high number of veterans’ family members living without insurance, notes such rates are highest in states that have made little progress in implementing provisions of the Affordable Care Act. These states account for 40 percent of uninsured veterans.

Despite having higher rates of health insurance than the general population, “an estimated 1.3 million veterans lack health insurance coverage and do not use VA health care,” noted the study’s co-author, Genevieve Kenney, who points out a majority of uninsured veterans tend to be younger and less well educated.

After Massacre, Afghan Americans Question Meaning of Justice

By Peter Schurmann
New America Media

The killing of 16 civilians – mostly women and children – by a lone American soldier in Kandahar Province last week has darkened an increasingly ominous cloud hanging over America’s mission in Afghanistan. In its wake, many are asking what sort of justice should be meted out.

For members of the Afghan American community here, the question goes beyond this single tragedy; it has implications for the larger war effort and the future of their homeland.

“Afghans are people of revenge,” says Farid Younos, professor of human development studies at California State University East Bay. “The Qur'an burning was a very serious issue,” he says, “but that is an incident that can be gradually forgotten. Urinating and killing call for revenge.”

Military’s Subsidy of Limbaugh Insults Taxpayers

By Earl Ofari Hutchinson
New America Media

The Pentagon’s defiant pledge to stick with the Rush Limbaugh show, no matter what, bumps up against a few hard and insulting realities. The Armed Forces Network that carries the Limbaugh show is not a private business that can do whatever it pleases with its money, personnel and policy. Every penny of the armed forces’ bloated budget comes from taxpayers. The Armed Forces Network, which has aired the Limbaugh show for two decades, has an estimated $27 million annual budget, every penny of which comes from the pockets of taxpayers. And since the military is not a democracy, and decisions are made top down, there was never any chance that taxpayers would have any say about the use of their money to subsidize the blatant bias of one radio jock.

Iraq’s Unfinished Story—Millions of Refugees Abandoned by U.S.

By Andrew Lam
New America Media

Each time Uncle Sam ventures abroad he leaves an unfinished story, and nowhere is it most unfinished than the story of Iraq, where despite flowery speeches regarding freedom and sovereignty by the Obama administration, despite assurances that tyranny has been "cast aside," the tragedy caused by the United States invasion, occupation and inevitable abandonment is on an epic proportion.

Never mind that sectarian violence continues unabated and much of the populace remains mired in poverty, and that there's a distinct possibility that the country is on its way to becoming a failed state if the Sunnis and Shiites cannot find a way to collectively govern.