"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pentagon $671 Billion; Peace $0


In February 2011 President Obama sent Congress a $671 Billion proposed military budget for Fiscal Year 2012.  Where the numbers will finally land once this thing is done being batted about between those wishing to cut programs and those fighting to keep them is any one's guess, but it is a pretty sure thing that "defense" contractors don't have much to worry about.  We always seem to be able to fund war.

On the other hand PEACE, that ever so elusive and priceless commodity, consistently gets the Rodney Dangerfield treatment (NO RESPECT), and with it ever decreasing funding for programs that can lead us to peace and away from war.  Two such government programs are about to get the funding axe if some members of Congress have their way.

The just passed House continuing resolution, which is necessary to fund the government through September 30, 2011 eliminated the Complex Crises Fund and zeroed out all funding for the United States Institute of Peace (USIP).  It would seem that far too many people don't seem to understand that it is far better to prevent violent conflict both from the human and economic perspectives than to jump in with guns-a-blazing.

According to Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) the Complex Crisis Fund "provides unprogrammed, flexible funding for civilian agencies such as the State Department and USAID to allow them to act quickly when conflicts escalate or to undertake rapid stabilization, prevention, and crisis response activities. After years of lobbying by FCNL and others, Congress finally appropriated $50 million to create the fund in 2010. Though small, this fund has already helped to address conflicts in countries such as Kenya and Kyrgyzstan. If the fund is eliminated now, it will be very hard to get it back."

Again from FCNL: "USIP is a Congressionally mandated, nonpartisan, independent institution that works to help prevent, end, and rebuild after wars. FCNL does not always agree one hundred percent with USIP, but defunding the institution would be a major setback for our common work to improve U.S. capacities for preventing deadly conflict."

Both of these institutions do something positive in contrast with the forces constantly poised to throw military solutions at every possible situation.  It is laughable that members of Congress are trying to axe these programs when their economic impacts are barely measurable by any standards and which, if given adequate funding and direction, could save countless lives, prevent immeasurable human suffering, and save billions of dollars that should be spent on non-military programs to benefit humanity.

The Senate will soon consider its own version of the continuing resolution.  Please ask your senators to fully fund both these programs.  We need to constantly remind them of what should now be obvious: The are NO military solutions to the problems we face!!!  CLICK HERE to send a message courtesy of FCNL!

PEACE IS THE ANSWER, NOT WAR!!!  We need to reverse those numbers.

In Peace,


Note:  Photo of January 15, 2011 vigil and nonviolent direct action at Trident submarine base Bangor gate; by Leonard Eiger

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