December 19, 2014
To the editor:
As we approach the holidays, in many settings we will be urged to “pray for peace.” But the Omnibus bill says “pay for war.”
Over one half of the $1.1 trillion of the U.S. governments total discretionary spending is devoted to the military. The “base” budget for the Pentagon is about $500 billion, with another $64 billion for OCO. OCO is an acronym that we’d better get familiar with. It stands for Overseas Contingency Operations. It’s a very handy slush fund that the Pentagon can use to fund military operations anywhere in the world. Like Iraq, which we have been bombing for 23 years, and continue to do so with an expectation of better results. Or Afghanistan, which is a war we’ve said we’ve won many times but has no end in sight. Or Syria, where we have been launching military attacks for over three months in defiance of any legal authority. Or Yemen, or Somalia, or Pakistan, or anywhere.
My suggestion for the holiday season is to dare to seek peace. Peace will not fall from the sky. It needs effort, resolve and investment. For starters, let’s use some of that military budget to fund refugee aid and reconstruction in those areas ravaged by war. Let’s commit to a cabinet-level Department of Peace, where our investment would yield much greater returns for our true national interests.
Legislation to get that rolling would be a great goal for our fiscally conservative new senator-elect, Joni Ernst.