This letter was written to accompany about 10 people who visited with the District Director for MO-3 Congressman Russ Carnahan. This visit followed an initial visit on Feb 2, 2010 when about 20 people gathered at the Congressman’s local office to lament the $700+ Billion dollar defense budget, more than half of discretionary spending money, released on Feb 1.
February 19, 2010
Instead of War and Peers
438 N Skinker Blvd
St Louis, MO 63130
We are concerned citizens and constituents representing individual interests and various organizations but coming together via the Instead of War coalition, a peace and justice organization formed, founded, and focused on shifting St Louisans tax dollars back to our communities rather than to war and militarism.
We are grateful for the opportunity to meet with you today, Mr McHugh. We hope to be able to meet with Congressman Carnahan in person in the future and we hope that our visit with you initiates an evolving relationship that helps to encourage Congressman Carnahan to become a champion for the causes of Peace and Social Justice.
When we met with you in early February, you challenged us to prioritize the various issues we were presenting to you and, especially as a mélange of strong and opinionated individuals, we found it difficult to respond within this framework. War, torture, warped spending priorities, rendition, US military interventions and bases across the globe, and so on, all of these issues are high priorities for all of us and we want them to be considered important to Congressman Carnahan as well.
While extremely difficult to form an ordered list of issues for the Congressman to check off, our various issues do come under two banners. As voting constituents who have been supportive of Congressman Carnahan, we are disappointed by his lack of aggressive efforts to implement the changes the nation mandated via the pivotal election in 2008 – all of the issues listed above and to be discussed below fall into this category. While the congressman has been an admirable advocate for the St Louis region we firmly feel that he and his peers in congress have let America down with their inability to implement real, meaningful change – particularly over the past year and even dating back to the dramatic electoral shift in 2006.
The other common banner our concerns respond to are the mis-placed priorities of our government, particularly as represented in our annual budgets. All of our concerns are symptoms of this greater illness. We are not only peace-activists; we are community leaders, teachers, artists, union members, doctors, nurses, retirees, family members, uninsured, environmentalists, feminists, and more. We don’t just mobilize because we abhor war but because war, as Dr Martin Luther King Jr once said, “draw[s] men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube” away from all of the other issues we are passionate about. We are here to speak with you not because we’ll be satisfied once war ends, but because war and militarism represent one of the, if not the largest, hurdles standing in the way of the resources we need to build the community we wish to see.
So please understand and respect us when we decline to formally rank 1-10 which evils we wish to see eliminated in what order. We refuse the false choice of one demon over another. We do not want any of these things. What we want are stronger communities and the opportunity to live and grow in a happy, healthy, safe, sustainable world.
While we will not rank these issues, we do understand the value in itemizing issues, especially as our concerns cover such a broad base. Please promise to keep your eye on the two aforementioned banners, fund our communities – not war and militarism and we’re sorely disappointed voters. Here are some of our issues with specific asks attached to them as well as related resources for your use.
The first ask we have here is what we will considered most pertinent and would like a response within roughly two weeks. We would like the other four items to ultimately be discussed as the congressman and his staff’s time allow, over the coming month or so. We look forward to receiving responses in due time and continuing to dialogue from there.
Please do not vote for the imminent supplemental war-spending bill.
Indeed, an escalation in the number of troops in Afghanistan will not bring the peace and change we wish to see in that region, in fact, it may well do just the opposite. Additionally, at a cost of $1 million per soldier per year, this is an adventure our nation can little afford. Congress holds the purse-strings to this war and it is with that power that they may end it. Please respond by 3/5/2010.
Please review the attached resources regarding reducing military spending and endorse a call for reducing military spending by 25%.
Military spending should not be exempt from President Obama’s proposed spending freeze. Many lettered individuals have researched the military budget and have concluded (this even before the current financial crisis) that we can safely reduce our military spending by 25% by eliminating offensive weapons, cold-war era relics, and other programs that are purely pork.
Please respond by 3/31/2010.
Please do not support any legislation that includes funding for further orders of C-17s. Work with Boeing to bring non-defense jobs to St Louis to keep the 900 employees working on the C-17 employed and in the region.
The Pentagon has not requested C-17s for the past four years. While the machine is an engineering marvel, the cost of over $200 million apiece is far too great when there are countless other needs our nation needs to address. To keep jobs in the region, please endorse our next proposal: Please respond by 3/31/2010.
Please support a green jobs bill that brings employment and training to MO.
Our region desperately needs 21st century industries to provide the jobs and technology required to make our community flourish. Supporting a green jobs bill would bring those jobs to this region and reduce the dependency on other floundering and spendthrift industries in our region, like the defense industry.
Please respond by 3/31/2010.
Please ask Ambassador Eickenberry what changed his mind from the position he took against the surge last fall. Why is he now in support of the escalation?
The memos the Ambassador to Afghanistan wrote last fall strongly question the strategy the president has decided to pursue in that region. Why were those words, penned by a man with both diplomatic and military credentials, overlooked by the President and why has the Ambassador, since writing these memos chosen to support the President’s plan to escalate the war?
Please respond by 3/31/2010.
Thank you very much for your time spent with us today and for your service to the St Louis region. As stated above, we are excited to continue to dialogue with you and your staff and hope that together, we can build a more vibrant community and a more peaceful world.
Afghanistan – Eickenberry Memos,
“US Envoy’s Cabels Show Worries on Afghan Plans” from the NY Times
Military Spending vs Civilian Spending as Jobs Programs –
“The US Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities” from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachuesettes, Amherst
Reducing Military Spending and Balancing Security Investments –
“A Unified Security Budget for the United States, FY 2010” from the Institue for Policy Studies
“Cut the Military Budget II” by Barney Frank
US Militarism Abroad –
“America’s Shadowy Base World” by Nick Turse
“Muscling Latin America” by Greg Grandin