by Joseph Gerson
Remarks delivered at the People & Planet, not Profits Tax Day in Boston, MA on May 17th 2021.
Counting the dark money so-called intelligence agencies, DOE nuclear weapons spending, the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingencies slush fund, and the Pentagon’s core budget of more than 700 billion, U.S. military spending is close to $1 trillion a year.
I wanted to focus on the $2 trillion being spent for a new generation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. If they are ever used, they could end all life on earth. I also wanted to speak about the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent to intimidate and prepare for war with China. That too could end with nuclear winter. This is national treasure that should be used to fund Biden’s American Families Plan, the green 21 st century infrastructure plan, and to stanch this and future pandemics.
But U.S. tax dollars continue going to help fund Israel’s ethnic cleansing colonial settler operations, that sparked intensified Palestinian resistance to Israel’s brutal military occupation and its apartheid rule. Now we have yet another deadly and massively unequal Israel-Palestine War. Ten Palestinians killed for every Israeli lost to a Hamas missile, and disproportionate destruction and suffering in Gaza and the West Bank are far greater.
We can celebrate much of Biden’s domestic agenda, but he has failed us and the people of Palestine and Israel with his refusal to insist on an end to the killing. How can our elected leaders universally condemn and sanction Chinese human rights violations and repression, while provide support and more than $4 billion a year for Apartheid Israel, with its advanced economic, colonial settlements and wars?
Ending the carnage is a moral imperative, underscored by images of dead, wounded and traumatized children. The fighting must stop – now.
40 years ago, at the height of the Cold War, we had massive movements to halt the arms race and prevent nuclear war. The nuclear danger and U.S. threats to initiate nuclear war – think of threats to Iraq, Iran, and North Korea – didn’t disappear. The U.S. is on track to spend an imperial fortune in preparations to inflict genocide and nuclear winter. It is deploying “more usable” nuclear weapons to Europe and Chinese leaders have to consider the possibility of a U.S. first-strike attack . Nuclear weapons and missiles won’t feed or house the needy, educate our children, and grandchildren, save the planet, and prevent pandemics.
Our call must be no more money for the Doomsday Machine, passage of the Markey-Lieu and Warren-Smith no first use bills, and fulfillment of our Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligation to engaged in good faith negotiations for the complete elimination of the world’s nuclear weapons.
And our movements must confront and oppose the new Cold War with China. Billions are being spent to contest China’s influence in the South China Sea, its equivalent of the Caribbean Sea. Military incidents and accidents, resulting from provocative naval and air operations there and related to Taiwan could easily escalate beyond control. We can compete economically, technologically and culturally with China. But a new Cold War threatens us all. And the massive military spending to contain China simply diverts money that should be spent for our real security.
Tax the Rich! Starve the Military Industrial Complex. Move the Money! Now!
— Joseph Gerson is president of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security and a member of Massachusetts Peace Action’s board of directors.