Why We Oppose the National Defense Authorization Act

By World BEYOND War, September 17, 2021

The moment of ending a war widely viewed as a 20-year catastrophe, having spent $21 trillion on militarism during those 20 years, and the moment when the biggest Congressional question in the media is whether the United States can afford $3.5 trillion over 10 years for things other than wars, is hardly the moment to increase military spending, or even to maintain it at remotely its current level.

Tiny fractions of U.S. military spending could do a world of good in the United States and around the world, and the most serious dangers facing us are exacerbated, not ameliorated, by it. These include environmental collapse, nuclear disaster, disease pandemics, and poverty. Even in morally dubious economic terms alone, military spending is a drain, not a boost.

Militarism is often tied to “democracy,” with the U.S. government currently planning an international conference on democracy even while arming the majority of the world’s most oppressive governments. But applying democracy to the U.S. government would reduce military spending according to poll after poll after poll after poll. Last year 93 members of the U.S. Congress voted to reduce the Pentagon’s portion of U.S. military spending by 10%. Of the 85 of those 93 who stood for re-election, 85 were re-elected.

Our demand to members of the U.S. House and Senate is to publicly commit to voting NO on the National Defense Authorization Act if it funds anything more than 90% of what it funded last year. We want to see those commitments made publicly and emphatically, with efforts to rally colleagues to do the same. That no caucus of the U.S. Congress is yet taking this action is disgraceful.

That some members of Congress who say they want military spending reduced are accepting an increase proposed by President Joe Biden while opposing only an increase proposed by Congressional committees is reprehensible. Many more people die in the world whose lives could have been saved by redirecting a portion of military spending than are killed in the wars.

We would like to see House Members cosponsor H.Res.476, a non-binding resolution that proposes to move $350 billion out of the Pentagon’s budget. But until it has a chance of passing both houses, those endorsements will not impress us much. We would like to see them vote for amendments to undo the Congressional increase of $25 billion, and to reduce spending to 90% of last year’s level. But until those amendments stand a chance of passing, we will applaud quietly.

If Republicans oppose the NDAA in just one house of Congress (for their own bizarre reasons), it would take only a handful of Democrats insisting on reduced spending to halt or reshape the bill. Hence our demand: commit now to voting against the NDAA until military spending goes down by — at a very minimum — 10%. Make that simple commitment. Then we’ll thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

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