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Writings by Jeff Leys

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Break Time Is Over: Building Nonviolent Resistance to the 2008 Iraq War Supplemental

June 18, 2007

On August 6, Congress begins its month long recess. August 6 also marks the start of Year 62 After Hiroshima-when the U.S. initiated its nuclear first strike policy against the people of Hiroshima. And it marks Year 17 After Iraq Sanctions, when the brutal economic sanctions regime against Iraq was first imposed by the international community.

On August 6, the Occupation Project will launch a reinvigorated campaign of sustained nonviolent civil disobedience / civil resistance to end Iraq war funding. Office occupations-both legal and extralegal-will commence at the offices of Representatives and Senators who refuse to publicly pledge to vote against any additional funding of the Iraq war. Occupations will continue at least through the end of September. The Occupation Project will work in conjunction with campaigns organized by Declaration of Peace, National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, CODEPINK, Veterans for Peace, Grassroots America for Us and others.

Iraq and Afghanistan Supplemental Spending 2008

By Jeff Leys
Co-Coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence
jeffleys@vcnv.org
May 8, 2007

Download as Word Document
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MAY 17: Audio Discussion of Iraq and Afghanistan Supplemental Spending 2008

Don’t lose the forest for the trees.

Congress is now considering President Bush’s request for an additional $145 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through September 30, 2008. The House Armed Services Committee is including these funds in the Defense Authorization Bill for Fiscal Year 2008, which runs from October 1, 2007 to September 30, 2008. Of this, $142 billion will be for the military and $3 billion will be for the State Department.

President Bush submitted this request on February 5, the same date on which he requested $93 billion for the wars for this year’s budget and $482 billion for the regular baseline military budget for FY 2008 (a 62% increase over the baseline military budget in 2001).

Flyer on Military Spending vs. Domestic Spending: 2001 - 2008

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How Much Money for War?

  • In 2001, the U.S. spent $306 billion on the military. President Bush is asking for $481 billion for FY 2008 (fiscal years begin on October 1).
  • That’s a 58% increase in military spending-and does NOT include spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • That’s also a $52 billion increase over what Congress approved for military spending for this year-or a 12% increase in just one year.
  • $170 billion will be authorized for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for this year alone. That includes the $70 billion authorized last fall as well as the approximately $100 billion in the pending supplemental spending bill.
  • President Bush has requested $142 billion in military spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for next year.
  • 51% of the federal government’s discretionary spending goes towards the military (discretionary spending does not include such items as Social Security and Medicare which are financed through payroll taxes and other non-income tax sources of revenue).
  • With spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, military spending will consume 58% of federal discretionary spending next year.

Tap Dancing on Graves: “Antiwar” Democrats Supplemental Buys the War

March 19, 2007

“We don’t have the votes,” intones David Obey as he shepherds though the House the supplemental spending bill that provides another $100 billion or so for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obey’s protestations to antiwar protesters are an understandable figleaf covering his continued support for the war. After all, he has voted in favor of all prior supplemental spending bills, excepting the October 2003 bill which actually included funds for reconstruction purposes in Iraq.

Of course, Obey, Murtha, et. al. offer the benefit of “oversight”. With the Democrats back in power, Congress will provide “oversight” to this war while tens of thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of U.S. soldiers continue to be killed.

The Occupation Project Update: Continuing the Struggle to End Iraq War Funding

March 13, 2007

Since February 5, over 160 arrests have occurred during the Occupation Project campaign. As we write this email and prepare to send it out, we are aware of at least four office occupations in which people are risking arrest. While the Occupation Project campaign was initially conceived of as an eight week campaign, we are extending the campaign into April, with a 21 day liquids only fast scheduled to occur (with some on water only and some on juice and water) and a day of nationally coordinated civil disobedience actions on April 16-Tax Day and the day Congress returns to resume action on the supplemental spending bill (most likely by this time it will be in the form of a compromise bill being finalized between the House and the Senate versions of the bill).

Following are key dates in the campaign:

Talking Points on the Murtha Supplemental Bill

February 27, 2007

Editorial Note: Shortly after the following was written, reports broke in the media that Democratic party leadership in the House is backing away from Murtha’s proposals on supplemental spending. In its place is the proposal that the full $93 billion will be approved by the House. This proposal would require that the President issue a waiver and notify Congress of any units deployed to Iraq which do not meet certain standards. Rather than acting to end the Iraq war, it would seem that the Democratic party leadership is playing political games with the lives of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi citizens.]

Democrats who have staked out an “antiwar” position, whether consistently over the years or more recently, are beginning to join with Congressman John Murtha in placing limited conditions upon the supplemental spending request submitted by President Bush to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the so-called global war on terror. Even Representatives who have consistently voted against prior supplemental spending requests for the war and who have consistently co-sponsored legislation aimed at ending the war or placed restrictions on the waging of the war are showing indications that they will support a Murtha formulated version of the supplemental spending bill. The danger is therefore very real that fewer votes will be cast against the supplemental spending bill than were cast against prior supplemental spending bills.

Do the Markey Two Step: Or How Democrats Are Buying the Iraq War

February 26, 2007

Last week, members of the Smedley Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace organized an office occupation of Representative Ed Markey’s office in Massachusetts. Their demand was simple: refuse to continue funding the Iraq war and vote against the $93 billion supplemental spending request submitted to Congress by President Bush on February 5. Their action was one of a growing number of office occupations taking place during the Occupation Project campaign of civil disobedience to end Iraq war funding.

Markey adroitly launched into song and dance, agreeing to meet and promising, in writing, to vote against President Bush’s request. The next day, he pivoted and swirled, doing the finest two step you’ll ever see. He pronounced that he will most definitely vote against President Bush’s request. He also pronounced that he will wait to decide whether to vote for or against the final supplemental spending bill being crafted by Representatives John Murtha and David Obey in the House Appropriations Committee. Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

The War Widens?

January 10, 2007

Did President Bush this evening just signal that the U.S. is preparing to expand the war in the Middle East to include Syria and Iran?

While the Iraq Study Group advocated diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria, President Bush is evidently continuing to walk down the road of military engagement.

The elements are falling into place for an expansion of the war:

Brother Can You Spare a Dime? Iraq War Spending in Fiscal Year 2007

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Download PDF Chart of War Spending Growth from 2004 to 2007

$99.7 billion dollars. That’s what the Pentagon is seeking in additional “supplemental” war funding for 2007—for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for the so-called “global war on terror”.

The Pentagon submitted this request to the White House on December 7. After reviewing the request, the White House will submit a new supplemental spending bill to Congress in early 2007—most likely during the first week of February.

Economic Warfare: Iraq and the I.M.F.

By Jeff Leys, jeffleys@vcnv.org
Voices for Creative Nonviolence
September 18, 2006

This week, the International Monetary Fund will be holding its annual meeting in Singapore. No doubt, the economic restructuring and forced leveraging of Iraq will be a key component of talks surrounding the meeting. In these past few months, free trade zones have been established along the borders with Syria and Iran; foreign investment laws have been vetted and approved; and laws governing investment in the oil sector have been drafted and introduced. Iraq continues to move forward in implementing conditions imposed upon it through the Stand By Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in December of 2005. While the command economy established under Saddam Hussein’s regime was unsustainable, it is also highly probable that the benefits of the economic restructuring under way at present will accrue to the benefit of an elite segment of Iraq and of the international community. It is improbable that ordinary Iraqi citizens will be the beneficiaries of these changes.