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Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, Iowa City

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Who are the people in VFP 161?
Veterans for Peace Chapter 161, based in Iowa City, welcomes veterans in the surrounding area who,
because of their personal experience and travails in a military infrastructure,
now join others locally and worldwide in
advocating for dismantling the military-industrial complex as a basis for prosperity.


June, 2017 vigil

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Pentagon Budget Grows, Yemen War Grows

by Ed Flaherty—May, 2017

As veterans, we have had too much experience with illegal, immoral, and counter-productive wars. Therefore, we call upon Iowans to insist that the US stop military actions in Yemen, to end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, and to take the lead in negotiating a cease-fire and ensuring access to food and medical supplies for Yemen. Furthermore, we call upon Iowans to look closely at how their tax dollars are being increasingly siphoned to the Pentagon, and to specifically look at how those tax dollars encourage our illegal, immoral and counter-productive war in Yemen.

The omnibus appropriations bill was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support in May, and was signed into law by Trump. This $1.17 trillion piece of legislation appropriates discretionary spending for the balance of this fiscal year, which ends September 30. The most significant portion of this massive piece of legislation is the funding of the Pentagon. Total Pentagon funding for fiscal year 2017 is $598.5 billion, an increase of $25.7 billion over fiscal year 2016. The total includes $76.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which reflects $14.8 billion in new spending sought by the Trump administration.

The sheer size of the Pentagon budget is a huge concern. It constitutes over one-half of all discretionary spending. Appropriations for other purposes are tiny in comparison: $8.1 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency: $5.7 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $3.3 billion for the United Nations — Just the increase in the Pentagon budget is larger than those three budgets combined.

Of more particular concern to us at the moment is the $76.6 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). This is often appropriately called the Pentagon's slush fund. It is separate from the Pentagon's never-audited base budget and has even less transparency. The OCO is used to fund any of the overseas conflicts that the US happens to be involved in. And, with a $14.8 billion increase, it appears we will be involved in more overseas conflicts. One of the most serious and under-reported conflicts is the US participation in the war in Yemen.

Two-thirds of Yemen's population--18.8 million people--are in need of assistance, and 7 million are in a food emergency, on the brink of famine. The UN calls the situation in Yemen the worst humanitarian disaster in the world. In March and April of this year, the US launched 80 drone and plane attacks on Yemen, more than in all of 2016. Saudi Arabia is the primary aggressor in Yemen, and the US supplies the Saudis with weapons, refueling, and intelligence. Trump went to Saudi Arabia in May, with a $110 billion weapons deal on the agenda. Saudi air strikes have severely damaged the port of Al Hudaydah, the only port through which food and medical supplies can arrive in northern Yemen. The Saudis are threatening to completely destroy that port.

Yemen poses no threat to the United States. It is in the throes of a complex civil war stoked by the arms and bombs of greater powers. There is no rational explanation for the US to be killing starving people. Saudi Arabia's goal is to stick its finger in the eye of Iran, which it accuses of helping the Houthi forces. The new US administration is engaging in more sabre rattling with Iran, even wanting to negate the 2015 nuclear agreement, so bombing starving folks in Yemen is good for business. It would not be prudent to leave any of that $76.6 billion OCO fund unspent.

There has never been a vote in Congress which authorizes our military actions in Yemen. The Iowa congressional delegation has been silent on Yemen, and all have supported the bloated Pentagon budget. Give them better advice. And, give Trump a phone call at 202 456-1414, and ask that he take steps to avoid a legacy of obscene absurdity.

An earlier version was published in the Gazette on May 23rd, 2017.
 

 


Muhammad Ali's service
 
Ed Flaherty on Yemen & US military budget
 
Ed Flaherty on 9-11
 
VFP on Memorial Day
 
Ann Wright & Women's Boat to Gaza
 
View Dan Berrigan commemoration
 
Private Manning's service to country
 


For further information, call John Jadryev at 43O-2Ol9 or E-mail Ed Flaherty <flahertyem[at]q.com>


THE NEED FOR VOICES FOR PEACE IS URGENT



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