The Green New Deal Should Address Militarism

| Educate!

The U.S. military is the world’s largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels and the largest source of greenhouse gases.

In the spirit of a new year and a new Congress, 2019 may well be our best and last opportunity to steer our ship of state away from the twin planetary perils of environmental chaos and militarism, charting a course toward an earth-affirming 21st century.

The environmental crisis was laid bare by the sobering December report of the UN Climate panel: If the world fails to mobilize within the next 12 years on the level of a moon shot, and gear up to change our energy usage from toxic fossil, nuclear and industrial biomass fuels to the already known solutions for employing solar, wind, hydro, geothermal energy and efficiency, we will destroy all life on earth as we know it. The existential question is whether our elected officials, with the reins of power, are going to sit by helplessly as our planet experiences more devastating fires, floods, droughts, and rising seas or will they seize this moment and take monumental action as we did when the United States abolished slavery, gave women the vote, ended the great depression, and eliminated legal segregation.

Some members of Congress are already showing their historic mettle by supporting a Green New Deal. This would not only start to reverse the damage we have inflicted on our collective home, but it would create hundreds of thousands of good jobs that cannot be shipped overseas to low-wage countries.

Even those congresspeople who want to seriously address the climate crisis, however, fail to grapple with the simultaneous crisis of militarism. The war on terror unleashed in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack has led to almost two decades of unchecked militarism. We are spending more money on our military than at any time in history. Endless wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria and elsewhere are still raging, costing us trillions of dollars and creating humanitarian disasters. Old treaties to control nuclear arms are unraveling at the same time that conflicts with the major powers of Russia and China are heating up.

Where is the call for the New Peace Deal that would free up hundreds of billions from the overblown military budget to invest in green infrastructure? Where is the call to close a majority of our nation’s 800-plus military bases overseas, bases that are relics of World War II and are basically useless for military purposes? Where is the call for seriously addressing the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons?

With the crumbling phenomenon of outdated nuclear arms control treaties, it is unconscionable not to support the recently negotiated UN treaty, signed by 122 nations, to prohibit and ban nuclear weapons just as the world has done for chemical and biological weapons. The U.S. Congress should not be authorizing the expenditures of $1 trillion for new nuclear weapons, bowing to corporate paymasters who seek a larger arms race with Russia and other nuclear-armed countries to the detriment of our own people and the rest of the world. Instead, Congress should take the lead in supporting this treaty and promoting it among the other nuclear weapons states.

Environmentalists need to contest the Pentagon’s staggering global footprint. The U.S. military is the world’s largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels and the largest source of greenhouse gases, contributing about 5 percent of global warming emissions. Almost 900 of the EPA’s 1,300 Superfund sites are abandoned military bases, weapons-production facilities or weapons-testing sites. The former Hanford nuclear weapons facility in Washington state alone will cost over $100 billion to clean up. The U.S. military has also spread toxic chemical contaminants in and around bases worldwide, sickening millions.

If climate change is not addressed rapidly by a Green New Deal, global militarism will ramp up in response to increases in climate refugees and civil destabilization, which will feed climate change and seal a vicious cycle fed by the twin evils of militarism and climate disruption. That’s why a New Peace Deal and a Green New Deal should go hand in hand. We cannot afford to waste our time, resources and intellectual capital on weapons and war when climate change is barreling down on all of humankind. If the nuclear weapons don’t destroy us, then the pressing urgency of catastrophic climate will.

Moving from an economic system that relies on fossil fuels and violence would enable us to make a just transition to a clean, green, life-supporting energy economy. This would be the quickest and most positive way to deal a death knell to the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about so many years ago.

  • mwildfire

    But how do we get there? Pressuring Congress is not going to do it–they are largely impervious to public pressure. Especially as long as half the public is drinking the Kool-aid, buying the propaganda that Muslims and Venezuela and Cuba are threats to us, that the US military keeps us safe and fights for our freedom, that Russia and Putin are enemies, that the worst case scenario is that our economy will decline by ten percent by 2100 due to unchecked climate change, that we must supply every watt of demand 100% of the time no matter what the cost, that rising incomes forever are our right…

  • kevinzeese

    The answer, as with every issue, is build a mass, transformative movement that builds a national consensus on the issue, supported publicly by a small group of activists that push the agenda forward. We need to make the issue one no politician can be on the wrong side of. That is our job. That is why Popular Resistance exists, to help build that movement.

  • chetdude

    To put it another way we have to follow the example of the thousand people who just applied their bodies and presence last week in the halls of Congress to force Pelosi, Hoyer, et al to back down on the poison pill “rule” they were prepared to put in place next year to block potential passage of the entire Progressive program, “Green New Deal”, Medicare for All, College without crippling debt, etc in the next House Session.

    More bodies, more pressure. Congresscritters won’t do it on their own…

  • Congress has exempted the pentagon from reporting on ecological cost of now essentially permanent war.

    Repeat; Congress has exempted the military from environmental consideration specifically and by inaction in general.

    The president enforces the laws of the land through various departments. And those departments are funded by congressional budgets. Budget directors are controllers, in this case they actually make the controlling laws as well. Congressional representatives ask the executive branch for a proposed budget to run the various departments established to accomplish the laws and regulations for the coming year. That is their job. This was established the day the united states came into being, it is how the government works.

    Representatives in charge of the united states government are elected every two years. The idea is if the people see an imbalance between their vision of reality and the law between most them and their representative, they get a new representative. Representatives no matter how good they are become stale quickly when working to personally direct the flow of rivers and oceans of money. Everybody knows. Even good representatives must go. What is happening before our eyes is real. The seniority system is unAmerican.

    Approximate central northAmerican political tendencies;

    50% of voting age people boycott or are disenfranchised

    25% are registered independents

    11% democrats

    10% republicans

    4% others

    The trick is to engage those who boycott and encourage those who have been disenfranchised.

    Nonpartisan independent ecological socialist is a good place to begin enticing boycotters, the most numerous of the nonvoters. Define the terms clearly and briefly. Now we are a peoples party among the majority, organic. Boycotters know others who do not vote and many have been in conversations with those legally disenfranchised. Boycotters distracted by tv news are numerous as well as curious if something real is sensed by other boycotters and disenfranchised. They will not be arguing against the idea of a balanced budget for reasons of democracy efficiency having nothing to do withe economics.

    Evolution is accelerating at an accelerating rate. We are all riding a wave together. It is a steep wall ahead when standing up after paddling in. Also very interesting how the force of reality propels the concentrating perceiver across a reality wall of energy.

    This is the information age. The idea of representing focused intelligence of cosmic powered biology manifest as human is itself problematic. Even so; we are where we are and we work with what we have available, the majority.


  • ThisOldMan

    You’re on to something, but haven’t quite said it: There is no way we can get off fossil fuels without kneecapping our military, which means that the attainment of an enforceable world peace has to happen yesterday if we are to save our climate. One small problem …

  • GDook

    How much pollution does one rocket produce? Too much for me!