I was on a Declaration of Peace Conference Call last night. It was exciting to begin to hear the peace and justice movement getting ready to launch into its next phase following the midterm elections. The main thrust of the call was the campaign to defund the illegal and immoral war and occupation of Iraq.
As part of this campaign, and probably the most intense, will be what Voices for Creative Nonviolence and the National Campaign of Nonviolence Resistance will undertake beginning February 5th and lasting through March -- visiting and probably sitting in at many congress people's offices. The Declaration of Peace Coalition has decided to join this effort. It is expected that during the month of February and into early March Congress will likely pass record-large supplemental budgets paying for the continued war and occupation. It is expected that the military requests will amount to somewhere between $100 Billion to $120 Billion.
This intense phase will be called The Occupation Project. I am excited about it, and I (NCNR) along with Jeff Leys (VCNV) will begin to organize this phase this week along with regional organizers across the country. This is something I believe the peace and justice movement must undertake.
For the cost of the war and occupation of Iraq to date, we could have instead spent it on:
+ One year of comprehensive health insurance for more than 207 million children
+ About 6 million additional teachers
+ More than 3.1 additional housing units
The figures above are presented by the National Priorities Project.
This number is based on an analysis of the legislation in which Congress has allocated money for war so far and research by the Congressional Research Service. An article offered by the Strauss Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information offers greater insight into the problems of truly knowing how much has been spent on the Iraq War or other military operations. Other NPP information on the cost of the Iraq War includes the NPP Database Trade-offs Page; and the Local Costs of the Iraq War which includes the total cost allocated to date for numerous towns and counties across the country. This list is also more regularly updated with new locations than the list of the cost of Iraq War calculator. See also the NPP Charts page which offers comparative cost and casualty information on wars.
The other campaign which I will work on and participate fully in is the January 11th Witness Against Torture action. More than 450 detainees are being held in Guantanamo Bay and awaiting a military trial which has not even begun. Some have been there for five years. A few are as young as 14 years old.
On January 11th it will be exactly five years since people began to be illegally and immorally detained at Guantanamo. Many have been tortured by the U.S. government. This campaign to have all of the detainees brought immediately to civilian court -- not military -- and shut down Guantanamo has mostly been organized by the wonderful Catholic Workers. They are a true source of inspiration. A few of them have travelled to Cuba and held a 10-day vigil at the edge of Guantanamo Bay. All the trials have not begun, I understand they can face up to 10 years in jail for this truly peaceful and compassionate act.
More can be found about this campaign and the remarkable January 11th action at: Witness Against Torture. We do need people willing to participate! We should all feel compelled to do right when our government is doing so much wrong.