Resolution about US military spending, for Rep. Adam Smith

(See the statement below by Rep. Smith about this resolution.)

(New, April 7, 2019: The Washington State Democratic Central Committee passed a slightly amended version of this resolution at the state party meeting in Pasco.  The THEREFORE clause is as follows:

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we, the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, call on Rep. Adam Smith to work to decrease military spending including spending by the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, but excluding Basic Allowance for Subsistence, Basic Allowance for Housing, base pay and other programs that uplift our military members and families.)

WHEREAS the United States spends more on its military — between $700 billion and over $1 trillion in 2018, depending on how your measure it — than the next eleven countries combined;

WHEREAS over 50% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military;

WHEREAS the 2018 attempt to audit the Pentagon was unsuccessful: the Pentagon could not account for $21 trillion in budget items, with Senator Charles Grassley (R) saying that the Pentagon’s “resistance to auditing the books runs deep”;

WHEREAS “the ridiculously huge plugs [fabrications] in the Defense Department’s budgets are never even questioned at Armed Services or Budget Committee hearings” (ibid);

WHEREAS the Pentagon buried evidence of about $125 billion in waste;

WHEREAS there is a revolving door between the Pentagon and defense contractors;

WHEREAS according to David Vine, the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad ;

WHEREAS U.S. wars, and proxy wars, in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Indonesia, Libya, Syria, Somalia, South America and elsewhere killed millions of people, wasted trillions of dollars, propped up brutal dictatorships, created enemies, and caused massive suffering, migration and consequent destabilization of societies;

WHEREAS President Trump plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and to upgrade U.S. nuclear weapons capability;

WHEREAS President Trump has slashed staff and funding for non-Pentagon federal agencies, including the State Department, which was already seriously under-staffed even before he took office and has gotten much worse since then;

WHEREAS a 2014 Gallup poll of 65 nations found that the United States was far and away the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world, and a Pew poll in 2017 found majorities in most countries polled viewing the United States as a threat;

WHEREAS the Pentagon has often used the Overseas Contingency Operations  (OCO) fund to bypass spending limits imposed by Congress;

WHEREAS Congress often overrides the wishes of the Pentagon and votes to continue funding unneeded weapons and bases;

WHEREAS Rep. Adam Smith (WA, 9th CD) is the Chair of the House Armed Services Committee;

WHEREAS Rep. Smith is coming under tremendous pressure from his campaign donors and from what Dwight Eisenhower called the “military industrial complex,” to increase military spending (also: here) and to overlook accounting fraud and obsessive secrecy;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we Democrats of the _____ call on Rep. Adam Smith to oppose increases in the Defense Department budget, including via the OCO, and to aggressively hold hearings about Pentagon accounting practices.

Contact me for a pdf or word version of the resolution, with hyperlinks as footnotes.

US Military Spending 2018

This petition covers much the same ground as this resolution.

This Common Defense movement, initiated by Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar, calls for an end to endless war and for Congress to reassert  its Constitutional obligation to declare wars.

This Action Network petition calls on Adam Smith and other House members to give back campaign donations from weapons contractors.

My taxes pay for Pentagon waste Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, by James Risen.

This issue is central for Democrats, progressives and all Americans. The fight against Trump must not be an excuse for neglecting the fight against permanent war. This is where the rubber meets the road. If we don’t act, who will?

It might be reasonable to edit the THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED to call for a decrease in defense spending.

“Those of us who love peace must organize as effectively as the war hawks. As they spread the propaganda of war, we must spread the propaganda of peace.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Relevant links

Rep. Adam Smith is called a progressive, and a great hope for pacifists, in this Politico article Democrats going nuclear to rein in Trumps arms buildup.  He plans to convene a panel to investigate Pentagon budgeting.

Adam Smith wrote an article in Defense One decrying Pentagon secrecy: The Pentagons Getting More Secretive and Its Hurting National Security.

Congressman Smith Statement on Election as Chairman of House Armed Services Committee. He says some good things here about waste at DoD and about green technology to combat climate change. This press release criticizes DoD for inadequately addressing the dangers of climate change.

According to the Wall Street Journal,

Some of the challenge will come from Congress. Rep. Adam Smith, the Washington Democrat who is preparing to helm the House Armed Services Committee, already has put the Pentagon on notice that the $1.2 trillion for new nuclear weapons is “unrealistic” and would draw funds from needs he considers more pressing, such as cyberdefense.

Mr. Smith has tapped Rep. Seth Moulton (D., Mass), who has served as a Marine in Iraq, to head a newly established panel that will explore trade-offs in funding military programs. One idea that interests Mr. Moulton, he said in an interview, is considering technologically advanced alternatives to some costly weapons—such as fielding more underwater drones and unmanned aerial vehicles and fewer submarines and F-35 warplanes.

The Risks of Permanent War by the RAND Corporation

Pentagon Seeks Massive Increase for ‘Slush Fund’ War Account (OCO)

Book review: How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything

New watchdog report decries revolving door between the Pentagon and defense contractors (from

Americas Permanent-War Complex, from the American Conservative.
“Eisenhower’s worst nightmare has come true, as defense mega-contractors climb into the cockpit to ensure we stay overextended.”

Another great article by Dave Lindorff: What happens when a treaty that’s working is cancelled: The Insanity of a Hypersonic Nuclear Cruise Missile Arms Race

Trump Says U.S. Defense Spending Is ‘Crazy.’ It May Signal An Important Shift

US Military Budget, Its Components, Challenges, and Growth: Why Military Spending Is More Than You Think It Is

Tomgram: William Hartung, The Trillion-Dollar National Security Budget

Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, by James Risen.

Newsweek: U.S. Has Spent Six Trillion Dollars on Wars That Killed Half a Million People Since 9/11, Report Says

Bernie Sanders kicked off his campaign promising to take an ax to US defense spending

The Pentagon’s Bottomless Money Pit

The Pentagon Wins Again “In an effort to prevent non-defense cuts, House Democrats grant the DOD exactly the raise it wanted.”

NYT’s Exposé on the Lies About Burning Aid Trucks in Venezuela Shows How U.S. Government and Media Spread Pro-War Propaganda

Transcript of an NPR interview with Rep. Smith: Democratic Rep. Smith Is New Chair Of House Armed Services Panel. In this interview, Rep. Smith criticizes President Trump’s use of U.S. troops to patrol the border with Mexico — a clear violation of the Constitution. Smith also discusses the desirability of a negotiated solution to the war in Afghanistan, while insisting that Trump’s off-the-cuff, twitter-based decisions are irresponsible.

CNN interview with Rep. Smith about Trump’s policies on Syria and Columbia: Rep. Smith on Trump being contradicted by his intel. chiefs

In this video of the House Armed Services Committee Organizational Meeting for the 116th Congress, Rep. Smith presides as the incoming Chair and emphasizes his intention to continue the committee’s bipartisan approach to policy making. The main goal is to make sure troops have adequate resources to prevail.  [I suggest that the best way to help the troops is to make sure they’re not asked to fight stupid wars or to engage in nation building.] But he also mentions the need to make progress on a Pentagon audit and says that outgoing Chair Mac Thornberry from Texas also wants to fix Pentagon budgeting. (If you watch the video, adjust the slider ahead towards the end to see the content.)

See this related resolution by World Without War.

This article in The Atlantic, The Democrats Keep Capitulating on Defense Spending, discusses how Congressional Democrats agreed to increase defense spending in early 2018:

In the run-up to the deal, Nancy Pelosis office fired off an email to House Democrats proclaiming that, In our negotiations, Congressional Democrats have been fighting for increases in funding for defense. Chuck Schumers office announced that, We fully support President Trumps Defense Departments request. Not all congressional Democrats voted for the budget agreement: Thirty-eight percent of Democrats backed it in the House [Adam Smith opposed it.] and 76 percent did in the Senate. But even those who voted no mostly did so because they were upset about its lack of protection for immigrant dreamers, not because they oppose a higher defense budget. Last year, in fact, when Democrats were offered a standalone vote on big increases in military spending in the form of House and Senate defense authorization bills, large majorities in both bodies voted yes.

What makes this so remarkable is that the arguments for a large increase in defense spending are extraordinarily weak.

Rep. Smith is quoted in this informative Politico article as opposing Trump’s proposed use of the OCO slush fund to finance Pentagon spending. The OCO is a costly gimmick that bypasses agreed-upon spending caps (whereby any increase in military spending must be matched dollar for dollar by an increase in domestic spending).

The Nation (April 8, 2019) has an article about Trump’s plans to modernize the nuclear triad and to build tactical nuclear weapons. Making Nuclear Weapons Menacing Again “The Pentagon plan to overhaul the US nuclear arsenal is as costly as it is dangerous.” The authors laud Rep. Adam Smith for being a voice of reason.

Among those leading the charge against the Pentagon’s replacement plan is Representative Adam Smith (D-WA), the chair of the House Armed Services Committee. “Nothing endangers the planet more than nuclear weapons,” he told Arms Control Today in December 2018. Speaking of the administration’s call for low-yield munitions, Smith warned: “If you introduce them, you cannot predict what your adversaries are going to counter with, and an all-out nuclear war is the likely result, with the complete destruction of the planet.” Smith is also highly skeptical of the need for a three-legged deterrent system and for a nuclear stockpile as large as the one we currently possess: “There’s a compelling argument to be made that a submarine-based nuclear weapons approach alone gives us an adequate deterrent.” But in any case, he added, “we could meet our needs from a national security standpoint with a lot fewer nuclear weapons.”

Earlier, there were additional WHEREASs:

WHEREAS the $21 trillion in federal debt is being used as justification for calls to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare, despite our having paid for those programs out of our paychecks;

WHEREAS the debt was caused largely by tax cuts for rich people, bailouts for corporations, a for-profit health care system, and fraudulent, disastrous wars;

WHEREAS 121 retired U.S. generals have written a letter opposing cuts to foreign aid;

Statement by Rep. Adam Smith in response to this resolution

As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), Congressman Adam Smith is focused on:

  • Eliminating inefficiency and waste at the Department of Defens;
  • Advocating for greater inclusivity in the military, particularly for our transgendered service members;
  • Increasing transparency and Congressional oversight of national security issues; and
  • Imposing limits on Americas use of nuclear weapons Increased oversight of sensitive military operations and ensuring the military prevents civilian casualties.

In the 116th Congress, Congressman Smith has supported defense-related legislation including:

  • H.R. 921, To establish the policy of the United States regarding the no-first-use of nuclear weapons (Rep. Smith is the sponsor of this legislation);
  • H.J. Res. 37, Directing the removal of the United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress
    (Rep. Smith is an original co-sponsor of this legislation);
  • H.R. 95, Homeless Veteran Families Act; and
  • H.R. 299, Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.

As the Chair of HASC, Congressman Smith has demanded transparency from the Department of Defense on troops being sent to the Southern border. Under his leadership, HASC conducted a Border Hearing regarding the Department of Defenses support to the Southern border. Congressman Smith continues to fight to ensure that climate change is taken seriously as the national security issue it is.

In terms of military spending, Congressman Smith has repeatedly stated that he believes our defense budget can and should be less. Rep. Smith has voted against the defense budget over eight times and has stood up to the Trump Administration’s incredibly expensive, unnecessary, and potentially disastrous proposed nuclear weapons policy. He will continue to fight against wasteful spending, both as the Chair of HASC and as a congressman.

U.S. Has Spent Six Trillion Dollars on Wars That Killed Half a Million People Since 9/11, Report Says

Inhofe, Reed back new military fund to confront China says “The Senate leaders follow House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., and ranking member Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, in supporting the idea of a PDI. Smith has backed the idea in concept but has not publicly disclosed his priorities for the fund, while Thornberry has proposed spending $6 billion in fiscal year 2021 on priorities that include air and missile defense systems and new military construction in partner countries.”

Support Swells For New Indo-Pacom Funding; Will Money Follow  “House Armed Services Committee leaders have also expressed bipartisan support for the idea, with chairman Adam Smith publicly backing the idea, though he hasn’t disclosed any detailed plans.”

American Exceptionalism May Be Pushing the World into its Most Dangerous Period Ever “The U.S. continues to pour its money into military technology and its political energy into defense strategies against what it perceives as threats to its global hegemony from China and Russia—even during a pandemic. ” The U.S. is withdrawing from numerous treaties.

$1.8 trillion price tag for DoD’s arsenal of equipment

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