Thank you, Representative Smith, for writing your statement, for attending this meeting, and for your efforts. We are honored by your presence.
The United States has killed millions of people and wasted trillions of dollars in corrupt, misbegotten, disastrous wars and proxy wars. These wars have propped up brutal regimes and have led to immense suffering. They have created enemies and have resulted in mass migrations that destabilized societies.
And now it’s apparently happening again in Venezuela: we are supporting a coup of a democratically elected government.
We currently spend about $700 billion a year on the military — more than the next eleven nations combined and over half of discretionary federal spending. One hundred and forty times as much as Trump’s silly border wall would cost. Yet the nation has about $22 trillion in debt and trillions of dollars of unmet needs here at home: in green energy, in infrastructure, in healthcare, and in student debt, for example.
We have over 800 military bases in 70 nations.
The Pentagon was unable to complete an audit and has hidden hundreds of billions of dollars in waste. Obsessive Pentagon secrecy, about which you have spoken out, is used more as a shield to hide wrongdoing and waste than as a means to protect national security.
The Pentagon has used the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) slush fund to bypass Congressional limits on spending.
There is a revolving door between the Pentagon and arms manufacturers.
The militarization of U.S. foreign policy, and the under-funding and under-staffing of the State Department, and of other federal agencies, risk turning the U.S. into a banana republic and a pariah state.
Moreover, our militarized foreign policy has killed, maimed, or psychologically damaged thousands of U.S. soldiers. The best way to support them is to stop sending them to fight unnecessary wars.
Our lives on earth are short. If we can make progress on promoting peace, we will have lived well.
In the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., “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.”
So, we call on you, Rep. Smith, to do all that is in your power to responsibly rein in the out-of-control military behemoth and to stop the Pentagon and the C.I.A. from corrupting our foreign policy and bankrupting the nation.