Peace Action

There will be a rally for world peace, and in favor of major cuts to military spending, on April 15 at 2 Main Street in Brattleboro, outside the food co-op. The rally starts at 10 a.m. and goes until 3 p.m. There will be a march calling on President Trump to release his tax returns, the same date on Main Street in Brattleboro, starting at 1 p.m. Details about the march are at:

www.facebook.com/events/1540683959275840

Trump, a billionaire, is the first president in 40 years to keep his tax returns secret. They would reveal his income and whether he paid the same percentage of his income in taxes as middle class people paid.

For more information about the peace rally, contact Daniel Sicken (pronounced SEE-kin) at dhsicken@yahoo.com or by phone at (802) 387-2798. The event is sponsored by a group that has a web site at www.nwtrcc.org.

Almost half (48 percent) of this year's entire federal budget of about $3 trillion is being spent on war. That’s according to:

www.WarResisters.org/FederalPieChart

With 5 percent of the world's population, the USA spends at much on the military as the rest of the world combined.

Cole Harrison works for a group in Massachusetts that has a web site at www.MassPeaceAction.org. He said, “Veterans who honorably served this country were prohibited from walking in the Saint Patrick’s day parade in Boston on March 19 because they work for peace. Members of the group Veterans for Peace assembled at 524 East Broadway in silent protest as their fellow veterans and politicians walked by. State senator Linda Dorcena Forry did not march in the parade this year, stating, 'I will not walk in the parade until all veterans groups are allowed to participate.'”

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker and Boston mayor Marty Walsh marched in the parade.

John Ungerleider is a professor of Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation at the School for International Training in Brattleboro. “The military budget is so high mainly because members of Congress want to keep defense jobs in their districts,” he told the Valley Post. Asked if the U.S. would be more likely to be attacked if the military budget was cut by 50 percent, Ungerleider said, “Of course not.” The best way for people to get the government to cut military spending is to donate to, and/or volunteer for, a group like the American Friends Service Committee www.afsc.org, he said.

Melvin Goodman is a professor at Johns Hopkins University. For a decade he worked at the CIA as a division chief and foreign policy analyst. New Yorker magazine writer Seymour Hersh said of Goodman’s 2013 book, National Insecurity, “Goodman is not only telling us how to save wasted billions, he is telling us how to save ourselves.”

In the book, Goodman writes, “The United States has the most secure geopolitical environment of any major nation, but sustains a defense budget that equals the combined budgets of the rest of the world…. We have more than 700 military bases and facilities around the world; few other countries have any. We can deploy 11 aircraft carriers; among our rivals only China plans to deploy one—and that is a revamped Ukrainian aircraft carrier, a carryover from the ancient Soviet inventory…. Since the end of World War II, the United States has fought inconclusive wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan; conducted dubious invasions of Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, and Panama; and mounted counterproductive covert operations around the world, including those in the Congo, Chile [which resulted in the installation of dictator Augusto Pinochet, who tortured and killed thousands of his political opponents], El Salvador, and Guatemala. Only Desert Storm in Iraq in 1991 can be termed a success, although it left Saddam Hussein in power and President George H.W. Bush out of power the following year, setting the stage for George W. Bush’s use of force against Iraq two decades later.”

David King is the United Kingdom's Special Representative for Climate Change. "The Iraq war was just the first of this century's 'resource wars,' in which powerful countries use force to secure valuable commodities," King told the Guardian newspaper.

The U.S. and other rich nations have a long history of stealing resources from Africa. This story is told in the books “Bury the Chains” by Adam Hochschild and "Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power" by Steve Coll, and in the film "Lumumba" by Raoul Peck. The average life expectancy in the central African nation of Chad is 50; in the USA, it’s 80.

While the chances of dramatically cutting U.S. military spending may seem small, in 1989, the chances of Nelson Mandela -- who was then seven years into a life sentence in prison -- becoming president of South Africa were also small. In 1994, Mandela was elected president and one of the world’s most brutal and racist governments was overthrown.

In the United States, 152 years ago, ending slavery and granting women the right to vote both seemed unlikely. Mass movements of ordinary people won justice.

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Massachusetts State senator Linda Dorcena Forry

photo by www.maLegislature.gov

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