Peace March

On March 18, there will be a march for world peace. The march will start in Amherst and end in Northampton. The public is invited to attend part or all of the walk. It will start at 9 a.m. outside the church at 165 Main Street, organizer Tim Bullock told the Valley Post in a telephone interview on February 28. More information is at:

www.NewEnglandPeacePagoda.org/walk-for-a-new-spring

Almost half (47 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.

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

In other news from the Valley, Amtrak said it is considering permanently ending service to Vermont on December 31, 2018. Senator Bernie Sanders is fighting the proposal. David Deen represents Dummerston, Vermont – and other towns – in the state legislature. Dummerston borders Brattleboro. On February 24, Rep. Deen told the Valley Post, “Amtrak should not end, and -- as Senator Sanders said -- putting the necessary safety controls on the Vermont line should be part of the infrastructure investment this country makes in its public transportation network." To help in the fight to keep Amtrak in Vermont contact www.narprail.org and www.TrainsInTheValley.org and www.RailVermont.org.

In other news from the Valley, in Amherst on February 26 about 30 people attended a rally calling on the state to invest more in public transportation. One of the groups that organized the rally is the local chapter of www.jwj.org.

The Greenfield hospital nurses' union is asking the public to attend a union contract negotiating session on February 28, starting at 9 a.m. and going “as long as it takes.” Details are at:

www.facebook.com/events/595112880836257

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