By Prachi Patankar
As Obama has announced the plans for US withdrawal from Iraq, the anti-war movement can perhaps claim a small victory. The future of Iraq still remains to be seen but there is hope in the growing Iraqi protest movement inspired by the Arab Spring. The Afghanistan war still continues into its 11th year. However, this decade of wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan has not only cost us countless human lives, of both Iraqi and Afghan civilians and of US/NATO troops but also trillions of dollars of taxpayer money.
“Tax Dollars At War,” directed & animated by Chris Fontaine is a great accessible video that breaks down the lopsided budget priorities of the US government that has funded decades US wars abroad at the cost of public services for the American people. It is clear that more than 50% of the yearly federal discretionary spending on the wars combined with the tax cuts to the rich and the corporations has greatly affected the recent budget deficit. As the Occupy Wall Street movement gains momentum with more diverse racial and economic justice groups joining all over the country, there is a need to strategically link military spending and domestic economic justice targets.
So, what is the real connection of Wall Street to the US wars? As the government bails out banks and spends most of its tax dollars on wars, the priorities that address real needs of people have been thrown by the wayside. Companies and banks on Wall Street also profit directly from war making and militarism. One clear example is JP Morgan Chase, which has been identified as a target of many economic justice movements and unions during these “occupy” demonstrations. The “Move Your Money Project” has been organizing community groups and individuals across the country to move $1 billion dollars out of banks like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Among other domestic offenses, JP Chase has been actively investing in the manufacture of internationally banned cluster bombs, resource extraction (especially gold mining) in Afghanistan and illegal foreclosure on veterans and military families. As Dave Lindorff points out at the end of the video, “..next time you hear that federal funds needed to fund extra teachers at your school are being cut or your Medicare benefits need to be reduced, think about that 53% of your tax payment that going to finance the most enormous war machine the world has ever known and that’s the truth”.
November 17th has been announced as the day to “resist the 1% economy that drowns us in debt, forecloses on our homes, profits from war, eliminates our jobs and closes our schools and hospitals.” Let’s come out to the streets and reclaim what is rightfully ours. Occupy Wall Street; completely de-occupy Iraq and Afghanistan; stop bombings and aggression in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.