Peace Dividend

Green philosophy emphasizes the need to enable people to meet basic needs of quality food, housing, health care, education and employment. Our country needs economic and social revitalization that can only be achieved through sane resource use and future-focused planning.

Use of resources to meet basic human needs has long been sacrificed to pay for a huge military budget. This level of military spending is the result of a bloated defense budget based on unrealistic assessments of foreign military threats, inefficient and wasteful procurement practices, self-serving competition between different branches of the military and duplication of military functions. Local economies have become so dependent on military spending that "pork-barrel" legislation has become an accepted practice.
 
The fiscal year 2002 national budget (proposed before Sept. 11) requested about $1.9 trillion total. About one third of that is discretionary spending (non-discretionary spending is mostly entitlement programs mandated by law). Military spending accounts for about half of all discretionary spending in the budget proposal. This means that the combined budget for all other programs in all other agencies and departments just equals what the military is getting. This spending proposal includes $8 Billion for the Ballistic Missile Defense system, while providing no line item detail explaining on what this huge amount would be spent.
 
To fund the war in Afghanistan and the "war on terrorism," the Bush Administration has requested a $48 Billion increase over the fiscal year 2002 budget request. This level of spending is roughly equal to the combined defense budgets of the next 15 largest militarized countries. For example, it is 41-times larger than Russia's defense budget. This war money comes at the expense of funding for social programs and international assistance. The proposed budget is more than 50-times larger than what we spend on international food and assistance, and 47-times larger than the EPA budget.
 
The Green Party advocates a major shift in the allocation of resources: 
 
Redefine the military's role in the light of post-Cold War circumstances, multi-national economics and the emergence of developing nations.
 
Develop a new national defense policy with participation by citizen and governmental representatives as well as the military. The Pentagon's "bottom-up review" in the 1990s - which concluded that funding is needed to support two major regional conflicts simultaneously - was strongly criticized both inside and outside military circles. Now the
 
Pentagon must, once again, re-evaluate the threats to our country following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
 
Reduce military spending to 25% of Cold War levels. Several studies supported the possibility of reducing such expenditures by 50% during the USSR's waning years. Today, no superpower threats justify even that spending level. While a 75% reduction is an arbitrary target, the Government and military should be made to explain to the country's citizens why they would need more.
 
Stop funding the Ballistic Missile Defense system. An intercontinental ballistic missile is not the weapon of choice for a terrorist organization or a developing country. With the demise of the cold war and the growth of global economic interdependence, no industrialized nation poses a threat of an all-out invasion of the U.S. Furthermore, the current missile defense schemes cannot be proved to work since they cannot be tested against real targets, and they remain vulnerable to countermeasures and decoys.
 
Distribute the resulting "peace dividend," in part, to state and local governments to handle the multitude of neglected problems in social welfare, the environment and the economy.
 
Simplify and decentralize the military procurement system, and consolidate military functions to eliminate duplication.