February 1, 2014
Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach writes about current Pentagon spending levels in the latest PeaceSigns.
The budget agreement reached in December keeps some of the automatic “sequestration” cuts in place for the Pentagon but softens the blow by spreading them out over more years. Compared to drawdowns after previous wars, Pentagon spending will still remain at historically high levels.
In mid-January Congress approved spending levels for the current year that give additional flexibility to the Pentagon by putting more money than requested into the “war funding” account, intended primarily for military activities in Afghanistan. Budget analyst Winslow Wheeler calls this extra funding a “slush fund” which the Pentagon can use as it wishes.
For a report and spiritual reflection on Pentagon spending levels, click here.
August 21, 2013
Rachelle Friesen, an MCC peace development worker in Palestine, writes about a plan to forcibly expel Bedouin from their homes in Israel in the MCC Palestine blog.
Since the seventh century the Arab Bedouin community has been living in the Negev. Yet, in the last 60 years the Bedouin have faced harsh discriminatory tactics as Israel tries to push them off their land in order to build Jewish settlements, military centers, and forests. Even though they are citizens of Israel, the Bedouin communities have been denied official recognition, thus denying them public access to running water, paved roads, sewage treatment, education, healthcare, and building permits thus resulting in endless home demolitions. Despite the hardships, the Bedouin have remained on their ancestral land.
On June 24, 2013, the Israeli Knesset approved the implementation of the Prawer Plan. The Prawer Plan seeks the destruction and relocation of 35 Bedouin villages in Israel’s Negev. This would see the displacement of 70,000 Bedouin Citizens of Israel forced into government designated communities.
Read the entire article here. Sign a petition against the Prawer Plan.
August 1, 2013
Yesterday 24 church leaders, including Ron Byler, executive director of MCC U.S. and Ervin Stutzman, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, sent a letter to President Obama on the crisis in Syria.
The letter urges the U.S. government to “refrain from the provision of military assistance to forces involved in the conflict in Syria….Rather, the U.S. should call for all parties to cease all military activities in Syria and work urgently to de-escalate the crisis, together with other actors in the region and beyond.”
The letter highlights the urgent need for a negotiated, political solution to the crisis and encourages “an ongoing and robust response” to the dire humanitarian situation in Syria and neighboring countries.
Read the entire letter. Give to MCC’s Middle East crisis response.
July 25, 2013
Photo: U.S. Air Force
Sending a significant signal on the defense appropriations bill yesterday, the House voted to cut $3.5 billion from the Pentagon’s “overseas contingency operations” account. These funds, while ostensibly for the war in Afghanistan, had been transferred from the Pentagon’s base budget due to constraints as a result of the Budget Control Act.
The vote was 215-206 and the sponsors of the amendment were Reps. Mulvaney (R-S.C.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Coffman (R-Colo.) and Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.). To see how your representative voted, click here. If you are not sure who your representative is, click here.
Please consider taking the time to call your representative to thank them if they voted yes on the Mulvaney amendment. The Capitol switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.
Read more from the MCC Washington Office about Pentagon spending.
May 2, 2013
“If the U.S. discretionary budget were a pie, Pentagon spending would easily make up more than half of it. Because so many resources are devoted to the military, fewer resources are available for programs like job training, transportation, and support for those struggling to overcome poverty in this country and around the world.”
Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach writes about military spending in the discretionary budget for the latest Third Way Cafe.
When President Obama released his budget for Fiscal Year 2014 a few weeks ago, he requested $527 billion for the Pentagon and another $88 billion in war spending.
While a slight decrease from last year’s request, the request ignores the automatic cuts that kicked in this spring, coming in at $50 billion more than allowed by budget caps.
Read the entire article here.
April 17, 2013
Yesterday the MCC Washington Office joined a dozen other faith-based organizations in a letter to President Obama. The letter begins:
As people and communities of faith, we are moved to express our great concern about the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, known commonly as drones, for targeted killings of alleged members of Al Qaeda, its affiliates and other associated forces around the world.
The use of these lethal weapons within the borders of other sovereign nations, at times without their permission, shrouded in secrecy and without clear legal authority, raises serious moral and ethical questions about the principles and the implications of this practice for U.S. foreign relations and the prospects for a more peaceful world.
Read the full letter. An updated list of signers is available here.
April 3, 2013
A global arms trade treaty was overwhelmingly approved in the UN General Assembly yesterday, April 2. The United States voted in favor of the treaty. Formal approval by the United States of the treaty will require the president’s signature and ratification by the U.S. Senate.
Read an earlier blog entry about the treaty.