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What: Session on dangers of nuclear war

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9

Where: CU Humanities Room 1B90

What: Session on the impact of military spending

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, April 11

Where: CU Humanities Room 1B80

Details: Visit rmpjc.org.

The U.S. has about 800 overseas bases in 70 or more countries, and approximately 200,000 U.S. forces are deployed in 177 nations around the globe. Estimates of the costs of these bases vary from $85 billion to $100 billion and, if the costs of bases in Iraq and Afghanistan are included, the cost estimate increases to at least $156 billion.

The U.S. military budget is larger than the combined military budgets of the seven nations with the next largest military budgets (China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, India, France, U.K. and Japan). This gross imbalance raises the question about whether the U.S. spending is for defense of the nation or for defense and expansion of the U.S. empire.

This U.S. military spending clearly shows we did not heed President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address message about “guarding against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

One result of having this incredibly powerful and costly military is the temptation to use it as the first resort whenever there is a conflict. Of particular concern is the U.S. expansion of NATO to the east in violation of a U.S. commitment not to do this. Placing NATO weapons on or near the Russian border threaten Russia and greatly increases the risk of nuclear conflict. In addition, U.S. withdrawals from the Anti-Ballistic Missile and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaties further heighten the risk of a nuclear war and also threaten starting a new wasteful arms race.

Contrast these U.S. actions with another warning from Eisenhower’s farewell address:

“Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. … As one who … knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization … I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.”

The U.S. military budget consumes about 52% of the federal discretionary budget. This military spending represents misplaced priorities that, by taking money from programs benefiting the public good, instead further enrich the military-industrial complex. Partially as a result, we have the sixth worst income inequality based on 2016 data and the third worst poverty based on 2017 data among the 38 OECD nations. Martin Luther King was prophetic in his “Beyond Vietnam” speech: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

To learn more on the dangers of nuclear war, please attend the session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, in CU Humanities Room 1B90. For more on the impact of military spending, please attend the session at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in Humanities Room 1B80. Visit rmpjc.org for more information.

The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.

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