Forum, May 3: Time to cut military spending and rebuild America

Published: 5/4/2021 10:47:13 AM
Modified: 5/5/2021 1:22:19 PM
Time to cut military spending and rebuild America

Twenty years ago the Valley News published my letter opposing the bombing of Afghanistan, which had just begun. While I received some thank-yous from readers who agreed, I also received angry phone calls questioning not only my logic, but my patriotism, even sanity. I understand those sentiments. Our nation felt the pain that many people in other countries feel when something terrifying from the sky, a military drone or F-35 jet, drops bombs on them. Yet, millions of people are displaced and killed by war in other places, as has been carefully documented in Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

In many people’s view, the war on terror became a way for our government, both Republican and Democrat, to better manufacture fear and expand into the Middle East. But we are far more invested globally: Our military controls nearly 800 overseas bases across all continents. Well over 100,000 active service members, backed by private contractors, are deployed overseas in and around these bases.

Now that the May 17 deadline approaches for sending in our federal taxes, we should pause and seriously question where our tax money goes, and pressure our Vermont and New Hampshire delegations to Washington to reduce the military budget, not increase it as the Biden administration wants. With many of our own neighbors, and people all over the country, continuing to line up in food lines, or losing their homes and livelihoods, we must shift spending priorities to health care, housing and being ready for the next pandemic. According to a study last year by the University of Vermont, “food insecurity increased 33%” in the state (Valley News, April 26). Let’s embrace peace for once! We could start by rejecting the term “defense budget” as we haven’t been invaded by a foreign power since the War of 1812.



Duncan Nichols is a social worker who worked at the White River Junction VA Medical Center during the Obama surge to Afghanistan, and since then with veterans in the community.

Let’s turn the tide on environment and climate

The social, economic, environmental, judicial, infrastructural, inter-relating global links are volatile. If you tweak one aspect, a problem may develop elsewhere. The side effect might be benign, or fester in a corner until it reaches some critical mass and destroys the network. Since we don’t always recognize glitches, we can’t predict when all hell will break loose. Fortunately some experts can supply reasonable estimates, for example, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and its Doomsday Clock. You might say we need systemic change.

In Biden’s first State of the Union address (this past Earth Day eve) he announced the administration’s goal of reducing emission levels 50%-52% by 2030. This is the man who promised 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in his first 100 days, while delivering at a rate twice that. Now I don’t expect that kind of performance continually, but it does demonstrate capable hands are at the helm. The administration understands that in order to address one of our existential problems, we need others addressed in synchrony and degree. I think Biden could be a great president given enough time, but the 2020 Census and gerrymander limits the opportunity.

A recent New York Times story tells us that “a major UN report will declare that slashing emissions of methane, the main component of natural gas, is far more vital than previously thought.” Those responsible for obstructing progress must be held accountable.

Shouldn’t the fine match the crime for polluters? Why shouldn’t agents of ecological devastation (from litterbugs to corporations) be fined a sum commensurate with the cost of cleanup? Why hasn’t such legislation already been enacted? What are we waiting for, a tipping point? Call or write your representatives, your town government, your governors, neighbors, kith and kin, and don’t forget your president.

If effective action isn’t taken soon, the tipping points will be devastating, and irreversible. Let’s not squander what little time we have left.


White River Junction

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