By Jess Scarane
FOR many Americans, foreign policy seems removed from their daily lives.
However, foreign policy decisions drastically affect our national and local economies; not only does the military-industrial complex fuel one of our nation’s greatest expenditures, but it directly limits our ability to create universal healthcare, pay living wages to American workers, and implement a just and necessary plan to combat the climate crisis.
In fact, since Donald Trump entered office in 2017, the military budget has soared, but he is not solely responsible for the funnelling of funds to the DoD. Corporate Democrats and Republicans alike consistently fund unnecessary wars and military action abroad.
Our current Senator, Chris Coons, not only voted against Senator Sanders’ recent amendment to cut the Pentagon budget by 10 per cent–which would go towards funding for jobs, housing, healthcare, and education–but has also actively voted to increase military spending throughout his career.
Even when given the opportunity last year to limit the war powers of President Trump in Iran, the Senator did not vote.
Instead, it appears Senator Coons wanted to give the President, who doesn’t have the will or the ability to adequately protect and lead our military, unchecked authoritative power.
In the Senate, I will be a firm voice advocating for Pentagon budget cuts like Senator Sanders, ending unnecessary wars overseas, and expanding social programs that would support our nation’s veterans facing the traumatic effects of war.
However, the effects of these military decisions do not just leave devastating carnage abroad.
At home, local communities in Delaware and across the country are left without access to the support that they need, and working families in this country are struggling. By closing just half of our bases abroad and bringing our troops home, we would free up $90 billion.
By decommissioning nuclear weapons, defunding the F-35 program, and stopping the border wall, we would free up another $68 billion. That’s $158 billion dollars we could spend promoting peace across the globe and helping people back home.
We have seen estimates from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, for example, that ending homelessness in this country would only cost $20 billion, the same amount that a bipartisan Congress agreed to raise our military budget by last year.
By taking a hard stance against endless wars overseas, bringing our troops home, and changing the current system that gives massive profits to the military-industrial complex, we will be able to reallocate funds towards adequate healthcare for every American, universal pre-K to uplift our underprivileged children, and guaranteed housing and jobs to strengthen our communities.
If our government can continue to expand these military programs with urgency, there is no reason we can not apply that same urgency to our struggling communities. Also, these programs will not only help address injustices but also boost our economy and put more money in the pockets of workers.
Our country’s strong military presence does not only affect our economy and our communities, it also drastically contributes to the greatest existential threat we face today–the climate crisis.
The US military is one of the largest polluters in history, consuming more fuel and emitting more greenhouse gases than most medium-sized countries. To fight climate change and to end our reliance on fossil fuels by 2030, like I do in my commitment to the Green New Deal, we must acknowledge and address that our military is one of the leading drivers of this crisis.
Importantly, Delaware, since it is one of the lowest lying states in the country, will be hit by climate change–specifically rising sea levels–especially hard. A 2017 study found that by the year 2100, about 10 per cent of our state’s landmass could be underwater.
We have to take the strongest action possible to fight this reality, and continuing to increase funding to one of the world’s largest polluters simply will not get it done. That, of course, is on a global level, but even on the local level the US military is polluting our communities.
The Dover Air Force Base, our state’s largest employer, has historically caused chemical contamination in local wells, and just earlier this year new contaminants were found in local drinking water. We must call for environmental justice here and abroad.
It’s not always obvious that our nation’s military directly impacts our communities. We have the opportunity to call for peace, act on the climate crisis, and stimulate our economy all at the same time; but we need a new Senator that will be committed to creating a better future.
Jess Scarane is a Democratic Senate Primary Candidate for Delaware.
Featured Image: Jess Scarane Campaign
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