Writings by Jeff Leys

Health Care vs. Warfare: The Future Costs of the Afghanistan War

September 8, 2009

On Wednesday, President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on health care. Later this year he will decide whether to deploy additional troops to the war in Afghanistan, on top of the 69,000 troops already deployed. The struggle for health care and the struggle to end warfare are inextricably linked. The cost for substantive (though imperfect) health care reform as envisioned in the House of Representatives approach (with the public option) is projected to average $100 billion per year for the next 10 years. The cost to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are projected to cost anywhere from $55 to $100 billion a year. With a few modest reductions to the baseline military budget and the difference is paid.

The choice is clear: health care or warfare; the Common Good or Common Destruction.

President Obama's War Budget: Analyzing the Numbers

May 4, 2009

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President Obama’s 2009 supplemental spending request to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is currently before Congress. The House Appropriations Committee will “mark up” (finalize its version) of a war funding bill at a committee hearing on May 7th. The full House will likely vote on the bill the following week. The objective is to have the bill finalized and to Obama for signature by Memorial Day.

President Obama is seeking an additional $75.8 billion in war funds for this fiscal year. It is possible that Congress will add to this amount before final passage. If Congress enacts Obama’s request, total war spending will come to $144.6 billion for Fiscal Year 2009 (which ends on September 30, with Fiscal Year 2010 beginning on October 1). This compares to the $186 billion war spending in 2008. Obama’s proposed war budget for 2010 is $130 billion.

Resisting the Afghanistan - Pakistan War

April 10, 2009

Creech AFB — Fourteen peace and social justice activists were arrested on April 9 at Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada. The arrests occurred during a 10 day vigil at the gates to Creech–which is home to members of the Air Force who “pilot” the Predator and Reaper drones used in the Afghanistan - Pakistan war.

13 Arrested at Fort McCoy for Opposing Iraq War

August 10, 2008

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August 9 was a day of preparation for Witness Against War. Preparation for the act of nonviolent civil resistance to take place the following day.

We gathered at the Lafayette Town Hall just north of Sparta. Our host’s family goes back 7 generations on this land. His aunt and uncle donated the property on which the town hall now sits.

Iraq - Afghanistan War Supplemental for FY 2008 to Be Voted on Soon -- Questions & Answers -- April 30, 2008

April 29, 2008

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According to an April 29 article on CQ Politics, the House will likely vote on a new Iraq – Afghanistan war supplemental during the week of May 5, with Senator Harry Reid stating that he wants the Senate to vote on the bill prior to Memorial Day.

Details of the supplemental are being closely guarded by the Democratic party leadership. However, the supplemental is based upon President Bush’s request for an additional $108 billion in supplemental funding for the Iraq – Afghanistan war for the current fiscal year (FY 2008, which ends on September 30, 2008). Of this amount, $102 billion will be for the military.

Assessing House Voting Records on Iraq War Funding - Feb 15, 2008

February 15, 2008

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Congress is now considering President Bush’s request for an additional $102.5 billion in supplemental spending for the Iraq – Afghanistan wars. The central objectives of the antiwar effort must continue to be an end to all funding for the war in Iraq; an end to all military action against Iraq; and the complete and immediate withdrawal of all U.S. military forces from Iraq.

At the same time, it is important to examine the recent voting records of Representatives. An assessment of voting records will assist in developing strategies and tactics to use in lobbying Representatives to bring the Iraq war to an end. These strategies will no doubt include both legal and extralegal (i.e., nonviolent civil disobedience and nonviolent civil resistance) forms of lobbying.

The following assessments should be used as a tool in developing lobbying strategies rather than as the “be all, end all” assessment of Representatives and there are varying degrees of support or opposition to the Iraq war within each grouping that follows.

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Q & A: Iraq - Afghanistan War Supplemental, Feb 13, 2008

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February 14, 2008

Congress will soon begin consideration of an additional $102.4 billion in supplemental funding for the Iraq – Afghanistan wars. On February 13, Representative Jack Murtha (Chair of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee) announced that he intends to produce a final version of the latest 2008 Iraq – Afghanistan war supplemental spending bill by the end of February. After this it will be considered by the full House Appropriations Committee and then go to the full floor of the House for a vote. The Senate similarly is beginning to develop its version of the latest war supplemental spending bill.

The House bill will be developed behind closed doors. No hearings are scheduled between now and the end of February to discuss the bill in the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. It is not known when the final war supplemental spending bill will be made available to the public. It may well end up that the final supplemental spending bill is presented as a “fait accompli”—an accomplished act—on the floors of the House and of the Senate only hours before the vote is to take place. In May 2007, the final spending bill was not released to the public until about 6 a.m. on the morning of the vote. In December 2007, the funds for the Iraq war were tucked into a Senate amendment to an omnibus appropriations bill—an amendment available to the public only after it was submitted on the floor of the Senate by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

It is also highly unlikely that any language on partial troop withdrawal will be included in the supplemental spending bill this time around. Representative Murtha stated that he will recommend the inclusion of some form of withdrawal language in the bill, though stopped short of stating partial withdrawal language will in fact be included in the bill. However, such language was stripped out of the final version of war supplemental spending bills that passed Congress in May 2007 and in December 2007.

Therefore, it is critical that phone calls and lobbying—both legal and extralegal civil disobedience—be on-going at the offices of Representatives and Senators with the message being simple: Vote against any additional funds for the Iraq war.

You can contact your Representative and Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

You can find out your Representative’s and Senators’ direct contact information by visiting the website of Contacting Congress

Following is a “Question and Answer” piece on the status of the Iraq – Afghanistan war supplemental as well as two charts that summarize the components of the war spending request.

Slip Sliding Away: House Votes on Iraq War Funding Today, November 14

November 14, 2007

The Democratic Party’s Barbershop Quartet strikes again-caving in marvelous manner on the Iraq war. “You know the nearer your destination, the more you slip sliding away,” sang Simon and Garfunkel.

If ending the Iraq war is our destination, then Pelosi, Obey, Murtha and the Democrats are slip sliding us all further away.

Today, November 14, the House will vote on H.R. 4156-the newest Iraq - Afghanistan war supplemental spending bill. In the finest tradition of democracy, the text of the bill was not publicly available until last night.

Iraq - Afghanistan War Spending: Legislative Update: Oct 7, 2007

October 7, 2007
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Congress will likely act before the end of October on at least a portion of the $192 billion that President Bush is seeking to fund the Iraq - Afghanistan war for Fiscal Year 2008 (which runs from October 1, 2007 through September 30, 2008). Legal and extralegal (civil disobedience / civil resistance) lobbying should take place between now and the end of October.

You can find out who your Representative and Senators are at the website Congress.org, along with phone numbers and contact information.

Following is a likely legislative timeline that Congress may follow.

Our Bonhoeffer Moment

Voices for Creative Nonviolence (Co-Coordinator)
October 2, 2007

The Bonhoeffer Moment of nonviolent civil resistance and disobedience to the world war being waged by the United States is clearly at hand. As Congress considers an additional $190 billion to fund the Iraq – Afghanistan war through September 2008 and as the threats of war against Iran become increasingly loud, it is time for us to learn lessons from the German resistance to Hitler, to the Nazi regime and to the war waged by the German nation-state. We must engage in the Long Resistance to this current world war, using every nonviolent means to bring about its end.

I was set to be tried on October 2 for an act of nonviolent civil resistance at the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command. The judge dismissed the charge the day of the trial. Following is the closing statement I prepared for the jury trial in Waukegan, Illinois.

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