Syria and Sequestration: Issues of Concern for our Communities

Budget Cuts While War Spending Increases For Another Unnecessary War

We are facing a double crisis this month: military action in Syria, and more federal budget cuts.

Next week Congress will vote on the use of military force in Syria. Launching military strikes could spiral out of control, costing thousands more lives and billions more dollars which should be used for diplomatic efforts, humanitarian aid for Syrian refugees, and economic relief in our own communities.

A few weeks later, Congress may cut vital social programs even more deeply than they did last year.

Every war in US history has increased the Pentagon budget. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are a major cause of our current deficit.  As we gear up for the next round of federal budget battles, we must explore together how diplomacy, not war, is best for our communities and the people of Syria.

  • In 1967, as the resources for “war on poverty” were drained by the Vietnam war, Dr. Martin Luther King said that the bombs dropped in Vietnam were exploding in our communities. He understood that every war increases military spending at the expense of human needs. The missiles we launch on Syria will explode in Syria and in our communities, and thousands more people will die. The human costs in both our countries will be monumental.
  • Any military action in Syria will have consequences. If military strikes turn into a US war that goes on for years (as they did in Iraq and Afghanistan) – or even if the strikes are short – they can cause huge cuts to jobs and services in our neighborhoods. Some in Congress are already using a potential Syria war as an excuse to prevent Pentagon budget cuts – and then cut human services even more deeply. The “sequestration” cuts we’re suffering now – that are preventing an economic recovery for people in our communities – will look mild by comparison.

Our communities know how responding to violence with violence does not work.  When the response to violence in our communities is harsh policing and racial profiling, that doesn’t work; it only worsens the tension. It is equally self-defeating to respond to wars abroad with more war. Right now the national debate is framed by two options: bomb or do nothing. But there are more than two options. We must explore a ceasefire, a conference of all the countries in the region, an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict, and continued humanitarian support for those fleeing the civil war.

Take Action NOW

Please contact your local Congressperson and senators ASAP (they are making their minds up now and voting next week). The congressional switchboard is 202-224-3121. Express your opinion and your organization’s – about funding war instead of human services, about taking a step back to find a way to resolve the crisis in Syria without more violence. And gear up for the struggle to fully fund jobs and human services later in September.

Current Sequester Cuts

Sample Sequester Cuts to keep in mind while Obama and Congress ‘ponder’ another war:
$928 million cut from FEMA’s disaster relief money
$6 million cut from Emergency Food and Shelter
$70 million cut from the Agricultural Disaster Relief Fund at USDA
$61 million cut from the Hazardous Substance Superfund at EPA
$125 million cut from the Wild land Fire Management
$53 million cut from Salaries and Expenses at the Food Safety and Inspection Service
633 million cut from the Department of Education’s Special Education programs
$184 million cut from Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research
$71 million cut from administration at the Office of Federal Student Aid
$116 million cut from Higher Education
$86 million cut from Student Financial Assistance
$79 million cut from Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance
$604 million cut from National Nuclear Security Administration
$232 million cut from the Federal Aviation Administration
$394 million cut from Defense Environmental Cleanup

Source: List of cuts from People For Peace and Justice