Today (Dec. 13th), this House will send the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to conference. Contrary to its title, the bill does not provide for the protection of the American people. It expands war. It further indebts our nation. It encroaches on basic rights with regards to indefinite detention. It eliminates the basic tenet that due process rights apply to everyone in this country – not just American citizens.
The legislation also includes additional sanctions against Iran despite numerous reports that our sanctions are affecting the ability of ordinary Iranians to obtain medicine and offer basic goods. Sanctions have thus far not served to solve the impasse or bring Iran to the negotiating table. More sanctions are not the answer and do not bring us closer to a diplomatic solution.
This legislation also perpetuates the myth that we are ending the war in Afghanistan. We are not leaving Afghanistan. We are deepening our commitment. This bill provides for another staggering $88 billion for the war. The Strategic Partnership Agreement between the U.S. and Afghanistan commits us to the country for at least another decade with a $20 billion price tag.
Finally, this legislation continues financing our bloated Pentagon. The United States maintains 1,000 bases worldwide. Some of these bases are infamous, like Guantanamo Bay. There are small bases to support our drones program. There are fortresses to support our wars.
The cost to maintain these bases is billions of dollars. Included in these costs are the costs to maintain and run 234 golf courses around the world.
The Pentagon is expanding their spy agency. The CIA has become a paramilitary organization. We are preparing to support intervention in Mali. Our government’s policy in Syria is incoherent. We are expanding our military presence in Asia and in Africa.
And for what? For millions of Americans to be unemployed? For millions of Americans to go hungry? For millions of Americans not to have adequate access to education or even healthcare? For millions to lose their homes? For millions to lose their retirement security? For roads and bridges to collapse because we have no money for infrastructure?
I say it’s time we pay attention to the defense of the American people’s pocketbooks – The defense of the dignity of the American people – The defense of the moral authority of the United States. It’s time to end this state of permanent war. We should throw out the NDAA, put an end to interventionism and begin to take care of things back home.