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Sequester Optionally Applied Only to Good Things


Spending cuts have been applied by Congress to both military and non-military spending.

In my view, the military cuts are much too small and the non-military cuts should not exist at all.  In the view of most liberal organizations, the military cuts — like the military spending and the military itself — are to be ignored, while the non-military cuts are to be opposed by opposing all cuts in general.

But, guess what?

The spending limits on the military are being blatantly violated.  Both houses of Congress have now passed military budgets larger than last year and larger than is allowed under the sequester.

Meanwhile the sequester is being used to cut away at all that is good and decent in public policy.

In fact, the House Appropriations Committee proposes to make up for its violation of the law on military spending levels by imposing yet bigger cuts to non-military spending.  And what’s the harm in that if all cuts are equally bad?

The sequester, like the anti-torture statute, the war crimes statute, the Fourth Amendment, the First Amendment, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, or the U.N. Charter, turns out to be one of those optional laws.

Laws are for certain people.  The top general now being investigated as a whistleblower does not have a nude isolation cell at Quantico in his future, even though Bradley Manning was treated that way.

Laws are for certain things.  Shooting children in a U.S. school is a crime.  Dropping a missile on a foreign school is something more like law enforcement.  Mothers in Yemen now teach their neighbors’ children at home so that they can avoid going out to school while the drones are overhead.  That’s called freedom, the spread of democracy.

And this is called propaganda: “Sequester Putting Military at Risk of Becoming ‘Hollow Force’.”  That’s a real headline, and there are dozens more like it.  Only in the U.S. military can increases be widely reported as disastrous cuts.  The half-truth is entirely unintended.  The military spending will, in fact, be disastrous.  It’s just not cuts.

We have 11 percent in the United States in favor of arming Syrians, or rather “Syrians” as so many of them are recently arrived in Syria for the purpose of killing.  Eleven percent!  That’s nothing.  That’s less than believe in ghosts (48% of Americans according to CBS believe in ghosts).  But the U.S. military and its commander in chief do what they want to do.  Democracy be damned.  And consequences be damned.  And the people of Syria be damned.

The silver lining in the sequester’s storm of misinformation is that states and localities are expecting cuts to the military.  Connecticut has set up a commission to plan a process of conversion from military to non-military industries.  I hope it will serve as a model for the other 49 states and D.C.

But there ought to be another silver lining, and I’m not seeing it yet.   Most liberal activist groups have still not grasped that some cuts are good and others bad, that we should be campaigning for cuts to the war machine that swallows 57% of discretionary spending while campaigning for dramatic increases in spending on green energy, education, and other human needs.

Now is the moment for that realization.  Now is the time to stop saying “No Cuts!” and start saying “Move the money from evil spending to good!”

David Swanson is author of War is a Lie. He lives in Virginia

David Swanson wants you to declare peace at  His new book isWar No More: The Case for Abolition.

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