Is it possible to divert war spending into green investment? (David is skeptical.) The current military budget for fiscal year 2008 is around 650 billion dollars, not including supplemental requests, which so far have been made every year since the Iraq war started. That $700 billion-plus total compares to the around $400 billion of military spending in 2001. Given the current unpopularity of the Iraq war, would it really be politically impossible to gain public support for reducing our military budget back to pre-Operation Clusterf*ck levels? (I’d like to see much deeper cuts, but let’s look a mere $300 billion reduction for the moment.)

Right now, with virtually nobody in Congress campaigning for significant cuts, a public opinion plurality already favors cuts in war spending. That plurality came to its conclusion in spite of a bipartisan consensus by all leading politicians for increasing war spending.

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If we are ever going to do something serious against climate chaos, we will have to push for actions nobody seriously supports at the moment. Pushing to divert military spending to green public investment is morally right, but it also has huge political potential. We are talking about huge job potential and huge profit potential. It could be the basis for common ground between a whole bunch of movements that often have trouble coming together. And our military and fossil fuel companies have become so closely tied together that I doubt you can take on one without taking on the other in any case. Years ago, a science fiction writer invented the term “crackpot realism” to describe people who supported a massive bomb shelter construction project as the “realistic” choice. Dismissing out of hand the idea that we might cut the war budget to finance this vital need is a form of crackpot realism.

By some measures, the U.S. now spends 29 times more on war than the nation with the next highest military budget. If the Blue-Green Alliance or Green For All decided to take this on, I think they could mobilize public opinion very quickly. I think the public has grown disillusioned that spending hundreds of billions on murder and torture is the best way to keep us safe. At any rate, if the U.S. keeps piling up the war money and getting into one aggressive war after another, we are not going to be able to do much about solving climate chaos or any other social program. So aside from being a source of money, I think converting the U.S. back to a free civilian nation is not a step you can realistically skip.

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