As the last of us finish licking and stamping envelopes to send to the IRS, mailing away our annual chunk of change to the U.S. government, it is crucial to consider the connections between our personal finances and the recently declared war on terrorism.
This weekend will be alive with demonstrations against U.S. militarism abroad, and while you cannot simply refrain from paying taxes, you can come out to protest what your government is doing with your money.
Just under half of the federal budget for the fiscal year of 2003 will be dedicated to current and past military expenses. As the past several months have shown, the costs of U.S. military force abroad run even deeper.
In Afghanistan, the U.S. has spent $10.2 billion on a war that has witnessed the complete destruction of an already suffering country. Additionally, up to 700,000 displaced Afghans are suffering from starvation due significantly to U.S. bombing, which destroyed vital infrastructure and kept international aid groups out of the region. While the Western media has been eager to portray U.S. liberation of the country as entirely positive, our brief presence there has had significant detrimental effects on Afghans’ daily lives.
The recent events in Israel and occupied Palestinian territories make crucially apparent the need to reconsider U.S. allocation of military aid. In recent years, the U.S. has dedicated over $2 billion annually to Israel, according to U.S. Department of State. Israel has made optimal use of this funding in perpetuating its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories.
In the recent invasions of West Bank villages, the Israeli Defense Force has used U.S.-made Apache helicopters during their raids on civilian homes, town centers and refugee camps. The conflict in the region is complicated and resolution distant, but the United States adds further to the strife by directly funding an occupation that violates international law and human rights standards. Secretary of State Colin Powell cannot claim himself to be an independent negotiator until this crucial support is withdrawn.
Amid all of this, President George W. Bush has indicated plans to expand the war on terror to Iraq. A decision to do so would only add further to the costs of U.S. global aggression, both financially and in terms of human lives lost.
This weekend demonstrations across town will be making this point clear. You probably have already filed your 1040s, but you still have time to make good on your contribution by standing up and telling your government you won’t pay for it anymore.
-The writer is a junior majoring in American studies.