President Obama's recent trip to Europe focused a lot on the need for Europe to help us get the world economy going again by revving up their stimulus spending to complement ours.
This is all well and good, but Europe (and our good friends the Canadians) can also help the U.S. get its act together by putting on the brakes--not the economic brakes, but the military brakes.
Here are some suggestions:
(1) Keep pushing us to get out of Iraq. We need the pressure, because a lot of the retrograde forces here in the U.S. really don't want us to leave.
(2) Don't join us in Afghanistan with military forces. Do volunteer to help take the lead on diplomacy. (Bachelet, Sarkozy, da Silva, don't you want to be an international star? Afghanistan's your chance--help put together the diplomacy that can give President Obama a way out...)
(3) Keep demanding that we give up on the Bush/Cheney idea of European Missile Defense, which doesn't work, and was really designed to irritate Russia. The Poles & Czechs have already rejected missile defense, and they're supposed to be the countries that benefit most! So keep pushing back, and maybe we can drop the whole idea--which will save us billions for economic stimulus investment.
(4) Suggest that we could improve our international image by getting rid of several hundred overseas military bases, many of which--like the proposed base expansion in Italy, or the brand new AfriCom headquarters--are very unpopular. More savings, too.
(5) Push the political leadership of your own nations to pull out of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, before it's too late to stop it. The time is now, when President Obama's budget is being considered in Congress.
Since this last point is not as well-understood as the other four above, let me spend a couple more paragraphs on it. Grassroots activism against the F-35, a hugely expensive high-tech addition to the global arms race, is particularly critical in the 8 nations that have agreed to jointly build the F-35 with the U.S.--the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Turkey, Australia, and Canada.
Since the Pentagon's proposal is to build 2,458 of these F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, at a minimum cost of $100 million apiece, the future costs are huge. Some experts believe that the life-cycle costs of the F-35 will approach a trillion dollars, more than Obama's first stimulus package!
And I must say, when I look at this list of F-35 partners, I am particularly disappointed to see the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and Canada on it. I sort of expect the U.K. to go along with whatever grandiose military ideas the Pentagon comes up with, since even massive Labor Party antiwar activism could still not stop Tony Blair from his stupid, illegal, and disastrous backing for George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq. But why is the Netherlands building F-35s? Why are Norway & Denmark?
Perhaps the NDP in Canada can begin to make a fuss about the Joint Strike Fighter, putting pressure on the Liberals to oppose the Harper government on this wasteful spending. Perhaps the Labor Party in Australia can take another look at these outlays, now that they have come back to power. And when the Italians next get around to voting out that buffoon Berlusconi again, maybe the left coalition can revisit these fighter planes. One can only hope.
In the meantime, it comes as no surprise to Europeans and Canadians that the American peace movement, based as it is in the heart of the Empire, is too weak to roll back our military/industrial/petroleum complex on our own.
We need a little help from our friends.
Help us get out of Iraq, stay out of Afghanistan, end European missile defense, close our overseas bases, and cut back on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. If you raise hell from your end, we've got a chance back home...