Obama vetoes Defense Budget
Washington DC - In a very rare move last week, US President Barack Obama vetoed a template for a $ 612 billion defense budget. A presidential veto against a defense policy bill like this has happened only five times since 1961 and it may serve as a reversal of thinking: Peace and protection needs education, secularization, equality, infrastructure and economic prosperity, rather than troops - unless in cases of urgent protection.
Our Universal Peace Plan suggests to reduce global military spending by 10% every 3 years (a total of 30% in 9 years). The billions saved on military – 170 billion USD per year in the first 3 years, 310 billion USD per year in the next 3 years and 420 billion USD per year in the following 3 years – can be used to eradicate extreme poverty and guarantee universal education, health and environmental protection.
Barack Obama vetoed the budget also to stand up to his longtime promise of closing down the infamous Guantanamo prison, America’s biggest shame in the international world. The Cinema for Peace Monthly Screening last week presented two panel discussions with survivors of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib alongside members of the ECCHR (European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights) that leads exemplary trials against responsible governments and politicians. Several of the accused US officials and CIA members don`t travel to certain European countries anymore in order not to risk to be arrested for crimes they committed against prisoners.
Similar to the Oscar-nominated Israeli documentary "The Gatekeepers", the Oscar-winning film "Taxi to the Dark Side" showed that torture and brutality don’t stop terrorism but rather fuel hatred and potentially even more terrorism. The audience at our screening was taken by shocking scenes of sleep deprivation treatment, water boarding, electrocution, sexual degradation and other practices in the prisons. While the accused - W. Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney among others - still justify these as appropriate procedures. Abu Ghraib survivor Ali Abbas said in his testimony that secret prisons still operate in Iraq and gave examples of recent ongoing psycho-torture practices - like guards painting stairs on the wall, asking the prisoners to climb them and if they cannot do so leaving them without food. It`s not hard to guess what attitude such prisoners have towards the USA when they get released. They may align with the hundreds of thousands of radicalized jihadists from in and around Syria, where the international community, the UN and the US have failed in epic dimensions their responsibility to protect.
The US military costs more than 600 billion a year, but instead of peace and security it has brought America more enemies than ever before and damaged America’s reputation not only in countries it aimed to protect such as Afghanistan or Iraq. After the disclosures of Assange, Manning and Snowden nobody trusts the world’s biggest democracy anymore, especially when former government members still keep justifying torture and the cutback on ethical principles and citizens freedom rights.
America could possibly achieve more by investing into economic development, education and cultural cooperation. The military could regain trust and leadership by creating safe havens and protected zones in Syria together with other parties such as Turkey, Russia with Assad, the Arab League and UN/NATO/EU-members like England, France and Germany. Civilians and refugees could have a place to go to rebuild their lives. The missed opportunities by the US and the UN but also by Europe enable warlord Putin to present himself as the Savior.
While the motion picture industry keeps glorifying military and war, documentary filmmakers reveal the reality in films like Dirty Wars and The Kill Team, which have been recognized by the Academy and Cinema for Peace.