Bring Afghan War $ Back Home to Orange County

Mark Marcoplos's picture
   Orange County has pressing local needs including education, infrastructure, social services, health, and small business support - just to name a few. We continually are forced to wrangle over restricted budgets which pit important local needs against one another. Meanwhile about $2600 per county citizen leaves Orange County annually for the national military budget. That's a total of about $351million.
   Our current annual county budget is about $178 million. Imagine what we could accomplish for the citizens of Orange County if just 10% of our military contribution was retained at home for local needs? Another $35 million annually would make a world of difference for us.
   Make no mistake, U.S. military spending - the U.S. spends more money on its military than the rest of the world combined - is inarguably a local issue with huge local impacts.
   Tonight at the Orange County Commissioners Meeting, I will be requesting that the Commissioners pass a resolution urging our Senators and Congressional Representatives to oppose any further Afghan War funding as well as look for ways to defund the war.
   Please join me and others at the Southern Human Services Building at 7pm.
Mark Marcoplos

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Mark Marcoplos's picture

Update on the Resolution

The following resolution was presented last night. My statement to the Board follows that.A Resolution of Orange County, North Carolina to end the expenditure of our citizens' tax dollars for excessive and unaffordable warfare funding by the U.S. Congress.Whereas,

  1. the financial resources available for use by governments at the local, county, state and federal levels in the United States are and must be limited, and
  2. an inordinate level of military expenditure is being made by the U.S. federal government for warfare in Afghanistan and
  3. the people of Orange County, NC are collectively paying or becoming indebted for approximately 351 million dollars per year of their limited financial resources for such warfare which supplies no identified public benefits, and
  4. this warfare creates great and unnecessary harm to the people of the nation of Afghanistan and to U.S. military personnel and their families, and
  5. education services, infrastructure repairs, other essential public services, and family and private-sector financing in Orange County and throughout the State of North Carolina have been substantially reduced in order for an excessive portion of available financial resources to be diverted from the constructive economy to unnecessary warfare,

Now, therefore, be it resolved that Orange County, North Carolina commands North Carolina’s member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the Fourth Congressional District and its Senate representatives to oppose all legislation brought before the U.S. Congress that provides further funding of the U.S. warfare and U.S. military occupation Afghanistan. Orange County, North Carolina also demands that these members of Congress take strong and forceful action to influence the full Congress to terminate funding of these military operations.MY STATEMENT  Nine U.S. soldiers died when a U.S. helicopter went down in Afghanistan this morning, making 2010 the deadliest year for the U.S.-led international force in Afghanistan. The Rand Corporation, a think-tank allied with U.S. government military and intelligence forces, recently concluded that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.  A UN report issued this August says that the number of children killed or wounded has risen 55% in the first six months of the year.Inexperienced operators of a U.S. drone aircraft ignored or downplayed signs that civilians were killed when a convoy was blasted by American drone missiles in Afghanistan earlier this year, according to a military investigation report. At least 23 people were killed in the Feb. 21, 2010 attack in Uruzgan province — the deadliest assault on Afghan civilians in six months. A report by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann of the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, indicated that of more than 1,000 people killed in drone strikes since 2004, about 30 % were civilians.  I don’t believe that we here in Orange County are the type of people that want our money spent killing and wounding innocent people and resulting in death, wounding, and mental debilitation for our young soldiers in what is widely regarded as an unwinnable campaign. Orange County has pressing local needs including education, infrastructure, social services, health, and small business support - just to name a few. We continually are forced to wrangle over restricted budgets which pit important local needs against one another. Meanwhile about $2600 per county citizen leaves Orange County annually for the national military budget. That's a total of about $351million.  Our current annual county budget is about $178 million. Imagine what we could accomplish for the citizens of Orange County if just 10% of our military contribution was retained at home for local needs? Another $35 million annually would make a world of difference for us. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” Dwight Eisenhower   Make no mistake, U.S. military spending - the U.S. spends more money on its military than the rest of the world combined - is inarguably a local issue with huge local impacts.   

Mark Marcoplos's picture

Brief update

The Commissioners decided not to endorse the resolution last night. They will consider a revised version at a meeting in November. Here's what I understand so far:Steve Yuhasz, Pam Hemminger, and Valerie Foushee expressed that they did not know how county residents felt about this, there needed to be more discussion, etc. I have not spoken with Pam yet, but neither Steve nor Valerie could explain how many people they needed to hear from or what their measuring system is for support. Steve told me that this was not a local issue and asked if I had contacted the local VFW. Valerie told me that Alice Gordon wanted wording in the resolution that requested that, if there was no withdrawal, that consideration for safety of the troops be requested. I pointed out that the resolution was for withdrawal and that issues related to not withdrawing were irrelevant. There was no discussion of the substance of the resolution or the value to the county if some of our money currently being siponed off for war was spent on our local needs.Apparently they are not aware that a majority of U.S. citizens oppose the war and that the County passed a resolution against the Iraq War a few years ago with support from county citizens and no substantial backlash.These commissioners specifically requested to hear more support.Steve Yuhasz    593-4887 Pam Hemminger   942-2273Valerie Foushee  942-2661

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Daily Tar Heel article

http://www.dailytarheel.com/index.php/article/2010/10/bocc_warThe writer mangled my quote - basically what I said in response to Yuhasz's statement that he had not gotten enough calls for support of the resolution (and without stating how he measured support) was that he was offering a nebulous concept that was not applied consistently to issues that the commissioners consider.

Mark Marcoplos's picture

On tonight's agenda/my note to commissioners

The Commissioners will consider a similar resolution to mine that Alice Gordon modified. It's got some support the troops language but it's prettyy much the same. For some reason there is a lot of timidity from the commissioners on this. They seem to be preparing to hide their lack of gumption behind their profound concern about whether this type of resolution is appropriate for local governments. Here's a note I just sent them: Commissioners, The number one issue that arises when local governments are requested to communicate something related to foreign policy to the federal or state government is whether or not it is appropriate. Of course, no such hand-wringing occurs when the County communicates to the state and federal authorities about transportation plans, education budgets, or a myriad of other issues. So I hope that when you vote tonight, you stand up in support of the use of Orange County taxpayer money for the Afghan War and express your belief that it is an expenditure that is more valuable to us than local educational funding, social services, environmental protection, or business propagation. Or you stand tall with the majority of county citizens who oppose the war, who understand the staggering waste of resources and human life, and who understand that our county and our society are suffering problems that could be solved if our taxpayer money were spent to provide health, education, and economic opportunity at home. In 2009 the Illinois State Legislature voted to call for an end to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Carrboro recently passed a similar resolution. Several of you voted for a resolution opposing the Iraq War a few years ago. Municipalities all across the country have passed similar resolutions. These resolutions caused no harm to governance. The notion that, by voting in favor of this resolution, you are somehow doing an injustice to proper governance is false and unfounded. Please vote honorably, either for or against the resolution. We live in extraordinary times. We are experiencing a society in decline, a society in which democracy has been corrupted to the point that only our local officials bind us to real democracy. The military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned us about has successfully hijacked our government and is enjoying unprecedented levels of war profiteering with our money. If you send a message to Washington that your priority is the needs of your constituents and that you understand the futility of spending billions more on this tragic war, that will be a powerful message and an inspiration for those who value true leadership.

Mark Marcoplos's picture

Commissioners unanimously vote to not consider resolution

I confess that in the beginning I thought that, with a majority of commissioners who have exhibited the ability to understand the big picture, this would pass easily. I had hoped that it would then inspire other municipalities to pass similar resolutions in their own best interest.They just weren't up to it. I'm still trying to figure out why. Some offered obtuse reasons about it not being appropriate for local officials to weigh in on this. Others offered next to nothing. While I know and appreciate the service of many of the commissioners, I must say that  the way they danced around the issue looked more spineless than deliberative. I'm not sure why they handled it this way. I guess the best thing I can say is that they are so busy studying the details of local issues that they have not kept informed about the very real threat that our military spending poses to every community in the country. Something about the clumsiness with which they addressed this resolution leads me to think that maybe in some confused way they thought they were supporting the Democrats. Actually, to my surprise, Mike Nelson called the Afghan War an inherited problem for Obama when in fact all followers of current events know that Obama ramped up this war dramatically. Anyway, I'd like to hear ideas from others on why they didn't understand the opportunity they had with this resolution. I also can't help but think that we in Orange County are not as well-represented as we thought. The future will require of us more and more that we and our leaders maintain an awareness of the big picture and play an active role in relating to the "outside" world. If we do not, we are just enablers living in a bubble.

Mark Marcoplos's picture

You should read "Violent Politics"

The U.S. is royally fucked in Afghanistan. This book, by a former State Department expert, explains how insurgencies are successful (the history of Afghan insurgencies is fascinating). http://www.williampolk.com/html/violent_politics.htmlAs I said to the VFW contingency last night as I was leaving the meeting, "I don't have anything against you personally, but the Afghan warrior culture will do to the United States what it has done to every other invading country. It will drive them out after spilling huge amounts of blood and costing large amounts of resources." It's easy to ignore. Nobody in your family died in the Afghan mountains. Who cares that drones come out of nowhere and kill innocent people like a horror movie. The press don't report it. The U.S. casualties are scattered lightly across the populace. Make no mistake - this is a hell of our own making. U.S. money pumped into death,corporate resource control and military-industrial war profiteering. Meanwhile we quarrel over table scraps to meet real human needs here at home. And the county commissioners lack the spine to challenge the theft of resources from its constituents.

Mark Marcoplos's picture

Commissioners support VFW

The commissioners heard several speakers from the local VFW last night - and they sided with them. These old guys have never seen a war they did not like. And I mean to say that, since they served, they have not seen a war they didn't like. There are apparently no active VFW members who served in the first Gulf War, the Panama invasion, the Iraq War, or the Afghan War. These guys are old.They were predictable and likeable in their patriotic way (I always respect the perspective of my elders, however unfounded), but in the end they ran the gamut from cartoonish to Tea Partier. One guy spoke of Vietnam vets getting spit upon, which is nothing he'd ever experienced because there is documentation that this was a manufactured bogus assertion. Another said that the soldiers in Afghanistan were defending our right to freedom of speech (really?). Another said that we don't need to spend money on education because his son was denied a job because he was over-educated and that our tax money was better spent fighting Al Qaeda.These are the people that our county commissioners supported with their decision to avoid voting on the money drain from each of our pockets that the Afghan War represents. Our commissioners decided that the Tea Party perspective was worth supporting despite the fact that a majority of Orange County citizens would rather have the Afghan War end and that money brought home to be spent on economic opportunity.I know we are tired, but is this what we want?

Mark Marcoplos's picture

WCHL's report

http://www.wchl1360.com/detailswide.html?id=16678Interesting that two things were not noted - 1)that at the first meeting, there were about 15 people supporting the resolution and nobody opposing.2) At the 2nd meeting, all the opposed were VFW.Also, it would have been a balanced reporting if the reporter had gotten comments from me on why the resolution should be passed. And noted that Alice Gordon opposed tabling the resolution.

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Here's the text

Commentary on Afghan War ResolutionEach U.S. citizen is represented by about $2600 annually in the military budget. This means that this year about $350 million – twice the county budget –has left Orange County for war-making and a U.S. presence in over a hundred countries. The U.S. military budget is bigger than every other country’s in the world – combined. Hardly a month goes by that our local county leadership does not struggle and fall short in an effort to find funds to meet our local needs for education, health, social services, environmental protection, and economic development. The Commissioners were recently asked to pass a resolution calling on our federal elected officials to seek no further funding for the Afghan War, look for ways to defund it, and lobby for the saved money to be brought back home where it will meet real human needs. In the end, all of our Commissioners, with the laudable exception of Alice Gordon, stood with the minority of Orange County citizens in tacit support of the Afghan War and the incredible waste of Orange County taxpayer money for this failing occupation. They did this by avoiding voting on the actual resolution, instead voting to not even consider it. They may feel that hiding behind this parliamentary gimmickry allows them to avoid responsibility for leadership on behalf of Orange County. All that evil requires to prevail is for good people to do nothing.   In 2009 the Illinois State Legislature voted to call for an end to the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Carrboro recently passed a similar resolution. In 2006, current commissioners Barry Jacobs, Mike Nelson, and Alice Gordon voted for a resolution against the Iraq War. The notion that local governments should not communicate to the federal government on issues that concern them has no basis in law or history. It’s only basis is in timidity.   It's easy to ignore this war. The U.S. casualties are scattered lightly across the populace. Who cares that drones come out of nowhere and kill innocent people like a horror movie? The press doesn’t report it. Democrats, like our County Commissioners who used to strongly protest Bush’s wars, are strangely silent now that Obama wages the war. Make no mistake - this is a hell of our own making with understandable blowback. U.S. money is pumped into death, corporate resource control and military-industrial war profiteering.  The Afghan warrior culture will do to the United States what it has done to every other invading country throughout its history. It will drive them out after spilling huge amounts of blood and costing incredible amounts of resources. Meanwhile we quarrel over table scraps to meet real human needs here at home. And the county commissioners lack the spine and awareness of the big picture to challenge the relentless draining of resources from its constituents.