Hawkins Calls on Clinton, Senate to Cut “Star Wars”

Local News

June 12, 2006

Green Party of New York State, http://www.gpnys.org/

SYRACUSE, NY -- Howie Hawkins, the Green Party nominee for U.S. Senate from New York, called today on the U.S. Senate to eliminate funding for the nuclear missile defense program as it began debate on the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill.

Hillary Clinton, Hawkins' opponent, is a long-time advocate for nuclear missile defense. She has supported President Bush in seeking increased funding to speed development of a nuclear missile defense system.

"The Star Wars nuclear missile defense system is a pork-barrel payday for military contractors. It doesn’t work and doesn’t respond to any credible threat to this country,” said Hawkins.

“The real purpose of Star Wars is not the advertised defensive shield, but offensive laser-guided weapons in space with striking capabilities anywhere in the world. Stars Wars is for gunboat diplomacy in the space age,” added Hawkins.

Hawkins cited a document issued by U.S. Space Command during the Clinton administration in 1996. Entitled "Vision for 2020,” it said the goal of these space-based weapons was "dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment…. The emerging synergy of space superiority with land, sea and air superiority will lead to Full Spectrum Dominance.”

In response to inquiries from Hawkins for Senate, Bob Bowman, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel now running for Congress (D-FL, 15th Dist.), said: “I directed all the ‘Star Wars’ programs under Presidents Ford and Carter, so I know about missile defense. Missile defense is no help, and Bush's resurrected ‘Star Wars’ is even worse.”

Hawkins noted that the program does nothing to address what the intelligence community warns is the most likely nuclear threat, which is not nuclear missiles but nuclear weapons smuggled into the U.S. The deployment of missile defense systems is prohibited under the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which Hawkins called a cornerstone of existing nuclear disarmament agreements. On June 13, 2002, President Bush ended U.S. participation in the treaty, saying it obstructed development of the nuclear missile defense program.

Missile defense is the most costly weapons system in the Pentagon budget, with $11.1 billion proposed for fiscal year 2007, on top of over $130 billion spent in the last 25 years. A January 2003 report from the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation contends that the cumulative cost of a missile defense system would run to between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion. In a November 2004 article, Bowman called the ground-based missile defense system that the Bush administration is attempting to deploy “completely untested and highly unlikely to work.”

“The best defense against nuclear war is nuclear disarmament. As the world’s biggest nuclear power by far, the U.S. should initiate nuclear disarmament by cutting its own arsenal,” said Hawkins.

Hawkins is a long-time proponent of slashing funding for the U.S. military budget. “The U.S. now spends more money on the military than the rest of the world's military powers combined. But much of it is wasted, if not outright stolen,” said Hawkins. Hawkins noted that in January 2002, CBS Evening News reported that the Pentagon’s own auditors admited that the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends and that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said the Pentagon cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/01/29/eveningnews/main325985.shtml

Hawkins said the problem is getting worse. He cited an Iraqi law proclaimed by the U.S.-run Coalition Provisional Authority in June 2004 -- days before it granted nominal sovereignty to Iraq -- that gave U.S. contractors immunity from prosecution in Iraq. The Coalition Provisional Authority lost track of $9 billion in funds earmarked for Iraqi ministries, according to coalition memos obtained by the Los Angles Times. “That U.S. edict turned Iraq into a free-fraud zone. Contactors have been swindling hundreds of millions of dollars in funds intended to support U.S. military personnel and Iraq reconstruction. It’s time for Congress to crack down on waste and fraud in the military and among its contractors,” he said.

In May, the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which Clinton is a member, approved a $517.7 billion defense authorization bill for FY 2007 that includes missile defense funding increases. Of that $517.7 billion, $467 billion went to the Department of Defense, with the remainder going primarily to the Department of Energy for nuclear weapons production and smaller amounts to several other federal agencies.

However, other military-related appropriations not included in the defense authorization bill will be allocated to other federal departments and agencies including Energy, State, Homeland Security, CIA, NASA, the President’s Office, and the Veterans Administration. In addition, Congress will appropriate nearly $100 billion in a supplemental appropriation for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Total U.S. military spending may run over $660 billion in FY 2007 when interest on past, debt-financed military activities is also included, according to an estimate by the War Resisters League http://www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm .

Hawkins said eliminating the nuclear missile defense system budget was only one of the most obvious cuts that should be made in military spending. “We need a military defense, but not a global military occupation force, which is what this level of military spending is for. I support deep cuts in military spending to fund a peace dividend we can reinvest in renewable energy, mass transit, rebuilding our infrastructure, protecting the environment, and funding education, affordable housing, and human services.”

From Global Network Against Weapons


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