The Bush Administration has consistently stated that any vote to reduce or curtail funding for the war in Iraq is equivalent to not supporting the troops in the field. In reality, little of Defense funding goes directly to the troops. The 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill of over $400 billion includes only a 3.5 percent basic military pay raise amounting to a total of $2.2 billion, while the budget for Research & Development (R&D) and procurement of new weapons systems totals over $175 billion. The entire proposed basic military pay raise is less than the $3.15 billion to be spent on only 20 F-22 Raptor fighters, an advanced air-to-air weapons system designed to counter a threat that most experts agree no longer exists. While an Army Special Forces mid-level noncommissioned officer with eight years of service serving in Iraq only earns a maximum annual salary of about $48,000, including housing, quarters allowance, food allowance, and hazardous duty pay, our government is paying far more to virtual mercenaries employed by companies such as Blackwater, whose web site is openly recruiting similarly experienced personnel to serve in Iraq at a starting salary of $550 per day—the equivalent of $200,000 per year.
Based on this information, how would you answer the following questions?
1. Is it fair that mercenary combatants earn more than four times the salary of the brave young men and women in the military who serve voluntarily in our staid?
2. Can you clearly state in detail what these vast sums have actually purchased for Americans in terms of real security—not just against terrorism but against the increasing and equally dangerous economic and environmental challenges facing Americans now and in the very near future?
3. Would a large portion of the $400 billion in Defense appropriations be better spent on building new and different armies—armies of teachers, health care workers, community support specialists, skilled workers, and other resources needed to fight the wars of poverty, disease, and ignorance here at home?
4. Should the American people have the right to decide to fund these public armies, these public troops, in lieu of funding the war in Iraq, if the majority believes doing so would enhance the full spectrum of our national security?
5. Is a vote to reduce or curtail spending on the war in Iraq really a vote against the troops?

The questions really boil down to just one. Is it ever appropriate to ‘achieve an end by force’?
Again, given that I hail from ancient warriors it is not easy for me to come to a conclusion but ultimately I say, no. No, it is never appropriate to use force. Nor would force be required if we were all sustainable in our own little corners of the world. The US wouldn’t give a damn about Iraq if we did not consume so much oil.

Now we can beat on our legislators all we want but what we really need to do is provide them with a working model of democracy and sustainability locally… show them how it is done. Then we can work with them proactively instead of just telling them how badly they are doing.