The Green New Deal, as proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in Congress, has a lot to like. There is no doubt that manufacturing and agricultural production must be overhauled in a sustainable manner while meeting the needs of the people. However, in its laundry lists of projects and solutions, the Green New Deal makes a major omission: any mention of the U.S. military.
Here are some of the goals of the Green New Deal:
- to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers;
- to create millions of good, high-wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States;
- to invest in the infrastructure and industry of the United States
- to secure for all people of the United States for generations to come—
i. clean air and water;
ii. climate and community resiliency;
iii. healthy food;
iv. access to nature; and
v. a sustainable environment.
- to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, de-industrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth.
The document suggests a 10-year national mobilization that will include projects such as:
- repairing and upgrading infrastructure;
- meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources;
- working with farmers and ranchers to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible;
- overhauling transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector;
- restoring and protecting threatened, endangered, and fragile ecosystems; and
- cleaning up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites.
The document goes on to promise democratic and inclusive decision-making processes, union rights, good wages, higher education, health care, and housing for all. It pledges to honor all treaties and agreements with indigenous peoples and to protect and enforce their sovereignty and land rights.
This sounds a lot like the platform of the Peace and Freedom Party, except … what happened to the “peace” part?
It is not just a matter of omission of one good idea among many. War and military production are both major producers of pollution and environmental devastation. They are also integral to the US political and economic system.
The size of the US military budget was not lost on the children, some as young as ten years old, who on February 22, 2019, confronted Senator Dianne Feinstein (D.-CA) to demand action on the Green New Deal.
“There’s no way to pay for it,” Sen. Feinstein told the group of about 15 children at her San Francisco office.
“We have tons of money going to the military,” a young girl responded.
“That resolution will not pass the Senate, and you can take that back to whoever sent you here and tell them,” said Sen. Feinstein. She added, “I’ve been in the Senate for over a quarter of a century and I know what can pass and I know what can’t pass.”
Feinstein could not have seriously been blaming the Republican-controlled Senate for massive military spending: She and her fellow Democrats routinely grant more money to the military than any President asks for. California alone has 31,471 military contractors, who were granted $35,217,075,559 in contracts in 2018.
Even the “doves” in Congress champion their local military installations. In 1993, Rep. Ron Dellums (D.-CA district 9) was adamantly opposed to closing the bases in his district, especially the Alameda Naval Air Station. Rep. George Miller (D.-CA district 7) led a panel of witnesses in support of Vallejo’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard, also on the Pentagon closure list that year. Flanked by Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Dan Hamburg (then a Democrat who later joined the Green Party) and five local officials, Miller offered a detailed critique of the Navy's decision to close the shipyard.
The Alameda and Vallejo sites now feature homes for civilians and nature preserves for wetland plants and animals, but the U.S. continues to wreak environmental devastation at home and around the world through military production, war and occupation.
In terms of oil and electricity, the United States military is the single largest consumer of energy in the world. The military is also a major producer of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide emissions from jet fuel are triple those of diesel and oil. Other emissions include nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, soot, and water vapor.
Military contractors use massive amounts of energy to produce ammunition, aircraft, guided missiles, armored vehicles, and ships. They are major players in the U.S. economy and are recipients of our taxpayer dollars. Roughly 10% of the $2.2 trillion in factory output in the United States goes into the production of weapons sold mainly to the Defense Department for use by the armed forces.
Of the major U.S. military contractors, which include Lockheed Martin , Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics, the seventh-largest is Huntington Ingalls. “Huntington Ingalls builds the most expensive and largest military weapon in the U.S. arsenal, the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier. The first of four new carriers on order, the Ford was commissioned last year after the company spent $13 billion to build the ship.”
Oil use and the military are co-dependent: most of the Pentagon’s oil is consumed in operations directed at protecting American access to and control of foreign oil and maritime shipping lanes. It is no coincidence that Venezuela and Iran, targets of U.S. threats and sanctions, are major oil-producing countries.
United States military operations and those of “strategic allies,” combined with trade policies that promote monoculture and deforestation, produce environmental devastation around the world. It is hard to reconcile a “Green New Deal” in this country with a policy of war and devastation for much of the rest of the planet. Any policy that seriously addresses the health of the planet and the well-being of its denizens must include a drastic reduction in the U.S. military and its power over the U.S. economy and politics.
–written by Marsha Feinland