For the first time since the Vietnam War, America’s mayors have stepped up to oppose a war in progress and demand the redirection of funds to their starved cities. Footage from their debate may be watched here. Below is the text of their historic declaration:
CALLING ON CONGRESS TO REDIRECT MILITARY SPENDING TO DOMESTIC PRIORITIES
WHEREAS, every member of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Americans they represent, support our brave men and women in uniform and their families;
WHEREAS, the drawdown of troops should be done in a measured way that does not destabilize the region and that can accelerate the transfer of responsibility to regional authorities;
WHEREAS, the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to re-examine our national spending priorities; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States are collectively paying approximately $126 billion dollars per year to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan; and
WHEREAS, 6,024 members of the U.S. armed forces have died in these wars; and at least 120,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since the coalition attacks began.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors supports efforts to speed up the ending of these wars; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the United States Conference of Mayors calls on the President and U.S. Congress to end the wars as soon as strategically possible and bring these war dollars home to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy and reduce the federal debt.
CODEPINK activists in Maine initiated the campaign, which took on a momentum of its own as the U.S. budgetary woes worsened. Los Angeles activists may plan an important role in pushing the campaign forward because Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is the newly-elected chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Mayor Villaraigosa issued the following statement on President Obama's troop withdrawal plan:
As the nation’s mayors, we thank our soldiers and their families for their tremendous service to our country.
We recognize the difficult decisions President Obama must make in balancing foreign affairs, national security, and domestic needs. We applaud his directive to withdraw 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by summer 2012. This is a strong step towards ending the war in Afghanistan and bringing our soldiers – and the billions of dollars we spend each day – home.
We urge Congress to honor our soldiers by putting 'boots on the ground' in cities across the country to create jobs for our men and women in uniform to come home to.
Drawing down troop levels is step one. Increasing employment levels is step two. We need to use the billions of dollars we are currently spending in Afghanistan to rebuild our domestic economy.
As President Obama rightly said, "it is time to focus on nation-building here at home."
To view the full resolution, visit: http://usmayors.org/79thAnnualMeeting/documents/AdoptedResolutions.pdf