Senator Carl Levin Fiddling With War While Detroit Burns

General Petreaus is being confirmed today as the new
commander of the war in Afghanistan. His confirmation hearing in Senate
Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, chaired by Senator Carl Levin, was
noteworthy only because of the Senators' refusal to ask critical
questions about the 9-year-old war that has claimed the lives of over
1,000 soldiers and countless Afghans. The only debate in the hearing
centered on whether there should be a timeline of July 2011 to begin the
drawdown of US forces, or whether our commitment should be open-ended.
Questioning the war itself, as the majority of Americans now do, was
only done by the CODEPINK activist in the audience, who were constantly
threatened with arrest as they held up signs saying "New General, Old
Graveyard", "Obama's Vietnam" or simply "No More War!"

There was, however, one heated
exchange the media missed because it happened just after the hearing
ended. As Senator Levin was leaving the room, CODEPINK members, just
back from the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, confronted the Senator from
Michigan. "Senator, how can you spend $33 billion more for an unwinnable
war when your hometown of Detroit is falling apart?" said CODEPINKer
Tighe Barry, who is from Detroit. "Shame on you, Senator. We need jobs
in Detroit, not more bombs in Afghanistan," said Joan Stallard.

It was the only time the
Senator lost his cool. Shaking his finger at the protesters, he yelled, "I
live in Detroit. You don't know what you're talking about. Detroit's
problems have nothing to do with the war."

But wasting billions of
dollars on more killing in Afghanistan means starving our cities of
financial resources, and Detroit is a tragic example of this trade-off.
With the tanking of the auto industry and government neglect, Detroit
now looks and feels like a war zone. Tens of thousands of homes and
businesses have been abandoned and are left crumbling. Unemployment is
higher than any major U.S. city, crime and drugs are rampant, and the
dilapidated high schools have a shocking dropout rate of 38%.

With all its factories and
skilled labor, Detroit could have become the epicenter of good, green
jobs for a 21stcentury economy. With the help of government investment
and incentives, Detroit could be churning out electric vehicles and cars
that get 100 miles per gallon. It could be building the components for
high-speed rail, wind turbines and solar panels. The Motor City could
have been in the driver's seat, steering the country out of its economic

Instead, Detroit is careening off the cliff and elected
official like Senator Levin are throwing trillions of dollars into a
bloated military budget and unwinnable wars. Detroit's own
citizens -- the ones who have not yet abandoned the city -- have been forced
to pay for their own demise. In the past decade, residents of Detroit
have paid $1.8 billion for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taxpayers in
Senator Levin's home state of Michigan have been forced to pay $27.8 billion in
war spending since 2001.

That same money could have retrained tens of thousands
of workers for green jobs and retooled dying factories. It could have
paid for 390,000 teachers and librarians or provided 5,000,000 Pell
grants so students could get the new skills they need for the new
economy. It could have alleviated Detroit's devastating 40% poverty rate
by providing healthcare for 4 million low-income people or meals to 27
million poor seniors. Instead, our "leaders" have chosen to feed the war

So the next time Senator Levin, or any
elected officials, tells us there is no connection between our economic
crisis and the war, give 'em a piece of your mind. Better yet, call your
rep today (212-225-3121), as they are poised to steal another $33
billion from our cities and send it off to Afghanistan. Tell them to
stop destroying our country-and Afghanistan. Tell them that from Detroit
to Kabul, we need jobs, not bombs.

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