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The candidates and the military-industrial complex

Kathy Kelly says that Democratic candidates talk tough on the war but are
not ready to take on the defense industry. She says all candidates,
including Obama, are developing plans to keep US troops in Iraq for
several more years.

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Story Transcript

VOICEOVER: Over 30 million Americans live at or below a poverty line which sets $21,000 as the income cutoff for a family of four. Many more hover just above that mark. Founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence Kathy Kelly explains why poverty won’t lessen any time soon, or at least as long as the government continues to spend disproportionately on the military.

KATHY KELLY, COORDINATOR, VOICES FOR CREATIVE NONVIOLENCE: You know, I think that one of the ways in which people right now facing difficult economic situations and wondering if they might be excluded from the so-called American dream for the rest of their lives and for their children’s lives as well, one of the ways that that issue, I think, cannot to be addressed is to ask ourselves: where is the wealth and productivity in the United States going? And I would like to see both senators, Obama and Clinton, address clearly Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz’ research, along with Harvard economist Linda Bilmes’ conclusions, that this war that we’re presently in with Iraq and Afghanistan could cost as much as $3 trillion—and they say now that’s a conservative estimate, and that’s just assessing what it would cost the United States’ taxpayers, the United States public. I think our question then has to be: why don’t Senators Obama and Senator Clinton try to really focus on those kinds of issues? And we must reckon with the big gorilla in the living room, which is that the number one lobby on Capitol Hill is the defense lobby, and for any candidate to go up against Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed, General Electric, General Dynamics, Northrup Grumman, would perhaps be to hand over to your opponent huge coffers of contributions from each of those defense spending groups. So they’re very, very afraid to take on the defense establishment. Well, this is a very, very important question to ask ourselves: to what extent have any of the aspiring presidential candidates used their capacity as senators to start to generate, within committee work, and, again, within their pulpits, and their opportunity for education, real challenges to the defense industry? I mean, there’s a new group on Capitol Hill called the Center for a New American Security, and some of their top advisers include Madeleine Albright, William Perry, and John Podesta. And they are creating the language that would state a need to keep US troops in Iraq for maybe as long as 2014 or longer. Why? To protect United States bases, to protect United States interests, to counter insurgency, and to counter any kind of al-Qaeda presence in Iraq. And we have to acknowledge that in January 2007, Senator Obama put forth a resolution—it didn’t go anyplace, but it basically said pretty much the same thing as what this Center for New American Security, filled with former Clinton advisers, had sought. And Obama has even said that in an Obama administration, there would be an up-tick in defense spending, because the Army has been somewhat depleted because of using up so much resource to fight both of these wars. So, no, they aren’t coming to the United States people with a thoughtful analysis of where the Pentagon spending has taken us. Both of them want to look tough on war and war issues. And I think it’s important, then, that people who want Obama to win, especially the young people, go inside the Obama campaign offices, the Obama campaign headquarters, and say, "Hey, we are going to raise this issue. Don’t leave us out in the cold. If you do become the president elect, we are going to keep raising the issue of how jeopardized we are because of this addiction to war. It doesn’t create greater security for people in this country."

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Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.