“I do agree we’re spending too much on the military, but I believe in the military,” said Ellison, who co-chairs the House of Representatives’ Progressive Caucus. “But I believe we have too many investments in Cold War-era weapons. We don’t need all that nuclear stuff. We don’t need to have 174 bases. We don’t need to protect Europe. We don’t need to protect Japan. Let’s move toward a partnership instead of us monopolizing things. We spend more than the next 14 countries combined.”
Last week Ellison voted against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), citing its misplaced priorities and excessive spending. The NDAA provides $88.5 billion for the Afghanistan War and delays the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The bill also authorizes several billion more in defense spending than the President and the Joint Chiefs requested. An East Coast missile defense system that the Pentagon did not request is included, as well as more spending for the F-35B fighter jet that has been plagued with delays and cost overruns.
“The U.S. has diminished Al Qaeda’s strength so it is time to decrease our military presence in Afghanistan and bring our troops home as soon as safely possible,” said Ellison. “We should not continue wasteful spending on a defense strategy that does not meet 21st-century threats. Our security spending priorities must match modern threats.”
Asked what NATO’s role should be today, Ellison invoked the crisis in Syria.
“We need to pay attention to new security threats, but our investments are in old security threats. I hope NATO does step forward and help the people of Syria. We shouldn’t attack the Assad regime, but we should have a safe zone in Turkey, who’s willing. And we need to be able to protect the safe zone if the Assad regime attacks the safe zone. I think it should be an international thing. It’s up to the NATO countries to stand in solidarity with the people of Syria who want a democracy.”