President Biden’s foreign policy to date is largely indistinguishable from Trump’s. His administration hasn’t reversed tortuous sanctions against Iran, the United States continues to bomb Somalia, and there’s no indication that the U.S. will shutter any of its 800 military bases around the world. In February, Biden authorized airstrikes in Syria, killing at least 22 people. His “national security” team is as hawkish as they come. Biden broke with Trump’s policies when he announced that the U.S. would leave Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, continuing the military presence there four months later than the May 1 deadline Trump set with the Taliban.
Biden’s record indicates that people in the imperial core will need to take it upon themselves to throw a wrench in the war machine. Thus far, antiwar movements in the U.S. have not succeeded in accomplishing this. U.S. military spending rose from $533 billion in 2005 to around $740 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2021. Biden recently requested a $753 billion military budget for FY 2022.
Drones, missiles and tanks don’t grow on trees: American taxpayers make U.S. imperialism possible. In 2021, an estimated 47 percent of all federal income tax will go toward the U.S. military.
For this reason, Howard Waitzkin, a medical doctor, a professor focusing on social medicine, and an activist, believes mass war tax resistance could serve as a wrench. For about four decades, Waitzkin has withheld federal income taxes proportional to the amount that would go toward military spending. He redirects some of his income tax funds toward “creatively constructive purposes that move beyond capitalism,” including a program he coordinates that provides medical and mental health services to active-duty GIs who can’t access them in the military.
Waitzkin hasn’t been arrested or fined. In fact, most tax resisters haven’t faced severe consequences. The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, a network that supports individuals who refuse to pay for war, is only aware of a couple dozen war tax resisters who have been jailed over the last 60 years — a majority for falsifying documents. The last recorded case of tax-related property seizure took place in the 1990s.