By: Judith Le Blanc, National Field Organizer
January 17 marked the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s “military industrial complex” speech. As he left the White House, Ike warned the synthesis of the military and corporations in setting government policies would present a growing danger to democracy.
In 1953, at the beginning of his presidency, Ike gave a speech, not often quoted, in which he said, ““Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”
Ike’s predictions were not only true then, they define exactly where we are now. The economic crisis, high unemployment and cuts in human services compel us to organize grassroots support for even deeper cuts in the Pentagon budget.
Secretary of Defense Gates announced “preemptive cuts” to head off more aggressive proposals that are being debated among a cross section of elected officials and political pundits.
The latest “shot across their bow” is from President Reagan’s former Budget Director David Stockman, who called Gates’s proposal for a $78 billion “cut” to the military budget a “pinprick” to a military-industrial complex that must drastically shrink for the good of the country. Stockman said, “It amounts to a failed opportunity to recognize that we are now at a historical inflection point at which the time has arrived for a classic post-war demobilization of the entire military establishment.”
To take full advantage of this political moment, Peace Action is helping to organize an array of community and peace groups to form the New Priorities Network. It’s going to take long-term movement building to shift Federal funding priorities from weapons to schools, and waging wars to rebuilding infrastructure.
The New Priorities Network is launching a massive Resolutions Campaign as a tool to galvanize grassroots pressure to cut the Pentagon budget in order to fund human needs.
The aim is to build a community effort by visiting neighborhood groups and promoting educational events and building momentum for city and state bodies and elected officials to take a stand for changing the Federal spending priorities.
Sample resolutions, fact sheets and other materials will be
available soon. The Resolutions Campaign will also provide the opportunity to participate in nationally coordinated local actions throughout 2011.
We can build Peace Action’s membership, reaching communities of color and working families, if we connect with community groups in motion on the economic crisis. Engaging new people, especially those who have not been part of the peace movement, is vital to winning deeper cuts in military spending.
It is not a deficit crisis. It is a revenue crisis. So let’s organize to move the money! For more information on the New Priorities Network and Resolutions Campaign go to newprioritiesnetwork.org.