2014 Global Day of Action on Military Spending: Move the Money!

May 28, 2014

Fourth Annual Day of U.S. Actions 

By Judith Le Blanc, Field Director, Peace Action+GDAMS-Ad

Over 80 activities were organized, for the 2014 Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) in the U.S. GDAMS has become an annual day of U. S. action, part of the ongoing national effort to build a movement strong enough to “move the money” from the Pentagon and wars to fund jobs and public services.

U.S. organizers used U.S. Tax Day as a media hook and opportunity to engage the public in a dialogue on how national governmental taxes are spent by pinpointing the Pentagon budget and wars as a drain on the resources urgently needed for economic security in our communities and to address pressing global problems.

This year, the annual activities targeted the U.S. Congress with grassroots political pressure. The popular education methods, the street visibility actions and media work emphasized the connection between a militarized national budget with a militarized U.S. foreign policy. Without an informed public, fundamental shifts in government policy, foreign or domestic, are impossible. GDAMS is also an important tool to connect the ongoing social justice organizing in the U.S. with solidarity with peace and disarmament movements around the world.

From “penny polls” on city streets and at post offices where pedestrians were asked to share their opinions on national governmental spending priorities to public forums and Congressional town hall meetings the message was clear: it’s time to change national governmental spending priorities from wars and weapons to jobs creation and public services.

Read what the “penny poll” participants said in New Hampshire and in Austin, Texas. about national governmental spending priorities.

In Eugene, Oregon, Community Alliance of Lane County, (CALC), Eugene Springfield Solidarity Network-Jobs With Justice (ESSN), Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND), Taxes for Peace Not War, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Veterans for Peace asked their community to voice how they would spend their tax dollars. The results were: 42% for Human Services, 31% for Infrastructure/Environmental Services and 1 % for Military: Present & Past.

“If Eugeneans were in charge in Washington, D.C., things would be radically different — our tax dollars would be fighting climate change and not endless war”, said event organizer Michael Carrigan of CALC. An opinion article by the organizers was also published in the local newspaper, The Register-Guard entitled, “Move tax dollars from Pentagon back to people.”

In Boston, Massachusetts, on April 12, the Budget for All Coalition organized a visibility action at the Bank of America followed by a forum with 200 people. Both events touched on the need to close corporate tax loopholes and tax the 1% as well as redirect Pentagon spending to domestic needs.

In northern California, the New Priorities Campaign (NPC) organized for the fourth year in a row, a distribution by 24 organizations of 15,000

Bay Area, CA GDAMS brochure

Bay Area, CA GDAMS brochure

brochures on excessive U.S. military spending at 34 rapid transit light rail stations in both the East Bay and San Francisco. NPC asked organizations to adopt a station.  Each year the number of stations covered and number of brochures distributed has increased.

In Bethesda, Maryland, Representatives of the Fund Our Communities Maryland coalition co-lead by Montgomery County Peace Action and Progressive MD, “flew” an F-35 aircraft to celebrate Tax Day. The plane fell apart—exhibiting the absurdity of using our taxes on a plane that doesn’t work and will end up costing $1.5 trillion. The action was part of the ongoing local campaign to hold Lockheed Martin accountable on local and state tax issues and to advance “ defense industry transition” state legislation.

In Saint Louis and Clayton, Missouri, Missouri Pro-vote hosted events with the Peace Economy Project, Women’s International League of Peace and Freedom and Veterans for Peace conducting a “chalk-talk” using sidewalks as a blackboard with concise messages about national governmental budget trade-offs.

Virginia Organizing & Richmond Peace Education Center, Richmond, VA GDAMS action

Events were held in Richmond, Virginia; Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio; Charleston, West Virginia; Superior, Wisconsin; Duluth, Minnesota; Buffalo, New York; Los Angeles, California; Bay Ridge and Staten Island, New York; Dallas, Texas; San Jose, California; Kansas City, Missouri, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Indianapolis, Indiana; Royal Oak, Michigan; Des Moines, Iowa; Greensboro, North Carolina; Bath, Maine and many other small towns and big cities reflecting the commitment of local economic justice and peace groups to build a national consensus that we must “move the money from the Pentagon to fund our communities!”

U.S. Congress heard GDAMS!

In some areas, vigils and informational leafleting were done outside of Congressional offices, while in other areas Congressional representatives or their staff participated. In Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Congressional Representative Barney Frank sent video greetings to the GDAMS Budget for All forum.

On April 15, Women’s Action for New Directions/WiLL released a letter sent to U.S. Congress signed by 290 women state legislators calling on the Congress to cut the Pentagon budget to fund human needs.

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AFSC youth delegation visits U.S. Congressional representatives.

On April 12, in Washington, D.C sixty five youth from across the country came to D.C. for a film festival and leadership training on national budget priorities. This annual event has become the Capitol Hill visibility event for the U.S. GDAMS actions.  The “If I Had a Trillion Dollars” youth film festival had its world premiere screening at Busboys and Poets on April 13.  On April14, the youth had meetings at the Congressional offices of U.S. Senators Portman (OH), Blunt (MO), Kirk (IL), Durbin (IL), Gillibrand (NY), Casey (PA), Toomey (PA) and U.S. Representatives Becerra (CA) and Coble (NC).

U.S. GDAMS goes cyber!

Social media was used creatively to engage, mobilize and educate.Network, the Catholic social justice group, collaborated with GDAMS with a social media campaign to show how local activists want their tax dollars spent. Hundreds of people including 2 Congressional representatives sent photos in. 

Win Without War Meme

Win Without War Memesocial media campaign to show how local activists want their tax dollars spent. Hundreds of people including 2 Congressional representatives sent photos in. 

Groups contributed social media memes and organized a Thunderclap, which had a social media reach of 272, 955 people. Twitter was used to mobilize and even report on the days activities in real time.

Here is a sample Tweet from April 14: “Students from SFSU took #GDAMSbayarea brochure, happy to share info. #GDAMS #movethemoneyhttp://twitpic.com/e15jsa

GDAMS in the news

The National Priorities Project was the “go to” resource for research, materials and media efforts. As a nationally recognized institution their commentaries and comments on Tax Day appeared in a cross section of traditional and online media from Boise, Idaho to Tucson, Arizona to Cape Cod, Massachusetts to the Wall Street Journal Market Watch to Al Jeerzera-America. We were able to track 43 articles, radio, blog and TV appearances.

Times News April 16 2014 (2)Some local actions got front page in their town newspaper like Burlington, North Carolina’s The Times-News and many areas had letters to the editor, opinion pieces and radio.

A National Infrastructure for Local Action

Local organizers sparked community actions supported by a national infrastructure of organizations that are committed to supporting the growing of a national grassroots infrastructure for the long-term.

In 2014, national sponsoring groups agreed to host a series of webinars and training opportunities to build local organizing capacity in 2014 and continue to build the “move the money” movement.

Starting in early March, four webinars/conference calls were organized which engaged from 20-100 local and national organizers in trainings on creative tactics with a contributor to Beautiful Trouble, a national budget review with National Priorities Project, a special review of the Overseas Contingency Operation budget line item or what has been called , the Pentagon’s “Slush Fund” and a briefing on how to use social and traditional media for local actions conducted by the Pentagon Budget Campaign.

Templates for leaflets, fact sheets, organizing tool box, state tax receipts and even more were made available on the global GDAMS website. Montgomery County, Maryland Peace Action that has been locked in battle with the greedy Lockheed Martin defense contractor for years, created a “Mockery Newspaper” to bring a smile or a howl.

Looking ahead, GDAMS offers the best and most exciting opportunity every year to link foreign and domestic policy with global solidarity actions around the world.

U.S. groups sponsoring Tax Day/GDAMS events: Alliance for Global Justice, American Friends Service Committee, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Foreign Policy in Focus, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Priorities Project, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, USAction, US Labor Against the War, War Resisters League, Women’s Action for New Directions & Women’s Legislators

The author, Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action’s Field Director  was the U.S. coordinator for GDAMS. 2014 GDAMS was a grand success due to the special efforts of  American Friends Service Committee’s Mary Zerkel, National Priorities Project’s Jo Comerford, Foreign Policy In Focus intern Ved Singh and the incredible leadership and staff of the International Peace Bureau, Colin Archer and Mylene Soto.


Might Doesn’t Make Right (or even get a country what it wants)

May 12, 2014

With his essay “What you need to tell people when they say we should use the military,” Peace Action Board Member Larry Wittner makes a very succinct and persuasive case on History News Network that military might, especially as wielded by the United States, achieves little in international relations.

tags: Military Power

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Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, “What’s Going On at UAardvark?

SIPRI Fact Sheet:  TRENDS IN WORLD MILITARY EXPENDITURE, 2013

Is overwhelming national military power a reliable source of influence in world affairs?

If so, the United States should certainly have plenty of influence today. For decades, it has been the world’s Number 1 military spender. And it continues in this role. According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $640 billion on the military in 2013, thus accounting for 37 percent of world military expenditures. The two closest competitors, China and Russia, accounted for 11 percent and 5 percent respectively. Thus, last year, the United States spent more than three times as much as China and more than seven times as much as Russia on the military.

In this context, the U.S. government’s inability to get its way in world affairs is striking. In the current Ukraine crisis, the Russian government does not seem at all impressed by the U.S. government’s strong opposition to its behavior. Also, the Chinese government, ignoring Washington’s protests, has laid out ambitious territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. Even much smaller, weaker nations have been snubbing the advice of U.S. officials. Israel has torpedoed U.S. attempts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, the embattled Syrian government has been unwilling to negotiate a transfer of power, and North Korea remains as obdurate as ever when it comes to scuttling its nuclear weapons program.

Of course, hawkish critics of the Obama administration say that it lacks influence in these cases because it is unwilling to use the U.S. government’s vast military power in war.

But is this true? The Obama administration channeled very high levels of military manpower and financial resources into lengthy U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ended up with precious little to show for this investment. Furthermore, in previous decades, the U.S. government used its overwhelming military power in a number of wars without securing its goals. The bloody Korean War, for example, left things much as they were before the conflict began, with the Korean peninsula divided and a ruthless dictatorship in place in the north. The lengthy and costly Vietnam War led to a humiliating defeat for the United States — not because the U.S. government lacked enormous military advantages, but because, ultimately, the determination of the Vietnamese to gain control of their own country proved more powerful than U.S. weaponry.

Even CIA ventures drawing upon U.S. military power have produced a very mixed result. Yes, the CIA, bolstered by U.S. military equipment, managed to overthrow the Guatemalan government in 1954. But, seven years later, the CIA-directed, -funded, and -equipped invasion at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs failed to topple the Castro government when the Cuban public failed to rally behind the U.S.-instigated effort. Although the U.S. government retains an immense military advantage over its Cuban counterpart, with which it retains a hostile relationship, this has not secured the United States any observable influence over Cuban policy.

The Cold War confrontation between the U.S. and Soviet governments is particularly instructive. For decades, the two governments engaged in an arms race, with the United States clearly in the lead. But the U.S. military advantage did not stop the Soviet government from occupying Eastern Europe, crushing uprisings against Soviet domination in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, or dispatching Soviet troops to take control of Afghanistan. Along the way, U.S. hawks sometimes called for war with the Soviet Union. But, in fact, U.S. and Soviet military forces never clashed. What finally produced a love fest between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and ended the Cold War was a strong desire by both sides to replace confrontation with cooperation, as indicated by the signing of substantial nuclear disarmament agreements.

Similarly, the Iranian and U.S. governments, which have been on the worst of terms for decades, appear to be en route to resolving their tense standoff — most notably over the possible development of Iranian nuclear weapons — through diplomacy. It remains unclear if this momentum toward a peaceful settlement results from economic sanctions or from the advent of a reformist leadership in Tehran. But there is no evidence that U.S. military power, which has always been far greater than Iran’s, has played a role in fostering it.

Given this record, perhaps military enthusiasts in the United States and other nations should consider whether military power is a reliable source of influence in world affairs. After all, just because you possess a hammer doesn’t mean that every problem you face is a nail.

- See more at: http://hnn.us/article/155550#sthash.YqVs3dTk.dpuf


Massachusetts Peace Action in the Boston Globe questioning state aid for federal military bases

May 1, 2014

I was in Boston last weekend for the memorial service of longtime national and Massachusetts Peace Action board leader Steven Brion-Meisels, a wonderful celebration of his life but of course a sad day as well. On Sunday morning. The Boston Globe’s lead article was about a bizarre scheme to use state funds to prop up federal military bases, which are of course already paid for by our federal tax dollars, allegedly to save jobs and stimulate economic activity. Of course, according to a study by the University of Massachusetts, Pentagon spending continues to be the worst way to create jobs, spending the money on anything else, even tax cuts, creates more jobs.

While the article missed that important point, it still shed light on the absurdity of this scheme, and there may be subsequent articles as this is apparently the first in a series. The best part of the article, near the end, were quotes (and great photograph, but it’s not online unfortunately!) from Massachusetts Peace Action executive director Cole Harrison.

Please check out the article,  and write a letter to the editor if you feel so moved.


Move the Money on Tax Day

April 15, 2014

30927_10150183416160391_1940262_nBy Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director

Today is Tax Day and also the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS.)  On every continent, peace and disarmament, sustainable development groups will hold events.

In 70 locations across the US, activities, forums and vigils will be held to raise the call to Move the Money from wars and weapons to fund jobs, public services and transition jobs in defense industries to green sustainable manufacturing.

Join the global action by calling Congress 202-224-3121

Tell your Senator and Representative: Cut $100 billion over ten years wasted on nuclear weapons. Urge your Senators to co-sponsor the SANE Act, S. 2070 and your Representative to cosponsor the REIN IN Act, H. R. 4107.

Background:

MA Senator Ed Markey introduced Senate bill S. 2070, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act. OR Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced a companion bill in the House, H.R.4107, the Reduce Expenditures in Nuclear Infrastructure Now (REIN-IN) Act. 

Join the Tax Day/GDAMS actions on social media: Sign onto the Thunderclap asking Congress to eliminate the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), also known as the Pentagon” slush fund.” It is a simple one step action that can reach tens of thousands. Just click on this link.

 Join an event in your area. US Tax Day/GDAMS sponsored by: Alliance for Global Justice, American Friends Service Committee, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Foreign Policy in Focus, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Priorities Project, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, USAction, US Labor Against the War, War Resisters League, Women’s Action for New Directions & Women’s Legislators


Calling All Women State Legislators: You can help Move the Money!

April 1, 2014

By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director MOVE Square

WAND/Will, one of Peace Action’s strategic partners in the Move the Money Campaign, has launched a drive to get women state legislators to sign onto a Congressional letter calling for cutting the Pentagon budget to fund human services.

Please, take a minute and send the appeal below to your state representatives. Get a copy of the Congressional sign on letter here.

Why is this important? It opens the door for a conversation with a state level elected who can become an ally in building a strong grassroots movement to change national spending priorities. The only way real cuts in the Pentagon budget will be made, and a just transition for communities who have depended on defense contracts for good paying jobs will happen is if a strong grassroots movement draws all the stake holders together to press Congress to act.

The WAND/WiLL Congressional Letter will be released to the press on Tax Day as part of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS.) Time is short, please join this important initiative!

Sample EMAIL/LETTER to send to your state legislator:

Dear XXX,

Women state legislators across the nation are urging Congress to adopt a federal budget that reflects the values and best interests of the American people. Please join this national effort today, organized by the Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL).

As you know, year after year, more than 50% of our discretionary budget – the budget Congress debates and votes on every year – goes to the Pentagon. We cannot keep America economically strong and competitive if we are squandering money on expensive outdated weapons systems we don’t need. Continued overspending at the Pentagon budget comes at the expense of necessary, vital programs that feed and teach our children, provide healthcare to our elderly, train our unemployed, and support our veterans. State legislators understand the impact of these federal budget priorities on states and communities.

Support what is best for your constituents, our communities, and our states: investing federal dollars in sectors that will create productive jobs and help our economy grow for years to come. The deadline to sign is Monday, April 7 but please ask your legislators to sign on today!

Women state legislators can sign on to the letter to Congress by emailing Adzi Vokhiwa at avokhiwa@wand.org or calling 202-544-5055, ext. 2603.

Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL) is a program of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND).

Thank you,

XXXX


Peace Action in the NY Times

March 17, 2014

By Kevin Martin, Executive Director Peace Action

If you read the New York Times, you might have seen this last Sunday:

“National security and most pressing global issues, such as the climate crisis or cyber attacks or civil conflicts, cannot be solved through military action, or through the action of one country alone. Multilateral action and cooperation are crucial. The situation in Ukraine is yet another example of that reality.”

Judith Le Blanc, our Field Director,  was part of theSunday Dialogue exchange on Pentagon spendingon the Times op-ed page.

It is no mystery why the Times turned to Judith and Peace Action to weigh in on this pressing issue which has been in the headlines of late. Your support can help amplify Peace Action’s voice and continue our important and urgent work.

Peace Action is a national leader in the movement to build support for Moving the Money – our tax dollars — from war and weapons to investing in human and environmental needs and diplomacy.

From participating in the national debate via the mainstream media, to building national coalitions, to taking our demands to Congress, to our unique grassroots “Move the Money” training program (devised by Judith, and being conducted this year in several states around the country!), Peace Action’s work is crucial to building an unstoppable movement for peaceful priorities.

We need to move some money too, to support our vital organizing. Please give $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $250 or whatever fits your budget via our secure online portal.

 


Join us March 5: Creative Tactics for Tax Day Organizers

February 28, 2014

+GDAMS-Ad

April 15, 2014

Tax Day: Global Day of Action on Military Spending

Move the Money!

April 15 is Tax Day, a day to reflect on how Congress spends our tax dollars. We are also reminded that not all are paying their fair share. As economic inequality grows, we need a Congress who makes the hard choices on federal spending priorities. It is time to Move the Money from the wasteful Pentagon budget to fund jobs and community services.

April 15 is also the Global Day of Action on Military Spending when community, economic justice, faith, labor, environmental and peace groups will gather in their communities on every continent to call attention to the domestic impact of money poured into military arms and war preparation by governments across the globe while urgent human needs go unmet. Read a roundup of the 2013 US activities here.

The New Priorities Network, one of the supporters of the April 15 Tax Day/GDAMS activities is sponsoring a briefing:

Wednesday March 5 at 8pm EST

Explore  creative tactics for local actions on April 15 Tax Day/GDAMS 

with Beautiful Trouble’s Nadine Bloch. 

Conference call number: 712-775-7000 Code: 637020#

Other webinars are being planned: March 19 at 7pm EST: Webinar on Federal Budget 101 and Taxes with National Priorities Project, Wand/WILL & Peace Action. A webinar on the Overseas Contingency Operating (OCO) account with Stephen Miles from Win Without War. The OCO (separate from the Pentagon budget) continues to grow even as the wars are beginning to wind down. It amounts to a slush fund to blunt the impact of budget cuts. While the wars are winding down, the OCO is bumping up!

More info on US Tax Day/ Global Day of Action on Military Funding at http://demilitarize.org/

If your group is already planning event, please post the details here so others can join. Or email jleblanc@peace-action.org.


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