Peace is possible: Feed the people, not the Pentagon!

November 29, 2023
Peace is possible: Feed the people, not the Pentagon!


The following presentation was given by CPUSA co-chair Rossana Cambron to the People’s World “People’s Needs, Not Pentagon Greed” Town Hall on November 10, 2023.

“Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of tears! … We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, ‘Disarm, Disarm!’ The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

– Julia Ward Howe, 1870, from her Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace

Many may not know that advocates of Mother’s Day in the United States originally envisioned it as a day of peace, to honor and support mothers who lost sons and husbands to the bloodshed of the Civil War.

At a time when our country is continually engaged in devastating and costly wars, and our communities are suffering from lack of affordable healthcare, housing, and food scarcity, it’s time for Mother’s Day to return to its roots and call for peace.

On November 1,1961, at the height of the Cold War, about 50,000 women marched in 60 cities in the U.S. to demonstrate against nuclear weapons under the slogan, “End the arms race, not the human race,” a march called by Women Strike for Peace. We might think about such an action today.

As women, as mothers, we recognize that a decent life is impossible without a peaceful world. Our tax dollars are funneled into warfare instead of addressing poverty, ensuring affordable housing, and providing healthcare for the citizens who dutifully pay their taxes. The reality of war, as we’ve witnessed, is terrifying. It doesn’t resolve conflicts, but breeds more adversaries and divisions.

Did you know that the Pentagon has not passed a single audit? According to Data for Progress, “Since the early 1990s, when the federal government required all agencies to pass independent audits on their spending habits, the Department of Defense has been the only government agency unable to pass a single audit. Some defense officials even have found it difficult to audit government property that they own, as some private contractors have not been willing to cooperate with their audit procedures.”

Opposition to the current military budget continues to grow and that is good, but we must all take the next step by taking action at the ballot box, on the streets, at our Congress members’ and Senators’ offices, writing op-eds for our local newspapers expressing our opposition, etc. We have the power and the numbers to change things, but we need to take steps towards it.

How many of us have the idea that because our military budget is so high, that the soldiers and their families are well paid?

I can tell you firsthand that they are not. Many families, according to Army statistics, have to apply for SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). They do not make enough to provide for their families.

According to the Institute for Policy Studies, poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in our country, not war. Study after study has shown that there is enough to provide all the basic needs for everyone in this county, so it is not for lack of funds, but lack of interest by legislators.

The military budget comes from our tax dollars, so when we ask to cut the military budget and move that money to repair our infrastructure, to provide affordable housing or universal healthcare, we are not asking for a handout, and we are certainly not taking from our men and women serving in the military.

The “Authorization for Use of Military Force” (AUMF) dangerously expanded the President’s Article II powers as “Commander in Chief.” Congress has the constitutional responsibility to not only authorize, but to limit the president’s power to use force. Repealing the current 2001 and 2002 AUMFs would reassert Congress’s Article I constitutional duty to determine if, and when, the United States goes to war. War is a complex thing; it affects many people, and it should not be left to one person’s discretion; it requires a collective, well-thought-out process. We cannot demand any less.

In the face of massive suffering in Gaza and disregard for international law by the Israeli government, the U.S. must not provide additional military aid or weapons that would cause more deaths. Instead, the U.S. should use its considerable diplomatic strength to call for an immediate ceasefire. We must demand the Biden Administration act now to end the war and help bring about a political solution that upholds the rights of the Palestinian people. This must include ending military support to Israel. We call on the people of our country to make their feelings known in every way possible, including protests.

I want to emphasize that we have the majority of people that want change. They want the money to be spent elsewhere, but they may not know how to make that happen. We are here to let them know how and that it is possible to make the change they are looking for.

We should be against all crimes against humanity and what is happening in Gaza, from the bombing and taking of hostages to the bombing of hospitals and killing of innocent families. We need to say, “Enough! No more of our tax dollars are to be used for this purpose.”

Move the money, and end poverty in our country! Let’s get out there and build movements.

Articles and contributions from the CPUSA Peace Conference 2023 can be found here.

Image: Peace is Possible by Joe Brusky (CC BY-NC 2.0 DEED)


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