War and Militarism are Bad for Women

Michelle Cunha at the Cambridge/Boston Women's March 2018: The People Persist Michelle Cunha at the Cambridge/Boston Women's March 2018: The People Persist

Remarks delivered at the Cambridge/Boston Women’s March 2018: The People Persist, January 20, 2018.  Watch Video

My name is Michelle Cunha and I’m from Massachusetts Peace Action. I’m here to talk about the the high cost of the military.

Militarism means the oppression of women. Colleen Burke points out war does not just happen; it is the direct result of militarism.  It is rooted in patriarchy.  It means might is right, based on dominant/submissive model of society.  

America’s uncritical respect for the military enacts the dominant male/subordinate female dynamic on a national and international level.  We must overturn it just as our sisters in the #MeToo movement are struggling to do so in the workplace. Their struggle is our struggle and we must join together to create a more just and peaceful world.

Toxic masculinity is not the only high cost of the military I’m here to talk about. I’m also going to talk dollar and cents: how much money the Pentagon budget gets.

Currently, the military gets about 56 cents of every dollar of our nation’s discretionary spending — the money appropriated by Congress each year.  And with last year’s military budget vote, another $80 billion was added thus increasing your contribution to 60 cents. It’s not as if our brother and sister soldiers are seeing any of this money. Rather, it’s the military contractors who are making BILLIONS off of the war machine. Both of our US Senators voted for the increase in the Pentagon budget.

Taxpayers in the US pay $8.36 million EVERY HOUR for our Middle East wars.  During this rally, 25 million dollars will be spent paying for war in 15 Middle Eastern and North African countries. And we’re no safer!

President Obama instituted a $1.2 trillion upgrade to the nation’s nuclear weapons system. President Trump is happy to take Obama’s reins by implementing those upgrades.

Trump’s threats to drop a nuclear bomb on North Korea and to withdraw the US from the Iran Deal puts us on the brink of nuclear annihilation and that’s about as toxic a masculinity as you can get. How is it that one person has the ability to launch the biggest weapon of mass destruction without any Congressional approval?

Senator Ed Markey is trying to keep Trump from unilaterally launching a nuclear weapon with the bill he sponsored with Congressman Ted Lieu of California. The Markey-Lieu bill will require the president to get congressional approval before launching a nuclear weapon.

We can thank Senator Elizabeth Warren for signing onto the Markey-Lieu bill along with Congressman Jim McGovern and Congresswomen Niki Tsongas and Katherine Clark. However, Congressmen Mike Capuano, Joe Kennedy, Stephen Lynch, Seth Moulton, Richard Neal, and Bill Keating have not signed on. We need to hold them responsible for perpetuating the toxic male model of militarism.

The federal militarized budget extends into every state, and into our cities and towns, in the form of intensified policing, incarceration, deportations and immigration raids.  We spend billions on policing and prisons, not job training.   

Moving the money from the military to human needs will be a giant step for womankind and how we combat the Pentagon from getting all our money.

The People’s Budget does just that. It’s an alternative budget, introduced every year, which shifts money away from the Pentagon.  The billions that are freed up can be reallocated for things we want like

  • Single Payer
  • Free pre-school and college
  • Infrastructure upgrades including roads and bridges, schools, water and sewer pipes
  • Green Technologies
  • Combating climate change

Only half of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation voted for the People’s Budget in 2017. This year, let’s increase that number to 100% “yes”.  Let your Congressperson know you want him or her to vote for the People’s Budget in 2018. Remind them if they do not vote for the People’s Budget and sign on to the Markey-Lieu bill they will be held accountable for their INaction!

The GOP tax bill savages programs women and families depend on, but the GOP budget increases spending on the war machine. The tax plan is bad for women. It fails to address to cost of child care. It hurts women by undermining the student loan deduction, and it undermines the Affordable Care Act.  

A majority of Americans believe that millionaires, billionaires, and wealthy corporations ought to pay more. If we want to invest in the working and middle classes, if we want to expand Social Security, food stamps and food security, if we want affordable housing and reliable MBTA service, we cannot afford to let the wealthy off the hook. They must pay their taxes to fund our social net.

We say “NOT ONE PENNY IN TAX CUTS FOR MILLIONAIRES, BILLIONAIRES, AND WEALTHY CORPORATIONS”

Chant with me:

NOT ONE PENNY

Michelle Cunha is assistant director of Massachusetts Peace Action