Medea Benjamin

American political activist and author

Medea Benjamin (born Susan Benjamin; September 10, 1952) is an American political activist, best known for co-founding Code Pink and the fair trade advocacy group Global Exchange.

Medea Benjamin
The Pentagon budget is out of control. It’s been out of control since after World War II. And then especially since after 9/11 and the war on terrorism has been an excuse to keep building up and building up and building up the Pentagon budget.
if you add in... veterans’ issues & ... nuclear weapons, over a trillion dollars that we spend every year on militarism.
The only thing that is going to counter this is if we get Congress to stand up to pass legislation that says, “We will not allow any unauthorized attack on either Iran or Venezuela,” if we get all of the presidential candidates to stand up and say no to an attack on Iran and if we get the American people to be very loud and clear saying, “We are totally opposed to any attack on Iran.”



  • In recent budget negotiations, Senate Democrats agreed to a boost in military spending that exceeded the cap for fiscal 2018 by $70 billion, bringing the total request to an enormous $716 billion... more Pentagon contracts will be awarded to private corporations that use endless war to line their pockets... If neither major political party will stand up to this status quo, what can be done? One answer might be found in the recent push to divest from fossil fuel companies undertaken by, among others, Norway and New York City. By December of 2016, 688 institutions, representing over $5 trillion in assets, had divested from fossil fuels... Author Naomi Klein described the fossil fuel divestment effort as “a process of delegitimizing” the sector and of affirming that it yields “odious profits.”
    An analogous campaign to delegitimize beneficiaries of war is long overdue.
  • In addition to pressuring our members of Congress to refuse campaign donations from weapons manufacturers and war profiteers, we must mount a divestment effort at the institutional and municipal level. Investment in war must come at the cost of public disgrace... Divestment offers an alternate means of addressing the blight of war profiteering in an era in which traditional political routes have been closed by our craven representatives. It also brings the message into smaller communities–communities that crumble while defense contractors live in luxury...A new coalition of about 70 groups... has formed to launch a Divest From the War Machine campaign
  • March 19 marks 15 years since the U.S.-UK invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the American people have no idea of the enormity of the calamity the invasion unleashed. The U.S. military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion.
    The number of Iraqi casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested Iraqi and Syrian cities to rubble.
  • Right now, is a very difficult time, and there are many people who would be our counterparts in Iran who are in prison. But as you say, the U.S. has put forward a very misguided view of Iran. First of all, they always say it’s the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world. And when we hear that, we should just say, “Stop, no, not true.”
    And then, in terms of internally in Iran, there are more avenues for women, for example, to study, to work. We are connected with a group of women business people that have enormous businesses. They have their own, very large factories, their own farms, their own–I’m friends with a woman who is an architect of some of the largest dams in the country.
    So that’s sort of something that you don’t hear about, that women are so actively involved in the economy. There is a myth that the Jewish population is such a repressed population. Being a member of the Jewish community and an American, when I first went to Iran I was very concerned about being both. And as soon as you said that to people, there went, “Oh, first of all, we love America.” And it is a very pro-American population. And then, they love Jews. And it’s funny, whether it’s among these religious Iranians, they’re saying, “Oh, we have so much in common between our religions,”...
  • The Pentagon budget is out of control. It’s been out of control since after World War II. And then especially since after 9/11 and the war on terrorism has been an excuse to keep building up and building up and building up the Pentagon budget. Even Trump himself said the other day that the Pentagon budget was out of control. But then he goes and he asked for more money for the Pentagon.
    So...if you add in things like the veterans’ issues and the Energy Department that deals with nuclear weapons, over a trillion dollars that we spend every year on militarism. And that’s where we have to address how we can pull money out of the Pentagon, not affect our safety and security; in fact, make us safer, because we will [not] be antagonizing so many other countries with endless wars.
  • Let’s take one issue alone, and that’s U.S. military bases overseas, for example. There are over 800 U.S. military bases. The vast majority of them are serving no national security purpose. They’re relics of World War II. Why do we need dozens of military bases in Germany, in Italy? We have them in Korea now, where there’s peace talks in Korea, and yet we still have dozens of military bases. In fact, over 80 of them.
  • As our nation debates the merits of President Donald Trump's call for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, absent from the debate is the more pernicious aspect of U.S. military involvement overseas: its air wars. Trump's announcement and General James Mattis' resignation should unleash a national discussion about U.S. involvement in overseas conflicts, but no evaluation can be meaningful without a clear understanding of the violence that U.S air wars have unleashed on the rest of the world for the past 17 years...In this "war on terror," the U.S. and its allies have dropped a staggering 291,880 bombs and missiles on other countries...let's keep in mind that these strikes represent lives snuffed out, people maimed for life, families torn apart, homes and infrastructure demolished, taxpayer money squandered, and resentment that only engenders more violence.
  • As former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz told NPR a week after 9/11: "It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done... We must make a distinction between punishing the guilty and punishing others..."
    And yet here we are, 17 years later...bombing ever more "nations, organizations, (and) persons" who had absolutely nothing to do with the crimes committed on September 11.
  • Trump: Withdrawing from #Syria, good. Withdrawing from #Afghanistan, good. Staying in Iraq? No! Bring the troops home.
  • So #Boeing must be raising their champagne glasses to toast their man, Pat Shanahan, as interim Sec. of Defense. 3 decades w Boeing, now @DepSecDef is Boeing’s biggest customer. A coup for Boeing, a loss for taxpayers and democracy and peace. #divestfromwar
  • FoxNews hates the #SyriaWithdrawal. So does #MSNBC and #CNN. So both parties, cable networks and weapons makers all agree. No wonder our wars never end.
  • The biggest blunder of this century was the invasion of Iraq... It’s very unfortunate that there are still members of the Democratic Party that voted for the Iraq War that are poised to be in very important positions in government right now. We have Steny Hoyer, the majority leader, was in favor of the Iraq War... Eliot Engel, who is going to be the Foreign Affairs Committee chair, who was not only in favor of the Iraq War, but he was one of the few Democrats against the Iran nuclear deal. He’s in favor of moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in Israel. You have people like Adam Smith, who is going to be the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee, took over $250,000 from the weapons industry and only shifted his position on Saudi Arabia, for example, because he was challenged from the left. So, we have Democrats in high positions who have been pro-war. Many of them vote every year for this incredibly inflated Pentagon budget. And they have to be challenged. And they are being challenged by some of the very wonderful Democrats we have, like Ro Khanna, who has been a tremendous champion to try to stop the war in Yemen. And we have the wonderful incoming members of Congress who have to have the same energy and determination that they have around a New Green Deal to say we need a new peace deal.


  • So what hope is there that one of the parade of Democrats seeking the presidency in 2020 could be a real "peace candidate"? Could one of them bring an end to these wars and prevent new ones? Walk back the brewing Cold War and arms race with Russia and China? Downsize the U.S. military and its all-consuming budget? Promote diplomacy and a commitment to international law?
    Ever since the Bush/Cheney administration launched the present-day "Long Wars," new presidents from both parties have dangled superficial appeals to peace during their election campaigns. But neither Obama nor Trump has seriously tried to end our "endless" wars or rein in our runaway military spending...While we can't guarantee that candidates will stick to their campaign promises, it is important to look at this new crop of presidential candidates and examine their views—and, when possible, voting records—on issues of war and peace. What prospects for peace might each of them bring to the White House?
  • In 1989, at the end of the Cold War, former Pentagon officials Robert McNamara and Larry Korb told the Senate Budget Committee that the U.S. military budget could safely be cut by 50% over the next 10 years. That obviously never happened, and our military spending under Bush II, Obama and Trump has outstripped the peak spending of the Cold War arms race.
    In 2010, Barney Frank and three colleagues from both parties convened a Sustainable Defense Task Force that recommended a 25% cut in military spending. The Green Party has endorsed a 50% cut in today’s military budget. That sounds radical, but, because inflation-adjusted spending is now higher than in 1989, that would still leave us with a larger military budget than MacNamara and Korb called for in 1989.
  • We are very concerned about what’s happening now. The U.S. has taken so many measures just in the last year or two to move towards a war with Iran, starting with pulling out of the nuclear deal, designating the Iran Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, trying to get the Iranian oil exports down to zero, creating chaos in the Iranian economy. And of course, Iran is going to prepare itself for what looks like an attack. And this also can be put on John Bolton, who has been calling for an attack on Iran since before he ever got into the administration... It is I think important to understand that these policies are being organized by John Bolton. John Bolton, who is so close to the MEK in the case of Iran. John Bolton who has said before that he wants to bomb Iran. John Bolton that is so close to the Saudis and to Israel. And of course Donald Trump himself having an even closer relationship to the Saudis and to Israel has made the situation in Iran extremely dangerous.
    The only thing that is going to counter this is if we get Congress to stand up to pass legislation that says, “We will not allow any unauthorized attack on either Iran or Venezuela,” if we get all of the presidential candidates to stand up and say no to an attack on Iran and if we get the American people to be very loud and clear saying, “We are totally opposed to any attack on Iran.”


  • At least 70 countries have signed on to the March 23 call by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a worldwide ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic. Like non-essential business and spectator sports, war is a luxury that the Secretary General says we must manage without for a while. After U.S. leaders have told Americans for years that war is a necessary evil or even a solution to many of our problems, Mr. Guterres is reminding us that war is really the most nonessential evil and an indulgence that the world cannot afford – especially during a pandemic.
  • As we chant “Black Lives Matter”, let's include the lives of people of color dying from US sanctions in Venezuela, being blown up by US bombs in Yemen and Afghanistan, and being tear-gassed, beaten and shot in Palestine with US weapons.
  • Fidel Castro said that instead of investing so much in the development of increasingly sophisticated weapons, those with the resources should promote medical research and put science at the service of humanity, creating instruments of health and life, not death. #cubanobel
  • At the Tulsa rally, Trump says Biden is a helpless puppet of the radical left. Would be funny, but Trump’s people believe it. Ridiculous.
  • Did you know that of the nearly 1200 health professional Cubans involved in fighting COVID-19 around the world, more than half are women? Join the campaign to award them the Nobel Prize. #CubaNobel
  • Fantastic article by Cuba’s Ambassador to Canada, @JosefinaVidalF, about the 2 pandemics facing Cuba: COVID and the US embargo. #CubaNobel
  • We need a movement to #DefundTheMilitary. Why spend so much $ for a dept that can’t pass an audit, can’t win a war, and brings so much death and misery to black and brown people around the world?
  • US wars wouldn’t be possible without a racist worldview. "If you want to bomb or invade a country filled with black or brown people, you have to first suggest they’re backward people in need of saving or savage people in need of killing.” @mehdirhasan
  • Cuban doctors arrive in Martinique to fight coronavirus. "The only thing that motivates us is to save lives, that's the most important thing in the eyes of a Cuban doctor.” That’s why they could get the Nobel Prize. (27 June 2020)
  • Curious that allegations re Russia giving Taliban $ to kill US soldiers comes just in time to sabotage talks re the last nuclear treaty between the US and Russia, the withdrawal of more US troops from Afghanistan and peace in Syria. Sounds like fake news to me...
  • Just as Obama co-opted and muted liberal opposition to Bush’s wars and record arms spending, Trump has co-opted and muted conservative opposition to Obama’s wars.
  • Though it will supposedly stave off Israeli annexation of the West Bank and encourage tourism and trade between both countries, in reality, it is nothing more than a scheme to give an Arab stamp of approval to Israel’s status quo of land theft, home demolitions, arbitrary extrajudicial killings, apartheid laws, and other abuses of Palestinian rights.
    The deal should be seen in the context of over three years of Trump administration policies that have tightened Israel’s grip on the Palestinians: moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the Golan Heights as Israeli territory, and creating a so-called peace plan with no Palestinian participation or input.
    While no U.S. administration has successfully brokered a resolution to Israel’s now 53-year-long occupation, the Trump years have been especially detrimental to the Palestinian cause. Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi wrote on Twitter that with this deal, “Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it’s been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation.”
  • Among the most brutal aspects of this period for Palestinians have been the loss of support for their cause in neighboring Arab states. The Arab political party in Israel, Balad, said that by signing this pact, “the UAE has officially joined Israel against Palestine, and placed itself in the camp of the enemies of the Palestinian people.”
    The UAE’s change from supporting Palestinian dignity and freedom to supporting Israel’s never-ending occupation is a calculated move by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, a shrewd Middle East dictator who uses his country’s military and financial resources to thwart moves towards democracy and respect for human rights under the guise of fighting Islamic terrorism.

Quotes aboutEdit

  • The reason why the U.S. Government must be prosecuted for its war-crimes against Iraq is that they are so horrific and there are so many of them, and international law crumbles until they become prosecuted and severely punished for what they did... On 15 March 2018, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies headlined at Alternet, “The Staggering Death Toll in Iraq” and wrote that “our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion,” and linked to solid evidence, backing up their estimate.... On 6 February 2020, BusinessInsider bannered “US taxpayers have reportedly paid an average of $8,000 each and over $2 trillion total for the Iraq war alone”, and linked to the academic analysis that supported this estimate. The U.S. regime’s invasive war, which the Bush gang perpetrated against Iraq, was also a crime against the American people (though Iraqis suffered far more from it than we did).

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