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.
  • Flournoy... represents the epitome of what is worst about the Washington blob, the military-industrial complex’s revolving door. Her whole history has been one of going in and out of the Pentagon, first under President Clinton, then under President Obama, where she supported every war that the U.S. engaged in, and supported increases in the military budget, and then used her contacts in government in these kind of hawkish think tanks that she either joined or helped create. She sits on the board of a corporation that works with defense contractors. She herself has made a lot of money by parlaying these insider contacts into positioning companies to be able to get these very plush Pentagon contracts. She also sees China as an enemy that has to be confronted with higher-tech weapons, which justifies increased Pentagon spending and puts us on a dangerous path of an increased cold war with China. So, these are just some of the reasons we think she would be a disastrous pick as secretary of defense.
    • Feminism Not Militarism: Medea Benjamin on the Movement to Oppose Michèle Flournoy as Pentagon Chief, Democracy Now, (25 November 2020)


  • The immediate solution to this international crisis is for the United States to end its current wars and stop selling weapons to allies who wage war on their neighbors or kill civilians. Withdrawing U.S. occupation forces and ending U.S. airstrikes will allow the United Nations and the rest of the world to mobilize legitimate, impartial support programs to help America’s victims rebuild their lives and their societies. President Biden should offer generous U.S. war reparations to finance these programs, including the rebuilding of Mosul, Raqqa, and other cities destroyed by American bombardment. <BRTo prevent new U.S. wars, the Biden Administration should commit to participating and complying with the rules of international law, which are supposed to be binding on all countries, even the most wealthy and powerful. While paying lip service to the rule of law and a “rules-based international order,” the United States has in practice been recognizing only the law of the jungle and the principle of “might makes right,” as if the U.N. Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of force did not exist and the protected status of civilians under the Geneva Conventions was subject to the discretion of unaccountable U.S. government lawyers.
  • The United States does not just wage war on children with bombs, missiles, and bullets. It also wages economic war in ways that disproportionately affect children, preventing countries like Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea from importing essential food and medicines or obtaining the resources they need to buy them. These sanctions are a brutal form of economic warfare and collective punishment that leave children dying from hunger and preventable diseases, especially during this pandemic. U.N. officials have called for the International Criminal Court to investigate unilateral U.S. sanctions as crimes against humanity. The Biden Administration should immediately lift all unilateral economic sanctions. Will President Joe Biden act to protect the children of the world from America’s most tragic and indefensible war crimes? Nothing in his long record in public life suggests that he will, unless the American public, and the rest of the world, act collectively and effectively to insist that America must end its war on children and finally become a responsible, law-abiding member of the human family.
    • Biden Must End the War on Kids, by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies, The Progressive, (28 January 2021)
  • In 2004, journalist Ron Suskind quoted a Bush White House adviser, reportedly Karl Rove, as boasting, "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." He dismissed Suskind's assumption that public policy must be rooted in "the reality-based community." "We're history's actors," the adviser told him, "and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do." Sixteen years later, the American wars and war crimes launched by the Bush administration have only spread chaos and violence far and wide, and this historic conjunction of criminality and failure has predictably undermined America's international power and authority. Back in the imperial heartland, the political marketing industry that Rove and his colleagues were part of has had more success dividing and ruling the hearts and minds of Americans than of Iraqis, Russians or Chinese. The irony of the Bush administration's imperial pretensions was that America has been an empire from its very founding, and that a White House staffer's political use of the term "empire" in 2004 was not emblematic of a new and rising empire as he claimed, but of a decadent, declining empire stumbling blindly into an agonizing death spiral.
  • Every successful empire has expanded, ruled and exploited its far-flung territories through a combination of economic and military power. Even in the American empire's neocolonial phase, the role of the U.S. military and the CIA was to kick open doors through which American businessmen could "follow the flag" to set up shop and develop new markets.
    But now U.S. militarism and America's economic interests have diverged. Apart from a few military contractors, American businesses have not followed the flag into the ruins of Iraq or America's other current war zones in any lasting way. Eighteen years after the U.S. invasion, Iraq's largest trading partner is China, while Afghanistan's is Pakistan, Somalia's is the United Arab Emirates and Libya's is the European Union.
    Instead of opening doors for American big business or supporting America's diplomatic position in the world, the U.S. war machine has become a bull in the global china shop, wielding purely destructive power to destabilize countries and wreck their economies, closing doors to economic opportunity instead of opening them, diverting resources from real needs at home, and damaging America's international standing instead of enhancing it.
    • The decline and fall of the American empire: Joe Biden's biggest challenge, by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies, Salon, (4 February 2021)
  • The February meeting of NATO...defense ministers... revealed an antiquated, 75-year-old alliance that, despite its military failures in Afghanistan and Libya, is now turning its military madness toward two more formidable, nuclear-armed enemies: Russia and China... NATO seems oblivious to the changing dynamics of today's world, as if it were living on a different planet. Its one-sided Reflection Group report cites Russia's violation of international law in Crimea as a principal cause of deteriorating relations with the West, and insists that Russia must "return to full compliance with international law." But it ignores the U.S. and NATO's far more numerous violations of international law and leading role in the tensions fueling the renewed Cold War:
  • Illegal invasions of Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq;
  • The broken agreement over NATO expansion into Eastern Europe;
  • U.S. withdrawals from important arms control treaties;
  • More than 300,000 bombs and missiles dropped on other countries by the U.S. and its allies since 2001;
  • U.S. proxy wars in Libya and Syria, which plunged both countries into chaos, revived Al Qaeda and spawned the Islamic State;
  • U.S. management of the 2014 coup in Ukraine, which led to economic collapse, Russian annexation of Crimea and civil war in Eastern Ukraine;
  • The stark reality of the U.S. record as a serial aggressor whose offensive war machine dwarfs Russia's defense spending by 11 to 1 and China's by 2.8 to 1, even without counting other NATO countries' military spending.
  • President Joe Biden and the Democratic Congress are facing a crisis as the popular domestic agenda they ran on in the 2020 elections is held hostage by two corporate Democratic senators: fossil-fuel consigliere Joe Manchin and payday-lender favorite Kyrsten Sinema. But the very week before the Democrats’ $350-billion annual domestic package hit this wall of corporate money-bags, all but 38 House Democrats voted to hand over more than double that amount to the Pentagon. Senator Manchin has hypocritically described the domestic spending bill as “fiscal insanity,” but he has voted for a much larger Pentagon budget every year since 2016. Real fiscal insanity is what Congress does year after year, taking most of its discretionary spending off the table and handing it over to the Pentagon before even considering the country’s urgent domestic needs. Maintaining this pattern, Congress just splashed out $12 billion for 85 more F-35 warplanes, six more than Donald Trump bought last year, without debating the relative merits of buying more F-35s vs. investing $12 billion in education, health care, clean energy or fighting poverty.
  • As some in Congress continue to ask how we can afford to take care of our children or ensure future life on this planet, progressives in Congress must not only call for taxing the rich but cutting the Pentagon — and not just in tweets or rhetorical flourishes, but in real policy. While it may be too late to reverse course this year, they must stake out a line in the sand for next year’s military budget that reflects what the public desires and the world so desperately needs: to roll back the destructive, gargantuan war machine and to invest in health care and a livable climate, not bombs and F-35s.

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).

See AlsoEdit

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