Code Pink Co-founder Medea Benjamin is waging a war against war.
“We feel that there’s a bloated military that keeps us in a perpetual state of war,” she said. “We’d like to see us move toward a peace economy and peace foreign policy.”
Benjamin founded Code Pink: Women for Peace in 2002 along with fellow activist Jodie Evans. The organization, said to be made up of mostly women, was initially focused on preventing the Iraq War, but since then, has taken a vocal stance on a number of high-profile issues including US military aid to Israel, gun control and whistleblowers.
The group’s campaign against military drones has been one of its longest-running missions. In 2012, Benjamin released her book “Drone Warfare Killing: By Remote Control.” That same year she organized a speaking tour around the country. She later traveled to Pakistan to meet victims of drone strikes and their families.
Benjamin made headlines in 2013 for interrupting President Barack Obama as he addressed an audience at the National Defense University. She intended to question the president on his campaign promise of closing of Guantanamo Bay and the use of covert drone warfare.
She is still waiting for answers.
“When you have programs that are involved in the most serious issues of life and death and they’re done behind the backs of the American people, that is not good for a democracy,” Benjamin said.
She adds that she takes particular issue with the use of drones because they allow for a lack “plausible deniability” on the part of the government, especially when the CIA, a non-military, covert agency, operates the program. She also believes that US-intervention in general causes more problems than it solves.
“Groups like ISIS want to get the US more involved because they see it as part of their ideology is to fight the great Satan,” Ms. Benjamin said. “We feel in general, the way to extricate ourselves from being a target and the way toward a more non-violent world is to look for those political solutions.”
One of those political solutions, according to Benjamin, is to work with our allies and other regional powers to cut funding, recruitment and material support for terrorist groups. If we manage to do that, she believes that we can work toward redistributing some of our discretionary funds toward education, healthcare and alternative energy.
She calls the current system a “military-industrial-congressional” complex and acknowledges that fighting it is not easy.
“There is this tremendous prestige for the military, it’s put up on a pedestal and it’s glorified,” she said. “It is this idea that somehow the military is above everything else.”
Code Pink opposes military and corporate influence on government and views the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee as “a special interest lobby that maintains a dangerous stranglehold over US policies and diverts US tax dollars from American needs and into Israeli militarism.”
Five Code Pink members were arrested on March 1 for blocking the entrance to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center where AIPAC’s 2015 annual policy conference was being held. Despite the challenges ahead, Benjamin remains hopeful about the future and the role of young organizers looking to get involved.
“I think it’s something really that really behooves young people, whatever your issue is, to try to make the links between that issue and this military complex that keeps us in a state of perpetual war,” said Benjamin.
“That should not be the norm, we should be in a state of perpetual peace.”