Working towards peace and sustainability

Defusing These Threats: Resisting the Trump Agenda

Thirty-five years ago a group of mid-Missourians—some young, some older—from diverse backgrounds, came together to form the organization that later became Peaceworks. In our earliest years we were part of the Nuclear Freeze movement, focused on ending the arms race. In the later 1980s we expanded this focus to include peace concerns more broadly, and by 1990 we were addressing social justice and sustainability concerns, as well.

When, in the early 1990s, we created a new mission statement, which included the following:

“Peaceworks is sensitive to the interconnectedness of all on this planet, and conscious of the multiple threats to survival.  A primary mission of our organization is opposing and defusing these threats.”

In recent years much of our work has focused on addressing the Climate Crisis, a primary threat to life on our planet. Now with Trump in the White House, we face dual existential dangers of climate change and nuclear weapons.

The rise of Donald Trump, with his stated intent to pursue a major increase in fossil fuel production and a roll-back of the modest steps forward on climate taken under Barak Obama, represents a grave threat to our survival. Likewise Trump’s loose talk about using nuclear weapons, welcoming their proliferation and inviting a new arms race, gives us serious pause. If these were our only concerns, we’d be calling for resistance to the Trump agenda. But there are many other reasons to oppose normalizing this most pernicious of administrations.

We also recognize that his autocratic, hyper-nationalist approach to governance looks a lot like neo-fascism and may represent an existential threat to the republic, if not our very survival. We have written about this in a short article you can access HERE. And we recognize the threat Trump’s ascendance poses to many constituencies under fire, including Muslims, undocumented people, people of color, LGBTQ people, other minorities and women. We address this in another short article HERE.

Trump & the Climate:

While Trump has been less than consistent in his statements on climate change, it is clear from his appointments and his campaign promises that he is no friend of the climate. Key figures in his administration either deny anthropogenic climate change entirely, or deny the need for action.

Trump seems intent on canceling the EPA Clean Power Plan. He has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. And he has issued an order calling for full speed ahead on pipeline construction, including DAPL and KXL.

Last September, candidate Trump spoke at the Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh. He told the industry execs “Oh, you will like me so much,” as he promised to cut regulations and expedite fracking and coal extraction. Trump has personally invested in the industry and clearly does not recognize the threat posed by the failure to rapidly phase out dirty, climate-altering energy sources.

Peaceworks’ response is to double down on our advocacy and educational efforts. We made sure the Climate Crisis was a major focus of the January 21 Solidarity March and will continue to make climate concerns visible in the streets as well as in op-eds and other forms of public advocacy. We are also revamping our Climate Action Speakers Bureau and seeking opportunities to speak to organizations, classes, houses of worship, etc.

Trump on War & Militarism:

Some people were hopeful that, despite his other flaws, Trump might be less interventionist than Hillary Clinton. His initial appearances on the world stage, however, have shown our new president to be an inexperienced, hot-headed novice. Some phone conversations with foreign leaders have been rocky, including Trump threatening to send the U.S. military into Mexico, when talking with their president. His pledge to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and his rejection of the One-China policy in regard to Taiwan, both bode poorly for peace in these two tinderbox regions.

With regard to nuclear weapons, in December Trump tweeted that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,” and later said in an interview “Let it be an arms race ... we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” This proposed expansion is on top of a trillion dollar, three-decade nuclear “modernization” program advanced by President Obama.

The nuclear buildup and Trump’s suggestion that he would favor more nuclear-armed nations, including Japan and South Korea, are deeply disturbing. So, frankly, is the notion that someone as seemingly unstable as Donald Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger.
Trump also campaigned on the notion that the U.S. military had been eviscerated under Obama. Despite the fact that the U.S. outspends the next seven biggest spenders on the military combined, and the fact that most of those seven are close allies, Trump has claimed “Our military is depleted,” and declared the most powerful military in the world to be “gutted.” He then promised to beef-up the forces by increasing the already bloated Pentagon budget.
Also deeply disturbing is the likely impact of the Muslim/refugee travel ban. Besides adversely affecting many people, it is probable that this will only increase antipathy towards Americans and help ISIS and al Qaeda recruit.  It almost seems that Trump is goading extremists to attack U.S. targets, which, if they do, will only fuel fear and enable more violent responses. Consider this in the context of Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, being an extreme Islamophobe, and his Chief Strategist, Steven Bannon, who shares similar perspectives, having been recently elevated to the National Security Council’s Principals Committee.

Further, the Trump proposal to create “safe zones” in Syria prompts concern over growing U.S. deployments to the region and the possibility of direct military conflict with the Russians, who also have troops in Syria. This would put the U.S. and Russia closer to armed conflict than at any time in since 1973.

Peaceworks will continue to advocate for a sane foreign policy; for negotiated resolution to conflicts; for mutual, verifiable and incremental disarmament; and for the redirection of resources currently squandered on war and militarism to create a sustainable and prosperous future for all. We will educate the public and challenge our elected officials to act in the interest of the people, not the Military-Industrial Complex. Further, we will continue to deny the normalcy of a president who, on his first full day in office, in a talk to CIA staff in Langley, said, with regard to Iraq, “we should have kept the oil, but, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance.”