Do Antiwar Organizations Depend on War?

War is a racket.  I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

— General Smedley Butler, (July 30, 1881 – June 21, 1940)

General, if you were alive today you would not be surprised to see that the racket you were in has ballooned into a multi-trillion dollar enterprise larger than many nation’s total economies. Since WWII America has been the most warring and imperialistic nation on the planet solely for the self-serving purpose of perpetuating and expanding the military/industrial/political triumvirate. The war industry is plump with profit. National security has grown into an insatiable industry. Other industries with military help are globalizing their markets and plundering foreign resources. The Department of War is never satisfied with its bloated budget and overblown weaponry and never hesitant to spend and use both. The twin political parties compete to be the most hawkish.

The deadly triumvirate has made unimpeded progress since the last public uprising against it. That was, of course, during the Vietnam War, and the uprising convinced the triumvirate not to stop warring but to stop drafting. No longer would wide swaths of Main Streets and their neighborhood families personally experience the ravages of war. Willing combatants, some jobless, a few felons when quotas required, would be hired. Robotic drones would eventually be built and increasingly ordered into use by the Oval Office. The general public has thus been insolated from war and also quieted by duplicitous and fear mongering politicians, by exhortations and recriminations from false and flag waving patriots, and by the servile mainstream media.

But if we were to look more closely at the general public we would see that it comprises many different segments, some of which have not been totally quieted and have expressed in varying forms and levels of sincerity and effort frustration with, and opposition to, America at war. The two most salient segments are 60 some antiwar foundations that help fund antiwar projects and 50 some antiwar NGOs

The antiwar foundations are members of the Peace and Security Funders Group (PSFG). Its mission, according to its website,  is “dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of philanthropy working to promote international peace and security.” The total assets of the members run in the billions of dollars and they are donors to numerous antiwar NGOs. But what has all their antiwar funding over the years accomplished beyond helping to foot the operating expenses of the antiwar NGOs? If the PSFG were really serious about their antiwar objectives, they would have pooled their resources, created a large institutional grants program and used it to induce the many fragmented NGOs to unite and get a grant to help underwrite a collaborative strategy of “waging war on war,” so to speak, and in an entirely peaceful and legal way, as I proposed in my book, The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch, and more recently in my website. I wrote the executive director of PSFG twice about forwarding and promoting my suggestion that member foundations pool resources and underwrite a large grant program but never got a reply.

The 50 some antiwar NGOs are no more or less effective than are the foundations. Their accomplishments mostly amount to building their staffs and other capabilities and achieving small wins on pieces of small or narrow issues. They are a fragmented bunch with negligible collaboration among them; their initiatives are piecemeal, tactical and rarely strategic; and not one of them could afford on their own to mount a major strategically guided offensive against war.

Three of the more prominent antiwar NGOs are Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, and the War Resisters League. I very recently wrote an open letter to the these three suggesting they contact the other antiwar/peace about forming a collaborative network along with a strategic plan and also the members of the PSFG to request their establishing a new institutional grant program to help fund the start up and initial operating costs of the new network. At the end of this article is a copy of the letter.

This article’s title is expressed as a question. At the moment it is more rhetorical than conjectural. For the time being I will reserve my final judgment of the antiwar foundations and NGOs. I would be interested in knowing how readers of this article would answer the question.

Here is the letter:

Let’s Unite for Peace: Open Letter to Peace Action, Veterans for Peace, and War Resisters League

Dear Ms Bolger, Ms Heinz, and Mr. Martin

My name is Gary Brumback, retired psychologist, creator of this website,  and author of the book on which the site is partly based, The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch. By “corpocracy” I mean the collusion between big corporations and big government that is ruling and ruining America. As Ralph Nader said recently, America is “increasingly an advanced third-world country [and needs to] get steamed to overcome corporatism.”

I am writing you because your three organizations are the epicenter of the opposition to America’s endless wars and militarily-aided corporate hegemony. But your organizations are handicapped from the outset. The corpocracy is powerful and united. The antiwar opposition is weak and divided. Moreover, neither your three organizations nor any of the other antiwar groups has deep enough resources singly to undertake the strategic reforms needed to end the corpocracy’s war making.

So I propose that your three organizations contact the 50 some other antiwar/peace groups about the possibility of creating a collaborative network like that described on the Illustrative Models Page of my website; develop a strategic plan like the one illustrated there (or along the lines of Peace Action’s strategic plan); pool resources; and begin undertaking initiatives that will accomplish your strategic goals and ultimately the biggest goal of all, an America at peace with the world.

Secondly, I propose that the three of you contact the 60 some grant awarding foundations that are members of the Peace and Securities Funder’s Group and request that these members pool their resources and establish a new institutional grant program to help fund the start up and initial operating costs of the new network. These foundations’ assets together are in the billions of dollars, but what has all that money done for peace so far?

I would very much appreciate it if you would give my proposals serious consideration and then let me know whether you intend to pursue them further.

While you are doing that I will begin concentrating my efforts on trying to unify the some 100 other NGOs and groups that are challenging in a very fragmented and usually piecemeal way the corpocracy. Ideally, there would eventually be a merged network that encompasses besides its antiwar component the other components for political, legislative, judicial, and economic reforms necessary to replace the corpocracy with a genuine democracy in which there is not only no war but no social economic injustice and the general welfare of the people, not corporate or political welfare, is promoted and realized.

I am fully aware of the argument that NGOs and foundations exist because the corpocracy exists and have been compromised by it. That is a view that I do not yet share. I trust that you do not either.

Thank you for your consideration,
Gary Brumback, PhD
Gary Brumback, PhD, is a retired psychologist and Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. He is the author of The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch; and America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying. His most recent book is “911!” Read other articles by Gary, or visit Gary's website. He can be contacted at Read other articles by Gary, or visit Gary's website.