By Christopher Overfelt

The corporate domination of American politics is most evident in the relationship between the Department of Defense and weapons manufacturers. Donald Trump’s last two picks for Secretary of Defense were CEO’s of Boeing and Raytheon, respectively. Joe Biden’s pick for Secretary of Defense is a board member of (surprise!) Raytheon. He is also a retired Army general, demonstrating the lack of division between these corporations and the Department of Defense.

The exploitation of American foreign policy for corporate profit is common between Republican and Democratic administrations. Over half of all weapons sales around the world originate from one place, the United States of America. We sell weapons and support militarily despotic regimes around the world such as the UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. These countries use these weapons to stamp out any signs of democracy in their own societies.

I had an opportunity to testify before the House Budget Committee about cutting the military budget. I explained that cutting this budget is not taking money away from ordinary soldiers, but instead taking it out of the pockets of the shareholders of these corporations. This money can be used to provide education and healthcare in our own communities. Representative Pramila Jayapal was part of that hearing, and later sponsored an amendment to the Defense Authorization bill to cut the military budget by 10%. Only a handful of Democratic members of the House supported that amendment. I was disappointed to see our own Representative Sharice Davids vote against it.

As peace activists in our own community, we can lay the groundwork for changing American foreign policy and exposing these corporations as fueling warfare around the world in the name of profit. This starts with educating ourselves and the people around us, and letting our politicians know that we expect something different. It is slow work and not immediately rewarding, but over time the public consciousness can change to reject the corporate domination of our politics. Keep up the work!

—Christopher Overfelt, of Veterans for Peace, serves on the PeaceWorks-KC Board of Directors and is active in the Poor People’s Campaign in Kansas.