In addition to a shift from excessive military spending to investments in job creation on the civilian side of the federal budget, building a peace economy requires easing the transition to new economic activity for communities, workers and businesses currently dependent on wartime levels of military spending.
Doing so will make achieving the defense savings more likely: Communities working on a Plan B don’t need to be single-mindedly focused on trying to protect contracts for military hardware we don’t need. And their members of Congress can base their votes on the military budget on their assessments of national security need, rather than the need to protect military pork.
Two new vehicles for facilitating the transition to a peace economy have the most promise for our postwar period.
State commissions to create defense diversification strategies
Connecticut passed legislation in 2013 creating a “Commission on Connecticut’s Future.” Its membership includes state legislators, state economic development officials, and representatives of small and large state businesses, defense-dependent unions, peace and environmental organizations.
Among the Commission’s mandates is to agree on a plan to help diversify the state’s defense-dependent economy.
Legislation to create similar commissions has been introduced in the legislatures of Wisconsin and Maryland, and is being considered in several other states.
Federal planning grants and technical assistance for communities to develop their own defense diversification plans
Here are several fact sheets explaining this critical tool of defense transition:
- OEA fact sheet for legislators (PDF)
- US Conf of Mayors (PDF)
- Defense Transition Assistance (PDF)
- A Comprehensive Strategy for Defense Transition Assistance (PDF)
A Compendium of federal programs relevant to the transition from the military to the green economy is here: [Federal Resources for a Green Economic Transition, attached]
Selected articles, opeds and fact sheets
- Beating Swords Into Solar Panels: Re-Purposing America’s War Machine - Tom Dispatch
- Swords Into Solar Panels - The Nation
- Top 10 Myths of the Jobs Argument Against Military Cuts - IPS Blog
- Defense braces for a bad decade - Foreign Policy In Focus
- Defense Industry Scare Tactics Won’t Create Jobs - The Hill
Selected resources from other sources
The Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy has produced a compendium of information on each state’s military economy. (this is just a pdf, but he’s given permission to make it public.)
The New Priorities Network site includes several useful how-to fact sheets on peace economy transition work.