The following is a memo to Barack Obama from Deepak Chopra:
You have been elected by the first anti-war constituency since 1952,
when Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected after promising to end the Korean
War. But ending a war isn’t the same as bringing peace. America has been
on a war footing since the day after Pearl Harbor, 67 years ago. We
spend more on our military than the next 16 countries combined. If you
have a vision of change that goes to the heart of this country’s deep
problems, ending our dependence on war is far more important than ending
our dependency on foreign oil.
The most immediate changes are economic. Unless it can make as much
money as war, peace doesn’t stand a chance. Since aerospace and military
technologies remain the United States’ most destructive export,
fostering wars around the world, what steps can we take to reverse that
trend and build a peace-based economy?
1. Scale out arms dealing and make it illegal by the year 2020.
2. Write into every defense contract a requirement for a peacetime project.
3. Subsidize conversion of military companies to peaceful uses with tax
incentives and direct funding.
4. Convert military bases to housing for the poor.
5. Phase out all foreign military bases.
6. Require military personnel to devote part of their time to rebuilding
7. Call a moratorium on future weapons technologies.
8. Reduce armaments like destroyers and submarines that have no use
against terrorism and were intended to defend against a superpower enemy
that no longer exists.
9. Fully fund social services and take the balance out of the defense
and homeland security budgets.
These are just the beginning. We don’t lack creativity in coping with
change. Without a conversion of our present war economy to a peace
economy, the high profits of the military-industrial complex ensures
that it will never end.
Do these nine steps seem unrealistic or fanciful? In various ways, other
countries have adopted similar measures. The former Soviet army is
occupied with farming and other peaceful work, for example. But
comparisons are rather pointless, since only the United States is
burdened with such a massive reliance on defense spending. Ultimately,
empire follows the dollar. As a society, we want peace, and we want to
be seen as a nation that promotes peace. For either ideal to come true,
you as president must back up your vision of change with economic
reality. So far, that hasn’t happened under any of your predecessors.
All hopes are pinned on you.
Deepak Chopra is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest leaders in
the field of mind-body medicine. He is the author of over 50 books,
including Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment and Ageless Body, Timeless