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Mass Peace Action with Brian Garvey

I recently sat down for an interview with Brian Garvey of Mass Peace Action, the largest Peace Organization in Massachusetts.

Brian Garvey organizes with the Raytheon Antiwar Campaign and supports Mass. Peace Action’s working groups on the Middle East, Latin America, and the Raytheon Antiwar Campaign. He helps to develop the youth voice in today’s peace movement and activates members. He is a native of North Reading and lives in Brighton.

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Transcript – Please note, this Transcript is AI Generated. It has not had the discerning ears of a real human to edit it, as such, there are bound to be a few errors

Jimmy Tingle 0:05
Hey everybody, this is Jimmy, thank you so much for joining us for another episode of the Jimmy tingle Show. Today we have a very special guest. All of our guests are very special because we do our homework. We want to get people who are interesting and informative and can help, you know, just expand the conversation in this country. So right now I’d like to introduce Mr. Brian Garvey. He is the Assistant Director of mass peace action, New England’s largest peace organization. Brian organizes and supports mass peace actions, working groups on the Middle East, Latin America and the Raytheon anti war campaign. He helped to develop the youth voice and today’s peace movement and activates members. Let us in gentlemen, please welcome to the show from Redding, Massachusetts, originally now residing in Brighton, Massachusetts, the one the only Mr. Bryan Garvey. Hey, Brian, how are you?

Brian Garvey 0:58
I’m doing great. Thanks for having me on. Jimmy, this is great.

Jimmy Tingle 1:01
Well, thanks for joining us, Brian. So tell us tell our listeners, those who might not be familiar with mass peace action, what exactly is mass peace action? And what actually do they do?

Brian Garvey 1:12
Well, as you mentioned, in your great intro, Massachusetts peace action is the largest peace organization in New England. And we’re part of a national network. So we have sister affiliates all across the country. And what we do is use the power of community education and grassroots organizing to change fundamentally, US foreign policy. So we work to end wars, to abolish nuclear weapons and that danger, and also to shrink our ever growing military budget and to take the money from that and put them towards human needs right here.

Jimmy Tingle 1:52
And how is it going with mass peace action? I mean, over the last, say, 25 years, can you point to some successes when it comes to, you know, helping to end the war or helping to end a war or reducing are repurposing military dollars?

Brian Garvey 2:11
Yeah, actually, in the 1980s, when mass peace action first became an affiliate, it came out of the nuclear freeze movement, which was a broad national movement to try and stop the building of more nuclear weapons. And this was very controversial at the time of President Reagan was, was dead set on fighting the evil empire. And we had almost 70,000 nuclear weapons across the world. And through a lot of that organizing that these folks did way back in the 80s. They even got Ronald Reagan to say that we should abolish nuclear weapons and get to zero. Now, we still we didn’t quite get there, we still have about 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world. But that’s a heck of a lot better than 70,000. So that was a major achievement going back even more than than 25 years ago. But right,

Jimmy Tingle 3:09
I remember that. Yeah, right.

Brian Garvey 3:11
I’m sure you did some organizing with them. Jimmy, if I know you,

Jimmy Tingle 3:15
well, they had the huge concert in Central Park. I remember. And they made a film on it. I think. I think Bruce Springsteen was there. I think I know Cali Simon was there. I think, maybe Dylan some of the biggest stars at that time, it was a huge thing. And the youth vote was really there. People were completely opposed to the nuclear race at the time it was and because this is before the Soviet Union had collapsed. So there was a real live Soviet Union with, you know, 10s, of 1000s of nuclear warheads. But yeah, that was a really big victory. Can you point out some other things just to, you know, contemporize, and bring that bring the audience up to speed?

Brian Garvey 3:56
Absolutely. Well, a more recent victory is something that we have been campaigning on for over 20 years, which is an end to the US war in Afghanistan, which of course, became the longest war in American history, and one that had really lost its sense of purpose. Not too many people could point and say, here’s what victory means. And that’s why it was lingering on and on. It was not only harming the Afghan people, but it was also costing according to President Biden about $300 million a day. So we know that that was an incredibly difficult thing for the administration to do, but a very necessary thing. And through the campaigning of groups like masterpiece action, who were at the very beginning, calling for for getting out of that war, slowly but surely did build public support, where the administration felt that it was that it was both Politik. We achievable and the right thing to do to get us out of Afghanistan after over 20 years. And I think that President Biden will be vindicated in that in that decision.

Jimmy Tingle 5:11
Right. And it actually started under President Trump. As I recall, he was the one that put it front and center. And he, you know, for better or for worse, he said, we weren’t, we’re gonna be out of here. And then, of course, you know, that he lost the election. So the Biden administration was stuck with the, with the withdrawal, which people always criticize. And, I mean, I think you would agree that it didn’t go very smoothly. But the one thing about Afghanistan that people fail to grasp is that, you know, we lost 3000 Americans on 911. And within three, when our government wants to respond, we respond. It was horrible tragedy, completely unjustified. But within three weeks, we had the largest mobilization of military personnel, and world history. We were in Afghanistan, three weeks. And that’s what we can do as a country when we put our mind to it. And we stayed, of course, just to get one guy, ostensibly, Osama bin Laden, we stayed long overdue. And which kind of in the big picture seemed like, geez, we spent a trillion dollars, we spent 28 states 20 years old to get this one guy that’s kind of like invading South Boston to get Whitey Bolger, you know, and then 20 years later saying, Yeah, we left fighting, you believe the Irish is still here, you know. So it was, it was just a, just a long extended and nobody wanted to leave. That’s the I mean, groups like you guys did. But the administration, subsequent administrations, there was so much. I don’t know if it was business or money or just not knowing what the alternative would be. And part of it was probably they don’t want the Taliban to come back into power. Was that part of it? You think?

Brian Garvey 6:58
I think it’s all of the above. And I’m really glad that you brought up the previous administration, too, because I want to be very clear that Massachusetts police action is nonpartisan. And oftentimes, our foreign policy, many of the problems with it are bipartisan. So this global war on terror that we’re talking about that Afghanistan is only a part of, was only a part of, was very bipartisan, you know, much like the war in Vietnam back in the 60s and 70s. We saw it it escalate and expand under Democratic and Republican administrations a lot. So this is not a bipartisan problem. This is not a partisan problem. This is a problem that the entire country needs to solve, you know, whether you’re on the right or on the left, because we all care about the morality of these issues. We all care about the expense. And perhaps most importantly, we all care about our active duty soldiers and our veterans, because they are the ones who bear the brunt of this. And by working with veterans who actually served in Afghanistan, and talked about their experience, and the seeming, the lack of clarity of over what they were doing, and what their mission was, and the danger, that and why they were being put in such danger. That’s what really drove the point home to me, because who knows better than people who have seen it with their own eyes?

Jimmy Tingle 8:24
Right. And there are some really articulate spokespeople here in the Massachusetts area. I’m thinking of Andrew Bacevich. I think he was a colonel in the military lost his son in Iraq. He’s one. I know, Seth Moulton has been front and center, I believe in an authentic voice about what was going on there. And his in his role, I think he did for two tours in Iraq. And there’s many other folks that really shine a light on that issue. But one thing about mass peace action that’s always struck me is that you’re anti war in your philosophy. And that’s not always very popular. And it’s never rent been the real guiding force of American foreign policy, or many countries foreign policy for that matter. But there’s gonna come a time, that war, and maybe not in our lifetime, but maybe 100 years from now, 200 years from now 300 years, where people are going to look back and go, do you believe that in the is, you know, in the night of the 20th and the 21st century, people actually would fight to the death to achieve political goals? Do you believe that they used to do that? That would be like people looking now back 150 years that slavery and go do you believe that you could actually own other other human beings so it’s always interesting and uplifting to talk to your organization because you you offer hope and you offer a vision of a better society, not just for the US but for the entire planet.

Brian Garvey 9:58
Right, I think you’re right Jamie. And it’s absolutely crucial for us to succeed in getting rid of war. Because with the weapons technology we have, especially with nuclear weapons. Right now, the human race, our existence is incompatible with war. Think Martin Luther King said at that best way back in 1967, he said, humanity has to choose between nonviolent coexistence or violent tow annihilation. And that’s where we are with these weapons that we have created. They’re not compatible with human beings living on this planet, we have to be desperately need to find another way to solve our problems to learn how to talk to one another, instead of settling these political differences with the use of force, we simply can’t do it in

Jimmy Tingle 10:55
the recent defense budget was the largest, I think, in history, over 800 billion. And I know that what is tell me about mass peace actions take on the defense budget in general, and what would you like to see happen with some of the defense dollars we’re spending?

Brian Garvey 11:11
Well, our take is obviously, it needs to be reduced dramatically. We’re talking about a national security budget, and that over $800 billion, you’re right, it is the largest in our history. But it doesn’t even include things like nuclear weapons, which are in the Department of Energy. So when all said and done, you’re talking about about a trillion dollars being spent on our national security budget, that’s about half of what the entire world spends. And we’re only about 5% of the population, Jim, it is completely out of whack. By any measure. What I would like to see that money put towards is actual national security. Right? I mean, we all just lived through the COVID 19 pandemic, it killed over a million of our citizens, and we couldn’t bomb COVID-19. Right? If you want to protect our national security, we need to take that money and invest it into health care. Right, we’re spending now over $800 billion a year on on the defense budget. And we have our frontline health care workers in trash bags, because they can’t get proper protective equipment in the richest country in the history of the world. And I think when you bring examples like that, and climate change is another one that we’re not putting nearly enough money into. When you when you put examples like this to people. People start to see through it, they start, they start to think and realize that, you know, it doesn’t make too much sense when you’re spending this much money and you still have veterans sleeping out on the street, something’s wrong. One of the points

Jimmy Tingle 12:56
I’ve tried to make over the years is you just look at the opioid crisis or the addiction problem in the country. And you think of how many I think we lost 100,000 people last year to overdose 100,000. Now in all of Afghanistan and Iraq, as horrible as that was, we lost about 7070 500 Americans that were killed and maybe several 1000 more wounded, tragically, of course, and we will, it’s terrible. But we lost 100,000 to overdoses. And, and then to gun violence, another 20 to 30,000 to gun violence. And there’s so much, it seems to me there’s so many things that we could be doing reallocating money in terms of broadening the definition of national defense. So like you were mentioning, health care, national defense, you know, opioid and treating substance abuse disorder as national defense, gun safety as national defense and of course, climate change. Tell us what you’re trying to do with climate change. I know you have some strong advocates in the Senate and in Congress. And just on a on a positive note about some of the things that the Biden administration has been doing around climate change. No, Senator Markey is a strong ally. I believe Ayana Presley is a strong ally of mass peace action. Tell us some of the victories we’ve had in the last couple of years.

Brian Garvey 14:26
And I’ll just save before we get onto that, that unfortunately, a lot of those a lot of those deaths that you’re talking about are our veterans to folks who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other places more than 100,000 suicides by veterans since since September 11 2001. And our government has not done nearly enough to solve that problem. But another problem But we are not addressing him we’re quickly running out of time to address is, of course, pending climate catastrophe, we are already seeing the effects of it, it’s getting harder and harder to deny that the effects are real. Some, some still do, of course, as you know, Jimmy, but if we’re going to solve this problem, it’s a global issue, you know, you cannot prepare for for war with the other major powers of the world, with Russia, with China, and at the same time, cooperate with them to solve what is a global problem, and really stop polluting our Earth. So much. So we have seen some recent and you mentioned there’s a lot of great folks here in Massachusetts, Senator Markey is not only was not only a leader of that nuclear freeze movement we were talking about earlier, and one of the perhaps the leading voice in Washington for nuclear disarmament. He’s also the author of the green New Deal in the Senate. So really putting forward a visionary plan that sticks out what we need to do, you know, we need to fundamentally change the way that society works. If we are going to be able to continue to give to the next generation, a livable planet. These are the states, I am pleased to see that the Biden administration has recently started talking again, to their Chinese counterparts. We are the two largest economies in the world, two largest militaries in the world. And we’re also the largest polluters, so we need to get on the same page. We don’t agree on everything clearly. But for our own seats, you know, we both have an interest in being able to continue to live on this planet. So we need to get down to the table and start negotiating on this. I was very pleased to see President Biden recently meet with President Xi to start talking about these really tough issues.

Jimmy Tingle 17:12
Yeah, it would be nice to see both sides using best practices. I’m not technical enough or enough of an engineer to spell out solutions when it comes to climate change. But sharing information that can help each society and try to win the people over on the in China a win the population over in terms of where we don’t have to be enemies, is what I’m saying. And I think that will go a long way. Just communication,

Brian Garvey 17:43
communication in good faith as well. I feel like we’re still stuck in a mindset of the 20th century and before were were in competition. With these with these countries, we need to when you hear that sometimes even from even from folks who claim to be more progressive, you know, we need to go out there and win the 21st century, we need to make sure America is the leading power. That’s that is old time thinking in other worlds has, the world has moved on. We can’t bring that 20th century mindset to deep into the 21st century, we need to learn how to get together, because that’s the only way we’re going to solve these big problems.

Jimmy Tingle 18:25
If people want to find out more about mass peace action, is it mass peace? Is that the website?

Brian Garvey 18:31
That’s correct, you can check us out at Mass peace We’re on Twitter at Mass peace action while on Instagram or on Facebook, you can find us in all those spots.

Jimmy Tingle 18:41
Great. And as I said earlier, if you want to attend any of my shows, on December 29 30th, or January 1, it’s a $30 ticket. And when they asked you in the required field, how did you hear about this event? You just scroll down mass peace accurate you click that we donate $10 to mass peace, action. And when you actually check out if you want to make an additional donation, you can do so as well to mass peace action. Brian, great to see you. Continued success. Keep the Faith man, you’re the future. I mean, it’s me and you, Brian, we need Millennials like ourselves, or move this to move this world forward. But I really thank you so much for joining us today and continued success to you and mass peace action. And it’s it’s it’s heartening to know there have been victories. And sometimes they’re not always front and center. But we are making progress as a society and as a as a and as humanity. So that’s really, really important to everybody, especially around the holidays. We need hope and you guys bring us hope. And it’s helpful to know that you’re in the trenches, doing the hard work. Thank you so much.

Brian Garvey 19:47
Thank you, Jimmy. We love you

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