This Week in Women: Trump’s Military Budget is No Match for Women Peacemakers

This Week in Women is part of a series produced in partnership between Ms. and the Fuller Project for International Reporting. This column is also part of a newsletter; sign up here to receive it regularly.

Last Friday, Trump approved the largest U.S. military budget in history—authorizing nearly $700 billion dollars in 2018, and another $716 billion next year. Since the media coverage was muted, here’s a few details about what’s on the Pentagon’s shopping list: missile defense programs ($4 billion), an aircraft carrier ($4.5 billion) and two nuclear powered attack submarines ($5.5 billion).

Russia is also amping things up: This article Wednesday in Defense One reported how Russia will pour money into drones and robotics as well as information warfare. Even attacking “non-military targets” is now fair game, said Russian Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov.

In other frightening signs that we’re marching toward war, Trump appointed John Bolton as his new National Security Adviser—even though he was terribly wrong about the more than trillion-dollar, failed Iraq war. And diplomats are disappearing: 27 countries, as well as NATO, ousted at least 151 Russian diplomats this week over the poisoning scandal in the UK; Russia on Thursday began expelling U.S. diplomats. As we know, Trump has spent the last year gutting the U.S. State Department.

On April 11th at The New York Times building, there will be a day-long seminar encouraging journalists to report on peace and reconciliation as fervently as they report on conflict. I’ll be speaking, along with Sebastian Junger, Lynsey Addario, Zainab Salbi, Fuller Project board member and veteran journalist Laurie Hays and Fuller Project advisor and longtime editor Robert Rosenthal. Click here to attend.

Part of this reporting needs to include those who are resisting war and conflict, upholding civil society and opposing authoritarianism. Yet, as The Fuller Project wrote this week at Ms., women anti-war activists have a long history of being dismissed as less serious, and considered not central to the “real issues” of conflict and war.

Not true. Right now, Russian women are risking their lives in opposition to Putin; Turkish women are opposing Erdogan; and there is an international coalition working for a peaceful reconciliation with North Korea. Meanwhile, there is an active behind-the-scenes movement on Capitol Hill to implement more fully legislation that ensures women always have a voice in reducing conflict.

These stories rarely get told. (Fuller Project correspondent Sophia Jones and photographer Andrea DiCenzo are in Iraq, traveling across the country reporting on how women are faring in post-ISIS times. Watch out for theirs.)

Meanwhile, the exclusive all-women’s club, The Wing, is under investigation over whether its female-only policy violates anti-discrimination laws. And on Twitter, feminist Jessica Valenti has led a very vocal chorus in opposition to the Atlantic magazine’s recent hiring of a right-wing columnist who called for women who’ve had abortions to be hanged.

In other news this week, the national backlog of untested rape kits may be eased soon. Sources told The Fuller Project this week that Massachusetts is about to vote on legislation that would: mandate an annual statewide inventory of rape kits, require the timely testing of newly collected rape kits, require the submission and testing of all backlogged kits; establish a statewide rape kit tracking system and grants victims the right to know the status of their kits. It’d make Massachusetts one of the most advanced states in the country in addressing the backlog of untested rape kits. We’re standing by to report on this big story.



Christina Asquith is former editor for Across Women’s Lives at PRI’s The World and founder/editor in chief of the Fuller Project for International Reporting, which contributed this story and which works with Peace Is Loud on women, peace and security issues.