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Feminists Against Flournoy

Feminists Say “No” to Michèle Flournoy as Secretary of Defense

As feminists, we oppose the possible nomination of Michèle Flournoy as Secretary of Defense. While she would be the first woman to break the Pentagon glass ceiling, Flournoy embod­ies the toxic, pro-war ori­en­ta­tion that we oppose. Her appointment would mark a setback for people around the world who long to see an end to war and militarism. 

Flournoy pushed for the bombing of Iraq, the military surge in Afghanistan, violent regime change in Syria, and the U.S./NATO bombing and invasion of Libya without congressional approval. Rather than meeting the public demand to end these wars, her selection would double down on the failed interventionism of the post-9/11 era that has devastated lives across the Middle East, North Africa and western Asia. For too many of our sisters and kinfolk around the world, the policies Flournoy champions have left their homes destroyed, their children’s schools bombed, and their loved ones dead, disabled, kidnapped or imprisoned. 

Flournoy opposed a ban on arms sales to Saudi Arabia while that country rained U.S. bombs on Yemeni schools, hospitals, marketplaces, weddings and funerals—inflicting massive suffering on Yemeni women and their families. Her appointment would make it more difficult for President Biden to fulfill his promise to end U.S. participation in the catastrophic war on Yemen.

With the narrow exception of COVID medical relief, Flournoy has opposed lifting the Trump administration’s brutal “maximum pressure” sanctions on Iran and North Korea. These sanctions are a form of collective punishment that causes disproportionate harm to women and children, and risks undermining efforts under the Biden administration to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and negotiate peaceful solutions to the Korea conflict.

Flournoy urges a U.S. pivot to Asia that would ramp up a Cold War with China and justify even greater military spending. She thinks the U.S. should consider new steps for deterring China, such as having the capability to credibly threaten to sink 300 military vessels, submarines, and merchant ships within 72 hours.” She advocates a boost in spending on artificial intelligence, cyberwarfare and drones, as well as more troop deployments to the South China Sea to conduct antagonistic roving war games near two nuclear powers -- China and North Korea. 

We disagree with Flournoy. We believe the Biden administration must work cooperatively with China to find solutions to the existential problems confronting our world, such as the pandemic, the climate crisis, and the threat of nuclear annihilation. Wasteful spending on high-tech weapons and increased troop deployments only escalates the arms race, further aggravates  tensions in East Asia, and risks inciting a conventional war that could trigger a nuclear showdown. 

We also condemn Flournoy’s history of using her military contacts for personal benefit and perpetuating the cycle of violence. This includes taking millions from military contractors for her hawkish think tank, the Center for a New American Security; “earning” $440,000 as a board member of weapons contractor Booz, Allen, Hamilton since 2018; advising the private equity firm Pine Island Capital to invest hundreds of millions in military industries; and co-founding the secretive WestExec Advisors that uses its Pentagon contacts to assist private corporations in securing lucrative Defense Department contracts.

As women and gender non-conforming people who advocate a feminist foreign policy, our priority is not to simply have a woman, any woman, running the Pentagon, but someone who closes the revolving door between the Pentagon and companies that profit from death and destruction. We want a Secretary of Defense who steers us away from militarism that tears apart the fabric of societies all around the world and drains our national treasury of public taxpayer money urgently needed to educate our children, provide quality health care, fund alternatives to violent policing, and guarantee a future in a sustainable world. 

We welcome the day when a Secretary of Defense commits to bring our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, stop the drone bombings, end the arms race, reduce our 800 military bases spread across the globe, lift draconian economic sanctions, and support international agreements--including efforts to ban nuclear weapons, weapons in space and autonomous weapons. Such steps, combined with reinvestment in the well-being of communities at home and abroad, will do more to keep us safe than all the weapons in the world.

In the meantime, we will oppose warmakers such as Michèle Flournoy as we advocate for a truly feminist foreign policy. 


CODEPINK, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, MADRE, and Women Cross DMZ



Gloria Steinem

Alice Walker

Jane Fonda

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Naomi Klein

V (formerly Eve Ensler), Playwright 

Aisha Jumaan, Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation

Alice Slater, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space

Ann Wright, retired US Army Colonel, Veterans for Peace

Azadeh Shashahani, Project South

Carollee Bengelsdorf, Hampshire College 

Charlotte Bunch, Center for Women's Global Leadership, Rutgers University 

Christine Ahn, Women Cross DMZ

Chung-Wha Hong, Grassroots International 

Ciara Taylor, Poor People's Campaign and The Peoples Forum

Siwatu-Salama Ra Grassroots Global Justice Alliance & Freedom Team 

Kitzia Esteva Martinez, Grassroots Feminisms National Organizer ,Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Cindy Wiesner, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Claudia de la Cruz, Poor People's Campaign Steering committee

Deb Sawyer, Gandhi Alliance for Peace

Dima Khalidi, Director | Palestine Legal

Donna Smith, Progressive Democrats of America

Elisabeth Armstrong, Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Smith College

Emily Rubino, Policy Director, Peace Action, New York State

Estee Chandler, Jewish Voice for Peace-Action

George Friday, Southern Anti Racism Network

Helen Sklar, Immigration and Nationality Lawyer

Huwaida Arraf, Co-Founder, International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

Hyun Lee, Korea Peace Now

Jackie Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation

Janice Sevre-Duszynska,  Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests

Jazmín Delgado, Center for Political Education 

Jodie Evans, CODEPINK

Kathleen Richards, Women Cross DMZ

Kristin Dooley, Director, Women Against Military Madness

Laura Flanders, The Laura Flanders Show

Layan Fuleihan, Education Director, The Peoples Forum

Leah Bolger, President, World Beyond War

Leslie Cagan, peace and justice organizer

Linda Burnham, writer and activist

Linda Sarsour, activist, author

Lisa Armstrong, Feminist Smith University

Lisa Natividad, Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice and I Hagan Famalao’an Guahan

Marlene Gerber Fried, Faculty Director, CLPP, Hampshire College

Madeleine Rees, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Marcy Winograd, Progressive Democrats of America

Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance

Margaret Power, CoChair, Historians for Peace and Democracy

Margo Okazawa-Rey, International Women's Network against Militarism and Women for Genuine Security

Marjorie Cohn, Professor Emerita, Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Martha Matsuoka, Women for Genuine Security/International Women’s Network Against Militarism

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK

Mizue Aizeki, Immigrant Defense Project

Michelle Xia, Qiao Collective 

Nadia Ahmad, Law Professor

Nadine Naber, Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago

Noura Erakat, Author, “Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine”

Pia Gallegos, Roots Action

Pat Alviso, Military Families Speak Out

Rabab Abdulhadi, Director and Senior Scholar, Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies, San Francisco State University

Ray Acheson, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Rebecca E. Karl, Professor of Modern Chinese History, NYU-NY

Rev. Deborah Lee, Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

Sarah Burns, Just Foreign Policy

Shailja Patel, poet, playwright, theatre artist, and feminist activist

Sima Shakhsari, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota

Sonali Kolhatkar, CoDirector, Afghan Women’s Mission

Sue Udry, Defending Rights & Dissent

Sunyoung Yang, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance

Susan Smith, President Emeritus, Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Terry Rockefeller, September 11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

Tithi Bhattacharya, Director, Global Studies, Purdue University

Yifat Susskind, MADRE

Zainab Salbi, author, Freedom Is An Inside Job

Zillah Eisenstein, Prof. Anti-Racist Feminist Theory, Emeritus, Ithaca College

Elaine Nonneman, Channel Foundation

About Face: Veterans Against the War

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