- Executive director of War and Peace Foundation
- Board member of Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
- Member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Selma Brackman is the executive director of the War and Peace Foundation, which she co-founded in 1981 with her husband, media critic Arthur Brackman. The War and Peace Foundation is an anti-war and anti-nuclear advocacy group that lobbies to put arms manufacturers out of business.
Ms. Brackman has been a frequent lecturer at several New York City universities on such issues as disarmament, child soldiers, the Patriot Act, poverty, the history of warfare, and America’s allegedly disgraceful history of inhumanity toward the rest of the world. She is an active board member of Professionals for Social Responsibility; the NGO Committee on Disarmament; the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; and the World Federalists. She is also a member of the Women's international League for Peace and Freedom.
A mother of five children, Brackman became actively involved in the anti-war movement during the late 1960s. In 1968 she organized the Peace Worker Women’s Strike for Peace. The following year she organized the National Teach-In On World Community at Columbia University.
Ms. Brackman despises the United States, deeming it a nation whose history is marked most notably by oppression, aggression, injustice, violence, and racism. Her commentary on America is consistently and overwhelmingly condemnatory. In recent times, she has spoken out against U.S. military interventions abroad, and against the Patriot Act’s counter-terrorism measures instituted domestically – viewing the latter as ominous assaults on civil liberties. Arguing that the U.S. government’s ultimate objective is “to establish unilateral control of the world,” Brackman characterizes American history as a long, sordid tale of mass murder, and nothing more. Giving voice to this view, on November 21, 2003 she told a Rutgers University audience:
“On August 6th, 1945, the Enola Gay took off from the Mariana Islands carrying ‘little boy,’ the world’s second atomic bomb. With the explosive force of some 12, 500 tons of TNT, ‘little boy’ was dropped on Hiroshima at 8:45am, killing 90,000 people almost instantaneously. Three days after the United States had leveled Hiroshima, we deployed the ‘Fat Man,’ on Nagasaki. Forty thousand people were immediately killed. By the end of 1945, ‘little boy’ and ‘fat man’ had killed over 220,000 human beings. Our historical victory over the Japanese, who by all accounts were already preparing to surrender, not only ended World War II, it also established the United States as a global force to be reckoned with. We had proven ourselves technologically superior to the Soviets and to the rest of the world, for that matter. And so, with our egos in hand, we gave birth to the Nuclear Era. We had created a monster. The US has led in all matters nuclear. From inventing AND using the atomic bomb, inventing the hydrogen bomb, developing the strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction, and now finding new uses for the nuclear weapon, the United States is currently developing a new class of small nuclear weapons for possible use in future Iraqi-type wars. The nuclear weapon has gone from being a last-resort, special class weapon to the new mainstream weapon of choice; this is largely as a result of American initiative.”
Brackman considers U.S. military spending to be a largely unnecessary and immoral act of governmental ego-gratification that accomplishes nothing of real benefit to any nation on earth, and which diverts crucial resources away from the world’s poor. Though she sees no justification for America using its military might to address international crises that are either brewing or already boiled over, she deems it America’s unquestioned responsibility to feed every hungry mouth on earth. “Our projected military budget for the fiscal year 2004 [is] $339.1 billion,” she said. “. . . We could feed, clothe, give adequate shelter to every human being on earth what we spend every 17 days on arms. (repeat) We could feed, clothe, give adequate shelter to every human being on earth what we spend every 17 days on arms. Now that is a crime against humanity in and of itself.”
On February 25, 2003, Brackman addressed an audience at New York City’s Metropolitan College; her focus was twofold: the alleged injustice of the War in Iraq, and what she viewed as the moral and military atrocities that America had committed throughout its history. “Bush won’t tell America the truth about why we are going to war, what is at stake,” she said. “It is not an axis of evil but oil, money, personal via corporate gain at the expense of people’s lives. Saddam’s misfortune is to sit on the second biggest oil field in the world. Bush wants it, and who helps him get it will receive a piece of the cake. And who doesn’t, won’t. What is at stake is not an imminent military or terrorist threat but the economic imperative of US growth.”
After taking a moment to praise “committed socialists” like Eugene Debs and Helen Keller for opposing World War I, Brackman went on to discuss her views on the reasons why America entered into World War II: “Britain and the United States opposed fascism only because it threatened their own control over resources and people. . . . How could one reconcile the United States fighting in World War II for the rights of nations to independence and self determination, with its history of expansion, its 100-year war against native Indians driving them off their ancestral lands, its 250 years of enslavement of Africans, it’s war with Mexico, and taking almost half their lands and sending marines almost 20 times into the countries of the Caribbean? Seizing Hawaii and fighting a brutal war to subjugate the Philippines. And sending of 5,000 marines into Nicaragua in 1929. This nation could hardly claim to believe in the rights of self determination. Neither the invasion of Austria, nor Czechoslovakia nor Poland, brought the United States into armed conflict with fascism. We went to war only when our processions in Hawaii were attacked and when our navy was disabled by Japanese bombs.”
Brackman depicts the United States as, quite literally, a society more evil than Hitler’s Germany. She writes, “In 1942, Goebbels, minister of propaganda for Hitler’s Germany, wrote in his diary: ‘At bottom I believe that both the English and Americans are happy that we are [exterminating] the Jewish population.’ It seemed that in Washington, they waited and waited until at large they killed six million Jews. A world war was an opportunity for the United States businesses to penetrate areas that until that time had been dominated by England. If the war was truly a war of moral purpose against the Nazi idea of superior and inferior races, than we might have seen [an effort] by the United States government to eliminate racial segregation here. No such thing happened. The war was not being fought to disturb class privilege, and the blacks were housed separately, and there were many protests on the hypocrisy of a war against fascism in a nation which does nothing about racism here. A Negro – angry, resentful, and utterly apathetic about the war – wrote: ‘Fighting for what? . . . The army Jim Crows us. The Navy lets us serve only as mess men. Employers and labor unions shut us out. Lynchings continue. We are disenfranchised, spat upon. What more could Hitler do than that?”
Among Selma Brackman’s fellow board members at the War and Peace Foundation are Helen Caldicott, Ramsey Clark, Richard Falk, David Krieger, Alice Slater, and Howard Zinn.