1984: WPI Launches “The Security Project”

In 1984, a five-year comprehensive program, called “The Security Project”, was launched by the Institute. Its opening statement, entitled “Political Choice,” had these prophetic, concluding paragraphs:

“Freedom is inseparable from national security—freedom from costly and dangerous foreign adventures, and freedom to pursue a healthy, productive, and meaningful life at home. The enjoyment of the one is intimately linked to the avoidance of the other. Only when we throw off the fixation with military force as the cornerstone of our security will we have resources sufficient to address longstanding economic and social problems that plague our communities.

It is not coincidental that this nation’s factories, railroads, highways, and social fabric have fallen into a simultaneous state of disrepair. The decay of the public infrastructure and industrial base has taken a high toll in unemployment: lost jobs that would have provided paychecks for family breadwinners. Neither is it coincidental that the American Dream of college education and home ownership has become ever more remote from greater number of citizens at a time when the Pentagon has run up record budgets. Nor that the destitute and disabled have been forced to give up the food programs, health care, and other social services that provided what little personal security they have known. Nor that during the current weapons boom so many within the precarious middle class have lost ground and fallen into the ranks of the working poor.

None of this is the work of an invisible hand looming over the marketplace. Neither can it be attributed to the mysteries of fiscal or monetary theories. These high costs and inequitable consequences are, plain and simple, the outcome of political choice. As such, the devastating effects of recent obsessions and priorities can be reversed through a united determination of vision and will.

The time has come to ask ourselves where we want America to be, next year, five years from now, in the year 2000.”

Over the next five years, The Security Project team of analysts published over 50 separate reports and released two major summary reports. These were distributed widely to hundreds of elected officials, policymakers, activists, and the media. Major columnists in the New York Times and the Washington Postreported favorably on the Institute’s work.

National public opinion polls were conducted in 1997 and 1989 by Stanley Greenberg and his associates based on our central themes and policy recommendations, which soon were taken up by candidates for the Presidency of the United States—most famously by Bill Clinton  when he argued successfully in his 1992 campaign that: “It’s the economy, stupid.”