Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.) to accept Lynn Allen Award at NPI’s 2018 Spring Gala

How can we protect and expand the freedoms that we cherish so deeply at a time when powerful forces in this country are determined to contract them?

That’s a question progressive activists and organizations all over this country are wrestling with as the 2018 midterms approach.

It’s tough to go on offense when the right wing has complete control of the federal government — but it’s not impossible.

Progress is possible even in the most trying and difficult of times, particularly at the state and local level. For example, look at what’s happening in Olympia, where the Washington State Senate has been transformed from a graveyard of progress into a productive, caring, and deliberative legislative body thanks to the arrival of Senator Manka Dhingra (D-45th District: Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, Sammamish).

That transformation did not just happen on its own.

Lynn Allen

Founding NPI board member Lynn Allen (Photo: Lincoln Potter)

Underpinning every hard-won progressive victory is a story… a story of people knocking down barriers and overcoming obstacles, often over a period of many years.

These stories deserve to be told, and their heroes celebrated.

In this age of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, it’s hard to keep a cheerful attitude, which the closing words of NPI’s Creed remind us to do.

Nevertheless, that must be our aim.

It’s easier to keep a cheery outlook when one has reason to be hopeful and prepared to work for change. Finding that motivation is the key.

We know that we can find inspiration in the good works of our best and brightest people. Recognizing them is valuable not just because of the importance of saying thank you, but because of the power of their example.

That’s why, last year, NPI decided to create the Lynn Allen Awards. Named for our founding boardmember Lynn Allen, who tragically died of ovarian cancer in 2011, these awards honor people who have made extraordinary contributions to progressive politics and public policy.

Each year, we recognize two recipients of different genders with Lynn Allen Awards. Lynn was a big believer in thanking people for their work, so it is truly fitting that these awards are named for her.

Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.)

Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.)

We are delighted today to announce our first 2018 Lynn Allen Award honoree: Major General Paul Eaton (Retired), the Managing Director of the VetVoice Foundation. Major General Eaton served our country with distinction for over three decades as a commanding officer in the United States Army, with combat and post-combat assignments in Iraq, Bosnia, and Somalia.

Here’s an extended biographical sketch:

As a major general he was assigned to Iraq from 2003 to 2004 as Commanding General of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT), where he designed, manned, trained and equipped the Iraqi armed forces for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the security forces for the Interior Ministry. Prior to that assignment, he commanded the Army’s Infantry Center and was Chief of Infantry for the Army.

Eaton has appeared on a number of news and commentary programs including Face the Nation, Hardball and all major networks.

During the 2008 campaign season, he advised candidates for both congressional and presidential campaigns.

For the past five years, he served as a senior advisor to the National Security Network. Additionally, Eaton has recently participated with the Department of Energy in non-proliferation work.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from West Point and a master’s in French Political Science from Middlebury College. He is married to PJ, has two sons and a daughter, all soldiers.

In May of 2008, we were honored to have Major General Eaton (Ret.) as the keynote speaker at our very first Spring Fundraising Gala in Redmond, which was a spectacular success. We are delighted to welcome him back to the gala this year to recognize him not only for his exemplary service to our nation, but for his substantial and deeply appreciated contributions to progressive causes.

Major General Eaton showed great courage in 2007 when, shortly after retiring from the Army, he decided to speak out in opposition to the Bush administration’s counterproductive plans to escalate the occupation of Iraq. He followed that up by working with Darcy Burner and other Democratic congressional candidates to craft what became known as A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.

At VoteVets.org and the VetVoice Foundation, Major General Eaton works with Northwest Progressive Institute President Rick Hegdahl to give a voice to veterans on matters of national security, veterans’ care, and everyday issues that affect the lives of those who served and their families.

Eaton continues to fearlessly speak out in defense of our country’s values, as he did this week after The Washington Post reported that Donald Trump has instructed the Pentagon to plan a grand military parade to stroke his ego.

Here’s what Eaton had to say about that (emphasis is his):

Donald Trump has continually shown himself to have authoritarian tendencies, and this is just another worrisome example.

For someone who just declared that it was “treasonous” to not applaud him, and for someone who has, in the past, admired the tactics of everyone from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that a military parade isn’t about saluting the military — it is about making a display of the military saluting him.

The military is not Donald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way. Our military is the very best in the world — they are not to be reduced to stagecraft to prop up Donald Trump’s image. Any commander in chief who respects the traditions of the military would understand that.

Unfortunately, we do not have a commander in chief, right now, as much as we have wannabe banana republic strongman.

In an interview with WBUR, Eaton added:

This is not about honoring the troops. This is about the president the United States. This has nothing to do with honoring the troops. Parades serve a useful purpose in the soldierization phase of developing a soldier. We do it in basic training, we do it at West Point. Once in a rare, rare moon do we do it, ’91 was the last time we did such a parade to recognize the return of our troops [from the Gulf War] with Gen. [Norman] Schwarzkopf in the lead. That’s the last time we did this. Parades are a huge cost, cost in time and cost in money, and we don’t have enough of either for the circumstances that we’re in today.

We at NPI proudly associate ourselves with Major General Eaton’s remarks and thank him for his boldness and candor. At a time when our country’s values are under attack on an unceasing basis, it is imperative that voices like his be heard. We will not allow our democracy to be taken from us without a fight.

Readers, we hope you feel the same way. We invite you to join us on Saturday, April 7th, as we recognize Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.) with a Lynn Allen Award.

Here are the details for this year’s gala:

  • What: NPI’s 2018 Spring Fundraising Gala
  • Where: Renton Community Center
  • When: Saturday, April 7th, 2018 | Reception at 5:30 PM; program at 7 PM
  • Who: Join the NPI team and Lynn Allen Award recipient Paul Eaton
  • Why: Because an effective resistance needs organizations testing progressive ideas and building permanent infrastructure

Be inspired to continue working for a progressive future for our region and country: join us on April 7th at the Renton Community Center! Follow this link to securely buy your individual, household, or living lightly ticket.