Move the Money on Tax Day

April 15, 2014

30927_10150183416160391_1940262_nBy Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director

Today is Tax Day and also the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS.)  On every continent, peace and disarmament, sustainable development groups will hold events.

In 70 locations across the US, activities, forums and vigils will be held to raise the call to Move the Money from wars and weapons to fund jobs, public services and transition jobs in defense industries to green sustainable manufacturing.

Join the global action by calling Congress 202-224-3121

Tell your Senator and Representative: Cut $100 billion over ten years wasted on nuclear weapons. Urge your Senators to co-sponsor the SANE Act, S. 2070 and your Representative to cosponsor the REIN IN Act, H. R. 4107.

Background:

MA Senator Ed Markey introduced Senate bill S. 2070, the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures (SANE) Act. OR Congressman Earl Blumenauer introduced a companion bill in the House, H.R.4107, the Reduce Expenditures in Nuclear Infrastructure Now (REIN-IN) Act. 

Join the Tax Day/GDAMS actions on social media: Sign onto the Thunderclap asking Congress to eliminate the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), also known as the Pentagon” slush fund.” It is a simple one step action that can reach tens of thousands. Just click on this link.

 Join an event in your area. US Tax Day/GDAMS sponsored by: Alliance for Global Justice, American Friends Service Committee, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Foreign Policy in Focus, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Priorities Project, National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, USAction, US Labor Against the War, War Resisters League, Women’s Action for New Directions & Women’s Legislators


Noam Chomsky – “eliminate all nuclear weapons”

April 10, 2014

Professor Chomsky is, not surprisingly, a longtime Peace Action member and has spoken at Peace Action sponsored events in New Jersey and Massachusetts. This interview is courtesy of our colleagues Reader Supported News and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: Va Shiva)

Noam Chomsky: ‘Eliminate All Nuclear Weapons’

By Jane Ayers, Reader Supported News

05 April 14

 

Professor Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned political theorist and Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at MIT, recently delivered the prestigious Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s (NAPF) 13th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture on Humanity’s Future. His lecture, entitled “Security and State Policy” was delivered to a capacity audience at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, California on February 28th. After his lecture, Chomsky was also presented the foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

David Krieger, President of NAPF, stated, “He is one of the world’s wise men. The depth of his knowledge about the complex and varied crises that confront humanity is more than impressive. He is a truth teller to those in power, to other intellectuals, and to the people of the world.” Professor Chomsky has recently joined the Advisory Council of NAPF, which also includes members Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, Queen Noor of Jordan, Daniel Ellsberg, Bianca Jagger, and H.H. the Dalai Lama.

In his lecture Chomsky pointed out, “It is hard to contest the conclusion of the last commander of the Strategic Air Command, General Lee Butler, that we have so far survived the nuclear age by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion.”

For a full transcript of his Frank K. Kelly lecture, go to NAPF:http://www.wagingpeace.org/security-and-state-policy 

Before Prof. Chomsky’s lecture, I conducted a phone interview with him in which he addressed some of today’s important nuclear issues.

~ Jane Ayers

: General Lee Butler, the former commander in chief of the Strategic Air Command, retired his post in 1996, calling for the worldwide abolition of nuclear weapons. I interviewed him at the time, and he emphasized his concern about the fragility of the world’s nuclear first alert systems, and especially with Russia. At that time he called for total abolition of nuclear weapons, yet now years later promotes a responsible global reduction of nuclear dangers. Are you concerned about the fragility of the first alert systems?

Chomsky: Yes, he also pointed out that the 1960 U.S. nuclear war plan, called the Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP), was the most outrageous document in human history, except perhaps for the Russian counterpart, which we knew nothing about. This U.S. nuclear war plan, if our first alert system had alerted a Soviet strike, would have delivered 3200 nuclear weapons to 1060 targets in the Soviet Union, China, and allied countries in Asia and Europe. Even with the end of the Cold War, because of the ongoing superpower nuclear arms race, Gen. Butler bitterly renounced the current nuclear programs/systems as a death warrant for the species.

Q: In his address at the National Press Club in February, 1998, Gen. Butler referred to “the grotesquely destructive war plans and daily operational risks” of our current nuclear systems, and emphasized “a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons is necessarily a world devoid of nuclear weapons.” He also referred to the “mind-numbing compression of decision-making under the threat of a nuclear attack.” Do you think these concerns are still valid today?

Chomsky: Yes, General Lee Butler recanted his whole career, and gave elegant speeches about the numbers of nuclear missiles devoted to nuclear deterrence being an abomination. Yes, the current nuclear dangers still remain quite high.

Q: During the Bush administration, in August of 2007, there was the unauthorized movement of nuclear bombs from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Six AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missiles (ACMs), each loaded with W80-1 nuclear warheads, were moved and left unprotected for 36 hours, violating the strict checks and balances of nuclear weapons storage. Investigations later concluded that the nuclear weapons handling standards and procedures had not been followed. Are these the kind of dangers you are referring to?

Chomsky: How dangerous the first alert system is remains only a tiny portion of the overall dangers. To understand more of the dangers of nuclear weapons, definitely read journalist Eric Schlosser’s book, “Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety.” (Eric Schlosser is National Security Correspondent for The Nation Magazine.) In his book, there are many details of near-accidents that have happened, and that could have been catastrophic. The possibilities of close calls due to human error were probably even worse on the Russian side. There have been many times we have been extremely near to having a nuclear war.

The U.S. has an automated response system with data coming in about possible missile attacks. However, it is still left to civilians to make the major decision to destroy the world, and usually with just a few minutes to make that decision. To launch a nuclear war is essentially in the hands of the president. We can’t survive something like that, and especially with so many other nuclear powers worldwide. With India and Pakistan, the same tensions can easily blow up in that region.

We also have to address these issues of unauthorized movement of nuclear bombs, and also the reality of simple human error. The record is hair-raising. There are very high standards worldwide that can’t be met, or aren’t being met, and there is too much room for human error. There have also been many circumstances where the authorization to launch missiles have been delegated to lower-level commanders. Even though there is a two-person requirement, if one does lose control and wants to destroy the world, then the fate of the world is the hands of the other person.

Q: The Obama administration is calling for a reduction of troops across the board (Army, Navy, Air Force, etc.), and emphasizes that the U.S. now has so much might and strength from U.S. missile technology, that we no longer need so many troops. What do you think of this?

Chomsky: A reduction to the amount in the world today? Well, the two major wars, the Bush wars, have been winding down so a lesser amount of troops are needed now. We are also letting go of numbers of troops that we needed to fight two wars simultaneously. We have the biggest military budget in the world, and it is equal to the rest of the world’s military budget combined. War-making is now being transferred to other domains, i.e., drone warfare, etc.

In The New York Times recently, there was a debate about whether the U.S. should murder [with drones] an American in Pakistan. In the article, there is no question raised about killing of non-Americans. These citizens in other countries are all apparently fair game. For example, if anyone is holding their cell phone that day, the drone can easily kill them. But when an action like that occurs, it immediately creates more terrorists. The irony is that while fighting terrorism, we are carrying out a version of a global terrorist campaign ourselves, and are also creating additional dangers for our own country.

So we are now utilizing a new form of warfare with the use of drones. Drones are assassinating people worldwide, without these people being proven guilty first in a court of law. They are just killed by a drone. Gone. Our president decides it.

In addition, with the reduction of numbers of overall troops, it still causes an increase of Special Forces operations on the ground. So what kind of operations are they doing now? Read Jeremy Scahill’s book, “Dirty Wars.” [Jeremy Scahill is National Security Correspondent for The Nation Magazine.] He points out how all of these operations are causing the United States to be the most feared country in the world.

Recently, there was an international poll conducted by a major polling organization in which they asked, “Which country is the greatest threat to world peace?” “The U.S.” was answered the most. The whole world sees us that way nowadays. Around the world, the U.S. is viewed as its own terrorist operation, and these actions create anger in other countries. It is becoming a self-generating system of terrorism itself (while fighting terrorism). Even if the U.S. reduces the number of soldiers needed for the invasion of other countries, we still continue to use drones now too. It creates a lot of anger worldwide against the U.S. when innocent citizens internationally are continually being killed, and/or no court of law is first ruling the suspected terrorists are guilty before being killed by the drones.

Q: A Russian armed intelligence-gathering vessel, the Victor Leonov SSV-175 Warship, conducted a surprise visit to Cuba on the same day Russia announced plans to expand their global military presence – establishing permanent bases in Cuba, Nicaragua, Vietnam, and Singapore. Amid the rising tensions with Putin over the Ukraine, do you think the U.S. could have another version of the Cuban Missile Crisis, or an escalation of war in the Ukraine, especially with NATO troop movement in Eastern Europe?

Chomsky: Ukraine is one issue right now that is very sensitive. Cuba is another target of US campaigns against it. The U.S. has conducted major, official governmental campaigns against Cuba, especially financial warfare, for fifty years. The former Cuban Missile Crisis was to deter an invasion of the U.S.

The sudden presence of a Russian ship in Cuba at the beginning of the Ukraine situation was probably a symbolic move. Russia is surrounded by U.S. military bases and nuclear missiles. We have one thousand military bases around the world with nuclear missiles aimed at all our potential enemies. The country of Ukraine is split right now: Western-oriented and Russian-oriented. It’s located on the Russian border, so there are major security issues for Putin. Ukraine has the only naval base leading to water (the Black Sea) in Crimea, so from Russia’s point of view, the Ukraine situation is a security threat to them, especially with NATO moving into Eastern Europe. If the Ukraine joins the EU, then Russia will have hostile relations at their border. Ukraine has historically been part of the Russian empire, so with the demands being made right now by the U.S., and Russia’s counter-demands, and with the presence of Russian troops, the clash might even blow up to a threat of a major war, which of course, could lead to a nuclear missile confrontation.

Q: Is nuclear disarmament really possible?

Chomsky: It is very possible to take away the nuclear threats to mankind and human survival. In the case of eliminating all nuclear weapons worldwide, it only takes everyone agreeing to do it. We know what can be done to eliminate the nuclear weapons threats to humankind. The U.S., like all nuclear nations, has an obligation of good faith efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely.

However, with environmental catastrophes, it is not so obvious what the world must do to avoid the accumulative dangers. But one important measure of what to do is to realize that the longer we delay stopping the use of fossil fuels, the worse the worldwide environment will be that we are leaving to our grandchildren. They just won’t be able to deal with it later. However, with nuclear weapons, we can most definitely disarm, and we have a responsibility to do this.

Jane Ayers is an independent journalist (stringer with USA Today, Los Angeles Times, etc.), and Director of Jane Ayers Media. She can be reached at JaneAyersMedia@gmail.com or http://www.wix.com/ladywriterjane/janeayersmedia


Facing the Dangers of 21st Century Great Power War – Conference in NYC May 3

April 7, 2014

For those of you in or near NYC, or planning to be there around the NPT PrepCom, please consider attending this conference on Saturday, May 3. Peace Action is a co-sponsor, and Field Director Judith Le Blanc and PANYS Executive Director Alicia Godsberg will be among the speakers.

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Facing the Dangers of 21st Century Great Power War
A Conference on the Centenary of World War I
Saturday, May 3, 2014 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Assembly Hall, Judson Memorial Church
229 Thompson St., Manhattan
South of Washington Square Park
9:00-9:30 Registration

9:30-11:00 Looking forward, looking backward:  WWI, today’s risk of great power war, peace movements, and disarmament.

•       Dr. Erhard Crome, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation.
•       Zia Mian, Princeton University.
•       Andrew Lichterman, Western States Legal Foundation.

11:30-12:45 Risks of Great Power War:  Regional Perspectives

•       Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee
•       M.V. Ramana, Princeton University
•       Irene Gendzier, Boston University.

12:45-1:45 Lunch (See registration information below)

1:45-3:00 The Risk of Great Power War:  Regional perspectives: BRICs, Sub-Imperialisms, and Post-Cold War conflicts

•       Michael Klare, Hampshire College
•       Emira Woods, Institute for Policy Studies
•       Paul Lansu, Pax Christi Europe.

3:00-4:15 Limits of the Moral Imagination: Industrialized Warfare, Moral Thresholds, and the Forgotten History of Arms Control:

John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Paul Walker, Global Green
Götz  Nuneck Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University of Hamburg.

4:15-5:30  Disarmament Movements, Peace Movements, and What Is To Be Done.
•       Reiner Braun, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
•       Akira Kawasaki, Peace Boat
•        Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action

To Register:  Write to Jennifer Sherys-Rivet at JSherysr@afsc.org. For more information, call 617-661-6130. (Lunch available with pre-registration $10)

Conference conveners and Sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, Peace and Economic Security Program; International Peace Bureau; and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and its U.S. affiliates, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and the Western States Legal Foundation, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation. Endorsing Organizations:  Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, Peace Action


Could Scotland lead on global nuclear disarmament?

April 7, 2014

Scotland lead toward abolishing nuclear weapons worldwide, you say? How’s that? Here’s a letter to the editor I sent to the New York Times (not published) in response to Roger Cohen’s March 31 op-ed “The Case for Scotland” about the likelihood of Scottish voters choosing independence from the United Kingdom in a September referendum (and then kicking the UK;s nuclear weapons out of Scotland).

April 2, 2014

To the editor,

Roger Cohen’s read on the possibility of Scottish voters choosing independence in a referendum this September (“The Case for Scotland,” March 31) generally rang true, but omitted entirely a key issue – staunch Scottish opposition to nuclear weapons.

The United Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal consists of 225 thermonuclear warheads on missiles aboard Trident submarines based at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, generally known as Faslane, a mere twenty-five miles northwest of Glasgow. Scotland has long been a leader in promoting global nuclear disarmament, and the Scottish National Party (SNP) is dead serious about removing the nuclear submarines if the people vote for independence. SNP Leader Alex Salmond recently stated, “Our ­opposition to nuclear weapons is not a campaign tactic or a negotiating position – it is one of the reasons for Scotland being ­independent.”

London appears to have no ready alternative basing plan for the Tridents, so an independent Scotland’s kicking the subs out of Faslane would force the UK into unilateral nuclear disarmament for a period of twenty years while a new base was constructed, according to a 2012 Parliament committee report. And where would they be temporarily based for two decades? The U.S.? France? Local opposition to such a scheme would no doubt be fierce.

It would be far better to decommission and dismantle the submarines, missiles and warheads rather than spend an exorbitant amount of money to maintain and relocate them. Such a development would be cheered not only in Scotland, but in the rest of Britain and around the world. While the UK’s nuclear arsenal is dwarfed by those of the United States and Russia, an acknowledged nuclear power giving up these weapons it surely doesn’t need would boost lethargic efforts toward getting the world to nuclear zero.

Sincerely,

Kevin Martin

Executive Director


Calling All Women State Legislators: You can help Move the Money!

April 1, 2014

By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director MOVE Square

WAND/Will, one of Peace Action’s strategic partners in the Move the Money Campaign, has launched a drive to get women state legislators to sign onto a Congressional letter calling for cutting the Pentagon budget to fund human services.

Please, take a minute and send the appeal below to your state representatives. Get a copy of the Congressional sign on letter here.

Why is this important? It opens the door for a conversation with a state level elected who can become an ally in building a strong grassroots movement to change national spending priorities. The only way real cuts in the Pentagon budget will be made, and a just transition for communities who have depended on defense contracts for good paying jobs will happen is if a strong grassroots movement draws all the stake holders together to press Congress to act.

The WAND/WiLL Congressional Letter will be released to the press on Tax Day as part of the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS.) Time is short, please join this important initiative!

Sample EMAIL/LETTER to send to your state legislator:

Dear XXX,

Women state legislators across the nation are urging Congress to adopt a federal budget that reflects the values and best interests of the American people. Please join this national effort today, organized by the Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL).

As you know, year after year, more than 50% of our discretionary budget – the budget Congress debates and votes on every year – goes to the Pentagon. We cannot keep America economically strong and competitive if we are squandering money on expensive outdated weapons systems we don’t need. Continued overspending at the Pentagon budget comes at the expense of necessary, vital programs that feed and teach our children, provide healthcare to our elderly, train our unemployed, and support our veterans. State legislators understand the impact of these federal budget priorities on states and communities.

Support what is best for your constituents, our communities, and our states: investing federal dollars in sectors that will create productive jobs and help our economy grow for years to come. The deadline to sign is Monday, April 7 but please ask your legislators to sign on today!

Women state legislators can sign on to the letter to Congress by emailing Adzi Vokhiwa at avokhiwa@wand.org or calling 202-544-5055, ext. 2603.

Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL) is a program of Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND).

Thank you,

XXXX


Jonathan Schell, Presente!

March 28, 2014

The peace and disarmament community has lost one of our most eloquent champions, author and activist Jonathan Schell, who died earlier this week from cancer.

I had the distinct pleasure of working closely with Jonathan for a few years, from 1999 to 2001 when I served as director of Project Abolition, a nuclear disarmament coalition on whose Steering Committee Jonathan served (Peace Action and about a half dozen other groups were members). Jonathan was wonderful to work with, very serious, committed and very generous with his time. In informal, social settings I found him to be a delightful conversationalist and overall a very nice, kind, gentle man. A great loss. Here is a remembrance and a sample of his writing for The Nation magazine. 

–Kevin Martin


April 15 Tax Day/GDAMS: New Materials & Organizing Tips

March 25, 2014

+GDAMS-AdBy Judith Le Blanc, Field Director, Peace Action

April 15 Tax Day and the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is shaping up to be a great day of grassroots activity, education and pressure on the US Congress to Move the Money from the Pentagon to fund human needs and jobs. A day when all will be reminded that not all pay their fair share, as well! Be sure to list events here.

• NEW MATERIALS:

1. State Tax Receipts: 52 state tax receipts prepared by National Priorities Project are available. You can download the receipt and paste into the Tax Day/GDAMS templates to hand out at events or post to your website. Tip: print to scale is the setting needed to print out on 8 1/2″ x 11″paper.

2. The new Pie Chart: War Resisters League has prepared its annual “Pie Chart” on where our tax dollars go as well as a training curriculum.

3. Tools for local action: Ask your mayor to issue a Tax Day/ Global Day of Action proclamation. Mayors for Peace & Western States Legal Foundation have drafted a sample proclamation, tips and background materials from the US Conference of Mayors resolution on cutting the Pentagon budget to fund human needs.

Tax Day/GDAMS not just a single day of action: part of an ongoing effort to build a movement strong enough to move the money from the Pentagon to fund jobs and human needs. The 3 webinars/conference calls organized thus far have attracted a wide cross section of local organizers. Over 100 people joined the March 19 webinar from 23 states. Recording is here.

Next webinar: April 2 hosted by the New Priorities Network and conducted by the Pentagon Budget Campaign and Rethink Media on tips for local organizers: social media, LTE and getting earned media for your events. Peace Action will give an update on Tax Day/GDAMS organizing. A draft email announcement will be done later today or tomorrow.

US groups sponsoring Tax Day/GDAMS events: Alliance for Global Justice, American Friends Service Committee, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Foreign Policy in Focus, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Priorities Project, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, USAction, US Labor Against the War, War Resisters League, Women’s Action for New Directions & Women’s Legislators’

 


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