Urgent Action: Tell Congress to support diplomacy with Iran

November 21, 2014

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You’ll know from the past eight years that we have been writing you about Iran.  First, we were gravely concerned that Vice President Dick Cheney would sway the Bush administration to bomb Iran.  We have come a long way.  We expect this Sunday the international community including the U.S. will announce an agreement or a negotiating extension with Iran to ensure they do not acquire a nuclear weapon even if they wanted one.

Write your Congressional delegation now to support this historic agreement that will make us safer and will be a step in reducing Middle East tensions.

Unfortunately, there are some in Congress who take the Cheney tack that war is always the answer.  Military strategists have said over and over again that a military intervention into Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst force Iran to engage in getting a nuclear weapon even if they had no such program.

Congress needs to hear from you now not to scuttle this extremely important deal.  Use this sample letter to write now.

With bad news coming out of the Middle East nearly everyday, an agreement with Iran is something to lift up, not bring down.  Demand that those who represent you in the Capitol speak up in support of an agreement or continued negotiations until an agreement is reached.

This is a key time to lesson tensions in the Middle East and guarantee another country promises not to seek nuclear weapons.  Your letter right now can make a big difference.

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S.  It is urgent that you write Congress now to support an agreement or an extension with Iran on their nuclear program.  After using the sample letter, please forward this to your friends, family and colleagues.


Alternatives to Endless War

November 13, 2014

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 A Sustainable, Effective Response to ISIS

 

Instead of another endless war, Members of Congress should stand up in support of effective alternatives to combat the threat from ISIS. Below are possible ways for the U.S. government to take action. These are examples of the many alternatives available to move towards a political solution.

 

The United States Congress can:

  • Insist that President Obama seek congressional authorization for continued military intervention, and then vote to oppose our latest war in Iraq and Syria
  • Cosponsor measures like H. Con. Res. 114, offered by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, to require Congress to debate, vote, and constrain U.S. military intervention
  • Support measures to prohibit U.S. ground troops and sunset the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs

 

The United States can take immediate unilateral action to:

  • Tighten loopholes in existing sanctions to help cut off ISIS’s funding streams
  • Condition U.S. support for the Iraqi government on success in stopping sectarian violence and promoting inclusive governance. This can undermine the roots of ISIS’s hold in Iraq
  • Cut off U.S. government contracts with anyone doing business with ISIS
  • Increase humanitarian funds for acute needs. The UN’s Syria Regional Refugee Response Plan for 2014 is only half-way funded. As winter approaches, the key World Food Program has “run out of funds”: rations will be cut and some refugees will go without any WFP aid
  • Stop channeling weapons into a volatile situation. The U.S. has armed Iraqi forces and Syrian rebels despite rights violations. U.S. weapons have ended up in the hands of ISIS
  • Support civil society efforts to build peace and reconciliation at the community level

 

The United States can support multilateral efforts to:

  • Build regional stability and security through aid for refugee host nation communities to reinforce stressed health, education, and housing infrastructure and to encourage job creation
  • Keep the conflict from spreading to Jordan, Turkey or Lebanon etc. by encouraging a global effort to share responsibility for resettling refugees from Iraq and Syria
  • Prevent problems when ISIS recruits– originating from the U.S.– return by dissuading recruits from leaving in the first place and by monitoring the most dangerous returnees

The United States can work with the United Nations to:

  • Organize humanitarian evacuations of stranded and trapped civilians
  • Impose comprehensive, enforceable financial sanctions against ISIS
    • ISIS profits from selling petroleum, archaeological artifacts, and wheat
  • Restrict ISIS’s access to the international financial system
  • Support a political solution to Syria’s civil war:
    • With the UN and regional powers, press the regime and rebels to support truces to reduce non-combatant deaths and increase the focus on defending against ISIS
    • Re-energize diplomacy for negotiation on a political transition that would include all parties to the conflict as well as outside parties, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia and the U.S. A regional Contact Group could lay the groundwork for peace talks
    • If necessary, the UN General Assembly could assume responsibility under the Uniting for Peace procedure (to circumvent possible Security Council inaction)
    • Begin discussions and planning for a possible international peacekeeping or stabilization mission in Syria (and possibly parts of Iraq)

 

The United States can work with regional states and organizations to:

  • Engage in strategic outreach to Sunni communities in both Iraq and Syria to address political and economic grievances and thus undermine crucial political support for ISIS. The region’s Sunni powers—the Saudis, Emiratis, Jordanians and Turks—can all play a role
  • Work to impose an arms embargo against all armed actors in Iraq and Syria. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait have provided weapons to the opposition, including ISIS, in Syria
  • Work with the states near ISIS territory to close the borders leading into and out of ISIS areas
  • Enforce sanctions against ISIS and stop member nations from purchasing ISIS’s goods
  • Conduct a social media campaign that truthfully exposes the grotesque nature of ISIS ideology in terms that would-be jihadists can understand

Some good (and even kinda funny!) news on nukes

November 10, 2014

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While you might not have known it from the scant attention they received in the recent midterm elections, there is a lot brewing on Peace Action’s top priority issues these days. We’ll have more for you soon on a possible breakthrough deal on Iran’s nuclear program (the current deadline for a deal is in two weeks, though it could be extended), as well as potentially interesting developments on the Pentagon’s budget. For today, here are some items you might have missed regarding nuclear weapons issues (good news), and I’ll do another post on Iraq and Afghanistan (definitely mostly bad news).

–U.S. to attend Vienna conference next month on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons: Peace Action has helped lead national and international efforts to press the Obama Administration to more faithfully participate in various international fora on nuclear disarmament, with not a lot of success to date. The U.S. skipped the first two conferences in this relatively new push regarding the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, but the State Department announced Friday it would send representatives to the third such conference in Vienna in early December.  We signed onto a letter initiated by our colleagues at the Arms Control Association urging U.S. participation, so this is definitely good news, and we’ll keep you updated on the conference, U.S. participation, and follow-up steps. What the U.S. reps say and do at this confab will have even more resonance as the international community prepares for the every five years Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) at the United Nations in New York City next April. Peace Action will once again help lead national and international groups in organizing around the RevCon, we’ll have more information on this in the New Year.

-Updated Don’t Bank on the Bomb report released: This terrific resource, which catalogs the banks, insurance companies, mutual funds and other businesses that help support and finance nuclear weapons contractors worldwide, was released last Friday. It’s a great educational and action tool, as even most peace activists are likely unaware of the web of financial links so many seemingly non-military related companies have to the production of nuclear weapons. Check it out, you’ll want to know if companies you deal with are involved. Some Peace Action supporters have used the report to withdraw investments from firms they had long done business with, over the companies’ financial ties to nukes. You may want to do the same.

-And the funny (sort of): Death Wears Bunny Slippers: Hanging out with the disgruntled guys who babysit our aging nuclear missiles – and hate every second of it, a terrific article in Mother Jones magazine about the decay of the ICBM force and the morale and performance of the Air Force personnel who allegedly safeguard them

 


Brief Election Post-Mortem

November 5, 2014

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Among otherwise tough mid-term election results, six of the top eight candidates Peace Action endorsed and supported (along with Peace Action West, Peace Action Michigan and New Hampshire Peace Action) won yesterday. In the Senate, Jeff Merkeley (OR), Al Franken (MN), Gary Peters (MI) and Jeanne Shaheen (NH) won, with Bruce Braley (IA) losing. In the House, Mike Honda (CA) and Rick Nolan (MN) won, with Carol Shea Porter (NH) coming up just short in her tight re-election race.

We’ll have more to say soon about the outcome of the mid-terms and the impact on Peace Action’s agenda, but for now here is a pretty good analysis of the key factors in yesterday’s results on the website Talking Points Memo. 


Next Tuesday’s elections: Trick or Treat?

October 30, 2014

Dear Voter,

A few days after All Hallows’ Evening, the midterm elections will occur. Tuesday, November 4th. Your actions can make the results less scary.  Please take two actions now:

Vote!
Contribute to Peace Candidates! 

Even if you are not registered to vote, a number of states allow you to register at the ballot box.  Did you know you can avoid possible lines and hassle by voting at early polling places or using an absentee ballot?  You can find your polling place, information on registration and early voting and other important election information by visiting www.vote411.org

Already Peace Action and our affiliates, through our Peace Voter campaign has made a difference by endorsing candidates and fundraising for candidates, contributing to primary elections, briefing candidates, collecting candidate questionnaires and hiring organizers to work in important swing races.  You can make a difference here.

As you read this, Peace Action organizers are working in critical Senate races in Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire and swing House races in Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Please contribute to these peace candidates and to Peace Action PAC now.  Even $5 can make a difference.  By law, $5,000 is the maximum you can give to our PAC.  You may consider a recurring gift so that our PAC is always prepared even for surprise special elections

Peace Action PAC has helped elect such peace leaders as:

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) — a leader in bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and ending the Iraq War.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) — another leader in stopping endless wars and cutting the Pentagon budget.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) — co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) — a rare Republican ally on ending the wars and reducing Pentagon waste.

Your support now can make a difference in last minute advertising and get out the vote efforts.  It’s not just electing Members of Congress that will vote the right way.  That certainly helps.  But the key is electing leaders on peace issues who will lead a number of lawmakers to vote the right way.  Leaders who will do the the hard, behind the scenes, work on issues you and I care about that will make a lasting difference.

Please take a moment now to make a gift so that we can make a difference in key elections.

For a more peaceful Congress,

Paul Kawika Martin
Director, Political Action Committee
Peace Action

P.S. – The only thing scarier than Halloween this week, would be not to take action regarding next Tuesday’s (November 4th) midterm elections.  Please make sure you vote.  And give generously to peace candidates and Peace Action’s PAC.  Be sure to share and forward this post.


Letter to Obama Administration on upcoming nukes conference

October 30, 2014
Peace Action Development Director Peter Deccy at the "A-Bomb Dome" in Hiroshima

Peace Action Development Director Peter Deccy at the “A-Bomb Dome” in Hiroshima

The following news release is part of an ongoing effort to press the Obama Administration to participate in multilateral nuclear disarmament fora. Peace Action has helped lead this push for a few years now. The first link is to the letter we signed onto. Scuttlebutt is the Administration may soon decide on whether to attend the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in December.

Leading Nuclear Policy Experts and Organizations Call on the United States to Participate in International Conference on Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2014

 

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.) –A group of more than two dozen leading nuclear policy experts, former U.S. government officials, and peace and security organizations are urging the Barack Obama administration “to authorize U.S. participation in the Dec. 8-9 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria.”

In an October 29 letter to the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, the signatories write that U.S. participation in the Vienna conference “would enhance the United States’ credibility and influence at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. U.S. participation would also provide support to key U.S. allies and partners,” many of which are also urging the United States to send an official delegation.

The Vienna humanitarian impacts conference, which is the third such meeting since 2013, “is a useful and important venue for raising awareness about the risks of nuclear weapons,” the letter signers write, and it “contributes to the oft-repeated U.S. government call for ‘extending the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons forever.’”

The United States and the other five original nuclear weapon states–Russia, the U.K., France, and China–have not attended the two previous humanitarian impacts conferences, citing concerns that it could be used as a launching point for negotiations calling for a ban on nuclear weapons or a convention leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

“While some participating states and some nongovernmental organizations support such a ban … this conference is not a negotiating conference and is not intended to launch such an effort. Even if it were, there is no clear consensus among the participants about the direction of any such process,” the signers note in their letter, which was addressed to the president’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“Nuclear-armed states may have reasons to argue that not all potential uses of nuclear weapons necessarily would lead to humanitarian disaster, and that nuclear weapons may deter other existential threats,” says George Perkovich, Vice-President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one of the letter’s signatories.

“But given that the whole world would be affected if they are wrong, they should be willing to discuss these issues with others,” Perkovich says. “Unwillingness to do so suggests an arrogance that can only provoke international contempt and resistance.”

A decision on the part of the Obama administration not to attend the Vienna conference, the signatories write, “would be a major lost opportunity and a setback for President Obama’s own call for action toward a nuclear weapons free world.”

 

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons.


Peace Action Conference in Boston Nov. 8 – Chomsky, Kinzer, Bennis, Fletcher, Le Blanc and you!

October 22, 2014

A Foreign Policy for All

Re-Thinking U.S. Foreign Policy for the 21st Century

Saturday, November 8, 2014, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
MIT Room 34-101, 50 Vassar St, Cambridge, MA 

Confirmed Speakers
Noam Chomsky, MIT Institute Professor, author,Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order Bill Fletcher, former president, Trans Africa Forum; author, They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 other Myths about Unions Phyllis Bennis, director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies Stephen KinzerBoston  columnist;  author,

Globe columnist;  author,The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

Judith Leblanc, Field Director, Peace Action; former co-chair, UFPJ; member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma

After over a decade of costly military engagements in overseas wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains an interventionist, military-first foreign policy. Weary of this unsustainable status quo, growing numbers of Americans are engaging in a wide-ranging debate about the values and goals of U.S. foreign policy, the necessary levels of military spending, and the appropriate role for the U.S. in the world in the 21st century. As a result, there is now a unique window of opportunity for deep and critical reflection over the key priorities of U.S. foreign policy going forward.

In this one-day conference to be held immediately after the midterm election, we will both critique current foreign policy approaches that exacerbate global insecurity, and attempt to outline a more positive vision of U.S. global engagement. This vision is one that meets the actual security needs of people around the world, and is consistent with the principles of peace and justice for all. We will also explore the actions needed to make the changes we seek. The discussion will respond to a draft paper prepared by a working group. Read a summary of the Foreign Policy for All project.

Conference Schedule and List of Workshops will be posted soon at http://masspeaceaction.org/5872.

Conference fee: $25 before Oct. 29 for members of sponsoring organizations, $30 for others, $35 at the door, $10 for students and low income; free to MIT students.  Fee includes morning coffee and lunch.  Register at fp4a-conf.bpt.me/ or mail check to Massachusetts Peace Action, 11 Garden St, Cambridge, MA 02138; write “FP4A” on memo line.  Info: 617 354 2169

Host: MIT Technology and Culture Forum

Co-Sponsors: Massachusetts Peace Action, American Friends Service Committee, MIT Western Hemisphere Association, United for Justice with Peace, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – Boston Branch, Massachusetts Global Action

Info: masspeaceaction.org/fp4a-conf


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