News from the “Forgotten War” in Iraq

June 26, 2009

The US is (mostly) pulling back from bases in Iraqi cities in accordance with the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) signed last year by Iraq’s government and the Bush Administration. While this can be taken as a sign of progress, violent attacks have been increasing recently in Iraq. Two New York Times articles today offer somewhat conflicting depictions of the situation in Iraq, reinforcing the undeniable truth of the continuing misery for the people of Iraq, and that the peace movement was (and is) right in our assertion that the US should never have invaded in the first place. Oh when will they (we) ever learn?

-Kevin Martin, Executive Director

 
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/world/middleeast/26iraq.html?th&emc=th
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/26/world/middleeast/26maliki.html?th&emc=th


Working for nuclear abolition and non-proliferation

June 25, 2009

Who wouldn’t be interested in a campaign to stop the spread of nuclear weapons? Non-proliferation has always just seemed like a given to me. Still, I was never really informed about the various efforts to decrease or even eliminate nukes all together.

On Friday—my first day visiting the hill as a Peace Action intern—I had the opportunity to sit in on two meetings at the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation: the Next Nuclear Weapons Working Group (NNWW) meeting and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) meeting. Though the acronyms and strategies tossed around were often over my head, the very fact that various political and advocacy groups had gathered to tackle these issues made me feel hopeful and at ease.

During President Obama’s April 5th speech in Prague, he advocated for a nuclear free world. However, it’s hard to be sure what the rhetoric of his speech implied.

“I’m not naive. This goal will not be reached quickly – perhaps not in my lifetime,” Obama said.

We hope that Obama wasn’t being skeptical, and that instead meant this comment as a display of his commitment to abolishing nuclear weapons, no matter the time frame.
The speech’s full text can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-By-President-Barack-Obama-In-Prague-As-Delivered/

With Peace Action and our allies collaborating, I think there is a lot of potential in upcoming months for some progress on non-proliferation. Grassroots organizing in a slew of states–in order to ensure US ratification of the CTBT–is one step in the right direction. After Friday’s meetings, I am eager to learn more about how communities can organize in support of a nuclear free world!

Sign this petition to support the cause of non-proliferation and nuclear abolition to be presented to the United Nations in May 2010:
http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/161/t/288/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1977

To learn more about Peace Action’s work on nuclear weapons policy, visit this site: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/161/p/salsa/web/common/public/content.sjs?content_item_KEY=5729

Thanks for your help!
Alyssa


Cut the F-22 Outdated Fighter and get an Afghanistan exit strategy in a Few Days

June 22, 2009

We have a chance to win on two issues in the next few days:

1. Cut the funding for the outdated F-22 Jet, which both Pres. Obama and Def. Sec. gates want cut.
2. Get an exit strategy from the Obama Administration on Afghanistan

Amendments on H.R. 2647 will be taken by House Rules Committee until 7:30 PM tonight.  Then, the rule will be voted on in the Rules Committee tomorrow, Tuesday after 5:00 PM.  Even though there’s still some shifting about which bills will come up in what order this week, it appears that H.R. 2647, the FY 2010 National Defense Authorizations Act/NDAA, will come to the House floor on Wednesday, June 24th, immediately following the completion of the FY 2010 Homeland Security Appropriations Act.

Debate on the defense bill and amendments to the defense bill will likely continue into Wednesday night, with votes on those amendments being rolled over to Thursday, June 25th.   Any remaining debate and votes on the defense bill and amendments will be completed on Thursday, June 25th.  The annual White House picnic is “Hawaiian style” this year and on Thur. eve.  Members hope to have finished up the defense bill by that time (i.e. 6-ish), but if not, there will be a break in voting while debate on the bill and amendments continues, with votes rolled until later in the evening or the next morning.

Here’s some of the strategy that various coalitions are working on:

Focus on the F-22 should be Dem. leadership and our normal allies asking them to support any amendments that cut the F-22.

Focus on the Afghanistan Exit Strategy Amendment should be on those allies that are not current cosponsors of HR2404


The War Supplemental Vote in the House Soon

June 16, 2009

The U.S. House of Representatives is on the verge of voting on the final war supplemental!

They have passed the rule, but it doesn’t look like they have the votes yet to pass the supplemental.  Please inform your representative that you want to see an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His or her phone number may be found here or call the Congressional switchboard directly at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative’s office.

ALSO… 

Please ask your member’s office if they are cosponsors of Rep. Jim McGovern’s request for an exit strategy from Afghanistan (HR 2404). If they are not yet cosponsors, encourage your member to sign onto HR2404 and join Rep. McGovern and other members of Congress to end the war in Afghanistan.

Please post the outcome of you calls to this blog.

We are working with allies inside Congress and outside on getting “no” votes.


Peace Action Statement on Iranian Elections

June 15, 2009

Peace Action, the nation’s largest peace organization, made the following statement at a pro-democracy rally in front of the Iranian interests section in Washington, DC attended by nearly 1,000 Iranians.  Paul Kawika Martin, the group’s political director, stated:

“Peace Action supports free and fair democracy for every nation. When any democracy is threatened, here at home in the United States or abroad, our organization engages in non-violent action that demonstrates dissent towards those who would subvert the democratic process.

“Evidence shows that in response to this weekend’s Iranian presidential elections the government has blocked access to cell phone and internet communication, arrested members of Mir Hossein Mousavi’s campaign, and used violent force to subdue his supporters. Peace Action stands in solidarity with the Iranian people’s right to protest the suspicious outcome of the elections.

“Pro-democracy Iranians are calling for a truth commission with representatives from the campaigns, religious institutions and the Parliament; a new election with ballot counting transparency; and the release of all recent political prisoners, which seems prudent.”

In response to the huge restrictions the U.S. puts on providing Iranians visas, the Iranian government gives only a few hundred Americans visas every year.  Four people from the Peace Action network have traveled to Iran in the last few years to practice citizen-to-citizen diplomacy including Paul Kawika Martin.  Rebecca Griffin with Peace Action West just returned from a ten-day trip.

###

Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.Peace-Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika

Nearly 1,000 Iranians ask for democracy in fron of Iranian interests section in Washington, DC

Nearly 1,000 Iranians ask for democracy in fron of Iranian interests section in Washington, DC

Pro-democracy rally in front of the Iranian interests section in Washington, DC attended by nearly 1,000 Iranians

Pro-democracy rally in front of the Iranian interests section in Washington, DC attended by nearly 1,000 Iranians


Not enough votes in House to pass war funding

June 15, 2009

House Democratic leadership definitely does not have the votes yet.  It sounds like the leadership is going to use floor time tonight on various votes to do face-to-face whipping.  If they have the votes, the house will bring the supplemental up as early as tomorrow.  When the House passes the supplemental the Senate will try to follow as early as mid to late this week.  I’m also hearing the President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel is trying to whip Republican’s, but failing.  We need to continue to pressure our allies for “no” votes on war funding.

I still think that the bill will pass at some point.  They all have since we invaded Afghanistan, but perhaps leadership will have to put more diamonds in the big pile of poop of a bill to get it pass.


Peace Action ED Asks: What Is the Military’s Mission?

June 15, 2009

Today’s Washington Post published Peace Action Executive Director, Kevin Martin’s letter to the editor responding to Michael O’Hanlon’s June 10, 2009 op-ed, Obama’s Defense Budget Gap.

Kevin pointedly asks:

What is the mission that would justify perpetuating the colossal U.S. military budget?

Should the United States occupy Iraq and Afghanistan indefinitely (Mr. O’Hanlon has supported both wars)? Are our huge military budget, which at more than $600 billion per year is almost as large as those of the rest of the world’s countries combined, and more than 700 foreign bases justified by a global “war on terror”?

Kevin concludes with another question: What do we value more: Education, affordable housing, health care, and the fight against climate change, or a bloated military budget?

Soon, the House and Senate will vote on a $90 billion “emergency supplemental” to fund for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, most of the money will go towards military engagement — not diplomacy.

Tell your members of Congress: Its time to reverse these twisted priorities.  Vote ‘No’ on the war supplemental.


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