“The Iraq Withdrawal: Obama vs. the Pentagon”

February 25, 2010

Senior Fellow Raed Jarrar’s latest Op-Ed “The Iraq Withdrawal: Obama vs. the Pentagon” below:

“This Monday, Army Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, asked officials in DC to approve contingency plans to delay the withdrawal of US combat forces. The next day, the New York times published an op-ed asking president Obama to delay the US withdrawal and keep some tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely. Both the Pentagon and NY times article argue that prolonging the occupation is for Iraq’s own good. According to these latest attempts to prolong the occupation, if the US were to leave Iraqis alone the sky would fall, a genocidal civil war will erupt, and Iran will takeover their nation and rip it apart.”

Read the rest of Jarrar’s piece at Common Dreams.


The Long Voyage: The Golden Rule and Resistance to Nuclear Testing in Asia and the Pacific

February 22, 2010

by Peace Action historian Lawrence Wittner

Recently, when a battered, 30-foot sailboat, the Golden Rule, came to rest in a small shipyard in northern California, the event did not inspire fanfare.  But, in fact, the Golden Rule was far more important than it appeared, for the small ketch had helped inspire a widespread struggle against nuclear testing, particularly throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The long voyage of the Golden Rule began thanks to the efforts of Albert Bigelow, a retired World War II U.S. naval commander.  Learning of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Bigelow had been not only awestruck, but horrified.  “It was then,” he recalled, “that I realized for the first time that morally war is impossible.”  In the postwar years, Bigelow and his wife joined the Society of Friends and, in 1955, housed two of the 25 Hiroshima Maidens, who had been brought to the United States for reconstructive surgery.  Working with the American Friends Service Committee, Bigelow sought to deliver a petition against nuclear testing to the White House, but was rebuffed by U.S. government officials.

Read more at JapanFocus.org


Largest Peace Group: Biden Speech Right Direction on Nukes, But Funding Weapon Upgrades Wrong

February 18, 2010

For Immediate Release:  February 18, 2010

Largest Peace Group:  Biden Speech Right Direction on Nukes, But Funding Weapon Upgrades Wrong

Washington, DC — In response to today’s speech on nuclear weapons by Vice President Biden at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, Peace Action’s — a group founded in 1957 to abolish nuclear weapons and the largest grassroots peace organization — policy director, Paul Kawika Martin, stated the following after attending the speech:

“Peace Action applauds the Obama Administration’s vision of a world free of nuclear weapons.  In his speech, Vice President Biden rightly focused on negotiating and ratifying a new START treaty, ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), increasing funding to secure nuclear weapons and moving towards a treaty to ban fissile materials.

“Despite independent analysis that the U.S. stockpile is secure and reliable, Biden wrongly stated the need to ‘modernize’ nuclear weapons facilities.  Instead of spending $7 billion on facilities to upgrade nuclear weapons, that money would be more wisely spent on increasing the rate of dismantling the U.S. stockpile.  Less nuclear weapons makes Americans safer and sends the right message to the rest of the world.

“We hope the President takes advantage of the upcoming nuclear security summit and the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference to start negotiating an international agreement to finally rid the world of nuclear weapons.  Tens of thousands of people from around the world will be at the NPT call for just that.”

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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


InSANE

February 18, 2010

When President Obama said in his State of the Union message “So tonight, we set a new goal:  We will double our exports over the next five years…” we wondered aloud if that meant what we thought it meant.  Four days later we had an answer when the front page of the Washington Post announced “US steps up weapons sales to Mideast allies.”

According to the annual report produced by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service the US signed weapons agreements valued over 37 billion dollars in 2008.  US weapons sales increased by more than 12 billion dollars from the 2007 total and accounted for over 68% of the total arms sales recorded worldwide.  All this despite a decline in global weapons sales overall as the great recession cooled the interest of many nations to place new orders for weapons.

Using fear of Iran as an excuse, many nations in the Persian Gulf region were at the top of the list, including Saudi Arabia $6.06 billion,  Iraq $2.50 billion, Egypt $2.31 billion, Israel $1.32 billion and topping the list, the United Arab Emirates $6.5 billion.

Is introducing tens of billions of dollars more in weapons to the powder keg we call the Mideast how we deal with our trade deficit, or is it how we sow the seeds of war?  One thing is for sure, it’s InSANE.


Nuclear policies and treaties guide

February 18, 2010

The nuts and bolts of the treaties don’t always lend themselves to sound bite summaries, but each provides an opportunity for the US to lead the world towards nuclear abolition through its own commitment to disarmament. And over the next four years Peace Action will use these advocacy opportunities as stepping stones towards the longer term goal of zero nuclear weapons worldwide.

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

The Non-Proliferation treaty, started in 1968, is the most comprehensive nuclear weapons treaty. It includes three pillars 1.) disarmament by nuclear weapons states 2.) non-proliferation of nuclear weapons by non- nuclear states and 3.) peaceful use of nuclear energy. The NPT comes up for review every five years. The next review conference will be in 2010 in New York City. Peace Action will advocate for the Obama administration to put forward strong multilateral measures to strengthen the NPT and commit the United States to nuclear disarmament.

Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)

START began in 1982 under Reagan, largely as a response to the public pressure of the nuclear Freeze campaign (which with SANE later gave birth to Peace Action). START laid the groundwork for nuclear arms reductions goals between the US and USSR, and now Russia. START is now in its third iteration as START III, but expires December 5 2009, providing another opportunity for the peace movement to press world leaders on nuclear disarmament.

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Under the CTBT, signatory nations commit to refraining from creating any nuclear explosions and aims ultimately for nuclear disarmament. Started in 1996 by the UN the treaty has been signed by 180 nations including the United States. However the United States has yet to ratify the CTBT so that it is legally binding, undermining global non-proliferation efforts

Nuclear Posture Review

NPR stands for Nuclear Posture Review. The Obama administration is required by Congress to draw up a Nuclear Posture Review to outline U.S. nuclear weapons policy for the next five years. For months the Department of Defense has been leading efforts in the administration to finish the NPR by mid January. The contents of the NPR should reflect President Obama’s Nobel Prize-winning vision for a nuclear weapons-free future, and will show whether the Administration is ready to take concrete steps towards disarmament, turning impressive anti-nuke rhetoric into reality.

The NPR will specifically lay out the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. foreign policy, determine the size of our nuclear arsenal, and shape the role and size of the nuclear complex (research, production, and waste sites across the U.S.). The Bush Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review was a disturbance internationally, as it revealed U.S. plans to advance nuclear technology with the creation of smaller, more “usable” nuclear weapons to be potentially used against seven named foreign countries. The current NPR is expected to break with its predecessor, yet the Pentagon and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have been pushing for increased resources to the nuclear weapons complex for “modernization,” which would enhance nuclear warhead production capabilities and further entrench the primacy of nuclear weapons in U.S. foreign policy.


Lots of News on Nukes

February 17, 2010

1. President Obama proposes money for new nuclear weapons production facilities

2. Obama also proposes loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants

3. Nuclear Posture Review on the way

4. Vice President Biden to speak on nuclear weapons policy tomorrow (and Peace Action will be there!)

1. In his proposed budget, the President has included funding for a new plutonium bomb plant at Los Alamos in New Mexico, an increase in funding for a uranium processing plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and a new facility in Kansas City to produce non-nuclear components for nuclear weapons. At the same time, he proposes a decrease in funding for nuclear warhead dismantlement. Obviously this is the wrong message for our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president, who advocates a world free of nuclear weapons, to send to the world in advance of the upcoming Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) at the United Nations in May, and it may at least somewhat undercut the momentum for disarmament that will hopefully be generated by the still-in-negotiations post-START treaty with Russia to reduce our nuclear arsenals by about one-quarter.

Congress will of course have the last say, and we need to lobby Congresspeople hard, on funding for these programs. For more information on nuclear weapons “modernization”, see Peace Action Education Fund Scoville Fellow Lisa Putkey’s excellent fact sheet.

2. Bad news, the president has signed off on over $8 billion in federal loan guarantees (i.e. our tax dollars) to build two new nuclear power plants in Georgia, and supposedly more down the road. The president of course also supports “clean coal” (he must know there is no such thing) and offshore drilling, and the Administration is trying to frame these overtures not just as necessary for energy production, but also as a way to get Republicans to support green energy technology investements and curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. This is a bad deal all around, and we’ll support the lead of colleague environmental organizations, such as our friends at Beyond Nuclear,  in opposing this initiative.

3.  According to several reports, the Nuclear Posture Review is nearing completion at high levels within the Administration. For more, see our earlier blog and Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares Fund on Huffington Post today.

4. Finally, Vice President Biden will deliver a speech here in Washington tomorrow (it was postponed by last week’s Snowmageddon here) on nuclear weapons policy. Peace Action was invited and our Organizing and Policy Director Paul Kawika Martin will attend, look for a report tomorrow.


Raed Jarrar talks to RT about the latest elections news in Iraq

February 12, 2010

“Several Baath party members were banned from Iraqi elections however the US is pushing to get the ban lifted. Iraqi officials strongly opposed American involvement in negotiations regarding participation of former members of the Ba’ath party. Raed Jarrar says that this could be a collapse of the Iraqi political process. He also adds that an inconclusive election could lead to more violence in the region.”


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