“New START” agreement – analysis on Senate ratification

March 31, 2010

Our colleague John Isaacs had an interesting article on potential US Senate ratification of the New START agreement with Russia on The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists website, it’s worth a read.

The one issue John  touches on in this analysis that will most likely be controversial in the peace/disarmament/arms control community (which is not necessarily the same thing, I’m conflating them here for brevity) is the apparent attempt by the Administration to strike a “deal” that we (Peace Action) and many colleagues don’t like, giving more money to the nuclear weapons labs for “modernization,” particularly new facilities at Los Alamos, Oak Ridge and Kansas City, which could result in a quadrupling of US annual nuclear warhead production capacity from 20 to 80 warheads per year. All of that is supposed to buy Republican support for the New START ratification.

To me, that’s not a “deal” – a deal is when two sides agree to something with certain conditions that each agree to, often a compromise. There is no “deal” here, as few Republicans have pledged to support New START ratification, and even if this were being proposed as a deal, that should come later on in the process. So it’s not a deal, it’s a giveaway to the Dr. Strangeloves at the nuclear labs, Pentagon, Department of Energy, etc.

Furthermore, increasing nuclear weapons production capacity, or “modernization” or even “strengthening our nuclear deterrent” is the exact wrong message to send to the rest of the world on disarmament and non-proliferation, so we’d oppose the giveaways to the nuclear weapons complex even if it was a real “deal” for New START ratification. We’re activists, it’s not our job to “bless” deals like this.

More on this in the days, weeks and months to come.


Guest Blog on Tavis Smiley’s website

March 26, 2010

PBS television and PRI radio host Tavis Smiley has a special on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s anti-war work toward the end of his life airing on PBS stations next Wednesday, March 31, in advance of the April 4, 1967 anniversary of King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church in New York City (and of course also the anniversary of his assassination exactly one year later).

I was honored to be invited to write a guest blog post on peace and nonviolence for the website promoting the show, read the blog and also the page promoting the special. Please feel free to comment on the blog and the special here and on those sites, and be sure to tune in next week (I’m not on the show but I hear a close colleague of mine is, won’t spoil the surprise here!).


Peace Action NYS: Hometown host for international actions for nuclear disarmament April 30 – May 2

March 25, 2010

By: Judith Le Blanc, Field Organizer

Nationally, PA is spearheading the organizing of an international conference on April 30- May1 at Riverside Church and a march, rally and peace and music festival in midtown Manhattan timed with the opening of the UN Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference. Go to www.peaceandjustice.org for more details.

Peace Action NYS (PANYS) is throwing out the welcome mat here in our hometown, NYC for the thousands who will come from US and abroad to send a strong message to the UN and to the White House: “We need a world free of nuclear weapons, in our lifetime!”.

PANYS chapters are busy planning activities between now and May 2 to strengthen ties with other peace groups, begin new relationships with other constituencies in the community especially with faith groups, communities of color , immigrants and students. PANYS main goal is to come through the mobilization stronger and bigger!

PANYS  is mapping out a plan that includes internal goals with a public competition between chapters on the petition calling on President Obama to take a giant step towards abolition by initiating good faith negotiations for a nuclear convention! Chapters are discussing their goals and a friendly but feisty competition for signatures is about to begin.

One chapter has collected 300 signatures in the past few weeks. They decided to print the dates and website for the NPT activities on 1000 pencils and have been giving them out as they petition.

Educational forums, visits to community groups and plans for April tabling are underway. PA Staten Island formed a ”homegrown” speakers bureau. They held a briefing session for the local speakers, made lists and set up appointments. They have begun work with a peace club at a community college and spoke to two classes at another college. Next stop: local churches.

In Albany, the chapter organized a forum in the downtown public library picked up some new contacts and used the meeting to get fired up to organize a bus to NYC.

The Buffalo chapter, Western NY Peace Center, is helping to mobilize for the March 21 immigrant rights march in DC. They are going to leaflet for the May 2 NYC demonstrations and bring the petitions with them. They know that immigrants often leave their home countries because of wars, both military and economic. Matching for immigrant rights at home and for peace around the world is a perfect combination of solidarity and political grassroots power!

PANYS is working with the Doris Schaffer Memorial Fund which is offering grants to NYS chapters for organizing public events in the run up to the NPT activities. The Fund is also sponsoring an educational forum in Manhattan chaired by Phil Donahue on April 8 to mobilize for the NPT events.

Chapters are engaging with the organizations that are organizing for healthcare, housing and education. Their goal is to broaden the call to change the Federal spending priorities and shift the 58% of discretionary spending on the military to meeting human needs here at home and abroad! On LI, they are contacting groups like Jobs With Justice and Erase Racism to meet and discuss the NPT events. They are approaching clergy who are concerned about Afghanistan to join the May NPT activities, as well.

For decades, PA has been one of the strongest grassroots voices for nuclear disarmament. In 2010, PANYS and national PA are again showing bold and effective leadership in giving the nuclear disarmament movement a new surge in 2010. For more information about PANYS, go to http://www.panys.org/. Get involved in the NPT activities in NYC April30-May 2 http://peaceandjusticenow.org/


Iraq’s 7th Year

March 25, 2010

By: Raed Jarrar, Senior Fellow

Seven years under the US-led occupation, Iraqis have been paying a huge price for this war. Five million Iraqis remain displaced from their homes, half of them inside the country and the other half as refugees in other nations; more than a million Iraqis have been killed, and millions more injured, maimed and traumatized; the country’s infrastructure and services, once among the most developed in the region, remain in shambles; the Iraqi civil society is torn and in conflict; and the Iraqi governmental institutions, including the armed services, are still infiltrated and controlled by political parties and militias.

The current general situation in Iraq is dreadful and unstable, and there is a lot of doubt Iraq has reached a stage where a peaceful transition of authority is possible. The upcoming elections are not inclusive enough because of the banning of hundreds of opposition candidates by the Iraqi government, and with the lack of a sufficient number of international monitors, Iraq risks falling into an Iran-style post-election unrest. But even if the upcoming elections were inclusive, fair and transparent, there is still doubt that the Iraqi armed forces will be loyal to the democratically elected government. Many Iraqi observers and politicians fear the possibility of a military coup in case the current ruling parties lose.

But this deterioration should not affect the US withdrawal plans from Iraq in any way. While President Bush based his withdrawal plans from Iraq on conditions on the ground, claiming that “as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down”, President Obama’s withdrawal plans has been time-based, not conditions-based. The Obama plan has two guiding timelines: Obama’s own plan to remove all combat forces between April and August of this year and bring the total number of US troops to less than 50,000 and US contractors to less than 75,000, then the bi-lateral agreement with Iraq requiring all troops and contractors to be out by the end of 2011.

There seems to be some pressure from the U.S. war machine and some pro-occupation Iraqi parties to postpone or cancel the withdrawal from Iraq, or to link the withdrawal to political and security conditions on the ground. If the Obama administration falls in the slippery slope of going back to a conditions-based withdrawal, that will take us back to square one. The US occupation has never been a part of the solution in Iraq, and it will never be. Prolonging the occupation will not solve what the occupation has damaged, and will lead to more death and destruction.

This March, while we commemorate the 7th year of occupation, let’s make sure to hold Obama accountable for his promises to bring home all combat forces this year, and all remaining forces and contractors next year.


Challenges to Iraq election continue as returns near full count

March 22, 2010

Iraq’s Electoral Commission has rejected calls for a recount of parliamentary elections held two weeks ago. The country’s president called for a recount over the weekend, saying that it was necessary to “preclude any doubt or misunderstanding” about the results. On Saturday, current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whose State of Law coalition slightly trails the Iraqiya alliance, also called for a recount. Large numbers of voters went to polls on March 7th despite violence throughout the region. International observers have mostly called the elections free and fair. The UN has said it is investigating individual allegations of tampering but has found no evidence of widespread fraud. However, the charges have opened the possibility of a long and contentious period.

To take a deeper look at the various coalitions vying for power, we’re joined by Raed Jarrar. He is a senior fellow on the Middle East at Peace Action, a nationwide grassroots peace organization.

Listen to the audo here: http://www.fsrn.org/audio/challenges-iraq-election-continue-returns-near-full-count/6419


2010: The Year for Re-Building the Movement for Nuclear Disarmament

March 11, 2010

–By Lisa Putkey, Scoville Peace Fellow, Peace Action Education Fund, and Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund

2010 is the year to set the roadmap for nuclear disarmament as an international community, and the US is integral to progress.  2010 marks 65 years since the birth of the atomic bomb in New Mexico and 65 years since the United States atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Nearly two decades have passed since the Cold War and yet the nuclear arms race continues.  This May the world will come together in New York for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon in United Nations parlance), which aims to bring about a nuclear weapons-free world.  Despite President Obama’s lofty rhetoric on nuclear disarmament, his administration has requested billions for new nuclear bomb-making facilities.  It is now up to the American public to create the groundswell necessary to derail nuclear funding and get the US to accelerate steps toward abolishing nuclear arms.

Read more on OpEd News


Reportback on your call in support of Kucinich’s H. Con Res. 248

March 9, 2010

We’ve been asking our members to contact their Representative in support of Kucinich’s H. Con Res. 248 here. If you already have, please tell us how your call went. After you’re done, don’t forget to tell-your-friends by clicking here.

Also, New Jersey Peace Action Executive Director Madelyn Hoffman has a terrific op-ed on Afghanistan published today on Op-Ed News, check it out and forward (it also has links to our actions in support of Kucinich’s resolution).


NGO Sign-on Letter to Members of the House

March 9, 2010

17 NGOs request House Members become cosponsors of H.Con.Res. 248 to bring troops home from Afghanistan

Dear Congressional Staffer:

The undersigned 17 organizations representing nearly 2,000,000 supporters request that Rep. XXXX vote yeah on Rep. Kucinich’s concurrent resolution (H.Con.Res. 248) that invokes the War Powers Resolution to direct the President to remove U.S. Armed Forces by no later than the end of this year.  A vote is expected today.

While the resolution language may not be perfect, it is extremely important to show the administration, the public and the media, opposition to the current military strategy in Afghanistan.

We urge Rep. XXX to vote yeah, whip for yeah votes and to speak out on the floor during debate.  To request floor time during debate, contact Diala Jadallah

Pasted below is the text of the legislation and current list of cosposnors.

Some of the below organizations may use the vote in our voting records.

Please let Paul Kawika Martin of Peace Action (pmartin@peace-action.org, 951-217-7285) know how Rep. XXXX plans to act on this request.

Sincerely,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

Robert Greenwald
President
Brave New Films

Gael Murphy
Cofounder
CODEPINK

John Feffer
Co-Director
Foreign Policy in Focus

Joe Volk
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Jose N. Vasquez
Executive Director
Iraq Veterans Against the War

Robert Naiman
Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy

Adele Kubein
Executive Committee
Military Families Speak Out

David Krieger
President
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

Dave Robinson
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA

Tom Hayden
Peace and Justice Resource Center

Tim Carpenter
Executive Director
Progressive Democrats  of America

Jason Rosenbaum
Founding Editor
The Seminal

Michael T. McPhearson
United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ, a coalition of 1,000 national, regional and local groups)

Mike Ferner
National President
Veterans for Peace

Kathy Kelly
Co-coordinator
Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Kevin Zeese
Executive Director
Voters for Peace
_______________________________

Text of Legislation

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/t2GPO/http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:hc248ih.txt.pdf

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), (Introduced in House)
HCON 248 IH

111th CONGRESS

2d Session

H. CON. RES. 248
Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 4, 2010

Mr. KUCINICH (for himself, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. FILNER, Mr. JONES, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. CAPUANO, Mr. JOHNSON of Illinois, Mr. PAUL, Ms. BALDWIN, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. MASSA, Mr. GRAYSON, Ms. LEE of California, Ms. PINGREE of Maine, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Ms. CLARKE, Mr. SERRANO, and Mr. MICHAUD) submitted the following concurrent resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan.

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),
SECTION 1. REMOVAL OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM AFGHANISTAN.

Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan–
(1) by no later than the end of the period of 30 days beginning on the day on which this concurrent resolution is adopted; or
(2) if the President determines that it is not safe to remove the United States Armed Forces before the end of that period, by no later than December 31, 2010, or such earlier date as the President determines that the Armed Forces can safely be removed.

Current 19 Cosponsors:

Rep Baldwin, Tammy [WI-2] – 3/4/2010
Rep Capuano, Michael E. [MA-8] – 3/4/2010
Rep Clarke, Yvette D. [NY-11] – 3/4/2010
Rep Conyers, John, Jr. [MI-14] – 3/4/2010
Rep Davis, Danny K. [IL-7] – 3/4/2010
Rep Farr [CA]
Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51] – 3/4/2010
Rep Grayson, Alan [FL-8] – 3/4/2010
Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7] – 3/4/2010
Rep Johnson, Timothy V. [IL-15] – 3/4/2010
Rep Jones, Walter B., Jr. [NC-3] – 3/4/2010
Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9] – 3/4/2010
Rep Massa, Eric J. J. [NY-29] – 3/4/2010
Rep Michaud, Michael H. [ME-2] – 3/4/2010
Rep Paul, Ron [TX-14] – 3/4/2010
Rep Pingree, Chellie [ME-1] – 3/4/2010
Rep Serrano, Jose E. [NY-16] – 3/4/2010
Rep Stark [CA]
Rep Woolsey, Lynn C. [CA-6] – 3/4/2010


CounterSpin Interview

March 5, 2010

Raed Jarrar, Peace Action’s Senior Fellow, was interviewed by Counter Spin today

Parliamentary elections in Iraq are generating some mixed messages in the corporate press—Victory At Last declares the cover of Newsweek, while newspaper accounts hint at, or even outright suggest, that plans to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq are going to need to be re-evaluated. What should we make of the election, and the media’s off-again, on-again interest in Iraq? We’ll talk to Raed Jarrar.

Listen to the Interview here


A Military Coup in Iraq?

March 4, 2010

published on Truthout

By Raed Jarrar

Twenty million eligible voters are invited to participate in this weekend’s parliamentary election in Iraq. The election, scheduled for Sunday March 7, will take place amid an wave of increased violence and political tension in Iraq. But even with the possibilities of a total political meltdown, or even a military coup, the US should not delay or cancel its withdrawal plans.

Read full article on Truthout


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