A Budget for All

March 28, 2012

by Peter Deccy

Representative Paul Ryan’s ‘Punish the People’ budget proposal was released last week to a symphony of media coverage. This week, the Congressional Progressive Caucus released The Budget for All, a blueprint for deficit reduction and job creation the media ignored. Fair and balanced? Hardly.

The Budget for All promises $6.8 trillion in deficit reduction while providing $2.9 trillion in public investment and job creation. It funds these important steps with tax reform that would have the super rich actually contribute to the solution of an economic meltdown they largely caused, while ending the wars in Afghanistan and curbing the Pentagon spending spree.

It provides a sharp contrast to the Ryan plan which continues the practice of protecting the 1% from the curse of taxation while increasing military spending. For all those secretaries paying a higher tax rate than their bosses, Ryan would probably say, ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet.’

The values we want reflected throughout our society are the same values that bind us to our families. Caring for each other, a sense of obligation to something beyond our own self-interest, a willingness to take responsibility, these values are the basis for The Budget for All.

The Budget for All strengthens “a covenant made between a government and its citizens.” The super rich would still be super rich, but they would be obliged to join the rest of us on “a pathway forward of shared responsibility and prosperity.”


2012: Out Now

March 21, 2012

by Peter Deccy, Peace Action

U.S. military leaders are still pressing to keep the bulk of US troops in Afghanistan until 2014, removing only the remaining 22,000 “surge” forces President Obama promised would be withdrawn this summer. That will leave over 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan. For what? Is there any reason to believe that two more years of fighting will make us safer? Will we look back and declare another two years of war was worth the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars and the horrific loss of life? Not likely.

Peace Action is working to recruit co-sponsors for H.R. 780 – the Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act, introduced by Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA). You can help build the demand by calling your Representative today at 202-224-3121 and asking her or him to co-sponsor the Lee bill.

After meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta earlier this month, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai said, “Afghanistan is ready right now to take all security responsibilities completely.” A bold assertion to be sure, and one that should be put to the test as an alternative to a war strategy that is costing too many civilian lives, poisoning future relations with Afghanistan (and Pakistan as well) and one our Afghan allies vehemently oppose. What is the President waiting for?

Most Americans are fed up with the war and want the same thing. A new Rasmussen poll shows 53% of likely voters support the immediate and complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. As support for the present military strategy continues to erode and the justifications for continuing the US investment in blood and treasure wear thin, now is the time for peace advocates to raise their voices.

Call 202-224-3121 today and tell your Representative to support H.R. 780 – the Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act.

In the wake of the horrific murders of 16 Afghan civilians, nine of them children, the U.S. should revisit its timeline for transfer of security to Afghan forces and accelerate the departure of all foreign troops. It’s time our troops came home.


Chicago May 18 & 19 – 99% vs War and Injustice

March 21, 2012

By Judith LeBlanc
Peace Action and the American Friends Service Committee have initiated a network of peace, faith, economic and racial justice groups to convene a Counter Summit for Peace and Economic Justice in Chicago on May 18 – 19.

While the NATO Summit meets at McCormick Place in Chicago we will gather at the People’s Church on 941 West Lawrence from Friday morning until Saturday afternoon.

While they discuss the Afghanistan war, we will map out campaigns for a future free of wars, occupation and the costs of a militarized foreign policy.

The conference will bring together representatives of the 99% from the US and around the world who oppose the policies which generate wars and impoverish our communities. Register now.

Find out more information on the NATO Free Future website. http://www.natofreefuture.org/

Join the low volume announcement list to get updates on plenary speakers and workshops.

We will raise our voices with an alternative vision to NATO’s wars. One that is premised on diplomacy and international sovereignty. Between now and May 18, you can invite speakers to come to your area and be a part of the dialogue.

In the months leading to the  NATO meeting and the G8 meeting at Camp David, it is an opportunity for popular education about NATO and  the G8 and the impact on our communities.

Check out the speakers bureau. In every region of the country there are experts, historians and organizers who can come and speak at events, or your own local Counter Summit for Peace and Economic Justice.

Join us in Chicago!


More Prolific Peace Actionistas Published on Prospects of War on Iran

March 20, 2012

Whew! Hard to keep up with all the great articles being published by grassroots leaders in the Peace Action network. Here are two for you today, both on the lunacy of a war with Iran:

National Peace Action Board Co-Chair Jean Athey and Peace Action Montgomery (in Maryland, just outside the nation’s capital) Steering Committee member Alex Welsch had an op-ed in yesterday’s Baltimore Sun titled “Overstated Iranian ”threat’ puts U.S. on path to war”

New Jersey Peace Action Executive Director, on Op-Ed News, asks “Can the U.S. Afford Another War?” (Of course we can’t, but her article is full of facts, figures, links and news you can use!)


Locked in a Cold War Time Machine Try a Little Nuclear Sanity

March 19, 2012

MARCH 19, 2012

by LAWRENCE S.WITTNER

On February 8, 2012, Congressman Edward Markey (D-MA) took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to introduce the Smarter Approach to Nuclear Expenditures Act (H.R. 3974). This SANE Act would cut $100 billion from the U.S. nuclear weapons budget over the next ten years by reducing the current fleet of U.S. nuclear submarines, delaying the purchase of new nuclear submarines, reducing the number of ICBMs, delaying a new bomber program, and ending the nuclear mission of air bombers.

“America’s nuclear weapons budget is locked in a Cold War time machine,” noted Markey, the senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “It doesn’t reflect our twenty-first-century security needs. It makes no sense. It’s insane.” He went on to explain: “It’s insane to spend $10 billion building new plants to make uranium and plutonium for new nuclear bombs when we’re cutting our nuclear arsenal and the plants we have now work just fine.” Furthermore: “It’s insane that we’re going to spend $84 billion for up to fourteen new nuclear submarines when just one sub, with 96 nuclear bombs on board, can blow up every major city in Iran, China and North Korea.” Finally, “it is insane to spend hundreds of billions on new nuclear bombs and delivery systems . . . while . . . seeking to cut Medicare, Medicaid and social programs that millions of Americans depend on.”

Since its introduction, the SANE Act has picked up significant support. Not surprisingly, it is backed by major peace and disarmament organizations, such as Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and the Ploughshares Foundation. But it has also attracted the support of the National Council of Churches, the Project on Government Oversight, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Indeed, the SANE Act now has 45 Congressional co-sponsors.

In light of the vast and very costly nuclear weapons enterprise operated by the U.S. government, cutting the nuclear weapons budget makes a lot of sense. The U.S. government currently possesses over five thousand nuclear weapons and, as the New York Times noted in a caustic editorial late last October (“The Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget”): “The Obama administration, in an attempt to mollify Congressional Republicans, has also committed to modernizing an already hugely expensive complex of nuclear labs and production facilities. Altogether, these and other nuclear-related programs could cost $600 billion or more over the next decade.”

Of course, if America’s vast nuclear arsenal were absolutely necessary to protect U.S. national security, the case for maintaining it would be strengthened. But, with the exception of Russia, no nuclear-armed nation has more than a few hundred nuclear weapons. It is not even clear what military or deterrent purpose is served by maintaining an arsenal of thousands of nuclear weapons. As Congressman Markey observed: The “U.S. nuclear arsenal could destroy the world five times over.” The New York Times concluded that the United States “does not need to maintain this large an arsenal,” and “it should not be spending so much to do it, especially when Congress is considering deep cuts in vital domestic programs.”

The real nuclear threat to the United States does not lie in the fact that it does not (or will not) possess enough nuclear weapons to deter a nuclear attack. Rather, it is that there is no guarantee that nuclear deterrence works. That is why the U.S. government is so worried about North Korea possessing a few nuclear weapons or Iran possibly obtaining a few. That is also why the U.S. government squanders billions of dollars every year on a “missile defense” shield that is probably ineffective. The grim reality is that, if governments are reckless or desperate, they will use nuclear weapons or perhaps give them to terrorists to attack their foes. While nuclear weapons exist, there is always a danger that they will be used.

Thus, what has made the United States safer in this dangerous world has not been piling up endless numbers of nuclear weapons but, rather, nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, for example — by trading promises of the nuclear powers to disarm for promises of the non-nuclear powers to forgo nuclear weapons development — has persuaded the vast majority of nations not to develop nuclear weapons. In this fashion, the willingness of the U.S. government to decrease its nuclear arsenal (something it has done, although reluctantly) has made Americans safer from nuclear attack by other nations.

As a result of patient U.S. diplomacy, even the leaders of North Korea, one of the worst-governed countries in the world, seem to have shown glimmers of sanity in recent weeks. In late February, they announced that, thanks to an agreement with the U.S. government, they would suspend nuclear tests and uranium enrichment, as well as allow international inspection of their nuclear facilities.

If even the government of North Korea can manage to display a measure of common sense, then is it too much to ask our own government to do the same? Our leaders in Washington could join Representative Markey and his Congressional allies in cutting back the U.S. government’s vast and expensive nuclear doomsday machine and using the savings to provide for the needs of the American people. Surely it’s time to try a little nuclear sanity.

Lawrence S. Wittner is professor of history emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is “Working for Peace and Justice: Memoirs of an Activist Intellectual” (University of Tennessee Press).


Terrific Boston Subway and Bus Ads on Iran, Organized by Massachusetts Peace Action!

March 14, 2012

From Massachusetts Peace Action Communications Director Cole Harrison (and his last point is that we can use this for other transit ads around the country!):

Mass Peace Action is posting “Diplomacy, Not War with Iran” ads in Boston area subway cars and buses.   The ad will run starting a week from today for four weeks on the MBTA’s red and orange lines, and buses.   It links to a web site containing the Peace Action petition as well as resource materials.   An image of the ad is at http://masspeaceaction.org/1710.

 

We pulled in 4 other peace groups, including our UJP coalition, as cosponsors, and after lengthy consultations, arrived at a text that our supporters were happy with.  We raised $3200 mostly from online donations.  The MBTA required two changes in the text, which were annoying but left the message basically intact.

 

So, unless something else goes wrong, we should see the ads go up starting March 19.

 

Of course, we would be happy to help you reuse our artwork if you’d like.


Peace Action Statement on Humanitarian Crisis in Syria

March 6, 2012

Statement by Peace Action Calling for a Halt to the Military Violence and

Human Rights Violations in Syria

March 6, 2012

 

Peace Action deeply deplores the military action taken by Syria’s armed forces to violently suppress opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.  This military action is largely responsible for the deaths of thousands of Syrians – with estimates ranging as high as 7,500 deaths – mostly of civilians.  In the midst of this violence, an estimated 70,000 Syrians have been displaced from their homes and over 20,000 have become international refugees.

 

The Syrian government’s brutality was justly condemned by the UN General Assembly on February 16, 2012, in a resolution that was supported by 137 of 149 nations voting.  Peace Action also applauds the overwhelming vote by the UN Human Rights Council on March 1, 2012 to condemn “the continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities” and the action by the UN Security Council that calls on the Syrian government to allow “immediate, full and unimpeded” humanitarian access to its country.

Peace Action supports the recently-announced UN plan for a mediation process in Syria that includes all political factions.  According to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan – the newly appointed special envoy for Syria on behalf of the United Nations and the Arab League – this plan is supported by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

 

Meanwhile, Peace Action warns against precipitous military intervention in Syria by foreign powers.  “Unfortunately,” notes Kevin Martin, Peace Action executive director, “we have seen how violence has escalated when other nations intervened militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Even when the United Nations authorized the use of force in Libya under its `responsibility to protect’ policy, outside powers overstepped the boundaries of the UN authorization and created a broader military conflict.”

 

Peace Action also calls attention to the fact that, as the Syrian situation demonstrates, when a nation maintains substantial armed forces, it not only threatens the security of other nations, but the human rights and lives of its own citizens.  This threat provides yet another reason for reducing the massive international arms trade.

 

Peace Action believes that the people of the world would have greater security and freedom in a demilitarized world.

 

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 36 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

 


Cleveland Rocks! City Council Passes Resolution Calling for New Spending Priorities!

March 1, 2012

From Cleveland Peace Action:

Cleveland City Council, at its regular February 27th meeting, joined other U.S.cities and the National Conference of Mayors, to call for Pentagon spending cuts and to bring our tax dollars home to struggling Ohio communities.

Council overwhelmingly passed – 18 to 1 – a strongly worded resolution for new national priorities that address needs of our cities and states now facing serious financial shortfalls and cuts to essential services and personnel. The resolution noted that in this time of austerity, tax payers in Cleveland, one of the nation’s poorest cities, will pay over $500 million this coming year as their share of the Pentagon budget. It also calls attention to the deaths of 4400 troops inIraq, plus 1140 more inAfghanistan, with over 39,000 seriously wounded in both conflicts, according to the Pentagon’s own figures.

Cleveland Peace Action initially worked with Councilman Jay Westbrook to craft City Council’s resolution modeled on those of 15 other U.S. cities, including Portland ME, Durham NC, Binghamton NY, Los Angeles, Richmond and San Francisco CA. Councilman Westbrook introduced Resolution 219-12 which will be sent to U.S. senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman and to Representatives Marcia Fudge and Dennis Kucinich.

Visit Cleveland Peace Action’s website to download a copy of the resolution and for news, events, action alerts, and find out what you can do for peace.


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