Zero

February 24, 2014

Here’s an easy quiz for you. According to an article in the Washington Post over the weekend , the Obama Administration is considering four options regarding leaving U.S.  troops in Afghanistan after the end of this year. What do you think the number should be?

A.      10,000 (favored by U.S. military commanders, unsurprisingly)
B.      A somewhat smaller number, unspecified
C.      3,000
D.      Zero

Tell the president you want all our troops home, with none left behind in Afghanistan.

It’s long past time to end America’s longest war. In the words of the late, great Pete Seeger (a longtime Peace Action member):

“If you love this land of the free,
Bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home,
Bring ‘em back from overseas,
Bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home!”

Peacefully Yours,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. After you email the president, please click here and tell your friends to do the same.


Peace Action/Peace Action Education Fund 2013 Accomplishments

January 23, 2014

Peace Action/Peace Action Education Fund 2013 Program, Policy,

Political and Organizing Accomplishments

-Stopped a U.S. attack on Syria! Peace Action played a key leadership role in convening an ad hoc coalition to activate groups on Syria starting in June, which was then quickly mobilized in late August/early September, along with our grassroots affiliate/chapter network, to successfully demand alternatives to a U.S. attack on Syria. (national office, affiliate network)

-Helped realize a modest cut in Pentagon budget (everybody!)

-Provided leadership in grassroots efforts at defense transition/economic conversion in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Hampshire (national office, affiliates and chapters, national and grassroots allies)

-Coordinated/help lead two national days of action on cutting the Pentagon budget – Pull the Pork and Global Day of Action on Military Spending/Tax Day (national office and affiliate network, national, international and local allies)

-Effective advocacy of Diplomacy, Not War with Iran (so far!) (Affiliate network, national office, allies)

-Helped keep up the pressure to end the war in Afghanistan and for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces and bases (everybody)

-Led coalition around pressing the U.S. to participate in multi-lateral nuclear disarmament forums – 24 organizations signed letter to White House, 25,000 signed petition, pulled together a new ad hoc coalition to continue to press for progress in multi-lateral arena (national office, PANYS, allies)

-Peace Voter/PAC – helped elect longtime ally Ed Markey to U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts (Mass PA, national office)

-Launched a new “A Foreign Policy for All” campaign outlining a positive, proactive, more peaceful and sustainable U.S. foreign and military policy (national office)

-Had letters to the editor, news articles and op-eds published in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Common Dreams, Foreign Policy in Focus, CounterPunch, Huffington Post plus many in local media (national and affiliates and chapters – CA, OR, IL, MD, NJ, NC, MA, NY, WI, NY, OH, MO, KS, NE, PA and more!), as well as international outlets and radio and television interviews. Most of these are posted on our website or Peace Blog.


Afghanistan — should we stay or should we go?

November 18, 2013

While Afghanistan has not been in the U.S. news much recently, key issues are now being debated regarding a possible enduring U.S. military presence past the end of 2014 deadline for “full withdrawal.”

The Reuters article below notes the two sticking point issues, immunity from prosecution in Afghan courts for any remaining U.S. troops and the right for U.S. troops to enter and search Afghan homes, with or without Afghan troops. Won’t hazard a guess as to how this plays out, but it may well be decided over the next week.

Exclusive: U.S.-Afghan security pact hits impasse as time runs out

Click for a zoom view

Reuters

Monday, November 18, 2013 11:56 AM GMT

 

By Dylan Welch and Hamid Shalizi

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai has rejected a provision of a U.S.-Afghan security pact, putting the entire deal in jeopardy just days before the country’s elite gather to debate it, a senior Afghan official and a Western diplomat said.

The question of whether foreign troops will be able to search Afghan homes after NATO’s combat mission ends next year has long been a sticking point of an agreement setting out the terms under which remaining U.S. forces will operate there.

But in a series of meetings over the weekend the enter-and-search issue emerged as the biggest roadblock facing the security pact as Karzai dug his heels in, the Afghan official, who has been close to the talks, told Reuters.

Without an accord on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), Washington says it could pull out all of its troops at the end of 2014, leaving Afghanistan’s fledgling security forces on their own to fight the Taliban-led insurgency.

Two years ago, the United States ended its military mission in Iraq with a similar “zero option” outcome after the failure of talks with Baghdad, which refused to guarantee immunity to U.S. personnel serving there.

The United States is concerned that as campaigning intensifies for Afghanistan’s presidential election next April, it will be increasingly difficult to broker a security pact.

“They want a window left open to go into Afghan homes, but the president does not accept that – not unilaterally and not joint,” the Afghan official said, referring to house raids by U.S. troops either on their own or with Afghan forces.

The U.S. embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul declined to comment, but a Western diplomat in Kabul with knowledge of the talks confirmed the two sides had reached an impasse.

“It’s a very tense time,” the diplomat said.

“NO FLEXIBILITY”

On Thursday, a five-day national gathering of the country’s political, tribal and other elites, called a loya jirga, will begin to debate the BSA in Kabul.

If an agreement on the pact is not reached by then, Karzai may tell the meeting in his opening address that he does not agree with the article about house searches, the official said.

“If the jirga becomes about that one article then it risks seeing the entire document rejected,” the Afghan official said.

Talks stalled over the house-search issue during two meetings Karzai held at his palace with U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham and NATO’s commander, General Joseph Dunford.

“From our side there is no flexibility on this issue of allowing Americans to search Afghan homes, because this is more important than jurisdiction,” the Afghan official said.

Jurisdiction refers to giving all American service members in Afghanistan immunity from Afghan law, another U.S. demand that has been resisted by Karzai.

The issues of jurisdiction and unilateral military operations by U.S. forces have been the main bones of contention in the months-long negotiations over the security agreement.

The question of house searches, which have sometimes led to civilian deaths, is a highly charged one that has contributed to the rifts between Karzai and foreign forces in an increasingly fractious relationship.

The United States wants to be able to conduct such searches to continue targeting al Qaeda and other militants in Afghanistan. Karzai is concerned that the hated searches could sap support for the government and foreign troops who stay on.

Another meeting between Karzai, the U.S. envoy and the NATO commander was expected on Monday, though the official said there was little hope of a breakthrough.

(Editing by John Chalmers and Robert Birsel)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp


Here we go again – U.S. pushing for some troops to remain in Afghanistan

October 15, 2013

Published on Monday, October 14, 2013 by Common Dreams

‘Iraq Replay’: Kerry Demands Immunity for US Troops in Afghanistan

Suraia Sahar: ‘Immunity is just another extension of occupation’

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

US troops set out on a patrol in Paktika province, Afghanistan. There are currently 87,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including 52,000 U.S. troops.(Photo: David Furst/AFP/Getty Images)Secretary of State John Kerry is demanding immunity for U.S. military service members in Afghanistan as a precondition for a ‘bi-lateral security agreement,’ which would allow 10,000 U.S. troops in the country past the 2014 withdrawal date.

Critics are slamming this as another example of U.S. refusal to account for war crimes as it pushes for continuing military occupation in Afghanistan. “I don’t believe these occupiers should be protected from prosecution for war crimes,” Suraia Sahar of Afghans United for Justice told Common Dreams. “Immunity is just another extension of occupation.”

U.S. officials say that jurisdiction over crimes committed by U.S. service members in Afghanistan remains an unresolved potential deal-breaker in negotiations whose most recent round started late Friday. Karzai stated that he will refer the issue of immunity to the loya Jirga, a body of elders and leaders in Afghanistan.

On the U.S. side, in contrast, the agreement does not have to be run by the Senate, because it is made with executive powers, Al Jazeera America reports.

If the agreement is not decided by its late-October deadline, the U.S will have no legal basisfor keeping troops beyond the 2014 pullout date. There are currently 87,000 international troops in Afghanistan, including 52,000 U.S. troops.

The issue of immunity for U.S. troops has long been a point of contention for the Afghan people in a U.S.-led occupation characterized by a staggering civilian death toll and high-profile atrocities. The 2012 Panjwai massacre, in which 16 Afghan civilians were gunned down and killed, and 6 wounded by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, added fuel to calls from within Afghanistan for those accused of war crimes to stand trial in Afghanistan. Despite these demands, Bales was whisked out of Afghanistan to face trial in the U.S.

“This has been brewing for a while,” Kevin Martin, executive director of Peace Action, toldCommon Dreams. “This is what they were trying to do in Iraq, but the U.S. couldn’t get Iraq to agree. This is almost an exact replay.”

Kerry sought to assure the Afghan government that the U.S. will thoroughly prosecute war crimes, drawing on similar agreements in South Korea and Japan where immunity exists.

Yet, critics scoffed at these examples. “These are not very good agreements,” Martincontinued. “The people of Okinawa are furious at rape and sexual assault by U.S. troops.”

“This is part of our country’s sickness and addiction to militarism,” he added. “There is no reason the people of Afghanistan should accept immunity.”

Many hope that the disagreement over immunity will hasten a U.S. withdrawal from an occupation that continues to bring death and destruction to the people of Afghanistan. “It’s in the best interest of Americans and Afghans for US troops to withdraw as soon as possible. The Afghan people must have the space to decide their own future,” Rebecca Griffin from Peace Action West told Common Dreams. “The disagreement about jurisdiction over US troops may help speed along that process.”

_____________________

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Prestigious International Peace Prize Awarded to Courageous Whistleblower Bradley Manning

July 22, 2013

IPB AWARDS MACBRIDE PEACE PRIZE 2013 TO US WHISTLEBLOWER BRADLEY MANNING

Note: Peace Action is a longtime member of the International Peace Bureau and strongly concurs with this award’s much deserved honoring of Bradley Manning.

manning19 July 2013 Geneva

 

The International Peace Bureau is delighted to announce that this year’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize is to be awarded to Bradley Manning, the US whistleblower whose case has attracted worldwide attention, for his courageous actions in revealing information about US war crimes. His trial is likely to be concluded in the coming days.

 

Read-IPB-Press-Release

Manning was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly leaking more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables, 400,000 U.S. Army reports about Iraq and another 90,000 about Afghanistan, as well as the material used in the “Collateral Murder” video produced by WikiLeaks: videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Garani airstrike in Afghanistan. At the time, it constituted the largest set of restricted documents ever leaked to the public. Much of it was published by WikiLeaks or its media partners between April and November 2010.

 

Manning has so far been detained for three years  — first in Kuwait, then in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Va., and finally at a medium-security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. —before being charged with 22 offenses, including communicating national defense information to an unauthorized source and aiding the enemy. He pleaded guilty in February 2013 to 10 of the 22 charges, which could carry a sentence of up to 20 years. A full life sentence is now also possible.

 

IPB’s Co-President Tomas Magnusson comments: “IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War. When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the US military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty”. It is for this reason too that Manning has also been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In more general terms it is well known that war operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war, and acts as a challenge to the military system which dominates both the economy and society in today’s world. IPB believes that whistleblowers are vital in upholding democracies – especially in the area of defense and security. A heavy sentence for Manning would not only be unjust but would also have very negative effects on the right to freedom of expression which the US claims to uphold.

 

About the MacBride Prize

The prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau (IPB), founded in 1892. Previous winners include: Lina Ben Mhenni (Tunisian blogger) and Nawal El-Sadaawi (Egyptian author) – 2012, Jackie Cabasso (USA, 2008), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006).It is named after Sean MacBride, a distinguished Irish statesman who shared the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, and is given to individuals or organisations for their outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights. (details at: http://ipb.org/i/about-ipb/II-F-mac-bride-peace-prize.html)

 

The (non-monetary) Prize consists of a medal made in ‘Peace Bronze’, a material derived from recycled nuclear weapons components*. It will be formally awarded on Sept. 14 in Stockholm, at a special evening on Whistleblowing, which forms part of the triennial gathering of the International Peace Bureau. See brochure at:http://www.ipb.org/uploads/tbl_events_web/172/documents/Stockholm_brochure.pdf

 

 

*IPB is deeply grateful to the manufacturers of the medal:  http://www.fromwartopeace.com/


Zero Option for Afghanistan – Needed ASAP, not the end of 2014

July 15, 2013

The news that the Obama Administration is considering a “zero option” – leaving no troops behind in Afghanistan after the end of 2014 – got some coverage last week but not a lot. I wrote a letter to the editor to the New York Times based on its article on this issue. It didn’t get published (no surprise there, they get a lot of letters), but here it is, feel free to crib from it and send a letter to your local paper. Below my letter is the Times article.

July 10, 2013

To the editor,

I had two thoughts upon reading about the contentious negotiations between Presidents Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama over a possible continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan past the supposed end date of December 31, 2014 (“U.S. Considers Faster Pullout in Afghanistan,” July 8).

 

The first thought, with a bow to Casey Stengel, was “can’t anybody here play this game?,” the game being diplomacy. Yes, it is good news President Obama is considering a “zero option,” not leaving any U.S. troops behind in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, and perhaps even accelerating their withdrawal. However, it appears this is at least as much a threat to force President Karzai back into negotiations as it is a serious policy option. Both presidents need to come together in an earnest way to help figure out Afghanistan’s post-war future, with the strong involvement of Afghan civil society leaders, particularly women’s organizations, as well as other national and regional forces. The stakes are too high for threats and posturing; we need to see some genuine leadership from the two presidents.

 

My second thought was how could either president possibly explain to the families of Afghan or U.S. soldiers who will perish in fighting over the next year and a half what in the world they died for? The “zero option” needs to be implemented as soon as possible, not at the end of next year. U.S. support for Afghan-led reconstruction, development and reconciliation is the key issue for the future, not residual U.S. forces or a long-term military aid agreement.

 

Sincerely,

 

Kevin Martin

Executive Director

Peace Action

July 8, 2013

U.S. Considers Faster Withdrawal from Afghanistan

By MARK MAZZETTI and MATTHEW ROSENBERG

WASHINGTON — Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.

Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

A videoconference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai designed to defuse the tensions ended badly, according to both American and Afghan officials with knowledge of it. Mr. Karzai, according to those sources, accused the United States of trying to negotiate a separate peace with both the Taliban and their backers in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan’s fragile government exposed to its enemies.

Mr. Karzai had made similar accusations in the past. But those comments were delivered to Afghans — not to Mr. Obama, who responded by pointing out the American lives that have been lost propping up Mr. Karzai’s government, the officials said.

The option of leaving no troops in Afghanistan after 2014 was gaining momentum before the June 27 video conference, according to the officials. But since then, the idea of a complete military exit similar to the American military pullout from Iraq has gone from being considered the worst-case scenario — and a useful negotiating tool with Mr. Karzai — to an alternative under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul.

The officials cautioned that no decisions had been made on the pace of the pullout and exactly how many American troops to leave behind in Afghanistan. The goal remains negotiating a long-term security deal, they said, but the hardening of negotiating stances on both sides could result in a repeat of what happened in Iraq, where a deal failed to materialize despite widespread expectations that a compromise would be reached and American forces would remain.

“There’s always been a zero option, but it was not seen as the main option,” said a senior Western official in Kabul. “It is now becoming one of them, and if you listen to some people in Washington, it is maybe now being seen as a realistic path.”

The official, however, said he hoped some in the Karzai government were beginning to understand that the zero option was now a distinct possibility, and that “they’re learning now, not later, when it’s going to be too late.”

The Obama administration’s internal deliberations about the future of the Afghan war were described by officials in Washington and Kabul who hold a range of views on how quickly the United States should leave Afghanistan and how many troops it should leave behind. Spokesmen for the White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

Within the Obama administration, the way the United States extricates itself from Afghanistan has been a source of tension between civilian and military officials since Mr. Obama took office. American commanders in Afghanistan have generally pushed to keep as many American troops in the country as long as possible, creating friction with White House officials urging a speedier military withdrawal.

But with frustrations mounting over the glacial pace of initiating peace talks with the Taliban, and with American relations with the Karzai government continuing to deteriorate, it is unclear whether the Pentagon and American commanders in Afghanistan would vigorously resist if the White House pushed for a full-scale pullout months ahead of schedule.

As it stands, the number of American troops in Afghanistan — around 63,000 — is scheduled to go down to 34,000 by February 2014. The White House has said the vast majority of troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of that year, although it now appears that the schedule could accelerate to bring the bulk of the troops — if not all of them — home by next summer, as the annual fighting season winds down.

Talks between the United States and Afghanistan over a long-term security deal have faltered in recent months over the Afghan government’s insistence that the United States guarantee Afghanistan’s security and, in essence, commit to declaring Pakistan the main obstacle in the fight against militancy in the region.

The guarantees sought by Afghanistan, if implemented, could possibly compel the United States to attack Taliban havens in Pakistan long after 2014, when the Obama administration has said it hoped to dial back the C.I.A.’s covert drone war there.

Mr. Karzai also wants the Obama administration to specify the number of troops it would leave in Afghanistan after 2014 and make a multiyear financial commitment to the Afghan Army and the police.

The White House announced last month that long-delayed talks with the Taliban would begin in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban opened what amounts to an embassy-in-exile, complete with their old flag and a plaque with their official name, “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

But the highly choreographed announcement backfired, with Afghan officials saying the talks gave the insurgents undeserved legitimacy and accusing the Obama administration of negotiating behind Mr. Karzai’s back.

To the surprise of American officials, Mr. Karzai then abruptly ended the negotiations over a long-term security deal. He has said the negotiations would not resume until the Taliban met directly with representatives of the Afghan government, essentially linking the security negotiations to a faltering peace process and making the United States responsible for persuading the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government.

The Taliban have refused for years to meet directly with Afghan government negotiators, deriding Mr. Karzai and his ministers as American puppets.

There have been other points of contention as well. Meeting with foreign ambassadors recently, Mr. Karzai openly mused that the West was to blame for the rise of radical Islam. It was not a message that many of the envoys, whose countries have lost thousands of people in Afghanistan and spent billions of dollars fighting the Taliban, welcomed.

The troop decisions are also being made against a backdrop of growing political uncertainty in Afghanistan and rising concerns that the country’s presidential election could either be delayed for months or longer, or be so flawed that many Afghans would not accept its results.

Preparations for the election, scheduled for next April, are already falling behind. United Nations officials have begun to say the elections probably cannot be held until next summer, at the earliest. If the voting does not occur before Afghanistan’s mountain passes are closed by snow in late fall, it will be extremely difficult to hold a vote until 2015.

Of potentially bigger concern are the rumors that Mr. Karzai, in his second term and barred from serving a third, is trying to find a way to stay in power. Mr. Karzai has repeatedly insisted that he plans to step down next year.

The ripple effects of a complete American withdrawal would be significant. Western officials said the Germans and Italians — the two main European allies who have committed to staying on with substantial forces — would leave as well. Any smaller nations that envisioned keeping token forces would most likely have no way of doing so.

And Afghanistan would probably see far less than the roughly $8 billion in annual military and civilian aid it is expecting in the coming years — an amount that covers more than half the government’s annual spending.

Mark Mazzetti reported from Washington, and Matthew Rosenberg from Kabul, Afghanistan. Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Washington.


Priorities and Opportunities in the Second Half of 2013

July 11, 2013

The following came out of our mid-year staff retreat, comments or questions are most welcome!

Priorities and Opportunities for Peace Action/Peace Action Education Fund program, organizing, advocacy and political work for the second half of 2013

-Move the Money/ Cut Pentagon Spending Campaign: Planning is underway to do the next round of Move the Money Trainings , a joint project with the National Priorities Project. A new feature of the trainings will be two sessions for “training of trainers” to conduct the trainings in their areas.

National staff are participating in the planning for an 18 month coalition campaign (mostly in the U.S. but with some coordination with international allies as well) to cut funding for the F-35 fighter, the most expensive weapons system ever.

On the legislative front, House Defense Appropriations, Senate Defense Authorization and Appropriations, possible continuing resolutions and omnibus bills may provide congressional and media opportunities.

-Afghanistan: A possible week of action to pressure the administration for zero troops after 2014 is in discussion.  The 12th Anniversary of the invasion on Oct 7th may provide media opportunities.  Additionally, Senate Defense Authorization may provide opportunities to strengthen the win in the House, the Jones-Lee-Garamendi amendment calling for a faster end to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.

-Syria – a new campaign, initiated by Peace Action and the Institute for Policy Studies, to get peace groups working together on a public education, political action, grassroots advocacy and media work aimed at opposing arming the militias, building public support for a negotiated end to the conflict in Syria and promote humanitarian assistance. A petition campaign should be ready to launch in the next few weeks (PA already gathered nearly 5,000 signatures on our Syria petition to the president). We will be building support for Senate and House bi-partisan bills. We will also be attempting to use the Senate confirmation hearings of Samantha Powers as possible LTE/oped opportunities. More details to follow soon.

-Iran:  A P5 + 1 meeting is not expected until after the new President is inaugurated and has a chance to form his government — sometime in late September.  Israel has been relatively silent after Iran’s election and seems to be focusing its concern on Iran’s progressing heavy-water reactor in Arak.  Remember they bombed similar reactors in Iraq and Syria.  Media opportunities are expected during inauguration and possibly at the UN General Assembly.  Meanwhile, continued pressure on Congress to stop punitive sanctions and other bad bills while messaging that this is a big opportunity for diplomacy with Iran is needed.

-Nuclear disarmament – a new opportunity to advocate for U.S. participation and leadership in multilateral forums for nuclear weapons abolition is underway. See the sign-on letter PA helped initiate http://bit.ly/15rKhg9, as well as the petition  http://bit.ly/1aTvQWb . The campaign can be combined with Hiroshima and Nagasaki commemorations, and will culminate (at least this phase of the campaign) with a United Nations meeting on nuclear disarmament September 26.

Also, we will  launch at least a limited Don’t Bank on the Bomb boycott/divestment campaign targeting TIAA-CREF, a supposedly socially screened investment fund, before the end of the year.

-New Jersey special election for U.S. Senate (replacing the deceased Sen. Frank Lautenberg) – October

-Mid-Atlantic/Upper South organizational development retreat for affiliates, chapters and associate member groups, in October in either Philadelphia or Virginia, date and location to be announced soon.


Action Alert: Call Congress and Demand Cuts to Pentagon Pork!

June 11, 2013

In the next few days the House of Representatives will vote on Pentagon funding. Some of our friends in Congress will offer amendments to cut overflowing Pentagon coffers.

While our communities lack money for vital services, should shoveling more of our tax dollars to the wasteful, reckless Pentagon really be our nation’s priority?”

Make a free call to your Representative NOW at 877-429-0678 and say:

“Please vote for amendments that cut the Pentagon budget without affecting troop benefits and bring all our troops home from Afghanistan before 2014.”

Your Representative is deciding now on how to fund the Pentagon. They need to hear from you that we need more funding for our communities, not for Pentagon waste.  Your Representative will need to decide on how to vote on likely amendments that:

*Bring our troops home from Afghanistan before the President’s deadline of 2014;

*Axe unneeded and wasteful weapons such as the F-35 Jet, V-22 Osprey plane and Abrams tank;

*Cut nuclear weapons and troops abroad.

You can reach your Representative in their Washington, DC office by calling toll-free 877-429-0678 between 9-6 PM Eastern.  Or you can find their local number here:  http://www.contactingthecongress.org

We will know more about which amendments will make it to the floor on Wednesday and we will post updates on our blog to keep you informed as it happens.

There are only a few times a year that Congress votes on the important Peace Action issues you care about.  Please call now and forward this email to your friends, family and colleagues.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – Stop out-of-control Pentagon spending by calling your Rep. now, toll-free, 877-429-0678 and forward this important email to as many people as possible!

*Thanks to our friends at Friends Committee on National Legislation for the toll-free number.


9 bases in Afghanistan, 1 outside Philadelphia

May 13, 2013

According to an Associated Press article from last Thursday, Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai says the United States wants to keep nine military bases in the country, which Karzai has said could be agreed, with certain conditions (namely the U.S. continuing to provide military training and economic development aid).

We’ll need to press Congress and the Obama Administration on this issue, as zero is the correct number of U.S. bases that should remain. Significantly, the U.S. Embassy spokesperson in Kabul took pains to say the U.S. doesn’t want permanent bases in Afghanistan. Cost and mission will of course be the focus, with cost likely to be the determining factor. Also, a “strategic partnership agreement” should not be the formal document between the two countries, as this avoids the issue of direct Congressional oversight, unlike a treaty, which needs a 2/3 Senate ratification vote. Oh yeah, and tens of thousands of our troops are still there, not all coming home until the end of next year. They should all come home sooner, with no troops remaining. (Another AP article from Saturday covered the negotiations between the two countries on some of these issues.)

Then there are the drone strikes, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also Yemen and other countries. So far, the drone bases, as far as we know, have been at U.S. Air Force bases, like Creech in Nevada and Hancock near Syracuse, New York. Comes now a plan to use an Air National Guard Station in Horsham, PA, just north of Philadelphia, as a drone warfare command center.

Not surprisingly, peace activists in the Philadelphia area loathe this idea, as they should (as we all should). Our friends at the Brandywine Peace Community, who have long protested war and the biggest war profiteer, Lockheed Martin (which has a major facility near Philly) and the American Friends Service Committee have called a protest at the Horsham base for Saturday, May 25 at Noon, and then the last Saturday of each month leading up to the proposed opening of the drone command center in October. Here is some info from our friends at Brandywine:

 

 “Extra-judicial assassinations,” “targeted killings,” the “global war on terror,” U.S. Drones (UAVs, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) — armed with Lockheed Martin Hellfire missiles — are remotely controlled through space-based satellites(also produced by Lockheed Martin) from command centers in the continental United States,
such as the one planned for the Horsham Air Guard Station outside of Philadelphia.

 

STOP-IT BEFORE IT-STARTS

Drone War Command Center at Horsham Air Guard Station

Sat., May 25, 12Noon  – Protest Demonstrations begin at Horsham Air Guard Station, Easton & County Line Roads, in Horsham, PA , continuing on the last Saturday of each month through September.

For more information: Events at  www.brandywinepeace.com 

 


“Blowback” in Boston, Fort Hood, Iraq, Afghanistan…and Syria?

April 30, 2013

by Eric Swanson

The term “blowback,” the consequences of a covert or military operation that has repercussions for the aggressor or the result of supplying weapons to a conflict only to see those same weapons turned on the supplier, has been used for decades by national security elites. It has been used long enough that the previous definition of “unknown and unintended consequences” has become obsolete. The consequences are well known and openly discussed in national security circles.

In analyzing the tragedy in Boston, the concept of blowback is made clear in a Washington Post article by Scott Wilson, Greg Miller and Sari Horowitz (April 23 “Boston bombing suspects cite US Wars as motivation, officials say.”)  The surviving suspect told interrogators the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan motivated his actions.  The US engages in war internationally, and local tragedy results.

When one looks at how the US national security apparatus has discussed previous instances of blowback and how it appears they will analyze this horrific event in Boston, they treat blowback as a law of nature, an inevitable consequence of immutable causes; as inexorable as an earthquake, as inescapable as an avalanche. Blowback is something that can be interdicted with good intelligence and vigilant law enforcement. It can be diverted with deft diplomacy. It can be muted some with the appearance of solid multinational alliances. But, in the collective understanding of the US foreign and military officials, blowback can never be prevented, and in fact may just factored in as an externalized cost of US war-making. So, in this case, it’s the innocent civilians in the Boston area who paid the cost.

We have seen blowback in the 2004 killing of US contractors in Fallujah, Iraq, the shooting deaths of 13 people and the wounding of 30 more at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, and the proliferation of drone technology with drones now seen in the hands of non-state actors in just the last few days. At this point there is nothing unpredictable about it. Violence committed and weapons technology sold will pay in kind.

Blowback isn’t a law of nature. It is the predictable result of specific policy decisions. It is mutable. Drones flying overhead and raining death on a civilian population creates, understandably, anti-US sentiment. Wholesale aggressive destruction of entire villages, cities, and regions creates fear, anger, and yes, terror. And that creates individuals and populations ready to send that terror back.

These are equations that can be changed. Moving away from a militarized foreign policy moves us away from blowback. Moving away from selling arms to parties in conflict zones moves us away from blowback. Moving away from accepting our current policies as good business and expecting blowback as the cost of doing that business moves us away from that day when tragedy becomes the norm.

In just the last two days we are seeing the next possible incarnation of blowback as the US ramps up hawk-ish talk about the conflict in Syria. Whether the US floods weapons into the country or directly intervenes with military force there will be consequences. Under those conditions there will be blowback. But, as it is predictable, it is also preventable with a sane foreign policy that isn’t based on militarism and short-term profit but on restraint, humility, diplomacy and international cooperation.

 

Eric Swanson has served as Peace Action’s Database Manager since 1998. He served in the US Army from 1987-1990. Peace Action is the country’s largest peace and disarmament organization with over 200,000 members, donors and online supporters. http://www.peace-action.org/

 


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