Action Alert: Sign and Circulate the Jobs Not Wars Petition!

January 17, 2013

One of the best ways to reduce the deficit is to put people back to work.  It’s time to invest in our people, and our communities. Let’s create stable jobs at living wages, rehabilitate our nation’s infrastructure and invest in programs that serve the needs of people and communities, and develop a sustainable economy that protects the planet.

That’s why I’m asking you to sign the Jobs not Wars Petition.

The extreme right has used the fiscal crisis over the last four years to force deep cuts in discretionary spending on programs that make up the social safety net.  Now, they have their sights set on Social Security and Medicare.

I need your help to make a clear statement to those in Congress, and the administration, to Move the Money from wars and weapons to fund jobs and human services.

Peace Action’s Move the Money Campaign has been all about building common cause with unions, environmental advocates and anti-poverty and civil rights activists.

When I told you about our petition campaign last month there were just over 80 groups gathering signatures.  There are now 135 endorsing organizations working to remind Congress and the Obama administration we need to fundamentally change federal budget priorities from wars and ever more deadly weapons to jobs and meeting the needs of our communities.

So please sign the Jobs not Wars Petition.  Once you have, please forward this email. Ask your friends and family to join you in signing the Jobs Not Wars Petition.  Post this link http://bit.ly/jobs-not-wars-PA on your Facebook page and tweet it to your social network.  There is strength in numbers.

In November, we voted to protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid and end the wars in order to reinvest in our communities.

The pressure we are building is having a real impact on the debate on federal spending priorities.  With decisions on the debt ceiling and sequestration and votes ahead on both the 2013 and 2014 budgets, it’s critical we keep pressing.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


Nuclear Nonsense (and Some Good News as Well)

December 10, 2012

So I admit that headline could cover a lot of ground, but I’ll just touch on a few ludicrous developments of the nuclear weapons enterprise in this post, and a few good news antidotes to the insanity.

First up, while this gets scant attention, the United States still “tests” nuclear weapons. Not with full scale explosions as in the past (we haven’t done that since 1992, thanks to the peace movement’s vigilance!), but with “subcritical” (better called “hypocritical”) experiments where nuclear weapons components, including plutonium from the warhead, are “tested” but they don’t “go critical” (there is no nuclear chain reaction and thus no full-scale explosion). Here’s a concise letter to President Obama from our colleagues Gensuikyo, a leading Japanese disarmament organization. This was sent on December 7 to protest the subcritical nuclear test conducted on December 5 at the Nevada test site.

Mr. Barack Obama
President
United States of America

December 7, 2012

Dear Mr. President,

We protest against your administration for the subcritical nuclear test conducted on December 5 at the Nevada test site.  Whether it involves an explosion or not, nuclear testing runs counter to the spirit of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the agreement of achieving the “peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” reached by the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

Your administration seeks non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.  But your position of urging most others to renounce nuclear weapons, while continuing your own nuclear tests, does not stand by reason nor is it supported by the world public.

In the name of the A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and on behalf of the people of Japan, the only A-bombed country, we call on you to cancel all plans of nuclear testing and make a sincere effort to achieve a total ban on nuclear weapons and a world without nuclear weapons.

Japan Council against A and H Bombs (Gensuikyo)

The government of Iran also protested the “subcritical” test. Just sayin’.

On the good news front, in another part of our government’s nuclear weapons forever plans, as of now no ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) flight tests from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California are scheduled through next June, though that could certainly change.

Speaking of ICBMs, Reuters reported last week on a report prepared for Congress that Iran is nowhere close to having ICBMs capable of reaching the U.S. by 2015, as had been previously projected.

Talk about nonsense, or maybe insanity, the government is considering very harsh sentences, amounting to death sentences, for the nonviolent protesters, including an 82 year old nun, Megan Rice, who breeched security at the Y-12 nuclear weapons site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Learn more, and take action by signing this petition to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Last but not least, check out Cadmus Journal for some interesting perspectives on various issues relating to nuclear disarmament.

 

 


25,000 U.S. Troops to Remain in Afghanistan for a Decade After the Supposed “End of the War” in 2014?

September 11, 2012

Well, we still have tens of thousands of troops, and dozens of bases, in Germany, Japan and South Korea, don’t we?

Last spring, when President Obama announced a “Strategic Partnership Agreement” with the government of Afghanistan (which he claimed needed no congressional approval), he also announced the security arrangement (how many U.S. troops would remain) would be negotiated separately. According to Foreign Policy’s Situation Report by Gordon Lubold, those talks are beginning, and the option being floated is for up to 25,000 U.S. troops to stay.

With support personnel, guesstimates are this could cost U.S. taxpayers at least $40 to 50 billion per year, all on us. Unlike Germany, Japan and South Korea, who we strong-arm into helping defray the costs of U.S. forces on their soil, Afghanistan won’t be able to pay any of this.

Like the Afghanistan war itself, this issue is unlikely to garner much attention in the upcoming presidential or congressional elections. But it should. Congresspeople, and candidates, should demand now that this security agreement be in the form of a treaty, subject to U.S. Senate ratification, and they should ask hard questions and demand transparency in the negotiations. Seems not a lot to ask when they hold the purse-strings (to our tax dollars), yes?

An easy place to start would be to support U.S. Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in their quest to assert congressional oversight with their bill H.R. 5787, co-sponsored by Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Jim McGovern (D-MA). (Thanks to Stephen Miles of Win Without War for the reminder on this bill.) As Rep. Jones noted in his press release when he introduced the bill last May, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton supported an identical bill regarding Iraq in 2007 when they were senators. So they should have no problem with this bill now, should they?

Of course this won’t be easy. And the president’s own logic behind his plan to “responsibly wind down the war” means it should happen ASAP, not at the end of 2014. So how about we support the youth-led Afghan Peace Volunteers’ 2 Million Friends Campaign for a cease-fire and end to the war instead?

 

 


Tell Congress Now: Stop Wasting Our Tax Dollars on Weapons and War!

July 17, 2012

This week the House takes up the Defense Appropriations bill with votes on amendments coming as early as today or tomorrow.  Call your Representative today!

202-224-3121

Tell her or him to support all amendments to reduce the Defense Appropriations bill and in particular Barbara Lee’s Amendment to cut all funding for the war in Afghanistan, except for what is needed for a safe and responsible drawdown.

House Republicans are trying to increase spending above levels approved in last year’s budget deal taking the balance out of the already decimated social safety net.  What is at stake is funding for programs for the hungry, education and first responders.  Please make your call today.

202-224-3121

Republicans House leaders continue to act as if every dime sent the Pentagon is needed to keep us safe.  It’s time to stop wasting money on war and gold-plated weapons.  Help me move the money from the Pentagon to meeting the needs of our people.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. There is a big gap between what Congressional representatives believe and what the public wants.When people know what is at stake in the federal budget and the histroy of dramatic increases in the Pentagon budget they say cut the Pentagon budget by 18%. There is public support for this common sense idea.


Peace Voter 2012 – Tools to Bring Peace to the Polls!

July 5, 2012

When the lights went out at our Silver Spring home last Friday evening I got to thinking about how our tax dollars are constantly being squandered on war and militarism instead of our communities’ real priorities. And, I had plenty of time to think about that as the power was out for three days.  Right now hundreds of thousands of people in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic are still in the dark.

We could put people to work burying electric lines that are constantly brought down by storms like last Friday’s derecho that raged from Chicago to the Delmarva peninsula.

Climate scientists are already speculating wild storms like that one are part of human-caused climate chaos and more are to be expected.  There’s a cost to building a national smart grid, but electrical blackouts cost the nation $80 billion dollars per year in lost business.

Federal spending priorities will be a central issue in the coming elections.  Peace Action’s Move the Money campaign aims to turn out the lights on war and militarism.  It’s time to bring the war dollars home.

I want to share some online tools I hope will help you in your online activism.  Your messages to your elected representatives get their attention and our collective actions have a real impact.

First, Peace Action’s Voting Record will show you how Members of Congress voted on key peace and economic justice issues in the last session.  This is the first year we designed our annual voting record as an interactive tool. I hope you find it useful.

Second, Peace Action is a member of Trusted Sources which will provide you information on election laws in your state, including what ID is required, how to register and where to go to report a problem.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to a “Shaky Assumptions About Military Spending,” great piece published by North Carolina Peace Action’s Betsy Crites in the Durham Herald-Sun.  It offers online activists an excellent set of talking points for your blogging, emails to your elected representatives, or letters to the editor.

The power came back on Tuesday evening at our home. Now it’s time to direct our collective power to stop the extreme right wing in this country from sending us back to the Dark Ages.


Peace Actionistas in the News, From Nebraska to New Jersey!

June 20, 2012

Paul Olson, former board chair of our affiliate in Nebraska, Nebraskans for Peace, had a refreshingly straight-forward op-ed on the otherwise arcane topic of nuclear nonproliferation published in yesterday’s Lincoln Journal Star. It’s not surprising Paul could pull it off, he’s a longtime scholar/activist/writer and Peace Action supporter! The piece gives appropriate credit to U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska for his sponsorship of an amendment to beef up nonproliferation funding by moving money from the Mixed Oxide Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program.

And yesterday’s New Jersey Herald featured an article about longtime New Jersey Peace Action Executive Director Madelyn Hoffman’s bird-dogging of Governor Chris Christie at a recent appearance of his. Madelyn pressed Christie on cutting military spending and raising taxes on the wealthy. Check it out, a great example of how we organizers keep the pressure on elected officials. Way to go, Madelyn!


Excellent Op-Ed on the Military and Climate Change by Tim Rinne of Nebraskans for Peace

January 23, 2012

Not only is the U.S. military the largest consumer of fossil fuels and the largest polluter in the world, it knows the climate crisis is real and can drive future military conflict. Tim Rinne, State Coordinator of Nebraskans for Peace (a Peace Action affiliate) nails the issue in his op-ed in Saturday’s Lincoln Journal Star. For a terrific resource on this issue, see the website for the film Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives: The Environmental Footprint of War, which Peace Action helps promote as an educational and organizing tool linking peace and environmental concerns. You can view the film online and order DVD’s for home or public viewing.

BY TIM RINNE | Posted: Saturday, January 21, 2012 11:57 pm | (5) Comments

Skeptics of human-caused climate change unremittingly contend that the science is inconclusive and the debate still is unsettled. The U.S. military, on the other hand, entertains no such doubts.

As far back as 2003, during the first term of the Bush/Cheney Administration, a specially commissioned Pentagon report titled “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and the Implications for United States Security” warned that rapid climate change could “potentially de-stabilize the geo-political environment, leading to skirmishes, battles and even war” over scarce food, water and energy supplies. The threat of climate change, the report went on to state, needed to “be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern.”

By the time the Defense Department’s Center for Naval Analyses released its landmark 2007 report, “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change,” the Bush/Cheney Administration had officially acknowledged the reality of global warming — although it continued to question whether humans were the cause. The 11-member Military Advisory Board of retired three-star and four-star admirals and generals who headed up the Center’s study, however, unanimously accepted the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change, concluding that “the evidence is sufficiently compelling and the consequences sufficiently grave” to warrant the military’s urgent attention.

The MAB asserted that climate change acts as a “threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world.” In response, the MAB proposed a number of recommendations, including that

· The national security consequences of climate change should be fully integrated into national security and national defense strategies;

· The United States should commit to a stronger national and international role to help stabilize climate changes at levels that will avoid significant disruption to global security and stability;

· The United States should commit to global partnerships that help less-developed nations build the capacity and resiliency to better manage climate impacts.

The report also called upon the Pentagon to adopt its own energy efficiency measures.

Every four years, the Department of Defense issues a congressionally mandated “Quadrennial Defense Review” framing the Pentagon’s strategic choices and establishing priorities to determine appropriate resource investments. In February 2010, for the first time, climate change was formally designated in the QDR as a “National Security Threat.”

Climate-related changes, from increases in heavy downpours and rises in temperature and sea levels to rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost and earlier snowmelt “are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters,” the QDR notes. It warns that “climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration. While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability and conflict …”

The 2010 QDR also addresses the fact the Defense Department is itself the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels and, correspondingly, the greatest emitter of greenhouse gases. In the review, the Pentagon pledges to dramatically reduce its own carbon footprint through increased energy efficiency and major investments in renewable energy.

The Republican Party for decades has styled itself as the party of national defense and military strength. Yet debunking the international scientific consensus on climate change has become a veritable article of faith among Republican candidates and officeholders. That position puts the GOP squarely at odds with the military establishment, which has unequivocally accepted the scientific conclusions of the 97 percent of the world’s climatologists who actually conduct research on climate and publish in journals reviewed by their peers.

This past November, the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board released its own study, “Trends and Implications of Climate Change for National and International Security.” The study asserts that “climate impacts are observable, measurable, real, and having near and long-term consequences.” Failure to anticipate and mitigate these changes, the report argues, “increases the threat of more failed states with the instabilities and potential for conflict inherent in such failures.”

Climate change, the Defense Science Board warns bluntly, already is occurring and is destined only to grow as a security concern for the United States. And the longer we (and the GOP’s skeptics and deniers) delay acting, the worse it will be for all of us, everywhere.

Tim Rinne is the State Coordinator of Nebraskans for Peace and a member of 350.org — Nebraska.


Ending Iraq War: Op-ed in Bloomfield (NJ) Life newspaper by New Jersey Peace Action Executive Director

January 3, 2012
 
BY MADELYN HOFFMAN
GUEST COLUMNIST
Bloomfield Life, December 28, 2011

 
As 2011 ends, it is time to reflect upon continuing U.S. involvement in overseas wars and the impact that involvement has here at home. It is a good time to reflect on the role that protest played in getting us here and what those protests still want to achieve so the U.S. is genuinely safe and secure.

On Dec. 17, the last U.S. soldier was photographed leaving Iraq and the media proclaimed an end to the war which began on March 19, 2003 – almost nine years ago. The war cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $800 billion and claimed 4,483 U.S. soldiers’ lives. At the war’s height, the war in Iraq was costing taxpayers $12 billion each month.

Additionally, more than 1 million Iraqi civilians died, and 4.5 million became refugees. And during the last two years, more U.S. soldiers died by their own hands than in combat. On average, we lose 18 veterans to suicide each day.

So while it is important to mark the “official end” to the Iraq War, it is difficult to muster many cheers. Instead, it is critical to conduct an honest assessment of what happened.

First, we must acknowledge that U.S. presence in Iraq has not ended. The Project On Government Oversight argues that taxpayers will now provide funding for 14,000 to 16,000 contractors in Iraq. According to POGO, some of the companies who will provide contractors in Iraq – KBR, DynCorp and Blackwater – are in the POGO Federal Contractor Misconduct Database (www.contractormisconduct.org). All three contractors have extensive misconduct histories, yet they continue to operate.

Second, U.S. presence in Afghanistan remains – and may extend past 2014. According to a Dec. 20 article in the New York Times, the senior American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen, suggested that American forces could remain in the country beyond 2014, despite increasing public opinion to withdraw forces from Afghanistan at an accelerated pace.

Lastly, we need to acknowledge the role that “The Protester,” Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” played in changing the course of this war, and what these protesters would like to see in 2012.

Bloomfield-based New Jersey Peace Action opposed the war in Iraq starting in the summer of 2002, many months before the war began. More than 800 protesters marched in Newark in December 2002, drawing the connection between the tremendous costs for war and how each dollar spent on the war would be a dollar taken away from programs and services that cities like Newark require.

Hundreds participated in national marches in Washington, D.C., and millions rallied worldwide on Feb. 19, 2003, trying to prevent the war in Iraq from ever beginning. That anti-war movement continued even after the first bombs were dropped, in an effort to end the war as quickly as possible.

Bloomfield residents started a weekly peace vigil in front of the Bloomfield Public Library shortly after the war began and continued it for years, as part of this national and international effort to stop the war.

While the consistent activism did not stop the United States from starting a war against Iraq, the ongoing activism did influence public opinion to the point where, by 2006, the majority of those polled were against the war. The 2006 elections, when many pro-war elected officials were beaten by anti-war challengers, were seen as a reflection of this shift.

Public opinion against the Iraq war deterred decision-makers from authorizing an invasion of Iran.

Protests to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and to treat returning veterans well upon their return continue today. NJPA is part of a national “Move the Money” campaign to take at least 25 percent of the money from the military budget and move it into funding programs that address community needs.

According to the National Priorities Project, war spending for Iraq and Afghanistan for 2011 was $169.4 billion. This is more than enough money to erase every state’s budget deficit. No deficits mean more money for towns like Bloomfield and a lighter burden on local taxpayers.

NJPA, joined by Bloomfield residents, recently participated on day 170 of the People’s Organization for Progress’ Campaign for Jobs, Peace, Equality and Justice. The campaign honors the 381-day, 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., which led to the desegregation of city buses. POP’s call is for jobs – with the understanding that the overseas wars must end, so that money can be used to help create much-needed jobs.

All are invited to participate in the these efforts to end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and bring the war dollars home for our communities – for education, housing, jobs, health care and more.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

The author is executive director of Bloomfield-based New Jersey Peace Action.


Bonjour from France!

November 15, 2011

Last week and weekend in Paris, I was honored to represent Peace Action at the international conference of our good colleagues le Mouvement de la Paix (French Peace Movement). I was the only U.S. person there, among a few hundred peacemongers from France, Israel, Senegal, Germany, Britain, the U.K., Belgium and Russia (and I may have missed a few countries!).

 

Le Mouvement de la Paix (like our British colleagues at the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, whose conference I attended last fall) is very similar to Peace Action, both in terms of its grassroots organizational structure (they have chapters all over France) and the issues it focuses on.

 

Topics addressed at the conference ran the gamut of peace concerns, from the economics and human rights angles of creating an international culture of peace, to more specific issues and campaigns such as global reductions in military spending and the arms trade. I spoke on the last two topics, as well as nuclear disarmament, from the perspective of Peace Action’s and the U.S. peace movement’s current organizing campaigns.

 

Also, I met twice with leaders from key European peace organizations regarding plans for organizing around the NATO/G-8 Summit next May in Chicago (more on that in the coming months). Our allies from Europe, as well as Canada, plan to come to Chicago to stand with us as we address the issues of war and the international economy, and call for more peaceful and sustainable alternatives. We are already at work on planning a speaking tour, an educational conference and street actions around this opportunity next spring.

 

The conference and meetings, though sometimes a bit challenging with language differences, were a terrific relationship and fellowship building experience for me, and I hope by extension for Peace Action. We have worked for a long time with peace movement colleagues around the world as a trusted ally, and this conference was just a continuation of that work. I always come away from interactions with our sisters and brothers from many different countries, cultures and backgrounds exhilarated to learn from their struggles. I am always convinced that not only is another world possible, it is inevitable!

 

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

 


Ten Years Too Many — Bring ‘Em Home!

October 7, 2011

While today marks the sad anniversary of ten years of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, we must remember the people of Afghanistan have suffered decades of war. We take heart in the struggle to end the war here in the U.S., and in the courage of the Afghan people seeking to peacefully, sustainably rebuild their country.

Peace Action staff and affiliates are participating in events to mark the anniversary and re-dedicate ourselves to ending this war, in Washington and around the country. Others, including Field Director Judith Le Blanc and a visiting delegation from our sister Japanese peace group Gensuikyo are at Occupy Wall Street in New York City. Communications Manager Jonathan Williams and I will be at an event called War Voices in D.C. tonight with U.S. colleagues and Afghan peace advocates.

Here’s a terrific op-ed on ten years of war by New Jersey Peace Action Executive Director Madelyn Hoffman, who traveled to Afghanistan representing Peace Action in 2005. Please keep the faith for peace, and share your own experience on working to end the war.


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