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 

 


On Wisconsin! Another Op-Ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, This One on Drones

March 28, 2013

Peace Action Wisconsin has been doing some slammin’ media work lately, here’s another op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, this one on drones, by PA WI board member Conor McMullen.

After years of slumber, Congress is finally starting to wake up to its responsibilities to question the legality, the wisdom and the morality of the administration’s officially and absurdly “secret war” using drone strikes to try to kill alleged members of terrorist groups in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, far from any legally recognizable battlefield.

When President Barack Obama nominated John Brennan to head the CIA, which has been carrying out the officially “secret” drone strike policy, a bipartisan group of 11 senators wrote to the administration and said: You need to hand over to Congress the secret memos written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel that purport to justify the legality of the drone strike policy, which we have been seeking for more than a year. If you don’t hand over the memos, they said, Brennan’s nomination could be in trouble.

As a result of the threat, the administration finally shared some of the memos with the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, which are supposed to oversee the CIA. The administration still has not shared the memos with the Judiciary Committees, which are supposed to oversee the Justice Department, which produced the memos, even though Attorney General Eric Holder admitted in Senate testimony that access to the memos was necessary to understand the policy.

Some members of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees have threatened to issue subpoenas for the drone strike memos if the administration doesn’t hand them over, but they have not yet followed through. Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is a member of the House Judiciary Committee; he could be doing more to press the administration to release the memos to the committee.

When the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Brennan if the administration was claiming that it had the legal authority to conduct drone strikes in the United States, Brennan answered: “This administration has not carried out drone strikes inside the United States and has no intention of doing so.” That was clearly a dodge of the question.

The question wasn’t about what the administration intended to do. The question was about what legal authority the administration was claiming. The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, has claimed that the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, passed days after the Sept. 11 attacks, legalized a global war without borders in every corner of Earth. This claim logically begs the question: If the war is legal everywhere on Earth, does that include the U.S.? If not, why not? If it does not include the U.S., what exactly does it include?

Brennan’s subsequent confirmation shouldn’t mean the end of congressional scrutiny of this policy, and it won’t. On April 16, the Constitution subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding its first ever public hearing on the drone strike policy. This subcommittee is chaired by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, and the hearing is expected to include witnesses who can testify to the reality of who is being targeted by drone strikes and who is being killed.

Until now, the administration has publicly claimed that only top terrorist leaders are being targeted and that civilian casualties have been extremely rare. But the record of independent reporting suggests that the standards for targeting have been extremely loose – something along the lines of “military age male in an area controlled by insurgents who looks like a terrorist” – and that civilian casualties have been quite common, with around 20% of the killings from CIA drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004 being civilians.

Progressive Students of Milwaukee and Peace Action Wisconsin are sponsoring a public forum Thursday on the drone strike policy. We’ll be discussing what is known about the policy from independent reporting and what the public can do to help bring this policy into transparent compliance with U.S. and international law.

Conor McMullen is a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a member of Progressive Students of Milwaukee.


Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund’s 2013 Campaign Plans

March 4, 2013

The political frame of our work is building a new, more peaceful, less militaristic U.S. foreign policy based on democracy, human rights, justice and sustainability. This framework can help us reach new audiences, members, supporters and coalition partners, especially in our Move the Money campaign and, potentially, a new campaign of boycott and divestment targeting corporations invested in nuclear weapons.

 

Organizational Development Priorities for 2013: Goals: Increase integration between organizing, educational, legislative and organizational development efforts. Promote more effective collaboration between and among the affiliate network and national office for greater national impact. Realize a net increase of national PA/PAEF members and donors by at least 5% to approximately 10,200, also continue increase in the number of major donors. Realize a net increase of at least 5% in national PA/PAEF Action Alert e-subscriber list to approximately 71,000.

 

Key Strategies and Tactics:

 

-Implement initiatives for consistency in building the member/donor base, including major donors and online donors, building online e-activist lists, recruiting new affiliates, chapters and associate member organizations.

 

-Continue process of more coordination of campaign efforts from local to national level for bigger PA political impact.

 

-Also, related to this, continue to improve regular member/donor data exchanges between national PA and affiliates.

 

-  Continue to work with affiliates on win-win joint fundraising, member/donor acquisition and list-building strategies. Conduct pilot projects in Massachusetts and New Jersey, as well as other one-time or ad hoc efforts with other affiliates. –  Schedule next round of organizational development retreats for late summer and fall.  Proposed regions: Big Sky Country (West Coast, Rocky Mountain. Great Plains & Southwest) and Mid-Atlantic/Upper South.

 

-  Continue ongoing consultation and support for affiliates on organizational development priorities by national staff, and also affiliate to affiliate skill-share collaborations.

 

-  Coordinate communications and media work jointly with affiliate network with focus on the letter to the editor/op-ed campaign. Affiliates agreed to set goals for number of LTEs & op-eds based on the North Carolina Peace Action campaign model. A conference call briefing with North Carolina leaders will be held. Work closely with allies and media consultants on placement of LTEs and op-eds. Key is targeting Senators/Representatives in the content as part of Congressional pressure work.

 

 

Program Priorities for 2013

 

I.                   Move the Money/Cut Pentagon spendingPolicy Goal: Cut Pentagon budget by at least 25%.

 

Campaign overview: A multiyear process to fulfill the Peace Action’s Long Range Strategic Plan which says, “Cutting unnecessary and self-defeating military spending will enable us to free up resources to address our real needs at home—decent jobs, quality schools for our children, universal health care, affordable housing, and a sustainable environment. In short, reordering our nation’s priorities–away from militarism and towards peace and justice–will make the world safer and our lives better. 

 

Key strategies:

• Organizing alliances and coalitions to build pressure on Congress.

• Promote grassroots organizing to demilitarize the federal budget as a critical step towards de-militarizing foreign policy.

• Develop local and national initiatives to promote solutions, programs and research into the transition from an economy dependent on military corporations for good jobs to a sustainable, green economy.

 

2013 Plans:

 

Federal budget debate: Prioritize engagement in the federal budget debate from national to local level. Provide materials and information for local organizing, which is focused on joining with allies in the environment, faith-based labor, economic, immigrant and racial justice groups to change national spending priorities.

 

Legislative and electoral action: Build support for Congressional Progressive Caucus alternative budget, Balancing Act, Audit the Pentagon Act and amendments to National Defense Authorization Bill that cut Pentagon spending and the SANE Act (or other bills introduced) to cut money for nuclear weapons. Target key members of Congress with LTEs/op-eds, lobbying, town hall meetings, etc. Begin to prepare for 2014 Congressional mid-term elections. Promote local Move the Money resolutions and work with local elected officials.

 

Promote initiatives that spur on federal action to transition to a “new economy” focused on workers and their communities who are impacted by cuts in the Pentagon budget. Develop special ways to circulate the “jobs transition” proposal by the Institute for Policy Studies.

 

Alliance building: Strengthen and initiate relationships with a core group of economic and racial justice groups, environmental and labor on national and local levels. Continue to build the New Priorities Network, work with the Budget Priorities Working Group and join coalitions that emerge in the course of the federal budget fights. Serve as U.S. coordinator for the Global Day of Action on Military Spending on April 15, Tax Day. Maintain a Wiki to record our progress,

 

Base building: Conduct yearlong campaign with goals on LTE and Op-eds.  Plan a series of webinars to promote common messaging. Continue the Move the Money trainings with National Priorities Project with a focus on targeted Congressional districts and to strengthen the work of Peace Action affiliates. Develop or participate in one online campaign to build Peace Action elists.

 

Produce and organize a national distribution of the Fund our Communities yard signs designed in 2012. Produce a Move the Money promotional brochure. Create a Wiki site to share new materials, presentations, articles and other resources as well as collect information on progress in local organizing.

 

II.                Ending the war in Afghanistan – Policy Goals: advocate earlier withdrawal (than the president’s timeline of the end of 2014); oppose enduring presence of up to 25,000 troops for a decade. Support legislation to fund Afghanistan civil society-led development efforts.

 

Legislative action: Focus on pressuring the administration regarding residual forces – no decision made yet on how many troops/contractors will be staying behind; originally 25,000 was the number floated around – now 0 – 15,000 = somewhat of win and clearly open to public opinion. –   Pressure Congress to tell the president: no contractors or troops left behind.  

-   Support Rep. Barbara Lee’s legislation: HR 200, Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act (same as previous) – 70 co-sponsors last session – Goal: at least 100 –  Support various amendments in the authorization and appropriation processes regarding quicker troop withdrawal, no residual forces or permanent bases and support for Afghan-led development –  Keep Afghanistan in the media

-Continue to lead Afghanistan Policy Working Group            

 

III.  Stopping Drone Warfare and Surveillance

 Legislative action:  Top 3 ideas for action or Congressional pressure:          1. Call on Congress for more transparency on the decision making process of the administration/Pentagon/CIA on how/when drones are used (the military and CIA have separate drone campaigns). 2. Get armed drones out of CIA completely. 3. Bring up this issue in the media in a more in-depth way. Media paying more attention as are members of Congress.

 

Base building and alliance building: main tactics are public education and media work. Participate in and promote April Days of Action against drones, targeting bases, corporations and universities engaged in drone warfare and research.

 

IV.             Building Peace with Iran – Policy Goals: Build support for diplomacy, prevent military intervention and end sanctions that hurt the Iranian people.

 

-  Legislative Action: Build support for Rep. Barbara Lee’s Diplomacy with Iran legislation. Oppose AIPAC legislative proposals designating Israel as a “major strategic ally” of the U.S. and calling for U.S. support if Israel attacks Iran.

-Media Action Opportunities: –  Next round of P5+1 talks Feb. 26; Op-eds before, during, after talks and LTE on stories on need for diplomacy.

 

-Netanyahu put summer deadline on Iran halting enrichment – may be stepping back from this so watch as gets closer, again mostly a media opportunity.

–  Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East conference to be held in Finland has not yet been rescheduled, we’ll support if and when it happens. Possible NGO side summit we might promote and participate in, otherwise mostly a media opportunity.

            V. Nuclear Disarmament

 

1. Campaign Goals

 

A. Radically Downsize the Budget for Nuclear Weapons “Modernization” of the Production Complex and Delivery Systems

           

Cutting the Nuclear Weapons Complex

-Stop construction of new nuclear weapons facilities that would increase nuclear weapons production capacity, the CMRR at Los Alamos, NM, and the UPF at Oak Ridge, TN.

-Stop Life Extension Programs for obsolete weapons, or that would make changes to a warhead giving it new capabilities, such as LEPs for the B61 and the W78.

-Increase funding for dismantlement and increase dismantlement rates.

-Stop the MOX fuel fabrication program and construction of the fuel fabrication facility.

-Redirect funding from MOX to and increase funding for genuine nonproliferation programs.

 

Cutting Boondoggle Delivery Systems

-Cut funds for the planned fleet of 80-100 new long-range bombers

-Cut funds for the planned fleet of 12 new ballistic (SSBNX) submarines

 

B. Obama Administration Executive Actions

 

  • Push the Obama administration to issue a nuclear “policy directive” that moves nuclear policy towards a nuclear weapons free world
  • Have the President direct the Pentagon to change targeting requirements and take the nuclear alert posture off of hair trigger alert.
  • Push the Obama administration to start negotiations with Russia that reduce nuclear weapons stockpiles further, and include all types of nuclear weapons (e.g. tactical and reserve)
  • Push the Obama administration and members of Congress to keep emphasis on the ultimate goal of getting to zero.
  • Push the administration to quickly get to New Start Stockpile Levels

2.  Strategies, Outputs, Activities

 

Increase congressional support for changing priorities in the nuclear weapons budget, cut funding for facilities and programs that undermine nonproliferation and disarmament, and increase/preserve increases for nonproliferation and disarmament.

 

A. Leadership Strategy:

 

  • Build robust grassroots/grasstops coalitions in districts to push MOCs with credibility to become stronger champions on nukes spending, new “Markeys” (First half of the year, tell MOCs how to take pro-active steps. Lay groundwork for specific decisions made (e.g. amendments to cut money) in second half of the year)

 

Possible Targets:Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Rep. Adam Smith, Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Democratic Senators

 

    • OUTPUTS
      • Letter to the President supporting the Prague Agenda
      • Author Dear Colleagues about further cuts
        • Dear Colleagues to Committees recommending specific cuts?
      • Introduce Legislation
        • SANE Act Style?
        • More specific short list of cuts?
        • Topline number cut?
      • Introduce Amendments in Committees/Floor
      • OpEds around nuclear or budget hooks in news

    • ACTIVITIES
      • Find new grasstops, build list of in-district assets
      • Travel into the district to meet in person
      • Set up and attend in-district meetings with MOCs/Staff
      • Set up Virtual Lobby meetings with DC Staff
      • Group Sign-on letters
      • OpEds/LTEs
      • Phonebanking: push calls into the MOCs office
      • Keep indistrict assets informed on breaking news, opportunities to weigh in with MOCs
      • Sample Email alerts, press releases, postcards, other advocacy resources
      • Educational events
      • Media events

B. Budget-Power Targets/ Grassroots Pressure Strategy

 

  • Build constituent contact in districts to push MOCs that are targets of the larger nukes budget campaign. Pressure them to support the targeted cuts prioritized by the nukes budget campaign. (Second half of the year- Committee decisions on Approps/Authorization bills, push to get votes on bills/amendments.)

 

      • Targets Sens Corker & Alexander, Sen Def Approps, House Def Approps

    • OUTPUTS
      • Get Committees to vote for cuts (less likely on the Floor)
      • Introduce amendments in Committee

 

    • ACTIVITIES
      • Find grasstops, build list of in-district assets, relationships from New START efforts
      • Nationwide In-district lobby days
        • Focus on grasstops in target districts having in-district meetings w/ MOCs/staff
      • OpEds/LTEs in local media
      • Phonebanking: paid or coordinated phonebanking into district before committee votes with general message
      • Group Sign-on letters
      • Keep in-district assets informed on breaking news, opportunities to weigh in with MOCs
      • Sample Email alerts, press releases, postcards, other advocacy resources

 

 

Possible New “Don’t bank on the Bomb” Boycott/Divestment Campaign

 

National PA/PAEF staff, in consultation with affiliate leaders and our Nuclear Disarmament Strategy Group, will decide in the first half of 2013 whether to launch a new boycott/divestment campaign targeting not only nuclear weapons corporations, but the companies that finance them.  If we go forward the campaign would likely be a mostly educational, public relations, online/social media campaign. It could have two possible levels: a “broad brush” listing of all companies in the Don’t Bank on the Bomb report, and also a more targeted approach (Bank of America or Wells Fargo and TIAA-CREF, for example). The campaign would afford us possible opportunities to build alliances with other boycott/divestment or corporate accountability campaigns and perhaps bring new folks into nuclear disarmament work.

 

 

VI.             Peace Voter

 

–Participate in special elections such as helping Rep. Markey in his Senate race in Massachusetts. Be prepared for other possible special election opportunities.

 

–Fundraise for Peace Action PAC.

 

–Plan and prepare for 2014.


Good, Concise Analysis of President Obama’s State of the Union Speech by The Progressive’s Matthew Rothschild

February 13, 2013

Mixed Messages in Obama’s State of the Union

By Matthew Rothschild, February 13, 2013

President Obama’s State of the Union Address provided some solace to progressives on some issues, but left a lot to be desired on others.

He was right to point out that we can’t keep “drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next”—a good, clean shot at Republican obstructionism on the fiscal cliff and sequestration.

But for the longest time in the first part of his speech, he focused on deficit reduction, which is an exaggerated problem. He said that “economists” say we need $2 trillion more in deficit reduction “to stabilize our finances.” Which economists was he talking about? Not Nobel Prize-winners Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman, who have urged him not to focus so much on deficit reduction but rather on job creation.

And in his discussion of deficit reduction, Obama hinted that most people are going to suffer. “We can’t ask senior citizens and working families to shoulder the entire burden of deficit reduction while asking nothing more from the wealthiest and most powerful,” he said. That doesn’t sound like he’s making a good bargain to me. Instead, it sounds like he’s going to ask “senior citizens and working families” to shoulder a big part of the deficit burden, which they can’t afford to do.

His endorsement of universal pre-kindergarten was a positive step. But he acted like that would even the playing field by itself, saying, “Let’s . . . make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.” Actually, children in poverty are already behind, so how about tackling poverty in America? But Obama didn’t talk about eliminating poverty in the American context, only in the global context.

And as for high schools, he boasted about Race to the Top, which has been a nightmare, and said he now wanted to “redesign America’s high schools” so they can give students “the skills today’s employers are looking for.” What about giving students the skills to be engaged learners or thoughtful citizens?

On the positive side, he did come out for raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour. But why $9 an hour instead of the $10 an hour that Ralph Nader has been calling for?

He did give some welcome shout outs to LGBTS and women and the cause of equality for all.

He did come out strongly for a fairer tax code, for gun control, and for protecting voting rights.

And he spoke forcefully for action on global warming, though he favored a “market-based solution.”

He proposed to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, which was welcome.

And he said he wanted to fix the housing market by allowing “every responsible homeowner in America” to refinance at today’s rates. The problem is, he seems to be calling anyone who ever missed a payment an irresponsible homeowner, when they may have been unable to pay because they got sick or got laid off. Is he not going to help them at all?

He talked about comprehensive immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship, as he did in his Inaugural address. Fortunately, he added the need to “cut waiting periods,” which can be 20 years or longer right now. Some people will die on that path to citizenship.

On foreign and military policy, he was the most disappointing. He threatened Iran again, saying, “Now is the time for a diplomatic solution,” and warning: “We will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon.”

He was blatantly one-sided on the Israel-Palestinian issue, saying, “We will stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace.” He didn’t even bother to mention the Palestinians at all.

And appallingly, he defended his drone warfare and assassination policy. “Where necessary, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans,” he said. And in the very next sentence, he had the chutzpah to add: “As we do, we must enlist our values in the fight.”

He said his Administration “has worked tirelessly to forge a durable legal and policy framework to guide our counterterrorism operations.” But is it “legal” just because he and his Justice Department say it is?

He also said, in a bald-faced lie, that “throughout, we have kept Congress fully informed of our efforts.” Try running that past Sen. Ron Wyden, who for months has been trying to get his questions answered on the Administration’s assassination doctrine.

He also sang from the hymnal of American exceptionalism. “America must remain a beacon to all who seek freedom during this period of historic change,” he said. “In the Middle East, we will stand with citizens as they demand their universal rights.” Tell that to the people of Bahrain.

This was neither Obama’s most eloquent defense of an affirmative role for government, nor was it close to his most honest discussion of U.S. foreign policy.

Instead, it was lukewarm liberalism at home coupled with Bush-league justifications for lawlessness and hypocrisy abroad.


Towards a Foreign Policy for the 99%

December 18, 2012

published by Foreign Policy in Focus

Towards a Foreign Policy for the 99 Percent

By Kevin Martin, December 18, 2012

Relief, rather than elation, was probably the emotion most U.S. peace activists felt when President Barack Obama won re-election. While Obama has been very disappointing on most peace issues, Mitt Romney would have been all the worse. So what now to expect from a second Obama term?

Most likely, more of the same; anyone expecting Obama to be decidedly more pro-peace this time around is likely to be sorely dispirited. However, there is a diverse, growing peoples’ movement in the United States linking human and environmental needs with a demand to end our wars and liberate the vast resources they consume. This, combined with budgetary pressures that should dictate at least modest cuts in the gargantuan Pentagon budget, could lead to serious constraints on new militaristic ventures such as an attack on Iran, “modernization” of the entire U.S. nuclear weapons enterprise at a cost of over $200 billion, a permanent U.S. force of up to 25,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014, or an absurd military “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific aimed at isolating Russia and especially China.

We in the peace movement need to be able to think, and act, with both a short- and long-term perspective. In the near term, swiftly ending the war in Afghanistan and ensuring no long-term U.S./NATO troop presence, stopping drone strikes, preventing a war with Iran and building support for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, pushing for serious cuts to the Pentagon budget, and advocating progress toward nuclear disarmament will consume most of our energies. Renewed emphasis on a just and lasting peace between Palestine and Israel should also garner more attention and activism. Finally, peace activists will need to lend solidarity those working to save social programs from austerity-minded elites and to address climate chaos.

In the longer term, we need to hasten what Professor Johann Galtung calls “The Decline of the U.S. Empire and the Flowering of the U.S. Republic.” We have an opportunity in opposing the outrageous “Asia-Pacific Pivot,” which the military-industrial complex has concocted without asking the American people if we support it or want to continue borrowing from China to pay for it (too weird, right?). We can point out the insanity of this policy, but we can also devise a better alternative, including building solidarity with the peoples of Okinawa, Jeju Island, Guam, the Philippines, Hawaii, and other nations in the region opposing the spread of U.S. militarism and advocating peaceful relations with China.

Defining the Democratic Deficit

This pivot is just the latest example of the fundamentally undemocratic nature of U.S. foreign policy.

The more we in the peace movement can point out that our tax dollars fund policies contrary to our interests, the easier it will be not just to build specific campaigns for more peaceful and just policies, but also to create a new vision for our country’s role in the world—to create a new foreign policy for the 99 percent.

So we peace activists need to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We need to offer credible, sustainable alternatives on the issues listed above, with specific actions ordinary people can take that make a difference. But we must go further and advocate a foreign and military policy that is in the interest of the majority of this country, one that comports with widely shared ideals of democracy, justice, human rights, international cooperation, and sustainability.

It’s no news flash that elite and corporate interests have long dominated U.S. foreign policy. Illustrating this democratic deficit has two related aspects. The first is the question of access: “he who pays the piper calls the tune.” Currently, although it technically foots the bill, Congress—let alone the public—has barely any say in how U.S. foreign policy is set or implemented. On a second and integrally related note, in whose interest is it to perpetuate a gargantuan military budget, maintain a vast and expensive nuclear arsenal, or start an arms race with our banker, China? It’s hard to imagine that any ordinary person could conclude these policies serve anyone but the 1 percent.

Notions of justice and human rights are widely resonant in the United States, but they require careful consideration and explanation. “Justice” should not be invoked simply as it concerns parties to a conflict, but rather should entail racial, social, and economic fairness for all those who are affected by the grinding military machine. Emphasizing the broader social consequences of militarism will be key for growing our ranks, especially among people of color, community activists, and human needs groups. And while “human rights” is a no-brainer, it requires courage and commitment to communicate how U.S. foreign policy constantly contradicts this ideal abroad, even as our government selectively preaches to other countries on the subject.

International cooperation, while it can seem vague or milquetoast—especially given the neglect or outright stifling of “global governance” structures by the United States—is a highly shared value among people in this country and around the world. Selling cooperation as a meaningful value is fundamentally important for undermining the myth of American exceptionalism, which so many politicians peddle to sell policies that only harm our country in the long run.

Finally, while the environmental movement still has loads of work to do, the successful promulgation of the concept of sustainability is an important achievement, one we can easily adapt to military spending, the overall economy, and a longer-term view of what kind of foreign policy would be sustainable and in the interest of the 99 percent. Climate activists and peace activists need to know that they have a vital stake in each other’s work.

A glimpse of the power of democracy was in evidence on Election Day, and not just in the legalization of gay marriage and recreational marijuana in a few states. When given a choice, as in referenda in Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut advocating slashing military spending and funding human needs, people will choose the right policies and priorities; both initiatives won overwhelmingly.

Contrary to the hopes many people in this country and around the world invested in Barack Obama (which he didn’t deserve and frankly he never asked for), it’s never been about him. It’s about the entrenched power of the U.S. war machine, and about how we the peoples of this country and around the world can work together to create more peaceful, just, and sustainable policies. We can do it; in fact we have no choice but to do it.

Kevin Martin has served as Executive Director of Peace Action and Peace Action Education Fund since September 4, 2001, and has worked with the organization in various capacities since 1985. Peace Action is the country’s largest peace and disarmament organization with 90,000 members nationwide.

Recommended Citation:

Kevin Martin, “Towards a Foreign Policy for the 99 Percent” (Washington, DC: Foreign Policy In Focus, December 18, 2012)


America – An Intervention

December 17, 2012

Hi America. Come on in. Have a seat. Get comfy. Well, we’ll just come right out and say it, since we really care about you. You have an addiction. To violence.

I know you’re hurting, but today IS the day to talk about this, and not just about gun control, but that’s where we need to start. Twenty kids massacred at school. Jesus. You can’t go on like this.

You have almost as many guns as you do people. How is that a good idea? Why does no other country think that’s a good idea? How is this making your people safer?

How come it’s easier to get guns than mental health care? Oh right, you don’t have universal health care like other grown-up countries. You could fix that, easily. Take that money you squander on your endless, pointless wars (really, enough of that already!) and give everybody health care, okay? No need for you to keep spending as much on the military as the rest of the world combined.

What was that you said? Second Amendment? You can read, right? What does a well-regulated militia have to do with anything? Really, stop being evasive. Folks can keep all their guns. Just stop making or buying bullets. It ain’t rocket science. Oh yeah, stop with the rocket science too. No more drones and missiles and “missile defense” and space weapons and all that kinda stuff.

Stop yammering about the NRA. Declare them to be what they are – a terrorist organization. Come on, sit up straight now, stiffen your spine. You can do this!

Let’s get to the bottom of something – what’s with all the fear? You have riches most other countries would only dream of – your natural resources, you bounty, and especially the ingenuity of your people. Yet you seem obsessed with fear at every level of society, from the personal to the neighborhood to the national and international levels. Why do people of different races or sexual orientation scare you so much? There’s no such thing as absolute security, for people or for countries. So ease up on all the fear-mongering already. Garrisoning neighborhoods or the country is no way to live.

Okay a lot more we could discuss that’s a lot at one sitting. Now say the following:

“Hi I’m America. I’m addicted to violence.”

Hi, America.


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