Interview on Iraq on Radio New Zealand

June 30, 2014

Our executive director Kevin Martin was interviewed about the situation in Iraq by Radio New Zealand on Saturday, give it a listen, it’s the second link on this page. Kevin’s interview follows an excellent commentary by Wayne Brittenden at about 4:50 minutes in.

 

 


Tell President Obama “Don’t Try to Put Out the Fire in Iraq With Gasoline!”

June 13, 2014

by Kevin Martin

Tell President Obama “Don’t Try to Put Out the Fire in Iraq With Gasoline!”

Believe it or not, some are responding to the escalating violence in Iraq with calls for U.S. military intervention. Have they learned nothing?

Please take action: Tell President Obama not to try putting out the fire with gasoline – no U.S. military intervention in Iraq, invest in diplomacy and international cooperation instead.

The advance of the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is no doubt alarming, but not a complete surprise in the context of deep social, ethnic, religious and political divisions in Iraq and the wider region. Our former Executive Director, David Cortright, has a sensible, concise post on this issue you might find illuminating.

Contact the president and send this alert to friends, family and colleagues you believe would want to take this action. The people of Iraq and the region need peace, reconciliation and development, not more war and definitely not U.S. bombs or troops.

Please take action to let the president know more war is not the answer.

To learn more about the situation in Iraq, here are a few recent articles you might find illuminating.

New York Times article on the current situation and consideration of U.S. military intervention

The Guardian on the collapse of the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army as ISIS advanced on Mosul

The Guardian again on the spread of ISIS in Iraq and Syria


Facing the Dangers of 21st Century Great Power War – Conference in NYC May 3

April 7, 2014

For those of you in or near NYC, or planning to be there around the NPT PrepCom, please consider attending this conference on Saturday, May 3. Peace Action is a co-sponsor, and Field Director Judith Le Blanc and PANYS Executive Director Alicia Godsberg will be among the speakers.

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Facing the Dangers of 21st Century Great Power War
A Conference on the Centenary of World War I
Saturday, May 3, 2014 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

Assembly Hall, Judson Memorial Church
229 Thompson St., Manhattan
South of Washington Square Park
9:00-9:30 Registration

9:30-11:00 Looking forward, looking backward:  WWI, today’s risk of great power war, peace movements, and disarmament.

•       Dr. Erhard Crome, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation.
•       Zia Mian, Princeton University.
•       Andrew Lichterman, Western States Legal Foundation.

11:30-12:45 Risks of Great Power War:  Regional Perspectives

•       Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee
•       M.V. Ramana, Princeton University
•       Irene Gendzier, Boston University.

12:45-1:45 Lunch (See registration information below)

1:45-3:00 The Risk of Great Power War:  Regional perspectives: BRICs, Sub-Imperialisms, and Post-Cold War conflicts

•       Michael Klare, Hampshire College
•       Emira Woods, Institute for Policy Studies
•       Paul Lansu, Pax Christi Europe.

3:00-4:15 Limits of the Moral Imagination: Industrialized Warfare, Moral Thresholds, and the Forgotten History of Arms Control:

John Burroughs, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Paul Walker, Global Green
Götz  Nuneck Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University of Hamburg.

4:15-5:30  Disarmament Movements, Peace Movements, and What Is To Be Done.
•       Reiner Braun, International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms
•       Akira Kawasaki, Peace Boat
•        Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action

To Register:  Write to Jennifer Sherys-Rivet at JSherysr@afsc.org. For more information, call 617-661-6130. (Lunch available with pre-registration $10)

Conference conveners and Sponsors: American Friends Service Committee, Peace and Economic Security Program; International Peace Bureau; and the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and its U.S. affiliates, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy and the Western States Legal Foundation, Rosa Luxembourg Foundation. Endorsing Organizations:  Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, Peace Action


Peace Action in the NY Times

March 17, 2014

By Kevin Martin, Executive Director Peace Action

If you read the New York Times, you might have seen this last Sunday:

“National security and most pressing global issues, such as the climate crisis or cyber attacks or civil conflicts, cannot be solved through military action, or through the action of one country alone. Multilateral action and cooperation are crucial. The situation in Ukraine is yet another example of that reality.”

Judith Le Blanc, our Field Director,  was part of theSunday Dialogue exchange on Pentagon spendingon the Times op-ed page.

It is no mystery why the Times turned to Judith and Peace Action to weigh in on this pressing issue which has been in the headlines of late. Your support can help amplify Peace Action’s voice and continue our important and urgent work.

Peace Action is a national leader in the movement to build support for Moving the Money – our tax dollars — from war and weapons to investing in human and environmental needs and diplomacy.

From participating in the national debate via the mainstream media, to building national coalitions, to taking our demands to Congress, to our unique grassroots “Move the Money” training program (devised by Judith, and being conducted this year in several states around the country!), Peace Action’s work is crucial to building an unstoppable movement for peaceful priorities.

We need to move some money too, to support our vital organizing. Please give $5, $10, $25, $50, $100, $250 or whatever fits your budget via our secure online portal.

 


U.S. Out of Okinawa! Peace Action’s Solidarity Message in the Ryukyu Shimpo

February 4, 2014

Below is the front page of today’s Ryukyu Shimpo newspaper (newspapers are still very important in Japan), with this message from our Executive Director, Kevin Martin:

I had the extraordinary pleasure of visiting Okinawa almost a decade ago as a guest of the Japanese peace group Gensuikin, and I found it to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The only thing that surpassed the beauty of the islands and the sea were its lovely, generous, welcoming, friendly, peaceful people. I was moved to tears by the beauty of Peace Memorial Park, with its “waves” of memorial markers honoring the dead from World War II reaching down to the sea and out to the world, and was fascinated to learn about the history and culture of the Okinawan people. Seeing the terrible stain of U.S. military bases on this gorgeous part of the world literally made me sick to my stomach when I visited the hilltop park overlooking the Futenma base and saw the giant transport planes flying just over an apartment building and conducting touch and go exercises. My organization, Peace Action, has long stood with the people of Okinawa in demanding the removal of U.S. bases. Closing Futenma and building a new base at Henoko is not an acceptable solution, the U.S. bases must go!

Unfortunately, the bases on Okinawa are only a part of a misguided “rebalancing” or “pivot” of U.S. military forces to the Asia-Pacific region. The Obama and Abe Administrations do not represent the will of their publics in pushing for a closer military alliance aimed at isolating China or threatening North Korea. The Japanese and American peoples share deep bonds of friendship and appreciation for each others’ history and culture, and of course have many economic ties. Strengthening those bonds should be the priority, not a larger military buildup in the region. Peace Action stands in solidarity and in peace with the Okinawan people in their opposition to Henoko and to rising militarism.

Feb 4 Ryukyu Shimpo Kevin Martin_01

 


Urgent Action: Tell the House, “No New Iran Sanctions, Support Diplomacy”

January 15, 2014
Last week, we asked you to contact the Senate to oppose new economic sanctions on Iran, which could scuttle the promising nuclear deal and lead to the unthinkable, another Middle East war. The good news is the bill, S. 1881 sponsored by Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), is not moving forward to a vote in the Senate, even though it has 59 co-sponsors. Your calls have made a difference; White House and Senate staffers have expressed appreciation for our grassroots pressure (so don’t let anyone tell you your voice doesn’t count anymore in Washington!).

Unfortunately (but as we suspected), the Republican House leadership is considering a vote to pass the Senate sanctions bill’s language. We need to head this off with a nonviolent “pre-emptive strike” on the House!

Please call your U.S. Representative now at 855-68-NO-WAR (855-686-6927)* and tell her or him no new Iran sanctions, don’t undermine diplomacy.

You can reference the Menendez (D-NJ) – Kirk (R-IL) Senate bill, that you don’t want that language passed in the House, but it’s not necessary. You can just tell your Representative you want no new sanctions on Iran. The U.S. and its allies agreed not to sanction Iran further while negotiations over its nuclear program are ongoing, so Congress should stay out of this and support diplomacy. It’s that simple.

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. I’m sure you are busy, but one phone call to your Representative, toll-free, at 855-68-NO-WAR (855-686-6927)* telling her or him to give diplomacy a chance and oppose any new sanctions on Iran, will make a huge difference, as it already has!

*Toll-free number generously supplied by the Friends Committee on National Legislation


Labor says: WI must shift from military spending to sustainable economy

December 21, 2013

By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field DirectorMOVE circle

A great way to end the year is to toast yet another step forward in the Move the Money Campaign.

Peace Action, national and WI are working with WAND/WILL state legislators, National Priorities Project and the WI Network for Peace and Justice to introduce a CT style state bill to create a commission to explore ways for the local economy to move from dependence on defense contracts for good paying manufacturing jobs to producing for civilian needs.

The South Central Federation of Labor in WI  passed a resolution in support of such a bill, following in the steps of the CT State Federation of AFL-CIO and the MD-DC Federation in support of the bill being worked on in MD.

The introduction of bills in other states are being explored by WAND/WILL state legislators with the support of Peace Action and National Priorities Project.

Time is now to move the money from weapons and wars to fund jobs and human services.

Regional labor council takes stand against military spending. Calls for WI Futures Commission to help transition to sustainable economy

The South Central Federation of Labor (SCFL), AFL-CIO passed a resolution this week, calling on Wisconsin to shift away from military spending towards a more sustainable economy.  SCFL includes 100 affiliated unions representing working families in south-central Wisconsin.

The resolution notes that “Wisconsin’s economy is highly dependent on military spending,” and that “Oshkosh Truck, which develops military trucks for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan … has laid off 1,200 workers in the past year due to a decrease in federal contracts.”

It supports the formation of a Futures Commission, similar to one established by Connecticut, to “help the state convert from defense spending to more sustainable job creation, such as construction, clean energy, rebuilding national infrastructure and transportation.”

SCFL President Kevin Gundlach said, “Upon my arrival in Madison over 20 years ago, one of my first jobs was working with the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign.  The issues were clear.  It was time to cut the wasteful military spending and start producing domestic products and create jobs.  The campaign started locally and succeeded nationally.”

He added, “Today, we face yet again an economic system dependent on military spending that is unsustainable and has outlived its stated purpose.  It’s time we start putting in place the steps for a fair and just transition to an economy that works for all working families, for our veterans, the elderly, differently abled and our children alike.”

SCFL’s resolution is the sixth to be passed in Wisconsin.  Dane County and the city of Milwaukee previously passed Move the Money / War Dollars Home resolutions, along with the American Federation of Teachers – WI union, Madison Friends Meeting and Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Cross in Green Bay.  Nationally, more than 150 such resolutions have been passed by city councils, county boards and labor unions.


Excellent Op-Ed on Iran Sanctions and Congress

December 11, 2013
Viewpoints: Rep. Bera should show support for first step on Iran nuclear deal
By Harry Wang and Rebecca Griffin
Special to The Bee
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013 – 12:00 am

We all know that Congress has a lower approval rating than cockroaches and the much-maligned rock band Nickelback. Now we can add another thing to the more-popular-than-Congress list: the recently negotiated deal to constrain Iran’s nuclear program. This historic diplomatic achievement has widespread support from the American public. The question now is whether Congress will ruin a popular plan that Americans understand is the right one.

Sacramento-area Rep. Ami Bera can have a powerful voice on this issue as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He should use it to support the negotiations and ensure his colleagues don’t scuttle a long-term diplomatic deal.

If you want to avert war and stop the spread of nuclear weapons, it’s hard not to like this first-step deal negotiated between the United States and its partners and Iran. In exchange for modest sanctions relief, Iran reins in its nuclear activity, making it much more difficult to get anywhere near a nuclear weapon. Its facilities will be open to daily inspections, the most intensive inspections program ever. This deal offers an opportunity to build confidence on both sides as they work toward a more permanent arrangement that will make the world safer.

Smart people around the world are lining up behind this reasonable, realistic approach to addressing nuclear proliferation concerns. The deal was negotiated with major allies such as Britain and France who have been part of the administration’s ongoing pressure campaign on Iran. Experts from Brent Scowcroft to Madeleine Albright to a group of former U.S. ambassadors to Israel have lined up in support.

Still, there are people who resemble those stalwart Nickelback fans, raising their lighters to the old song about bombing Iran. Some can be dismissed as delusional, like Ben Shapiro at Breitbart.com, who described a deal that largely skews toward U.S. interests as “worse than Munich.” But there are people with actual power in Congress who are tenaciously working to undermine this deal.

Sens. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., are trying to push through another round of sanctions despite opposition from the Obama administration. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., described the deal as dangerous and may bring a bill to the floor this week to put unwieldy restrictions on the agreement and undermine the diplomatic process. We’re still waiting for any of these opponents to offer a viable alternative.

It might be tolerable to let these members of Congress spout their hawkish rhetoric if the situation weren’t so delicate. The United States and Iran are working through decades of tension. The countries have talked more in the past three months than in the last three decades. Congressional belligerence will empower hard-liners in Iran who want to scuttle negotiations and could shatter the fragile trust that is being built.

If that trust is shattered, sanctions alone won’t stop Iran’s enrichment program and pressure will increase for U.S. military action. Every member of Congress who acts to undermine the current diplomatic process is tacitly supporting either allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium unobserved or launching a costly military attack that experts believe would at best only delay Iran’s nuclear program.

As White House spokesman Jay Carney pointed out, “The American people justifiably and understandably prefer a peaceful solution that prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, and this agreement, if it’s achieved, has the potential to do that. The alternative is military action.”

After the diplomatic Hail Mary to secure Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles and this historic agreement with Iran, the American people are finally getting a chance to see diplomacy work. It turns out they like it, as polls show the public supporting the deal by a 2-to-1 ratio and wanting Congress to hold off on new sanctions. The lack of appetite for another war after more than a decade of fighting is abundantly clear.

If this deal is going to turn into a stable long-term solution, there are tough months of negotiating ahead. Congressional leaders must step up and do everything they can to make that process a success. California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have expressed their support for a deal. Feinstein said she is baffled that Congress would think of ratcheting up sanctions at this time.

In an embarrassingly misinformed hearing in the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Bera exceeded the low bar set by his colleagues by acknowledging that we have to at least try negotiating with Iran. But the political moment calls for more forceful leadership in favor of smart diplomacy.


Dr. Harry Wang is the president of Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento. Rebecca Griffin is the political director of Peace Action West.

 


Tell Us About Your Calls to Congress in Favor of Diplomacy, Not More Sanctions, on Iran

December 9, 2013

Some in Congress, starting with House Majority “Leader” Eric Cantor (R-VA), who seemingly can’t take peace for an answer, are pushing new economic sanctions against Iran. A vote in the House of Representatives could come as soon as tomorrow. There is also possible movement in the Senate for new sanctions, though the timing is unclear.

New sanctions could well kill the first step deal the Obama Administration and allies negotiated with Iran to freeze its nuclear program in return for modest relief of crippling sanctions. Should that deal fall apart, the historic opportunity for a peaceful resolution to concerns over Iran’s nuclear development could be gone, making the unthinkable (a military attack on Iran) all too possible.

Please call your House member and tell her or him to vote “no” on Rep. Cantor’s diplomacy killing legislation. You can use the toll free number from our colleagues at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (1-855-68 NO WAR / 1-855-686-6927) which will connect you with the Capitol Switchboard.

Please tell your representative “Congress needs to support diplomacy, not new sanctions on Iran. Vote against Rep. Cantor’s bill.”

Thank you for making this important call, and please take a minute to report on your call in the comments section below.


Letter from the Haifa Conference

December 9, 2013


Posted on December 7, 2013 by  in CommentaryMAPA NewsOur People // 0 Comments

jjk130hI arrived in Ben-Gurion Airport via Rome on Wednesday night and had the most routine entry to Israel ever.  Not a single question, even after I asked not to have my passport stamped and told the agent I was there to attend a conference until Sunday.  The Haifa International Conference for a Middle East Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction (http://wmdfz.org/) began on Thursday morning at the Dan Panorama Hotel overlooking Haifa Harbor from the top of Mount Carmel.  I’m estimating around 150 registered delegates, with perhaps 100 or so in the room at any one time. Although the Conference was officially non-partisan it was clearly under the auspices of the Israeli far left, principally the electoral Front for Peace and Democracy (Hadash in Hebrew, Jabha in Arabic, “The Front”), which includes the Israeli Communist Party.In my experience, the Israeli Left is the only social space in Israel where Arabs and Jews mingle in cordial equality.  Here the Palestinians tended to speak Arabic among themselves, but they addressed the Conference in Hebrew.The crowd was a little on the “gray” side, but not so much as similar gatherings tend to be in the US.  And although the Israeli Left is regarded as a small radical fringe by most of the Jewish population, Hadash/Jabha has 4 Knesset members (out of 120) and a strong base principally in the Arab Palestinian communities; Meretz, also represented at the Conference (think DSA), has 5 Knesset members.  The mayor of Haifa welcomed the Conference.I’m staying at the apartment of two elderly Communists in their 80’s.  Colman Altman, who met me at the train station, was born in South Africa to Lithuanian parents and emigrated to Israel in he 1950’s. He’s a retired academic physicist.  His wife Janina, is a chemist from Lvov, now in Ukraine, but known as the Eastern Polish city of Lviv before the Second World War. (Earlier it was Lemberg in Austrian Galicia, the home of the novelist Joseph Roth.) Janina lost her entire family to the Nazis and came to Israel in 1950—where, ironically, she traded her parents’ Zionist ideal for revolutionary politics.  She said the inequality she experienced in Israel and especially the treatment of Arabs was her inspiration.There were delegates from a number of Foreign countries – perhaps a half-dozen  or more from the US, including three from the US Peace Council, two (including myself along with Madeline Hoffman from New Jersey) and a woman representing WILPF; others were from France, Francophone Africa (Senegal?) Germany, Belgium and perhaps other countries I may have missed.The morning program opened with a very moving address by Prof. Tadatoshi Akiba, the mayor of Hiroshima until 2011.  He was introduced by Naomi Chazan, an Israeli academic with a  long record of fighting for human rights. (When I spoke with Akiba later, he called Boston his “second home”, having studied for years at MIT.)Akiba pointed out that if “Official” Israel refused to participate in the movement toward the abolition of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, then is was up to political/progressive people to press the issue.  He said he spoke on behalf of the many thousands of “Hibakusha” or nuclear bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki, who are demanding the complete abolition of nuclear weapons “in their lifetime. (Their average age is in the 70’s.)  Their slogan resonates tellingly here in Israel:  “Never Again should any people suffer as we did.”Akiba spoke about some hopeful signs in the struggle to eliminate nuclear weapons:In October 2013 there was a conference of 56 countries like Sweden, South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, “Able But Unwilling” to develop nuclear weapons.  That is, they possessed the technical ability and nuclear programs necessary to produce nuclear weapons but chose not to do so. They cited the influence of anti-war domestic politics as the key element opposing weapons development.In November of this year the signatory nations of The Red Cross/Red Crescent met in Sydney, Australia to reaffirm the same goal of moving the nuclear abolition goal of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.Finally, the international “Mayors for Peace” now has almost 6000 members and provides hope that urban and civil society will be able to push their governments. Akiba pointed out that cities, unlike nations, do not have armies.The goal of the 60,000 surviving Hibakusha is the elimination of nuclear weapons by 2020 – “While we are alive”.  Akiba said a goal is “A dream with a deadline” and that for the Hibakusha it meant success “within our lifetime.”Former Knesset speaker Avrum Burg spoke next about the politics of a Middle East WMDFZ.  I’ll report on that in a subsequent p


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