Largest Peace Group Supports Extending Iran Negotiations

November 24, 2014

Washington, DC — November 23, 2014 — In response to various sources citing that the P5 + 1 (the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany) and Iran will extend their negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program beyond today’s deadline until July, Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. released the following statement by its policy and political director, Paul Kawika Martin who has been working on the issue for over eight years and had the rare opportunity to spend time in Iran:

The recently announced extension of international talks with Iran over their nuclear program will continue to roll back Iran’s nuclear program and provide time to negotiate final difference and come to an agreement that guarantees Iran will not pursue a nuclear weapon makes the U.S. and the world a safer place and paves the way for more discussions that will reduce Middle East tensions and increase economic opportunities benefiting world markets.

The U.S. has come along way from the days when Vice President Dick Cheney tried to sway the Bush administration to bomb Iran, to today when the Obama administration is key to international negotiations that we hope will lead to an agreement with Iran that will roll back its nuclear program and ensure it does not build a nuclear weapon even if it wanted one.  International verification and monitoring will guarantee compliance.  This extension of talks with Iran over its nuclear program is yet another example that diplomacy is working and is far less expensive in blood and treasure than military intervention.

Unfortunately, there are some in Congress and the Israeli Government who take the Cheney tack that war is the answer.  But, this seven-month extension of talks with Iran is better than any imaginable alternative.  Military strategists have said over and over again that a military intervention into Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst force Iran to engage or speed up getting a nuclear weapon even if they had no such program.  Additionally, it could start another Middle East war that the U.S. cannot afford and Americans oppose.

It is vital that Congress not scuttle an agreement with Iran now that the parties are so close .  Any letters or legislation that offers more sanctions or ties the hands of the countries, preventing them from coming to an agreement, is clearly a poison pill to kill the negotiations.  That would be very short sighted, as an agreement with Iran on their nuclear program would likely lead to productive negotiations on other items of concern with the Iranian Government, not to mention, to open up important economic channels to help world financial woes.

With bad news coming out of the Middle East nearly every day, continued negotiations with Iran is something to lift up not bring down.  This is a key time to lessen tensions in the Middle East.  The extension of talks continues to heavily limit Iran’s nuclear program while providing significant safeguards and inspections to guarantee non-weapon uses of nuclear technology.

Peace Action will join dozens of other organizations to have our supporters call on their congressional delegation to publicly support the talks with Iran by asking them to make a floor statement, write an OP-ED and release a positive statement.

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Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan and Iran. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.Peace- Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika


Some good (and even kinda funny!) news on nukes

November 10, 2014

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While you might not have known it from the scant attention they received in the recent midterm elections, there is a lot brewing on Peace Action’s top priority issues these days. We’ll have more for you soon on a possible breakthrough deal on Iran’s nuclear program (the current deadline for a deal is in two weeks, though it could be extended), as well as potentially interesting developments on the Pentagon’s budget. For today, here are some items you might have missed regarding nuclear weapons issues (good news), and I’ll do another post on Iraq and Afghanistan (definitely mostly bad news).

–U.S. to attend Vienna conference next month on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons: Peace Action has helped lead national and international efforts to press the Obama Administration to more faithfully participate in various international fora on nuclear disarmament, with not a lot of success to date. The U.S. skipped the first two conferences in this relatively new push regarding the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, but the State Department announced Friday it would send representatives to the third such conference in Vienna in early December.  We signed onto a letter initiated by our colleagues at the Arms Control Association urging U.S. participation, so this is definitely good news, and we’ll keep you updated on the conference, U.S. participation, and follow-up steps. What the U.S. reps say and do at this confab will have even more resonance as the international community prepares for the every five years Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) at the United Nations in New York City next April. Peace Action will once again help lead national and international groups in organizing around the RevCon, we’ll have more information on this in the New Year.

-Updated Don’t Bank on the Bomb report released: This terrific resource, which catalogs the banks, insurance companies, mutual funds and other businesses that help support and finance nuclear weapons contractors worldwide, was released last Friday. It’s a great educational and action tool, as even most peace activists are likely unaware of the web of financial links so many seemingly non-military related companies have to the production of nuclear weapons. Check it out, you’ll want to know if companies you deal with are involved. Some Peace Action supporters have used the report to withdraw investments from firms they had long done business with, over the companies’ financial ties to nukes. You may want to do the same.

-And the funny (sort of): Death Wears Bunny Slippers: Hanging out with the disgruntled guys who babysit our aging nuclear missiles – and hate every second of it, a terrific article in Mother Jones magazine about the decay of the ICBM force and the morale and performance of the Air Force personnel who allegedly safeguard them

 


Next Tuesday’s elections: Trick or Treat?

October 30, 2014

Dear Voter,

A few days after All Hallows’ Evening, the midterm elections will occur. Tuesday, November 4th. Your actions can make the results less scary.  Please take two actions now:

Vote!
Contribute to Peace Candidates! 

Even if you are not registered to vote, a number of states allow you to register at the ballot box.  Did you know you can avoid possible lines and hassle by voting at early polling places or using an absentee ballot?  You can find your polling place, information on registration and early voting and other important election information by visiting www.vote411.org

Already Peace Action and our affiliates, through our Peace Voter campaign has made a difference by endorsing candidates and fundraising for candidates, contributing to primary elections, briefing candidates, collecting candidate questionnaires and hiring organizers to work in important swing races.  You can make a difference here.

As you read this, Peace Action organizers are working in critical Senate races in Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire and swing House races in Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Please contribute to these peace candidates and to Peace Action PAC now.  Even $5 can make a difference.  By law, $5,000 is the maximum you can give to our PAC.  You may consider a recurring gift so that our PAC is always prepared even for surprise special elections

Peace Action PAC has helped elect such peace leaders as:

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) — a leader in bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and ending the Iraq War.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) — another leader in stopping endless wars and cutting the Pentagon budget.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) — co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) — a rare Republican ally on ending the wars and reducing Pentagon waste.

Your support now can make a difference in last minute advertising and get out the vote efforts.  It’s not just electing Members of Congress that will vote the right way.  That certainly helps.  But the key is electing leaders on peace issues who will lead a number of lawmakers to vote the right way.  Leaders who will do the the hard, behind the scenes, work on issues you and I care about that will make a lasting difference.

Please take a moment now to make a gift so that we can make a difference in key elections.

For a more peaceful Congress,

Paul Kawika Martin
Director, Political Action Committee
Peace Action

P.S. – The only thing scarier than Halloween this week, would be not to take action regarding next Tuesday’s (November 4th) midterm elections.  Please make sure you vote.  And give generously to peace candidates and Peace Action’s PAC.  Be sure to share and forward this post.


Letter to Obama Administration on upcoming nukes conference

October 30, 2014
Peace Action Development Director Peter Deccy at the "A-Bomb Dome" in Hiroshima

Peace Action Development Director Peter Deccy at the “A-Bomb Dome” in Hiroshima

The following news release is part of an ongoing effort to press the Obama Administration to participate in multilateral nuclear disarmament fora. Peace Action has helped lead this push for a few years now. The first link is to the letter we signed onto. Scuttlebutt is the Administration may soon decide on whether to attend the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in December.

Leading Nuclear Policy Experts and Organizations Call on the United States to Participate in International Conference on Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2014

 

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.) –A group of more than two dozen leading nuclear policy experts, former U.S. government officials, and peace and security organizations are urging the Barack Obama administration “to authorize U.S. participation in the Dec. 8-9 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria.”

In an October 29 letter to the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, the signatories write that U.S. participation in the Vienna conference “would enhance the United States’ credibility and influence at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. U.S. participation would also provide support to key U.S. allies and partners,” many of which are also urging the United States to send an official delegation.

The Vienna humanitarian impacts conference, which is the third such meeting since 2013, “is a useful and important venue for raising awareness about the risks of nuclear weapons,” the letter signers write, and it “contributes to the oft-repeated U.S. government call for ‘extending the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons forever.'”

The United States and the other five original nuclear weapon states–Russia, the U.K., France, and China–have not attended the two previous humanitarian impacts conferences, citing concerns that it could be used as a launching point for negotiations calling for a ban on nuclear weapons or a convention leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

“While some participating states and some nongovernmental organizations support such a ban … this conference is not a negotiating conference and is not intended to launch such an effort. Even if it were, there is no clear consensus among the participants about the direction of any such process,” the signers note in their letter, which was addressed to the president’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“Nuclear-armed states may have reasons to argue that not all potential uses of nuclear weapons necessarily would lead to humanitarian disaster, and that nuclear weapons may deter other existential threats,” says George Perkovich, Vice-President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one of the letter’s signatories.

“But given that the whole world would be affected if they are wrong, they should be willing to discuss these issues with others,” Perkovich says. “Unwillingness to do so suggests an arrogance that can only provoke international contempt and resistance.”

A decision on the part of the Obama administration not to attend the Vienna conference, the signatories write, “would be a major lost opportunity and a setback for President Obama’s own call for action toward a nuclear weapons free world.”

 

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons.


Peace Action Conference in Boston Nov. 8 – Chomsky, Kinzer, Bennis, Fletcher, Le Blanc and you!

October 22, 2014

A Foreign Policy for All

Re-Thinking U.S. Foreign Policy for the 21st Century

Saturday, November 8, 2014, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
MIT Room 34-101, 50 Vassar St, Cambridge, MA 

Confirmed Speakers
Noam Chomsky, MIT Institute Professor, author,Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order Bill Fletcher, former president, Trans Africa Forum; author, They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 other Myths about Unions Phyllis Bennis, director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies Stephen KinzerBoston  columnist;  author,

Globe columnist;  author,The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

Judith Leblanc, Field Director, Peace Action; former co-chair, UFPJ; member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma

After over a decade of costly military engagements in overseas wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains an interventionist, military-first foreign policy. Weary of this unsustainable status quo, growing numbers of Americans are engaging in a wide-ranging debate about the values and goals of U.S. foreign policy, the necessary levels of military spending, and the appropriate role for the U.S. in the world in the 21st century. As a result, there is now a unique window of opportunity for deep and critical reflection over the key priorities of U.S. foreign policy going forward.

In this one-day conference to be held immediately after the midterm election, we will both critique current foreign policy approaches that exacerbate global insecurity, and attempt to outline a more positive vision of U.S. global engagement. This vision is one that meets the actual security needs of people around the world, and is consistent with the principles of peace and justice for all. We will also explore the actions needed to make the changes we seek. The discussion will respond to a draft paper prepared by a working group. Read a summary of the Foreign Policy for All project.

Conference Schedule and List of Workshops will be posted soon at http://masspeaceaction.org/5872.

Conference fee: $25 before Oct. 29 for members of sponsoring organizations, $30 for others, $35 at the door, $10 for students and low income; free to MIT students.  Fee includes morning coffee and lunch.  Register at fp4a-conf.bpt.me/ or mail check to Massachusetts Peace Action, 11 Garden St, Cambridge, MA 02138; write “FP4A” on memo line.  Info: 617 354 2169

Host: MIT Technology and Culture Forum

Co-Sponsors: Massachusetts Peace Action, American Friends Service Committee, MIT Western Hemisphere Association, United for Justice with Peace, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – Boston Branch, Massachusetts Global Action

Info: masspeaceaction.org/fp4a-conf


The legacy of WMDs in Iraq – the real ones, courtesy of Uncle Sam

October 20, 2014

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Below is a letter to the editor sent to the New York Times (they didn’t publish it, happens to the best of us) prompted by an article last week on the actual weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq — no, not the nukes Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld lied to us about in order to invade Iraq, the chemical weapons supplied by the United States to Saddam Hussein and company in the late 70s and early 80s, sacrebleu! The article by C. J. Chivers is tough reading, but highly recommended.

Apart from the awful possibility that ISIS has gotten or could get its hands on these horrific weapons, this should be a lesson in how short-sighted our government’s weapons proliferating practices are and how they nearly always come back to hurt us — our troops, our allies and the security of the American people.

October 16, 2014

To the editor,

Revelations by the Times of the recent discovery of forgotten – or worse, covered up — chemical weapons stashes in Iraq and negligence in the treatment of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers and police exposed to sarin and mustard agents would be shocking, but they are unfortunately all too predictable. Similarly, if ISIS has gotten hold of and perhaps used some of these horrific weapons, no one should be surprised.

The effects of decades of the United State and other western powers pouring conventional and unconventional weapons into the Middle East are wide-ranging and unpredictable, except that they will likely prove disastrous, as they have time and again. From Gaza to Syria to Iraq to Egypt to Libya to Afghanistan, U.S. and western military intervention and/or an always open spigot of weaponry (with American taxpayers usually footing the bill) amount to attempting to put out the region’s near-constant fires with gasoline.

In the near term, working with the new Iraqi government and international agencies to secure and destroy the remaining chemical weapons, as is underway in Syria, and delivering fair and just treatment to those exposed to these weapons need to be urgent priorities.

More broadly, it’s time for a fundamental re-orientation of our policies away from failed militaristic, weapons-based stratagems that make the region and the United States less safe. Instead, we need a more sustainable commitment to diplomacy (such as restarting negotiations to end the Syrian civil war), strict arms control (beginning with establishing a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone in the Middle East and serious curbs on conventional weapons transfers) and international cooperation instead of bombing or invading as the way to address the threats of violent extremism.

Sincerely,

Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Peace Action


Peace and Climate Justice: Inseparable

September 29, 2014

–Judith Le Blanc, Field Director

stop the wars stop the warming

The largest climate justice march in history thronged New York City September 21 and Peace Action helped to make it happen.

Why? We because we believe that the only way we can save Mother Earth is by ending wars and militarism, which are the biggest obstacles to funding initiatives to address global warming. Wars prevent and disrupt the necessary collaboration between countries to address climate crisis. Both wars and climate crisis require a political solution which can only become a reality if the climate justice movement links to ending wars and militarism and the peace movement connects to justice: climate, economic and racial justice.

Peace Action, as a national endorser, jumped into the organizing from the beginning launching the Peoples Climate March Peace and Justice Hub. The Hub brought together peace and faith groups to organize a No War, No Warming contingent and rally. George Martin, Peace Action Education Fund board member, Cole Harrison, executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), Jim Anderson, Peace Action of New York State (PANYS) Chair and Natia Bueno, PANYS Student Outreach Coordinator, led the way.

Peace Action affiliates and activist members worked on filling buses, outreach and preparing the logistics for pre-march rally. PAEF board member George Martin said, “It is very significant that Peace Action was engaged from national to affiliate level, volunteering, planning and giving leadership on how war and militarism and climate justice are interconnected.”

Mass banner

MAPA drafted the Appeal to the Peace and Climate Movement outlining the high stakes and why the peace movement must join in the mobilization. It also argues for why we need a peace and justice movement, which must address the root causes of wars and inequality as the basis for strengthening our work.

Peace Action affiliates worked with allies to fill the buses from as far away as Milwaukee. The Coalition for Peace Action organized a conference with local environmental leaders in the lead up to the march.

PANYS mobilized its membership, especially student chapters across the state. Natia Bueno co-chaired the No War, No Warming pre-march rally.  She was excited by the turnout, stating “It was amazing to see so many people, especially from so many different ages, states, and walks of life come together under the idea of saving our planet.” The pre-march rally included peace and justice speakers as well as performers Holly Near and Emma’s Revolution.

Geneseo chapter

We rallied and marched with our banners on Sunday and on Saturday, Peace Action dug into the debates and issues as part of the Climate Convergence.

I spoke on two panels at the convergence. The first panel, Climate Change and Militarism: Following the Money and Understanding the Costs was sponsored by Institute for Policy Studies and the International Peace Bureau. Both groups spoke about their new reports: Demilitarization for Deep Decarbonization and Military vs Climate Security: The Budgets Compared.

I presented a case study on the work underway in Wisconsin to organize a local initiative to support labor, local elected officials, peace and community groups to develop a defense industry transition project. The premise of the case study was that facts need to be translated into local movement building that will improve peoples’ lives. Peace Action’s Move the Money Campaign aims to build a movement for local, green, sustainable economic development which is not dependent on military contracts for good paying jobs.

The second panel in which I participated examined how to build the movement to save Mother Earth from climate and nuclear destruction. The panel included the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands , Tony DeBrum, who spoke about the impact of the historic lawsuit brought by the Marshallese government against the U.S. for the nuclear weapons testing which has harmed generations of the Marshallese people.

The panel also included the Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, Franklin Cownie, a leader of Mayors for Peace who discussed the significance of the resolution calling for nuclear disarmament and demilitarizing the federal budget passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Natia, the PANYS student organizer said, “I knew the numbers were going to be large, but it was another thing seeing it. It was amazing to see so many students there. In my experience, I have seen people especially around my age or younger not caring about the future. It was a nice to be surrounded by that many people that care. I only hope that it sparks others to start caring.”

A ready-made resource for immediate follow-up with our allies is a new film for local events. Longtime Peace Action supporter and documentary filmmaker John Ankele has a new film on climate change, “The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism and Community,” available for community screenings or individual purchase.


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