July 15, 2014

Your opposition to the Iraq War forced the Bush administration to lie and dupe the American public to allow the invasion.  Our opposition ended that war earlier than the Bush administration wanted though at the cost of many American and Iraqi lives as well as trillions of tax payer dollars.  Don’t let the Obama Administration make the same mistake.

Tell your Member of Congress:  No New Iraq War!

The current situation in Iraq has grabbed the nation’s attention, and President Obama has already deployed around 750 American troops to Iraq in response to the crisis. While some of these troops were understandably sent to protect our embassy, hundreds were sent as ‘advisers’ to the Iraqi security forces. The American public has been clear: the Iraq War was a mistake and we don’t want to send our troops back into the middle of a civil war. As more and more Americans are sent into harm’s way in Iraq, Congress needs to hear from you.

Help stop the march to war: email your Representative today!

Thankfully, Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Barbara Lee (D-CA) have introduced legislation to force a debate and vote on this buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq. Last week, these champions for peace introduced H Con Res 105, which would invoke the War Powers Resolution, and, if passed, would bring home the American advisers and prevent any further military intervention in Iraq. While the resolution would allow for the U.S. to continue protecting its embassy and diplomatic personnel, it would be a crucial step in preventing America from sliding back to a war in Iraq.

Please take two minutes to ask your Representative to cosponsor the bipartisan resolution!

Washington is once again full of hawks calling for war. Dick Cheney penned an op-ed defending the Iraq War and calling for new airstrikes and boots on the ground. You would think that after costing nearly 4,500 Americans their lives, wasting trillions of taxpayer dollars, and having been exposed for selling the Iraq War on lies, no one would bother listening to Cheney anymore. But sadly, many Members of Congress are ready to do just that. That is why your voice is so important. We weren’t quite able to stop Cheney in 2003, but, if we speak up now, we can stop him before we repeat the same mistakes again!

Make your voice heard: Urge your Representative to cosponsor the Iraq War Powers Resolution!

The situation in Iraq is difficult as the nation continues to be roiled in a complex sectarian crisis. But the solution is not American bombs or troops. Help make clear that America will not go back to war in Iraq by asking your Representative to cosponsor this important resolution.

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – We helped end the Iraq War and we don’t want the U.S. embroiled in another war there again.  Write your Member of Congress now! 


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.

 

 


Breaking News and Perspectives on Iraq

June 19, 2014

no good war banner pic

 

President Obama just spoke on Iraq, here are some points from Win Without War, a coalition Peace Action helped found to oppose the Iraq war in 2002:

Moments ago, the President finished a brief press conference in which he discussed the situation in Iraq. He announced that the US would be sending up to 300 special operations forces as advisors to Iraq (they will reportedly be broken into teams of 10-20 and forward deployed with Iraqi units). He also stressed that the US is now ready to make ‘limited, targeted’ air strikes if the situation the ground dictated it. While the President also made several positive statements stressing his opposition to ‘ground troops’ and that this remains an Iraqi problem that will require an Iraqi solution, we are troubled by some of these developments.

Here are our top line message responses.

  • This is a dangerous escalation of US military involvement in a problem the President himself has said has no military solution. It is also a dangerous retreat from the conditions that the President set for US engagement
  • What in needed in Iraq is a political solution, and any US support must only be made after changes to the policies of Prime Minister Maliki that are fueling sectarian tensions and growing this conflict.
  • History has shown that advisors can become ground troops, despite the best intentions.
  • President is still threatening airstrikes which would be counterproductive and firmly make America part of what is a growing Iraqi civil war.
  • President Obama needs to listen to the American people who do not want to restart the Iraq war.

Longtime Peace Action board of directors member Lauri Kallio of Albuquerque wrote this summary yesterday, which prompted a thoughtful reply by Bj, an activist with our Sacramento chapter:

President Barack Obama’s initial statement on the insurgency in Iraq was that all options are open. All options would include boots on the ground and bombing, with nuclear bombs not being ruled out. Later, Obama specifically excluded sending U.S. troops in, but reports were that the White House was mulling over the bombing option. Bombing attacks would would almost certainly produce noncombatant casualties and would likely provoke Sunni anger over the U.S. siding with the increasingly Shiite-dominated government. On June 16, media reports were that 100 Special Forces troops would be sent in to train Iraqi security forces.

 

President Obama also said that U.S. military aid would be premised on Iraqi government assurances to make political accommodations to relieve Sunni and Kurdish grievances about being largely excluded from power sharing. The U.S. troop surge well into the war was primarily designed to achieve some 18 socioeconomic and political goals — some hard to measure. I wrote a piece in my almost daily logbook on the war in Iraq, sometime after the surge took place, in which I demonstrated that there had been little or no progress on the goals, particularly on the two key goals of resolving Kurdish territorial land claims and an equitable sharing of oil revenues. The failure to resolve land claims alienated the Kurds and the failure to craft a plan to share oil revenues disadvantaged the Sunnis the most.

 

Staying with the theme of the futility of relying on the Iraqi government to become more inclusive,shortly before the troop surge took place, the U.S. began paying stipends for Sunni tribal groups to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq  Later, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was to strike a major blow against the Sunnis by cutting off the stipends.

 

When Nuri al-Maliki achieved his latest grip on power, his faction actually received fewer parliamentary seats than a competing faction led by a former foreign minister of Iraq; however, by more adroit political maneuvering, al-Maliki made deals with other small political factions to be elected prime minister.

 

After al-Maliki consolidated political power, he began a campaign to discredit the Sunni vice president, culminating in a murder charge for running a death squad, causing the vice president to flee the country.

 

Reports coming out of Baghdad form a pretty consistent picture of Prime Minister al-Maliki building an increasingly Shiite-dominated regime; thereby making it a naive move on the part of Obama to trust any promise of a more politically inclusive regime in Iraq.

 

If the argument is made that we must come to the aid of a democratically elected government in Iraq, given the extreme weakness of the Iraqi parliament and the ability of al-Maliki to rule largely by decree, the aid-to-a-democracy argument becomes very suspect.

 

If the argument is made that the U.S. should supply more arms to help the Iraqi security forces fight the insurgents. the last major clash should give one pause. Reports are that 30,000 Iraqi troops fled when confronted with 800 armed insurgents. Many of the fleeing Iraqi troops discarded their uniforms in the apparent hope that having no uniforms would save their lives if they fell into the hands of the insurgents. The insurgents found themselves with a yet-to-be-determined cache of U.S.-supplied weapons.

 

The word that the  U.S. may send in 100 Special Forces to train Iraqi security forces hinges on the absurd. Not only have Iraqi security forces failed to stand up to numerically inferior insurgent forces, but they have not been able to stop the ongoing mass violence against Iraqi citizens since the U.S. forces left.

 

U.S. training of foreign military forces has been a history of failure over the past half-century. After years of the U.S. training the South Vietnamese military, it quickly crumbled before the invasion of North Vietnamese armed forces. Part of the mission of the U.S. Marines sent into Lebanon by President Ronald Reagan was to train forces deemed favorable to U.S. interests. That training was washed away in the chaotic and very destructive civil war that raged in Lebanon. Central and South American military personnel schooled at the School of the Americas — since renamed — went back home and many committed atrocities against the very citizens they were committed to protect. We haven’t seen the final result of the long period of U.S. training of Afghan recruits; however, what we know of it shouldn’t inspire much confidence. Ann Jones, who taught school in Afghanistan for six years and was still there in 2009 to witness U.S. training methods, said of the 2009 incursion into Helmand Province that it consisted of 4,000 U.S. and allied troops and only 600 Afghan security forces, some of them police forces. Jones said she didn’t know of a single Afghan who had seen a 90,000 man Afghan army, as claimed by the U.S. in 2009. She even suggested tongue-in-cheek that it probably consisted of one man enlisting for training 90,000 times. Ann Jones personally knew of a number of men who went through the training, went home and went through again under another name. She was also convinced that Taliban men would go through the training course to learn of U.S. military tactics and also get a paycheck.

 

Overall, it would seem that all U.S. military options in Iraq are fraught with disaster. Diplomacy and a political settlement have also been suggested; however, I don’t see the U.S. as having the leverage to achieve a settlement. Realistically, we in the United States must come to the realization that there are situations in nation states that the intervention of the mighty U.S. military machine will only worsen the situation, and we shouldn’t set ourselves up for the burning we will get by setting the fires.

 

Unfortunately, the U.S. cannot serve as a role model for the world, given that we have attacked at least one nation that hasn’t attacked us in every decade since World War II. Youngsters just entering their teen years have never known a time when we were not at war and many have lived through two major wars.

 

Although I am generally opposed to dividing the world into smaller political enclaves of people based on religious or ethnic identification, perhaps the best solution would be for the U.S. to propose and work for splitting Iraq into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political divisions. The Sunnis and the Shiites are at one another’s throats. The Kurds are largely autonomous in their own territory, even making their own oil concession deals, despite incurring the wrath of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

###

The US/Iran situation since the ouster of the Shah in 1979 has been ridiculous and I am very much in favor of a rational and pragmatic relationship between the US and Iran. That said, with regard to Iraq, things may not be so simple.

 

Also with regard to dividing Iraq among the sectors (Shi’a, Sunni and Kurd — who are mostly Sunni by the way) things are also not that simple. Between 1991 and 2003, those divisions were encouraged and promoted by the US through the Northern (Kurdish area) and Southern (Shi’a area) No Fly Zones during the 13 years of intense sanctions. Saddam Hussein was essentially restricted to the central, Sunni-Shi’a mixed, part of the country. And during the 2003-11 invasion and occupation, those divisions were also encouraged and promoted, it seems.

 

Were the Kurdish region of Iraq to get full nation status, a bloody chain reaction would likely follow as the Kurdish military attempted to expand into those parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iran which have significant Kurdish populations — widening and deepening an already very destructive situation in the region. It may happen, but it is not something that we should encourage.

 

I highly recommend watching today’s Democracy Now. The after-headlines-segment is with UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. It is long, but his insights are so valuable to understanding the situation.  Below is an excerpt (my bolds). Bj

 

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Ambassador Brahimi, on the question of sectarianism, there have been several reports that suggest that in the initial days of the Iraq invasion in 2003, there were some neoconservative members of the Bush administration that actively fostered sectarianism between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds as a way of—as a policy of kind of divide and rule. Could you comment on that?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: … President Bush had given full, total responsibility to the Pentagon over Iraq. What was discussed there and what they did there, I don’t know. But as somebody from the region just looking at what was actually taking place, it was extremely hard not to believe that sectarianism was being promoted and that the people that were being put in charge were—I mean, of course the Kurdish region was given to Kurds 100 percent, and no—the rest of the Iraqis had no part in it. But in the rest of Iraq, the impression one had was that the people that were preferred by the occupying powers were the most sectarian Shia and the most pro-Iranian Shia, so, you know, that Iran—that Iraq is now very, very close to Iran. Again, from the point of view of somebody who looks at things from outside, I have absolutely no knowledge of what went on in the high spheres of power in Washington. The impression we had is that these people were put in charge either out of total ignorance—and that is extremely difficult to accept—or intentionally. But the fact is, you know, that the system that was established was very sectarian.

 


Call the White House – No Military Intervention in Iraq!

June 17, 2014

Last week, we generated thousands of email messages to President Obama, telling him no to U.S. military intervention in Iraq.  My thanks to all of you who took action!

A decision on how the U.S. will respond to the developing crisis in Iraq is now imminent.  Please take action: Call the White House comment line at 202.456.1111 between 9am and 5pm and tell President Obama to invest in diplomacy and international cooperation instead of U.S. military action.

Help me flood the White House comment line with our call for diplomacy, not war.  The people of Iraq and the region need peace, reconciliation and development, not more war and definitely not U.S. bombs or troops.

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. Please call the president at 202.456.1111 and tell him more war is not the answer. To learn more about the situation in Iraq, here are a few recent articles you might find interesting.

Our former Executive Director, David Cortright, has a sensible, concise post on this issue 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


America is Tired of Afghanistan War – Peace Action Op-Ed published by USA Today

May 30, 2014

Our Policy and Political Director, Paul Kawika Martin, was asked to submit this piece to USA Today, which published it yesterday. Please like, share, forward, comment on the site, write a supportive letter to the editor, etc.

Bring the troops home as soon and as safely as possible.

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President Obama announced on Tuesday that the U.S. would extend the Afghanistan War, the longest in American history, an additional two-and-a-half years. What will that get us?

For most Americans, the answer is unclear. Despite polls saying that a majority of Americans think the Afghanistan War was a mistake and not worth the blood and treasure, the U.S. will leave 9,800 troops and an untold number of contractors in the country after the end of this year.

OUR VIEW: Obama’s risky Afghanistan exit

Economists estimate that the long-term costs of being at war in Afghanistan for nearly 13 years will exceed a few trillion dollars. That’s enough tax dollars to take care of all our woefully needed infrastructure investments through 2020. So why spend more taxpayer dollars on the Afghanistan War?

The president claims that we need the troops to continue training Afghan forces for stability and to continue our fight against terrorists such as al-Qaeda.

Yet, the surge of troops in 2009 and 2010 into the country failed to quell the violence, showing that large troop numbers neglect to lead to stability or lead to a democratic or even a well-governed Afghanistan. Historically, political solutions are the best solutions to produce stability, even if difficult to obtain.

Also, history teaches us that local policing, working with the local populace, is far more likely to reduce terrorists than foreign forces that may increase recruitment by killing innocents and arousing resentments.

In 2009, senior U.S. military intelligence officials claimed that fewer than 100 members of al-Qaeda remained in Afghanistan. In contrast, nearly 15,000 operate in Syria. And remember that Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan, where experts think that al-Qaeda is led in the tribal regions.

While it’s unlikely that the Obama administration will change its mind on wasting two more years with a military presence in Afghanistan, Congress should take its war powers back and force the president to listen to Americans. Bring the troops home as soon and as safely as possible.

Paul Kawika Martin is the policy and political director for Peace Action — the nation’s largest grassroots peace group (www.Peace-Action.org). He traveled to Afghanistan in 2010.


Might Doesn’t Make Right (or even get a country what it wants)

May 12, 2014

With his essay “What you need to tell people when they say we should use the military,” Peace Action Board Member Larry Wittner makes a very succinct and persuasive case on History News Network that military might, especially as wielded by the United States, achieves little in international relations.

tags: Military Power

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Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, “What’s Going On at UAardvark?

SIPRI Fact Sheet:  TRENDS IN WORLD MILITARY EXPENDITURE, 2013

Is overwhelming national military power a reliable source of influence in world affairs?

If so, the United States should certainly have plenty of influence today. For decades, it has been the world’s Number 1 military spender. And it continues in this role. According to a recent report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $640 billion on the military in 2013, thus accounting for 37 percent of world military expenditures. The two closest competitors, China and Russia, accounted for 11 percent and 5 percent respectively. Thus, last year, the United States spent more than three times as much as China and more than seven times as much as Russia on the military.

In this context, the U.S. government’s inability to get its way in world affairs is striking. In the current Ukraine crisis, the Russian government does not seem at all impressed by the U.S. government’s strong opposition to its behavior. Also, the Chinese government, ignoring Washington’s protests, has laid out ambitious territorial claims in the East and South China Seas. Even much smaller, weaker nations have been snubbing the advice of U.S. officials. Israel has torpedoed U.S. attempts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, the embattled Syrian government has been unwilling to negotiate a transfer of power, and North Korea remains as obdurate as ever when it comes to scuttling its nuclear weapons program.

Of course, hawkish critics of the Obama administration say that it lacks influence in these cases because it is unwilling to use the U.S. government’s vast military power in war.

But is this true? The Obama administration channeled very high levels of military manpower and financial resources into lengthy U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and ended up with precious little to show for this investment. Furthermore, in previous decades, the U.S. government used its overwhelming military power in a number of wars without securing its goals. The bloody Korean War, for example, left things much as they were before the conflict began, with the Korean peninsula divided and a ruthless dictatorship in place in the north. The lengthy and costly Vietnam War led to a humiliating defeat for the United States — not because the U.S. government lacked enormous military advantages, but because, ultimately, the determination of the Vietnamese to gain control of their own country proved more powerful than U.S. weaponry.

Even CIA ventures drawing upon U.S. military power have produced a very mixed result. Yes, the CIA, bolstered by U.S. military equipment, managed to overthrow the Guatemalan government in 1954. But, seven years later, the CIA-directed, -funded, and -equipped invasion at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs failed to topple the Castro government when the Cuban public failed to rally behind the U.S.-instigated effort. Although the U.S. government retains an immense military advantage over its Cuban counterpart, with which it retains a hostile relationship, this has not secured the United States any observable influence over Cuban policy.

The Cold War confrontation between the U.S. and Soviet governments is particularly instructive. For decades, the two governments engaged in an arms race, with the United States clearly in the lead. But the U.S. military advantage did not stop the Soviet government from occupying Eastern Europe, crushing uprisings against Soviet domination in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, or dispatching Soviet troops to take control of Afghanistan. Along the way, U.S. hawks sometimes called for war with the Soviet Union. But, in fact, U.S. and Soviet military forces never clashed. What finally produced a love fest between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev and ended the Cold War was a strong desire by both sides to replace confrontation with cooperation, as indicated by the signing of substantial nuclear disarmament agreements.

Similarly, the Iranian and U.S. governments, which have been on the worst of terms for decades, appear to be en route to resolving their tense standoff — most notably over the possible development of Iranian nuclear weapons — through diplomacy. It remains unclear if this momentum toward a peaceful settlement results from economic sanctions or from the advent of a reformist leadership in Tehran. But there is no evidence that U.S. military power, which has always been far greater than Iran’s, has played a role in fostering it.

Given this record, perhaps military enthusiasts in the United States and other nations should consider whether military power is a reliable source of influence in world affairs. After all, just because you possess a hammer doesn’t mean that every problem you face is a nail.

- See more at: http://hnn.us/article/155550#sthash.YqVs3dTk.dpuf


Third Time’s the Charm? Letter to President Obama on nuclear disarmament opportunities

April 18, 2014

Readers of the Peace Blog may recall  two similar group sign-on letters to the president on nuclear disarmament matters, last year around the UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament and earlier this year around the Mexico conference on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons. In addition to those letters, on the former we did a petition campaign that netted about 25,000 signers, and on the latter an email campaign that generated close to 10,00 emails to the White House. We never received a substantive response from the Administration on either occasion.

Not giving up of course, please see this newest, fairly comprehensive letter in advance of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee (NPT PrepCom), which convenes April 28-May 9 at the UN in New York. It is open for circulation, distribution, etc. and may be published as an Open Letter.

Thanks to our colleague Jackie Cabasso of Western States Legal Foundation for writing and circulating the letter. She is also seeking a group meeting with US officials around the PrepCom, we’ll report on any progress.

April 16, 2014

 

Dear President Obama,

 

During the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague on March 25, 2014, you cited a number of concrete measures to secure highly-enriched uranium and plutonium and strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime that have been implemented as a result of the three Nuclear Security Summits, concluding: “So what’s been valuable about this summit is that it has not just been talk, it’s been action.”

 

Would that you would apply the same standard to nuclear disarmament! On April 5, 2009 in Prague, you gave millions of people around the world new hope when you declared: “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Bolstered by that hope, over the past three years, there has been a new round of nuclear disarmament initiatives by governments not possessing nuclear weapons, both within and outside the United Nations. Yet the United States has been notably “missing in action” at best, and dismissive or obstructive at worst. This conflict may come to a head at the 2015 Review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

 

We write now, on the eve of the third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2015 Review Conference of the NPT, which will take place at UN headquarters in New York April 28 – May 9, 2014, to underscore our plea that your administration shed its negative attitude and participate constructively in deliberations and negotiations regarding the creation of a multilateral process to achieve a nuclear weapons free world.  This will require reversal of the dismal U.S. record.

 

  • The 2010 NPT Review Conference unanimously agreed to hold a conference in 2012, to be attended by all states in the region, on a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction. The U.S. was a designated convener, and a date was set for December 2012 in Helsinki. The Finnish ambassador worked feverishly, meeting individually with all of the countries in the region to facilitate the conference. Suddenly, on November 23, 2012, the U.S. State Department announced that the Helsinki conference was postponed indefinitely.

 

  • In March 2013, Norway hosted an intergovernmental conference in Oslo on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, with 127 governments in attendance. Mexico hosted a follow-on conference in Nayarit, Mexico in February 2014, with 146 governments present. The U.S. boycotted Oslo and Nayarit. Austria has announced that it will host a third conference, in Vienna, late this year.

 

  • In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) established an “Open-Ended” working group open to all member states “to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons,” and scheduled for September 26, 2013, the first-ever High-Level meeting of the UNGA devoted to nuclear disarmament. The U.S. voted against both resolutions and refused to participate in the Open-Ended working group, declaring in advance that it would disregard any outcomes.

 

  • The U.S. did send a representative to the UN “High-Level” meeting, but it was the Deputy Secretary for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, rather than the President, Vice-President or Secretary of State. Worse, the U.S. joined with France and the U.K. in a profoundly negative statement, delivered by a junior British diplomat: “While we are encouraged by the increased energy and enthusiasm around the nuclear disarmament debate, we regret that this energy is being directed toward initiatives such as this High-Level Meeting, the humanitarian consequences campaign, the Open-Ended Working Group and the push for a Nuclear Weapons Convention.”

 

  • In contrast, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, the new President of Iran, used the occasion of the High-Level Meeting to roll out a disarmament “roadmap” on behalf of the 120 member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The roadmap calls for: “early commencement of negotiations, in the Conference on Disarmament, on a comprehensive convention on nuclear weapons for the prohibition of their possession, development, production, acquisition, testing, stockpiling, transfer, use or threat of use, and for their destruction; designation of 26 September every year as an international day to renew our resolve to completely eliminate nuclear weapons;” and “convening a High-level International Conference on Nuclear Disarmament in five years to review progress in this regard.” The NAM roadmap was subsequently adopted by the UNGA with 129 votes in favor. The U.S voted no.

 

Meanwhile, your Administration’s FY 2015 budget request seeks a 7% increase for nuclear weapons research and production programs under the Department of Energy’s semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). NNSA’s “Total Weapons Activities” are slated to rise to $8.2 billion in FY 2015 and to $9.7 billion by 2019, 24% above fiscal year 2014. Your Administration is also proposing a $56 billion Opportunity Growth and Security Initiative (OGSI) to be funded through tax changes and spending reforms. OGSI is to be split evenly between defense and non-defense spending, out of which $504 million will go to NNSA nuclear weapons programs “to accelerate modernization and maintenance of nuclear facilities.” With that, your FY 2015 budget request for maintenance and modernization of nuclear bombs and warheads in constant dollars exceeds the amount spent in 1985 for comparable work at the height of President Reagan’s surge in nuclear weapons spending, which was also the highest point of Cold War spending.

 

We are particularly alarmed that your FY 2015 budget request includes $634 million (up 20%) for the B61 Life Extension Program, which, in contravention of your 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, as confirmed by former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, General Norton Schwartz, will have improved military capabilities to attack targets with greater accuracy and less radioactive fallout.[1]

 

This enormous commitment to modernizing nuclear bombs and warheads and the laboratories and factories to support those activities does not include even larger amounts of funding for planned replacements of delivery systems – the bombers, missiles and submarines that form the strategic triad, which are funded through the Department of Defense.  In total, according to the General Accounting Office, the U.S. will spend more than $700 billion over the next 30 years to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons systems. The James Martin Center places the number at an astounding one trillion dollars. This money is desperately needed to address basic human needs – housing, food security, education, healthcare, public safety, education and environmental protection – here and abroad.

 

The Good Faith Challenge

 

This our third letter to you calling on the U.S. government to participate constructively and in good faith in all international disarmament forums. On June 6, 2013, we wrote: “The Nuclear Security Summit process you initiated has been a success. However, securing nuclear materials, while significant, falls well short of what civil society expected following your Prague speech.”[2] In that letter, we urged you to you speak at the September 26, 2013 High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament at the United Nations; to endorse UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Five-Point Proposal on Nuclear Disarmament; to announce your convening of a series of Nuclear Disarmament Summits; to support extending the General Assembly’s Open-Ended Working Group to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons; and to announce that the U.S. would participate in the follow-on conference on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons in Mexico in early 2014.

 

In our second letter, dated January 29, 2014, we urged that you direct the State Department to send a delegation to the Mexico conference and to participate constructively; and that your administration shed its negative attitude and participate constructively in deliberations and negotiations regarding the creation of a multilateral process to achieve a nuclear weapons free world. And we called on the United States to engage in good faith in efforts to make the Conference on Disarmament productive in pursuing the objective for which it was established more than three decades ago: complete nuclear disarmament; and to work hard to convene soon the conference on a zone free of WMD in the Middle East promised by the 2010 NPT Review Conference.[3]

 

Since our last letter, the U.S. – Russian relationship has deteriorated precipitously, with the standoff over the Crimea opening the real possibility of a new era of confrontation between nuclear-armed powers. The current crisis will further complicate prospects for future arms reduction negotiations with Russia, already severely stressed by more than two decades of post-Cold War NATO expansion, deployment of U.S. missile defenses, U.S. nuclear weapons modernization and pursuit of prompt conventional global strike capability.

 

Keeping Our Side of the NPT Bargain

 

Article VI of the NPT, which entered into force in 1970, and is the supreme law of the land pursuant to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, states: “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”

 

In 1996, the International Court of Justice, the judicial branch of the United Nations and the highest and most authoritative court in the world on questions of international law, unanimously concluded: “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.”

 

Forty-four years after the NPT entered into force, more than 17,000 nuclear weapons, most held by the U.S. and Russia, pose an intolerable threat to humanity. The International Red Cross has stated that “incalculable human suffering” will result from any use of nuclear weapons, and that there can be no adequate humanitarian response capacity.[4]  Declaringthat “our nation’s deep economic crisis can only be addressed by adopting new priorities to create a sustainable economy for the 21st century,” the bi-partisan U.S. Conference of Mayors has called on the President and Congress to slash nuclear weapons spending and to redirect those funds to meet the urgent needs of cities.[5]

We reiterate the thrust of the demands set forth in our letters of June 13, 2013 and January 29, 2014, and urge you to look to them for guidance in U.S. conduct at the 2014 NPT PrepCom. We stress the urgent need to press the “reset” button with Russia again. Important measures in this regard are an end to NATO expansion and a halt to anti-missile system deployments in Europe.

 

  • We urge you to work hard to fully implement all commitments you made in the Nuclear Disarmament action plan agreed by the 2010 NPT Review Conference and to convene the promised conference on a zone free of WMD in the Middle East at the earliest possible date.

 

  • We urge you again to take this opportunity to endorse UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Five-Point Proposal on Nuclear Disarmament, to announce your convening of a series of Nuclear Disarmament Summits, and to engage in good faith in efforts to make the Conference on Disarmament productive in pursuing the objective for which it was established more than three decades ago: complete nuclear disarmament.

 

  • We call on you to declare that the U.S. will participate constructively and in good faith in the third intergovernmental conference on humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons to be held in Vienna late this year.

 

  • As an immediate signal of good faith, we call on your Administration to halt all programs to modernize nuclear weapons systems, and to reduce nuclear weapons spending to the minimum necessary to assure the safety and security of the existing weapons as they await disablement and dismantlement.

 

Mr. President: It’s time to move from talk to action on nuclear disarmament. There have never been more opportunities, and the need is as urgent as ever.

 

We look forward to your positive response.

 

Sincerely,

 

Initiating organizations:

 

Jacqueline Cabasso, Executive Director, Western States Legal Foundation

 

[contact for this letter: wslf@earthlink.net; (510) 839-5877

655 – 13th Street, Suite 201, Oakland, CA 94612]

 

John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy

 

Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action

 

David Krieger, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

 

Joseph Gerson, Disarmament Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee(for identification only)

 

Alicia Godsberg, Executive Director, Peace Action New York

 

Endorsing organizations (national):

 

Robert Gould, MD, President, Physicians for Social Responsibility

 

Tim Judson, Executive Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service

 

Michael Eisenscher, National Coordinator, U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)

 

Michael McPhearson, Interim Executive Director, Veterans for Peace

 

David Swanson, WarIsACrime.org

 

Jill Stein, President, Green Shadow Cabinet

 

Terry K. Rockefeller, National Co-Convener, United for Peace and Justice

Hendrik Voss, National Organizer, School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch)

 

Alfred L. Marder, President, US Peace Council

 

Robert Hanson, Treasurer, Democratic World Federalists

 

Alli McCracken, National Coordinator, CODEPINK

 

Margaret Flowers, MD and Kevin Zeese, JD, Popular Resistance

 

Endorsing organizations (by state):

 

Marylia Kelley, Executive Director, Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) Livermore, California

 

Blase Bonpane, Ph.D., Director, Office of the Americas, California

 

Linda Seeley, Spokesperson, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, California

 

Susan Lamont, Center Coordinator, Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County, California

 

Chizu Hamada, No Nukes Action, California

 

Lois Salo, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Peninsula Branch, California

 

Rev. Marilyn Chilcote, Beacon Presbyterian Fellowship, Oakland, California

 

Margli Auclair, Executive Director, Mount Diablo Pleace and Justice Center. California

 

Roger Eaton, Communications Chair, United Nations Association-USA, San Francisco Chapter, California

 

Dr. Susan Zipp, Vice President, Association of World Citizens, San Francisco, California

Michael Nagler, President, Metta Center for Nonviolence, California (for identification only)

 

Rev. Marilyn Chilcote McKenzie, Parish Associate, St. John’s Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, California (for identification only)

 

James E. Vann, Oakland Tenants Union, California (for identification only)

 

Vic and Barby Ulmer, Our Developing World, California (for identification only)

 

Judith Mohling, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Colorado

 

Bob Kinsey, Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War

 

Medard Gabel, Executive Director, Pacem in Terris, Delaware

 

Roger Mills, Coordinator, Georgia Peace & Justice Coalition, Henry County Chapter

 

Bruce K. Gagnon, Coordinator, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine
Lisa Savage, CODEPINK, Maine

 

Natasha Mayers, Whitefield, Maine Union of Maine Visual Artists

 

Shirley “Lee” Davis, GlobalSolutions.org, Maine Chapter

 

Lynn Harwood, the Greens of Anson, Maine

 

Dagmar Fabian, Crabshell Alliance, Maryland

 

Judi Poulson, Chair, Fairmont Peace Group, Minnesota

 

Marcus Page-Collonge, Nevada Desert Experience, Nevada

 

Gregor Gable, Shundahai Network, Nevada

 

Jay Coghlan, Executive Director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico

 

Joni Arends, Executive Director, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, New Mexico

 

Lucy Law Webster, Executive Director, The CENTER FOR WAR/PEACE STUDIES, New York

 

Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, New York

 

Sheila Croke, Pax Christi Long Island, chapter of the international Catholic peace movement, New York

 

Richard Greve, Co Chair, Staten Island Peace Action, New York

 

Rosemarie Pace, Director, Pax Christi Metro New York

 

Carol De Angelo, Director of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation, Sisters of Charity of New York (for identification only)

 

Gerson Lesser, M.D., Clinical Professor, New York University School of Medicine (for identification only)

 

Ellen Thomas, Proposition One Campaign, North Carolina

 

Vina Colley, Portsmouth/Piketon Residents for Environmental Safety and Security, Ohio

 

Harvey Wasserman, Solartopia, Ohio

 

Ray Jubitz, Jubitz Family Foundation, Oregon

 

Cletus Stein, convenor, The Peace Farm, Texas

 

Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, INND (Institute of Neurotoxicology & Neurological Disorders), Washington

 

Allen Johnson, Coordinator, Christians For The Mountains, West Virginia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

cc:

 

John Kerry, Secretary of State

 

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

 

Thomas M. Countryman, Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and

Nonproliferation

 

Susan Rice, National Security Advisor

 

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor

 

Samantha Power, Permanent Representative to the United Nations

 

Christopher Buck, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Conference on Disarmament

 

Walter S. Reid, Deputy Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament

 

[1] http://blogs.fas.org/security/2014/01/b61capability/

 

[2] http://www.lcnp.org/files/060613_Obama.docx

 

[3] http://www.lcnp.org/pubs/Letter-to-Obama-Mexico-Conference-on-IHL.pdf

 

[4] http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/resolution/council-delegates-resolution-1-2011.htm

 

[5] http://www.usmayors.org/resolutions/81st_Conference/international02.asp

 

 

 


Zero

February 24, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Peacefully Yours,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

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


Update: U.S. Skips Mexico conference on humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons

February 13, 2014

Disappointing, as there evidently was consideration within the Administration about going to the Mexico conference, but not all that surprising they are skipping it. We aren’t though, Alicia Godsberg, e.d. of Peace Action of NY State, is there and we look forward to her reports.

The Hill, February 13, 2014, 02:08 pm

http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/un-treaties/198353-obama-knocked-for-skipping-nuke-conference
Obama knocked for skipping nuke conference

By Julian Pecquet

The Obama administration is skipping a nuclear arms conference for the second time in a row, irritating arms-control advocates.
The U.S. and the four other original nuclear states – Russia, China, France and Britain – are all boycotting this week’s meeting in Mexico because of concerns that it could be used as a forum to push for the elimination of their stockpiles. All five also declined to send a delegation to the inaugural Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, held last year in Oslo.

“The absence of the five original nuclear weapons states in Mexico will only deepen the frustration of the nonnuclear-weapon states about the slow pace of progress toward the fulfillment of the nuclear-weapon states disarmament commitments,” said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. “Rather than dismiss or boycott conferences on the topic, the United States should actively participate and join other nations in a statement on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and the need to prevent any exchange of nuclear weapons.”

Kimball said the goal of the conference was never to launch negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban, since it would never go anywhere without the participation of nuclear-armed states anyway. Rather, the purpose is to highlight the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and the need to prevent any exchange of nuclear weapons.
The decision to skip the conference comes as the Obama administration prepares to commemorate the fifth anniversary of his historic speech calling for a world free of nuclear weapons – rhetoric that helped get him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. The administration strongly denied Thursday that the president was backsliding on those goals.

“After careful consideration, the United States has decided not to attend Mexico’s February 13-14 conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Our decision does not indicate any lessening support for nuclear disarmament,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told The Hill in an email.

“We continue to take very seriously the consequences of nuclear weapons use,” Harf said. “It is in our interest, as well as the interest of all nations, to extend the nearly 70-year record of nuclear weapons non-use forever. We remain committed to practical step-by-step disarmament and will continue to take steps toward securing a world without nuclear weapons.”

Harf pointed to the elimination of 85 percent of the U.S. nuclear stockpile since its Cold War peak and and the recent New START Treaty with Russia as signs of progress. She added that Obama has “reaffirmed his desire to take additional steps along the path to achieving a world without nuclear weapons” and that this would be a topic of discussion during next month’s Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague.

While the Obama administration’s decision to skip the conference has been discrete, in Britain by contrast it has set off a firestorm of criticism against Prime Minister David Cameron from lawmakers on all sides.

“We should be there. I cannot understand why we are not [going]“, The Guardian quoted former Defense minister and  chairman of the defense committee James Arbuthnot as saying.

Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill

Read more: http://thehill.com/blogs/global-affairs/un-treaties/198353-obama-knocked-for-skipping-nuke-conference#ixzz2tERFK6Zg
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____________________


Will the U.S. Skip Another International Conference on Nuclear Weapons?

February 11, 2014

-Kevin Martin, Executive Director

When professed nuclear dove Barack Obama was elected president, hopes were high in this country and globally for serious progress toward global nuclear disarmament. However, other than the modest New START  arms reduction treaty with Russia, there is little to show so far for his five years in office.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, signed by President Clinton in 1996, was rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1999. While the Obama Administration would like to get Senate advice and consent, garnering the 2/3 vote in the Senate the Constitution for ratification appears a very tall order given the prevailing hyper-partisan gridlock. (Could the president get 2/3 of the Senate to agree the sky is blue?)

Much worse, the Administration has proposed a Dr. Strangelovian “nuclear weapons modernization” program that could cost over $1 trillion over the next thirty years. This unconscionable boondoggle, if fully funded and implemented, would upgrade the entire U.S. nuclear weapons complex, soup to nuts – new nuclear weapons production facilities capable of designing nuclear warheads with new capabilities, increased warhead production capacity, and new bombers, missiles and submarines. Predictably, other nuclear weapons states have followed suit and are concocting their own “modernization” programs. It’s not hard to see how this undercuts our credibility, and U.S. and global security, when it comes to the urgent problem of nuclear proliferation. And the opportunity cost of that $1 trillion not going to human and environmental needs is scandalous.

The United States is getting it wrong not just on substance, but also on process. The U.S., and the other nuclear weapons states, generally scoff at efforts by non-nuclear states and the international community to get the process of nuclear disarmament unstuck. There is a new emphasis, in both governmental and non-governmental processes, on raising up the (horrific) humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons. Recent studies project even a “modest” regional nuclear war could not only kill tens of millions of people, but also threaten a regional or even global “nuclear famine” that could affect hundreds of millions or billions more through severe agricultural impacts.

The Norwegian government hosted a conference on this subject about a year ago. The U.S. and the other members of the “P-5” – the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, all nuclear powers – boycotted the confab.

Last September, the Non-Aligned Movement sponsored the first ever UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament at the General Assembly, and has formed an Open-Ended Working Group on nuclear weapons abolition. The U.S. and other nuclear states participated (they could hardly have boycotted a General Assembly meeting), but unfortunately in the most condescending, arrogant manner. The U.S., United Kingdom and French statements at the meeting were an embarrassing display of nuclear colonialism, as they scolded the Non-Aligned states for wasting their time and not trusting the nuclear states to take care of nuclear disarmament in their own good time in processed dictated by the nuclear haves. (See my bog post No Right Hands for the Wrong Weapons – Arrogance, Denial, Nuclear Colonialism, and the Persistence of Hope by the 98%, Reflections on the UN General Assembly’s first ever High Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament)

This Thursday and Friday, the Mexican government will host the follow-up to the Norway conference, again focusing on the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nuclear weapons. An activist NGO conference, organized by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) will convene before and after the governmental conference in Nuevo Vallarta. While informed sources had said the Obama Administration was considering attending the conference, there has been no announcement one way or the other, which doesn’t appear to bode well for those hoping the U.S. would show up.

The United States should be there, if it is serious about nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Ninety-eight percent of the world’s countries eschew nuclear weapons, as does the solid majority of the world’s population.

Nearly 10,000 people have emailed the president on this issue, and it’s not too late to convince him that he, or more likely a high-level representative of his administration, should go to the Mexico conference. In his recent State of the Union Address, President Obama stated,  “America must get off a permanent war footing.” I couldn’t agree more, and nukes are a great place to start. You can make your thoughts known to the president by email, please see this action alert


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