Peace Action Statement on House Vote to Support Syrian Militias

September 17, 2014

BaltWIsolidarity2_26

For Immediate Release:  September 17, 2014

 

Contacts:               Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action, 951-217-7285 cell, pmartin@peace-action.org

Kevin Martin, Peace Action, 301-537-8244 cell, kmartin@peace-action.org

 

Congress Shows Concern in Vote for Funding Syria Militias

 

Washington, DC — September 17, 2014 — In response to today’s House vote to arm and train Syria militias, Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. released the following statement by its executive director, Kevin Martin:

 

The House of Representatives’ vote today to arm and train “moderate” elements of the Syrian opposition in the hopes they will fight ISIS seems a preposterous leap of faith and misappropriation of our tax dollars for a war Congress has not yet authorized, as the Constitution expressly stipulates it must. The U.S. military trained the 100,000+ Iraqi Army, and they failed miserably in their first encounters with ISIS fighters, so how will training 5,000 Syrian fighters do the job? As to providing weapons, it’s far easier to see how that goes disastrously than successfully, as U.S. weapons have already ended up in the hands of ISIS forces. Even the CIA, which has been running a covert program supporting the Free Syrian Army from a base in Jordan, is reportedly skeptical of this new plan.

 

This is also a poor way to run a democracy, with only one house of Congress voting on one aspect of President Obama’s strategy to defeat ISIS, as indications are the Senate will not vote on an amendment to arm Syrian rebels, but rather accept the House’s action and vote only on the Continuing Resolution to keep the government running into December, which includes the House vote. Neither the House nor Senate have voted to authorize the president to attack Syria or Iraq, and plan not to do so until December. Is this “cross our fingers and hope for the best while we campaign for re-election” strategy worthy of Congress’s Constitutional authority over issues of war and peace? The House would have done well to heed the concerns expressed by U.S.. Rep. Austin Scott, R-GA, who before the vote stated, “Every time the United States has gotten into a war, it has started with something like this.”

 

For our part, we are heartened that over two dozen organizations mobilized on short notice to oppose this dangerous plan, generating tens of thousands of calls to Congress in just two days. Peace Action members will continue to raise concerns about this new quagmire-to-be at the Peoples Climate March in New York City this Sunday, on the campaign trail by bird-dogging candidates to state clearly their positions on this new war, and when Congress gets around to voting on a war authorization in its December lame duck session.

 

Opposition to the vote by 156 Representatives (85 Democrats, 71 Republicans) shows congressional concern that weapons and training can come back to bite the U.S., that more arms in the Middle East will only fuel the fire and this can be the Camel’s nose under another war tent. We will continue to advocate diplomatic, political and humanitarian alternatives that will be more effective in combating ISIS, rather than continued military escalation.


Call Congress Today to Stop the Escalation of War in Iraq and Syria

September 16, 2014

Dont-Bomb-Syria2-670x300

Today is a national call in day to question the U.S. government’s ISIS strategy organized by two dozen groups including MoveOn, Veterans for Peace and Friends Committee on National Legislation (which provided the toll free number).  With Members of Congress participating in Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) hearings over the next few days and a vote likely tomorrow on providing arms to Syrian fighters, now is the time to be heard.

Call Now!  Congressionals switchboards are open between 9am and 5pm, eastern time.  (855) 68 NO WAR (66 927 toll free)  First, ask for your Representative, when finished call both of your Senators.  Tell them:

“I am a constituent and I question whether there is a military solution to the ISIS problem. I also want my Congressperson to vote against arming Syrian fighters.”

Perhaps you don’t agree exactly with the above statement.  I’m sure you still have questions or think Congress should at least hold a debate or claim its constitutional war powers.  Please make three calls today and state your concerns.

The United States is rushing headlong into another open-ended war in the Middle East.  We know from the past disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan that war isn’t the answer.  Even President Obama has said that there is no military solution to ISIS.  Among other actions, organizing regional diplomacy, cutting off oil income from sales to ISIS, and getting the UN to restart talks to end the Syrian civil war are more likely to achieve success over bombing and spreading weapons that might end up in the wrong hands.  For more on nonmilitary solutions see our action alert from last week.

Pick up your phone!  (855) 68 NO WAR (66 927 toll free)  First, ask for your Representative, when finished call both of your Senators.  Use the above script.

As I mentioned, it seems Congress will vote tomorrow to send more weapons into Syria.  Already ISIS is using U.S. weapons against us,  and garnered from Syria and Iraq.  Sending more weapons into the Middle East is like pouring gasoline on a fire.  Congress should vote no.

Make Three Calls Now!  (855) 68 NO WAR (66 927 toll free)  First, ask for your Representative, when finished call both of your Senators.  Use the above script.

Your calls today are essential because, as we mentioned, this week the House and Senate are holding hearings with experts like Secretary of Defense Charles Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and General Martin Dempsey.

And know that your calls are being amplified by supporters of over twenty organizations that are calling Congress as you read this.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – Today is a national call in day organized by a few dozen groups to question the U.S. strategy on ISIS.  Call now!  (855) 68 NO WAR (66 927 toll free)  First, ask for your Representative, when finished call both of your Senators.  Tell them:

“I am a constituent and I question whether there is a military solution to the ISIS problem. I also want my Congressperson to vote against arming Syrian fighters.”

After calling, please forward this important email.


Constitution Schmonstitution! Let’s go ahead and have a (we won’t call it a war) on ISIS/ISIL

September 11, 2014

constitution

Quick trivia question – on what subject was Barack Obama a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School?

Birthers might say “Islam” but it was in fact Constitutional Law. So he knows full well, and at times has shown he understands, that the U.S. Constitution clearly assigns the power to declare war to Congress, not the president. The best example of this was just over a year ago when he surprisingly but wisely concluded he needed to come to Congress for authorization to bomb Syria, then even more wisely never even went to Congress when he realized he had scant public and Congressional support (and his pal Vladimir Putin also helped save his hash by convincing Syria to divest itself of chemical weapons).

So now the president wants to continue to bomb the radical forces of ISIS (or ISIL as the Administration calls them) in Iraq (and likely, ironically, Syria again) and says he’d “welcome” Congressional support but he does not need it. (When I heard that line in his speech last night I reacted the same as U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, who said it was “almost condescending” though I’d omit the “almost.”)

Earlier this week it appeared very unlikely Congress, eager to duck accountability for okaying what is a surefire quagmire-to-be, impatient to campaign for re-election in November’s midterm elections or wrapped up in other dysfunctional and/or partisan squabbles (take your pick, and for some Members of Congress it is “all of the above”) would schedule a vote on any type of war authorization bill before adjourning later this month.

However, now there are rising calls for Congress to do its job and vote on authorizing a new war from the Progressive Caucus, some Libertarians and others in the House and a growing gaggle of Senators from across the political spectrum. Anyone who would hazard a guess as to how such a vote would turn out would be someone not worth listening to at this point (especially since a war authorization might be subject to all manner of currently unknowable limitations or conditions that would affect the support it would draw). We may well learn more next week about a possible Congressional vote.

There’s no question such a vote is required. The president is just plain wrong on this point, and not just about Congress, but also he is ignoring international law requiring United Nations Security Council approval. Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic Policy and Research and Just Foreign Policy laid it out clearly in an article for The Hill.

Take the UN requirement first:

“Just as the U.S. Constitution provides a check on the president’s authority to wage war, at the international level there is the law of the United Nations, which is supposed to govern the use of force in international relations.  Article 2 of the U.N. charter, to which the U.S. is a signatory, prohibits the use of military force against other nations unless authorized by the Security Council.  There are exceptions, for threats of imminent attack, but the U.S. is not under imminent threat of attack and no one has claimed that it is.”

Then the Congressional one:

“…the United States is still a constitutional democracy, or is intended to be one; and under our Constitution (and the War Powers Resolution) it is still the Congress that has to decide if the country is going to war.”

Ah the War Powers Resolution, dating to 1973, an attempt by Congress during the Vietnam War to curtail presidential war making run amok. The Obama Administration has been until now complying with the WPR’s requirement to notify Congress of ongoing military action, even though the WPR does not grant the president authority to bomb in Iraq.

Says who? Former eleven term U.S. Representative from Illinois Paul Findlay (the federal building in Illinois’s state capital, Springfield, is named for the man), one of the main authors of the War Powers Resolution. Testify Brother Findlay (from a news release by our colleagues at the Institute for Public Accuracy):

“Our elected leaders are acting like jelly fish. Members of Congress must decide whether to bomb Iraq or Syria, or both. The president has no authority to bomb either country. He violates the Constitution with every bomb he sends to Iraq. Ordering acts of war is too serious a decision to leave to one man. The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

“We just marked the 50th Anniversary of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which I voted for and which President Johnson used to dramatically escalate the Vietnam War. I never intended that Resolution to be a blank check for war against Vietnam. Yet that is exactly what Johnson used it for.

“As a consequence, in 1973, I helped draft the The War Powers Resolution and my vote helped override President Nixon’s veto.

“Enforcement of limits on presidential employment of war powers deserves the vigilance of each member of Congress. Each member should consider enforcement a grave personal responsibility. War measures that today seem inconsequential can lead to larger involvements tomorrow. Their ultimate size and duration are unpredictable, as we found in our costly war experiences in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Just recently, Congress stood by as the President ordered bombings in Iraq. Then two U.S. citizens were killed. Rather than using their deaths as a rallying cry for more war, they should be a warning of the negative consequences of war. It’s no accident that the framers deemed the decision of war-making too important to be made by one person.

“If the president orders acts of war in the absence of congressional approval, he risks impeachment by the House of Representatives for usurping a power the Constitution reserves exclusively to the Congress. If Obama wishes lawfully to order airstrikes in the territory of Iraq or Syria, he must first secure a resolution of approval from Congress.”

Would love to see this man debate his fellow Illinoisan/commander in chief, yes?

Returning to the matter at hand, exactly what does the president cite for his purportedly existing “I don’t need no stinkin’ Congressional vote” legal authority to bomb Iraq and soon Syria?

Until yesterday the Administration had not said, exactly, but I had a hunch it was the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force Congress granted President George W. Bush just after 9/11, which only U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee voted against. Sure enough, last night an unnamed “senior Administration official” confirmed this in response to a reporter’s question on a conference call. After stating Congress could specifically authorize military action against ISIS/ISIL, said official stated the following:

“But, to be clear, we do not believe the President needs that new authorization in order to take sustained action against ISIL.  We believe that he can rely on the 2001 AUMF as statutory authority for the military airstrike operations he is directing against ISIL, for instance.  And we believe that he has the authority to continue these operations beyond 60 days, consistent with the War Powers Resolution, because the operations are authorized by a statute.  So we welcome congressional support.”

This is, to be polite, garbage, especially from an administration which has previously advocated repeal of that law (and said it would not rely on that nor on the 2003 AUMF for the Iraq war for its legal authority). Here is what the 2001 AUMF authorized a different president to do:

“…the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized,committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.

How a reasonable person would conclude this applies to the current situation in Iraq and Syria is anyone’s guess, especially since ISIS/ISIL and al Qaeda have split and are at each others’ throats, though many peace activists and Constitutional scholars have long feared broad presidential war-making powers would be claimed under this AUMF. At best, it is a highly dubious proposition that this AUMF applies because ISIS/ISIL is an offshoot of al Qaeda, which carried out the 9/11 attacks.

The salient point is the Obama Administration should be forced to make that case, if that’s what it believes to be its war-making authority now, to the public and Congress. Oh yeah and not just the legal authority question, it also needs to convince the Congress and the country that we absolutely need to get involved in another Middle East war. That’s what democracy looks like.


Peace Action Responds to President Obama’s ISIS Speech

September 11, 2014

no good war banner pic

This press release went out last night, more to come soon.

Peace Action Responds to Obama’s ISIS Plan

 

Washington, DC — September 10, 2014 — In response to President Obama’s speech on dealing with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. made the following statements:

 

“We agree with the president that there is no military solution to the problems posed by ISIS. And yet his proposed strategy relies far too heavily on the use of military force. It’s time to stop the bombing and escalation and use the other tools of U.S. foreign policy — working with allies in cutting off weapons, oil and funding streams for starters — which will be much more active in dealing with ISIS,” said Kevin Martin, Peace Action’s executive director.

 

“True international support to deal with ISIS requires UN action and regional diplomacy,” observed Paul Kawika Martin, the political director of Peace Action.

 

“History shows that US arms tends to fall into the wrong hands like in Afghanistan and now ISIS.  More weapons in the mideast is not the solution and is more like pouring fuel on a fire,” concluded Paul Kawika Martin.

 

###


Action Alert – Tell the Senate, “War Isn’t Working!”

August 21, 2014

DSCN0476

The United States has been bombing Iraq off and on (mostly on) for about twenty-three, yes 23, years.

Has it worked? Is Iraq peaceful, stable, secure? Have we eliminated potential threats to the U.S. and our allies, or have we exacerbated them?

Has U.S. military engagement in the region, whether by bombing, invasion, occupation or providing weapons transfers and military aid, been effective?

I think “abject failure” is the only way to describe U.S. policy.

Can we afford to keep doing this, at an exorbitant cost, when it’s been so spectacularly unsuccessful, and we have such pressing needs in our communities that need our attention and our tax dollars?

President Obama has spoken wisely about the limits of U.S. military might to solve the problems in Iraq and the Middle East, and rules out a large troop presence on the ground, yet U.S. military actions in Iraq are escalating, and the mad momentum of war often defies presidential good intentions.

Last month the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H. Con. Res. 105 stating clearly there is no legal authority for U.S. military involvement in Iraq without express Congressional approval. The Senate needs to do the same.

Write your senators today and tell them enough is enough – stop bombing Iraq, stop flooding the region with weapons, emphasize humanitarian aid and diplomacy as the primary tools of U.S. foreign policy to bring peace and security to the region.

Please act now, before another catastrophic war escalates out of control.

Peace, Salaam, Shalom,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. -The Constitution grants Congress, not the president, authority over decisions to engage in war. Write your senators today and tell them to end the bombing of Iraq. Enough is enough.


Interview on U.S. intervention in Iraq on Chinese television

August 11, 2014

Executive Director Kevin Martin was interviewed on the situation in Iraq on Saturday by Susan Roberts for CCTV-America, the U.S. division of the Chinese global television network. This was at the beginning of the broadcast, Kevin’s interview starts 3:40 into the show.

CCTV-America Interview


Action Alert and Press Release on U.S. Bombing in Iraq

August 8, 2014

ACTION: Call the White House at 202.456.1111 before 5:00 eastern time today. The message: “Yes to humanitarian aid, but no bombing, no new Iraq war!”

Just two weeks ago, you helped us send a strong message to policy-makers in Washington when the House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 105 stating clearly there is no legal authority for U.S. military involvement in Iraq without express Congressional approval. While a similar measure has not yet passed the Senate, this message from the American people couldn’t be more clear – NO NEW WAR IN IRAQ!

Unfortunately, the spreading, hideously violent civil war in Iraq (flowing from the civil war in Syria, which U.S. weapons and support for opposition forces helped fuel) has President Obama considering military strikes, along with air drops of food, water and medicine to beleaguered Yazidi and other persecuted minorities stranded on a mountain top in northern Iraq, besieged by the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Certainly this rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis – people are dying for lack of food and water — deserves U.S. and international action to deliver badly needed life-saving supplies to civilians fleeing the rampaging ISIS forces. But this gut-wrenching situation must not be used to justify U.S. escalation of the war, entailing certain if unknown disastrous unintended consequences, as we’ve seen before in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Please take action in support of humanitarian relief for people who desperately need it, but against escalating the killing. Call the White House today at 202.456.1111 before 5:00 pm eastern time.

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

###

For Immediate Release:  August 8, 2014

Contacts:    Kevin Martin, Executive Director, 301.537.8244 cell, kmartin@peace-action.org
Paul Kawika Martin, Political and Policy Director, Peace Action, 951-217-7285 cell, pmartin@peace-action.org (Note: Paul Kawika Martin is currently in Nagasaki participating in events around the 69th anniversary of the atomic bomb dropping and is 13 hours ahead of Washington, DC)

Iraq: Drop Humanitarian Aid not Bombs

Washington, DC — August 8, 2014 — In response to President Obama’s announcement that he approved the possibility of air strikes in Iraq, Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. reaffirmed its continued opposition to military intervention in Iraq.

“This gut-wrenching situation in Iraq does not justify the U.S. escalation of the civil war, entailing certain if unknown disastrous unintended consequences, as we’ve seen before in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere,” stated Peace Action’s executive director, Kevin Martin.

The group reacted to Obama’s statement on the rapidly evolving humanitarian crisis where people in Iraq are dying from lack of food and water.  They agree the situation deserves U.S. and international action to deliver badly needed life-saving supplies to civilians fleeing the rampaging Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forces.

The spread of the violent civil war in Iraq (flowing from the civil war in Syria, which U.S. weapons and support for opposition forces helped fuel) has President Obama considering military strikes, along with air drops of food, water and medicine to beleaguered Yazidi and other persecuted minorities stranded on a mountain top in northern Iraq, besieged by the ISIS fighters.

Last month, the House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 105 stating clearly there is no legal authority for U.S. military involvement in Iraq without express Congressional approval.  While a similar measure has not yet passed the Senate, polls still show Americans opposing a new war in Iraq.

Leading Paul Kawika Martin (no relation to Kevin Martin), the political and policy director of Peace Action to observe, “We applauded President Obama for doing what he said on his first presidential campaign trail, bringing the troops home from Iraq.  It’s time to remember how he got elected to the White House; his opposition to the Iraq War.  Americans want the Iraq War finished, not started anew.”

Opposing the Iraq War from the start, Peace Action participated in the February 2003 protest where tens of millions from around the world voiced their opposition.  Afterwards, Peace Action continued to help organize several large demonstrations and was a key group focusing opposition on Congress.

The group noted that the U.S. will continue to pay the costs of the war with debt and honoring our commitments to our veterans bringing the total cost of the Iraq War to over $3 trillion.

“Dropping humanitarian aid is a wise investment in humanity.  But we cannot afford the likely bad consequences of bombing Iraq again,” concluded Paul Kawika Martin.

###

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, Iran and Iraq. 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

Editors Note:

H. Con. Res. 105 (https://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-concurrent-resolution/105)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 13,557 other followers

%d bloggers like this: