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.


War Doesn’t Work

September 11, 2014

Dont-Bomb-Syria2-670x300By Judith LeBlanc, Field Director,Peace Action

The media calls the U.S. public war weary.

Yes, the people are war weary after seemingly endless and pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Deep down most people know that endless war is not a solution. The U.S. cannot bomb an organization, ideology, religious fanaticism or sectarian strife out of existence. As we continued military action, Al Qaeda has continued to grow. There is no long term military solution to the threat of ISIS or terrorism.

Write a letter to the editor to remind the President, Congress and our communities: there is no military solution.

In Iraq, history proves that short term military victories turn into long term nightmares. Ten years ago, U.S. private contractors were brutally killed. The battle for Fallujah was waged with horrendous consequences. Now ISIS controls Fallujah. For the people of Fallujah, the U.S.-instigated nightmare continues.

We need a coalition for a political solution, not military action!
There are alternatives to bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria that are not posed in public opinion polls and are largely absent in the political debate. The alternatives require the U.S. to replace military action with a real international diplomatic response that will provide the political power, the economic incentives and support for rebuilding a non-sectarian Iraq, humanitarian aid and an end to the Syrian war.

It is urgent that you take the time to write a Letter to the Editor to outline the alternatives.

The President and Congress should:

1. Stop the bombing and military escalation. We’ve seen before how unintended consequences can spiral out of control, causing more pain and suffering in the region and hurting U.S. security.

2.  Hit ISIS where it hurts: the wallet! Take steps to cut the cash flowing to ISIS.  Crack down on Turkish, Iraqi, and other oil dealers who are purchasing ISIS’s oil on the black market, which would cut ISIS off from its most important revenue stream.

3. Build a  coalition for a political solution, not military action! Support a United Nations-led effort to convene Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Iran, European Union and Russia to develop strong diplomatic, economic and political initiatives to restrict the flow of arms, militias and finances across borders. Support restarting UN-sponsored negotiations to end the Syrian civil war.

Write a letter to the editor There is no long term solution to the threat of ISIS. No to bombing! Yes to a political solution.

You can also call Congress, which is currently somewhat confused about whether it will do its Constitutional job and vote on any authorization for war, with this same message. The U.S. Capitol switchboard number is(202) 224-3121, they will connect you to your U.S. Representative or Senators’ offices.

The people are war weary. Peace Action is war wise and our mission is to build a movement that is vocal in articulating the alternatives to war. Please write a letter today.

Our sister organizations and some reporters are providing an abundance of resource materials, some are below.

1. What President Obama Should Announce: A Plan to Resolve the ISIS Threat without American Bombs.  By Win Without War

2. To Defeat the Islamic State, Follow the Money  By Howard J. Shatz

3. Six Steps Short of War to Beat ISIS by Phyllis Bennis, a Peace Action Advisory Board member


Just Two Months Until Crucial Midterm Elections

September 3, 2014

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As you know midterm elections are only two months away.  Already Peace Action and our PAC has made a difference by endorsing candidates, contributing to primary elections, briefing candidates and collecting candidate questionnaires.

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

In the coming weeks, Peace Action will provide you the opportunity to give directly to our hand-picked peace candidates.  Meanwhile, we need to raise funds for our PAC that will give us the flexibility to give directly to peace candidates or to hire organizers to work on specific races.

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

In November, we expect a number of hot races in California, New Hampshire, Massachusettes, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and a few other states.  Your support can make a difference. 

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 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
Policy and PAC Director
Peace Action

P.S. – With the midterm elections nine weeks away, it’s time to make a commitment to peace candidates.


Peace Action Speaks to No Nukes! Women’s Forum in Hiroshima

August 6, 2014

Sally Jones in Hiroshima 2014.We are proud that Sally Jones, Chair of the Peace Action Fund of NYS spoke on August 5 in Hiroshima to the No Nukes! Women’s Forum. Here is her speech:

New York City Prepares for the 2015 NPT

Dear women of the Japanese nuclear abolition – No Nukes! – movement!

Greetings from Peace Action.  From Staten Island, New York City (where I live), from New York State, and from all the 90,000 members of Peace Action all over the U.S.A.

For me it is an honor of a lifetime to be here with you today and especially to be talking to a women’s peace group.

I want to talk to you about my work with Peace Action with particular attention to the 2015 NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) action that will take place in New York City next spring.

Since 2002 I have been a Peace Action volunteer when I helped form a Peace Action chapter where I live on Staten Island.  We are community members from all walks of life who are against war and nuclear weapons.  We do a lot of local actions, educational programs, and partner with other local groups who care about our issues.

On August 10th, my Staten Island friends are organizing a program called “Staten Island and the Bomb.”  Tons of uranium ore from what was then called the Belgian Congo was stored under the Bayonne Bridge near where I live from 1938 to 1942.  The land there is still radioactive.  We want Staten Islanders to learn how and why they are connected to the nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Staten Island’s Peace Action chapter is one of many affiliates all over the U.S.A.  Since I first got involved with Peace Action in 2002, I joined the New York State steering committee and the national Peace Action strategy sessions.  In 2002 and early 2003 we sincerely believed that we could prevent the U.S. from attacking Iraq.  Preventing war is what we must do.  Unfortunately, we didn’t prevent the U.S. attack on Iraq.  But that makes us even more determined to prevent future wars.

 In the U.S.A., Peace Action members work very hard to stop the U.S. government from using its awesome military power and instead we push for moving the money from the military and security apparatus to fund human needs.  That includes constantly pushing back on funding for nuclear weapons.

Peace Action has had a New York City presence since it began in 1957.  We have an office in downtown Manhattan.  Our Peace Action International affiliate is a United Nations NGO, and we work with the International Peace Bureau representative, Cora Weiss.

Our New York City presence situates us to be very helpful in organizing the international NPT actions  In 2010, Judith LeBlanc worked out of our office to coordinate the successful international conference at Riverside Church and the rally and march to the United Nations.  We are part of a team from our national office in Washington DC and affiliates in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Connecticut who work in concert to mobilize for No Nukes.

We are preparing to do this again for 2015.  PANYS will be part of the September 19th coordinating committee meeting taking place in NYC where we will work alongside Judith LeBlanc and Joseph Gerson and the other organizers.

Coming off the People’s Climate March in New York City this September 21st , the many anti-war activities being organized around the 100th anniversary of the World War I Christmas Truce, the momentum of the ban the bomb movement and the publicity around the lawsuits against the nuclear armed states, excitement is building for the 2015 NPT.

The international conference and actions will bring thousands of activists together who will insist on being heard on the world stage.

Happily, we have a different New York City Mayor and City Council leadership in 2015 than we had in 2010.  My dream is for our new NYC Mayor Bill DiBlasio to welcome the Mayors for Peace and give them the public respect and honor that is long overdue.

1526725_273244352878323_8840870145999556430_nWe want the 2015 NPT to mark a new day in the No Nukes! Movement.

One of our most important projects at Peace Action NYS is building up a student chapter network.  We began this project in 2010 with a small grant.

We have 4 official student chapters now, three more starting up in the fall and more on the way.  The idea is catching on and we hope to develop a model that will be picked up all over the U,S.A.  The 2015 NPT conference and actions should be a catalytic event for young people.  The experience of meeting with Hibakusha and hearing first hand about the horrors of nuclear weapons has the power to transform lives.  Our planning will take this into account.

In Peace Action, women are integrated in every aspect of what we do. Last year, you met Judith LeBlanc, the national field director for Peace Action.

She sends her greetings to her friends in Gensuikyo. On a personal level, my identity as a woman is so steeped into who I am and what I do that, I confess, I don’t give it much thought.  But I know it is part of every breath I take. I am a mother and grandmother.  I lost my own 95-year old mother 5 months ago on March 7th.  How lucky I have been to have been loved by her unconditionally and without bounds.  That is the love I carry within and hope to pass on to my children and grandchildren, and which I hope infuses my work.

The role of women in our movements reflects the societies we come from.  We are all determined to work for a nuclear-free world and we should use every tool in our toolkit.  I am very interested to learn how you do that in Japan.  In the U.S., we use our relatively new-found powers – gained thanks to the women’s movement – to take on as much responsibility as we can handle.

We have a phrase – “Go, Girl!” – that we use to signify to each other to just go ahead and do what you need to do.  The phrase implies solidarity and that the rest of us women “are behind you 100%.”

That’s the spirit I carry inside me, too.  Love and power.  The power of love.  We all have a very short time on this planet to help spread a vision of peace and justice with no nukes and no war and we need to use all of our “girl powers” to get it done.

See you in New York City in 2015!


Gaza-Israel Peace Events in DC this week, starting tonight

July 30, 2014

There is a lot of activity happening here in the nation’s capital calling for an end to the siege of Gaza, here is a summary with links for more information.

Washington Post op-ed by U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, D-MN, “End the Gaza Blockade to Achieve Peace”

Candlelight vigil for Gaza, tonight at 7 pm at the White House, organized by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee

Palestine Voices Global FaceBook demonstration, Thursday, 8:00 pm 

Congressional Briefing this Friday, August 1 on Capitol Hill, 2103 Rayburn House Office Building , 2:00 pm , “Is Israel Complying with U.S. and International Laws” sponsored by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and four other organizations. Panelists will include Tariq Abu Khdeir, Palestinian-American teenager from Tampa, Fla. who was brutally beaten by Israeli security forces while restrained and unconscious

Gaza Update with special guest Tariq Abu Khdeir and other speakers, this Friday, August 1 at 7:00 pm, Busboys and Poets 5th and K Sts., NW, Washington, DC

National March on the White House: End the Massacre in Gaza, this Saturday, August 2, 1:00 pm, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, called by ANSWER

 


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! 


Does War Have a Future? Peace Action National Board Member Larry Wittner on History News Network

June 3, 2014

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?

 

National officials certainly assume that war has a future. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, world military expenditures totaled nearly $1.75 trillion in 2013. Although, after accounting for inflation, this is a slight decrease over the preceding year, many countries increased their military spending significantly, including China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. Indeed, 23 countries doubled their military spending between 2004 and 2013. None, of course, came anywhere near to matching the military spending of the United States, which, at $640 billion, accounted for 37 percent of 2013’s global military expenditures. Furthermore, all the nuclear weapons nations are currently “modernizing” their nuclear arsenals.

Meanwhile, countries are not only preparing for wars, but are fighting them―sometimes overtly (as in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan) and sometimes covertly (as in portions of Africa and the Middle East).

Nevertheless, there are some reasons why war might actually be on the way out.

One reason, of course, is its vast destructiveness. Over the past century, conventional wars (including two world wars) have slaughtered over a hundred million people, crippled, blinded, or starved many more, and laid waste to large portions of the globe. And this enormous level of death, misery, and ruin will almost certainly be surpassed by the results of a nuclear war, after which, as Nikita Khrushchev once reportedly commented, the living might envy the dead. After all, Hiroshima was annihilated with one atomic bomb. Today, some 16,400 nuclear weapons are in existence, and most of them are far more powerful than the bomb that obliterated that Japanese city.

Another reason that war has become exceptionally burdensome is its enormous cost. The United States is a very wealthy nation, but when it spends 55 percent of its annual budget on the military, as it now does, it is almost inevitable that its education, health care, housing, parks and recreational facilities, and infrastructure will suffer. That is what the AFL-CIO executive council―far from the most dovish institution in American life―concluded in 2011, when it declared: “There is no way to fund what we must do as a nation without bringing our troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The militarization of our foreign policy has proven to be a costly mistake. It is time to invest at home.” Many Americans seem to agree.

Furthermore, a number of developments on the world scene have facilitated the abolition of war.

One of them is the rise of mass peace movements. Many centuries ago, religious groups and theologians began to criticize war on moral grounds, and non-sectarian peace organizations began to emerge in the early nineteenth century. Even though they never had an easy time of it in a world accustomed to war, these organizations became a very noticeable and, at times, powerful force in the twentieth century and beyond. Drawing upon prominent figures like Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell, sparking new thinking about international relations and world peace, and mobilizing millions of people against war, peace groups created a major social movement that government officials could not entirely ignore.

Another new development―one originally proposed by peace organizations―is the establishment of international institutions to prevent war. The vast destruction wrought by World War I provided a powerful incentive for Woodrow Wilson and other officials to organize the League of Nations to prevent further disasters. Although the League proved too weak and nations too unwilling to limit their sovereignty for this goal to be accomplished, the enormous carnage and chaos of World War II led government officials to give world governance another try. The resulting institution, the United Nations, proved somewhat more successful than the League at averting war and resolving conflicts, but, like its predecessor, suffered from the fact that it remained weak while the ambitions of nations (and particularly those of the great powers) remained strong. Even so, the United Nations now provides an important framework that can be strengthened to foster international law and the peaceful resolution of international disputes.

Yet another new factor on the world scene―one also initiated by peace activists―is the development of nonviolent resistance. As staunch humanitarians, peace activists had pacifist concerns and human rights concerns that sometimes pulled them in opposite directions―for example, during the worldwide struggle against fascist aggression. But what if it were possible to battle for human rights without employing violence? This became the basis for nonviolent resistance, which was not only utilized in dramatic campaigns led by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., but in mass movements that, subsequently, have challenged and toppled governments. Indeed, nonviolent resistance has become a new and powerful tool for people to drawn upon in conflicts without slaughtering one another.

In addition, the modern world has produced many other alternatives to mass violence. Why not expand international exchange and peace studies programs in the schools? Why not dispatch teams of psychologists, social workers, conflict resolution specialists, mediators, negotiators, and international law experts to conflict zones to work out settlements among the angry disputants? Why not provide adequate food, meaningful employment, education, and hospitals to poverty-stricken people around the world, thus undermining the desperation and instability that often lead to violence? Wouldn’t the U.S. government be receiving a friendlier reception in many countries today if it had used the trillions of dollars it spent on war preparations and destruction to help build a more equitable, prosperous world?

Of course, this scenario might depend too much on the ability of people to employ reason in world affairs. Perhaps the rulers of nations, learning nothing since the time of Alexander the Great, will continue to mobilize their citizens for war until only small bands of miserable survivors roam a barren, charred, radioactive wasteland.

But it’s also possible that people will finally acquire enough sense to alter their self-destructive behavior.

- See more at: http://hnn.us/article/155841#sthash.SW1zL9g5.dpuf


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