Iran: Our Hard Work Pays Off

May 12, 2015

With a little over a month to go before negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., UK, France, Russia, China and Germany) are concluded, everything is proceeding as planned. The technical details are being worked out in Vienna with no obvious hurdles in evidence at this writing. The deadline for presenting a final document, expected to be several hundred pages long, is June 30, 2015.

Meanwhile, the Corker Bill, which we have been opposing, has passed the Senate, but it’s been watered down and has yet to pass the House. Just last week, Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and David Price (D-NC) sent a letter, signed by 151 Representatives, to President Obama praising the work of his administration to finalize an agreement that verifiably ensures Iran will refrain from developing nuclear weapons. The letter demonstrates strong support for the agreement in the House, sufficient to sustain a presidential veto on any effort by congressional opponents of the deal should they attempt to torpedo an agreement this summer.

Peace Action affiliates across the nation generated calls, letters and emails to Representatives urging them to sign on to the letter and will continue to pressure Congress until a final agreement is reached and implemented. Thanks to all our members and our allies for all your hard work.


Important House letter supporting diplomacy with Iran

May 11, 2015

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Peace Action Hails 150 Reps Letter to Obama Supporting Iran Diplomacy
Washington, DC — May 7, 2015 — In reaction to the letter organized by Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and David Price (D-NC) praising the Obama administration’s diplomacy work with Iran on its nuclear program, Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. released the following statement by its political and policy director, Paul Kawika Martin who has worked on the Iran issue for over eight years and had the rare opportunity to spend time in the country:
This House letter to the President shows the overwhelming support in Congress for diplomacy with Iran and to finalize an agreement that verifiably thwarts Iran from building a crude nuclear weapon.  Most in Congress realize there are no better options than reaching a strong accord with Iran on its nuclear program.
Clearly Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and David Price (D-NC) and the other 147 signers of the letter understand that successful diplomacy with Iran on its nuclear program will make Americans safer.
Now the Senate should take some advice from the House and ditch the unhelpful Corker bill and wait until a final agreement is reached before taking legislative action.
Though 150 signatures are significant by representing over a third in the House, many in Congress want to see a final agreement before making their views known.  Once a strong final accord is reached with Iran, support in Congress will grow.  A vote to approve or disapprove the agreement will likely be close but nowhere near enough to override an Obama veto.  There are likely a handful of Republicans that would join those on this letter by Democrats.
Even in this more conservative House, this is the largest public support of diplomacy with Iran to date.  It shows the importance of supporting the administration’s efforts to reach a final deal with Iran on its nuclear program.
Peace Action affiliates across the nation generated calls, letters and emails to Representatives urging them to sign on to the letter and will continue to pressure Congress until a final agreement is reached and implemented.
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Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to the conflicts with Afghanistan and Iran. The public may learn more and take action at http://www.Peace- Action.org. For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika
Notes to Editors:
The text and signers of the letter here:
May 7, 2015
The President
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
As negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program continue, we urge you to stay on course, building on the recently announced political framework and continuing to work toward a strong and verifiable agreement between the P5+1 countries and Iran that will prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon.  We commend you and your negotiating team, as well as our coalition partners, for the significant progress made thus far.
This issue is above politics. The stakes are too great, and the alternatives are too dire. We must exhaust every avenue toward a verifiable, enforceable, diplomatic solution in order to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.  If the United States were to abandon negotiations or cause their collapse, not only would we fail to peacefully prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, we would make that outcome more likely.  The multilateral sanctions regime that brought Iran to the table would likely collapse, and the Iranian regime would likely decide to accelerate its nuclear program, unrestricted and unmonitored.  Such developments could lead us to war.
War itself will not make us safe.  A U.S. or Israeli military strike may set back Iranian nuclear development by two or three years at best – a significantly shorter timespan than that covered by a P5+1 negotiated agreement.  We must pursue diplomatic means to their fullest and allow the negotiations to run their course – especially now that the parties have announced a strong framework – and continue working to craft a robust and verifiable Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by June 30.
We must allow our negotiating team the space and time necessary to build on the progress made in the political framework and turn it into a long-term, verifiable agreement.  If we do not succeed, Congress will remain at-the-ready to act and present you with additional options to ensure that Iran is prevented from acquiring a nuclear weapon
Thank you for your resolve in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.  We look forward to continuing our shared work on this important matter.
Sincerely,
Jan Schakowsky                  Lloyd Doggett                     David E. Price
Member of Congress           Member of Congress           Member of Congress
###
1)    List of signers in alpha order
 
1
Adams, Alma
2
Aguilar
3
Ashford
4
Bass
5
Beatty
6
Becerra
7
Bera
8
Beyer
9
Bishop, S.
10
Blumenauer
11
Bonamici
12
Bordallo
13
Brady
14
Brown, Corrine
15
Brownley
16
Bustos
17
Butterfield
18
Capps
19
Capuano
20
Cardenas
21
Carney
22
Carson
23
Cartwright
24
Castor
25
Castro
26
Chu
27
Cicilline
28
Clark, Katherine
29
Clarke, Yvette
30
Clay
31
Cleaver
32
Clyburn
33
Cohen
34
Connolly
35
Conyers
36
Courtney
37
Cummings
38
Davis, D. 
39
Davis, S. 
40
DeFazio
41
DeGette
42
DeLauro
43
DelBene
44
DeSaulnier
45
Dingell
46
Doggett
47
Doyle
48
Duckworth
49
Edwards
50
Ellison
51
Eshoo
52
Esty
53
Farr
54
Fattah
55
Foster
56
Fudge
57
Gallego
58
Garamendi
59
Green, Al
60
Grijalva
61
Gutierrez
62
Hahn
63
Heck
64
Higgins
65
Hinojosa
66
Honda
67
Huffman
68
Jackson Lee
69
Jeffries
70
Johnson, E.B. 
71
Johnson, H. 
72
Kaptur
73
Keating
74
Kelly
75
Kennedy
76
Kildee
77
Kind, Ron
78
Kuster
79
Langevin
80
Larsen
81
Larson
82
Lawrence
83
Lee
84
Lewis
85
Lieu
86
Loebsack
87
Lofgren
88
Lowenthal
89
Lujan
90
Lujan Grisham
91
Lynch
92
Maloney, S
93
Matsui
94
McCollum
95
McDermott
96
McGovern
97
McNerney
98
Meeks
99
Moore
100
Moulton
101
Napolitano
102
Neal
103
Nolan
104
Norton
105
O’Rourke
106
Payne
107
Pelosi
108
Perlmutter
109
Pierluisi
110
Pingree
111
Plaskett
112
Pocan
113
Polis
114
Price
115
Rangel
116
Richmond
117
Roybal-Allard
118
Ruiz
119
Ruppersberger
120
Rush
121
Ryan, Tim
122
Sablan
123
Sanchez, Linda
124
Sanchez, Loretta
125
Schakowsky
126
Scott, Bobby
127
Scott, David
128
Serrano
129
Sewell
130
Slaughter
131
Smith, Adam
132
Speier
133
Swalwell
134
Takai
135
Takano
136
Thompson, B.
137
Thompson, M.
138
Tonko
139
Torres
140
Tsongas
141
Van Hollen
142
Veasey
143
Velazquez
144
Visclosky
145
Walz
146
Waters
147
Watson Coleman
148
Welch
149
Wilson
150
Yarmuth
 


Call Your Rep. Today to Support Diplomacy with Iran! 202-224-3121

April 21, 2015

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It can be argued that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week passed legislation that might make it harder for the international community to reach a final agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.
Dozens of Representatives on the other side of the Capitol are taking a much more positive step to support the historic framework reached with Iran on its nuclear program.

Reps. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), and David Price (D-NC) are getting other members to sign a letter that supports diplomacy with Iran over war.

Call your Rep. today at 202-224-3121 and ask them if they have signed the Schakowsky letter that supports the current negotiations with Iran.  If they have, thank them. If not urge them to do so soon before the letter is sent. 
This letter is important as it shown support in Congress for the historic framework reached by the international community and Iran that will keep it from making a nuclear weapon if it chose to do so.  The details and final technical points still need to be negotiated and a final accord signed by the June 30th deadline.

Opponents of the deal fail to provide a better alternative.  We could break off negotiations, but that would put Iran in a place where it could make the materials need for a crude nuclear bomb within weeks.  We could push for more sanctions.  The U.S. has almost maxed out on its sanctions and there isn’t the appetite for more sanctions from other countries.  And the greatest folly would be to use military intervention that would only set Iran back a few years and push them to definitively obtain a nuclear warhead as soon as possible.

Dial your Rep. now at 202-224-3121 and make sure they have signed the Schakowsky letter that supports diplomacy with Iran.  If they have, thank them.  If not urge them to do so soon before the letter is sent.

We’re on the verge of a historic breakthrough for peace. As the letter states: “This issue is above politics. The stakes are too great, and the alternatives are too dire.”

Please call today!

Humbly for Peace,

Paul Kawika Martin
Political Director
Peace Action

P.S. Call your Rep. today at 202-224-3121 and ask them if they have signed the Schakowsky letter that supports the current negotiations with Iran.  If they have, thank them.  If not urge them to do so soon before the letter is sent.  Then, forward this important email to your friends, family and colleagues.


Tell Congress: Don’t Kill the Iran Deal

April 8, 2015

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You have worked with us for nearly a decade to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, and that result comes via diplomacy, not war.  Our efforts, in coordination with a large coalition of organizations, combined with President Obama’s  determination, led to a historic framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, announced last week.

Take a quick moment to tell Congress not to torpedo this framework that will make us safer.

This critical agreement achieves two important things:

  1. If Iran decided to build a nuclear weapon (and that is a big if) the time it would take to produce enough fissile material for a crude weapon would be at least one year, giving the international community plenty of time to act.
  2. The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) will have unprecedented inspections and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program from soup to nuts and can inspect any suspected covert sites as well.
    In exchange for the above Iran would receive economic sanctions relief.

Write Congress now to support this Iran deal that will avert war and lesson Middle East tensions.

If we stopped negotiating with Iran and it reversed the cutbacks in its nuclear program it would have the capacity to make enough nuclear bomb material for one crude weapon in only two to four months.  This agreement extends that four to six times by reducing Iran’s centrifuges by 2/3 and allowing it to use only old technology for 10 years, reducing its stockpile of low enriched uranium by 97% for 15 years and by reconfiguring its nuclear reactor so no weapons grade plutonium will be made, nor could be reprocessed, indefinitely.

Let’s not forget what the alternatives are.  We could stop negotiating with Iran and it could lower its time to get enough materials for a crude bomb to two months or less.  This might threaten Israel enough that it would take military action.  The U.S. could take military action that might push back Iran’s nuclear program by a few years, start a major war in the Middle East and encourage Iran to produce a nuclear weapon as soon as possible.

Speaking of war, already neocons like Sen. McCain, Bill Kristol and John Bolton have either alluded to or directly called for U.S. bombing of Iran.  We all remember the Iraq war.  Iran is nearly four times the size of Iraq with almost three times the population and a much larger military.  This is a horrific option and why the vast majority of Americans oppose military intervention with Iran.

Congress needs to hear from you that we need to let negotiators get a signed accord with Iran based on the strong framework already agreed to.

Even though the negotiators have until June 30th to finalize an agreement, some in Congress want to take legislative action that would most likely kill the bill.  Next week, Sen. Corker will mark up and try to bring to the floor a bill that would require Congress to take an up or down vote on any final deal, bar the President from relieving sanctions for months and require the nearly impossible task of guaranteeing that Iran is not funding any violent extremists.

Thanks again for your help in getting us this far and so very close to solving one of the national security conundrums of the decade.  Do take a moment to write your congressional delegation and ask them to support this agreement.

Humbly for Peace,

Paul Kawika Martin
Political Director
Peace Action

P.S. By sending a quick letter to Congress to oppose any legislation around Iran diplomacy, it will give the international community the best chance to finalize the historic framework agreement with Iran on its nuclear program.  Please edit the letter with your own words to give voice to your concerns and hopes for peace!


Call Congress Now to Support Iran Diplomacy!

March 2, 2015

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The Boehner/Bibi circus is finally in town.

After weeks of media hype and legitimate debate Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress is tomorrow.
Simultaneously, another bad bill, by Sens. Graham and Corker, has been introduced that could block a deal. They plan to use the speech to build support for anti-deal bills.

Can you call today and make sure pro-diplomacy voices are not drowned out?

I know I’ve been writing to you a lot about Iran lately. But this is such a critical moment for diplomacy in this country – and that’s the best way to stop wars long before they start.

And isn’t that what the peace movement is all about: using diplomacy to solve conflicts. Wouldn’t a victory for peace like that be sweet?  That’s why we’re pushing so hard.

So even if you’ve already spoken out on Iran, can you call again today?

The Netanyahu speech is just one part of a well-oiled machine. Right now that machine includes Republican party leadership, neocon think tanks, Netanyahu himself, and the hawkish, right-wing lobbying group AIPAC which has its annual D.C. lobby push this week.

So let’s make the phones ring and gum up the works of that machine. Most Americans support diplomacy. We can’t let the right-wing noise machine drown out our voices.

Can you click here to use our special call-in tool today? The tool lets you know:

1) Who to call; 2) What to say and 3) If you want … it lets you jot down a couple notes on what you find out from the office. That information is invaluable for our lobbying work.

Thanks so much for all you do for peace,

 

Humbly for Peace,

 

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. For background you can check out (and share) Peace Action West’s Jon Rainwater’s piece in the Hill on the anti-diplomacy legislation


Peace Action’s Paul Kawika Martin on MSNBC.com — Is there an alternative to war with ISIS?

February 17, 2015

By Paul Kawika Martin

The world has been pouring fuel on the Middle East inferno, yet expect something other than a larger blaze. On Tuesday, President Obama submitted language to Congress for an Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS. More gas on the fire.

For six months now, Congress has ignored its constitutional duty to declare war by letting the Obama administration continue its military campaign against ISIS using the thinnest legal thread of past AUMFs over a dozen years old. It’s about time that Congress fully debate the U.S. war being waged in the Middle East.

At the end of the debate, I hope Congress comes to the same conclusion the president has proclaimed but refuses to act on: there is no military solution to ISIS. With that finding, Congress should oppose any new AUMF, repeal both outdated AUMFs and support political solutions and other actions to weaken ISIS.

“We need to prevent extremism in the first place by supporting education, religious tolerance, poverty alleviation, civil liberties and freedom.”

If Congress fails to see that the current military strategy is not degrading ISIS and feels it must pass a military authorization, then I encourage them to push for tighter restrictions in an AUMF than what President Obama proposed. Limitations could include a one-year sunset clause; geographic limitations; definitively no combat troops on the ground; repealing both former AUMFs, not just one; restricting combatants to ISIS; and robust reporting requirements including civilian deaths.The president’s proposed AUMF does one good thing: it repeals the outdated and ill-advised Iraq AUMF. It fails, however, to repeal the 2001 AUMF, which has been used as a blanket “war on terrorism.” Unfortunately, it uses the legally ambiguous language of no “enduring offensive ground operations” rather than expressly forbidding combat troops which is supported by a majority of Americans.

As it stands, it doesn’t seem that the current military strategy is working against ISIS. According to government reports, ISIS recruitment continues to keep pace or possibly outpace those killed in battle with foreign fighters coming in from 40 to 50 countries. ISIS continues to control the same amount of territory. And extremism continues to grow in Central Asia, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. There are alternative solutions.

RELATED: Majority wants Congress to back Obama’s AUMF against ISIS

Reducing civilian deaths, casualties and the destruction of civilian infrastructure while increasing humanitarian aid and refugee support will decrease the recruiting of financial support and foreign fighters for ISIS.

Decrease its income by cracking down on oil sales and working with local communities to stop allowing its use of pipelines. Lower profits from illegal antiquities sales and the sex trade with more policing. Freeze ISIS assets and those connected to them. Diminish military resources by starving the regions of weapons and making travel more difficult for foreign fighters.

“In the end, preventing extremism is only way to keep groups like ISIS from forming in the first place.”

Support political solutions to the Syrian civil war and Iraqi ethnic tensions, two of the structural root causes of ISIS.Looking long term, we need to prevent extremism in the first place with international support for education, religious tolerance, poverty alleviation and civil liberties and freedom.

The above alternatives come at a much lower cost than the over $300,000 an hour for a total of nearly $2 billion the U.S. taxpayer has already paid for our lackluster military strategy. Add the long term costs of veterans care, interest on debt and opportunity costs and alternatives look like a bargain.

Also, these alternatives are far less likely to cause blowback or bad unintended consequences. One must ponder that the Iraq war created al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS, and they are now using arms and training provided by the U.S. and its allies. Similarly, the U.S. armed and funded the Afghan mujahideen to stop Soviet expansion not knowing that these rebels would one day become al Qaeda.

RELATED VIDEO: Is war against ISIS the answer?

Congress is likely to hold hearings regarding the AUMF over the next several weeks. This provides time for constituents to contact their senators and representative and voice their view. In 2013, when President Obama asked for an AUMF to bomb Syria, the war-weary public responded by contacting Congress ten-to-one against. Congress felt the pressure and an AUMF didn’t even get a vote.

While the president wants to continue a failed, expensive military strategy against ISIS, Congress can now debate and direct the White House to take alternative actions more likely to produce results. If Congress decides to follow the Obama administration, then a narrower AUMF is warranted. In the end, preventing extremism is only way to keep groups like ISIS from forming in the first place. It’s time to stop fanning the flames.

Paul Kawika Martin is the policy and political director for Peace Action, the United States’ largest grassroots peace organization and can be contacted on Twitter @PaulKawika.


Let’s Give Diplomacy a Chance in Ukraine

February 8, 2015

I don’t pretend to be an expert on Ukraine, or Ukrainian-Russian social, historical and economic ties. I do recall after the break-up of the Soviet Union there was consternation in Ukraine, a country about the size and population of France in what Ukrainians consider to be the heart of Europe (it’s not “Eastern Europe,” that’s the westernmost part of Russia), that all anyone seemed to care about was the disposition of Soviet nuclear weapons there. Ukraine wisely gave up the nukes, returning them to Russia, but I recall a justifiably angry quote by a Ukrainian that the attitude of most of the world was “Give us your nukes and go to hell.” And of course Ukrainians still deal with the awful legacy of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster nearly 30 years ago.

As the current situation in Ukraine devolves into an increasingly horrible war, we see an urgent diplomatic initiative led by Germany and France contrasted by contradictory “tough talk” by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and some in Congress advocating increased U.S. weapons sales to Ukraine while admitting there is no military solution.

So let’s just skip the field day for the weapons dealers and focus on diplomacy.

Here is a radio interview I did yesterday on the status of diplomacy and pressure for increased U.S. weapons sales to Ukraine on KPFA Pacifica radio. One part they didn’t use was my question about how anyone can justify the loss of life in this increasingly horrible war when the likely outcome is known now — some sort of de facto autonomous region for the Russian population of Eastern Ukraine, with assurances to Russia by the U.S., NATO, European Union and Ukraine that the country will not become the eastern-most outpost of U.S./Western European military/strategic/political economic neo-imperialism — whether it becomes a reality in a week, a month, or a year from now. How is this situation worth anyone dying over? (Host David Rosenberg replied that could be said of most wars, I wish they had aired that part of our exchange!)

And here is a letter to the editor I sent to the New York Times last week, unpublished.

February 3, 2015

To the editor:

Sending U.S. weaponry to Ukraine as the conflict there escalates is a horrible idea (“U.S. considers supplying arms to Ukraine forces, officials say,” February 1) unless the objective is to increase overall death and destruction there. Any moves that inflame the situation in Ukraine should be avoided. Apart from the situation in Ukraine itself, U.S. and NATO triumphalist policies since the end of the Cold War have needlessly and unwisely isolated Russia, at a time when the U.S. and Russia need better relations, not worse, for cooperation on a host of issues including nuclear weapons reductions, bringing peace, stability and security to the broader Middle East region and addressing violent extremism and global climate change.

U.S. arms transfers into regions of conflict are short-sighted and have a spectacularly bad record of blowback and unintended consequences against our country and our allies (in Iraq and Afghanistan, to note only two bitter and current examples). It’s hard to recall many instances where such transfers brought about peace and stability instead of worsening armed conflict. Let’s give renewed diplomacy involving the various actors in the region a chance instead.

Sincerely,

Kevin Martin

Executive Director

Peace Action

I’d be interested to know what readers of this blog think we, as U.S. peace activists, should advocate regarding Ukraine and specifically U.S. government policies toward the conflict.


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