Budget Deal Reached, Pentagon Gives Thanks

November 13, 2015

After years of gridlock and partisan rancor, the budget impasse may finally be broken. The President won increases in ‘non-defense’ spending as part of the deal, but the Pentagon will still gobble up more than 50% of the discretionary budget.  Allowed to increase spending at this pace, the Pentagon can look forward to its first trillion-dollar budget a decade from now.

Peace Action opposes the planned increases in Pentagon spending to $548 billion in fiscal 2016 and $551 billion in fiscal 2017.

The agreement would also increase the Pentagon slush fund, the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund (OCO), which is not subject to the budget caps. The deal would allow about $16 billion more than President Obama requested bringing the total number of tax dollars at the Pentagon’s disposal to over $600 billion for fiscal 2016.

Holding our elected leaders accountable for their rubber stamp approach to war and weapons spending is the first step.  With elections less than a year away, Peace Action is doing just that through our Peace Voter campaign.  Here’s an example of that work, as Will Hopkins, Executive Director of New Hampshire Peace Action asks Hillary Clinton about her “close ties to elements within the military industrial complex” last month on the Today show.

Peace Action continues to work with our allies on Capitol Hill pressing Congress to cut funding for big ticket items like the F-35 and nuclear overkill.  We are investing resources in our grassroots campaign to Move the Money from the Pentagon to meet the needs of our communities, working to build and strengthen local coalitions.  Over the past three years we have conducted workshops in 10 states training local activists in the workings – inside and out – of military budgets. Presently, we are planning trainings in Florida and Oregon for 2016.

More money for high-tech weaponry and unending war means less for our communities and people in need and less invested in green technologies necessary to avert climate disaster.  The federal budget is all about choices.

The federal budget represents our priorities as a nation and it should reflect our values. But powerful ideological forces and financial interests have hijacked the budget process for their own gain.

Martin Luther King Jr challenged us with the admonition, ‘those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.’

The political power required to bring democracy to decisions on federal budget priorities and foreign and military policies is not beyond us.  We are more than capable and we will make it happen.

Forum on Syria Crisis this Thursday in DC

November 9, 2015

20141209_MoveOn_ISIS_FBshareable_1EndEndlessWarNotBranded (1)

The Syrian Refugee Crisis & the U.S.:
What is Our Responsibility?

Three experts on the Syrian crisis will address the issues faced by refugees, the role of the U.S. in creating and solving this crisis, and what the U.S. can do to assist and welcome Syrian refugees.

Speakers include Pam Bailey, human rights activist and journalist; Phyllis Bennis, author of numerous books and articles on U.S. policy in the Middle East; and Rafif Jouejati, Syrian activist and director of FREE-Syria. The forum will be moderated by Andy Shallal, activist and owner of Busboys and Poets.

The forum starts at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Takoma Park Busboys and Poets, 235 Carroll St. NW, Washington, D.C.  Come early so you’ll be sure to get a seat!

Join Peace Action at the US Social Forum in Philadelphia this Friday, June 26!

June 22, 2015

Geneseo chapter

Peace Actionistas from the national office and our Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania affiliates will give presentations and lead discussions on various peace and justice issues at three different sessions this Friday, June 26th at the US Social Forum at Temple University in Philadelphia.

1. Massachusetts Peace Action on a Foreign Policy for All, 8:30 to 10:00 am, Temple University Mitten Hall Room, 1801 N. Broad St.

2. Peace Action of New York State board chair Jim Anderson and Student Coordinator Natia Bueno, along with American Friends Service Committee’s Joseph Gerson and Sofia Wolman, Shattering Silos – Building Connections Between Peace and Disarmament, Social, Economic and Racial Justice and Climate Change Movements, 10:30AM-noon – Temple University Gittis Student Center – Room 217 A, 13th St. and Montgomery Ave. This workshop is a follow-up to our Peace and Planet organizing in New York in April and May.

3. No Wars, No Warming! Justice at Home, Peace Abroad! Explore Solutions for our Communities! Organized by Coalition for Peace Action’s Ed Aguilar and Alesha Vega along with colleague organizations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, this Peoples Movement Assembly will explore a variety of peace and justice issues. National Executive Director Kevin Martin will speak at 4 pm on the prospective peace deal with Iran and prospects for a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Middle East, and Code Pink co-founder (and Peace Action Advisory Board member) Medea Benjamin will recount her recent trip to Korea as part of a women’s peace delegation. 1:00 – 5:30 pm (presented in four separate sessions, see previous link for details) Reel Cinema, ground floor, Temple University Gittis Student Center, 13th St. and Montgomery Ave.

Hope to see you there!

Take Action: Tell President Obama to stop protecting Israel’s nuclear weapons monopoly in the Middle East

May 28, 2015


Disappointingly but not surprisingly, the month-long Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) at the United Nations ended last Friday in failure.  The United States and other nuclear powers continue to blow off their Article VI treaty obligation to negotiate the elimination of their arsenals, preaching abstinence to the non-nuclear states from a barstool while indulging in an outrageous binge of “modernization” of their nuclear weapons enterprises (the U.S. is the worst, planning to spend up to $1 trillion of our tax dollars over the next 30 years to upgrade all parts of the nuclear weapons complex).

There was no consensus reached at the NPT RevCon to strengthen and extend nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation measures as the United States (joined by the United Kingdom and Canada) blocked a proposal by Egypt to convene a conference to create a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone.  This isn’t the first time the U.S. put Israel’s desire to pretend it doesn’t have nuclear weapons above humanity’s interest in abolishing these doomsday weapons before it’s too late.

ACTION: Please write President Obama to protest the U.S.’s intervention to protect Israel’s nuclear arms monopoly in the region and demand he reverse course and work to convene the Middle East conference, as agreed at the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The Middle East conference was to have been held in 2012, but was never convened, due to Israeli and U.S. opposition. Furthermore, urge him to initiate negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention to eliminate all nukes worldwide, as the NPT’s Article VI requires.

The failure to agree to proceed toward a WMD-Free Zone conference, something advocated by all states in the region other than Israel, is particularly short-sighted.  The U.S. and its “P5+1” negotiating partners (France, China, the UK, Russia and Germany) are in the home stretch of crucial negotiations that would close off Iran’s potential paths to a bomb.  Israel’s nuclear weapons monopoly needs to be acknowledged and addressed or it will remain a stumbling block to regional peace and world security.

Peace Action was proud to be one of the co-conveners of the Peace and Planet mobilization, bringing thousands of peace and disarmament activists from around the world to New York just before the NPT RevCon. Peace and Planet is also a promising initiative to demand rapid progress toward global nuclear weapons abolition, as part of a broader peace and justice movement.

The failure of the obstinate nuclear states at the NPT RevCon is unacceptable.  Please take a moment to let the president know your views.


Peacefully and Disarmingly Yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. If you want to read more on the NPT RevCon outcome (or lack thereof), please see my article on our Peace Blog

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.

Thoughts on the way forward for the Iran nuclear deal

April 16, 2015

Geneseo chapter

-Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Starting with a great statement by journalist Robert Parry:

“The April 2 framework agreement with Iran represents more than just a diplomatic deal to prevent nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. It marks a crossroad that offers a possible path for the American Republic to regain its footing and turn away from endless war.”

Now some musings about our message focus and framing moving forward:

1. While we need to continue arguing the merits of a nuclear deal with Iran from various angles, I think it’s time to be a bit assumptive, play some offense, and help create an air of inevitability, which can help us dig in more on the politics, which are clearly going to be more important than the policy. The argument goes something like this:

“Like it or not, a nuclear deal with Iran is extremely likely to happen. Iran, the Obama Administration, P5+1 and international community has invested too much for it to fall apart at this point. Just about the only way a deal could get scuttled is by the U.S. Congress.  How could that happen? Who would benefit, or perhaps better asked as in whose interests would killing the deal be?

Most Republicans want to kill anything that has Obama’s name on it out of blind partisan loathing. No news flash there. But we shouldn’t let them off the hook. When push comes to shove, to they really want to undermine the President of the United States for their partisan gain, or for their perceived notion of the interests of Israel or Saudi Arabia? I don’t see the harm in raising those questions, not likely to move them, but to help isolate them if they don’t budge.

The key to supporting or upholding a deal (in case there is the need for the President to veto any deal-killing legislation passed by Congress) will be Democrats, even more likely liberal/progressive Dems, some who have been either silent, insufficiently supportive of the Administration’s diplomacy, or outright opponents of a deal. Some are frankly disingenuous, saying they want peace and support diplomacy while advocating completely unrealistic conditions for a deal (Alan Grayson stands out right now). Some are, acknowledged or not, “pro-Israel hawks” or at least highly susceptible to AIPAC et al pressure. They’ll have to be smoked out – do they support the president of their party, and what their base wants, what the world wants, or what AIPAC wants? If the latter, they are helping make a war more likely.

Here is a pretty good analysis going more deeply into some of the political questions, both domestic and international:


2. Back to the policy, which reinforces our message on the politics (I think)

We might want to consider broadening our messaging to address re-balancing regional concerns and U.S. policy so it’s not all about Saudi Arabia and Israel, and the possibility of a new, transformed, positive relationship between the American and Iranian peoples (perhaps phrased like that, rather than between governments).

The latter is fairly self-evident I think, emphasizing that a deal on the nuclear issue could open up all kinds of economic and social benefits to the peoples of the two countries. It’s positive, peaceful, visionary. We should also emphasize the sanctions mostly hurt ordinary Iranians, not the mullahs or oligarchs. I don’t think we’ve gone far enough in “humanizing” the Iranian people, which I know seems simplistic but the level of demonization of an entire country for decades is tough to overcome.

The former is harder, maybe out of our reach. Certainly many elites and Members of Congress advocate Iran remaining in the penalty box forever, regardless of what happens with the nuclear program, and want U.S. policy to continue to privilege Saudi/Gulf states and Israeli interests indefinitely. I doubt they’d see it this way, but Obama, Kerry and co. have actually gone pretty far in bucking that elite consensus with the Iran negotiations.

Perhaps the way to frame this is to get the U.S. on the right side of inevitability. Iran is going to get out of the penalty box, we may become isolated from our allies if we hew to a hard line. Iran is going to play a key role in the region, there are already common interests between the U.S. and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel are not going to dominate considerations of US policy in the region forever. There may well be a democratic revolution in Iran in the next decade so let’s be on good terms with the Iranian people, and a deal on nukes is the first step in all of this.

As the sign above says, Peace Demands Action, so we need to stay very engaged as the Congressional deliberations and international negotiations proceed.

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts, criticisms, alternative suggestions.

Tell the Senate to support patient, persistent diplomacy with Iran

January 16, 2015


The U.S. and its international allies are within reach of a peaceful resolution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program look very promising, with a framework agreement likely by March and a final deal possible by a June deadline. You may have seen promising media reports in the last day or two about negotiations in Geneva between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, which is very good news.

However, conservative senators and even some supposed liberals are dead set on imposing new economic sanctions on Iran, which will risk scuttling the talks and putting us on a reckless path toward yet another Middle East war.

Contact your senators today and tell them diplomacy is the only answer, not more sanctions and threats of war.

We stopped sanctions last year, and intend to do it again, but your senators need to hear from you today. The new sanctions bill is scheduled to move through the Senate Banking Committee starting next week, with a full Senate vote expected in February or March. That may sound like we have a bit of time, but, unfortunately, pro-sanctions forces are lobbying hard, and senators may well decide their positions on this issue very soon, so this alert is extremely urgent.

While some senators claim their push for new sanctions is intended to support diplomacy, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) let the cat out of the proverbial bag, stating “The end of negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action; it’s an intended consequence.”

Please take a few minutes to contact your senators today.

This may be one of the most important actions for peace you could take this or any year. After you’ve sent your email to your senators, if you want to do more, please visit our Peace Blog for a target list of Democratic senators and sample letters to the editor for you to write a letter to your local newspaper, still one of the best ways for us to get our views out to a wide audience (and to senators as well, their staffs monitor the letters to the editor pages religiously).

Humbly for Peace,


Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – When you go to our action page please take a few minutes to edit the letter to your senators in order to personalize your message.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 16,439 other followers

%d bloggers like this: