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And here is a letter to the editor I sent to the New York Times last week, unpublished.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


Are the U.S. and Russian Governments Once Again on the Nuclear Warpath?

February 3, 2015

by Lawrence S. Wittner (Peace Action national board member)

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?

A quarter century after the end of the Cold War and decades after the signing of landmark nuclear arms control and disarmament agreements, are the U.S. and Russian governments once more engaged in a potentially disastrous nuclear arms race with one another? It certainly looks like it.

With approximately 15,000 nuclear weapons between them, the United States and Russia already possess about 93 percent of the world’s nuclear arsenal, thus making them the world’s nuclear hegemons. But, apparently, like great powers throughout history, they do not consider their vast military might sufficient, especially in the context of their growing international rivalry.

Although, in early 2009, President Barack Obama announced his “commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” the U.S. government today has moved well along toward implementing an administration plan for U.S. nuclear “modernization.” This entails spending $355 billion over a ten-year period for a massive renovation of U.S. nuclear weapons plants and laboratories. Moreover, the cost is scheduled to soar after this renovation, when an array of new nuclear weapons will be produced. “That’s where all the big money is,” noted Ashton Carter, recently nominated as U.S. Secretary of Defense. “By comparison, everything that we’re doing now is cheap.” The Obama administration has asked the Pentagon to plan for 12 new nuclear missile-firing submarines, up to 100 new nuclear bombers, and 400 land-based nuclear missiles. According to outside experts and a bipartisan, independent panel commissioned by Congress and the Defense Department, that will bring the total price tag for the U.S. nuclear weapons buildup to approximately $1 trillion.

For its part, the Russian government seems determined to match―or surpass―that record. With President Vladimir Putin eager to use nuclear weapons as a symbol of Russian influence, Moscow is building, at great expense, new generations of giant ballistic missile submarines, as well as nuclear attack submarines that are reportedly equal or superior to their U.S. counterparts in performance and stealth. Armed with nuclear-capable cruise missiles, they periodically make forays across the Atlantic, heading for the U.S. coast. Deeply concerned about the potential of these missiles to level a surprise attack, the U.S. military has already launched the first of two experimental “blimps” over Washington, DC, designed to help detect them. The Obama administration also charges that Russian testing of a new medium-range cruise missile is a violation of the 1987 INF treaty. Although the Russian government denies the existence of the offending missile, its rhetoric has been less than diplomatic. As the Ukraine crisis developed, Putin told a public audience that “Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers,” and foreign nations “should understand it’s best not to mess with us.” Pravda was even more inflammatory. In an article published in November titled “Russia prepares a nuclear surprise for NATO,” it bragged about Russia’s alleged superiority over the United States in nuclear weaponry.

Not surprisingly, the one nuclear disarmament agreement signed between the U.S. and Russian governments since 2003―the New START treaty of 2011―is being implemented remarkably slowly. New START, designed to reduce the number of deployed strategic nuclear weapons (the most powerful ones) in each country by 30 percent by 2018, has not led to substantial reductions in either nation’s deployed nuclear arsenal. Indeed, between March and October 2014, the two nations each increased their deployed nuclear forces. Also, they maintain large arsenals of nuclear weapons targeting one another, with about 1,800 of them on high alert―ready to be launched within minutes against the populations of both nations.

The souring of relations between the U.S. and Russian governments has been going on for years, but it has reached a very dangerous level during the current confrontation over Ukraine. In their dealings with this conflict-torn nation, there’s plenty of fault on both sides. U.S. officials should have recognized that any Russian government would have been angered by NATO’s steady recruitment of East European countries―especially Ukraine, which had been united with Russia in the same nation until recently, was sharing a common border with Russia, and was housing one of Russia’s most important naval bases (in Crimea). For their part, Russian officials had no legal basis for seizing and annexing Crimea or aiding heavily-armed separatists in the eastern portion of Ukraine.

But however reckless the two nuclear behemoths have been, this does not mean that they have to continue this behavior. Plenty of compromise formulas exist―for example, leaving Ukraine out of NATO, altering that country’s structure to allow for a high degree of self-government in the war-torn east, and organizing a UN-sponsored referendum in Crimea. And possibilities for compromise also exist in other areas of U.S.-Russian relations.

Failing to agree to a diplomatic settlement of these and other issues will do more than continue violent turmoil in Ukraine. Indeed, the disastrous, downhill slide of both the United States and Russia into a vastly expensive nuclear arms race will bankrupt them and, also, by providing an example of dependence on nuclear might, encourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons to additional nations. After all, how can they succeed in getting other countries to forswear developing nuclear weapons when―47 years after the U.S. and Soviet governments signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which they pledged their own nuclear disarmament―their successors are engaged in yet another nuclear arms race? Finally, of course, this new arms race, unless checked, seems likely to lead, sooner or later, to a nuclear catastrophe of immense proportions.

Can the U.S. and Russian governments calm down, settle their quarrels peacefully, and return to a policy of nuclear disarmament? Let’s hope so.

– See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/158159#sthash.vfbjTQf5.dpuf


Peace Action Op-ed and letter to the editor on Iran in the Cleveland Plain Dealer today!

January 21, 2015

peace girl

Quite a two-fer, unusual to have an op-ed and letter to the editor in the same paper on the same issue on the same day! Well done Norman and Nina!

Letter to the editor: Imposing new sanctions on Iran would scuttle nuclear program negotiations

To the editor:

Via patient, persistent diplomacy, the Obama administration and its international partners are in the home stretch of negotiations with Iran to resolve concerns over its nuclear program. A framework agreement to ensure Iran doesn’t develop nuclear weapons, in exchange for lifting punishing U.S. and international economic sanctions, is within reach by the July 1 deadline.

Unfortunately, some senators are now introducing a bill to impose new sanctions on Iran if negotiations fail. This bill will almost certainly scuttle negotiations and lead to calls for military action against Iran. Why would any reasonable person want to risk another Middle East war when a peaceful resolution is possible?

While Senator Portman will vote for sanctions, Senator Sherrod Brown has not yet taken a position. An agreement to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue peacefully could well have other benefits in improving U.S.-Iranian economic and political relations, including working together more closely to bring badly needed stability to the region, a key shared interest of the U.S. and Iran.

Senator Brown would be wise to support the President and stand up for diplomacy, not more war.

Nina McLellan,

Shaker Heights

McLellan is Co-President of Cleveland Peace Action.

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Op-ed: Brown and Portman should not support Iran sanctions that would derail critical nuclear weapons negotiations

Negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program are fast approaching a major battle — not with Iran, but within the United States.

On one side, the Obama administration has created conditions for productive talks with Iran, with tougher sanctions, an agreement that Iran could continue to enrich uranium for peaceful nuclear power, and outreach to a new more moderate Iranian president. The strategy by President Barack Obama is apparently to negotiate a final package that provides far better insurance against Iran developing a nuclear weapon than any obtained during the previous 12 years of futile negotiations. Since polls of Americans (including American Jews) have consistently supported a negotiated solution, the Obama strategy would make it difficult for hard-liners to wreck a reasonable final agreement.

On the other hand, a senatorial challenge is taking shape: A bill which would impose new sanctions if negotiations fail includes a “Sense of Congress” section demanding that Iran “reverse” its development of nuclear infrastructure so that it is “precluded from a nuclear breakout capacity.” Since any peaceful enrichment of uranium or related technology could be considered building “capacity” and thereby could be “precluded,” the clause amounts to a poison pill. The same section of the bill preserves other sanctions unless Iran opens up its military facilities to inspection, improves its human-rights record, and stops supporting Hezbollah and the Syrian government. Thus, the extent of presidential waivers of sanctions could be greatly constrained.

If this bill achieves a veto-proof majority of 67 votes, administration officials believe Iran will consider this a violation of the interim understanding that promised no new sanctions during negotiations. In addition, the bill delays any new sanctions relief for a number of months (per the bill’s timetable), and it indicates to Iran that most sanctions will not be relieved for the foreseeable future. If, as a result, Iran walks away from negotiations, many of our sanctions partners would blame the United States and might resume trade with Iran.

This potential disruption of negotiations is of no concern to many senators who are not interested in any agreement with Iran. Freshman Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas summarized that view, saying that ending the negotiations “isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action; it is very much an intended consequence.” But the biggest problem with this hard-line position is that it takes no account of the consequences of scuttling the negotiations.

First, the gains in security already agreed on under the interim agreement will be canceled. During this interim period, Iran has fully complied with its commitments to freeze its stock of low-enriched uranium, to eliminate or make less usable its stock of higher (20 percent) enriched uranium, to stop construction and alter the design of a plant that could generate plutonium, and to allow more inspections. If the new Senate bill passes and Iran leaves the table, these major concessions would be lost. Worse yet, if negotiations collapse, Iranian leaders have threatened to respond to new sanctions by ratcheting up uranium enrichment. Will the hard-line senators argue that losing the gains already achieved through negotiation and facing a recalcitrant Iran increases the security of the United States or Israel?

Then again, the underlying agenda of some hard-liners is really regime change — using Iran’s refusal to accept draconian terms for relief of sanctions as a justification to bomb Iran. For instance, without repudiation by their parties, a major Republican funder, Sheldon Adelson, proposed dropping nuclear bombs on Iran, and a major Democratic Party donor, Haim Saban, reportedly said he would “bomb the living daylights out of Iran.”

Unfortunately, the possible Iranian reaction to a military attack has been heedlessly downplayed by those who would undermine the negotiations. Iran’s population is three times Iraq’s, is highly nationalistic when it comes to outside attack, is heavily armed and adept at unconventional warfare, has 30,000 American sailors and soldiers within range of its missiles and attack boats, and could temporarily block transport of 20 percent of the world’s oil through the Persian Gulf.

Thus, if hard-liners win this Senate battle with the administration, the result will be far less security for the United States and Israel, and far greater risk of another ruinous trillion-dollar war. Ohio Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman should take heed and vote against the new sanctions bill.

Norman Robbins is an emeritus professor at Case Western Reserve University and an Iran consultant for Cleveland Peace Action.


The Movement for Global Nuclear Weapons Abolition: On from Vienna to New York City!

December 16, 2014

- Peter Deccy, Development Director

Peace Action and our allies in the global movement for nuclear abolition won a small but significant victory at the Third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons last week in Vienna.  We have been pressing the administration for over a year now demanding greater participation in international fora dealing with nuclear disarmament.  This was the first time the United States was present to address the impact of nuclear weapons and the potential for their use on human health, the environment, agriculture and food security, and the economy.

The U.S. was absent at the first two of these international conferences, a visable reminder to the growing number of nations working for zero nuclear weapons that the U.S. wants to keep nuclear weapons out of their hands but isn’t planning to give up its nukes anytime soon.  The Obama administration needed to demonstrate it is taking their work seriously or risk serious blowback at the next year’s review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT RevCon).

Peace Action’s Field Director, Judith LeBlanc and our chapters in New York and New Jersey are playing a key roll in organizing an international grassroots presence at the NPT review conference, just as we did at the last one in 2010, organizing an international conference and a 15,000 person march to the United Nations.

Peace Action and the American Friends Service Committee have dedicated staff working with an ad hoc committee of nuclear abolition allies formulating plans for the our presence at the NPT review conference which will involve:

•    Organizing an inclusive international Nuclear Weapons Abolition conference on the eve of the NPT RevCon;
•    Organizing a mass rally and march on the eve of the Review Conference to demand nuclear weapons abolition, peace and justice – including reducing military spending and the funding of essential human needs;
•    Organizing an international  peace festival at the conclusion of the rally and march;
•    Facilitating organizing by the rising generation of young nuclear abolitionists;
•    Facilitating delivery of millions of Japanese petition signatures urging negotiations without delay for a nuclear weapons abolition convention;
•    Facilitating the organization of an international interfaith service on the eve of the Review Conference;
•    Facilitating the visits of Hibakusha and international peace activists to communities in the United States to encourage nuclear weapons abolition organizing; and
•    Exploring additional nonviolent actions that can reinforce our demand for nuclear disarmament.

You can expect to see more from us on our NPT actions as plans are finalized early next year.  We certainly hope you will take action in support of our nuclear abolition campaign in the coming months and we promise to provide you with ample opportunities to do so.


Some good (and even kinda funny!) news on nukes

November 10, 2014

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While you might not have known it from the scant attention they received in the recent midterm elections, there is a lot brewing on Peace Action’s top priority issues these days. We’ll have more for you soon on a possible breakthrough deal on Iran’s nuclear program (the current deadline for a deal is in two weeks, though it could be extended), as well as potentially interesting developments on the Pentagon’s budget. For today, here are some items you might have missed regarding nuclear weapons issues (good news), and I’ll do another post on Iraq and Afghanistan (definitely mostly bad news).

–U.S. to attend Vienna conference next month on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons: Peace Action has helped lead national and international efforts to press the Obama Administration to more faithfully participate in various international fora on nuclear disarmament, with not a lot of success to date. The U.S. skipped the first two conferences in this relatively new push regarding the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, but the State Department announced Friday it would send representatives to the third such conference in Vienna in early December.  We signed onto a letter initiated by our colleagues at the Arms Control Association urging U.S. participation, so this is definitely good news, and we’ll keep you updated on the conference, U.S. participation, and follow-up steps. What the U.S. reps say and do at this confab will have even more resonance as the international community prepares for the every five years Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) at the United Nations in New York City next April. Peace Action will once again help lead national and international groups in organizing around the RevCon, we’ll have more information on this in the New Year.

-Updated Don’t Bank on the Bomb report released: This terrific resource, which catalogs the banks, insurance companies, mutual funds and other businesses that help support and finance nuclear weapons contractors worldwide, was released last Friday. It’s a great educational and action tool, as even most peace activists are likely unaware of the web of financial links so many seemingly non-military related companies have to the production of nuclear weapons. Check it out, you’ll want to know if companies you deal with are involved. Some Peace Action supporters have used the report to withdraw investments from firms they had long done business with, over the companies’ financial ties to nukes. You may want to do the same.

-And the funny (sort of): Death Wears Bunny Slippers: Hanging out with the disgruntled guys who babysit our aging nuclear missiles – and hate every second of it, a terrific article in Mother Jones magazine about the decay of the ICBM force and the morale and performance of the Air Force personnel who allegedly safeguard them

 


Letter to Obama Administration on upcoming nukes conference

October 30, 2014
Peace Action Development Director Peter Deccy at the "A-Bomb Dome" in Hiroshima

Peace Action Development Director Peter Deccy at the “A-Bomb Dome” in Hiroshima

The following news release is part of an ongoing effort to press the Obama Administration to participate in multilateral nuclear disarmament fora. Peace Action has helped lead this push for a few years now. The first link is to the letter we signed onto. Scuttlebutt is the Administration may soon decide on whether to attend the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons in December.

Leading Nuclear Policy Experts and Organizations Call on the United States to Participate in International Conference on Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: October 29, 2014

 

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, 202-463-8270 x107

(Washington, D.C.) –A group of more than two dozen leading nuclear policy experts, former U.S. government officials, and peace and security organizations are urging the Barack Obama administration “to authorize U.S. participation in the Dec. 8-9 Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna, Austria.”

In an October 29 letter to the White House, State Department, and Pentagon, the signatories write that U.S. participation in the Vienna conference “would enhance the United States’ credibility and influence at the 2015 NPT Review Conference. U.S. participation would also provide support to key U.S. allies and partners,” many of which are also urging the United States to send an official delegation.

The Vienna humanitarian impacts conference, which is the third such meeting since 2013, “is a useful and important venue for raising awareness about the risks of nuclear weapons,” the letter signers write, and it “contributes to the oft-repeated U.S. government call for ‘extending the nearly 70-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons forever.'”

The United States and the other five original nuclear weapon states–Russia, the U.K., France, and China–have not attended the two previous humanitarian impacts conferences, citing concerns that it could be used as a launching point for negotiations calling for a ban on nuclear weapons or a convention leading to the elimination of nuclear weapons.

“While some participating states and some nongovernmental organizations support such a ban … this conference is not a negotiating conference and is not intended to launch such an effort. Even if it were, there is no clear consensus among the participants about the direction of any such process,” the signers note in their letter, which was addressed to the president’s National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

“Nuclear-armed states may have reasons to argue that not all potential uses of nuclear weapons necessarily would lead to humanitarian disaster, and that nuclear weapons may deter other existential threats,” says George Perkovich, Vice-President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and one of the letter’s signatories.

“But given that the whole world would be affected if they are wrong, they should be willing to discuss these issues with others,” Perkovich says. “Unwillingness to do so suggests an arrogance that can only provoke international contempt and resistance.”

A decision on the part of the Obama administration not to attend the Vienna conference, the signatories write, “would be a major lost opportunity and a setback for President Obama’s own call for action toward a nuclear weapons free world.”

 

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons.


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!


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