Statement on Peace Agreement with Iran

July 14, 2015

For Immediate Release:  July 13, 2015

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

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

Largest Peace Organization Hails Historic Iran Agreement

Washington, DC — July 13, 2015 — After several years of diplomacy, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany (P5 + 1) and Iran reached an historic agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program in Vienna, Austria today.  The agreement claims to take steps that will keep Iran from producing a nuclear weapon in exchange for lifting international sanctions against the country.

“This historic agreement between the international community and Iran on its nuclear program will ensure Iran will not produce a nuclear weapon, making the U.S. and the world safer.  This agreement will keep Iran at least a year away from having the fissile material needed to make a crude nuclear weapon for at least ten years.  Without an agreement, that timeline shrinks to three months and the threat of war increases dramatically,” commented Paul Kawika Martin the political director of Peace Action (the largest peace group in the U.S. founded on the issue of abolishing nuclear weapons) who has been working on the Iran issue for over eight years and had the rare opportunity to spend time in Iran where he enjoyed the hospitality from its people and its vast culture.

The agreement includes five major components:  Decreasing the stockpile of material that could possibly be made into fissile material.  Limiting the quantity and quality of centrifuges that could make highly enriched uranium needed for a nuclear bomb.  Reconfiguring the nuclear reactor (and securing its spent fuel) in the city of Arak so it produces an insignificant amount of weapons grade plutonium.  Implementing unprecedented inspections and comprehensive monitoring.  And lastly, scheduling and implementing the lifting of specific sanctions on Iran.  In summary, over the next ten years and in some cases longer, all pathways for Iran to build a nuclear weapon will be blocked and critical examination and oversight for verification in exchange for lifting of sanctions.

Recent polls show that a vast majority of Americans oppose military intervention with and support reaching an agreement such as the one reached with even stronger support coming from American Jews.  Despite American support, many in the U.S. Congress have expressed opposition and have promised to derail the historic agreement.

Because the U.S. Congress passed the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 several months ago, they will have 60 days to review the agreement.  During that time the President may not lift certain statutory sanctions. Within the review period, Congress may vote to disapprove the agreement.  If the disapproval survives a guaranteed presidential veto — a prospect that looks unlikely — then the President would not be able to lift sanctions as part of the agreement, essentially killing the deal.  “Peace Action expects Members of Congress to support the Iran agreement with positive statements and votes that approve the deal.  We and dozens of other political organizations will use any votes on the Iran deal in legislative records and will withhold endorsements and campaign contributions for lawmakers that vote to kill this important agreement,” warned Paul Kawika Martin.  The organization claims to have given millions in contributions and endorsed thousands of candidates since its inception.

“An agreement with Iran on its nuclear program is better than any imaginable alternative.  Military strategists have said consistently that a military intervention with Iran would at best slightly delay any nuclear program and at worst force Iran to engage in getting a nuclear weapon even if they had no such program.  Voting against the accord would be very short sighted as the agreement with Iran on their nuclear program may lead to productive negotiations on other items of concern with the Iranian Government.  More sanctions on Iran are likely to only embolden Iranian hardliners rather than solving the problem,” concluded Paul Kawika Martin.

Besides reaching an agreement with the P5 + 1, Iran also reached an agreement with International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) to clarify all possible past military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program.  The IAEA will release its final assessment by December.  This has been a sticking point with critics of an agreement.

“The success of these talks since 2006 again proves that diplomacy works.  Instead of isolation, sanctions that disproportionately affect commoners or military intervention that costs vast amounts of blood and treasure with untold long-term costs and unintended consequences, the U.S. used dialogue, negotiations and the international community to solve conflict.  These history making negotiations may open the door for more talks on issues like human rights and regional security that will further reduce Middle East tensions,” concluded Kevin Martin, executive director, of Peace Action.

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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. @PaulKawika or http://twitter.com/PaulKawika


No Nukes! President Obama Keep Your Promise!

July 2, 2015

We want a nuke free world Picture Petition 014

It was President Obama who created the expectation that our country would lead a global effort to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  In his Prague speech in April, 20009 he committed the U.S. to this goal: “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Instead, the President has committed to completely rebuilding all three legs of the U.S. nuclear triad – strategic bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and nuclear-armed submarines (SLBMs) and calls for spending $350 billion over the next decade and up to $1 trillion over the next 30 years.  Military experts agree that we cannot afford these costs and we can be just as secure, and probably more so, with far fewer nuclear weapons.

Sign Peace Action’s petition to President Obama.  Together, let’s hold him to his promise to lead the world to a future without nuclear weapons.

With just 18 months left in his presidency, there are concrete steps he can take immediately to show our nation is prepared to lead the world to that goal.  Some of them, like stating the US will not be the first nation to use nuclear weapons in war, taking our nuclear arsenal off ‘launch on warning’ status and initiating negotiations for a nuclear weapons convention to eliminate all nukes worldwide, as Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires, don’t require Congressional approval.

Sign our petition to President Obama.  As we approach the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we are reminded today’s nuclear weapons pack much greater destructive power and their use would be a catastrophe unlike any the world has ever seen.

Peace Action chapters are already planning 70th anniversary Hiroshima and Nagasaki commorations.  They will be reaching out to their local communities using earned media to educate the public on the danger that is still very much with us and what we need to do to abolish these doomsday weapons once and for all.

Each year, Peace Action sends a delegation to Japan to participate in observances there.  We will continue to work with our international partners to insure a strong presence at the United Nations as the UN works to repair the damage done at the NPT review when the United States blocked consensus on a final statement. 

Please sign our petition and then forward it to your family and friends..  Ask them to join in this effort to press President Obama to use the final 18 months of his presidency fulfill his promise “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Now that would be a legacy he could be proud of.


Oppose the U.S. Escalation of the War in Iraq

June 25, 2015

no good war banner pic

President Obama just announced that he will send 450 more American service members to Iraq. They will join the 3,000 troops already there, risking their lives in a deepening crisis that has no U.S. military solution.

Luckily, two Iraq War veterans in Congress are standing up to calls for even more war. Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Mark Takai (D-HI) are currently organizing a sign-on letter against escalating the U.S. military mission in Iraq.

Please urge your Representative to sign the letter against escalating the war in Iraq.

Reps. Gallego and Takai know about Iraq because they fought there themselves. They understand the hard truth that American troops will not bring peace to Iraq nor heal the bitter sectarian divides fueling the conflict. They understand that if the Iraqi military won’t fight – as it has repeatedly failed to do when ISIS has advanced – we cannot fight this war for them.

As Reps. Gallego and Takai say in their letter:

 “While the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people deserve our support in this struggle, an enduring victory over ISIS will only be possible if they demonstrate a real and lasting commitment to defeat our mutual foe. If we fight in their stead, our success will be temporary and our gains will be fragile.”

Stand up against mission creep: Email your Representative today!

Unfortunately, hawks in Congress and on the campaign trail are calling for a massive escalation in U.S. troops being sent to Iraq. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is also running for President, has called for 10,000 troops to be sent back to Iraq. Others have called for even more. These dangerous calls for more war are gaining ground in Washington.

Take one minute to stand up against the escalation of war by emailing your Representative.

It is time to admit that the solutions to Iraq’s instability will not be found through bombs or boots on the ground. Failing to do so will put yet more Americans at risk while pouring fuel on a fire that the U.S. military cannot put out.


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.


War – What Is It Good For?

September 25, 2014

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–by Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Two weeks ago the House of Representatives voted 273-156 to fund and train “moderate” Syrian rebels to fight the radical terrorist group Islamic State or ISIS. Thank you for your calls against this ill-advised scheme especially since Congress has not authorized the president’s new war in Syria and Iraq. Now, please call your representative via the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and let him or her know what you think of his or her vote.

Congress then adjourned to campaign for re-election, which was an abdication of its responsibility. They certainly could and should have remained in session for a week or more to debate and vote on whether to authorize President Obama’s intervention into the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars. While Congress failed to do its job, we at Peace Action won’t fail to do ours. Our members and activists will bird-dog candidates on the campaign trail and press Members of Congress to explain themselves at community meetings. Peace Action Education Fund Board President Mike Keller wrote this excellent report of such a meeting in Annapolis, Maryland with U.S. Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) who was surprised to catch flak from liberal activists for his vote to arm the Syrian rebels.

Last week, President Obama spoke at the UN and chaired the Security Council meeting, where a resolution calling on states to stop the flow of foreign fighters to groups like ISIS passed 15-0. This sounds good, but as expected this was not Security Council approval for military intervention in Iraq and Syria, as required by the UN Charter. So the president is still 0 for 2 in domestic and international law.

Congress is expected to hold votes on authorizing Obama’s new war(s) when it returns after the election for a lame duck session in November or December, we will keep you posted as to developments and how you can take action between now and them. Meanwhile, here is a link to a radio interview on Chicago’s public radio station I did earlier this week prior to the initiation of bombing in Syria and a blog post on the illegality of these new wars.


Breaking News and Perspectives on Iraq

June 19, 2014

no good war banner pic

 

President Obama just spoke on Iraq, here are some points from Win Without War, a coalition Peace Action helped found to oppose the Iraq war in 2002:

Moments ago, the President finished a brief press conference in which he discussed the situation in Iraq. He announced that the US would be sending up to 300 special operations forces as advisors to Iraq (they will reportedly be broken into teams of 10-20 and forward deployed with Iraqi units). He also stressed that the US is now ready to make ‘limited, targeted’ air strikes if the situation the ground dictated it. While the President also made several positive statements stressing his opposition to ‘ground troops’ and that this remains an Iraqi problem that will require an Iraqi solution, we are troubled by some of these developments.

Here are our top line message responses.

  • This is a dangerous escalation of US military involvement in a problem the President himself has said has no military solution. It is also a dangerous retreat from the conditions that the President set for US engagement
  • What in needed in Iraq is a political solution, and any US support must only be made after changes to the policies of Prime Minister Maliki that are fueling sectarian tensions and growing this conflict.
  • History has shown that advisors can become ground troops, despite the best intentions.
  • President is still threatening airstrikes which would be counterproductive and firmly make America part of what is a growing Iraqi civil war.
  • President Obama needs to listen to the American people who do not want to restart the Iraq war.

Longtime Peace Action board of directors member Lauri Kallio of Albuquerque wrote this summary yesterday, which prompted a thoughtful reply by Bj, an activist with our Sacramento chapter:

President Barack Obama’s initial statement on the insurgency in Iraq was that all options are open. All options would include boots on the ground and bombing, with nuclear bombs not being ruled out. Later, Obama specifically excluded sending U.S. troops in, but reports were that the White House was mulling over the bombing option. Bombing attacks would would almost certainly produce noncombatant casualties and would likely provoke Sunni anger over the U.S. siding with the increasingly Shiite-dominated government. On June 16, media reports were that 100 Special Forces troops would be sent in to train Iraqi security forces.

 

President Obama also said that U.S. military aid would be premised on Iraqi government assurances to make political accommodations to relieve Sunni and Kurdish grievances about being largely excluded from power sharing. The U.S. troop surge well into the war was primarily designed to achieve some 18 socioeconomic and political goals — some hard to measure. I wrote a piece in my almost daily logbook on the war in Iraq, sometime after the surge took place, in which I demonstrated that there had been little or no progress on the goals, particularly on the two key goals of resolving Kurdish territorial land claims and an equitable sharing of oil revenues. The failure to resolve land claims alienated the Kurds and the failure to craft a plan to share oil revenues disadvantaged the Sunnis the most.

 

Staying with the theme of the futility of relying on the Iraqi government to become more inclusive,shortly before the troop surge took place, the U.S. began paying stipends for Sunni tribal groups to fight al-Qaeda in Iraq  Later, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was to strike a major blow against the Sunnis by cutting off the stipends.

 

When Nuri al-Maliki achieved his latest grip on power, his faction actually received fewer parliamentary seats than a competing faction led by a former foreign minister of Iraq; however, by more adroit political maneuvering, al-Maliki made deals with other small political factions to be elected prime minister.

 

After al-Maliki consolidated political power, he began a campaign to discredit the Sunni vice president, culminating in a murder charge for running a death squad, causing the vice president to flee the country.

 

Reports coming out of Baghdad form a pretty consistent picture of Prime Minister al-Maliki building an increasingly Shiite-dominated regime; thereby making it a naive move on the part of Obama to trust any promise of a more politically inclusive regime in Iraq.

 

If the argument is made that we must come to the aid of a democratically elected government in Iraq, given the extreme weakness of the Iraqi parliament and the ability of al-Maliki to rule largely by decree, the aid-to-a-democracy argument becomes very suspect.

 

If the argument is made that the U.S. should supply more arms to help the Iraqi security forces fight the insurgents. the last major clash should give one pause. Reports are that 30,000 Iraqi troops fled when confronted with 800 armed insurgents. Many of the fleeing Iraqi troops discarded their uniforms in the apparent hope that having no uniforms would save their lives if they fell into the hands of the insurgents. The insurgents found themselves with a yet-to-be-determined cache of U.S.-supplied weapons.

 

The word that the  U.S. may send in 100 Special Forces to train Iraqi security forces hinges on the absurd. Not only have Iraqi security forces failed to stand up to numerically inferior insurgent forces, but they have not been able to stop the ongoing mass violence against Iraqi citizens since the U.S. forces left.

 

U.S. training of foreign military forces has been a history of failure over the past half-century. After years of the U.S. training the South Vietnamese military, it quickly crumbled before the invasion of North Vietnamese armed forces. Part of the mission of the U.S. Marines sent into Lebanon by President Ronald Reagan was to train forces deemed favorable to U.S. interests. That training was washed away in the chaotic and very destructive civil war that raged in Lebanon. Central and South American military personnel schooled at the School of the Americas — since renamed — went back home and many committed atrocities against the very citizens they were committed to protect. We haven’t seen the final result of the long period of U.S. training of Afghan recruits; however, what we know of it shouldn’t inspire much confidence. Ann Jones, who taught school in Afghanistan for six years and was still there in 2009 to witness U.S. training methods, said of the 2009 incursion into Helmand Province that it consisted of 4,000 U.S. and allied troops and only 600 Afghan security forces, some of them police forces. Jones said she didn’t know of a single Afghan who had seen a 90,000 man Afghan army, as claimed by the U.S. in 2009. She even suggested tongue-in-cheek that it probably consisted of one man enlisting for training 90,000 times. Ann Jones personally knew of a number of men who went through the training, went home and went through again under another name. She was also convinced that Taliban men would go through the training course to learn of U.S. military tactics and also get a paycheck.

 

Overall, it would seem that all U.S. military options in Iraq are fraught with disaster. Diplomacy and a political settlement have also been suggested; however, I don’t see the U.S. as having the leverage to achieve a settlement. Realistically, we in the United States must come to the realization that there are situations in nation states that the intervention of the mighty U.S. military machine will only worsen the situation, and we shouldn’t set ourselves up for the burning we will get by setting the fires.

 

Unfortunately, the U.S. cannot serve as a role model for the world, given that we have attacked at least one nation that hasn’t attacked us in every decade since World War II. Youngsters just entering their teen years have never known a time when we were not at war and many have lived through two major wars.

 

Although I am generally opposed to dividing the world into smaller political enclaves of people based on religious or ethnic identification, perhaps the best solution would be for the U.S. to propose and work for splitting Iraq into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish political divisions. The Sunnis and the Shiites are at one another’s throats. The Kurds are largely autonomous in their own territory, even making their own oil concession deals, despite incurring the wrath of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

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The US/Iran situation since the ouster of the Shah in 1979 has been ridiculous and I am very much in favor of a rational and pragmatic relationship between the US and Iran. That said, with regard to Iraq, things may not be so simple.

 

Also with regard to dividing Iraq among the sectors (Shi’a, Sunni and Kurd — who are mostly Sunni by the way) things are also not that simple. Between 1991 and 2003, those divisions were encouraged and promoted by the US through the Northern (Kurdish area) and Southern (Shi’a area) No Fly Zones during the 13 years of intense sanctions. Saddam Hussein was essentially restricted to the central, Sunni-Shi’a mixed, part of the country. And during the 2003-11 invasion and occupation, those divisions were also encouraged and promoted, it seems.

 

Were the Kurdish region of Iraq to get full nation status, a bloody chain reaction would likely follow as the Kurdish military attempted to expand into those parts of Syria, Turkey, and Iran which have significant Kurdish populations — widening and deepening an already very destructive situation in the region. It may happen, but it is not something that we should encourage.

 

I highly recommend watching today’s Democracy Now. The after-headlines-segment is with UN Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. It is long, but his insights are so valuable to understanding the situation.  Below is an excerpt (my bolds). Bj

 

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Ambassador Brahimi, on the question of sectarianism, there have been several reports that suggest that in the initial days of the Iraq invasion in 2003, there were some neoconservative members of the Bush administration that actively fostered sectarianism between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds as a way of—as a policy of kind of divide and rule. Could you comment on that?

LAKHDAR BRAHIMI: … President Bush had given full, total responsibility to the Pentagon over Iraq. What was discussed there and what they did there, I don’t know. But as somebody from the region just looking at what was actually taking place, it was extremely hard not to believe that sectarianism was being promoted and that the people that were being put in charge were—I mean, of course the Kurdish region was given to Kurds 100 percent, and no—the rest of the Iraqis had no part in it. But in the rest of Iraq, the impression one had was that the people that were preferred by the occupying powers were the most sectarian Shia and the most pro-Iranian Shia, so, you know, that Iran—that Iraq is now very, very close to Iran. Again, from the point of view of somebody who looks at things from outside, I have absolutely no knowledge of what went on in the high spheres of power in Washington. The impression we had is that these people were put in charge either out of total ignorance—and that is extremely difficult to accept—or intentionally. But the fact is, you know, that the system that was established was very sectarian.

 


Tell President Obama “Don’t Try to Put Out the Fire in Iraq With Gasoline!”

June 13, 2014

by Kevin Martin

Tell President Obama “Don’t Try to Put Out the Fire in Iraq With Gasoline!”

Believe it or not, some are responding to the escalating violence in Iraq with calls for U.S. military intervention. Have they learned nothing?

Please take action: Tell President Obama not to try putting out the fire with gasoline – no U.S. military intervention in Iraq, invest in diplomacy and international cooperation instead.

The advance of the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is no doubt alarming, but not a complete surprise in the context of deep social, ethnic, religious and political divisions in Iraq and the wider region. Our former Executive Director, David Cortright, has a sensible, concise post on this issue you might find illuminating.

Contact the president and send this alert to friends, family and colleagues you believe would want to take this action. The people of Iraq and the region need peace, reconciliation and development, not more war and definitely not U.S. bombs or troops.

Please take action to let the president know more war is not the answer.

To learn more about the situation in Iraq, here are a few recent articles you might find illuminating.

New York Times article on the current situation and consideration of U.S. military intervention

The Guardian on the collapse of the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army as ISIS advanced on Mosul

The Guardian again on the spread of ISIS in Iraq and Syria


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