Your Priorities, Not War

May 12, 2015

by Paul Kawika Martin

It’s that time of year when Congress figures out the federal budget for next year. The House will take up the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week. Despite the Republican stranglehold in the House they may allow a few amendments to be voted on where we can make a difference.

Please call your Representative now at 202-224-3121 and ask them to support amendments to the NDAA that cut Pentagon spending and cut the OCO slush fund.

You’ve heard us talk about the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account. It is supposed to be used to fund the U.S. wars abroad that we oppose. The Republicans and, to a lesser extent, the Obama administration has been using it as a slush fund to cover costs for programs the Pentagon would otherwise be forced to cut. Indeed, the Republicans almost doubled the account to nearly $100 billion at a time when the war in Afghanistan is supposed to be winding down.

This week, Congress may vote on amendments to slash the OCO, make the slush fund more transparent, or both. Additionally, House amendments might address various Pentagon boondoggles like the wasteful F-35 and unneeded nuclear weapons.

This is not how we want our hard earned tax dollars spent. Pick up your phone now and call your Representative, 202-224-3121, and tell them to slash the OCO slush fund and cut Pentagon pork like the F-35 and nuclear weapons.


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.


Liquid Blue

May 12, 2015

Carrying the banner of tolerance and understanding, Liquid Blue revisits classic peace songs on their latest album, Peace Anthems, and is sharing 25% of proceeds with Peace Action!  Thanks Liquid Blue!

Liquid Blue, indie pop rock band formed in San Diego, has performed in more than 500 cities in 100 countries on six continents and has been recognized as “the world’s most traveled band”.  They are more popular in parts of Asia and Europe than in their home country (USA).

PeaceAnthemsCover400

 

Hear Liquid Blue perform Earth Passport

Hear Liquid Blue perform Imagine


Mobilization Brings Eight Million Demands for Nuclear Abolition to U.N.

May 12, 2015

petsPeace Action just completed a series of successful events around the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference at the United Nations.  We helped organize an international conference attended by over 700 nuclear abolition activists, a rally, march and peace festival where Mayor Kazumi Matsui, of Hiroshima, Jackie Cabasso, Joseph Gerson and Kevin Martin, co-conveners of the Peace and Planet Mobilization, and Hiroshi Taka, a Director of the Japan Council against A-& H Bombs, presented the eight million petition signatures to U.N. High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane and Ambassador Taous Feroukhi, the President of the NPT Review Conference.

1502464_996130763738491_8475684920700959264_o (2)

 The Peace and Planet conference was endorsed by more than 300 organizations in 20 countries. More than a dozen nations sent official delegations, with roughly 1,000 activists traveling from Japan.  The rally included speeches by Yuko Nakamura, a Hiroshima A-bomb survivor; Tony de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, which is suing the nuclear-armed nations in the International Court of Justice; Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower and former senior nuclear war planner; and Rev. Osagyefo Sekou one of the leading clergy for racial justice in Ferguson, Missouri. It was attended by 80 A-bomb survivors from Japan and Korea, members of the German, Japanese and European parliaments, and peace, justice and environmental leaders from across the U.S. and around the world.

11174428_995471547137746_sonia11164712_996135273738040_jim11041281_995462227138678_sally

Conference organizer Sofia Wolman (above top), Peace Action of New York State (PANYS) President Jim Anderson (above center), Peace Action Fund of New York State Board Chair, Sally Jones (directly above) and the entire PANYS team did a tremendous job throughout the entire 3 days of events.

 

 


Judithpalooza! Honoring a long distance runner for peace and justice

April 15, 2015
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour and Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action

Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour and Judith Le Blanc, former National Field Director, Peace Action

Thank You Party and fund appeal honoring Judith Le Blanc, former National Field Director, Peace Action

Monday, April 27, 5:30 pm to 8:00 pm

Turtle Bay Tavern

987 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10022
between 52 and 53 Streets, a short walk from the United Nations

Our esteemed and beloved colleague, friend, and peace and justice force of nature, Judith Le Blanc, has left Peace Action after serving six wonderful years and moving to the Alliance for a Just Society to work on a new project to create a national American Indian leadership network.

Let’s join together and celebrate Judith’s amazing contributions to our collective work by coming together in her honor. Whith many of us will be in New York for the Peace and Planet Mobilization and the NPT Review sessions, there is no better time to have a party for Judith!

Please join us. But, if you cannot attend, please consider a contribution to help us carry on the work of Judith who organized around the country on behalf of Peace Action for a sustainable, just, peaceful and nuclear-free world.

Sponsored by Peace Action Education Fund and Peace Action Fund of New York State.

Click here to help honor Judith and support Peace Action’s ongoing work.

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


The Brain Trust, the Love Circle and the Seed Sowers

March 24, 2015

photo love circle

 

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Last week I had a very enjoyable, short work trip to New York City. On Wednesday night, the indefatigable Judy Lerner (90+ years young!), who has served on the Peace Action national board for at least two decades, hosted a wonderful wine and cheese reception at her Manhattan apartment. Close to 30 Peace Action supporters turned up for a relaxed, social soiree, but we also talked a lot of politics as you can imagine (the picture above, taken by my Uncle, Todd Whitmer, who was there along with my brother, Kris Martin, shows just some of the assembled good folk) and raised a bit of much needed dough, thanks to a strong pitch by Joanne Robinson, Peace Action of New York State’s fundraising chair.

A few days before the event, I saw an RSVP list compiled by Sylvia Rodriguez Case, Peace Action of New York State’s superb administrator, and thought, wow, the brain trust of Peace Action in New York will be at the event, that’s great! And I got to thinking about the term “brain trust.” In Peace Action’s case, leadership is a collective, decentralized “brain,” and we have a lot of trust in our leadership to make the right decisions about priorities, strategies and tactics in our work.

Then I recalled Jim Anderson, board chair of Peace Action of New York State, from Buffalo, calling our national organizers’ meeting in DC two months ago a “Love Circle.” This wasn’t some hippie thing, he was encouraging a younger colleague to feel comfortable that her concerns would be heard and respected, even if they made some folks at the meeting a bit uncomfortable. Peace Actionistas certainly do form a trusting love circle where disagreements can be respectfully aired so we might reach higher ground together. I felt honored to be a part of that love circle last week at Judy’s, and also the following night at a chapter meeting of Peace Action of Staten Island, where I spoke to a terrific bunch of local supporters about the state of Peace Action’s work to support diplomacy with Iran, cut the gargantuan Pentagon budget, abolish nuclear weapons and end our country’s endless wars.

We also focused quite a bit on the April 24-26 Peace and Planet mobilization in New York City, which will bring together these issues as well as social, economic and racial justice and climate concerns. Right there at the meeting, Staten Island organizing powerhouse and Peace Action Fund of New York State board chair Sally Jones got firm commitments from over 50 people to turn out for Peace and Planet! And kudos to Peace Action of Staten Island chair Eileen Bardel for running a great meeting, keeping the agenda moving while also allowing space for everyone to participate, no easy feat!

Lately, some scholars and a few journalists have raised questions about why the peace movement isn’t as strong or visible as it was in the Bush error, I mean era, or why the peace movement isn’t as strong as the labor or environmental or human rights movements. Sometimes I get analytical about it (I could go on and on with my analysis but won’t do so here), other times I get a bit defensive, and other times I think, well if you’ll let me get off the phone I’ll get back to my job, which is to help organize and strengthen the peace movement.

Taking a long view, there are many social, political, economic and cultural factors (most out of our control) at play in why a movement catches fire or doesn’t in a particular place and time. One thing we can always control is sowing seeds that will lead to future growth in our organization and movement, and Peace Action of New York State is a leader in its investment in student/campus organizing. PANYS now has ten student chapters around the state, which didn’t just spring up by themselves. PANYS has invested in building those student chapters, and has a wonderful Student Outreach Coordinator Natia Bueno hard at work to spread this student chapter network even further (Natia will help lead a training session on student organizing for Peace Action affiliates and chapters next month, details TBA soon). Another crackerjack young organizer, Drew King, is working as our coordinator for Peace and Planet (and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as his father, Jonathan King, is an MIT professor and Massachusetts Peace Action activist).

Peace and Planet will be an outstanding opportunity to build and support the Peace Action brain trust, embrace our love circle, and sow seeds that will blossom in myriad, wonderful ways we can’t fathom today. Please plan to join us!

 


Celebrating the World War I Christmas Truce, 100 Years Ago This Week

December 22, 2014
579261

Football Not War! A game during the Christmas Truce, 1914.

 

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

In this season where “Peace on Earth” is often invoked, yet not always honored, remembering and celebrating peace history couldn’t be more appropriate. The story of the astonishing outbreak of the Christmas Truce one hundred years ago this week calls out for celebrating and sharing.

During the first winter of “the war to end all wars,” World War I, French, Belgian, Scottish, German, Indian and Algerian troops stalemated and hunkered down in trenches a mere 75 to 100 yards apart in France and Belgium observed a spontaneous Christmas Truce for two days, much to the consternation of the generals on both sides.

Soldiers who had been shooting at each other just the day before ceased fire, gathered and buried the dead in the no man’s land between their respective lines, sang Christmas carols together, exchanged food, drink and gifts, raised small Christmas trees, and even played football (soccer), with the German side reportedly winning most of the games.

The truce was so successful both sides had to bring up reserve troops from the rear who hadn’t participated in the truce in order to re-start the war. Remarkably, no one was court-martialed for voting with their feet and observing the truce.

I never heard of the Christmas Truce in school. I learned of it from folksinger extraordinaire John McCutcheon’s song “Christmas in the Trenches,” which is well worth a listen for inspiration on the real spirit of the holidays.

An outstanding book on the Christmas Truce is Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub. Superbly written and documented, it ably refutes skepticism in some quarters that the truce ever happened. The accounts in newspapers and especially letters to family by troops on both sides are as intimate and touching as you might imagine.

The Christmas Truce was also chronicled in the 2005 film Joyeux Noel.

Unfortunately I missed this film when it played (in September, bad scheduling!) at the AFI Silver Theater two blocks from the Peace Action office here in Silver Spring, but the trailer looks great and I’ll try to find it sometime over the holidays.

As John McCutcheon says, the story of the Christmas Truce needs to be told year round, 365 days a year.

Thank you for your actions for peace, and support of Peace Action.

Peacefully yours,

 

Kevin Martin

Executive Director


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 15,129 other followers

%d bloggers like this: