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.

Peace Talks To End Syrian War Begin

November 12, 2015

Negotiations to end the ‘nonstop horror’ of the Syrian civil war have begun. Peace Action applauds the parties for finally getting to the table – better late than never – but decries the endless political machinations that caused the governments involved from doing so long ago.  These same calculations are still in play, however, and hope for a ceasefire and finally, an end to the war, is still tenuous at best.

For that reason, we – and our peace movement allies – are continuing to collect signatures on our petition calling for a political settlement to the Syrian civil war.  If you haven’t signed, please do.  If you have, please forward the link to your friends and family and ask them to join the effort.

Peace Action is supporting a bi-partisan emergency spending bill introduced by Senators Leahy (D-VT) and Graham (R-SC) that would would allow for resettlement of up to 100,000 refugees over 2 years and provide a billion dollars to help deal with the refugee crisis caused by the Syrian civil war.  It’s a human catastrophe that we can’t close our eyes to, yet the U.S. has taken in less than 1,500 Syrian refugees. In contrast, countries like Lebanon have taken in 1.1 million. The U.S. plans on taking in only 10,000 refugees next year – Germany did that in a day.

Please call your Senators today and ask them to co-sponsor the Leahy-Graham bill to provide emergency relief to those who have been displaced by over 4 years of brutal warfare. The number is 202.224.3121.

Celebration in DC of Victory in the Senate on Iran Accord

September 10, 2015

Dupont Circle, Washington DC, vigil (which was a celebration since the Senate vote this afternoon to uphold the Iran peace agreement). Photos by Eric Swanson, Peace Action’s Database Manager (for nearly 20 years!)dupont circle rally km

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).



Hear Liquid Blue perform Earth Passport

Hear Liquid Blue perform Imagine

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

April 21, 2015


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.

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

December 22, 2014

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


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