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!)
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.
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
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
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.
–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.
The tragic death of Michael Brown at the hands of the Ferguson police is a reminder that the upsurge in violence is not restricted to the Middle East or any one place. It’s right here in our own communities.
Like the Trayvon Martin killing two years ago, the problems of racism, easy access to firearms, and the assault on our civil rights are all, once again, in the spotlight. I suspect I don’t have to explain why peace activists are taking action, mostly in support of activists of color who are leading the organized response to this latest perversion of justice. Anti-violence is at the very heart of our struggle.
In this case however there is another element that directly connects to our ongoing work to build a more peaceful and just future – that is – militarism. It’s time to demilitarize our police.
As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq ‘wind down’ (though clearly not all the way down) the Pentagon has been offering surplus weapons to local police forces for free. Tens of thousands of M-16’s, as well as mine-resistant trucks and other battlefield hardware have already been transferred to jurisdictions around the country – but the Pentagon still has lots and lots of free stuff to give away.
A bipartisan chorus has already begun to speak out in Congress against this practice. Even Tea Party and right wing extremist Ted Cruz is raising alarm.
How much military hardware has been transferred to local jurisdictions? It’s not easy to know as the Pentagon makes the trail difficult to track. Most of the data available comes from local and state officials – like the State of Missouri which CNN reports has received some $17 million worth in transfers from the Pentagon.
I find, and I’m confident you do as well, the images of police in full military gear aiming assault rifles at unarmed protesters upsetting. We can expect to see more and more of this in the future too, if we don’t do something about the economic terrorism visited upon the poor in our society at the hands of the 1 percent.
We know, for example, the Pentagon has in place plans for dealing with civil disorder brought about by economic or environmental disaster threatening the stablity of the government. Arming local jurisdictions is a step in the wrong direction.
Since the 1980’s the US government has enabled the militarization of the police force as part of its so-called War on Drugs. Post 9/11 politics opened the flood gates with grants from the federal government to prepare for the imminent terrorist threat. Now, as combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have ended, the Pentagon is literally giving battlefield hardware away.
The militarism of policing – both in terms of weaponry and tactics – is a threat to our freedom as great as any coming from outside our borders. It’s time to put it to a stop.
Please forward this message to your friends.