Top 5 Reasons Peace Action PAC is Endorsing Bernie Sanders for President

February 10, 2016

supporters

By Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action & Jon Rainwater, Executive Director, Peace Action West

After 15 years of war, the next president of the United States will inherit daunting foreign policy challenges. Sadly, many of those challenges were fueled by an “act first, think later” U.S. military policy in places like Iraq and Libya that has backfired. At the same time, the new president will need to sustain diplomatic initiatives started by President Obama including the Iranian nuclear deal and peace talks to end the Syria war.

We need a president that can cultivate diplomatic openings while turning the country away from an over-reliance on the blunt military instrument. Bernie Sanders has vocally opposed this military-first foreign policy and the sprawling quagmire the U.S. is enmeshed in. That’s why Peace Action PAC is endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders for President in the Democratic primary.

Sanders didn’t just get the Iraq war vote right. Then and now, he’s had the foresight to predict the dangers of a military-first foreign policy.

Bernie Sanders has been a leading voice in Congress against risky U.S. military adventurism. Sanders was prescient in describing the pitfalls of the Iraq war that so many of his colleagues were blind to. Sanders predicted the high cost of the war for the U.S. in terms of lives and wasted resources. He had the foresight to accurately predict that a U.S. invasion of Iraq could lead to sectarian conflict and he argued that the ensuing chaos could support the rise of extremism.

Sanders has continued to point out when blunt military tools only make the complex conflicts in the Middle East worse. He opposed plans to bomb Syria over concerns about chemical weapons use. He voted against the disgraced program to arm “moderate” Syrian rebels that resulted in some U.S.-trained rebels taking their weapons stockpiles and joining the ranks of extremists.

Sanders now opposes sending U.S. ground troops to Syria and warns of a potential quagmire. There are already roughly 6,000 Americans involved in the fighting in Iraq and Syria and most of the leading presidential candidates are calling for more. Sanders also opposes the proposed “no-fly-zone” in Syria which many experts feel would endanger civilians while risking a direct conflict with Russia that could spiral out of control.

Sanders supports a truly diplomacy-first foreign policy

Sanders is not afraid to take bold positions on behalf of diplomacy and conflict resolution. He was a vocal and visible leader in the debate about the Iran nuclear deal and forcefully rebutted the deal’s critics like Benjamin Netanyahu. Now, like President Obama, he wants to build on the Iran deal to help reduce tensions in the Middle East. Recently, when Sanders expressed cautious optimism about normalized relations with Iran he was immediately pounced on by opponents as naive  —  despite the fact that allies like Canada and Europe are eagerly moving towards economic and diplomatic normalization with Iran. We need someone who can seize and sustain diplomatic openings.

Sanders has articulated a much more cautious approach to regime change and military intervention than the other leading candidates for president. In the run up to the Gulf War (1991) and the Iraq War (2002) he pushed for a diplomatic resolution. He is also resisting the growing saber rattling and talk of a new Cold War by some U.S. and Russian politicians. Sanders instead calls for a diplomatic approach to the conflict in Eastern Europe.

Sanders’s campaign is also making a critical strategic point that the country needs to hear: If the military fight against extremism in the Middle East continues to be led by the U.S., the extremists’ recruitment narrative  —  and thereby their lasting power  —  is strengthened. In the long run that makes us all less safe. Most experts agree that only political and diplomatic solutions can bring stability to Iraq, Syria and Libya. But Sanders is the rare elected official willing to resist the climate of fear that leads to band-aid military tactics. He instead champions the tools that can really keep us safer.

Sanders is taking on Pentagon bloat

Bernie Sanders is one of the leading voices in Congress in the fight against wasteful Pentagon spending. He has opposed the special war-funding account that is being used as a “slush fund” for the Pentagon. He’s repeatedly pointed out that the Pentagon’s out of control spending is based on Cold War era military thinking and weapons systems. Sanders also points out that the Pentagon budget is so mismanaged that the Pentagon is unable to say where they actually spend all their money.

Sanders knows that diplomacy, humanitarian aid, and economic development are often more effective security building tools than military intervention. He’s pushed to reform security spending by cutting wasteful Pentagon weapons systems and foreign arms transfers to increase spending for programs that work to prevent conflict and build stability.

Getting Big Money out of our politics is as important for a progressive foreign policy as for domestic priorities. Economic fairness and truly secure communities are linked.

Sanders is the only candidate challenging the power of the military-industrial complex and their campaign contributions. Pentagon industry insiders are reaping record profits for weapons systems that aren’t needed given our real twenty-first century security needs. Meanwhile other needs that also contribute to real security for U.S. communities are starved for funds.

Sanders has smart, concrete proposals for an accessible education system; for fixing our crumbling infrastructure; for investments in clean energy and a healthy of the environment; and for a strong, resilient universal health care system. In the twenty-first century these things are part of what makes our communities truly safe and secure. It will be very difficult to fund those proposals without taking on entrenched interests that benefit from a military budget that currently gobbles up half of discretionary expenditures.

“I would ask all of my colleagues to remember what Eisenhower said [about how the military-industrial complex robs from social investments] and understand that today, when we have this bloated and huge military budget, there are people who are talking about massive cuts in food stamps, massive cuts in education, massive cuts in affordable housing, cuts in Social Security, cuts in Medicare, cuts in Medicaid. I would argue very strongly that before we cut from the elderly and the children and the sick and the poor, maybe we take a hard look at this bloated military budget.”

—  Bernie Sanders on the floor of the U.S. Senate, December 2013

In support of Sanders’ low donor campaign, Peace Action asks its supporters to donate here:


Budget Brinksmanship is Back

December 10, 2015

Government funding runs out tomorrow and the Republican leadership is holding the budget hostage to try to pass poison pill riders on issues from blocking Syrian refugees to stopping the president’s climate change initiatives.

Please ask Congress to pass a clean appropriations bill with no destructive policy riders.

This brinkmanship is a symptom of wider problems with budget politics. October’s temporary budget deal narrowly averted a government shutdown and first-ever US default. But we are not out of the woods of the disastrous austerity politics that have plagued Washington—and the country— since passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA) in 2011.

Republicans are still insisting on adding destructive “riders” that would strike down environmental protections, undermine labor rights, gut consumer protections and the few shreds that still remain of campaign finance reform.

There is still time to tell your Members of Congress you want a budget without “gifts” to powerful interests that will hurt the environment, widen the income gap between the super rich and the rest of us and increase funding for weapons, war and nuclear overkill.

Tell Congress to pass a clean appropriations bill with no poison pills. Peace Action has joined with a coalition of national organizations in a People’s Budget Campaign to push for a budget that funds human needs and cuts Pentagon pork. This budget plan was written by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and provides a realistic alternative to current budget politics which favor runaway military budgets and tax cuts for the rich over the needs of our communities.

Our immediate goal is to pass “clean” appropriations bills without these damaging policy riders in order to avoid the risk of another devastating government shutdown. In the long term we want to build support for a budget that truly invests in the well-being of our communities and cuts unnecessary defense spending.

Tell Congress to stop playing politics with the welfare of the American people!

 

Special thanks to Jon Rainwater and Cole Harrison for their work on this alert


Tell Congress: No Poison Pills in the Federal Budget!

December 2, 2015

October’s temporary budget deal narrowly averted a government shutdown and first-ever US default.  But we are not out of the woods from the disastrous “austerity” politics that have plagued Washington—and the country— since passage of the Budget Control Act (BCA) in 2011.

Although the deal lifts Budget Control Act “caps” for two years by $80 billion, this is not enough to restore the 14% cuts to domestic programs since 2010. Deeper “sequester” cuts mandated by the 10 year BCA kick in again in 2017. And unfortunately, this budget still allocates more than 50% of discretionary spending to the Pentagon, including a $33 billion increase in FY2016.

Meanwhile, Tea Party forces are still threatening to hold up spending bills and risk a government shutdown by Dec. 11, by demanding that Congress adopt destructive “riders” creating a host of restrictions in areas such as environment, labor, Syrian refugees, consumer finance and health protections.

Tell Congress to pass a “clean” appropriations bill with no destructive policy riders in December 2015!

Peace Action has joined with a coalition of national organizations in a People’s Budget Campaign to say “No” to austerity and “Yes” to a People’s Budget, as proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Our immediate goal is to pass “clean” appropriations bills without damaging policy riders in order to avoid the risk of another devastating government shutdown.

In the long term we want to build support for a budget that truly invests in the well-being of our people and cuts unnecessary defense spending. That budget is the “People’s Budget” which will be filed again this March by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Tell Congress to stop playing politics with the welfare of the American people!

Peacefully yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


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.


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.


For Peace and Prosperity, Support the People’s Budget

March 23, 2015

MOVE circle

On Tuesday, the Republicans introduced a draconian budget proposal that would gut Medicare, defund the Affordable Care Act, and make deep cuts to domestic programs such as food stamps, housing, education, and the environment.   They’ve made these proposals before — but since they now control both Houses of Congress, it might really pass. Their budget would increase the Pentagon’s slush fund that pays for the Afghanistan war and the war on ISIS.

But the Congressional Progressive Caucus has an alternative.  They call it the People’s Budget: A Raise For America, and it is the polar opposite of the Republicans’ budget proposal.

Congress will vote on budget proposals as early as next week – so contact your Representative TODAY and ask him or her to vote for the People’s Budget.

While working families face smaller paychecks, corporations and the super rich are amassing record wealth.  American families know the system is rigged in favor of the corporations. The People’s Budget makes the economy work for everyone. It creates high quality jobs and reduces family expenses, restoring the buying power of working Americans to drive a full economic recovery.

The People’s Budget creates 8.4 million good paying jobs by 2018; invests $1.9 trillion in America’s future; and puts $820 billion towards infrastructure and transportation improvements.   Ask your Representative to support the People’s Budget!

The People’s Budget cuts waste from the base military budget, eliminates the Pentagon’s “Overseas Contingency Operations” slush fund, ends the US military presence in Afghanistan after 2016, cuts unnecessary spending on destabilizing nuclear weapons, requires that the Pentagon be audited, and invests in diplomacy.  It also provides a new framework to transition workers in military industries to good jobs in the civilian sector.

The People’s Budget would bring in revenue and redress extreme inequality by closing corporate tax loopholes and by a progressive tax on incomes over $1 million a year.   It takes on the climate crisis by imposing a carbon tax as well as by funding transportation improvements.

The People’s Budget is a package that brings together the big issues – taxes, jobs, government services, and militarism – and asks our Members of Congress to take a stand for peace and justice and against austerity and war.  Support of the Progressive Caucus budget in Congress has grown over the years. Let’s keep up the momentum by adding more support this year!   Will your Representative vote for the People’s Budget?

Write Congress now to support the People’s Budget.

For Peace and Justice,

Cole Harrison
Executive Director, Massachusetts Peace Action
National Peace Action Move the Money Working Group Convener

P.S.  Please click now to ask your Representative to support the People’s Budget!


Peace and Climate Justice: Inseparable

September 29, 2014

–Judith Le Blanc, Field Director

stop the wars stop the warming

The largest climate justice march in history thronged New York City September 21 and Peace Action helped to make it happen.

Why? We because we believe that the only way we can save Mother Earth is by ending wars and militarism, which are the biggest obstacles to funding initiatives to address global warming. Wars prevent and disrupt the necessary collaboration between countries to address climate crisis. Both wars and climate crisis require a political solution which can only become a reality if the climate justice movement links to ending wars and militarism and the peace movement connects to justice: climate, economic and racial justice.

Peace Action, as a national endorser, jumped into the organizing from the beginning launching the Peoples Climate March Peace and Justice Hub. The Hub brought together peace and faith groups to organize a No War, No Warming contingent and rally. George Martin, Peace Action Education Fund board member, Cole Harrison, executive director of Massachusetts Peace Action (MAPA), Jim Anderson, Peace Action of New York State (PANYS) Chair and Natia Bueno, PANYS Student Outreach Coordinator, led the way.

Peace Action affiliates and activist members worked on filling buses, outreach and preparing the logistics for pre-march rally. PAEF board member George Martin said, “It is very significant that Peace Action was engaged from national to affiliate level, volunteering, planning and giving leadership on how war and militarism and climate justice are interconnected.”

Mass banner

MAPA drafted the Appeal to the Peace and Climate Movement outlining the high stakes and why the peace movement must join in the mobilization. It also argues for why we need a peace and justice movement, which must address the root causes of wars and inequality as the basis for strengthening our work.

Peace Action affiliates worked with allies to fill the buses from as far away as Milwaukee. The Coalition for Peace Action organized a conference with local environmental leaders in the lead up to the march.

PANYS mobilized its membership, especially student chapters across the state. Natia Bueno co-chaired the No War, No Warming pre-march rally.  She was excited by the turnout, stating “It was amazing to see so many people, especially from so many different ages, states, and walks of life come together under the idea of saving our planet.” The pre-march rally included peace and justice speakers as well as performers Holly Near and Emma’s Revolution.

Geneseo chapter

We rallied and marched with our banners on Sunday and on Saturday, Peace Action dug into the debates and issues as part of the Climate Convergence.

I spoke on two panels at the convergence. The first panel, Climate Change and Militarism: Following the Money and Understanding the Costs was sponsored by Institute for Policy Studies and the International Peace Bureau. Both groups spoke about their new reports: Demilitarization for Deep Decarbonization and Military vs Climate Security: The Budgets Compared.

I presented a case study on the work underway in Wisconsin to organize a local initiative to support labor, local elected officials, peace and community groups to develop a defense industry transition project. The premise of the case study was that facts need to be translated into local movement building that will improve peoples’ lives. Peace Action’s Move the Money Campaign aims to build a movement for local, green, sustainable economic development which is not dependent on military contracts for good paying jobs.

The second panel in which I participated examined how to build the movement to save Mother Earth from climate and nuclear destruction. The panel included the Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands , Tony DeBrum, who spoke about the impact of the historic lawsuit brought by the Marshallese government against the U.S. for the nuclear weapons testing which has harmed generations of the Marshallese people.

The panel also included the Mayor of Des Moines, Iowa, Franklin Cownie, a leader of Mayors for Peace who discussed the significance of the resolution calling for nuclear disarmament and demilitarizing the federal budget passed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Natia, the PANYS student organizer said, “I knew the numbers were going to be large, but it was another thing seeing it. It was amazing to see so many students there. In my experience, I have seen people especially around my age or younger not caring about the future. It was a nice to be surrounded by that many people that care. I only hope that it sparks others to start caring.”

A ready-made resource for immediate follow-up with our allies is a new film for local events. Longtime Peace Action supporter and documentary filmmaker John Ankele has a new film on climate change, “The Wisdom to Survive: Climate Change, Capitalism and Community,” available for community screenings or individual purchase.


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