Love Can Conquer Suffering: Seeking Joy, Wisdom and Effectiveness from Gandhi and King

March 21, 2016

Peace Action Executive Director gave this talk yesterday at an event at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Binghamton, NY. The event kicked off a 3 1/2 year series on Gandhi’s legacy, which will culminate in 2019, his 150th birthday. Broome County Peace Action is to be commended for a terrific event, and for the foresight in planing this series! Thank you to Wilton Vought for the excellent video and audio recording, this is also on his blog Other Voices, Other Choices.

(Here is a live performance of the song, Peace on Earth, by the awesome New Jersey jamgrass titans Railroad Earth, from whence I borrowed the “love can conquer suffering” phrase for the title of my remarks. Kevin)


Largest Peace Group Endorses Sanders

February 10, 2016

 

Washington, DC — February 10, 2016 — For the first time in nearly 25 years, Peace Action PAC, the political action committee of Peace Action (the largest peace group in the U.S.) has endorsed a candidate for President:  Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for the Democratic primary.

“Peace Action PAC is proud to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) for the Democratic presidential primary.  With Sanders’ opposition to both Iraq Wars, support for the significant reduction of nuclear weapons, endorsement of the Iran agreement, championing the reduction of Pentagon spending and general support of diplomacy over war, he best represents the values that Peace Action and its 200,000 supporters have espoused for nearly 60 years,” said Kevin Martin, Peace Action’s executive director.

The organization has a high-bar for presidential endorsements requiring the agreement of two-thirds of its board of directors.  Before the board voted, it polled its supporters, and Sanders received 85% support.  The Sanders endorsement easily passed with near unanimity.

“Sanders opposed the proposed Syria airstrikes in 2013, sending arms to Syrian rebels, and military escalation in the region with U.S. special ops forces.  His clear preference to find alternatives to costly, ineffectual and many times backfiring military intervention, making him deserving of Peace Action PAC’s rare endorsement,” added Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action PAC’s director.

In support of Sanders’ low donor campaign, Peace Action asks its supporters to donate here (Note that donations are split between Sanders and Peace Action PAC, though you may adjust that to your preference):

###

About Peace Action:

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. http://twitter.com/PaulKawika

Notes to Editors:

For a more reasons why Peace Action PAC endorsed Sanders:

https://peaceblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/top-5-reasons-peace-action-pac-is-endorsing-bernie-sanders-for-president/

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

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

If you wish to unsubscribe from further emails from Peace Action, please write pmartin@peace-action.org with UNSUBSCRIBE in the subject line.


Tell the Senate: diplomacy worked with Iran, time to use it with Syria

October 6, 2015

'Nuff said?

Last week, with the help of our affiliates and allies, Connecticut Representative Jim Himes quickly organized a letter signed by 55 Members of Congress to President Obama calling for international talks to end the Syrian civil war, talks that include Russia and Iran.

It’s time for the other Congressional chamber, the Senate, to speak up.  President Obama, other leaders and experts agree that the main solution to the crisis in Syria is a political one.  Yet, comprehensive negotiations between all the key stakeholders have yet to occur.

Write your Senators now and ask that they make a statement or send a letter like Rep. Himes sent to support international talks and diplomacy.

As you know, with Syria’s invite, Russia started conducting airstrikes in Syria.  Now military hawks are suggesting the U.S. enforce a no-fly zone.  The Obama administration and others rightfully point out that such actions would like only escalate the situation.  Again, international talks- not jet fighters- are more apt to stop the civil war.

Take a moment now and tell your Senators to speak out for diplomacy with Syria and against military escalation by way of a no-fly zone.

The longer we wait to have comprehensive peace talks to work out a peace plan, the longer the war and refugee crisis will continue. Take action now and forward this message to your family and friends and ask them to take action as well.


Peace Action Statement on US Helicopter Crash at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan

August 12, 2015

Okinawa, Japan — August 12, 2015 — Hours after Paul Kawika Martin, the policy and political director of the United State’s largest peace organization, Peace Action, addressed protesters in front of Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan a U.S. helicopter crashed in the ocean near the base. He is available for phone, in-person or Skype interviews in Okinawa and released the following statement from in front of the base:

“I am glad that all 17 crew were rescued from the helicopter crash at Camp Schwab in Okinawa, Japan. I hope that all physical and mental injuries heal quickly.

This accident happens one day before the 11th anniversary of another U.S. helicopter crash that occurred at the Okinawa International University. Accidents such as these occur regularly and the consequences could be much worse with residential communities extremely close to U.S. bases in Okinawa.

This is why nearly 80% of Okinawans oppose U.S. bases. Peace Action supports Okinawans in their request that the U.S. military leave the island. U.S. bases take up nearly a fifth of the island, which is larger than the U.S Virgin Islands. Despite their opposition, Okinawans are forced to pay through their tax dollars subsidies to the U.S. government to help cover costs of the bases while they suffer noise pollution, contaminated lands, chemical spill and aircraft accident risk and possible loss of income from tourism.

Though the U.S. is taking a small step by planning to move some troops to Guam, they plan on expanding the base in Henoko by filling in delicate, ocean reef environments to build two large runways. It is time that the U.S. listen to local Okinawans and relocate all U.S. military bases to Hawaii and other alternate locations where similar training can occur.”


Peace Action Conference in Boston Nov. 8 – Chomsky, Kinzer, Bennis, Fletcher, Le Blanc and you!

October 22, 2014

A Foreign Policy for All

Re-Thinking U.S. Foreign Policy for the 21st Century

Saturday, November 8, 2014, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
MIT Room 34-101, 50 Vassar St, Cambridge, MA 

Confirmed Speakers
Noam Chomsky, MIT Institute Professor, author,Profit Over People: Neoliberalism and Global Order Bill Fletcher, former president, Trans Africa Forum; author, They’re Bankrupting Us! And 20 other Myths about Unions Phyllis Bennis, director, New Internationalism Project, Institute for Policy Studies Stephen KinzerBoston  columnist;  author,

Globe columnist;  author,The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War

Judith Leblanc, Field Director, Peace Action; former co-chair, UFPJ; member of the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma

After over a decade of costly military engagements in overseas wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States still maintains an interventionist, military-first foreign policy. Weary of this unsustainable status quo, growing numbers of Americans are engaging in a wide-ranging debate about the values and goals of U.S. foreign policy, the necessary levels of military spending, and the appropriate role for the U.S. in the world in the 21st century. As a result, there is now a unique window of opportunity for deep and critical reflection over the key priorities of U.S. foreign policy going forward.

In this one-day conference to be held immediately after the midterm election, we will both critique current foreign policy approaches that exacerbate global insecurity, and attempt to outline a more positive vision of U.S. global engagement. This vision is one that meets the actual security needs of people around the world, and is consistent with the principles of peace and justice for all. We will also explore the actions needed to make the changes we seek. The discussion will respond to a draft paper prepared by a working group. Read a summary of the Foreign Policy for All project.

Conference Schedule and List of Workshops will be posted soon at http://masspeaceaction.org/5872.

Conference fee: $25 before Oct. 29 for members of sponsoring organizations, $30 for others, $35 at the door, $10 for students and low income; free to MIT students.  Fee includes morning coffee and lunch.  Register at fp4a-conf.bpt.me/ or mail check to Massachusetts Peace Action, 11 Garden St, Cambridge, MA 02138; write “FP4A” on memo line.  Info: 617 354 2169

Host: MIT Technology and Culture Forum

Co-Sponsors: Massachusetts Peace Action, American Friends Service Committee, MIT Western Hemisphere Association, United for Justice with Peace, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom – Boston Branch, Massachusetts Global Action

Info: masspeaceaction.org/fp4a-conf


April 15 Tax Day/GDAMS: New Materials & Organizing Tips

March 25, 2014

+GDAMS-AdBy Judith Le Blanc, Field Director, Peace Action

April 15 Tax Day and the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is shaping up to be a great day of grassroots activity, education and pressure on the US Congress to Move the Money from the Pentagon to fund human needs and jobs. A day when all will be reminded that not all pay their fair share, as well! Be sure to list events here.

• NEW MATERIALS:

1. State Tax Receipts: 52 state tax receipts prepared by National Priorities Project are available. You can download the receipt and paste into the Tax Day/GDAMS templates to hand out at events or post to your website. Tip: print to scale is the setting needed to print out on 8 1/2″ x 11″paper.

2. The new Pie Chart: War Resisters League has prepared its annual “Pie Chart” on where our tax dollars go as well as a training curriculum.

3. Tools for local action: Ask your mayor to issue a Tax Day/ Global Day of Action proclamation. Mayors for Peace & Western States Legal Foundation have drafted a sample proclamation, tips and background materials from the US Conference of Mayors resolution on cutting the Pentagon budget to fund human needs.

Tax Day/GDAMS not just a single day of action: part of an ongoing effort to build a movement strong enough to move the money from the Pentagon to fund jobs and human needs. The 3 webinars/conference calls organized thus far have attracted a wide cross section of local organizers. Over 100 people joined the March 19 webinar from 23 states. Recording is here.

Next webinar: April 2 hosted by the New Priorities Network and conducted by the Pentagon Budget Campaign and Rethink Media on tips for local organizers: social media, LTE and getting earned media for your events. Peace Action will give an update on Tax Day/GDAMS organizing. A draft email announcement will be done later today or tomorrow.

US groups sponsoring Tax Day/GDAMS events: Alliance for Global Justice, American Friends Service Committee, CODEPINK, Fellowship of Reconciliation, Foreign Policy in Focus, Friends Committee on National Legislation, National Priorities Project, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, United for Peace and Justice, USAction, US Labor Against the War, War Resisters League, Women’s Action for New Directions & Women’s Legislators’

 


April 15 Tax Day: Global Day of Action on Military Spending!

February 20, 2014
VA Organizing at teh Richmond, VA post office on April 15, 2013

VA Organizing at teh Richmond, VA post office on April 15, 2013

By Judith Le Blanc, Peace Action Field Director

The International Peace Bureau’s Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is April 15, US Tax Day. Peace Action is convening a cross section of peace and community, faith-based national groups who are supporting local actions across the country on Tax Day. Tax Day will be a day to shine a light on the Pentagon budget and how it drains the resources needed for our communities.

Not only does our government allocate a majority of the discretionary spending every year on the Pentagon at the expense of human needs and diplomacy, it also is one of the world’s biggest arms dealers.

The Tax Day actions are a call for changing national spending priorities, it is also a day of solidarity with all those who suffer from US wars past and present and the presence of over 1,000 bases around the world. The actions will call attention to the domestic impact of continuing to pour money into the Pentagon budget while community services are cut.

The recent Congressional budget deal delayed the next round of ”sequestration” or across the board budget cuts. Federal budget cuts were made but the Pentagon came out the big winner. In fact, the Overseas Contingency Operations account got bumped up while the war in Afghanistan is winding down creating a slush fund to blunt the impact of cuts!

Initial reports are that the Pentagon will announce their budget on February 24 and will include a $26-28 billion dollar “investment fund.” Yet another maneuver to add money to the budget and relieve the pressure to cut the Pentagon budget!

The April 15 Tax Day local actions will focus on Congress. In April, the Congress will be in the midst of working on the federal budget.

We will send a clear message to our Congressional representatives: ”Move the Money” from wars and weapons to human services and convert military industries into civilian use.

We have commitments from 10 Peace Action affiliates to work with their community allies to organize Congressional lobby visits, town hall meetings, and vigils, leafleting, banner drops or other visibility actions. Please post your event here.

Soon a US website will be up with materials, information and organizing tips. Find out more about what is going on around the world at http://demilitarize.org/

For more information email: JLeBlanc@peace-action.org.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 18,271 other followers

%d bloggers like this: