Action Alert: The Other Existential Threat

January 14, 2016
Return of the Asparagus Missile! (from our Japanese colleague organization Gensuikin)

Return of the Asparagus Missile! (from our Japanese colleague organization Gensuikin)

It appears President Obama forgot something.  In his State of the Union message last night he touched on the need to confront one of the great existential dangers of our time – climate change – but failed to even mention the other – the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation.

Considering his past writings and speeches, President Obama has stated his concern about the multiple threats posed by nuclear weapons and he promised in his 2009 Prague speech to do something about it.

ACTION
Ask President Obama in his final year as President, to turn the words of his 2009 Prague speech into action.  Urge him cancel plans to spend hundreds of billions to modernize our nuclear arsenal.  Canceling this nuclear weapons forever program would reduce the danger of nuclear proliferation and the likelihood of nuclear war –either accidential or intentional – with all its corresponding menace, radioactive contamination, nuclear winter, widespread devastation, starvation, and suffering.

Plans to modernize the US nuclear arsenal will likely cost upward of a trillion dollars, assuming future presidents follow through with the new bombers, submarines and land-based missiles, along with planned upgrades of eight factories and laboratories.

This danger is real. Plans for a new cruise missile, for example, at a cost of $30 billion, comes in nuclear and non-nuclear varieties, meaning a nation under attack won’t know what kind of warhead the missile is carrying which might lead to a nuclear response to a non-nuclear attack.

I could spend all day writing about these costly, crazy plans and the danger they represent, but I need you instead to write President Obama right now, and tell him to fulfill his Prague promise and lead the world to a nuclear free future.  After you’re done you can google the term ‘accidental nuclear war’ and see for yourself.

Let this be the year the US cancels its nuclear weapons forever program.

 

Peacefully yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. –   If you prefer, you can contact the White House comment line at 202 456-1111 (9:00 am to 5:00 pm eastern time) or write President Obama at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500. You could even fax him at 202 456-2461.  Thank you taking action.


Petition: Begin negotiations to end the war in Syria

October 23, 2015

Years of negotiations with Iran paid off.  Now we need to see the same commitment and determination from our government to stop the Syrian civil war.

We need a political solution, not more bombing. Weapons transfers and the imposition of a no-fly zone will only add fuel to the fire.

Please take action by signing our petition to end the war and take steps to deal effectively with the humanitarian crisis that war has spawned. 

Peace Action has joined with many of the same allies that worked with us to secure the Iran peace accord pressure to our government to begin comprehensive negotiations with all the key stakeholders, including Russia and Iran.

The longer we wait to have comprehensive peace talks to work out a peace plan, the longer the war and refugee crisis will continue. The petition is the next step,, it sets the stage for follow-up actions and builds support for specific legislation we expect to see shortly to deal with the refugee crisis.

Please take action now and forward this petition to your family and friends and ask them to take action as well.

Humbly for Peace,

Paul Kawika Martin
Political Director
Peace Action


There They Go Again, R’s Still Trying to Scuttle the Iran Peace Accord!

September 16, 2015

peace_with_iran21

If by the end of tomorrow no legislation is passed to oppose the Iran agreement, it will move forward.  Republicans have tried to ditch the accord but Democrats in the Senate have blocked them twice now.  Even if such a bill passed, President Obama would veto and it is very clear that there is enough support for the Iran accord to sustain the veto.

Nevertheless, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) continues to play games by forcing useless votes.

Last night, after the Democrats blocked an opposition vote, McConnell introduced an amendment prohibiting the Iran accord from proceeding until Iran recognizes Israel’s right to exist and frees the American prisoners in Iran.  These are important issues but completely separate from the nuclear agreement.

Clearly, this is a last minute attempt by Republicans to embarrass Democrats and kill diplomacy with Iran that six countries negotiated over several years to limit Iran’s nuclear program and keep it peaceful.

We expect votes to occur tomorrow night, so please dial (855) 68 NO WAR (66 927 toll free) to reach both your Senators now and say:

I am a constituent and I support the Iran agreement as is.  I want my Senator to oppose any attempts to delay, change or kill the important Iran accord.

While we are pretty sure we have the votes to move the Iran deal forward, we will not declare victory until tomorrow’s votes are finished.  Even then, we expect hawks in Congress to continue to make implementing the Iran agreement difficult.  With your calls, we will prevail.

Peacefully yours,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action

P.S. – Efforts by Senate Republicans to kill the Iran accord must be stopped.  Though they have been defeated twice, several votes will occur tomorrow to thwart the Iran agreement.  Please call both your Senators now and say:

“I am a constituent and I support the Iran agreement as is.  I want my Senator to oppose any attempts to delay, change or kill the important Iran accord.”

After calling, please forward this important email.

*Thanks to Friends Committee on National Legislation for the toll-free number.


Senate shenanigans on Iran accord continue, but Peace is greater than Fear!

September 15, 2015

img-thing

Who knows why, but the Senate is again “debating” (I’d say speechifying) the Iran nuclear accord. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) scheduled another cloture vote for 6:00 today (with the vote being held open for several hours because of Rosh Hashanah)  less than a week after the last vote failed 58-42 (60 votes are needed to invoke cloture, end debate and move to a vote on a piece of legislation). Even worse, they may do it again on Thursday.

UPDATE, 6:45 Eastern time — Majority “Leader” McConnell a short while ago said if cloture failed again as expected, he will file an amendment (to what is TBD) stopping the president from lifting sanctions on Iran until it formally recognizes “Israel’s right to exist” (his words) and releases all US prisoners. Grandstanding? I guess we’ll see. 

This is a waste of time, as the House action was last Friday. The Iran nuclear agreement will go into effect once the Congressional review period expires in two days. Republicans want to:

a. embarrass the president and force him to veto their disapproval of the accord (not happening);

b. stage a show vote for the benefit of AIPAC, Netanyahu and the “pro-Israel lobby”;

c. avoid doing the peoples’ business (like, say, passing funding bills to keep the government functioning);

d. all of the above?

To me this isn’t even the real question. It’s what are the opponents of diplomacy afraid of? To hear their speeches, Iran is the worst threat to life on Earth ever, and even more, the most fiendishly clever country ever to engage in diplomatic negotiations. Somehow Iran was able to hornswoggle the US, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia at the bargaining table to get an agreement that will let Iran run amok over the security concerns of everyone else in the region, more or less.

Rubbish.

Time to reject fear, which is the only tool the opponents of the Iran peace accord have.

Diplomacy, and Peace, are greater than Fear.


Update on Congress and Iran Accord: Sausage and legislation…

September 9, 2015

constitution

…are still the two things one doesn’t want to watch being made (well I’ve had some very good vegan sausages lately which one probably could watch being made but that’s beside the point). Opponents of the Iran nuclear peace accord are in a lather to try anything and everything to kill it, and they don’t have much time, what with other important congressional business staring them down, including another possible government shut-down at the end of the month. (Tempted to ask, all in favor say “Aye!”)

Long story short-ish: In the Senate, we have 42 senators (all Democrats) in favor of the Iran accord, which is better than we expected. This means the Iran deal will most likely survive. If both Houses actually vote to disapprove the deal, which is now somewhat in question as the next paragraph will explain, the 42 Senate supporters would uphold a presidential veto of the disapproval vote, and we expect we will have similar support of at least 1/3 of the House of Representatives (a 2/3 majority vote is needed to override a presidential veto).

The Senate plans to vote on the Iran accord tomorrow, 9/11, very cynical. There is some (un-) senatorial to-ing and fro-ing about procedure that is too arcane to bother with, so let’s just keep it simple. Please call your senators to make sure they know you support the agreement as negotiated with no funny business, no amendments. The Capitol Switchboard is at 202/ 224-3121. Calls only take a minute or two, ask to speak to your senators (this means two calls) and just let them know you support the Iran peace deal.

In the House, there is a revolt by members of the Liberty Caucus who claim, absurdly, at the 11th hour, that the vote cannot take place, and as a matter of fact that the congressional time period for acting (or not) on the agreement is in fact not over September 17th, as previously agreed all around, but that the 60 day clock has not even started since the Obama Administration did not transmit to Congress two “side agreements” between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the White House doesn’t even have access to, as is customary in IAEA agreements with countries where it is inspecting nuclear facilities. Scratching your head? Don’t blame you.

This plan was hatched Tuesday night at a Republican conference meeting in the basement of a Tortilla Coast restaurant on Capitol Hill, overturning the Rules Committee’s agreement from that very afternoon on how to treat the vote. One is tempted to speculate it was after several pitchers of margaritas.

So now instead of the expected resolution to disapprove the agreement, it appears the House will vote Friday on the following three pieces of sausage, I mean legislation:

  • H. Res. 411—Finding that the President has not complied with section 2 of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (the bill that established the congressional review process and 60 day period). This is a non-binding resolution meant to set up a lawsuit against the president.
  • H.R. 3460—To suspend until January 21, 2017, the authority of the President to waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit the application of sanctions pursuant to an agreement related to the nuclear program of Iran (this would effectively kill the deal, but if passed would be vetoed by the president and upheld if an override vote were held).
  • H.R. 3461—To approve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed at Vienna on July 14, 2015, relating to the nuclear program of Iran (this of course will fail since all Republicans at this point oppose the deal, and is meant to embarrass the president and the deal supporters).

Again, this is more than one could be expected to understand, even many of us who have done this kind of work for a long time. To simplify, just call your representative (same number as above) and tell her or him to ignore the tomfoolery and sausage slicing and dicing and support the diplomatic accord with Iran that is supported by most of the world.

 


Pro-Iran Diplomacy Op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

August 26, 2015

by Norman Robbins of Cleveland Peace Action

Iran nuclear deal – the pros outweigh the cons

When arguments about the Iran nuclear deal rage over arcane matters such as the allowable kilograms of low enriched uranium, the reliability of Additional Protocol inspections, or whether Iran can reprocess spent fuel, most of us find our eyes glazing over. We really just want to know whether the nuclear deal has sufficiently blocked all pathways to building a nuclear weapon for a reasonable period. As adults, we know that a fair deal was bound to leave each side somewhat dissatisfied. But is the big picture positive or negative?

One way to decide is to evaluate the credibility of those holding differing views. When we do so, it appears that on balance, most qualified experts who have spoken out publicly favor the deal.

For starters, a great many published statements of support for the deal have come from eminent military, nuclear, diplomatic and nonproliferation experts, altogether totaling hundreds of individuals (see references at https://peaceblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/validators-of-iran-nuclear-deal/). The number of these experts, many who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, absolutely dwarfs the handful of bona fide experts (not including media pundits) who oppose the deal.

For instance, more than 80 Israeli former military and intelligence leaders support the deal or at least have advised Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop opposing it, and reportedly few Israeli military people say the deal is a major detriment to Israel.

So why should we listen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warnings of dire consequences? Do Israel’s military and intelligence leaders know or care less about Israel’s security than Netanyahu?

In stark contrast, Netanyahu, the leader of the charge to scuttle the agreement, has a long history of making confident predictions that have turned out to be dead wrong. From 1992 to 2012 (for 20 years!), he repeatedly predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb in three years or less.

Wrong! Since 2007, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus of 16 intelligence agencies, repeatedly affirmed that Iran has not worked on a nuclear weapon since 2003 and has not decided whether to do so.

Netanyahu ”guaranteed” Congress in 2002 that ”the Iraq War would have enormous positive reverberations in the region.”

Wrong! We all know how that fiasco turned out.

Netanyahu has demanded that a nuclear deal with Iran must compel Iran to totally dismantle its nuclear program.

Wrong! We know for a fact that precisely this demand undermined U.S.-European attempts at negotiation with Iran from 2003 to 2013. Numerous polls have shown that Iranians proudly consider their peaceful nuclear program as non-negotiable, especially in view of their dismal history of humiliating quasi-colonial interventions.

Stack up these major and repeated wrong-headed blunders, many contrary to the advice and opinion of experienced experts, and it is clear that one should set little stock by what Netanyahu and his followers claim, especially in the category of hyperbolic fearmongering (e.g., that Iran is going to attack the United States or Israel with nukes).

Those who oppose the deal assure us that we can get a better deal if we sack this one, but most experienced diplomats disagree. European, Chinese and Russian ambassadors have told members of Congress that the sanctions would collapse and no new deal could emerge if Congress sank the deal. Claims that the United States could impose ”secondary” sanctions on countries that resume trade with Iran have been countered by economic experts who point out that the resulting losses of trade (e.g. with China and Southeast Asian countries) would greatly harm the U.S. economy.

Again, naysayers assert that if the deal falls through and Iran restores its pre-existing nuclear capacity, we can always default to military action. Indeed, one of Netanyahu’s major U.S. financial supporters, Sheldon Adelson, publicly proposed dropping nukes on Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear program, and Netanyahu has never disavowed that genocidal proposal.

How credible are these people? Once again, 36 retired U.S. military leaders, who know well the dire unintended consequences of heedless military action, say we must try the diplomatic approach long before we contemplate military action.

We have some 20,000 American sailors and perhaps 10,000 soldiers on bases within easy reach of enormous numbers of Iranian ship- and shore-based missiles. Do we really want to put their lives at risk by refusing to listen to voices of reason and experience?

Will our still-uncommitted Ohio Congress members — Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur, Tim Ryan and Joyce Beatty — have the courage to resist pressure and be among those listeners? 

 

Robbins is an emeritus professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University and Iran consultant to Cleveland Peace Action.


Peace Actionistas in the press in support of the Iran peace deal

July 31, 2015

peace girl

Besides pressuring Congress, getting our voices for peace into the media is one of the most important things we can do to support the Iran nuclear deal. Please check out these media hits, and like/promote/circulate as you see fit.

Jon Rainwater, Peace Action West Executive Director in Huffington Post — Huckabee, Trump, Netanyahu and the politics of provocation

Michael Carrigan of our associate organization Community Alliance of Lane County (Eugene, Oregon) in the Register-Guard — If Congress rejects Iran deal, we lose our chance for peace

Peace Action National Board of Directors member Carol Kiger Allen in the Trenton, NJ Times (second letter down) — Thoughts on nuclear deal with Iran

Peace Action National Board of Directors member Professor Lawrence Wittner in the Albany Times-Union — Iran deal cause for celebration

Lastly, not published except on this blog, national board member Lauri Kallio from Albuquerque, NM:

In the July 18 Albuquerque Journal, syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer attacked the deal, devoting special attention to the conventional arms and ballistic missiles embargoes; in addition, Krauthammer contended that undeclared sites could not be inspected. I wrote a letter to the Journal in which I pointed out that without the embargoes, other nations, particularly China and Russia, could be selling conventional arms and ballistic missile components to Iran today.
In regard to inspections, the agreement allows international inspectors to inspect declared sites for periods ranging from fifteen to twenty-five years, depending on the type of activity involved. For undeclared sites, Iran will have about two weeks to consider a request for inspections. If Iran refuses to allow an inspection, a joint commission will have a period of time to mandate an inspection. The provision is tailored so that three of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the U.S., Great Britain and France, for example — can issue a binding decision to inspect. Even if China, Russia and Iran acted in concert to block the inspection, they could not prevail.
Lastly, I wrote that Krauthammer had not presented a viable alternative. Renegotiation would almost certainly be a non-starter, because even our partners would not be with us, and Iran would not agree to grant any more concessions than those already made. Harsher sanctions would more deeply impoverish the great mass of the seventy million Iranian people.
The only remaining alternative would be military action. The United States does not need another Middle Eastern war; also, because President Barack Obama made the unwise vow that if Iran crosses an unspecified red line, the U.S. will take military action, with the use of nuclear weapons not ruled out, great damage, not confined to Iran, would be the result. A computer simulation concluded that if nuclear weapons are used to try to destroy Iran’s deeply buried nuclear facilities, as many as three million people could be killed due to blast effects and radioactive fallout.
FROM THE INCONGRUITY DEPARTMENT: 1.) It is incongruous for nations that supply nations around the world with conventional weapons to try to prevent Iran from getting any; 2.) It is incongruous that nations with a a collective 16,000+ nuclear warheads (according to the PCU Nagasaki Council for Nuclear Weapons Abolition) should be trying to prevent Iran from getting even one; and 3.) It is incongruous that the U.S. and other allies who engage in the foreign policy fiction that Israel does not have a nuclear weapons arsenal, would try to move heaven and earth to prevent Iran from developing even one warhead for ever and ever.

 

 

 


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