Hillary to voters: “I got this.” Voters and Bernie to Hillary: “Not so fast.”

February 12, 2016

 

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Somehow I had avoided watching more than a few minutes of any of the presidential debates of either party prior to last night (presumably I’ll live longer for it), but I tuned in to the chatfest from Milwaukee somewhat dutifully. My main interests were how would Bernie Sanders come across (reasonable or no) and how desperate would Hillary Clinton be after the shellacking New Hampshire voters gave her on Tuesday.

Generally speaking, I think Mrs. Clinton is plenty desperate to be president, but for the most part last night she did not betray that, other than nakedly obvious pandering to African American voters in continually praising President Barack Obama. Instead, for now Hillary’s main argument to the voters comes down to “I got this, I can manage things” on whatever issues come up. As Bernie said however (to repeated presumptive off-key “when I’m in the White House” statements by Hillary), she’s not in the White House, yet, and I suspect odds are about even she won’t be come next January.

I could go into her high negatives with voters, her hawkishness and militaristic bent (more on that soon, but it’s not a big stretch to say her 2002 vote to support the Bush/Cheney invasion of Iraq may cost her the presidency once again, as it did in 2008), her Wall Street patrons and other problems, but my main sense is her “I got this” mantra is weak tea compared to Bernie’s call for a political revolution.

One need not necessarily believe our country, the world, humanity and our very Earth are in mortal danger (from MLK’s “triple evils” of racism, militarism and extreme materialism), as I do, to get on board Bernie’s “A future you can believe in” train, though it’s easy to see why young voters, even young women, are doing so in droves. Americans, at least the ones voting in Democratic primaries (to limit the scope of this for now) broadly agree on the problems we face, so the question is not just who has better solutions, but whose campaign wants to empower people to “be the change we seek in the world,” to quote Mohandas Gandhi. One could also just compare, on every issue, that Bernie’s proposals, far from being radical, would actually solve the problems they are intended to address (or at least go a long way toward doing so), while Hillary tut-tuts condescendingly that Bernie is unrealistic, but they share the same goals (a victory for Sanders), and then offers more tepid proposals.

On both scores, concrete solutions and empowerment, Bernie is the far more genuine candidate. I don’t believe it’s even close.

Lastly, recent “I got this” presidential candidates, broadly defined as those who were complacent, overconfident or felt entitled to the White House, usually lose (Jimmy Carter 1980, George Herbert Walker Bush 1992, Bob Dole 1996, Al Gore 2000, John Kerry 2004, John McCain 2008, Mitt Romney 2012). Perhaps Barack Obama was an “I got this” candidate in 2008 and 2012, but he benefited from the country’s revulsion with the Bush/Cheney train wreck and extremely weak general election opponents in McCain (with running mate Sarah Palin!) and then Romney.

So no, Hillary, you ain’t got this, not by a long shot, and your “I will fight for you” mantra rings very hollow to me. You don’t have credible solutions to the crises in health care, the economy, climate change, racism, police brutality, extreme wealth disparity or even your supposed strong suit, foreign policy. Lots more campaigning to do, lots more votes to be counted, and I suspect many more people supporting Bernie for real hope and practical solutions they can help be a part of creating.


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:

###

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:

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.


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:


25th Anniversary of the first U.S. vs. Iraq War

January 21, 2016

no good war banner pic

Last weekend marked 25 years since the first U.S. vs. Iraq War, often called the Persian Gulf War. Executive Director Kevin Martin, along with our colleague Jennifer Bing of the American Friends Service Committee, wrote an op-ed published on AlterNet and did a radio interview yesterday on WBEZ Chicago public radio,


“Those of us who love peace…

January 18, 2016

martinlutherkingpublicdomain1

…must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” MLK, Jr.


Friday Reading Recommendations

January 15, 2016

Geneseo chapter

A few succinct, powerful articles for you from friends of Peace Action:

Code Pink founder and Peace Action Advisory Board member Medea Benjamin on 10 good things about 2015

Korea Peace Network co-founder and Peace Action Advisory Board member Christine Ahn on bringing peace and reconciliation to Korea in the wake of the North Korean nuclear test

The always spot-on Walden Bello on Trump, the ultimate blowback of US foreign policy

Longtime Peace Action supporter Jeff Smith: Where are the peace candidates? (and it’s not just about politics)

The first three articles are from the terrific web publication Foreign Policy in Focus, please consider subscribing to this free weekly journal, it’s chock full of news and views you can use each week!


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.


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