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:

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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

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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


US defense of Israel’s nukes leads to failure of international non-proliferation and disarmament conference

May 27, 2015

We want a nuke free world Picture Petition 041

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

To paraphrase one of my least favorite presidents, Ronald Reagan (though today he’s practically be a liberal), there they went again.

Once again, despite President Obama’s recent assertion that the U.S. would cease knee-jerk support for and protection of Israel at the United Nations, the U.S. delegation to the every-five-years Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon) did just that. Joined by Canada and the United Kingdom and at Israel’s behest, last week the U.S. rejected the convening of a Middle East Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Zone conference, even though it was agreed by consensus at the last RevCon in 2010, and was supposed to have been held in 2012. Binyamin Netanyahu went so far as to publicly thank the U.S. for its interference-running (Reuters). 

The WMD-Free Middle East Zone issue was not the only problem preventing the conference from issuing a consensus final statement on a program for further progress on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as it customarily does. Failure of the existing nuclear states to get serious about abolishing their arsenals, as required by the treaty’s Article VI, is a source of ongoing frustration.

As a matter of fact, the Nuclear Nine (U.S., UK, France, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea), led by the U.S., are moving in the wrong direction, as all have ludicrous, nuclear “modernization” schemes in process or on the drawing board. Uncle Sam is the worst, planning to squander up to $1 trillion of our tax dollars (not. gonna. happen. we will stop this madness!) over 30 years to upgrade the entire nuclear weapons complex, soup to nuts.

Every country has signed the NPT except Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea. (North Korea had signed but later withdrew.) I don’t expect any countries will withdraw from the treaty in frustration, or worse to pursue the Bomb, though that is a possibility. On a more promising note, 107 countries have signed onto the Humanitarian Pledge, led by Austria, committed to pursuing global nuclear weapons abolition as an urgent humanitarian priority, coming out of three recent international conferences focused on the humanitarian and environmental consequences of nukes. That’s obviously not a binding treaty, but it could become one, as there is movement to negotiate a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, starting (unfortunately) without the nuclear states, in order to establish an international norm that nuclear weapons are illegal, as chemical and biological weapons and land mines are.

The timing of this RevCon and the spotlight on its failure over defending Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the world’s most volatile, war-riven region is particularly interesting given the ongoing, promising P5+1 (U.S., UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) peace negotiations with Iran. The talks to reach an agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program and close off all paths to a bomb should it decide to build an arsenal (which it has not) may well succeed within a matter of weeks. It’s too soon to tell whether the NPT flap will affect the Iran talks, but it seems like it was an unnecessary risk and complication. After all, what was at issue was picking up a ball that was dropped previously but that had consensus support coming out of the 2010 RevCon. Would it have been so hard to agree to convene the confab later this year, perhaps capitalizing on the momentum of a possible agreement with Iran? Nobody expects Israel (or the U.S. for that matter) to give up its nukes immediately, but neither is its regional nuclear monopoly sustainable. Without a WMD Free Zone, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Turkey or others might pursue the Bomb, or at least be sorely tempted to do so. Also, ISIS has made public its desire to acquire the Bomb. Shouldn’t that focus attention on the gravity of this matter?

For Peace Action’s part, we continue to support any and all proposals for global elimination of nuclear arms, regardless of the mechanism or forum (a treaty could be written on the back of a cocktail napkin for all we care!). We were proud to be a leader in convening the Peace and Planet mobilization prior to the NPT RevCon, and look forward to continuing to build the movement for nuclear abolition as part of a broader effort to create peace, social, economic, racial and environmental justice.

For more views on the failure of the NPT RevCon and the hypocrisy of the nuclear states, see our colleague Joseph Gerson’s op-ed on truthout, an article by IPS News (also re-published by Common Dreams), and a piece on Pressenza by Tony Robinson.

 


Video of Move the Money training session in New Hampshire

May 27, 2015

Peace Action Education Fund’s Move the Money training program, in conjunction with our friends at National Priorities Project and funded by the Colombe Foundation, is in its third year of training local activists on the Pentagon budget and how to build powerful coalitions to impact federal spending priorities — to move the money from weapons and wars to community needs.

New Hampshire Peace Action hosted this training, and Peace Actionistas from Massachusetts and Maine also attended. Peace Action Maine’s Martha Spiess did a great job filming the session, check it out!


The Brain Trust, the Love Circle and the Seed Sowers

March 24, 2015

photo love circle

 

–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Last week I had a very enjoyable, short work trip to New York City. On Wednesday night, the indefatigable Judy Lerner (90+ years young!), who has served on the Peace Action national board for at least two decades, hosted a wonderful wine and cheese reception at her Manhattan apartment. Close to 30 Peace Action supporters turned up for a relaxed, social soiree, but we also talked a lot of politics as you can imagine (the picture above, taken by my Uncle, Todd Whitmer, who was there along with my brother, Kris Martin, shows just some of the assembled good folk) and raised a bit of much needed dough, thanks to a strong pitch by Joanne Robinson, Peace Action of New York State’s fundraising chair.

A few days before the event, I saw an RSVP list compiled by Sylvia Rodriguez Case, Peace Action of New York State’s superb administrator, and thought, wow, the brain trust of Peace Action in New York will be at the event, that’s great! And I got to thinking about the term “brain trust.” In Peace Action’s case, leadership is a collective, decentralized “brain,” and we have a lot of trust in our leadership to make the right decisions about priorities, strategies and tactics in our work.

Then I recalled Jim Anderson, board chair of Peace Action of New York State, from Buffalo, calling our national organizers’ meeting in DC two months ago a “Love Circle.” This wasn’t some hippie thing, he was encouraging a younger colleague to feel comfortable that her concerns would be heard and respected, even if they made some folks at the meeting a bit uncomfortable. Peace Actionistas certainly do form a trusting love circle where disagreements can be respectfully aired so we might reach higher ground together. I felt honored to be a part of that love circle last week at Judy’s, and also the following night at a chapter meeting of Peace Action of Staten Island, where I spoke to a terrific bunch of local supporters about the state of Peace Action’s work to support diplomacy with Iran, cut the gargantuan Pentagon budget, abolish nuclear weapons and end our country’s endless wars.

We also focused quite a bit on the April 24-26 Peace and Planet mobilization in New York City, which will bring together these issues as well as social, economic and racial justice and climate concerns. Right there at the meeting, Staten Island organizing powerhouse and Peace Action Fund of New York State board chair Sally Jones got firm commitments from over 50 people to turn out for Peace and Planet! And kudos to Peace Action of Staten Island chair Eileen Bardel for running a great meeting, keeping the agenda moving while also allowing space for everyone to participate, no easy feat!

Lately, some scholars and a few journalists have raised questions about why the peace movement isn’t as strong or visible as it was in the Bush error, I mean era, or why the peace movement isn’t as strong as the labor or environmental or human rights movements. Sometimes I get analytical about it (I could go on and on with my analysis but won’t do so here), other times I get a bit defensive, and other times I think, well if you’ll let me get off the phone I’ll get back to my job, which is to help organize and strengthen the peace movement.

Taking a long view, there are many social, political, economic and cultural factors (most out of our control) at play in why a movement catches fire or doesn’t in a particular place and time. One thing we can always control is sowing seeds that will lead to future growth in our organization and movement, and Peace Action of New York State is a leader in its investment in student/campus organizing. PANYS now has ten student chapters around the state, which didn’t just spring up by themselves. PANYS has invested in building those student chapters, and has a wonderful Student Outreach Coordinator Natia Bueno hard at work to spread this student chapter network even further (Natia will help lead a training session on student organizing for Peace Action affiliates and chapters next month, details TBA soon). Another crackerjack young organizer, Drew King, is working as our coordinator for Peace and Planet (and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as his father, Jonathan King, is an MIT professor and Massachusetts Peace Action activist).

Peace and Planet will be an outstanding opportunity to build and support the Peace Action brain trust, embrace our love circle, and sow seeds that will blossom in myriad, wonderful ways we can’t fathom today. Please plan to join us!

 


Next Tuesday’s elections: Trick or Treat?

October 30, 2014

Dear Voter,

A few days after All Hallows’ Evening, the midterm elections will occur. Tuesday, November 4th. Your actions can make the results less scary.  Please take two actions now:

Vote!
Contribute to Peace Candidates! 

Even if you are not registered to vote, a number of states allow you to register at the ballot box.  Did you know you can avoid possible lines and hassle by voting at early polling places or using an absentee ballot?  You can find your polling place, information on registration and early voting and other important election information by visiting www.vote411.org

Already Peace Action and our affiliates, through our Peace Voter campaign has made a difference by endorsing candidates and fundraising for candidates, contributing to primary elections, briefing candidates, collecting candidate questionnaires and hiring organizers to work in important swing races.  You can make a difference here.

As you read this, Peace Action organizers are working in critical Senate races in Iowa, Michigan and New Hampshire and swing House races in Minnesota and New Hampshire.

Please contribute to these peace candidates and to Peace Action PAC now.  Even $5 can make a difference.  By law, $5,000 is the maximum you can give to our PAC.  You may consider a recurring gift so that our PAC is always prepared even for surprise special elections

Peace Action PAC has helped elect such peace leaders as:

Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) — a leader in bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and ending the Iraq War.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) — another leader in stopping endless wars and cutting the Pentagon budget.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) — co-chair of the Progressive Caucus.

Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) — a rare Republican ally on ending the wars and reducing Pentagon waste.

Your support now can make a difference in last minute advertising and get out the vote efforts.  It’s not just electing Members of Congress that will vote the right way.  That certainly helps.  But the key is electing leaders on peace issues who will lead a number of lawmakers to vote the right way.  Leaders who will do the the hard, behind the scenes, work on issues you and I care about that will make a lasting difference.

Please take a moment now to make a gift so that we can make a difference in key elections.

For a more peaceful Congress,

Paul Kawika Martin
Director, Political Action Committee
Peace Action

P.S. – The only thing scarier than Halloween this week, would be not to take action regarding next Tuesday’s (November 4th) midterm elections.  Please make sure you vote.  And give generously to peace candidates and Peace Action’s PAC.  Be sure to share and forward this post.


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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