No Nukes or New Nukes?

March 15, 2016

The Trillion Dollar Question the Media Have Neglected to Ask Presidential Candidates

News at Home
tags: nuclear weapons, election 2016, US nuclear arsenal

Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://www.lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?

President Dwight Eisenhower’s warning against the military-industrial complex.

Isn’t it rather odd that America’s largest single public expenditure scheduled for the coming decades has received no attention in the 2015-2016 presidential debates?

The expenditure is for a thirty-year program to “modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal and production facilities. Although President Obama began his administration with a dramatic public commitment to build a nuclear weapons-free world, that commitment has long ago dwindled and died. It has been replaced by an administration plan to build a new generation of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear production facilities to last the nation well into the second half of the twenty-first century. This plan, which has received almost no attention by the mass media, includes redesigned nuclear warheads, as well as new nuclear bombers, submarines, land-based missiles, weapons labs, and production plants. The estimated cost? $1,000,000,000,000.00—or, for those readers unfamiliar with such lofty figures, $1 trillion.

Critics charge that the expenditure of this staggering sum will either bankrupt the country or, at the least, require massive cutbacks in funding for other federal government programs. “We’re . . . wondering how the heck we’re going to pay for it,” admitted Brian McKeon, an undersecretary of defense. And we’re “probably thanking our stars we won’t be here to have to have to answer the question,” he added with a chuckle.

This nuclear “modernization” plan violates the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the nuclear powers to engage in nuclear disarmament. The plan is also moving forward despite the fact that the U.S. government already possesses roughly 7,000 nuclear weapons that can easily destroy the world. Although climate change might end up accomplishing much the same thing, a nuclear war does have the advantage of terminating life on earth more rapidly.

This trillion dollar nuclear weapons buildup has yet to inspire any questions about it by the moderators during the numerous presidential debates. Even so, in the course of the campaign, the presidential candidates have begun to reveal their attitudes toward it.

On the Republican side, the candidates—despite their professed distaste for federal expenditures and “big government”—have been enthusiastic supporters of this great leap forward in the nuclear arms race. Donald Trump, the frontrunner, contended in his presidential announcement speech that “our nuclear arsenal doesn’t work,” insisting that it is out of date. Although he didn’t mention the $1 trillion price tag for “modernization,” the program is clearly something he favors, especially given his campaign’s focus on building a U.S. military machine “so big, powerful, and strong that no one will mess with us.”

His Republican rivals have adopted a similar approach. Marco Rubio, asked while campaigning in Iowa about whether he supported the trillion dollar investment in new nuclear weapons, replied that “we have to have them. No country in the world faces the threats America faces.” When a peace activist questioned Ted Cruz on the campaign trail about whether he agreed with Ronald Reagan on the need to eliminate nuclear weapons, the Texas senator replied: “I think we’re a long way from that and, in the meantime, we need to be prepared to defend ourselves. The best way to avoid war is to be strong enough that no one wants to mess with the United States.” Apparently, Republican candidates are particularly worried about being “messed with.”

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has been more ambiguous about her stance toward a dramatic expansion of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Asked by a peace activist about the trillion dollar nuclear plan, she replied that she would “look into that,” adding: “It doesn’t make sense to me.” Even so, like other issues that the former secretary of state has promised to “look into,” this one remains unresolved. Moreover, the “National Security” section of her campaign website promises that she will maintain the “strongest military the world has ever known”—not a propitious sign for critics of nuclear weapons.

Only Bernie Sanders has adopted a position of outright rejection. In May 2015, shortly after declaring his candidacy, Sanders was asked at a public meeting about the trillion dollar nuclear weapons program. He replied: “What all of this is about is our national priorities. Who are we as a people? Does Congress listen to the military-industrial complex” that “has never seen a war that they didn’t like? Or do we listen to the people of this country who are hurting?” In fact, Sanders is one of only three U.S. Senators who support the SANE Act, legislation that would significantly reduce U.S. government spending on nuclear weapons. In addition, on the campaign trail, Sanders has not only called for cuts in spending on nuclear weapons, but has affirmed his support for their total abolition.

Nevertheless, given the failure of the presidential debate moderators to raise the issue of nuclear weapons “modernization,” the American people have been left largely uninformed about the candidates’ opinions on this subject. So, if Americans would like more light shed on their future president’s response to this enormously expensive surge in the nuclear arms race, it looks like they are the ones who are going to have to ask the candidates the trillion dollar question.

– See more at: http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/162279#sthash.oTIi2tNb.dpuf


Bernie Sanders on peace issues

February 16, 2016

This article by national Peace Action board member Larry Wittner was originally published by History News Network at http://historynewsnetwork.org/article/161986

Bernie Sanders:  The 2016 Peace Candidate

 

By Lawrence S. Wittner

 

[Dr. Lawrence Wittner (www.lawrenceswittner) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany.  His latest book is a satirical novel about university corporatization and rebellion, What’s Going On at UAardvark?]

 

On February 10, 2016, Peace Action—the largest peace organization in the United States—announced its endorsement of Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination for President.

 

Peace Action is the descendant of two other mass U.S. peace organizations:  the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign (the Freeze).  SANE was founded in 1957 with the goal of ending nuclear weapons testing.  Soon, though, it broadened its agenda to include opposing the Vietnam War and other overseas military intervention, reducing military spending, and backing nuclear disarmament treaties, as well as supporting economic conversion from military to civilian production.  Among SANE’s early supporters were Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Walter Reuther, and Dr. Benjamin Spock.  The Freeze, initiated by Randy Forsberg, appeared in the late 1970s and reached a peak in the first half of the 1980s, when it led a widespread campaign to halt the Reagan administration’s dramatic nuclear weapons buildup and the dangerous slide toward nuclear war.  With much in common, SANE and the Freeze merged in 1987 to form Peace Action.  Like its predecessors, Peace Action devoted its efforts to building a more peaceful world.

 

Although the three peace organizations rarely endorsed Presidential candidates, they did so on occasion.  Appalled by the Vietnam War, SANE backed the peace campaigns of Eugene McCarthy in 1968 and George McGovern in 1972.  In 1984, challenging the Reagan administration’s bellicose approach to international affairs, SANE and the Freeze endorsed Walter Mondale.  Then, in 1992, fed up with twelve years of Republican hawkishness, the newly-combined organization threw its support behind Bill Clinton.

 

In its statement endorsing Bernie Sanders, Peace Action praised his opposition to both Iraq wars, support of legislation to reduce spending on nuclear weapons, strong backing of the Iran agreement, votes to curb military spending, and championing of diplomacy over war.  According to Kevin Martin, the executive director of the peace organization, Sanders “best represents the values that Peace Action and its 200,000 supporters have espoused.”  And, in fact, before Peace Action’s board of directors voted overwhelmingly to have the organization’s Peace PAC back the Sanders campaign, an online poll of Peace Action’s members revealed support for endorsement by 85 percent of the respondents.

 

This enthusiasm for Sanders among peace activists reflects other aspects of his record, as well.  The U.S. Senator from Vermont has opposed NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, favored normalization of relations with Iran, and decried the Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2014 as “disproportionate” and “completely unacceptable.”  When it comes to the war in Syria, he has opposed the establishment of a “no-fly zone” and the use of American ground troops.   In a July 2015 interview, Sanders explained that, although he is not a pacifist, he believes that “war is the very, very, very last option.”

 

Sanders’ depiction as a peace candidate has inspired some grumbling.  During the Presidential race, he has shied away from foreign and military policy issues, and this has disappointed some peace activists.  Hard-line leftists, already irked by his benign brand of socialism, have been particularly critical.  A writer in the Socialist Worker denounced Sanders’ “backing of U.S. imperialism,” while another, in Jacobin, charged that he was “willfully blind to the hand-in-glove relationship between capitalism and militarism.”

 

Even so, when it comes to mainstream electoral politics, Sanders is a logical choice for peace activists.  Although it’s true that he has focused his campaign on economic inequality within the United States, he has not hesitated to assail the “military-industrial complex,” as well as the “regime change” policies of past U.S. administrations.  Also, the attacks upon him by leftwing purists are often divorced from reality.  Driven by a sectarian mindset and a fierce hatred of the Democratic Party, these firebrands distort or ignore much of his peace-oriented record.  Furthermore, they overlook the unpleasant alternatives to a Sanders presidency:  a hawkish Hillary Clinton or a rabidly militaristic Republican in the White House.

 

A more serious question is whether American voters, in 2016, will respond positively to a peace candidate.  Although the answer remains unclear, there are some indications that they will.  Opinion polls reveal that most Americans do not support increasing the U.S. military budget, are wary of sending U.S. ground troops into another Mideast war, and back recent agreements that ease tensions with “enemy” nations like Iran and Cuba.  Therefore, campaigning as a peace candidate might end up producing benefits for Bernie Sanders at the ballot box.


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):

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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:

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

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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!

 


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