Largest Peace NGO Opposes Obama’s War Proposal

February 11, 2015

Washington, DC — February 11, 2014 — In response to President Obama this morning sending proposed language for an Authorization of use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS to Congress, Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. released the following statement by its policy and political director, Paul Kawika Martin:

After six months of Congress ignoring its constitutional duty, finally President Obama sent language to Congress to authorize war for the next three years (an Authorization for the Use of Military Force or AUMF) against ISIS.  It’s about time that Congress fully debate the U.S. war being waged in the Middle East.  Peace Action agrees with past statements of the president that there is no military solution to ISIS and so we oppose any AUMF.

While we oppose any AUMF because the war is not working, we encourage members of Congress to push for tighter restrictions than what President Obama proposes should an AUMF move forward.   Limitations could include:  a one-year sunset clause; geographic limitations; definitively no combat troops on the ground; repealing both former AUMFs, not just one;  and robust reporting requirements including civilian deaths.

The president’s proposed AUMF does one good thing: it repeals the outdated and ill-advised Iraq AUMF.  It fails, however, to repeal the 2001 AUMF which has been used as a blanket “war on terrorism.”  Additionally, it uses the legally ambiguous language of no “enduring offensive ground operations” rather than expressly forbidding combat troops.

As it stands, it doesn’t seem that the current military strategy is working against ISIS.  Instead the international community should:

*Reduce civilian deaths, casualties and the destruction of civilian infrastructure that tends to recruit financial support and foreign fighters for ISIS.

*Weaken ISIS by reducing its income (oil, antiquities, sex trade), freezing assets, reducing military resources (weapons, training and foreign fighters).

*Support political solutions to the Syrian civil war and Iraqi ethnic tensions.

*Increase humanitarian aid and refugee support.

*Support actions that will help prevent extremism in the first place: education, religious tolerance, poverty alleviation and justice.


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- For more up-to-date peace insider information, follow Peace Action’s political director on Twitter.

President’s Budget: Social Media Action Today

March 4, 2014
MOVE Square

Rethink Media has prepared fabulous sample tweets and posts for Facebook for social media response to today’s announcement of the President’s budget. Our aim is to shine a spotlight on the wasteful spending in the Pentagon budget.


Sample Tweets on Budget Release:

When we’re winding down two wars, why does the #DoDBudget remain sky-high?

The #Pentagon wastes billions of #DoDBudget on programs driven by special interests that do not advance American security

#DoDBudget should prioritize needs for 21st Century threats, not special interests pet projects

Sample Tweets on F35

Instead of raising the #DoDBudget cut the #F35, the most expensive weapons program ever via

Want to know why the #DoDBudget is so big? The #F35 is one reason via

$1.5 TRILLION – the #F35 is the most expensive weapons program ever, and it doesn’t even work:

“Can’t turn, can’t climb, can’t run” – the #F35 is a bad deal for American #DoDBudget #F35baddeal

#F35: 10 years late and devouring the #DoDBudget – great new film by @BraveNewFilms  #NoF35 via

Can’t fly at night? See why the #F35 is a BAD DEAL for #DoDBudget in new film by @BraveNewFilms

Amplifying Good Media Coverage Tweets

 @StephenatHome calls the #F35 “jobsolete” – watch here and see why the #F35 is a BAD DEAL at

The “jobsolete” #F35 – @colbertreport calls out #Pentagon waste – watch here and see


New Win Without War F-35 Graphic

Defense Budgets Across the world (AFP)

Thanks to you, Congress spoke for diplomacy

February 19, 2014

Last week, because of your continued pressure, 105 Representatives signed a letter to President Obama to support his administration’s efforts to work with the world community and seek a diplomatic solution with Iran over their nuclear program.

While some in Congress seem to want to derail diplomacy by enacting more sanctions even though the U.S. agreed not to as a part of the historic temporary agreement with Iran. This agreement significantly walks back Iran’s nuclear program while providing them with sanction relief while allowing time for the international negotiators to come to long-term agreement with Iran.

And while we have been able to keep the congressional hawks at bay, we need to continue to press for diplomacy. Please take a moment and look at the list of Representatives that signed the “Give Diplomacy a Chance” letter below and thank those that signed and admonish those who didn’t.

You can find and reach your Representative at 202-224-3121 or calling one of their local offices.

For the last eight years we have worked tirelessly for a diplomatic solution with Iran. It is now within reach and we continue to need your help.

Here’s the letter:

Dear Mr. President,

As Members of Congress—and as Americans—we are united in our unequivocal commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would threaten the security of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly Israel.

The ongoing implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran and the “P5+1” nations last November increases the possibility of a comprehensive and verifiable international agreement. We understand that there is no assurance of success and that, if talks break down or Iran reneges on pledges it made in the interim agreement, Congress may be compelled to act as it has in the past by enacting additional sanctions legislation. At present, however, we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance. A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.

We remain wary of the Iranian regime. But we believe that robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option, and we commend you and your designees for the developments in Geneva. Should negotiations fail or falter, nothing precludes a change in strategy. But we must not imperil the possibility of a diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it.



Lee, Barbara
McNerney, Jerry
Miller, George
Negrete McLeod
Thompson, Mike



District of Columbia


Bishop, Sanford
Johnson, Hank


Davis, Danny
Kelly, Robin





Van Hollen

Lynch, Stephen



Thompson, Bennie


New Hampshire

New Jersey

New York
Clarke, Yvette

North Carolina
Butterfield, GK
Jones, Walter
Price, David

Fudge, Marcia
Ryan, Tim

Northern Mariana Islands



Puerto Rico

South Carolina

Duncan Jr

Johnson, EB



Moran, Jim
Scott, Bobby


West Virginia


Shutdown the Shutdown Talking Points and Resources

October 4, 2013

Compiled by Peace Action’s Move the Money Working GroupID-10055209

We need to find ways to connect the current Congressional crisis with the ongoing struggle to change national spending priorities: Move the Money from wars and weapons to fund jobs, human services and diplomacy.

Two immediate actions we can take:

1. Public education: Letters to the Editor (LTE), op-eds and using social media.

2. Join in solidarity with domestic needs, labor and others taking action in our communities to pressure Congress to end the shutdown and change national spending priorities. Although the bottom line is ending the shut down it is also true that the struggle over the passage of a budget and the debt ceiling are all connected.

Talking Points & Resources for LTE, op-eds and social media: some of theses points are the biggest demand we can make, others are shorter term points suited to appeal across the political spectrum. You are the best judge of which will be appropriate for your audience. Use National Priorities Project’s handy interactive online tools to get specific data on your state, city or town and the federal budget to make your LTE or op-ed hit home.  Read a brief history of how we got to the shutdown.

Immediate impact of shutdown: 800,000 workers are furloughed and may not get a paycheck while tens of billions will be wasted to implement the shutdown and restart services when it is over. Read what the National Priorities Project estimates. For the most up-to-date information on the shutdown including the impact on the state level can be found here: Center for Effective Government

• Democracy: The shutdown and failure to pass annual budgets and resorting to Continuing Resolutions are limiting the rightful role of constituents and the grassroots to dialogue and inform Congressional decision-making on federal budget priorities. The ball keeps getting kicked down the field with Continuing Resolutions. Time for Congress to pass a budget and decide on national spending priorities!

Role of government: Speeches from the floor of the House of Representatives say better to have less government and the shutdown proves that. We need effective government with a federal budget, which reflects the needs and aspirations for a better country and world. Not a government which spends 57% annually on wars and weapons while there is high unemployment and cuts to community services.

Government is not broke. We can’t let the norm for federal budget decisions become the Budget Control Act or what is called sequestration. The problem is that a federal budget has not been passed in years. It’s been replaced by stopgap Continuing Resolutions, which now lock in cuts, set by sequestration. We need, even with limited resources, a thoughtful prioritization for annual spending. We need to Move the Money!

In fact, there is growing support for cutting the Pentagon budget if the political will exists.

What can be cut in the Pentagon budget so we can have more funding of essential community programs?  Read 27 recommendations for budget cuts in the 2015 budget drafted by 17-member defense advisory committee, which includes two former vice chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, a former Air Force chief and a former chief of naval operations. Read entire Stimson Center report issued on 9/25/13

Use Peace Action’s website to send your Letter to the Editor.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Shutdown the Shutdown

October 2, 2013

10390807-words-related-to-a-possible-government-shutdownHow is it that the Radical Right can work itself into such a lather over Obamacare but seems content to allow the free-spending Pentagon to continue dispensing hundreds of billions of dollars each and every year without ever having to meet an audit?  They don’t have the faintest clue as to where all that money has gone or where all the money they are prepared to send after it will go.

They know they can’t win.  Plain and simple – they are in the minority.  They claim the public doesn’t want the Affordable Care Act, but I don’t see it.  It’s just the Tea Party making a lot of noise.  So, unable to get their way, they would rather burn the house down than have to live in it with the rest of their family if they can’t get what they want.  Is this how they think a representative democracy conducts its business?  They must have been sleeping during civics class.

Write a Letter to the Editor and remind your neighbors that Obamacare isn’t the issue here – its budget priorities.  We need a budget that mirrors our values.  We are not lobbyists or corporations.  We are people who live in communities that have real needs, not ideological concerns or special interests.

A shut down, even for a few days, generates anxiety for people who depend on essential government services. Forced furloughs put the burden on government workers and their families.

The night before the shutdown, the Pentagon scrambled to award $5 Billion in contracts to military corporations while 800,000 government employees were locked out the next morning. Wrong priorities!

Letters to the Editor is the contemporary Town Square, the place where you can forward your opinion and invite your neighbors to stand with you.  It is one of the most read sections of the newspaper.   It’s simple, just follow the links andsee for yourself.

Now, let’s be clear. Whether the government shutdown lasts a few days, or a few weeks, running around as if your hair is on fire isn’t how the matter will be resolved.  In the end, I suspect poll numbers will speak loud and clear and this gaggle of overheated loud mouths will be forced to give way once the other members of their party see the writing on the wall.  They will not slink away meekly having been schooled in Democracy 101, but perhaps they will lose enough juice so the rest of the Congress can get down to the business of passing a budget and increasing the debt limit.

And when they finally get down to business, we need to make sure Congress passes a budget that reflects our values.

Writing a Letter to the Editor is a simple and powerful way to get our jobs not war, budget priorities message to thousands of people in your community.  And, that’s the debate we have to win.

Your letter will validate what many of your neighbors already suspect, that the Tea Party war on Obamacare is a smokescreen covering subsidies and tax forgiveness for large corporations and the super rich and all the money being wasted on endless war and gold-plated weapons.

Zero Option for Afghanistan – Needed ASAP, not the end of 2014

July 15, 2013

The news that the Obama Administration is considering a “zero option” – leaving no troops behind in Afghanistan after the end of 2014 – got some coverage last week but not a lot. I wrote a letter to the editor to the New York Times based on its article on this issue. It didn’t get published (no surprise there, they get a lot of letters), but here it is, feel free to crib from it and send a letter to your local paper. Below my letter is the Times article.

July 10, 2013

To the editor,

I had two thoughts upon reading about the contentious negotiations between Presidents Hamid Karzai and Barack Obama over a possible continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan past the supposed end date of December 31, 2014 (“U.S. Considers Faster Pullout in Afghanistan,” July 8).


The first thought, with a bow to Casey Stengel, was “can’t anybody here play this game?,” the game being diplomacy. Yes, it is good news President Obama is considering a “zero option,” not leaving any U.S. troops behind in Afghanistan after the end of 2014, and perhaps even accelerating their withdrawal. However, it appears this is at least as much a threat to force President Karzai back into negotiations as it is a serious policy option. Both presidents need to come together in an earnest way to help figure out Afghanistan’s post-war future, with the strong involvement of Afghan civil society leaders, particularly women’s organizations, as well as other national and regional forces. The stakes are too high for threats and posturing; we need to see some genuine leadership from the two presidents.


My second thought was how could either president possibly explain to the families of Afghan or U.S. soldiers who will perish in fighting over the next year and a half what in the world they died for? The “zero option” needs to be implemented as soon as possible, not at the end of next year. U.S. support for Afghan-led reconstruction, development and reconciliation is the key issue for the future, not residual U.S. forces or a long-term military aid agreement.




Kevin Martin

Executive Director

Peace Action

July 8, 2013

U.S. Considers Faster Withdrawal from Afghanistan


WASHINGTON — Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.

Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014.

A videoconference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai designed to defuse the tensions ended badly, according to both American and Afghan officials with knowledge of it. Mr. Karzai, according to those sources, accused the United States of trying to negotiate a separate peace with both the Taliban and their backers in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan’s fragile government exposed to its enemies.

Mr. Karzai had made similar accusations in the past. But those comments were delivered to Afghans — not to Mr. Obama, who responded by pointing out the American lives that have been lost propping up Mr. Karzai’s government, the officials said.

The option of leaving no troops in Afghanistan after 2014 was gaining momentum before the June 27 video conference, according to the officials. But since then, the idea of a complete military exit similar to the American military pullout from Iraq has gone from being considered the worst-case scenario — and a useful negotiating tool with Mr. Karzai — to an alternative under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul.

The officials cautioned that no decisions had been made on the pace of the pullout and exactly how many American troops to leave behind in Afghanistan. The goal remains negotiating a long-term security deal, they said, but the hardening of negotiating stances on both sides could result in a repeat of what happened in Iraq, where a deal failed to materialize despite widespread expectations that a compromise would be reached and American forces would remain.

“There’s always been a zero option, but it was not seen as the main option,” said a senior Western official in Kabul. “It is now becoming one of them, and if you listen to some people in Washington, it is maybe now being seen as a realistic path.”

The official, however, said he hoped some in the Karzai government were beginning to understand that the zero option was now a distinct possibility, and that “they’re learning now, not later, when it’s going to be too late.”

The Obama administration’s internal deliberations about the future of the Afghan war were described by officials in Washington and Kabul who hold a range of views on how quickly the United States should leave Afghanistan and how many troops it should leave behind. Spokesmen for the White House and Pentagon declined to comment.

Within the Obama administration, the way the United States extricates itself from Afghanistan has been a source of tension between civilian and military officials since Mr. Obama took office. American commanders in Afghanistan have generally pushed to keep as many American troops in the country as long as possible, creating friction with White House officials urging a speedier military withdrawal.

But with frustrations mounting over the glacial pace of initiating peace talks with the Taliban, and with American relations with the Karzai government continuing to deteriorate, it is unclear whether the Pentagon and American commanders in Afghanistan would vigorously resist if the White House pushed for a full-scale pullout months ahead of schedule.

As it stands, the number of American troops in Afghanistan — around 63,000 — is scheduled to go down to 34,000 by February 2014. The White House has said the vast majority of troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of that year, although it now appears that the schedule could accelerate to bring the bulk of the troops — if not all of them — home by next summer, as the annual fighting season winds down.

Talks between the United States and Afghanistan over a long-term security deal have faltered in recent months over the Afghan government’s insistence that the United States guarantee Afghanistan’s security and, in essence, commit to declaring Pakistan the main obstacle in the fight against militancy in the region.

The guarantees sought by Afghanistan, if implemented, could possibly compel the United States to attack Taliban havens in Pakistan long after 2014, when the Obama administration has said it hoped to dial back the C.I.A.’s covert drone war there.

Mr. Karzai also wants the Obama administration to specify the number of troops it would leave in Afghanistan after 2014 and make a multiyear financial commitment to the Afghan Army and the police.

The White House announced last month that long-delayed talks with the Taliban would begin in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban opened what amounts to an embassy-in-exile, complete with their old flag and a plaque with their official name, “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”

But the highly choreographed announcement backfired, with Afghan officials saying the talks gave the insurgents undeserved legitimacy and accusing the Obama administration of negotiating behind Mr. Karzai’s back.

To the surprise of American officials, Mr. Karzai then abruptly ended the negotiations over a long-term security deal. He has said the negotiations would not resume until the Taliban met directly with representatives of the Afghan government, essentially linking the security negotiations to a faltering peace process and making the United States responsible for persuading the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government.

The Taliban have refused for years to meet directly with Afghan government negotiators, deriding Mr. Karzai and his ministers as American puppets.

There have been other points of contention as well. Meeting with foreign ambassadors recently, Mr. Karzai openly mused that the West was to blame for the rise of radical Islam. It was not a message that many of the envoys, whose countries have lost thousands of people in Afghanistan and spent billions of dollars fighting the Taliban, welcomed.

The troop decisions are also being made against a backdrop of growing political uncertainty in Afghanistan and rising concerns that the country’s presidential election could either be delayed for months or longer, or be so flawed that many Afghans would not accept its results.

Preparations for the election, scheduled for next April, are already falling behind. United Nations officials have begun to say the elections probably cannot be held until next summer, at the earliest. If the voting does not occur before Afghanistan’s mountain passes are closed by snow in late fall, it will be extremely difficult to hold a vote until 2015.

Of potentially bigger concern are the rumors that Mr. Karzai, in his second term and barred from serving a third, is trying to find a way to stay in power. Mr. Karzai has repeatedly insisted that he plans to step down next year.

The ripple effects of a complete American withdrawal would be significant. Western officials said the Germans and Italians — the two main European allies who have committed to staying on with substantial forces — would leave as well. Any smaller nations that envisioned keeping token forces would most likely have no way of doing so.

And Afghanistan would probably see far less than the roughly $8 billion in annual military and civilian aid it is expecting in the coming years — an amount that covers more than half the government’s annual spending.

Mark Mazzetti reported from Washington, and Matthew Rosenberg from Kabul, Afghanistan. Thom Shanker contributed reporting from Washington.

Take Action Mr. President: No Nukes!

July 3, 2013

Tell President Obama: The time is right and the world is ready to negotiate the elimination of nuclear weapons! Click here to sign the petition.

First, the good news: In May, a new United Nations working group began meeting in Geneva “to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.” The first ever UN High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament will take place onSeptember 26 in New York.  In March, Norway hosted a conference in Oslo on the Humanitarian Impacts of Nuclear Weapons, with 127 governments in attendance. A follow-on conference is scheduled in Mexico in early 2014. The 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference unanimously agreed to hold a conference on a Middle East Zone free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2012, to be co-convened by the United States.

Let President Obama know: it is time to engage with the United Nations to eliminate nuclear weapons.

Now for the bad news: The United States boycotted the Oslo conference and is refusing to participate in the UN disarmament working group. The Middle East conference was postponed indefinitely. And the Administration has been silent on the High-Level Disarmament Meeting.

On June 6th, two dozen peace and disarmament groups launched a campaign with a letter to the White House calling for good faith US participation in these multilateral forums. And on June 24, the US Conference of Mayors unanimously adopted a resolution calling for US leadership in Global Elimination of Nuclear Weapons and redirection of military spending to domestic needs.

Click here to sign our petition to win U.S. participation in the new multilateral disarmament forums. And please share the petition with your friends.

When people lead, our leaders will follow!

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


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