Peace Action Iran article on MSNBC.com, please help promote!

July 17, 2015
Paul Kawika Martin at a pro-democracy rally in front of the Iranian interests section in Washington, DC attended by nearly 1,000 Iranians

Paul Kawika Martin at a pro-democracy rally in 2009 in front of the Iranian interests section in Washington, DC attended by nearly 1,000 Iranians

Our Policy Director, Paul Kawika Martin, had this op-ed published by MSNBC (they gave it a less than great headline though). Please help promote the article by:

  1. Retweeting: https://twitter.com/PaulKawika/status/621810654962434049
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  1. Liking by going to the article and clicking the up arrow: http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/the-iran-deal-isnt-perfect-its-better-another-war
  1.  Making positive comments.  Go to the article and comment.

 The Iran deal isn’t perfect. But it’s better than another war.

Now that the United States, other world powers and Iran have reached a final agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, the action on this historic chance for peace turns to Congress.

The legislative branch, authorized by President Obama to approve the Iran deal, now has great power and responsibility: They can either reject the accord, potentially killing diplomacy and putting the United States on a path to war, or allow the president to implement the deal and solidify American goals of blocking all of Iran’s paths to building a nuclear weapon and making the U.S., its allies, and the Middle East more secure.

RELATED: Obama: Without Iran deal, we risk more war

As Congress debates the merits of the final nuclear agreement, it would be wise to listen to the nuclear and non-proliferation experts who say this agreement will move Iran’s breakout time – the time to produce enough fissile material to produce a nuclear weapon – from the current three months to one year or more. They also point out that the agreement provides unprecedented inspections, monitoring and verification regimes, which would catch Iran if it cheated and “snap back” sanctions in short order.

Some lawmakers claim that the U.S. can get a “better deal.” But experts say there is no such thing.

Why? A better deal would require more pressure on Iran in the form of more sanctions, which have only worked when the entire international community participates. If the U.S. backs out of the deal, our partners aren’t likely to join us in the re-imposition of sanctions after they all just agreed to the deal on the table. Remember, it wasn’t just the Americans and the Iranians negotiating over the past decade and with great intensity the last few years: The British, French, Chinese, Russians and Germans all okayed this agreement, too. As Nicholas Burns, a former top U.S. negotiator with Iran, points out, the global sanctions regime would collapse if the U.S. walks away now from this international agreement.

The other alternative, military intervention, wouldn’t work and would be extraordinarily costly in blood and treasure. Military experts agree that even a highly successful war with Iran may only set its nuclear program back a few years and it wouldn’t destroy the country’s technological know-how. Intervention could also force Iran to do everything possible to obtain a nuclear weapon.

It’s very difficult to estimate long-term costs of wars. You must calculate long-term health care, interest on debt, opportunity costs, loss of productivity and other difficult variables. Nobel Prize-winning economists estimate the total costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars will run between $4-$6 trillion – nearly enough to fund the U.S government for two years. Now consider that Iran is nearly three times as populous as Iraq, four times larger geographically, and spends $8-$14 billion annually on its military compared to the few billion Iraq spent when the U.S. invaded in 2002.

RELATED: On Iran, no need to speculate about the alternative. We’ve already lived it.

Other experts posit that for just the first three months, targeted strikes on Iran’s nuclear program would cost nearly a trillion dollars, with expanded bombings of some military sites increasing the bill by several hundred billion and a full-scale invasion nearing a whopping $2 trillion.

Again, a war with Iran would likely have unpredictable consequences. Would a military intervention spark a larger war in the Middle East with Shiite militias attacking American assets in Iraq, Yemen and other countries? Iran has been linked to acts of terrorism from bombings to assassinations. If the U.S. or Israel attacked Iran, they could certainly use such tactics on American targets abroad and perhaps here at home. Iran’s naval capacity and anti-ship missiles could attack U.S. assets or start a blockade of the Strait of Hormuz, where 20% of the world’s oil passes, creating a spike in oil prices that would have a deleterious affect on the entire world economy.

The most important cost to consider is human. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have caused nearly 7,000 U.S. deaths, left well over 50,000 Americans physically wounded, countless mentally and emotionally scarred and, some claim, over one million civilian casualties. It would be difficult to predict the causalities from a war with Iran, but with the likely outcome not solving the problem, it’s clearly not worth the human or financial costs.

The international agreement with Iran keeps it from a nuclear weapon for a decade at least. There is no better agreement to be reached. The alternatives would fail and their price is unacceptably high. While it’s not a perfect path, it is the only path Congress should support publicly and vote to approve. I am contacting both my Senators and my Representative to tell them just that. I hope you’ll join me.

Paul Kawika Martin is the political and policy director of Peace Action, the largest peace group in the U.S. He can be reached on Twitter @PaulKawika.


US taxpayer dollars, $250 million of em, spent to train sixty, that’s 60, Syrian rebels (that’s fewer fighters than an NFL roster, and more expensive per gladiator!)

July 8, 2015

20141209_MoveOn_ISIS_FBshareable_1EndEndlessWarNotBranded

How about instead of throwing this money down the proverbial crapper, we use it to potty-train all the children in the world. Or for refugee/humanitarian assistance in Syria. This failure (which we’ve also seen with “training” “our guys” in Iraq and Afghanistan) was inevitable, since nobody could even guess what “success” would look like. Shut this asinine program down now!

PoliticoPro: US has spent hundreds of millions for just 60 Syrian fighters

By AUSTIN WRIGHT

 

7/8/15 3:41 PM EDT

How much has the United States spent to train that whopping force of 60 Syrian rebels to take on the Islamic State? Well, according to basic math, about $4 million for each of them.

POLITICO has learned that of the $500 million requested last year for the “train-and-equip” program, roughly half has been spent.

“About half of the $500 million has been obligated thus far, mostly on equipment required to train the Syrian fighters,” said a congressional aide who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The fact that the Obama administration has spent so much on a program that has yielded so few vetted fighters makes clear just how difficult it is to find “moderate” Syrian rebels who can make it through the stringent screening process — and are willing to prioritize the fight against ISIL over the civil war against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The figure also provides new ammo for Republican critics of President Barack Obama’s strategy for dealing with ISIL, with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday blasting the president’s Syria plan as “delusional.”

McCain’s statement came after Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Armed Services panel during a hearing that just 60 fighters had made it through the vetting process for the three-month-old Syria train-and-equip program — a number he conceded was “much smaller than we hoped for at this point.”

Another 7,000 volunteers, Carter said, were going through the screening process.

Last year, Congress approved $500 million for training program, with a goal of training about 3,000 vetted Syrian rebels this year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

There are many reasons why the number of vetted fighters is so low, including the Obama administration’s requirement that the fighters — who are being trained at sites in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — agree to prioritize the fight against ISIL over the war against the Assad regime.

Administration officials are concerned about the aftermath if Assad were toppled without a political structure ready to replace him. But McCain and other Republicans say it’s imperative that the administration go after both the Syrian leader and ISIL.

“The administration is telling Syrians to forego fighting their greatest enemy, the Assad regime, which is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people, and meanwhile refusing to protect these fighters from the terror of Assad’s barrel bombs,” McCain said in a statement. “That is why it is no small wonder that our train and equip program in Syria is so anemic.”

For his part, Carter predicted during Tuesday’s hearing that more allied fighters will be vetted and trained.

“As training progresses,” he said, “we are learning more about the opposition groups and building important relationships, which increases our ability to attract recruits and provides valuable intelligence for counter-ISIL operations.”

A separate, classified program to train Syrian rebels run by the CIA, reportedly to the tune of nearly $1 billion, has been underway for several years. Its effectiveness has also been called into question, leading some lawmakers to move to cut some of the secret funding.


Action Alert: Hold Israel Accountable for Gaza Attack

July 8, 2015

From our friends at the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (Peace Action is a member organization of the campaign)

One Year Later, We Remember and Act

Dear Kevin,


Take action: Tell your Members of Congress to hold Israel accountable. Photo credit: Anne Paq.

One year has passed since “Operation Protective Edge”, Israel’s ruthless 50-day attack on the Palestinian Gaza Strip which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and devastated its infrastructure. 

Today Gaza remains under Israeli blockade, unreconstructed, and teetering on the verge of humanitarian catastrophe. 

Recent reports published by Defense for Children International Palestine and Breaking the Silence document how Israel used US weapons—including F-16 fighter jets, Apache helicopter gunships, and Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers—to kill Palestinian children and wantonly destroy Palestinian homes in apparent violation of US laws.

Please write and call your Members of Congress asking them to urge Secretary of State John Kerry to investigate and hold Israel accountable for using US weapons against Palestinians in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and “Leahy Law”.

And while you’re doing so, be sure to invite your Members of Congress and their staff to a Capitol Hill briefing we’re holding onWednesday, July 29 at 12:00 PM in 121 Cannon House Building, featuring:

* Nadia Ben-Youssef, USA Representative, Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

* Eman Mohammed, Gaza photojournalist; contributor, Gaza Unsilenced 

* Brad Parker, International Advocacy Officer, Defense for Children International Palestine

This briefing will examine Israel’s failure to hold itself accountable through domestic judicial proceedings and the options and need for the United States and the international community to do so.

Cosponsors of the briefing include the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, American Muslims for Palestine andFriends Committee on National Legislation.

Click here for additional details about the briefing. And click here to read the letter that Members of Congress can send to the State Department. 

After you call and write your Members of Congress, be sure to spread the word on Facebook and Twitter.

Last month, Israel exonerated itself of any wrongdoing in its killing of the four Bakr cousins—Ahed and Ismail, aged 9, Zakaria, aged 10, and Mohammad, aged 11—as they played soccer on the Gaza City beach.

Israel derives this impunity from the political, diplomatic and military support we provide it. Let’s change this equation and demand that Israel is held accountable. 

Thank you for taking action.


Josh Ruebner
Policy Director

PS: Read Defense for Children International Palestine’s report “Operation Protective Edge: A war waged on Gaza’s children” and Breaking the Silence’s report “This Is How We Fought in Gaza: Soldiers’ testimonies and photographs from Operation ‘Protective Edge’ (2014)”.


Oppose the U.S. Escalation of the War in Iraq

June 25, 2015

no good war banner pic

President Obama just announced that he will send 450 more American service members to Iraq. They will join the 3,000 troops already there, risking their lives in a deepening crisis that has no U.S. military solution.

Luckily, two Iraq War veterans in Congress are standing up to calls for even more war. Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and Mark Takai (D-HI) are currently organizing a sign-on letter against escalating the U.S. military mission in Iraq.

Please urge your Representative to sign the letter against escalating the war in Iraq.

Reps. Gallego and Takai know about Iraq because they fought there themselves. They understand the hard truth that American troops will not bring peace to Iraq nor heal the bitter sectarian divides fueling the conflict. They understand that if the Iraqi military won’t fight – as it has repeatedly failed to do when ISIS has advanced – we cannot fight this war for them.

As Reps. Gallego and Takai say in their letter:

 “While the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people deserve our support in this struggle, an enduring victory over ISIS will only be possible if they demonstrate a real and lasting commitment to defeat our mutual foe. If we fight in their stead, our success will be temporary and our gains will be fragile.”

Stand up against mission creep: Email your Representative today!

Unfortunately, hawks in Congress and on the campaign trail are calling for a massive escalation in U.S. troops being sent to Iraq. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who is also running for President, has called for 10,000 troops to be sent back to Iraq. Others have called for even more. These dangerous calls for more war are gaining ground in Washington.

Take one minute to stand up against the escalation of war by emailing your Representative.

It is time to admit that the solutions to Iraq’s instability will not be found through bombs or boots on the ground. Failing to do so will put yet more Americans at risk while pouring fuel on a fire that the U.S. military cannot put out.


Join Peace Action at the US Social Forum in Philadelphia this Friday, June 26!

June 22, 2015

Geneseo chapter

Peace Actionistas from the national office and our Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania affiliates will give presentations and lead discussions on various peace and justice issues at three different sessions this Friday, June 26th at the US Social Forum at Temple University in Philadelphia.

1. Massachusetts Peace Action on a Foreign Policy for All, 8:30 to 10:00 am, Temple University Mitten Hall Room, 1801 N. Broad St.

2. Peace Action of New York State board chair Jim Anderson and Student Coordinator Natia Bueno, along with American Friends Service Committee’s Joseph Gerson and Sofia Wolman, Shattering Silos – Building Connections Between Peace and Disarmament, Social, Economic and Racial Justice and Climate Change Movements, 10:30AM-noon – Temple University Gittis Student Center – Room 217 A, 13th St. and Montgomery Ave. This workshop is a follow-up to our Peace and Planet organizing in New York in April and May.

3. No Wars, No Warming! Justice at Home, Peace Abroad! Explore Solutions for our Communities! Organized by Coalition for Peace Action’s Ed Aguilar and Alesha Vega along with colleague organizations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, this Peoples Movement Assembly will explore a variety of peace and justice issues. National Executive Director Kevin Martin will speak at 4 pm on the prospective peace deal with Iran and prospects for a Weapons of Mass Destruction-Free Middle East, and Code Pink co-founder (and Peace Action Advisory Board member) Medea Benjamin will recount her recent trip to Korea as part of a women’s peace delegation. 1:00 – 5:30 pm (presented in four separate sessions, see previous link for details) Reel Cinema, ground floor, Temple University Gittis Student Center, 13th St. and Montgomery Ave.

Hope to see you there!


House Votes Down H Con Res 55 on Iraq/Syria War

June 17, 2015

img-thingOur pro-peace champions in the House of (Not all that) Representatives, Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina and Democrats Barbara Lee of California and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, forced a vote in the House today on the U.S. involvement in the Iraq and Syria war(s), which of course have not been authorized by Congress as required by the Constitution. The measure failed, 288 to 139, with 66 Democrats voting against. Below is the vote tally, please let your rep know your views on how she or he voted. FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 370(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)
H CON RES 55      YEA-AND-NAY      17-Jun-2015      4:06 PM
QUESTION:  On Agreeing to the Resolution
BILL TITLE: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove United States Armed Forces deployed to Iraq or Syria on or after August 7, 2014, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel, from Iraq and Syria

YEAS NAYS PRES NV
REPUBLICAN 19 222 1 3
DEMOCRATIC 120 66 2
INDEPENDENT
TOTALS 139 288 1 5

—- YEAS    139 — 

Adams
Bass
Becerra
Benishek
Beyer
Blum
Blumenauer
Bonamici
Brady (PA)
Burgess
Capps
Capuano
Cárdenas
Chu, Judy
Cicilline
Clark (MA)
Clarke (NY)
Clawson (FL)
Clyburn
Cohen
Conyers
Cummings
Davis, Danny
DeFazio
DeGette
DeLauro
DelBene
DeSaulnier
Dingell
Doyle, Michael F.
Duncan (TN)
Edwards
Ellison
Eshoo
Esty
Farr
Fattah
Foster
Frankel (FL)
Fudge
Gallego
Garamendi
Garrett
Grayson
Griffith
Grijalva
Gutiérrez
Hahn
Hastings
Heck (WA)
Higgins
Himes
Hinojosa
Honda
Huffman
Hurt (VA)
Jackson Lee
Jeffries
Johnson, E. B.
Jones
Kaptur
Keating
Kelly (IL)
Kennedy
Kildee
Kirkpatrick
Kuster
Labrador
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lawrence
Lee
Lewis
Lieu, Ted
Lofgren
Lowenthal
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Lynch
Maloney, Carolyn
Maloney, Sean
Massie
Matsui
McCollum
McDermott
McGovern
McNerney
Moore
Mulvaney
Murphy (FL)
Nadler
Napolitano
Neal
Nolan
Nugent
O’Rourke
Pallone
Pascrell
Payne
Pelosi
Pingree
Pocan
Polis
Posey
Quigley
Rangel
Rice (SC)
Roybal-Allard
Rush
Ryan (OH)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanford
Sarbanes
Schakowsky
Schiff
Schrader
Scott (VA)
Sensenbrenner
Serrano
Sires
Slaughter
Speier
Swalwell (CA)
Takai
Takano
Thompson (CA)
Thompson (MS)
Titus
Tonko
Torres
Tsongas
Van Hollen
Velázquez
Visclosky
Waters, Maxine
Watson Coleman
Wilson (FL)
Woodall
Yarmuth
Yoho

—- NAYS    288 — 

Abraham
Aderholt
Aguilar
Allen
Amodei
Ashford
Babin
Barletta
Barr
Barton
Beatty
Bera
Bilirakis
Bishop (GA)
Bishop (MI)
Bishop (UT)
Black
Blackburn
Bost
Boustany
Boyle, Brendan F.
Brady (TX)
Brat
Bridenstine
Brooks (AL)
Brooks (IN)
Brown (FL)
Brownley (CA)
Buchanan
Buck
Bucshon
Bustos
Butterfield
Calvert
Carney
Carson (IN)
Carter (GA)
Carter (TX)
Cartwright
Castor (FL)
Castro (TX)
Chabot
Chaffetz
Clay
Cleaver
Coffman
Cole
Collins (GA)
Collins (NY)
Comstock
Conaway
Connolly
Cook
Cooper
Costa
Costello (PA)
Courtney
Cramer
Crawford
Crenshaw
Crowley
Cuellar
Culberson
Curbelo (FL)
Davis (CA)
Davis, Rodney
Delaney
Denham
Dent
DeSantis
DesJarlais
Deutch
Diaz-Balart
Doggett
Dold
Donovan
Duckworth
Duffy
Duncan (SC)
Ellmers (NC)
Emmer (MN)
Engel
Farenthold
Fincher
Fitzpatrick
Fleischmann
Fleming
Flores
Forbes
Fortenberry
Foxx
Franks (AZ)
Frelinghuysen
Gabbard
Gibbs
Gibson
Gohmert
Goodlatte
Gosar
Gowdy
Graham
Granger
Graves (GA)
Graves (LA)
Graves (MO)
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Grothman
Guinta
Guthrie
Hardy
Harper
Harris
Hartzler
Heck (NV)
Hensarling
Herrera Beutler
Hice, Jody B.
Hill
Holding
Hoyer
Hudson
Huelskamp
Huizenga (MI)
Hultgren
Hunter
Hurd (TX)
Israel
Issa
Jenkins (KS)
Jenkins (WV)
Johnson (OH)
Johnson, Sam
Jolly
Jordan
Joyce
Katko
Kelly (PA)
Kilmer
Kind
King (IA)
King (NY)
Kinzinger (IL)
Kline
Knight
LaMalfa
Lamborn
Lance
Langevin
Latta
Levin
Lipinski
LoBiondo
Loebsack
Long
Loudermilk
Love
Lowey
Lucas
Luetkemeyer
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Lummis
MacArthur
Marchant
Marino
McCarthy
McCaul
McClintock
McHenry
McKinley
McMorris Rodgers
McSally
Meadows
Meehan
Meeks
Meng
Messer
Mica
Miller (FL)
Miller (MI)
Moolenaar
Mooney (WV)
Moulton
Mullin
Murphy (PA)
Neugebauer
Newhouse
Noem
Norcross
Nunes
Olson
Palazzo
Palmer
Paulsen
Pearce
Perlmutter
Perry
Peters
Peterson
Pittenger
Pitts
Poe (TX)
Poliquin
Pompeo
Price (NC)
Price, Tom
Ratcliffe
Reed
Reichert
Renacci
Ribble
Rice (NY)
Richmond
Rigell
Roby
Roe (TN)
Rogers (AL)
Rogers (KY)
Rohrabacher
Rokita
Rooney (FL)
Ros-Lehtinen
Roskam
Ross
Rothfus
Rouzer
Royce
Ruiz
Ruppersberger
Russell
Ryan (WI)
Salmon
Scalise
Schweikert
Scott, Austin
Scott, David
Sessions
Sewell (AL)
Sherman
Shimkus
Shuster
Simpson
Sinema
Smith (MO)
Smith (NE)
Smith (NJ)
Smith (TX)
Smith (WA)
Stefanik
Stewart
Stivers
Stutzman
Thompson (PA)
Thornberry
Tiberi
Tipton
Trott
Turner
Upton
Valadao
Vargas
Veasey
Vela
Wagner
Walberg
Walden
Walker
Walorski
Walters, Mimi
Walz
Wasserman Schultz
Weber (TX)
Webster (FL)
Welch
Wenstrup
Westerman
Westmoreland
Whitfield
Williams
Wilson (SC)
Wittman
Womack
Yoder
Young (AK)
Young (IA)
Young (IN)
Zeldin
Zinke

—- ANSWERED “PRESENT”    1 — 

Amash

—- NOT VOTING    5 — 

Byrne
Hanna
Johnson (GA)
Kelly (MS)
Sanchez, Loretta

 


Please Call Your Rep Now to Oppose the War in Iraq and Syria

June 16, 2015

20141209_MoveOn_ISIS_FBshareable_1EndEndlessWarNotBranded (1)

As you know, last week President Obama announced that he was going to send nearly 500 more troops to Iraq on top of the over 3,500 already sent.  Add to this 17,000 airstrikes over the region at a combined cost of nearly $3 billion all without an authorization of force (AUMF) from Congress as required by the Constitution.

Our allies in Congress, Reps. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Walter Jones (R-NC), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), are using the War Powers Act to force Congress to debate and take a vote on the U.S. war in Iraq and Syria.  H. CON. RES 55 is a bill that mandates Congress debate and vote on an AUMF or all troops must be removed from Syria and Iraq by the end of the year.

A vote is expected tomorrow late in the afternoon.  Call your Representative now at 202-224-3121.  Tell them to support the bill, H. CON. RES 55, and do their constitutional duty by holding a debate and vote on an Authorization of the Use of Force in Iraq and Syria.

Even the Obama Administration knows that using the AUMFs from 2001 and 2003 from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is on very shaky legal ground.  That’s why they asked Congress for a new AUMF over three months ago.

The President has said repeatedly that there is no military solution to ISIS, yet, it seems, nearly all our resources are spent on military strategies.  It’s time for Congress to debate this war and to lift up other strategies such as starving ISIS of resources from illegal oil, antiquities and food commodities; cracking down on access to foreign forces and military supplies; and working to end the civil war in Syria.

We expect a vote in the next 24 hours.  Dial your Representative now at 202-224-3121.  Urge them to support H. CON. RES 55 and to do their constitutional duty by holding a debate and a vote on an AUMF in Iraq and Syria.

Please call today!

Humbly for Peace,

Paul Kawika Martin
Political Director
Peace Action

P.S. Call your Rep. today at 202-224-3121 urge them to support H. CON. RES 55 and to do their constitutional duty by holding a debate and a vote on the use of force in Iraq and Syria.  Then, forward this important email to everyone you know.


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