Tell the Senate: diplomacy worked with Iran, time to use it with Syria

October 6, 2015

'Nuff said?

Last week, with the help of our affiliates and allies, Connecticut Representative Jim Himes quickly organized a letter signed by 55 Members of Congress to President Obama calling for international talks to end the Syrian civil war, talks that include Russia and Iran.

It’s time for the other Congressional chamber, the Senate, to speak up.  President Obama, other leaders and experts agree that the main solution to the crisis in Syria is a political one.  Yet, comprehensive negotiations between all the key stakeholders have yet to occur.

Write your Senators now and ask that they make a statement or send a letter like Rep. Himes sent to support international talks and diplomacy.

As you know, with Syria’s invite, Russia started conducting airstrikes in Syria.  Now military hawks are suggesting the U.S. enforce a no-fly zone.  The Obama administration and others rightfully point out that such actions would like only escalate the situation.  Again, international talks- not jet fighters- are more apt to stop the civil war.

Take a moment now and tell your Senators to speak out for diplomacy with Syria and against military escalation by way of a no-fly zone.

The longer we wait to have comprehensive peace talks to work out a peace plan, the longer the war and refugee crisis will continue. Take action now and forward this message to your family and friends and ask them to take action as well.

Japan’s Peace Movement Will “Never Give Up!”

September 30, 2015

by Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director, New Jersey Peace Action

originally published by The Socialist

On the International Day of Peace 2015 (September 21), I spoke at the First Presbyterian Church of Rockaway, a New Jersey Peace Action recognized Peace Site, about being a local peacemaker and working to create a culture of peace. I welcomed the opportunity, having recently returned from a two-week trip to Japan, representing Peace Action and New Jersey Peace Action (NJPA) as a guest of the New Japan Women’s Association (Shinfujin). From August 1st through August 13th, I participated in an International Meeting for Peace, the 60th World Conference for A-Bomb and H-Bomb Survivors and ceremonies commemorating the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I gave my presentation just two days after the Upper House of the Japanese Diet passed extremely controversial and hotly contested “Security Rules” pushed by Prime Minister Abe and supported by President Obama. These rules violate Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, adopted post-World War II, by allowing Japanese soldiers to deploy overseas in support of their American allies, ending Japan’s 70 year commitment to pacifism. I read Article 9 out loud:

(1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.
(2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.


I emphasized the words that I thought elected officials in the U.S. should hear, describing behaviors the U.S. seems to have abandoned years ago. I praised the Japanese commitment to these words and their ongoing desire to preserve their culture of peace, following Japan’s experiences in World War II as both an imperialist nation and the victim of two atomic bombs.

A Japanese woman activist who attended the program said afterward, “I was devastated when the Diet approved the new rules, but it wasn’t until I heard you, an American, read Article 9 to a multi-faith audience that my tears first began to flow.”

Why would my reading these words have such an effect? Could it be because the history of Japan-American relations since 1940 hasn’t been easy — beginning with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1944 and continuing with U.S. internment camps for Japanese, the U.S. firebombing of 67 Japanese cities and the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? The U.S. used the military base at Okinawa as a launch pad during the Vietnam War and today wants to expand that base, despite tremendous local opposition. President Obama pressured Prime Minister Abe to abandon a 70-year commitment to pacifism over tremendous objections in order to support the U.S. military agenda in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. To hear an American read Article 9 with such reverence and respect and then talk about how the U.S. could learn from these words must be part of the reason it was so moving and meaningful.

While in Japan, I saw firsthand just how determined the majority of Japanese are to abolish nuclear weapons and put an end to war. At the end of every plenary session at the World Conference in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, hundreds of people nearly ran onto the stage carrying colorful banners, some in English, others in Japanese and many in both languages, decrying nuclear weapons, calling for “Peace Not War” and protesting against efforts to undermine their constitution’s Article 9.

On August 30th, in the largest demonstration in decades, approximately 120,000 Japanese gathered at the Diet Building in Tokyo to protest the passage of these new rules. Organizers reported 200 protest rallies held throughout the country.


High school students are leading this effort. I heard several young Japanese people say that they don’t want to fight in an overseas war. They don’t understand why differences can’t be resolved peacefully. I found myself imagining what it would be like to live in a country where for more than three generations, no Japanese man or woman has been killed in a war and no Japanese man or woman has killed anyone in another country during a war. I wished that the same dilemma faced high school students in the U.S., but since the U.S. has been at war for 213 years of our 239-year existence, we have become numb to the prospect of yet another war.

On September 10th, in anticipation of the upcoming vote in the Diet, the Japanese NO WAR Network held a press conference to express its opposition to the “War Rules.” 103 Japanese organizations were joined by 228 foreign NGOs, including New Jersey Peace Action, in criticizing Prime Minister Abe’s proposed rule changes as both unconstitutional and against the interests of peace and security. Many statements implored Japan to remain a pacifist nation and a role model for other nations, instead of succumbing to pressure from the U.S. to become more militaristic.

Unfortunately, in the early morning of September 19th, the Upper House of the Japanese Diet voted to approve Prime Minister Abe’s new “Security Rules” while thousands of people protested outside. Inside, it was chaos, a result of intense differences of opinion about these new rules.

The majority of the population were disappointed but vowed to continue their fight. A newly formed student organization SEALDs is calling on all peace organizations to look ahead to next summer’s elections and work to replace anyone who voted for the rule changes with pro-Article 9 legislators.

I believe we can learn a lot from the Japanese. The leaders of the global anti-war movement and the movement to abolish nuclear weapons come from Japan. The Japanese have apologized for their own imperialism and many have vowed that Japan will never again be that imperialistic nation.

The Japanese have also suffered the worst of war – the tremendous devastation from the U.S. firebombing of 67 cities and the dropping of two atomic bombs. Many military experts determined that dropping the atomic bombs was not necessary to force the Japanese to surrender, since it appeared likely that the Emperor of Japan was ready to surrender, if only the U.S. would allow him to “save face.” However, the U.S. military wanted to show off its new prize, the atomic bomb, both to Russia and to the rest of the world. For the U.S., the loss of 210,000 lives was a small price to pay for the opportunity to “flex its muscle.”

Hibakusha, survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have emotional, psychological and physical scars to prove the dangers of war and nuclear weapons. The average age of the Hibakusha is now over 80, making it more important than ever for youth to become involved, both in the effort to prevent war and to hear and learn the stories of those who survived the atomic bombs.

One such Hibakusha, Taniguchi Sumiteru, is 87-years-old. The bomb dropped on Nagasaki burned his back so badly that he spent the next 45 months lying on his stomach in a hospital bed. Years later when he met his surgeon, Taniguchi Sumiteru didn’t recognize him because he was never physically able to look him in the eyes. His surgeon said that he couldn’t believe Taniguchi Sumiteru survived so long. What moved me most of all was Taniguchi Sumiteru apologizing to the thousands gathered at the conferences in Hiroshima and Nagasaki for not doing enough to abolish nuclear weapons. Burned and mangled though he had been, he still expected more of himself.

He wasn’t the only Hibakusha to apologize and expect more from himself. I met another survivor, aged 81, who said he walks five miles every day and eats the most healthy food he can find because he owes it to his children to speak out for as long as possible against nuclear weapons and war.

The dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the most extreme and dangerous example of the logic of war. In order to wage war, one side has to demonize and dehumanize the other. Once that fatal step has been taken, the magnitude of destruction no longer becomes an issue. What does it matter whether the military uses a conventional weapon, a nuclear weapon or an atomic bomb?

The Japanese are also in the forefront of the movement against nuclear power, due to the catastrophic effects of the radiation leaks at Fukushima. Today, three years later, 100,000 evacuees are still unable to return to their homes in Fukushima, due to excessive levels of radiation.

It is my fervent hope that Abe’s “War Rules” won’t remain in effect for very long. Grass roots activism is spreading throughout Japan and is the best way to fight back against increased militarism.

We need to spend as much time thinking about creating a culture of peace as we do on waging war, in order to tame the military-industrial complex and change our nation’s and then the world’s spending priorities. We have to resist letting fear and greed dominate our thinking about resolving disputes between nations. It is tragic that the grassroots peace movement in the U.S. had to work so hard to protect a diplomatic agreement negotiated over 22 months between the P5+1 and Iran. The rhetoric of opponents and even many proponents of the deal showed how deeply the “culture of war” is engrained in the U.S.

The motto of the Japanese activists I met was “Never Give Up!” And those of us here in the U.S. who promote and value a culture of peace, won’t give up either.


About the Author:  has been the Executive Director of New Jersey Peace Action and the NJ Peace Action Education Fund since August 2000. Prior to being hired by NJPA, Madelyn was the Director of the Grass Roots Environmental Organization, Inc. of New Jersey from 1983 until 1998. She worked with over 200 citizens’ groups from every part of New Jersey around issues of toxic chemical pollution affecting their communities. Before holding that position, Madelyn was a community organizer for the Ironbound Community Corporation in Newark, working with senior citizens living in public housing projects and with residents concerned about toxic chemical pollution in the neighborhood.

#TBT – To Yesterday’s National Day of Action for the Iran Peace Deal!

August 27, 2015
Peacemongers in Sarasota, Florida at the office of US Rep. Vern Buchanan

Peacemongers in Sarasota, Florida at the office of US Rep. Vern Buchanan

“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.” — The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Peace Action affiliates, chapters, associates, members and volunteers put MLK’s words into practice yesterday as part of a national day of action (over 200 around the country!) involving dozens of national and local peace groups. Here are just a few highlights:

Portland, Maine — Peace Action, Veterans for Peace and other local groups rallied to press Senator Susan Collins, considered the lone possible Republican supporter of the Iran nuclear deal, which generated this article in the Portland Press Herald. Also longtime Peace Action Maine leader Sally Breen had a letter to the editor published in the same paper, a great two-fer!

Buffalo, New York — Western New Yorkers protested Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer’s announced opposition to the Iran peace deal, and the local public radio station covered it. 

Is that deal opponent Sen. Chuck Schumer?

Is that deal opponent Sen. Chuck Schumer?

Newark, New Jersey — Peace Action led a rally and petition delivery of 15,000 signatures in support of the Iran deal to the office of Sen. Cory Booker, considered a key fence sitter. And they aren’t done, they have another rally planned for this Saturday! Two papers in Jersey ran articles on the event.

Wilmington, Delaware — About 50 peace advocates organized by our associate organization, Pacem en Teris, gathered to urge Sen. Chris Coons, a key “on the fence” senator, to support peace with Iran, and got good media coverage of their efforts.

Sarasota, Florida — activists gathered to press Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, who says he leans against the deal.


OhioCleveland Peace Action’s Norman Robbins had an op-ed in the Plain Dealer yesterday, and activists in Columbus paid a visit to the office of U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, shown here:


Detroit, Michigan – Peace Action and allies organized a rally at the office of Sen. Gary Peters, considered a key swing vote on the Iran agreement. The Detroit News article also covered an anti-deal gathering. See some of our folks’ photos on the FaceBook page for the event.


Pro-Iran Diplomacy Op-ed in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

August 26, 2015

by Norman Robbins of Cleveland Peace Action

Iran nuclear deal – the pros outweigh the cons

When arguments about the Iran nuclear deal rage over arcane matters such as the allowable kilograms of low enriched uranium, the reliability of Additional Protocol inspections, or whether Iran can reprocess spent fuel, most of us find our eyes glazing over. We really just want to know whether the nuclear deal has sufficiently blocked all pathways to building a nuclear weapon for a reasonable period. As adults, we know that a fair deal was bound to leave each side somewhat dissatisfied. But is the big picture positive or negative?

One way to decide is to evaluate the credibility of those holding differing views. When we do so, it appears that on balance, most qualified experts who have spoken out publicly favor the deal.

For starters, a great many published statements of support for the deal have come from eminent military, nuclear, diplomatic and nonproliferation experts, altogether totaling hundreds of individuals (see references at The number of these experts, many who have served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, absolutely dwarfs the handful of bona fide experts (not including media pundits) who oppose the deal.

For instance, more than 80 Israeli former military and intelligence leaders support the deal or at least have advised Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to stop opposing it, and reportedly few Israeli military people say the deal is a major detriment to Israel.

So why should we listen to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s warnings of dire consequences? Do Israel’s military and intelligence leaders know or care less about Israel’s security than Netanyahu?

In stark contrast, Netanyahu, the leader of the charge to scuttle the agreement, has a long history of making confident predictions that have turned out to be dead wrong. From 1992 to 2012 (for 20 years!), he repeatedly predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb in three years or less.

Wrong! Since 2007, the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, a consensus of 16 intelligence agencies, repeatedly affirmed that Iran has not worked on a nuclear weapon since 2003 and has not decided whether to do so.

Netanyahu ”guaranteed” Congress in 2002 that ”the Iraq War would have enormous positive reverberations in the region.”

Wrong! We all know how that fiasco turned out.

Netanyahu has demanded that a nuclear deal with Iran must compel Iran to totally dismantle its nuclear program.

Wrong! We know for a fact that precisely this demand undermined U.S.-European attempts at negotiation with Iran from 2003 to 2013. Numerous polls have shown that Iranians proudly consider their peaceful nuclear program as non-negotiable, especially in view of their dismal history of humiliating quasi-colonial interventions.

Stack up these major and repeated wrong-headed blunders, many contrary to the advice and opinion of experienced experts, and it is clear that one should set little stock by what Netanyahu and his followers claim, especially in the category of hyperbolic fearmongering (e.g., that Iran is going to attack the United States or Israel with nukes).

Those who oppose the deal assure us that we can get a better deal if we sack this one, but most experienced diplomats disagree. European, Chinese and Russian ambassadors have told members of Congress that the sanctions would collapse and no new deal could emerge if Congress sank the deal. Claims that the United States could impose ”secondary” sanctions on countries that resume trade with Iran have been countered by economic experts who point out that the resulting losses of trade (e.g. with China and Southeast Asian countries) would greatly harm the U.S. economy.

Again, naysayers assert that if the deal falls through and Iran restores its pre-existing nuclear capacity, we can always default to military action. Indeed, one of Netanyahu’s major U.S. financial supporters, Sheldon Adelson, publicly proposed dropping nukes on Iran to force it to abandon its nuclear program, and Netanyahu has never disavowed that genocidal proposal.

How credible are these people? Once again, 36 retired U.S. military leaders, who know well the dire unintended consequences of heedless military action, say we must try the diplomatic approach long before we contemplate military action.

We have some 20,000 American sailors and perhaps 10,000 soldiers on bases within easy reach of enormous numbers of Iranian ship- and shore-based missiles. Do we really want to put their lives at risk by refusing to listen to voices of reason and experience?

Will our still-uncommitted Ohio Congress members — Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur, Tim Ryan and Joyce Beatty — have the courage to resist pressure and be among those listeners? 


Robbins is an emeritus professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University and Iran consultant to Cleveland Peace Action.

TV clip of Iran actions in MD yesterday

August 21, 2015

Featuring Peace Action’s own Jean Athey!

Action Alert: Show up for peace with Iran at Congressional Town Hall Meetings this month!

August 11, 2015



Our August campaign to build support for the peace deal with Iran is off to a great start.  Yesterday at the Manhattan office of New York Senator Chuck Schumer, Peace Action of New York State led a demonstration that attracted close to 500 people, sending Sen. Schumer a powerful message of outrage against his decision to oppose the deal that would block Iran’s pathway to a nuclear weapon.

This is just the beginning.  Teaming up with (which provided a great assist at the Schumer protest) and several other major peace and justice groups, we now have a website which details where Town Hall meetings will be taking place over the August Congressional recess so constituents can rally in support of this historic peace agreement.

There are town halls TODAY in Brooklyn with Rep. Jefferies (that one sponsored by AIPAC and other “pro-Israel groups, but it is open to the public and there will be at least one pro-peace expert speaker), Morgantown, West Virginia (Sen. Manchin) and Dallas (Rep. Veazey), as well as others later this week and throughout the month, so please check out the website now!

Please plan to show up for peace, and invite friends, neighbors, family to join you! Also please help promote this website via your social media networks and channels.

Where Town Hall meetings have taken place, Peace Action chapters are reporting in with news that support for the deal is overwhelming opposition.  We know we can’t outspend the War Party, determined as they are to torpedo the agreement, but we can out organize them.   And we will!

So far our combined efforts have generated and turned in over 244,000 petition signatures and 45,000 phone calls to Congressional offices supported the Iran peace deal, and that effort continues. But there’s no substitute for showing up and letting lawmakers and your fellow constituents we want more peace, not more war, in the Middle East.

Polls continue to show strong majority support for the Iran peace deal despite the multi-million dollar media barrage against it.

We can win this.  We can beat the War Party.  Let’s make some noise!

Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action


Peace Action Iran article on, 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:
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  1. Liking by going to the article and clicking the up arrow:
  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.


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