#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.

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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:

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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 https://peaceblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/validators-of-iran-nuclear-deal/). 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!

http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2015/08/20/sen-cardin-under-pressure-ahead-of-decision-on-iran-deal/


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

August 11, 2015

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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 MoveOn.org (which provided a great assist at the Schumer protest) and several other major peace and justice groups, we now have a website 60daystostopawar.com 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 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
  1.  Sharing: https://www.facebook.com/paulkawika
  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

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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)”.


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