Walter Jones along with Reps. Ro Khanna [D-CA], and Mark Pocan [D-WI] published an opinion piece in the New York Times that called on the White House to end US participation in the War on Yemen. Read the op-ed here.
Can we build a strong movement for Peace and Justice? Read thoughts and provocative analysis in this article from the latest In These Times magazine.
From National Peace Action – Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs
As President Trump continues insulting and threatening North Korea, undermining hopes for diplomacy and increasing the risk of war, he also
appears poised to abandon the hard-won Iran nuclear agreement. As you know, that would be a disaster in its own right, but it would also be a disaster for the prospects of ever negotiating our way out of the crisis with North Korea.
The Iran agreement has been doing exactly what it was meant to: ensuring Iran’s paths to the bomb are all blocked. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) , the European Union , and over 80 nuclear policy experts  all say that Iran is adhering to the agreement. Even some of Trump’s top advisors Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Joseph Dunford  and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis  agree the agreement is worth keeping.
Nonetheless, Trump has indicated he may decertify Iran’s compliance with the agreement on or before the October 15th deadline regardless of whether there is material evidence of a violation. That would then line up a vote in Congress on whether or not to reimpose sanctions on Iran, and that’s where you come in.
If Trump backs out of the Iran agreement, that would put war with Iran back on the table. At the same time, it would send a terrible signal to North Korea about the U.S.’s ability to stand by its international commitments, which could unravel any hopes of negotiating a similar agreement to scale back North Korea’s nuclear program.
If diplomacy with North Korea is taken off the table completely, war on the Korean Peninsula also becomes much more likely. To ensure the door to diplomacy stays open, and to prevent Trump from marching us into one or even two new wars of choice, members of Congress need to be speaking out in support of diplomacy with Iran and North Korea.
*We need you to email your Members of Congress and ask them to protect the Iran agreement and call for direct talks with North Korea.*
If Trump does decertify Iran’s compliance with the agreement, it will still be up to Congress to reimpose sanctions, and there are some indications that such a vote could be close. On top of Trump’s key military advisors urging him to stick with the agreement, Congressional Republicans are starting to think twice about walking away from the deal. Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)  said he thinks Trump should “enforce the hell out of” the deal rather than back out of it. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said “I don’t think we should relieve Iran of its obligations.”
If stopping Trump from destroying the Iran agreement comes down to a vote in Congress, as it well may, we’re going to need all the votes we can get. If we hope to pressure the Trump administration to get serious about negotiating with North Korea, we’re going to need as many members of Congress speaking out as we can get.
Your activism around the Iran nuclear agreement was crucial to getting the deal through Congress and preventing a war. Now we need your activism again to protect that achievement and push for a similar agreement with North Korea. *Email your Members of Congress Today and ask them to defend diplomacy with Iran and demand diplomacy with North Korea.*
NC Representative Walter Jones joined colleagues in Congress to invoke the War Powers Act with H.Con.Res. 81, a bill that “calls the question” about the US role in fueling military support to Saudi Arabia to extend the war on Yemen.
Peace Action National encourages that we take action on this opportunity
The Asheville Convention
By John Heuer
For the first time in our 29 year history, Veterans For Peace held its National Convention in North Carolina. From July 23 through the 27th, some 350 VFP members and friends gathered at the University of North Carolina Asheville. Host Chapter 099 offered free homestays and convenient campgrounds for out of towners who couldn’t afford motels or UNCA dorm rooms.
We made a concerted effort to encourage post 9/11 vets to attend, waiving registration fees and raising $10,000 to assist in their travel expenses. Over 50 young vets attended the convention, from all across the US and the UK. Nineteen members of the Eisenhower Chapter in the NC Triangle participated as volunteers, presenters, attendees, and hosts. A lot of North Carolina pride went into this convention. Humility, too.
After all, the convention was being held on historic Cherokee Nation lands. The legacy of US militarism, is not lost on 1st Nations’ survivors, whose families were herded onto reservations comprising the least desirable lands. “Least desirable” that is, until gold or oil or other “precious’ minerals were discovered on the reservations. Hundreds of abandoned uranium mines on or near indigenous lands continue to poison their air, land, and children. Navajo musician/artist/activist Klee Benally provided riveting testimony to these travesties in word and song.
But Eastern Band Cherokee Nation Elder Freeman Owle provided a gracious welcome to the convention. Freeman is an educator, historian, story teller, and stone carver. His words of both welcome and forgiveness set the tone for the entire convention, as did the extraordinary spoken words and song of April “Little Red Feather” Adams, a US Army veteran from 1990 to 2000, a member of the Cherokee Nation Western Band, and our newest VFP National Board member.
What did we accomplish?
Veterans For Peace rededicated ourselves to the abolition of war and preparation for war. We are working to end current wars, prevent future wars, and dismantle the machinery of war. When citizens are educated about the costs of war, $2 trillion annually spent for war and preparation for war, when one tenth of that cost could cure hunger on earth, they recognize that our so-called civilization needs a course correction.
Our convention theme, Peace or Perish—Abolish War on Planet and Poor, was highlighted by a plenary including Black Workers for Justice leader Angaza Laughinghouse, Asheville’s Beloved Community Center leader Rev. Amy Cantrell and US Army veteran, history professor at Essex County College in Newark, NJ, Margaret Stevens. The plenary “Peace at Home, Peace Abroad” focused on the idea that we can never enjoy peace at home while making war abroad, nor can we help build peace abroad while we make war on our communities here at home.
The murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO by a militarized police force trained not to protect citizens, but to treat them as targets, brings that point home with excruciating clarity.
On August 6th 2014, the 69th anniversary of the advent of nuclear warfare, the Raleigh Committee to Reverse the Arms Race held its “First Wednesday Vigil” at the Fayetteville Street Post Office, as it has every month since 1982.
If we survive the era of nuclear weapons, it will be at least a small miracle, and a miracle, in good measure, of our own making. The US government is on record for proposing a $1 trillion investment in our nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years.
Why would we squander such vast treasure on an arsenal that, if ever deployed, would mean our own destruction? It is a colossal waste of resources, and the poster child for “A Bridge to Nowhere.” What do we the people do when our governments (not just our own) are hell bent on amassing destructive power while neglecting the needs of their citizens at home?
September 21st 2014
The UN declared an International Day of Peace, which was first celebrated in 1982. (Sometimes events have to catch up with holidays for which they are named.) The tradition became a world-wide observance of International Day of Peace on September 21st of each year, an opportunity for combatants to lay their weapons down, and for all of us to imagine a world without war.
Veterans For Peace will participate in a massive Peoples March for Climate in New York City, planned for September 21st, prior to the UN Climate Summit starting that week. Communities across North Carolina and the world will participate in a convergence of peace and environmental activists calling for an end to the wars, on planet and poor. Included are official pronouncements, ringing of bells (it is Sunday, after all) and public assemblies. Preachers are encouraged to exhort their parishioners to take a moment of silence to forgive themselves, and then make a call to an estranged community or family member, and to express gratitude and respect for this fragile, garden planet earth.
Because peace begins with thee and me.
Remarks at North Carolina Peace Action Event in Raleigh, N.C., August 23, 2014.
By David Swanson
Thank you for inviting me, and thank you to North Carolina Peace Action.
It’s an honor for me to have a role in honoring the 2014 Student Peacemaker, iMatter Youth North Carolina. I’ve followed what iMatter has been doing around the country for years, I’ve sat in on a court case they brought in Washington, D.C., I’ve shared a stage with them at a public event, I’ve organized an online petition with them at RootsAction.org, I’ve written about them and watched them inspire writers like Jeremy Brecher whom I recommend reading. Here is an organization acting in the interests of all future generations of all species and being led — and led well — by human kids. Can we give them some applause?
But, perhaps revealing the short-sightedness and self-centeredness of myself as a member of a species that didn’t evolve to manage a whole planet, I’m especially happy to be recognizing iMatter Youth North Carolina because my own niece Hallie Turner and my nephew Travis Turner are part of it. They deserve LOTS of applause.
And the full iMatter planning team, I’m told, is represented tonight as well by Zack Kingery, Nora White, and Ari Nicholson. They should have even more applause.
I take complete credit for Hallie and Travis’s work, because although I didn’t really teach them anything, I did, before they were born, tell my sister she should go to our high school reunion, at which she met the man who became my brother in law. Without that, no Hallie and no Travis.
However, it was my parents — who I suppose by the same logic (although in this case I of course reject it) get complete credit for anything I do — it was they who took Hallie to her first rally, at the White House protesting a tar sands pipeline. I’m told that Hallie didn’t know what it was all about at first or why the good people were being arrested, instead of the people committing the offenses against our loved ones and our earth being arrested. But by the end of the rally Hallie was right in the thick of it, wouldn’t leave until the last person had gone off to jail for justice, and she pronounced the occasion the most important day of her life thus far, or words to that effect.
Perhaps, as it turns out, that was an important day, not just for Hallie but also for iMatter Youth North Carolina, and, who knows, just maybe — like the day Gandhi was thrown off a train, or the day Bayard Rustin talked Martin Luther King Jr. into giving up his guns, or the day a teacher assigned Thomas Clarkson to write an essay on whether slavery was acceptable — it will eventually turn out to have been an important day for more of us.
I’m a bit ashamed of two things though, despite all my pride.
One is that we adults leave kids to discover moral action and serious political engagement by accident rather than teaching it to them systematically and universally, as if we don’t really think they want meaningful lives, as if we imagine comfortable lives is the complete human ideal. We are asking kids to lead the way on the environment, because we — I’m speaking collectively of everyone over 30, the people Bob Dylan said not to trust until he was over 30 — we are not doing it, and the kids are taking us to court, and our government is allowing its fellow leading destroyers of the environment to become voluntary co-defendants (can you imagine volunteering to be sued along with someone else who’s facing a law suit? No, wait, sue me too!), and the voluntary co-defendants, including the National Association of Manufacturers, are providing teams of lawyers that probably cost more than the schools Hallie and Travis attend, and the courts are ruling that it is an individual right of non-human entities called corporations to destroy the inhabitability of the planet for everyone, despite the evident logic that says the corporations will cease to exist as well.
Should our kids do as we say or as we do? Neither! They should run in the opposite direction from anything we’ve touched. There are exceptions, of course. Some of us try a little. But it is an uphill effort to undo the cultural indoctrination that has us saying phrases like “throw this away” as if there really were an away, or labeling the destruction of a forest “economic growth,” or worrying about so-called peak oil and how we’ll live when the oil runs out, even though we’ve already found five times what we can safely burn and still be able to live on this beautiful rock.
But kids are different. The need to protect the earth and use clean energy even if it means a few inconveniences or even some serious personal risk, is no more unusual or strange to a kid than half the other stuff they are presented with for the first time, like algebra, or swim meets, or uncles. They haven’t spent as many years being told that renewable energy doesn’t work. They haven’t developed the fine-tuned sense of patriotism that allows us to keep believing renewable energy cannot work even as we hear about it working in other countries. (That’s German physics!)
Our young leaders have fewer years of indoctrination into what Martin Luther King Jr. called extreme materialism, militarism, and racism. Adults block the way in the courts, so kids take to the streets, they organize and agitate and educate. And so they must, but they are up against an educational system and an employment system and an entertainment system that often tells them they are powerless, that serious change is impossible, and that the most important thing you can do is vote.
Now, adults telling each other that the most important thing they can do is vote is bad enough, but saying that to kids who aren’t old enough to vote is like telling them to do nothing. We need a few percent of our population doing the opposite of nothing, living and breathing dedicated activism. We need creative nonviolent resistance, re-education, redirection of our resources, boycotts, divestments, the creation of sustainable practices as models for others, and the impeding of an established order that is politely and smilingly steering us over a cliff. Rallies organized by iMatter Youth North Carolina look like moves in the right direction to me. So, let’s thank them again.
The second thing I’m a little ashamed of is that it is not at all uncommon for a peace organization to arrive at an environmental activist when choosing someone to honor, whereas I have never once heard of the reverse. Hallie and Travis have an uncle who works largely on peace, but they live in a culture where the activism that receives funding and attention and mainstream acceptance, to the limited extent that any does and of course trailing far behind 5Ks against breast cancer and the sort of activism that lacks real opponents, is activism for the environment. But I think there’s a problem with what I’ve just done and what we usually tend to do, that is, with categorizing people as peace activists or environmental activists or clean elections activists or media reform activists or anti-racism activists. As we came to realize a few years back, we all add up to 99% of the population, but those who are really active are divided, in reality as well as in people’s perceptions.
Peace and environmentalism should, I think, be combined into the single word peacenvironmentalism, because neither movement is likely to succeed without the other. iMatter wants to live as if our future matters. You can’t do that with militarism, with the resources it takes, with the destruction it causes, with the risk that grows greater with each passing day that nuclear weapons will be intentionally or accidentally detonated. If you could really figure out how to nuke another nation while shooting its missiles out of the sky, which of course nobody has figured out, the impact on the atmosphere and climate would severely impact your own nation as well. But that’s a fantasy. In a real world scenario, a nuclear weapon is launched on purpose or by mistake, and many more are quickly launched in every direction. This has in fact nearly happened numerous times, and the fact that we pay almost no attention to it anymore makes it more rather than less likely. I imagine you know what happened 50 miles southeast of here on January 24, 1961? That’s right, the U.S. military accidentally dropped two nuclear bombs and got very lucky they didn’t explode. Nothing to worry about, says comedy news anchor John Oliver, that’s why we have TWO Carolinas.
iMatter advocates for an economic shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy and for sustainable jobs. If only there were a couple of trillion dollars a year being wasted on something useless or destructive! And of course there is, worldwide, that unfathomable sum is being spent on preparations for war, half of it by the United States, three quarters of it by the United States and its allies — and much of that last bit on U.S. weapons. For a fraction of it, starvation and disease could be seriously dealt with, and so could climate change. War kills primarily through taking spending away from where it’s needed. For a small fraction of war preparations spending, college could be free here and provided free in some other parts of the world too. Imagine how many more environmental activists we could have if college graduates didn’t owe tens of thousands of dollars in exchange for the human right of an education! How do you pay that back without going to work for the destroyers of the earth?
79% of weapons in the Middle East come from the United States, not counting those belonging to the U.S. military. U.S. weapons were on both sides in Libya three years ago and are on both sides in Syria and Iraq. Weapons making is an unsustainable job if ever I saw one. It drains the economy. The same dollars spent on clean energy or infrastructure or education or even tax cuts for non-billionaires produces more jobs than military spending. Militarism fuels more violence, rather than protecting us. The weapons have to be used up, destroyed, or given to local police who will begin to see local people as enemies, so that new weapons can be made. And this process is, by some measures, the biggest destroyer of the environment we have.
The U.S. military burned through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day, as measured in 2006. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption. If you removed the Pentagon from the total oil consumption by the United States, then the United States would still rank first with nobody else anywhere close. But you would have spared the atmosphere the burning of more oil than most countries consume, and would have spared the planet all the mischief the U.S. military manages to fuel with it. No other institution in the United States consumes remotely as much oil as the military.
Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spends $622 million trying to figure out how to produce power without oil, while the military spends hundreds of billions of dollars burning oil in wars fought and on bases maintained to control the oil supplies. The million dollars spent to keep each soldier in a foreign occupation for a year could create 20 green energy jobs at $50,000 each.
Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War “rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality,” according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School. Leaning divides war’s environmental impact into four areas: “production and testing of nuclear weapons, aerial and naval bombardment of terrain, dispersal and persistence of land mines and buried ordnance, and use or storage of military despoliants, toxins, and waste.” A 1993 U.S. State Department report called land mines “the most toxic and widespread pollution facing mankind.” Millions of hectares in Europe, North Africa, and Asia are under interdiction. One-third of the land in Libya conceals land mines and unexploded World War II munitions.
The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.
You may not care about politics, the saying goes, but politics cares about you. That goes for war. John Wayne avoided going off to World War II by making movies to glorify other people going. And do you know what happened to him? He made a movie in Utah near a nuclear testing area. Of the 220 people who worked on the film, 91, rather than the 30 that would have been the norm, developed cancer including John Wayne, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, and director Dick Powell.
We need a different direction. In Connecticut, Peace Action and many other groups have been involved in successfully persuading the state government to set up a commission to work on converting from weapons to peaceful industries. Labor unions and management support it. Environmental and peace groups are part of it. It’s very much a work in progress. It was likely stimulated by false stories that the military was being slashed. But whether we can make that a reality or not, the environmental need to shift our resources to green energy is going to grow, and there is no reason North Carolina shouldn’t be the second state in the country to do this. You have moral Mondays here. Why not have moral every days of the year?
Major changes look larger before they happen than after. Environmentalism has come on very quickly. The U.S. already had nuclear submarines back when whales were still being used as a source of raw materials, lubricants, and fuels, including in nuclear submarines. Now whales are, almost suddenly, seen as marvelous intelligent creatures to be protected, and the nuclear submarines have begun to look a bit archaic, and the deadly sound pollution that the Navy imposes on the world’s oceans looks a bit barbaric.
iMatter’s lawsuits seek to protect the public trust for future generations. The ability to care about future generations is, in terms of the imagination required, almost identical to the ability to care about foreign people at a distance in space rather than time. If we can think of our community as including those not yet born, who of course we hope far outnumber the rest of us, we can probably think of it as including the 95% of those alive today who don’t happen to be in the United States of America, and vice versa.
But even if environmentalism and peace activism were not a single movement, we’d have to join them and several others together in order to have the sort of Occupy 2.0 coalition we need to effect change. A big chance to do that is coming up around September 21st which is the International Day of Peace and the time when a rally and all sorts of events for the climate will be happening in New York City.
At WorldBeyondWar.org you’ll find all sorts of resources for holding your own event for peace and the environment. You’ll also find a short two-sentence statement in favor of ending all war, a statement that has been signed in the past few months by people in 81 nations and rising. You can sign it on paper here this evening. We need your help, young and old. But we should be especially glad that time and numbers are on the side of the young around the world, to whom I say along with Shelley:
Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you-
Ye are many — they are few.
At our recent Peacemaker Dinner on May 16th 2013, Matt Hoh explained how the U.S. alliance with the Karzai government has in effect undermined its own mission in Afghanistan. Listen to the video and learn the meaning of the military’s acronym VICE and why the Taliban is stronger than ever.
January 16, 2013
CONTACT: JOE BURTON 919-851-5596
At its January 15th meeting, the Raleigh City Council joined the US Conference of Mayors and cities in 14 other states in approving a “Bring Our War Dollars Home Resolution.” The original resolution was submitted to the Council by ROWD (Return Our War Dollars) of Wake County with support from NC Peace Action and American Friends Service Committee.
After amending the wording, the Council approved the following: BE IT RESOLVED that the Raleigh City Council call upon the U.S. Congress and President Obama to end our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our war dollars home, and use those and other savings in Pentagon spending to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.
ROWD of Wake County coordinator Joe Burton (pictured above) said: “Thanks to the Raleigh City Council for its approval of the Bring Our War Dollars Home resolution and the good message it sends to North Carolina’s Congressional delegation regarding federal funding priorities, as budget negotiations go forward in Washington.”
To read the rest of the resolution, please click here.
Proclamation calling on Congress to Fund Urgently Needed Services and Infrastructure Repair in Raleigh and Throughout the United States by Bringing Our War Dollars Home and Reducing Military Spending.
WHEREAS the members of the Raleigh City Council and the constituents we represent want to ensure the safety, as well as the physical and mental well-being of U.S. soldiers, veterans, and their families, and
WHEREAS more than 100,000 American soldiers have been officially injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 520,000 veterans or our Middle Eastern wars have filed disability claims with costs of their care expected to total between $600 billion and $1 trillion by 2040 (1), and WHEREAS, the US government has spent well over 1 trillion dollars nationally on the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, with North Carolina taxpayers’ share of that total at $34 billion, and Raleigh taxpayer’s share of that total is $1.7 billion (3), and
WHEREAS the core defense budget has gone up for an unprecedented 13 straight years and reduction in defense spending will help reduce the federal deficit (2), and
WHEREAS the $50 billion reduction in defense spending required by sequestration under the Budget Control Act (adjusted in real dollars) is equivalent to what was spent in FY2007 and will keep defense spending above the Cold War average (2), and
WHEREAS even with a reduction of $50 billion, the United States will spend more on defense than the next 17 nations combined, most of whom are our allies, and 3 times more than the Chinese (2), and
WHEREAS the severity of the ongoing economic crisis has created budget shortfalls at all levels of government and requires us to reexamine our national spending priorities; and in Wake County budget cuts causing layoffs, cutbacks, and continual damage to our public education system (4), and
WHEREAS 1.6 million residents of NC live in poverty with nearly 50% of those having incomes less than half of the federal poverty level; in Wake County 1 in 6 children live in poverty (5, 6, 7), and
WHEREAS, cuts to federal programs such as Community Block Development Grants (CDBGs) and the Home Investment Partnership program (HOME) have forced Raleigh and local agencies and non-profits to lay off staff, reduce or eliminate services, delay infrastructure projects and reduce program benefits to low and moderate income families; and
WHEREAS, funding for a constructive economy that sustains high level educational services for the K through college, job growth, equal access to medical care, low cost housing, infrastructure repair, environmental protections, and family financing throughout North Carolina, especially in cities such as Raleigh, has been diverted to wars and occupations, therefore
BE IT RESOLVED that the Raleigh City Council call upon the U.S. Congress and President Obama to end our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, bring our war dollars home, and use those and other savings in military spending to meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy.
1. Gusterson, Hugh, “The Costs of War”, 2011 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 6, 2011
2. Korb, Lawrence J., “6 Reasons to Keep the Defense Budget Sequestration Cuts”, Center for American Progress, April 3, 2012.
3. National Priorities Project, http://costofwar.com, Nov. 1, 2012.
4. Warren, Louisa B. “A Better Future Begins in Pre-K,” Policy & Progress, North Carolina Justice Center, Spring 2012, p. 13.
5. Hawes, Julia, “Poverty Tour Exposes Lack of Economic Opportunity,” Policy & Progress, North Carolina Justice Center, Spring 2012, p. 1.
6. Sirota, Alexandra Forter and Burch, Brenna Elford, “Dismantling Pathways to Economic Mobility in NC,” Policy & Progress, North Carolina Justice Center, Spring 2012, p. 1, 10-11.
Now in it’s second year, the program featured 2010-11 Grand Prize winners Lauren Zalla and Lauren Traugott-Campbell. They showed slides and spoke about their travel to Cuba with Witness for Peace in November 2011. Lauren T-C said the transition Cuba went through as it adjusted to the loss of imports from the Soviet Union and the blockade of the US may well serve as a model to many countries in the future who must learn to live without oil and other advanced technologies.
Finally, the 2012 Grand Prize Awardees Monserrat Alvarez and Owen Clapp were recognized and they each spoke about their anticipated travel to Cuba and Nicaragua with Witness for Peace.