Fear, hate and nuclear weapons threaten to rewrite facts under the Trump administration as we are guided to endless wars and endless military spending under a President who had to ask why we do not use Nuclear Weapons.

Together, we can resist the politics of fear and hate of the new Administration, and create communities that work for all of us, guiding U.S. foreign policy away from war, and towards sustainable peace. Sign up now to volunteer with Peace Action New York State:



Celebrating Peace & Supporting Student Organizers

Thank You for Supporting Peace & Peace Action New York State!

Last Friday, we celebrated Peace Action’s 60th Anniversary with 300 of our closest friends, allies and accomplices at the historic Riverside Church in Manhattan. Thank you to everyone who was able to join us. Together, we celebrated the lifetime achievements of Harry Belafonte, in his tireless activism for peace and justice, and awarded LaDonna Brave Bull Allard the William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker Award for her heroic work defending the sacred at Standing Rock. We also heard from Ben Cohen, the night’s keynote and incredible philanthropist, about endless military spending & what it is really costing all of us.

If you missed the celebration, some photos and videos from the night are available on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/PeaceActionNY, and more incredible event photos, taken by Matt Weinstein, are available here.

If you were unable to support Peace Action New York State programs at Friday’s fundraiser, will you support our organizing work with a contribution today?

Your donation will support programs like our upcoming Anti-War Campus Organizing conference, bringing together over 100 students from the Peace Action network with leading racial justice, gender justice and environmental justice organizers, addressing war & peace as a fundamental issue of intersectional justice.

This conference features speakers from Iran, Korea, Kenya and Yemen, bringing together communities most impacted by U.S. militarism – at home and abroad. Click here to see the line-up of expert speakers and the conference schedule, and click below to make a donation to make sure this conference is accessible and low-cost to students of all backgrounds.

donate now

Thank you for all you do for peace.

Two Actions for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

Take Action for the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

While North Korea and the United States continue down a path of nuclear threats and devastation, we stand with the 122 countries around the world who adopted the UN Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons. Especially in these times, there are actions our Senators and Representatives should take today to move us toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Today is the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Will you make two calls today for sane nuclear weapons policy? 


1) Call Senator Gillibrand’s Office: 1-202-224-4451

Senator Gillibrand should be a co-sponsor of S.200 the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act, which would resign in this Administration’s threat of the use of nuclear weapons and make sure we are not responsible for the deaths of millions of North Koreans who have nothing to do with the actions Kim Jong-Un. Given current co-sponsors, there is no reason why Senator Gillibrand should not be on this legislation.

Here’s what you can say when her office picks up: “My name is _____ and I am a constituent concerned about the continued threats of nuclear war. I believe that the only nuclear security is a world without nuclear weapons, and where this Administration doesn’t have unrestricted access to a nuclear red button. I hope Senator Gillibrand will: co-sponsor S. 200 the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act and oppose the $1.2 trillion dollar proposed modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, a weapons sytem we should never use. I hope Senator Gillibrand will also issue a statement of support for the nuclear ban treaty, which was adopted at the United Nations by 122 countries and points us towards a nuclear-free future, which has been called for by both President Reagan and President Obama.”


2) Call Your House Representative’s Office: 1-202-224-3121 (or you can find their direct office number here)

Here’s what you can say when his/her Office picks up: “My name is _____ and I am a constituent concerned about the continued threats of nuclear war. I believe that the only nuclear security is a world without nuclear weapons, and where this Administration doesn’t have unrestricted access to a nuclear red button. I hope my Representative will: co-sponsor HR 669 the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act and oppose the $1.2 trillion dollar proposed modernization of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, a weapons sytem we should never use. I hope my Representative will also issue a statement of support for the nuclear ban treaty, which was adopted at the United Nations by 122 countries and points us towards a nuclear-free future, which has been called for by both President Reagan and President Obama.”

Several New York Representatives are already co-sponsors of this legislation: Representative Clarke (D-NY9) was an original co-sponsor. Other NY co-sponsors are: Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY12), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY8), Nydia Velazquez (D-NY7), Louise Slaughter (D-NY25), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY13) and Jerry Nadler (D-NY10).

After my meeting with Representative Nadler’s staff in-district last week, we received an email that same day that he had joined as a co-sponsor on this legislation. Will your Representative be next?

Thank you for taking action towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons. Together, we will win.

Peace,

Kate Alexander
Policy Director, Peace Action New York State

P.S. If you have another 2 minutes, please call Senator Schumer’s office (can’t get through in the DC number? Try the office nearest you) and use the same script you used for Senator Gillibrand’s office. He is in the leadership in the Senate and may be unlikely to join as a co-sponsor, but that doesn’t mean we’re letting him slide.

 

Just Announced: Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream!

Time is running out to buy your ticket to Peace Action Fund of New York State’s 60th Anniversary Gala, where we will be honoring Harry Belefonte with our Life-time Achievement Award. Standing Rock hero LaDonna Brave Bull Allard will be our William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker Award recipient, and our emcee will be Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK.

And, we are proud to annouce our keynote speaker will be Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

This is an event you won’t want to miss- buy your tickets today!

The gala dinner will be held on Friday, October 13, 2017 at the historic Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive in Manhattan from 6 – 9PM. Join us for a night of inspiration and music to celebrate Peace Action’s 60th anniversary

Help continue the work of the nation’s largest grassroots peace network which began 60 years ago in New York City as the Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy and merged with the Nuclear Freeze movement in the 1980’s. The work of Peace Action is needed today more urgently than ever, and our influence is growing. In the recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) vote, Senator Gillibrand and nine New York Congressional Representatives, Clarke, Espaillat, Jeffries, Meng, Nadler, Serrano, Slaughter, Tonko, and Velazquez, voted no on the $700 billion bill to fund U.S. endless war and militarism. This is the momentum we have to keep going, and it is through the support and involvement of each of you that we will continue to do just that.

Click here to buy tickets, become a host, or buy a journal ad for the event. 

We look forward to celebrating 60 years of peace activism with you and hope to see you there. 

Celebrating Peace Activism

On this year’s International Day of Peace, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace (GVCP) will be honoring our very own Kate Alexander, Director of Policy and Outreach, with the Genesee Valley Peacemaker Award at their 45th Anniversary Celebration. 

If you haven’t gotten the opportunity to meet Kate yet, below is a little more about her: 

Kate Alexander is a peace advocate and researcher with 12 years experience in community organizing. Her previous work experience includes community organizing with Planned Parenthood in Arizona, war crimes research and assistance in a genocide trial in Bosnia, community peace-building work in Northern Uganda, and writing reports for United Nations bodies on women’s rights violations in Syria and Iraq. She is committed to the leadership of diverse, historically marginalized voices in peace advocacy and processes globally, to reshape their own communities post-conflict and challenge inequitable power structures that are the root causes of conflict. She is a frequent public speaker on women’s leadership for peace globally, nuclear abolition, U.S. defense spending and U.S. military strategy.

She is a graduate of Brandeis University with a degree in International and Global Studies and a minor in Legal Studies, and was the 2012 recipient of the David A. Alexander award for Social Consciousness and Activism at Brandeis University. Kate is currently pursuing her MPA with a focus in Humanitarian Policy and Gender and Public Policy at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

If you’re in the area, please join us in celebrating Kate and all of her outstanding work as a peace advocate and community organizer. Below are more details for the event: 

Genesee Valley 45th Anniversary Celebration

on the International Day of Peace

Thursday, September 20th at 4pm

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church, 23 Main Street, Geneseo 

This family-friendly event, will include music, collaborative games, a keynote speech by

Kevin Martin, President of Peace Action, and the presentation of the Genesee Valley Peacemaker Award to Kate Alexander, Director of Policy and Outreach for Peace Action New York State

Here at Peace Action New York State, we are immensely proud of the work that Kate has accomplished, and hope that you will join us in congratulating her for this well-deserved honor. 

BREAKING: At UN, Trump Called for War. We’re Calling for Peace.

BREAKING: TRUMP THREATENS NORTH KOREA, VENEZUELA, IRAN AND YEMEN

Did you see Trump’s General Assembly speech at the United Nations today? Venezuela, North Korea, Iran and Yemen were all threatened with U.S. military action. While this Administration calls for endless war, we have to call for peace, and we have to demand that our Congressional Representatives call for peace, too.

Can you call your Senators and Representative right now at 202-224-3121 and tell them to OPPOSE any escalation in military intervention against North Korea, Venezuela, Iran or Yemen?

Armed conflict erodes human rights, it does not protect them. Already in Yemen, U.S. weapons are being used against innocent Yemenis by the Saudi-led intervention, which is responsible for 2/3 of civilian deaths in the conflict. The Iran Nuclear Deal is a milestone diplomatic achievement with real results for nuclear non-proliferation, and this Administration refuses to acknowledge that it is working, and is throwing it out. Threatening the “total destruction” of North Korea is threatening the lives of the North Korean people, who have suffered the most under their brutal regime. Suggesting that human rights in Venezuela could be protected by armed conflict flies in the face of everything we know about the state of human rights during armed conflict.

Can you call your Senators and Representative right now at 202-224-3121 and tell them to OPPOSE any escalation in military intervention against North Korea, Venezuela, Iran or Yemen?

Please spread this message, and together, we’ll stand opposed to endless, impulsive, destructive U.S. wars. And, if you are in the NYC area, please join us on October 7th to oppose endless wars.

I Was 6 When the 2001 AUMF Was Passed

Today marks 16 years of grief, terror and endless war. Today, 16 years ago, was the last time Congress authorized U.S. wars abroad.

On September 14, 2001, Congress passed the Authorization of Military Force (AUMF). The only dissenting vote in either the House or Senate was Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13), who feared the authorization would give the government a blank check for war without debate. In her speech on September 14th, 2001, Representative Lee explains why she was voting no: 

September 11th, changed the world, our deepest fears now haunt us. Yet, I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. Some of us must say: let’s step back for a moment, let’s just pause, just for a minute, and think through the implications of our actions today so that this does not spiral out of control. 

Representative Lee was right: this has spiraled out of control. Americans turning 18 today and enlisting in the U.S. armed forces were literally in diapers the last time these wars were debated. 

We must do better. Now is the time to advocate for peace and diplomacy, because lives depend on it. Here are four ways you can demand peace now:

1. What was your life like 16 years ago – the last time Congress debated these wars? As I write this, there are 3 people working in the PANYS office: Kate, Emily and Musabika. Kate was 12, Emily was 10, and Musabika was 2, the last time these wars were debated. Tell us what your life was like 16 years ago by taking a photo with our signs (like ours below!), and tag @peaceactionNY on instagram, facebook or twitter, and we’ll share your story.

2. Please, take a quick moment now and tell your members of Congress that you expect them to stand up and fulfill their responsibilities by repealing the 2001 AUMF, and debating whether to authorize continued, endless war in Afghanistan.

3. Call your Representative and Senators and tell them to repeal the 2001 AUMF. Use the call script here, or make your own, and call the Capitol Switchboard 3 times, to connect to both of your Senators and your House Representative. The number to call is: 202-224-3121.

4. If you are in New York City, please join us in the streets on Saturday, October 7th as we march with War Resistors League, Veterans for Peace, the Granny Peace Brigade and more to demand an end to these endless wars. The march will be Saturday, October 7th at 11:30AM, meeting in Washington Square Park.

Sincerely,

Emily Rubino
Grassroots Campaigns Coordinator
(I was 6 when the 2001 AUMF was passed)




Kate Alexander

Director of Policy and Outreach
(I was 12 when the 2001 AUMF was passed)

Re: Afghanistan

After almost 16 years in Afghanistan, what will it take for our Elected Officials to represent our interests, and ask: is there a military solution for peace in Afghanistan? And, what will it take to try a different approach?

Please, take a quick moment now and tell your members of Congress that you expect them to stand up and fulfill their responsibilities by repealing the 2001 AUMF, and debating whether to authorize continued, endless war in Afghanistan.

Here are six arguments you'll hear for the war in Afghanistan, and what you need to know to respond:


1. War is our only option in Afghanistan. If we pull out, there will be a security vacuum.

Military actions leave a vacuum and a legacy of violence that is exploited by terrorist groups to gain territory and new recruits. Stephen Walt, the American professor of International Affairs of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, is critical of the surge proposal, saying: "It won't destroy the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Islamic State, or other radicals, and more likely may aid their recruiting, just as U.S. interference has in the past." 

There is a security vacuum in Afghanistan because of our military actions in the region, and you can't fix something using the tool that broke it in the first place. After 16 years, we should be able to say that war is not a working option in Afghanistan.

But, war is the only option you will hear from this Administration because it is dismantling the State department, while putting Generals in advisor positions that traditionally go to civilians.

As reported by Democracy Now in an interview with Matthew Hoh, who resigned from the State Department in 2009 over the last surge in Afghanistan, General Mattis, General McMaster and General Kelly serve as our Defense Secretary, National Security Adviser, and the President's Chief of Staff, respectively. These roles are traditionally held by civilians. General Mattis actually had to get a waiver to be the Defense Secretary in a vote that passed 81-17 in the Senate, and 34-28 in the House.

There is no diplomat, no functional State department, no equipped UN mission even, to balance out their influence on this Administration, or to put a military action in a context of a political strategy or goal.

There are currently 40 open leadership positions in the U.S. State Department, and the hiring freeze is still in effectThis means that, as troops surge in Afghanistan, cyber security is investigated and escalations rise with North Korea, these positions and others are indefinitely vacant: a Cyber Issues coordinator, Special Envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Director of Overseas Building Operations, Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs, Senior Advisor for Security Negotiations and Agreements, Coordinator of Threat Reduction Programs, Coordinator of Civil Societies and Emerging Democracies, and at least 5 positions relevant to current tensions with North Korea, including Special Envoy for Six-Party Talks, Special Representative of the President on Nuclear Nonproliferation, Coordinator on Sanctions Policy, Special Envoy on North Korean Human Rights Issues, Special Advisor on Nonproliferation and Arms Control.

Unsurprisingly, positions relating to climate change, women's rights, the closure of Guantanamo, disability rights, labor rights, anti-Semitism, Muslim communities, religious freedom, and LGBTQIA+ rights, are also vacant. 

The State Department has, of course, not stopped U.S. military action in the past. But, without anyone with a background in diplomacy advising this Administration, why would we expect anything besides military actions? Secretary Kerry helped broker the Iran Nuclear Agreement. In 2013, diplomacy with the Taliban to end the Afghan war was on the table.

We could be pursuing a nuclear agreement with North Korea or retracing steps of an Afghanistan peace agreement now, but we have an Administration that is actively dismantling any institutional knowledge to pursue diplomatic and non-military options.

Non-military options do exist. Take a look at Vietnam, for example. U.S. troops withdrew from Vietnam in 1975. It took time, but today, Vietnam is safe, and it is because of local actors in Vietnam, and an exit of U.S. military forces.  Another strategy is called DDR, which stands for: disarmament, demobilization and re-integration (DDR). Have you ever heard that phrase on your local news? 

Disarmament is the comprehensive collection, documentation and disposal of small arms, ammunition, explosives and light and heavy weapons of ex-combattants and the civilian population. It is usually the exchange of cash, other goods, or amnesty for weapons of war, and has been used all over the world.

Demobilization is the formal and controlled discharge of active combatants from armed groups. In Colombia, the government hired a communications agency to demobilize FARC rebels – and their efforts were successful. Their first action involved hanging Christmas lights along jungle paths used by FARC rebels, during Christmas, the season in which demobilization was statistically higher. The lights spelled out a message: "If Christmas can come to the jungle, you can come home. Demobilize at Christmas. Anything is possible." As a result of this campaign, 5% of the remaining guerrilla forces demobilized. In the campaigns that followed, 18,000 FARC fighters demobilized.

Re-integration means re-entering society. Countries must provide education, job, and community programs necessary to ensure that violence is not pursued again by demobilized non-state actors. This is where economic development, human rights, infrastructure, education and other programs are essential in making sure that violence is not the only path to survival.

This is the only path forward that doesn't leave a security vacuum in Afghanistan.


2. We should give President Trump a chance as a military leader. 

As President-elect, Trump regularly turned down intelligence briefings. In the two weeks immediately after the election, and knowing that he would be the Commander in Chief of the largest military in the world, Donald Trump (having no military or diplomatic experience) received only two classified intelligence briefings. That number is lower than his predecessors, and despite having analysts ready to give the President-elect daily intelligence briefings. 

The president-elect said, about turning down these briefings, "You know, I'm, like, a smart person. I don't have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years."

But, maybe these intelligence briefings would have clarified that the Prime Minister position in the Afghanistan government, which he referenced while announcing the surge, is a defunct post. The current head of state is President Ashraf Ghani. Maybe this could have been clarified in consultations with the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan – if that post wasn't vacant. 


3. The Surge is a New Strategy. We Should Give It a Chance to Work.

False. In 2009, President Obama authorized a surge of 33,000 troops into Afghanistan. The reasoning given then is the same reasoning given now: that the surge was necessary to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Even then, this rationale was questionable, because al-Qaeda had, according to Harvard Professor Stephen Walt, "better havens elsewhere and denying them access to Afghan territory would not reduce their capabilities very much if at all."

That strategy was questionable then, and today, we have the benefit of hindsight: we know that strategy did not work.

According data released by NATO command in Afghanistan in 2012, the surge did not stop the momentum of terrorist organizations in Afghanistan in the long-run. According to the Pentagon's Defense Casualty Analysis System and iCasualties, the U.S. military suffered 14,627 casualties during the surge period, but today, the Taliban controls as much territory as it did in 2001, before the U.S. had any troop presence in Afghanistan.

Leaders from both parties, knowing this history and being war-weary, are opposing the proposed surge:

"Everybody who voted for Donald Trump hoping that he would reduce the US miltary's involvement in foreign wars has been made a fool of. I'm sorry, but there it is."

- American Conservative columnist Rod Dreher

"The Democrats should be clear and bold: We are for withdrawal… After 16 years of that kind of muddled thinking, people expect their leaders to take a firm stand… Either you're for increasing troops, keeping the status quo indefinitely, or for getting out. We should be for getting out."

- Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA17)

"I know he wants to end this war. We've all heard him say it. But talk won't get it done. Although I've been informed that the president rejected larger expansions of troops than the one announced this week, that's not good enough. He should have rejected this one and stuck to his principles. He knows this war is over, and he – unlike the last two presidents – should have the guts to end it."

- Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

"The war party got to him."

- AntiWar.com writer Eric Garris
(Antiwar.com is a hub for anti-imperialist Libertarians)

"Trump was elected to end America's involvement in Middle East wars. If he has been persuaded that he simply cannot liquidate these wars – Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan – he will likely end up sacrificing his presidency."

- Pat Buchanan, three-time candidate of President of the United States as an America First nationalist

"America cannot afford to make an open-ended commitment of further lives and treasure to the improbable proposition of building a cohesive nation in Afghanistan."

- Governor John Kasich (R-OH)


4. We support our troops, and so does House Speaker Paul Ryan. Supporting our troops means supporting them in Afghanistan.

Supporting our troops cannot mean sending them to die in our wars, in a strategy that has failed before, while blocking debate on what victory in these wars would even mean, and if withdrawal is a better strategy. Congress won't even debate these wars, but will send our friends and family off to die in them. 

Earlier this summer, Paul Ryan blocked an amendment that would re-open debate on U.S. wars abroad, even though it received bi-partisan & nearly unanimous support in the House Appropriations committee. 

Paul Ryan said he blocked the amendment because it didn't belong in an appropriations bill, but he's not supporting or seeking more robust debate on our wars abroad, either. So, what does it mean when he blocks the only measure that is demanding a debate on our wars?

U.S. involvement in Afghanistan was authorized in 2001 and has been the status quo for 16 years. Since the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force was passed, it has been used more than 37 times in 14 countries to justify military force – without additional Congressional debate. In Afghanistan, upwards of 20 different generals have commanded the U.S. or International Security Assistance Force troops. None have succeeded, so our strategy must be revisited.

Congress has the Constitutional responsibility – and obligation under our separation of powers – to debate and authorize any U.S. wars - but the majority of the current members of the House of Representatives and Senate have not debated our wars. 

As reported by Senator Flake (R-AZ), 300 of the total 435 members in the House today were not in the House to debate or vote on the 2001 AUMF, and only 23 current Senators voted on the 2001 AUMF. 

If Congress cannot muster the courage to debate these wars, it should not sacrifice the lives of U.S. troops. That cannot be how we define supporting our troops. Instead, we have to admit this strategy isn't working, and bring them home. 


5. We should give every resource to defend our country. Whatever the Generals ask for, we have to provide.

The total costs of these wars will be a staggering $12.7 trillion dollars, counting costs to date and cumulative interest on loans we had to take out to pay for these wars, because we also passed and extended the Bush-era tax cuts. We're going to be paying off these wars until 2054, according to the Costs of War Institute at Brown University.

That number is only going to grow the longer we are in these wars. It costs $1 million dollars to station one member of the U.S. military in Afghanistan for a year. If we expect a surge of 4,000 troops, that's an addition $4 billion in costs to taxpayers per year – without an end in sight, or debate on an exit strategy.

$12.7 trillion is an impossible number to understand on its own, so here are the trade-offs to keep in mind: $12.7 trillion could cancel all student debt in the United States ten times, or it could cancel all student debt in the United States ($1.3T), fix all crumbling infrastructure in the United States ($3.1T), give every student entering college in the United States this fall a four-year full-ride scholarship ($680.9B), provide the salary of every elementary school teacher in the country for 15 years ($3.76T),  give the 200,000 U.S. troops stationed abroad jobs in the clean energy sector and pay their salaries for the next 90 years ($1.3 trillion), give every single unemployed person in the U.S. a job in the infrastructure industry for the next 5 years ($2.12T), and create 2 million jobs in high-poverty communities ($200B). And, we'd still have $200 billion left over for defense, which is almost 3-times as much as Russia's entire defense budget.

What do you think is a better investment in our country?

Also, it's not always the Generals asking for this money. Often, it's politicians spending on the military despite what Generals ask for. In 2012, General Odierno testified beore the Senate Armed Services Committee that the army did not need more tanks. It was allocated $183 million for more tanks anyways. In 2015, the same thing happened, but the army was allocated $120 million – which would cover the costs of fixing the still poisonous water pipes in Flint. Funding the military is supporting the careers of politicians, but not the military.


6. We can win in Afghanistan.

Do we even know what winning looks like? Do our military leaders? Does our President? After 16 years of the same strategy, with no apparent exit strategy, all we can know for sure is that we need more accountability when it comes to Afghanistan, to make sure that we aren't throwing endless U.S. lives and resources into actions with no long-term progress for peace or regional stability.

We need accountability. That will be a victory. Saving lives will be a victory. Investing in our communities will be a victory.

Let's win that. Together. 

Please, take a quick moment now and tell your members of Congress that you expect them to stand up and fulfill their responsibilities by repealing the 2001 AUMF, and debating whether to authorize continued, endless war in Afghanistan.

Sincerely,

Kate Alexander
Director of Policy and Outreach

Emily Rubino
Grassroots Campaigns Coordinator


Peace News: Refugee Resettlement and Military Spending Edition

by Kevin Mercado Refugee Resettlement Bana al-Abed: From a Syrian War Zone to New York City October 6, 2017 Bana al-Abed and her mother, Fatemah had been tweeting daily about life under siege as airstrikes loomed in Aleppo while the Syrian government wrestled the city... read more