CYBERWAR AND THE NUCLEAR RISK

Nuclear weapons and powerplants possess various risks to the general population such as radioactive fallout mutating and killing flora and fauna as radiation is emitted into the atmosphere and contacts plants and animalsi. Nuclear weapons cause this damage through fallout that exists as radioactive particles enter the atmosphereii, while nuclear powerplants possess risks through both natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamisiii, mechanical faults during testingiv. Cyberwarfare is a method in which attacks are launched by states or non-state actors through the use of personal computers and offshore serversv in order to compromise another state’s infrastructure. Cyberattacks have already been used to compromise the Natanz nuclear facility’s centrifuges in Iranvi, creating a proof-of-concept that cyberattacks can be used to attack nuclear facilities in “undesired” nuclear states. Additionally, cyberattacks have been used by large states as a replacement for war in NATO member-statesvii because NATO affords collective security under Article 5 of its charter. Cyberattacks have also been used in “hybrid warfare,” where they are used in conjunction with traditional attacks to further weaken the attacked state.viii For nuclear weapons that are already used in attacks, this opens a new means of compromising the mechanisms that control these weapons and prevent catastrophic failures of protection mechanism.

By analyzing the role of cyberattacks on nuclear weapons mechanisms and nuclear powerplants, this entry will demonstrate how cyberwarfare is a legitimate threat against the computer systems that control many of the nuclear power and weapons facilities throughout the world. Using the attack on Stuxnet as a proof-of-concept, I will demonstrate that attacks, should they go unchecked by security organizations, can have worldwide implications far greater than imagined by the general population. Thus, this entry shows that there is more to worry about than merely traditional attacks or mechanical failure, but rather an encrypted attack that is nearly impossible to trace.

CYBERWAR AND NUCLEAR POWERPLANTS

The 2010 Stuxnet attack on the Natanz powerplant served as a proof-of-concept that attacking nuclear facilities needs a way to get into the facility, whether by remote attacks such as a distributed denial of service attack that overloads the servers through an extreme amount of requests to the server,ix or by a USB drivex brought in by a vendor.xi Internet connectivity is therefore not required in order to launch such an attack. Stuxnet was also considered a low-yield attack, as although it did destroy Natanz’ centrifuges, Stuxnet was intended to overpower the capabilities and understanding of Natanz’ operatorsxii. A higher-yield attack could have more staggering implications than simply setting back a country’s nuclear program.

A high-yield cyberattack on a nuclear powerplant could have greater implications than simple destruction of centrifuge. An increase in the frequency of cyberattacks against nuclear powerplantsxiii, along with the increasing professionalism of hackers that are beginning to hack encrypted networksxiv. Such attacks could reduce the rational decision-making abilities of world leaders due to the possibility of compromised credibility of those perceived as leaders.xv This is because leaders and diplomats such as General James Cartwright may compromise agreements between international leaders and such as the one pointed out by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the United States and several western countries entered an agreement with Iran in regards to reform its nuclear programxvi.

Beyond the political implications, nuclear power is one of the most prevalent forms of power throughout Europe. Many European power plants, particularly in Eastern Europe, are nuclear-based, and are reliant on adversarial states such as Russia not engaging in cyberattacks in order to maintain operationxvii. As a whole, approximately one-fourth of Europe’s total energy consumption is a result of nuclear power production, and over one-half of all low-carbon production is nuclear-basedxviii. Previous cyberattacks against EU and NATO states, such as the cyberattack against Estonia in 2007, have resulted in extending disabling of political and economic structures within statesxix. While those cyberattacks did not attack centers where a deprivation of electricity and power could cause massive casualities such as hospitals. Although many hospitals may have backup power in the event of a short-term loss of power, the Estonian cyber war lasted over three weeksxx, more than enough time to deplete a hospital of its backup power and begin causing loss of life. Loss of life, or a lack thereof, was one of the reasons NATO did not participate in retaliating against the Russians in the Estonian cyberwar; not enough human life had been terminated to justify action.xxi

In reaction to the Estonian Cyber War, Rule 51 of the CCDCOE charter prohibits the use of cyberattacks in a way that would compromise human life or compromise infrastructures in excess of traditional warxxii. Although this gives NATO member-states a justifiable – albeit vague – statute, it only protects NATO member-states from other NATO member-states in much the same way that a common agreement between schoolyard children who wear glasses not to hit other children with glasses only works within that community.xxiii With nuclear reactors possessing uranium, depleted rods, and the ability to produce either nuclear power or potentially nuclear warheads (depending on the grade of uranium being refined)xxiv, a cyberattack’s ability to compromise protective measures, even through actions as simple as overpowering centrifugesxxv, could have potentially far reaching implications for human life and affected societies. In contrast, cyberwarfare against nuclear weapon sites takes on an entirely different set of issues that are arguably more pressing than issues against nuclear powerplants.

CYBERWAR AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS SITES

Cyberwars can be aimed not only at nuclear powerplants in order to compromise the affected state’s infrastructure,xxvi but can be used to compromise a state’s ability to defend itself or to trick the nuclear state’s infrastructure into launching an attack. Removing a state’s ability to defend itself or to launch an attack may be a preemptive war tactic in which the threatened state attacks on the basis of imminent threatxxvii. Cyberattacking a nuclear base may be a preemptive attack, but its results can be unintended, and potentially more disastrous if attacks manage to spoof various areas of military infrastructure into thinking a threat is imminentxxviii.

Using a cyberattack to spoof early warning networks that protect state military infrastructures can result in unnecessary conflicts due to a myriad of attack methods. These attacks range from simple automated bots – computers infected with viruses that allow another user control over their operations – that attack by scanning for vulnerabilities in nuclear defense networksxxix, to attacks that account for the network disconnection that nuclear facilities possess, such as the method used to infect Natanz with the Stuxnet virus. Furthermore, the potential spoofing that cyberattacks can perform on nuclear weapons networks has raised questions as to whether the appropriate response to a cyberattack against a nuclear facility would be to engage in nuclear warfare.xxx

Spoofing attacks have become vitriolic that states’ governments have considered nuclear retaliation to cyberattacks as a viable measure against future attacks.xxxi Elbridge Colby of the National Interest states:

The DSB Task Force wasn’t focused on those kinds of attacks. Rather, they were looking at what they referred to as “existential cyber attacks”: large-scale, brutally effective attacks on critical elements of the U.S. military and civilian infrastructure that would impose significant loss of life and tremendous degradation of our national welfare. What they meant was attacks which lead to planes falling out of the sky, water and power shutting off, communications dying, food rotting, and the like. As Task Force Chairman (and Under Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration) Paul Kaminski made clear, any cyber attack meriting consideration of nuclear use would “have to be extreme. It would have to be the kind of attack that we would judge would be threatening our survival.”xxxii

Thankfully, the United States’ policy of a nuclear retaliation against a successful large-scale cyberattack that would affect the basic infrastructures of American life serves as a last resort;xxxiii the fact it exists at all as a viable countermeasure is still a scary thought. More typical responses to cyberattacks include diplomacy, sanctions, and more traditional warfare.xxxiv This is because countering cyberattacks exclusively with cyberattacks is considered bad defense practice due to the cost of cyberdefense compared to cyberoffense.xxxv However, continued investments by the United States Military in bolstering its nuclear resources in response to cyberattacks shows a continued tie to the nuclear-based brinksmanship prevalent in Cold War-era United States Foreign Policyxxxvi. Thus, while the United States has accepted that cyberattacks against nuclear facilities may be a reality, retaliation by nuclear attack shows the myopic vision that hegemonic states have with regards to long-term effects against the environment, agriculture, and effected populations.xxxvii

Cyberattacks against nuclear weapons bases can have just as malignant effects as traditional attacks due to the predisposition of states to retaliate through nuclear means. They are more malignant in that they are false positives that can have long-standing implications in international relations. The ability to cause a war for no other reason than for hacking and attacking pleasure means that states must now be aware that wars can ensue from an attack by an infected computer. Peace Action New York State takes the position that nuclear weapons and power facilities are a threat to the environment and to life; the ability to launch cyberattacks and cause potential false positives exacerbate international relations between nuclear states and their neighbors, and need to be addressed not just in a reactive fashion through the proposed nuclear counterattacks, but through strong countermeasures. A cyberattack can be an effective countermeasure, but it needs to be used in conjunction with diplomacy and sanctions, and in very controlled conditions, in order to be coercive enough to stave off war, but not threaten a violent response.

iJeffrey Masters, Ph.D, “The Effect of Nuclear War On Climate,” Weather Underground, accessed April 10, 2015, http://www.wunderground.com/resources/climate/nuke.asp?MR=1.

iiCatherine Sauvaget et al., “Intake of Animal Products and Stroke Mortality in the Hiroshima / Nagasaki Life Span Study,” International Journal of Epidemiology32, no. 4 (November, 2003): 538-39, accessed May 15, 2015, http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/32/4/536.full.pdf+html.

iiiSteven Starr, “Costs and Consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi Disaster,” Physicians for Social Responsibility, accessed May 15, 2015, http://www.psr.org/environment-and-health/environmental-health-policy-institute/responses/costs-and-consequences-of-fukushima.html.

ivBackgrounder On Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant Accident,” United States Nuclear Regulatory Committee, December 12, 2014, accessed June 5, 2015, http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/chernobyl-bg.html.

vDanny Bradbury, “Testing the Defences of Bulletproof Hosting Companies,”Network Security no. 6 (2014): 9.

viRalph Langner, To Kill a Centrifuge: A Technical Analysis of What Stuxnet’s Creators Tried to Achieve (Arlington, VA: The Langner Group, 2013), 12.

viiJames S. Corum, Development of the Baltic Armed Forces in Light of Multinational Deployments. (Carlisle Barracks, PA: U.S. Army War College Press, 2013), 10, 17.

viiiPrashanth Parameswaran, “Are we Prepared for ‘hybrid warfare’?,” The Diplomat, February 13, 2015, accessed June 5, 2015, http://thediplomat.com/2015/02/are-we-prepared-for-hybrid-warfare/.

ixWhat Constitutes a Cyber Attack?,” NEC, accessed June 5, 2015, http://www.nec.com/en/global/solutions/safety/info_management/cyberattack.html.

xDavid Shamah, “Stuxnet, Gone Rogue, Hit Russian Nuke Plant, Space Station,” Times of Israel, November 11, 2013, accessed June 5, 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/stuxnet-gone-rogue-hit-russian-nuke-plant-space-station/.

xiStuxnet: Zero Victims,” SecureList, November 11, 2014, accessed June 5, 2015, https://securelist.com/analysis/67483/stuxnet-zero-victims/.

xiiLangner 15

xiiiJim Urquhart, “World Nuclear Facilities Vulnerable to Cyber-Attack – UN Agency,” Russia Today, June 2, 2015, accessed June 5, 2015,http://rt.com/news/264069-united-nations-cyber-nuclear/.

xivSergei Karpukhin “Cyber threats increase, new international net cops needed – Kaspersky to RT,” Russia Today, January 24, 2015, accessed June 5, 2015, http://rt.com/news/225951-cybercrime-international-police-kaspersky/.

xvFranz-Stefan Gady, “Could Cyber Attacks Lead to Nuclear War?,” The Diplomat, May 4, 2015, accessed June 5, 2015, http://thediplomat.com/2015/05/could-cyber-attacks-lead-to-nuclear-war/.

xviUS Stuxnet leak investigation stalls amid Israeli concerns,” Start-Up Israel, March 12, 2015, accessed June 5, 2015, http://www.timesofisrael.com/us-stuxnet-leak-investigation-stalls-amid-israeli-concerns/.

xviiKathryn Sparks, “Europe’s Dependence On Russian Energy: Deeper Than You Think,” The Atlantic Council, April 27, 2014, accessed June 5, 2015, http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/new-atlanticist/eastern-europe-s-russian-energy-dependence-deeper-than-you-think.

xviiiNuclear Power in the European Union,” World Nuclear Association, last modified May 22, 2015, accessed June 5, 2015, http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Others/European-Union/.

xixEric Filiol and Robert Adrien Erra, Proceedings of the 11th European Conference On Information Warfare and Security(Reading, UK: Academic Conferences Ltd., 2012), 46-47.

xxEneken Tikk, Kadri Kaska, and Liis Vihul, International Cyber Incidents: Legal Considerations (Tallinn, Estonia: NATO CCDCOE, 2010), 18-20.

xxiPaul J. Springer, Cyber Warfare: A Reference Handbook (Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015), 212.

xxiiSpringer 225

xxiiiBradbury 8

xxivParameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Nuclear Program,” WhiteHouse.Gov, April 2, 2015, accessed June 12, 2015, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/parametersforajointcomprehenisveplanofaction.pdf.

xxvLangner 12

xxviSee Langner 12, 15; Filiol and Erra 46-47; and Tikk, Koska and Vihul 18-20.

xxviiColin S. Gray, The Implications of Preemptive and Preventive War Doctrines: A Reconsideration (Washington, DC: Strategic Studies Institute, 2007), v.

xxviiiGady – Diplomat

xxixJason Koebler, “U.S. Nukes Face Up to 10 Million Cyber Attacks Daily,” U.S. News, March 20, 2012, accessed June 16, 2015, http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/03/20/us-nukes-face-up-to-10-million-cyber-attacks-daily.

xxxRuss Wellen, “Cyberwar and Nuclear War: The Most Dangerous of All Conflations,” Foreign Policy in Focus, July 16, 2013, accessed June 16, 2015, http://fpif.org/cyberwar-and-nuclear-war-the-most-dangerous-of-all-conflations/.

xxxiibid

xxxiiElbridge Colby, “Cyberwar and the Nuclear Option,” The National Interest, June 24, 2013, accessed June 16, 2015,h ttp://nationalinterest.org/commentary/cyberwar-the-nuclear-option-8638.

xxxiiiibid

xxxivibid

xxxvibid

xxxviTimothy Farnsworth, “Is There a Place for Nuclear Deterrence in Cyberspace?,” Arms Control Now, May 30, 2013, accessed June 16, 2015, http://armscontrolnow.org/2013/05/30/is-there-a-place-for-nuclear-deterrence-in-cyberspace/.

xxxviiMasters, Ph.D – The Effects of Nuclear War

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Judithpalooza! Photos – 4/27/15

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THANK YOU JUDITHPALOOZA

Judith LeBlanc, Kevin Martin, Matt and Drew King

Judith LeBlanc, Kevin Martin, Matt and Drew King

Libero Della Piana

Libero Della Piana

 

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Peace And Planet- April 24-26, 2015


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The US / Iran Nuclear Agreement

iran-nuclear-weapons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image Source: http://www.somalilandpress.com/somalilanda-nuclear-armed-iran-would-transcend-the-confines-of-the-middle-east/

On April 2, 2015, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Germany, and the European Union, reached a deal with Iran that would severely restrict their ability to produce nuclear resources solely for power-generation purposes. This unified effort of all of the permanent members of the UN Security Council, as well as Germany and the EU, resulted in the reversion of Iran’s nuclear production to first-generation methods, reduce centrifuges by two-thirds, and reduce Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium (less than 3.67% U-235 by concentration) by 97% over the next 15 years (among many other sanctions upon Iran). While this is a first step in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons-state and reduces the risk of nuclear war, there are several issues that exist regarding both Iran’s current nuclear situation, as well as United States foreign policy.

The most pressing issue is that this is a statement by the United States rather than a multilateral treaty between the aforementioned states (and presumably Iran). Senators – who have the power to vote “yes or no” on treaties, and can pass treaties with a two-thirds vote – have been rallying to cancel President Obama’s executive order on the basis that while the President may negotiate and sign treaties, it is ultimately up to the Senate to ratify agreements with any other state. 47 Republican Senators have aligned to “give Iran a civics lesson” by outlining the concessions the United States government has made in order to build such this framework. The United States Constitution may validate those Senators’ position regarding treaties, but making an Executive Agreement between states is often easier than a treaty due to the non-binding nature and its allowance for other party-states to aspire to the goals of the agreement in much the same way as a UN Declaration. In essence, it is easier to get agreement when states just have to aspire, rather than comply.

The second issue with the nuclear resource agreement lies in Iran’s prior nuclear weapons aspirations. The Executive Agreement, which reverses some of Iran’s global sanctions while maintaining the United States’ sanctions against Iran due to its support of terrorism, does provide for the re-estabilishing of sanctions should Iran fail to meet the criteria imposed in the JCPA. While Iran has increased its transparency and allowed organizations such as the IAEA to inspect their facilities, Israel, a long-standing ally of the United States, has viewed the agreement as appeasing Iran and gone so far as saying that the United States is making excuses for Iran’s inability to uphold the agreement. Israel’s position is one that if the United States spent more time exerting its power by supporting Iraq’s fledgling government, preventing the overthrow of the Yemeni government, and weakening terror regimes such as Hezbollah, that Iran would have fallen into line rather than subtly finding ways to expand its imperialist aspirations. With Iran’s history of violence against women, minority oppression, and other actions viewed by the West as “deplorable,” what’s an economic sanction to a state that views repressing such persons as de rigeur?

This brings up the third issue. Whether there are stronger ways to dismantle Iran’s nuclear aspirations without going to war. The United States has already attempted this with the alleged installation of the Stuxnet virus in Iranian nuclear infrastructures. Although cyberattacks have the potential to be used against government institutions, when done correctly, cyberattacks can destroy infrastructure and force a state’s compliance to larger states’ demands. However, a cyberattack can easily spiral out of control should the virus or other mechanism land in an undesired location. This makes a cyberattack a powerful, albeit somewhat unfeasible, option while avoiding the casualties of traditional warfare.

Peace Action takes the position that while this diplomacy may be a bit lopsided, it does stave off the nuclear threat while providing Iran the opportunity to gradually reduce munitions in the same way that the United States was granted an opportunity to gradually reduce its weapons-load. However, the burden is on Iran to make the executive agreement work. If Iran shows a continued commitment to maintaining the agreement, not only would more coercive forms of non-violence be avoidable, but the legitimacy of the executive agreement would remove the conduciveness of the dissenting senators to give a “civics lesson” that would only serve to accelerate a path towards violent conflict.

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NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION: MORE THAN “BUILDING NEW”

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) entered into force on March 5, 1970, was drafted with the intention of avoiding a nuclear Armageddon by the nuclear powers of the time: the United States and the former Soviet Union. Although the NPT promoted the scaling back of nuclear weapons and the elimination of their dissemination to smaller states, the NPT’ currently leaves three urgent issues unresolved. First, the NPT states that the permanent members of the UN Security Council are allowed to have nuclear weapons. Second, the United States Congress voted to defund efforts to secure nuclear materials in Russia; a response met with Russia’s cutting off of nuclear security cooperation with the United States. Third, the NPT does not expressly prohibit the reconditioning of older nuclear weapons. As a result, proliferation has become more than merely the production of newer, more powerful weapons, but the maintaining of older weapons.

It is essential that states reaffirm the intentions of the NPT, commit to ending prodution of new nuclear weapons, and cease refurbishing old weapons. Proliferation only serves to keep countries on edge rather than sufficiently protected, and the costs incurred by the United States in doing this, the aim is to show that editing the NPT for a more “nuclear” society is necessary in order to prevent the Doomsday clock from striking midnight. Lastly, this entry aims to provide alternatives that will bring a peaceful end to the “nuclear era.”

Keep reading at http://panys.org/WordPress/2015/03/nuclear-non-proliferation-more-than-building-new/

Also read more at http://www.peaceandplanet.org/

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Who Are the Nuclear Scofflaws?

Who Are the Nuclear Scofflaws?

Dr. Lawrence Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. He is the author of “Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement”  (Stanford University Press).

Given all the frothing by hawkish U.S. Senators about Iran’s possible development of nuclear weapons, one might think that Iran was violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

But it’s not. The NPT, signed by 190 nations and in effect since 1970, is a treaty in which the non-nuclear nations agreed to forgo developing nuclear weapons and the nuclear nations agreed to divest themselves of their nuclear weapons. It also granted nations the right to develop peaceful nuclear power. The current negotiations in which Iran is engaged with other nations are merely designed to guarantee that Iran, which signed the NPT, does not cross the line from developing nuclear power to developing nuclear weapons.

Nine nations, however, have flouted the NPT by either developing nuclear weapons since the treaty went into effect or failing to honor the commitment to disarm. These nine scofflaws and their nuclear arsenals are Russia (7,500 nuclear warheads), the United States (7,100 nuclear warheads), France (300 nuclear warheads), China (250 nuclear warheads), Britain (215 nuclear warheads), Pakistan (100-120 nuclear warheads), India (90-110 nuclear warheads), Israel (80 nuclear warheads), and North Korea (10 nuclear warheads).

Nor are the nuclear powers likely to be in compliance with the NPT any time soon. The Indian and Pakistani governments are engaged in a rapid nuclear weapons buildup, while the British government is contemplating the development of a new, more advanced nuclear weapons system. Although, in recent decades, the U.S. and Russian governments did reduce their nuclear arsenals substantially, that process has come to a halt in recent years, as relations have soured between the two nations. Indeed, both countries are currently engaged in a new, extremely dangerous nuclear arms race. The U.S. government has committed itself to spending $1 trillion to “modernize” its nuclear facilities and build new nuclear weapons. For its part, the Russian government is investing heavily in the upgrading of its nuclear warheads and the development of new delivery systems, such as nuclear missiles and nuclear submarines.

What can be done about this flouting of the NPT, some 45 years after it went into operation?

That will almost certainly be a major issue at an NPT Review Conference that will convene at the UN headquarters, in New York City, from April 27 to May 22. These review conferences, held every five years, attract high-level national officials from around the world to discuss the treaty’s implementation. For a very brief time, the review conferences even draw the attention of television and other news commentators before the mass communications media return to their preoccupation with scandals, arrests, and the lives of movie stars.

This spring’s NPT review conference might be particularly lively, given the heightening frustration of the non-nuclear powers at the failure of the nuclear powers to fulfill their NPT commitments. At recent disarmament conferences in Norway, Mexico and Austria, the representatives of a large number of non-nuclear nations, ignoring the opposition of the nuclear powers, focused on the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. One rising demand among restless non-nuclear nations and among nuclear disarmament groups is to develop a nuclear weapons ban treaty, whether or not the nuclear powers are willing to participate in negotiations.

To heighten the pressure for the abolition of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament groups are staging a Peace and Planet mobilization, in Manhattan, on the eve of the NPT review conference. Calling for a “Nuclear-Free, Peaceful, Just, and Sustainable World,” the mobilization involves an international conference (comprised of plenaries and workshops) on April 24 and 25, plus a culminating interfaith convocation, rally, march, and festival on April 26. Among the hundreds of endorsing organizations are many devoted to peace (Fellowship of Reconciliation, Pax Christi, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Veterans for Peace, and Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom), environmentalism (Earth Action, Friends of the Earth, and 350NYC), religion (Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, Unitarian Universalist UN Office, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist General Board of Church & Society), workers’ rights (New Jersey Industrial Union Council, United Electrical Workers, and Working Families Party), and human welfare (American Friends Service Committee and National Association of Social Workers).

Of course, how much effect the proponents of a nuclear weapons-free world will have on the cynical officials of the nuclear powers remains to be seen. After as many as 45 years of stalling on their own nuclear disarmament, it is hard to imagine that they are finally ready to begin negotiating a treaty effectively banning nuclear weapons―or at least their nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, let us encourage Iran not to follow the bad example set by the nuclear powers. And let us ask the nuclear-armed nations, now telling Iran that it should forgo the possession of nuclear weapons, when they are going to start practicing what they preach.

 

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The Brain Trust, the Love Circle and the Seed Sowers

kevin martin–Kevin Martin, Executive Director

Last week I had a very enjoyable, short work trip to New York City. On Wednesday night, the indefatigable Judy Lerner (90+ years young!), who has served on the Peace Action national board for at least two decades, hosted a wonderful wine and cheese reception at her Manhattan apartment. Close to 30 Peace Action supporters turned up for a relaxed, social soiree, but we also talked a lot of politics as you can imagine (the picture above, taken by my Uncle, Todd Whitmer, who was there along with my brother, Kris Martin, shows just some of the assembled good folk) and raised a bit of much needed dough, thanks to a strong pitch by Joanne Robinson, Peace Action of New York State’s fundraising chair.

A few days before the event, I saw an RSVP list compiled by Sylvia Rodriguez Case, Peace Action of New York State’s superb administrator, and thought, wow, the brain trust of Peace Action in New York will be at the event, that’s great! And I got to thinking about the term “brain trust.” In Peace Action’s case, leadership is a collective, decentralized “brain,” and we have a lot of trust in our leadership to make the right decisions about priorities, strategies and tactics in our work.

Then I recalled Jim Anderson, board chair of Peace Action of New York State, from Buffalo, calling our national organizers’ meeting in DC two months ago a “Love Circle.” This wasn’t some hippie thing, he was encouraging a younger colleague to feel comfortable that her concerns would be heard and respected, even if they made some folks at the meeting a bit uncomfortable. Peace Actionistas certainly do form a trusting love circle where disagreements can be respectfully aired so we might reach higher ground together. I felt honored to be a part of that love circle last week at Judy’s, and also the following night at a chapter meeting of Peace Action of Staten Island, where I spoke to a terrific bunch of local supporters about the state of Peace Action’s work to support diplomacy with Iran, cut the gargantuan Pentagon budget, abolish nuclear weapons and end our country’s endless wars.

We also focused quite a bit on the April 24-26 Peace and Planet mobilization in New York City, which will bring together these issues as well as social, economic and racial justice and climate concerns. Right there at the meeting, Staten Island organizing powerhouse and Peace Action Fund of New York State board chair Sally Jones got firm commitments from over 50 people to turn out for Peace and Planet! And kudos to Peace Action of Staten Island chair Eileen Bardel for running a great meeting, keeping the agenda moving while also allowing space for everyone to participate, no easy feat!

Lately, some scholars and a few journalists have raised questions about why the peace movement isn’t as strong or visible as it was in the Bush error, I mean era, or why the peace movement isn’t as strong as the labor or environmental or human rights movements. Sometimes I get analytical about it (I could go on and on with my analysis but won’t do so here), other times I get a bit defensive, and other times I think, well if you’ll let me get off the phone I’ll get back to my job, which is to help organize and strengthen the peace movement.

Taking a long view, there are many social, political, economic and cultural factors (most out of our control) at play in why a movement catches fire or doesn’t in a particular place and time. One thing we can always control is sowing seeds that will lead to future growth in our organization and movement, and Peace Action of New York State is a leader in its investment in student/campus organizing. PANYS now has ten student chapters around the state, which didn’t just spring up by themselves. PANYS has invested in building those student chapters, and has a wonderful Student Outreach Coordinator Natia Bueno hard at work to spread this student chapter network even further (Natia will help lead a training session on student organizing for Peace Action affiliates and chapters next month, details TBA soon). Another crackerjack young organizer, Drew King, is working as our coordinator for Peace and Planet (and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree as his father, Jonathan King, is an MIT professor and Massachusetts Peace Action activist).

Peace and Planet will be an outstanding opportunity to build and support the Peace Action brain trust, embrace our love circle, and sow seeds that will blossom in myriad, wonderful ways we can’t fathom today. Please plan to join us!

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Peace and Planet

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MAKE OUR DAY!

JOIN PANYS!

Peace Action of New York State is excited to invite you to join us as a member today – whether for the first time or once again – and help us make this year a very special one for peace & justice in New York.

Join us ONLINE today and you will be that special member who helps us save money on mailing costs.

Join us ONLINE today at a $40 membership level or more, and you will receive a free 20-week subscription to The Nation magazine.

As one of the hosts of the 2015 Peace & Planet mobilization, we also extend a warm invitation to come to New York City from Friday April 24th to Saturday April 25th for an international conference, and Sunday, April 26th for an international march, rally and festival taking place on the weekend before the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review begins at the United Nations.   Sign up for more information at peaceandplanet.org.

On April 26th, we will be joined by thousands of activists from the U.S. and around the world, including many survivors of the 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to demand that the NPT Review Conference mandates the beginning of the promised negotiations for nuclear weapons abolition and making the connections between the no nukes, no war, climate justice, move the money, and racial and economic justice movements.  Stay tuned for rally location and march route at peaceandplanet.org.

We are also proud to be taking the lead in organizing student chapters of Peace Action around New York State from Buffalo to SUNY Stonybrook University.  We currently have 10 student chapters (up from 4 just a year ago) and, if you show support, we can keep going.

We are a membership organization and members like you are the voice for nuclear abolition, diplomacy, not war, moving the money to fund human needs, and building the next generation of Peace Action activists.

Let’s take it to the next level together.  Click here to join.

Jim Anderson, President


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