Author: Oregon PeaceWorks

Iran’s Green Movement: Why Peace Activists Should Care

DANNY POSTEL & NADER HASHEMI – We are peace activists and supporters of the Green movement in Iran. We adamantly oppose any military attack on Iran, and we stand in solidarity with the democratic struggle in Iran. We see these positions as inextricably linked, as forming a consistent position based on the principles of peace, social justice, and human rights. But there’s a lot of confusion about this in the peace movement. We offer the following food for thought in hopes of clarifying some of the issues at hand and encouraging peace activists to learn more about the Green movement.

Pakistan is Urdu for Cambodia

JOHN LAFORGE – U.S. attacks on Pakistan using missiles fired from remote-controlled “drone” warplanes have been increasing under President Obama. These covert bombings often kill civilians in violation of the law of war. Even when the missiles somehow blow up targeted individuals, they kill mere suspects. The U.S. denies that its Green Berets, Navy Seals and CIA assassination squads are waging war in Pakistan from bases in neighboring Afghanistan, but the Pentagon has long wanted to expand its regional war there to attack suspected militants — much like President Richard Nixon secretly bombed and then sent thousands of soldiers into Cambodia.

After New START: Where Does Nuclear Disarmament Go From Here?

LAWRENCE WITTNER – With U.S. Senate ratification of the New START treaty on December 22, supporters of nuclear disarmament won an important victory. Signed by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last April, the treaty commits the two nations to cut the number of their deployed strategic (i.e. long-range) nuclear warheads to 1,550 each — a reduction of 30 percent in the number of these weapons of mass destruction. By providing for both a cutback in nuclear weapons and an elaborate inspection system to enforce it, New START is the most important nuclear disarmament treaty for a generation.

Obama Pushes NAFTA-Style Korea Trade Deal

JAMES PLOESER AND BEATRIZ LOPEZ – It’s the moment we hoped would never come. President Obama has announced he’ll submit to Congress the Bush-negotiated, NAFTA-style Korea trade deal. Obama is moving forward on this job-killing trade deal with Korea without living up to his fair trade campaign commitments. The Korea vote will be the first major congressional trade vote of the Obama presidency, and it’s going to come up fast in the New Year.

Justice is Bigger Than “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”

STEPHANIE N. VAN HOOK and MICHAEL N. NAGLER – In 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech at Ebenezer Baptist Church called “Beyond Vietnam,” where he declared that his conscience would not allow him to remain silent on the question of Vietnam, on the horrors of war, on the threat of violence to our existence. In this speech he pointed out the irony that young men of color were welcomed to join the military in order to burn villages and kill the people of Vietnam in the name of a democracy and of freedoms not yet granted to them in the country for which they fought. They could kill and wreak havoc side by side with white Americans in combat abroad, but they could not sit by one another in the same school or eat together at the same restaurant back home.

This “Lame Duck” Had Wings

CHRIS HELLMAN – After the November elections, members of Congress returned to Capitol Hill for their “lame duck” session with one huge piece of unfinished business – the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. And while they failed to complete work on the budget – the government is currently running on a “continuing resolution” that funds federal agencies through March 4, 2011 – the lame duck session did pass legislation on a number of serious issues.

Why Did Progressive Media Miss This Important Progressive Story?

PAUL CIENFUEGOS – On November 17, Democracy Now ran a news story about the historic Pittsburgh City Council vote in their news headlines: “Pittsburgh has become the first Pennsylvania city to pass a measure barring natural gas drilling. In a unanimous vote, the Pittsburgh City Council approved the ban within city limits. Pittsburgh sits atop the Marcellus Shale formation, which has large reserves of natural gas. Opponents say natural gas drilling has contaminated water and air in communities across the nation.”

A New Year: Time to Envision, Demand Peace

MICHAEL TRUE – “The same war continues,” Denise Levertov wrote, in “Life at War.” Her lament is even more appropriate for 2011 than as it was when she wrote the poem forty-five years ago. Columnists and academics, including International Relations professor Andrew Bacevich, Boston University, are finally acknowledging facts familiar to anyone “awake” regarding failed U.S. policies, wasted lives and resources during this period, Willfully ignoring such facts, as Professor Bacevich wrote, “is to become complicit in the destruction of what most Americans profess to hold dear.”

No Nuke Loan Guarantees in New Government Bill

MICHAEL MARIOTTE – Citizen lobbyists sent more than 15,000 letters to Congress in December and made many, many phone calls to stop $8 billion in taxpayer loans for new nuclear reactor construction. And the final government funding bill, signed by President Obama, contains not one dime for new nukes!

The Senate was forced to pull the “Omnibus” funding bill it had proposed, which included the $8 billion in taxpayer loans for the nuclear industry, and instead a “Continuing Resolution” was passed that funds the government through mid-March.

Nissan Hopes Zero-Emission Leaf Will Electrify Drivers

SPACE MART STAFF — Billed as the world’s first mass-produced electric car, this month’s launch of the Nissan Leaf is expected to send a jolt through an auto industry racing to build greener vehicles. The Leaf — short for Leading Environmentally-friendly Affordable Family car — has enjoyed a crescendo of industry buzz, last month becoming the first electric vehicle to win European Car of the Year.

Looking Back on the Nuclear Freeze and Its Impact

LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – In Oregon, the Nuclear Freeze movement was led by Citizen Action for Lasting Security, one of the organizations that later merged into Oregon PeaceWorks. As we end one year and begin a new one, it is encouraging to look back at historian Lawrence Wittner’s chronicle of that exciting movement. – Editor

Thirty years ago, Randall Forsberg, a young defense and disarmament researcher, launched the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign. Designed to stop the drift toward nuclear war through a U.S.-Soviet agreement to stop the testing, production, and deployment of nuclear weapons, the freeze campaign escalated into a mass movement that swept across the United States. It attracted the support of nearly all peace groups, as well as that of mainstream religious, professional, and labor organizations.

White House Dries Out Moral Collapse in Spin Cycle

NORMAN SOLOMON – On December 5th, in a column about economic policy, Paul Krugman focused on “moral collapse” at the White House — “a complete failure of purpose and loss of direction.” Meanwhile, President Obama flew to Afghanistan, where he put on a leather bomber jacket and told U.S. troops: “You’re achieving your objectives. You will succeed in your mission.” For the Obama presidency, moral collapse has taken on the appearance of craven clockwork, establishing a concentric pattern — doing immense damage to economic security at home while ratcheting up warfare overseas.

The Values That Underlie Peace

ROBERT RACK – I happened into a conversation with man sitting next to me on a plane ten or fifteen years ago that today seems almost prophetic. It was one of those gradual conversations that can happen when you’re in a car or maybe in a stuck elevator for a long time with someone, where there’s no agenda or expectations and plenty of time to quietly think about what each other is saying.

We Are in a Lynch-Mob Moment

TOM HAYDEN – We know that conservatives are extremists for order, but why have so many liberals lost their minds and joined the frenzy over Julian Assange and WikiLeaks? As the secrets of power are unmasked, there is a growing bipartisan demand that Julian Assange must die.

Reader: Tea Party is “Grossly Racist”

RON LOWE – Let’s cut to the chase about the Tea Party. Do you want to spend another year listening to their hypocrisy and tomfoolery? Could it be that Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party, and Republicans, are getting away with their lies because their base and many Americans are simply dumber than they are?

Peace Workers Must Commit to the Long Haul

PETER BERGEL – Former U.S. Poet Laureate William Stafford wrote in his journal on March 20, 1990, “Artists and peace workers are in it for the long haul and not to be judged by immediate results. Redemption comes with care.” Seeing the results of last month’s election, it would be easy to get discouraged. That’s why Stafford’s words are important. It reminds us that to deserve the name “peace worker,” we must take a long view, dedicating ourselves to a lifelong challenge.

Why North Korea’s Attack is Not a Crisis

JOE CIRINCIONE AND PAUL CARROLL – Headlines and pundits once again declare that we have a crisis on our hands in the wake of discovering that North Korea is building a new nuclear reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. More ominously, last Tuesday brought news of direct artillery barrages between North and South Korea, heightening tensions and costing lives. But as provocative and serious as this is, neither is a crisis. Both fit a clear pattern of North Korean behavior — a pattern that ultimately holds out the opportunity for progress.

Will Senate Republicans Torpedo the New START Treaty?

BY LAWRENCE S. WITTNER – As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote this December on ratification of the New START Treaty, Republican legislators appear on the verge of producing an international disaster. From the standpoint of logic, there are excellent reasons to ratify the treaty. This agreement between the U.S. and Russian governments provides that each of the two nations would reduce the number of its deployed strategic nuclear warheads from 2,200 to 1,550.

Poll: Health Care, Social Security Rated as Top Budget Priorities

BY ANGUS REID PUBLIC OPINION – As a new Congress prepares to take office in January, Americans believe that Health Care and Social Security should account for a large proportion of the country’s next budget, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found. Health Care (9.9%) and Social Security (9.9%) were the two main priorities for Americans, followed by Labor (8.4%) and Education and Training (8.4%).

North Korea’s Consistent Message to the U.S.

BY JIMMY CARTER – No one can completely understand the motivations of the North Koreans, but it is entirely possible that their recent revelation of their uranium enrichment centrifuges and Pyongyang’s shelling of a South Korean island Tuesday are designed to remind the world that they deserve respect in negotiations that will shape their future. Ultimately, the choice for the United States may be between diplomatic niceties and avoiding a catastrophic confrontation.

“War Does This to Your Mind”

KATHY KELLY – Kabul– Khamad Jan, age 22, remembers that, as a youngster, he was a good student who enjoyed studying. “Now, I can’t seem to think,” he said sadly, looking at the ground. There was a long pause. “War does this to your mind.”

Let’s Expand Our Definition of Defense

CRAIG CLINE – There appear to be no easy ways out of the financial difficulties we face. We have “money messes” at our local, state, and federal levels. There is one big thing that can help us though, and I propose that all of us get behind the following objective, with all the political and financial power we can muster, starting right here in Salem-Keizer.

Obama Wooing “Economic Royalists”

NORMAN SOLOMON – In his first term, President Franklin Roosevelt denounced “the economic royalists.” He drew the line against the heartless rich: “They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.” What a different Democratic president we have today.

Restoring Sanity with a New Story

WINSLOW MYERS – After the silly season of the mid-term elections, where left and right each proclaimed imminent apocalypse if the other side prevailed, it can be a relief to turn to measured voices and larger views. No voice is more measured nor view larger than that of the late Thomas Berry, a historian of cultures who called himself a “geologian,” because the ruler by which he measured current events was no less than the 13.7 billion year story of the universe itself.

Shocking Election Facts

PUBLIC CITIZEN – Stunning Statistics of the Week:
* $97: The amount per vote spent by Nevada Republican Sharron Angle and Connecticut Republican Linda McMahon – a record.
* $69: The amount per vote spent by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev).
* $33: The average cost of a vote in the midterms.

Congress: Laws to Pass Before the Republicans Take Over

MICHAEL MOORE – Welcome back to our nation’s capital, Congressional Democrats, for your one final session of the 111th Congress. Come January, the Republicans will take over the House while the Democrats will retain control of the Senate. But Dems – here’s something I don’t understand: Why do you look all sullen and depressed? Clearly you’re not aware of one very important fact: you are still completely, totally, legally in charge!

Small Community Banks Promote Radical Vision

ZACH CARTER – One response to our out-of-control and crashing economic system is to take charge of it at the local level, shouldering the big, irresponsible banks out of the picture. The concept of the Common Good Bank is a way to move toward that goal in a sensible manner. This article explains the concept. For more information on the Oregon version of the Common Good Bank, contact Salem resident Randy Jones at jonesbug@Q.com. – Editor

The Prison Boom Comes Home to Roost

JAMES CARROLL – Will the fiscal collapse that has laid bare gross inequalities in the U.S. economic system lead to meaningful reforms toward a more just society? One answer is suggested by the bursting of what might be called the “other housing bubble,” for these two years have also brought to crisis the three-decade-long frenzy of mass imprisonment. If there was a bailout for bankers, can there be one for inmates?

Are Cruel Years Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

WILLIAM LOREN KATZ – In 2010, with the blessing of a five-to-four Supreme Court, unlimited money from anonymous corporate sources was allowed to select candidates and call the political tune. It is hardly surprising the party best able to tap these funds scored major gains. While suspicious of repentant witches, the public fell for a heroic narrative of capitalist individualism gallantly charging into the 20th century bearing gifts for all. Rand Paul, the clearest voice of the victorious Republican Party, championed the tried and true values of American individualism, freedom and capitalism of this earlier time.

The Independent Private Contractor Military is Now in Control

MARTI HIKEN AND LUKE HIKEN – A funny thing happened on the way to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The U.S. military became privatized. Private contractors, i.e. mercenaries, are now the predominant military force comprising the armamentarium of the United States. In effect, private contractors supplanted the U.S. military as the primary decision-makers and fighting force of the U.S. government.

Path for Vote on New START Treaty this Year Goes Through Kyl

JOSH ROGIN – According to top officials the administration is working hard to secure a floor vote for the New START nuclear reductions treaty with Russia during Congress’s post-election lame duck session. “We are looking to pursue a final vote on the floor before the end of the year and we think it’s very important to continue working very hard in that direction,” said Rose Gottemoeller, the treaty’s lead negotiator and Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation. “Every day that goes by is another day we do not have inspectors on the ground in the Russian Federation… We’re going to continue to do everything we can over the coming weeks to see it ratified and entered into force this year.”

Learning from the Tea Party

TED GLICK – Polling and pundits tell us that tonight we will see a significant political incursion from the right wing, if not, indeed, a complete power takeover. We may not appreciate the Tea Party, but we had better learn a few lessons from them, as this article suggests. Business as usual is not serving us well and if we let it continue to run our nation’s business, we will be increasingly unhappy with the results. – Editor

How (Not to) to Organize a Community

DMITRY ORLOV – Just in time for Halloween comes a fascinating thought piece about some real-life horror: one vision of how some of today’s most positive community-building activities to could turn on us in the face of declining access to oil. Avoiding this future is another strong reason to do the peace visioning Oregon PeaceWorks has been calling for and facilitating. People who do not want to live in the world Orlov posits must take up the challenge of strategizing ways to avoid it. – Editor

Syria Reasserts Its Centrality to Peace

ALON BEN-MEIR – Despite efforts to internationally isolate Syria, especially during the Bush era, Syria has reasserted itself as a central player in the Middle East. Following the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, the United States withdrew its ambassador to Beirut, intensified sanctions against Damascus and sought to deepen Syria’s isolation from the international community. The recent array of high-level visitors to Damascus-including United States officials-demonstrates that President Bashar al-Assad has weathered the storm of isolation and has emerged as an essential actor in resolving regional disputes, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel should now respond favorably to Damascus’ call for renewed peace talks, and in so doing utilize Syria’s influence to advance peace, rather than thwart it.

Afghan Youth Group Undermines Prejudice

DAVID SMITH-FERRI – Bamiyan Province in Afghanistan, a stunningly beautiful mountainous region, is located in the center of the country, roughly 100 miles from Kabul. Most people here live in small, autonomous villages tucked into high mountain valleys, and work dawn to dusk just to scratch out a meager living as subsistence farmers, shepherds, or goatherds. The central government in Kabul and the regional government in Bamiyan City exercise little or no control over their lives. They govern themselves, and live for the most part in isolation.

Given this, who would imagine that Afghan youth from small villages across Bamiyan Province would come together to form a tight-knit, resilient, and effective group of peace activists, with a growing network of contacts and support that includes youth in other parts of the country and peace activists in the U.S. and in Palestine?

Calling in the Feds on Nonprofit Front Groups

KEVEN ZEESE – One reason why the U.S. sees ongoing wars, massive military budgets and record arms sales is because the military industrial complex spends massively on elections. This year, corporate spending on elections is worse than ever thanks to the Citizens United decision and political operatives like Karl Rove who have created nonprofit front groups to hide the source of campaign donations. These front groups are designed to evade federal election laws and federal tax laws. The violations of law are quite evident.

Following Up on Minnesota FBI Raids

MINNEAPOLIS ANTI-WAR COMMITTEE – On September 24, the FBI raided the homes and offices of peace workers in Minneapolis, MN and elsewhere (see The PeaceWorker, Oct. 1 and Oct. 17). Here is the most recent news and action request from the Minneapolis Anti-War Committee, including an excellent resolution currently in the Minnesota Legislature. – Editor

Oppose Animal Wrongs

CRAIG AND CHERIE CLINE — We have given our personal support to a great many “animal issues” organizations over the past 40 years. We think it would be highly beneficial for all of the organizations (and at least indirectly beneficial for all the animals) if they were to better engage and network with each other. Their “common cause” is, of course, various kinds of animals and the effects of human actions, or inactions, on those animals.

Progressive Canaries in a Political Mine

NORMAN SOLOMON — Take it from David Axelrod. “Almost the entire Republican margin is based on the enthusiasm gap,” the president’s senior adviser said last week. “And if Democrats come out in the same turnout as Republicans, it’s going to be a much different election.” But we don’t get to have a different election.

Take Action to Oppose FBI Raids

PETER BERGEL — On October 1, The PeaceWorker ran an article on the frightening and unconscionable FBI raids on peace workers that happened in the Minneapolis area and elsewhere. Since then, some activists have refused to cooperate with a Grand Jury, thereby running the risk that they will be jailed.

The Top Censored Stories From 2009-2010

PROJECT CENSORED — Project Censored annually picks stories the corporate media should be covering, but aren’t. The links below identify the stories and take you to bibliographies that spell them out. Many of the issues Project Censored selects are so suppressed that you may not even be aware of them, yet what you don’t know definitely can hurt you. Check them out. — Editor

Are the Dems Really Listening?

MICHAEL MOORE — Ok! We’re halfway through the week and we’re off to a great start. Last week I gave the spineless Dems five friendly suggestions for things they could do on the off chance they were interested in winning the midterm elections on November 2nd:
1. Deliver a blunt, nonstop reminder to the American people about exactly who it was that got us into the mess we’re in.
2. Declare a moratorium on home foreclosures.
3. Prosecute the banks and Wall Street for the Crime of the Century.
4. Create a 21st century WPA (hire the unemployed to rebuild America).
5. Pledge that no Dem will take a dime from Wall Street in the next election cycle.
So how are we doing 5 days later? Not bad! It turns out that at least some of these ideas were so simple even elected Democrats could come up with them!