Tag Archives: North America

Daniel Ellsberg Has Passed Away. He Left Us a Message.

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION .

An article by Norman Solomon in Common Dreams (republished according to Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

When  Daniel Ellsberg died on Friday, (June 16) the world lost a transcendent whistleblower with a powerful ethos of compassion and resolve.


Daniel Ellsberg giving the peace sign in front of the White House during a 2011 demonstration calling for the end of the war in Afghanistan.
(Photo credit should read Karen Bleier/AFP via Getty Images)

Ellsberg’s renown for openly challenging the mentalities of militarism began on June 23, 1971, when he appeared on CBS Evening News ten days after news broke about the Pentagon Papers that he’d provided to journalists. Ellsberg pointedly said that in the 7,000 pages of top-secret documents, “I don’t think there is a line in them that contains an estimate of the likely impact of our policy on the overall casualties among Vietnamese or the refugees to be caused, the effects of defoliation in an ecological sense. There’s neither an estimate nor a calculation of past effects, ever.”

And he added: “The documents simply reflect the internal concerns of our officials. That says nothing more nor less than that our officials never did concern themselves with the effect of our policies on the Vietnamese.”

Ellsberg told  anchor Walter Cronkite: “I think we cannot let the officials of the Executive Branch determine for us what it is that the public needs to know about how well and how they are discharging their functions.”

The functions of overseeing the war on Vietnam had become repugnant to Ellsberg as an insider. Many other government officials and top-level consultants with security clearances also had access to documents that showed how mendacious four administrations had been as the U.S. role in Vietnam expanded and then escalated into wholesale slaughter.

Unlike the others, he finally broke free and provided the Pentagon Papers to news media. As he said in the CBS interview, “The fact is that secrets can be held by men in the government whose careers have been spent learning how to keep their mouths shut. I was one of those.”

(Article continued in the column on the right)

Questions related to this article:

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

The courage of Mordecai Vanunu and other whistle-blowers, How can we emulate it in our lives?

How can we carry forward the work of the great peace and justice activists who went before us?

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Ellsberg’s mouth, and heart, never stayed shut again. For the 52 full years that followed his release of the Pentagon Papers, he devoted himself to speaking, writing, and protesting. When the war on Vietnam finally ended, Ellsberg mainly returned to his earlier preoccupation—how to help prevent nuclear war.

This spring, during the three months after diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, Ellsberg made the most of every day, spending time with loved ones and speaking out about the all-too-real dangers of nuclear annihilation. He left behind two brilliant, monumental books published in this century—“Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers” (2002) and “The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner” (2017). They illuminate in sharp ghastly light the patterns of official lies and secrecy about military matters, and the ultimate foreseeable result—nuclear holocaust.

Ellsberg was deeply determined to do all he could to help prevent omnicide. As he said in an interview  when “The Doomsday Machine” came out, scientific research has concluded that nuclear war “would loft into the stratosphere many millions of tons of soot and black smoke from the burning cities. It wouldn’t be rained out in the stratosphere. It would go around the globe very quickly and reduce sunlight by as much as 70 percent, causing temperatures like that of the Little Ice Age, killing harvests worldwide and starving to death nearly everyone on earth. It probably wouldn’t cause extinction. We’re so adaptable. Maybe 1 percent of our current population of 7.4 billion could survive, but 98 or 99 percent would not.”

During the profuse interviews that he engaged in during the last few months, what clearly preoccupied Ellsberg was not his own fate but the fate of the Earth’s inhabitants.

He was acutely aware that while admiration for brave whistleblowers might sometimes be widespread, actual emulation is scarce. Ellsberg often heard that he was inspiring, but he was always far more interested in what people would be inspired to actually do—in a world of war and on the precipice of inconceivable nuclear catastrophe.

During the last decades of his life, standard assumptions and efforts  by mainstream media and the political establishment aimed to consign Ellsberg to the era of the Vietnam War. But in real-time, Dan Ellsberg continually inspired so many of us to be more than merely inspired. We loved him not only for what he had done but also for what he kept doing, for who he was, luminously, ongoing. The power of his vibrant example spurred us to become better than we were.

In a recent series of short illustrated podcasts  created by filmmaker Judith Ehrlich—who co-directed the documentary  “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers”—Ellsberg speaks about the growing dangers of global apocalypse, saying that nuclear war planners “have written plans to kill billions of people,” preparations that amount to “a conspiracy to commit omnicide, near omnicide, the death of everyone.” And he adds: “Can humanity survive the nuclear era? We don’t know. I choose to act as if we have a chance.”

United States: Workers Rising in the South

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

A blog from the United Steel Workers

Workers at Blue Bird Corp. in Fort Valley, Ga., launched a union drive to secure better wages, work-life balance and a voice on the job.

The company resisted them. History defied them. Geography worked against them.

But they stood together, believed in themselves and achieved an historic victory that’s reverberating throughout the South.

About 1,400 workers at the electric bus manufacturer voted overwhelmingly this month to join the United Steelworkers (USW), reflecting the rise of collective power in a part of the country where bosses and right-wing politicians long contrived to foil it.


“It’s just time for a change,” explained Rinardo Cooper, a member of USW Local 572 and a paper machine operator at Graphic Packaging in Macon, Ga.

Cooper, who assisted the workers at Blue Bird with their union drive, expects more Southerners to follow suit even if they face their own uphill battles.

Given the South’s pro-corporate environment, it’s no surprise that Georgia has one of the nation’s lowest union membership rates, 4.4 percent. North Carolina’s rate is even lower, 2.8 percent. And South Carolina’s is 1.7 percent.
Many corporations actually choose to locate in the South because the low union density enables them to pay poor wages, skimp on safety and perpetuate the system of oppression.

In a 2019 study, “The Double Standard at Work,” the AFL-CIO found that even European-based companies with good records in their home countries take advantage of workers they employ in America’s South.

They’ve “interfered with freedom of association, launched aggressive campaigns against employees’ organizing attempts and failed to bargain in good faith when workers choose union representation,” noted the report, citing, among other abuses, Volkswagen’s union-busting efforts at a Tennessee plant.

“They keep stuffing their pockets and paying pennies on the dollar,” Cooper said of companies cashing in at workers’ expense.

The consequences are dire.

States with low union membership have significantly higher poverty, according to a 2021 study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the University of California, Riverside. Georgia’s 14 percent poverty rate, for example, is among the worst in the country.

However, the tide is turning as workers increasingly see union membership as a clear path forward, observed Cooper, who left his own job at Blue Bird several months ago because the grueling schedule left him little time to spend with family.

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Question related to this article:
 
What is the contribution of trade unions to the culture of peace?

The right to form and join trade unions, Is it being respected?

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Now, as a union paper worker, he not only makes higher wages than he did at Blue Bird but also benefits from safer working conditions and a voice on the job. And with the USW holding the company accountable, he’s free to take the vacation and other time off he earns.  

Cooper’s story helped to inspire the bus company workers’ quest for better lives. But they also resolved to fight for their fair share as Blue Bird increasingly leans on their knowledge, skills and dedication in coming years.

The company stands to land tens of millions in subsidies from President Joe Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other federal programs aimed at putting more electric vehicles on the roads, supercharging the manufacturing economy and supporting good jobs.

These goals are inextricably linked, as Biden made clear in a statement congratulating the bus company workers on their USW vote. “The fact is: The middle class built America,” he said. “And unions built the middle class.”

Worker power is spreading not only in manufacturing but across numerous industries in the South.

About 500 ramp agents, truck drivers and other workers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina just voted to form a union. Workers in Knoxville, Tenn., last year unionized the first Starbucks in the South.

And first responders in Virginia and utility workers in Georgia and Kentucky also formed unions in recent months, while workers at Lowe’s in Louisiana launched groundbreaking efforts to unionize the home-improvement giant.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to tell any worker at any manufacturing place here that the route you need to take is the union. That’s the only fairness you’re going to get,” declared Anthony Ploof, who helped to lead dozens of co-workers at Carfair into the USW earlier this year.

Workers at the Anniston, Ala., company make fiberglass-reinforced polymer components for vehicles, including hybrid and electric buses. Like all workers, they decided to unionize to gain a seat at the table and a means of holding their employer accountable.

Instead of fighting the union effort, as many companies do, Carfair remained neutral so the workers could exercise their will. In the end, 98 percent voted to join the USW, showing that workers overwhelmingly want unions when they’re free to choose without bullying, threats or retaliation.

“It didn’t take much here,” said Ploof, noting workers had little experience with unions but educated themselves about the benefits and quickly came to a consensus on joining the USW.

“It’s reaching out from Carfair,” he added, noting workers at other companies in the area have approached him to ask, “How is that working out? How do we organize?”

As his new union brothers and sisters at Blue Bird prepare to negotiate their first contract, Cooper hopes to get involved in other organizing drives, lift up more workers and continue changing the trajectory of the South.

“We just really need to keep putting the message out there, letting people know that there is a better way than what the employers are wanting you to believe,” he said.

(Thank you to Nation of Change for calling our attention to this article.)

United States: Labor’s Uptick Isn’t Just Hype

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Eric Blanc in Labor Politics (reprinted by permission)

Is the current labor uptick just more hype than reality? Numerous articles have recently made this   case, pointing to the continued decline in union density in 2022. This skepticism also appears to be the prevailing view among most national union leaders. Though rarely stated publicly, labor’s continued routinism suggests that few people up top see our moment as particularly novel or urgent.


Fortune 500 Companies Targeted by Unionization, 2021-2022

But contrary to these skeptics, there is compelling data indicating that things really are changing — and, therefore, that unions should immediately make a major turn to new organizing.

Consider, for instance, the statewide 2018 educators’ strikes, which were largely begun over viral rank-and-file Facebook groups. These were the first US strike wave since the 1970s, impacting millions of students and involving hundreds of thousands of school workers. Strike activity in 2018 rose to its highest peak since the mid-1980s and it remained high in 2019 as the wave spread to blue cities like Los Angeles and Chicago. The qualitative shift was even more significant: unlike in the Reagan era, the red state revolt consisted of work stoppages that were mostly illegal, statewide in scope, offensive in their demands, and generally victorious in their outcomes. 

Union membership numbers present a grimmer picture.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 273,000 workers joined unions last year. Yet because total employment rose at a faster rate, union density fell from 10.3 to 10.1 percent from 2021 to 2022. Clearly, we are not currently in an upsurge analogous to the 1930s. As exciting as recent campaigns may be, we should be sober about their very real limitations. 

Dwelling only on the continued decline of union density, however, misses the forest for the trees. One of the reasons why recent worker-driven campaigns are so qualitatively important is that they have won union elections at some of the largest corporations in the world. Amazon’s 1.1 million employees, for example, constitutes the country’s second largest workforce and Starbucks’ workforce is the eighth largest. 

Winning elections at these types of firms is a major development that is not captured by membership rolls alone. National unions have for decades generally avoided pushing for union elections at such large companies, believing not unreasonably that they were simply too powerful to defeat — at least under our current, threadbare and barely-enforced, labor laws. As such, the vast majority of years since the Fortune 500 was established in 1955 have witnessed zero, or at most one, union drives at the non-union companies on the list. In contrast, 2021 saw three such drives and 2022 saw eight. 

Given labor’s overall risk-aversion, it is not surprising that a majority of those organizing efforts were instances of what I call DIY Unionism — strikes and union drives that are initiated by self-organized workers and/or in which workers take on key responsibilities traditionally reserved for union staff.

(article continued in right column)

Question related to this article:
 

What is the contribution of trade unions to the culture of peace?

The right to form and join trade unions, Is it being respected?

(article continued from left column)

Labor’s opponents are well aware of this increase in worker-to-worker organizing. In a 2022 report, the notorious union-busting firm Littler Mendelson sounded the alarm:
“There has been a shift in how people are organizing together to petition for representation. What was once a top-down approach, whereby the union would seek out a group of individuals, has flipped entirely. Now, individuals are banding together to form grassroots organizing movements where individual employees are the ones to invite the labor organization to assist them in their pursuit to be represented.”

To be sure, workers at Amazon, Starbucks, Apple, Google, and other mega-corporations are still a long way away from winning a first contract. That will likely take many years, more intervention from state actors, and greater resources from established unions towards boosting, and defending, new organizing. But it is a major historical development that unionizing the US private sector’s biggest players no longer seems like a distant fantasy. 

The fact that these recent drives have won elections against such economic heavyweights helps explain why news coverage of unions shot up in 2022 — as does the fact that media outlets have become one of labor’s most dynamic growth areas.

Increased publicity about David versus Goliath workplace organizing, and negative publicity about union busting, is bad news for corporate America. Stories of ordinary workers taking on billionaire CEOs tend to spur copycat attempts. And coverage of illegal (or morally reprehensible) union busting tarnishes company brands, while increasing pressure on elected officials to defend and enforce labor law. 

When it comes to fomenting today’s pro-union zeitgeist, the growth of pro-union sentiment over social media is no less significant. To cite just a few examples: Antiwork — a misleadingly named Reddit group focused on exposing bad working conditions and promoting unionization — shot up from 80,000 members in early 2020 to 2.3 million members by late 2022. The labor-focused media outlet More Perfect Union has received 150 million views on its YouTube and TikTok videos. And videos of Starbucks workers walking out in response to illegal firings now regularly go viral, racking up millions of views and exposing the hypocrisy of a nominally progressive corporation. Starbucks’ Vice President of Partner Resources thus recently admitted that she had to turn off social media because it “has been very disheartening. And yet perception is reality in some way shape or form.”

Media attention on its own will not turn things around for unions, but it is nevertheless critical for keeping up momentum and bringing “the labor question” back to the center of US politics. Millions of workers are finally beginning to see that non-union jobs can become union jobs — and that they personally could play a role in making that happen.

No less important, coverage of recent union drives among white-collar and (largely female) pink-collar care workers has undercut the still-common myth that unions are just for white men in hard industry. Multiple worker organizer interviewees explained to me that the first thing they had to do was disabuse themselves and their colleagues of the assumption, to quote a New York Times tech worker named Vicki, that “unions are just for coal miners or something — not for us.”

Google analytics allows us to measure the increase in search queries last year asking the question: “How do I form a union?” The following graph captures a surge in bottom-up unionization interest, particularly in the wake of the highly publicized union win at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse on Staten Island. Today’s active interest in unionization constitutes a major contextual difference from the 1990s and 2000s when labor’s halting turn to new organizing stumbled over the high staff resources required to spark workers to unionize.

Qualitative data also indicates that there has been an increase in individual workers directly reaching out to unions asking them to organize them — what unions usually call “hot shops.” To quote a cannabis industry worker turned Teamsters organizer in Illinois, “these workers are reaching out to us for help, so that’s unusual. It used to be we were seeking them out and now they’re coming to us. Our phones are ringing constantly with workers who want protection, higher wages, better benefits and accountability from these companies.” 

Put simply: despite the immense power of the forces arrayed against them, rank-and-file organizers today are continuing to take big risks to win power and democracy at work. Unions should follow their lead.

The Washington Consensus Supporting Sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela Is Breaking

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article by Branko Marcetic in Jacobin

Twenty-one members of Congress last week called for lifting US sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela, including most of the Squad. The pushback is needed: sanctions are a cruel economic weapon that hurts average people — and has spurred a surge of economic refugees.


Activists carry Venezuelan and Cuban flags during a protest rejecting President Joe Biden’s policy of sanctions on June 10, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Ringo Chiu / AFP via Getty Images)

One of the defining features of our era has been the loss of a domestic political appetite for more US wars. But a similar pushback to Washington’s use of sanctions has been slow to follow, despite the fact that US sanctions are demonstrably cruel, indiscriminate, ineffective, and often illegal.

The near-term prospects for a groundswell of US opposition to sanctions are basically nonexistent at this point. But we may be seeing the beginnings of one taking shape: last week saw twenty-one House Democrats send Joe Biden a letter calling on the president to end US sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela and review Donald Trump–era sanctions policy more generally, in light of the “border crisis,” which has seen a surge in migrants at the southern border (though one that is lower than expected ) since the expiration of the Donald Trump–era Title 42 order.

Calling the sanctions “a critical contributing factor in the current increase in migration,” the letter points to “their grave humanitarian toll on the peoples of those countries” and the “significant logistical challenges” it is creating for US authorities. But the letter also stresses that “there are also strong moral grounds” to lift the sanctions and that US policy should seek to not “exacerbate the suffering of the innocent people whose freedom we seek to advance.”

Organized by two representatives of border states, Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) — a cochair of Biden’s 2024 campaign and Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-VT) very first congressional endorser, respectively — the letter was cosigned by a number of progressive elected officials, including Reps. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Chuy García (D-IL), and six of the newly expanded “Squad” of progressive and socialist members of Congress.

The signatures of Squad members Ilhan Omar, Summer Lee, and Ayanna Pressley were missing from the letter. Massachusetts representative Jim McGovern, who has repeatedly called on Biden to lift sanctions against Venezuela in the past, also didn’t sign the letter, and his Northampton office was met by protests from the Anti-Imperialism Action Committee, an anti-capitalist activist collective based in Western Massachusetts, and other activists as a result.

Some of the progressive signatories have taken this message to other platforms. At a May 11 House Agriculture Committee meeting, Rep. Greg Casar (D-TX) — one of the newly minted Squad members who won his seat in these past midterms — spoke about the failure of the decades-long US blockade on Cuba in fostering democracy and called for “revisiting our policies that push people out of their home countries,” emphasizing the economic costs to the US economy that result.

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Question related to this article:

Are economic sanctions a violation of human rights?

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“I don’t think that it serves us to be starving people abroad,” he said. “I think it helps Americans for us to be feeding people all over the world.”

Khanna similarly took this message to a venue where viewers are unlikely to have heard criticism of Biden’s continuation of Trump–era sanctions policy: MSNBC, on the Morning Joe  show.

“Look at what’s causing people to flee Venezuela and Cuba,” he urged. “The Republicans are saying, ‘let’s sanction them more.’ That’s causing more people to actually leave. Let’s look at rational sanction policy so we’re not causing the influx.”

Progressive criticism of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela — both of which are explicitly aimed at fomenting regime change in the countries — have been backed up by Ben Rhodes, a foreign policy advisor for former president Barack Obama.

“This is an obvious thing that is sitting right in front of the Biden administration, to just go back to the kind of openness that we had at the end of the Obama years [and] make life better for the Cuban people,” he said in a recent MSNBC appearance, warning that the political cost for Biden stemming from events at the border would be worse than for lifting Trump’s “maximum pressure” sanctions.

This course has also been endorsed by leftist Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who said he had personally urged Biden to attack the root causes of migration to the US southern border, namely the “poverty and abandonment” endemic to those countries — and which US sanctions have unquestionably played a major role in causing. This comes a month after the US envoy of the Venezuelan opposition itself, which only a year ago was demanding that Biden not waver on Trump’s policy, implored the administration to end the sanctions, lest it turn Venezuela into “another Cuba.”

Despite this diverse chorus of voices pushing for sanctions to be lifted, it’s also running into a wall. That’s because, according to the Washington Post, the Biden administration is worried about alienating Cuban-American Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who wrote a counterletter claiming, as all sanctions enthusiasts do, that the policy has nothing to do with the exodus of people from both countries.

Menendez is a hard-line supporter of Trump’s sanctions policy, and is currently under federal investigation eight years after already once being indicted on separate bribery charges. When he finds time away from potential criminal prosecution, Menendez is a full-time hawk who teams up with neocon Lindsey Graham to push legislation undermining peaceful coexistence with China and Iran. Since it relies on him to push through appointments blocked by the GOP and to pursue its wider geostrategic goals, the administration has tended to give Menendez enormous leeway in driving its own foreign policy decision-making, something that likely won’t change anytime soon.

Still, the fact that there’s any disquiet being heard at all in Washington toward the ruinous and largely pointless US overuse of sanctions — a weapon that the Biden administration has used with record frequency — is an important development. Political shifts in the halls of Congress don’t happen overnight and are usually the fruit of months and years of small, symbolic measures like this letter, adding up bit by bit to slowly shift what’s politically acceptable. This progressive challenge to a president — one who’s otherwise enjoying near-dictatorial levels of obeisance from fellow elected Democrats — is a first step, and one that couldn’t have happened without the election of progressive insurgents to Congress.

United States: Six years as a ‘City of Peace’: Happy anniversary, Ashland!

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by David Wick in Ashland News

Tuesday, May 16, is the sixth anniversary of Ashland officially becoming a City of Peace and joining the International Cities of Peace Association. On May 16, 2017, Mayor John Stromberg, with a unanimous vote of the Ashland City Council , proclaimed that “…the City of Ashland, Oregon is a City of Peace in perpetuity and encourage city and community leaders to develop policies and procedures that promote a culture of peace in our region.”


City officials and Ashland Culture of Peace Commission Executive Director David Wick, center, tie the ribbon at the International City of Peace Ribbon Tying Ceremony in 2017, as a symbol of joining together. Graham Lewis photo

The focus and engagement on this accomplishment has lessened over the last three years due to the impact of COVID, but the legacy of Ashland, the 163rd International City of Peace, has never lessened internationally nor in the hearts of many community members.

Among the current 380 International Cities of Peace in Peace in 70 countries on all six inhabited continents, Ashland has always been held in high regard as an example to learn from. With the guidance of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC), working closely with the City of Ashland, many segments of our community, and other peacebuilding organizations, we are seen as an ideal way of co-creating an infrastructure of peace.

International Cities of Peace (ICP) is an association of citizens, governments and organizations who have by proclamation, resolution, or by citizen advocacy established their communities as official Cities of Peace. The fundamental focus of a City of Peace is on safety, prosperity and quality of life.

There is no 100% peaceful city — rather, all are on the path to “becoming” a more peaceful city. Various forms of violence or hostility affect every community, yet as Mahatma Gandhi reminded, “…acts of love and service are much more common in this world than conflicts and quarrels.” Hundreds of cities around the world are building on their legacy of peacebuilding in a forward commitment to work toward a community-wide culture of peace. Establishing a community as a peace city recognizes past achievements, encourages current initiatives, and inspires future generations for practical peace building.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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The Ashland community and city have taken many steps to manifest a City of Peace, many more than can be listed here. This list includes: Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA) and others assisting people in need, establishment of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission, Chamber of Commerce action to support businesses, wildfire protection action by Rep. Pam Marsh, Travel Ashland (VCB) Advisory Committee initiatives, installation of the World Peace Flame with middle school Flame Keepers, initiation of the Police2Peace program, Ashland Food Bank, Peace House initiatives and Uncle Foods Diner, Peace Village Festival, the Peace Wall and climate action by The Geos Institute, among many others.

Being a City of Peace is a continual state of making daily choices individually, organizationally, systemically, every one of us. On May 16, 2023, what does this look like in Ashland now and moving forward? How do we want to increase the safety, prosperity and quality of life for all in Ashland, in our region? This can begin with a smile for the next person each of us sees.

Ashland.News Editor Bert Etling and Ashland Police Department Chief Tighe O’Meara both served as Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (ACPC) Commissioners and were recently asked what they value about taking steps to co-create Ashland as a City of Peace.

Bert Etling responded: “I value ACPC’s raising awareness of values that too-often go unspoken and unrecognized, which makes them more likely to fall into disuse. The very existence of ACPC prompts people to think about qualities worth affirming and practicing. On a more concrete level, organization of and participation in events offering the opportunity for people of diverse backgrounds to share their perspectives and harmonious space builds peace in the community. And, of course, the Peace Flame as an ongoing reminder of that energy (in the wonderful Thalden Pavilion space), and sustaining learning about, sharing and passing along those values through the students tending to the site.”

Chief O’Meara’s reply is: “One of the things I value most about the ACPC is that through it we promote conversations, connections, and better mutual understanding. We may not always be able to agree, but unless we come together, we certainly won’t. In those connections and conversations, we have our best chance at understanding, and through that peace.”

As a city and community, we have gone through some rough patches and there are more to come in the challenging times we live in. And the choices and directions are in our hands both individually and collectively. Let’s co-create the very best ongoing City of Peace that we can, together.

An International City of Peace information center is being created at Catalyst Ashland, 357 E Main St., Ashland, 541-625-6565 by owners Precious Yamaguchi and Andres Rivero, and myself, David Wick of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission.

David Wick is executive director of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission (Ashlandcpc.org) and president of the Rotary EClub of World Peace. Email him at info@ashlandcpc.org.

Leaks Reveal Reality behind U.S. Propaganda in Ukraine

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION

An article by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies in TRANSCEND Media Service

The U.S. corporate media’s first response to the leaking of secret documents about the war in Ukraine was to throw some mud in the water, declare “nothing to see here,” and cover it as a depoliticized crime story about a 21-year-old Air National Guardsman who published secret documents to impress his friends. President Biden dismissed the leaks as revealing nothing of “great consequence.”


Leaked document predicts a “protracted war beyond 2023.” Image credit: Newsweek

What these documents reveal, however, is that the war is going worse for Ukraine than our political leaders have admitted to us, while going badly for Russia too, so that neither side is likely to break the stalemate this year, and this will lead to “a protracted war beyond 2023,” as one of the documents says.

The publication of these assessments should lead to renewed calls for our government to level with the public about what it realistically hopes to achieve by prolonging the bloodshed, and why it continues to reject the resumption of the promising peace negotiations it blocked in April 2022.

We believe that blocking those talks was a dreadful mistake, in which the Biden administration capitulated to the warmongering, since-disgraced U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and that current U.S. policy is compounding that mistake at the cost of tens of thousands more Ukrainian lives and the destruction of even more of their country.

In most wars, while the warring parties strenuously suppress the reporting of civilian casualties for which they are responsible, professional militaries generally treat accurate reporting of their own military casualties as a basic responsibility. But in the virulent propaganda surrounding the war in Ukraine, all sides have treated military casualty figures as fair game, systematically exaggerating enemy casualties and understating their own.

Publicly available U.S. estimates have supported the idea that many more Russians are being killed than Ukrainians, deliberately skewing public perceptions to support the notion that Ukraine can somehow win the war, as long as we just keep sending more weapons.

The leaked documents provide internal U.S. military intelligence assessments of casualties on both sides. But different documents, and different copies of the documents circulating online, show conflicting numbers, so the propaganda war rages on despite the leak.

The most detailed assessment of attrition rates of troops says explicitly that U.S. military intelligence has “low confidence” in the attrition rates it cites. It attributes that partly to “potential bias” in Ukraine’s information sharing, and notes that casualty assessments “fluctuate according to the source.”

So, despite denials by the Pentagon, a document that shows a higher death toll on the Ukrainian side may be correct, since it has been widely reported that Russia has been firing several times the number of artillery shells as Ukraine, in a bloody war of attrition in which artillery appears to be the main instrument of death. Altogether, some of the documents estimate a total death toll on both sides approaching 100,000 and total casualties, killed and wounded, of up to 350,000.

Another document reveals that, after using up the stocks sent by NATO countries, Ukraine is running out of missiles for the S-300 and BUK systems that make up 89% of its air defenses. By May or June, Ukraine will therefore be vulnerable, for the first time, to the full strength of the Russian air force, which has until now been limited mainly to long-range missile strikes and drone attacks.

Recent Western arms shipments have been justified to the public by predictions that Ukraine will soon be able to launch new counter-offensives to take back territory from Russia. Twelve brigades, or up to 60,000 troops, were assembled to train on newly delivered Western tanks for this “spring offensive,” with three brigades in Ukraine and nine more in Poland, Romania and Slovenia.

But a leaked document from the end of February reveals that the nine brigades being equipped and trained abroad had less than half their equipment and, on average, were only 15% trained. Meanwhile, Ukraine faced a stark choice to either send reinforcements to Bakhmut or withdraw from the town entirely, and it chose to sacrifice some of its “spring offensive” forces to prevent the imminent fall of Bakhmut.

Ever since the U.S. and NATO started training Ukrainian forces to fight in Donbas in 2015, and while it has been training them in other countries since the Russian invasion, NATO has provided six-month training courses to bring Ukraine’s forces up to basic NATO standards. On this basis, it appears that many of the forces being assembled for the “spring offensive” would not be fully trained and equipped before July or August.

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Question related to this article:
 
Free flow of information, How is it important for a culture of peace?

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But another document says the offensive will begin around April 30th, meaning that many troops may be thrown into combat less than fully trained, by NATO standards, even as they have to contend with more severe shortages of ammunition and a whole new scale of Russian airstrikes. The incredibly bloody fighting that has already decimated Ukrainian forces will surely be even more brutal than before.

The leaked documents conclude that “enduring Ukrainian deficiencies in training and munitions supplies probably will strain progress and exacerbate casualties during the offensive,” and that the most likely outcome remains only modest territorial gains.

The documents also reveal serious deficiencies on the Russian side, deficiencies revealed by the failure of their winter offensive to take much ground. The fighting in Bakhmut has raged on for months, leaving thousands of fallen soldiers on both sides and a burned out city still not 100% controlled by Russia.

The inability of either side to decisively defeat the other in the ruins of Bakhmut and other front-line towns in Donbas is why one of the most important documents predicted that the war was locked in a “grinding campaign of attrition” and was “likely heading toward a stalemate.”

Adding to the concerns about where this conflict is headed is the revelation in the leaked documents about the presence of 97 special forces from NATO countries, including from the U.K. and the U.S. This is in addition to previous reports about the presence of CIA personnel, trainers and Pentagon contractors, and the unexplained deployment of 20,000 troops from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Brigades near the border between Poland and Ukraine.

Worried about the ever-increasing direct U.S. military involvement, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz has introduced a Privileged Resolution of Inquiry to force President Biden to notify the House of the exact number of U.S. military personnel inside Ukraine and precise U.S. plans to assist Ukraine militarily.

We can’t help wondering what President Biden’s plan could be, or if he even has one. But it turns out that we’re not alone. In what amounts to a second leak that the corporate media have studiously ignored, U.S. intelligence sources have told veteran investigative reporter Seymour Hersh that they are asking the same questions, and they describe a “total breakdown” between the White House and the U.S. intelligence community.

Hersh’s sources describe a pattern that echoes the use of fabricated and unvetted intelligence to justify U.S. aggression against Iraq in 2003, in which Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Advisor Sullivan are by-passing regular intelligence analysis and procedures and running the Ukraine War as their own private fiefdom. They reportedly smear all criticism of President Zelenskyy as “pro-Putin,” and leave U.S. intelligence agencies out in the cold trying to understand a policy that makes no sense to them.

What U.S. intelligence officials know, but the White House is doggedly ignoring, is that, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, top Ukrainian officials running this endemically corrupt country are making fortunes skimming money from the over $100 billion in aid and weapons that America has sent them.

According to went to Kyiv to meet with him. Burns allegedly told Zelenskyy he was taking too much of the “skim money,” and handed him a list of 35 generals and senior officials the CIA knew were involved in this corrupt scheme.

Zelenskyy fired about ten of those officials, but failed to alter his own behavior. Hersh’s sources tell him that the White House’s lack of interest in doing anything about these goings-on is a major factor in the breakdown of trust between the White House and the intelligence community.

First-hand reporting from inside Ukraine by New Cold War has described the same systematic pyramid of corruption as Hersh. A member of parliament, formerly in Zelenskyy’s party, told New Cold War that Zelenskyy and other officials skimmed 170 million euros from money that was supposed to pay for Bulgarian artillery shells.

The corruption reportedly extends to bribes to avoid conscription. The Open Ukraine Telegram channel was told by a military recruitment office that it could get the son of one of its writers released from the front line in Bakhmut and sent out of the country for $32,000.

As has happened in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and all the wars the United States has been involved in for many decades, the longer the war goes on, the more the web of corruption, lies and distortions unravels.

The torpedoing of peace talks, the Nord Stream sabotage, the hiding of corruption, the politicization of casualty figures, and the suppressed history of broken promises and prescient warnings about the danger of NATO expansion are all examples of how our leaders have distorted the truth to shore up U.S. public support for perpetuating an unwinnable war that is killing a generation of young Ukrainians.

These leaks and investigative reports are not the first, nor will they be the last, to shine a light through the veil of propaganda that permits these wars to destroy young people’s lives in faraway places, so that oligarchs in Russia, Ukraine and the United States can amass wealth and power.

The only way this will stop is if more and more people get active in opposing those companies and individuals that profit from war–who Pope Francis calls the Merchants of Death–and boot out the politicians who do their bidding, before they make an even more fatal misstep and start a nuclear war.

Celebrating Rachel Corrie

TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY .

Excerpts from the website of the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice

Rachel Corrie, a 23-year-old American peace activist from Olympia, Washington, was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer on 26 March 2003, while undertaking nonviolent direct action to protect the home of a Palestinian family from demolition.

Her 44th birthday was celebrated on April 10, 2023 at the Rachel Corrie Foundation in Olympia with speakers and discussion to remember her and the commitment of the Foundation to continue her work for Palestine.

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Rachel’s parents, Craig and Cindy Corrie, who established the Foundation, were the special guests at a virtual discussion March 22 on their fight for justice fo Rachel over the decades.


Video of event Remembering Rachel 20 years later

(Editor’s note: In a related development, a new Gallup poll shows that for the first time more American Democrats sympathize with Palestinians than Israelis.)

United States: 60+ Faith Groups Urge Congress to ‘Dramatically’ Slash Pentagon Budget

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Jake Johnson in Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

More than 60 faith-based organizations on Tuesday urged the U.S. Congress to impose major cuts on the bloated military budget as President Joe Biden pushes for a nearly $30 billion increase and Republicans demand even bigger spending hike.

“The country is sprinting towards a trillion-dollar budget for weapons and war—propping up an expensive and harmful militarized foreign policy while people struggle to meet their basic needs,” reads a new letter to members of Congress signed by U.S., international, and state and local groups including the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, Hindus for Human Rights, and dozens of others.


Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley arrives at a news briefing at the Pentagon on May 23, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“We cannot continue down this morally bankrupt path,” the letter continues. “We urge members of Congress to dramatically cut militarized spending in the fiscal year 2024 budget—both to facilitate reinvestment in the well-being of our communities, and to curtail the harms of our militarized foreign policy.”

The groups’ principled stand against devoting further resources to the U.S. military—and specifically to the Pentagon, an agency that recently failed its fifth consecutive audit —comes days after Biden requested an $886 billion military budget for the upcoming fiscal year, with $842 billion of that total earmarked for the Department of Defense.

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Question related to this article:

Does military spending lead to economic decline and collapse?

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Tori Bateman, the policy advocacy coordinator at AFSC, said Tuesday that “we know that there is enormous waste, fraud, and abuse at the Pentagon—and that spending exorbitant amounts of money on weapons and war takes away from the funding our communities receive for things like healthcare and housing.”

“This year, we need Congress to commit to cutting Pentagon spending, and maintaining a robust level of spending on human needs programs,” Bateman added.

But that demand is likely to be ignored in a Congress that agrees each year—on a bipartisan basis and with relatively little pushback —to increase the U.S. military budget, often by tens of billions more than the president’s original request. In 2022, just 78 members of the House voted for Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-Calif.) amendment to cut the military budget by $100 billion while 350 opposed it.

In response to Biden’s budget framework, leading Republicans made clear that they would push for even more military spending, calling the president’s proposal “woefully inadequate” —even though it’s among the largest in U.S. history.

“If past experience is any guide, more than half of the new Pentagon budget will go to contractors, with the biggest share going to the top five—Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman—to build everything from howitzers and tanks to intercontinental ballistic missiles,” William Hartung of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft noted last week. “Much of the funding for contractors will come from spending on buying, researching, and developing weapons, which accounts for $315 billion of the new budget request.”

Of the $1.7 trillion in discretionary spending that Biden has proposed for fiscal year 2024, just $584 billion is reserved for social programs, analyst Stephen Semler observed.

The anti-war group CodePink said in a statement Tuesday that while “President Biden’s overall 2024 budget does have some positive proposals like restoring the child tax credit, investing in clean energy projects, and cleaning up nuclear waste sites,” the “likelihood of passing the tax reform needed as well as the policies themselves seems very unlikely as congressional Democrats couldn’t even pass the Build Back Better legislation when they had more control in 2021.”

“What will pass—what always passes no matter who is in the White House and what majority fills the halls of Congress—is the defense budget,” the group added. “Any domestic policy being dangled to the public by the Democrats is meaningless while they still support the ever-growing and immoral defense budget.”

National March on Washington March 18 : Peace in Ukraine

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

From the website of United National Antiwar Coalition

​Coinciding with the 20th anniversary weekend of the criminal U.S.-invasion of Iraq a major set of actions including a demonstration at the White House in Washington, D.C. on Saturday March 18 demanding “Peace in Ukraine – Say NO to Endless U.S. Wars” and “Fund People’s Needs, Not the War Machine.”

Demands

Peace in Ukraine – No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War
Abolish NATO – End U.S. militarism & sanctions!
Fund people’s needs, not the war machine!
No war with China!
End U.S. aid to racist apartheid Israel!
Fight racism & bigotry at home, not other peoples!
U.S. hands off Haiti
End AFRICOM

Click here to help build this action

Click here to endorse the action

This action is being called by UNAC, the ANSWER Coalition, Code Pink, Black Alliance for peace and many others listed below. This is the first time in many years that then entire U.S, antiwar movement has been able to get together and build a national action. This is a very important step forward for our movement.

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

(Continued from left column)

Endorsers:

United National Anti-War Coalition,
ANSWER Coalition,
Black Alliance for Peace,
The People’s Forum,
CodePink,
World BEYOND War,
Popular Resistance,
Veterans for Peace,
International Action Center,
Party for Socialism and Liberation,
Al-Awda,
The Palestine Right to Return Coalition,
Labor Against Racism and War,
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee,
Universal African Peoples Organization,
East Bay Democratic Socialists of America,
Socialist Action,
Nevada Green Party,
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network,
Ohio Peace Council,
Green Party of Connecticut,
Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee, Environmentalists Against War,
Pacific Green Party (OR),
Linn-Benton Chapter,
Lauren Faith Smith Ministry for Nonviolence,
Maine Cumberland County Greens,
Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace,
San Jose Peace and Justice Center,
Servicio Particular Alacran,
Minnesota Peace Action Coalition,
PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick,
UPWARD (Uniting Peace With Actions Respect and Dignity),
Socialist Party of America,
North Country Peace Group,
Workers World Party,
Roger Waters,
PeaceWorks,
Bronx Antiwar Coalition,
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space,
Chicago Anti-War Coalition,
National Immigrant Solidarity Network,
China-US Solidarity Network,
North American Climate Conservation and Environmental group,
Stop the War Machine – New Mexico,
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace,
Odessa Solidarity Campaign,
DC Young Communist League,
Uhuru Solidarity Movement,
North American Climate Conservation and Environmental group,
Virginia Defenders for Freedom Justice & Equality…

(Note added on March 25. An email received at CPNN from the UNAC today says “More than 2,500 people participated in the rally, march and teach-in on March 18.” This figure is confirmed in an article from the website Toward Freedom.)

Letter To President Biden: Sign The Nuclear Ban Treaty!

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

From the website Nuclear Ban

January 22, 2023 to: President Joe Biden, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden,

We, the undersigned, call on you to immediately sign, on behalf of the United States, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), also known as the “Nuclear Ban Treaty.”

Mr. President, January 22, 2023 marks the second anniversary of entry into force of the TPNW. Here are six compelling reasons why you should sign this treaty now:


1. It’s the right thing to do. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk increases with every passing day that these weapons will be used.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the world stands closer to “doomsday” than at any point even during the darkest days of the Cold War. And the use of even one nuclear weapon would constitute a humanitarian disaster of unparalleled proportions. A full-scale nuclear war would spell the end of human civilization as we know it. There is nothing, Mr. President, that could possibly justify that level of risk.

Mr. President, the real risk we are facing is not so much that President Putin or some other leader will purposely use nuclear weapons, although that is clearly possible. The real risk with these weapons is that human error, computer malfunction, cyber attack, miscalculation, misunderstanding, miscommunication, or a simple accident could so easily lead inexorably to a nuclear conflagration without anyone ever intending it to.

The increased tension that now exists between the US and Russia makes an unintended launch of nuclear weapons so much more likely, and the risks are simply too great to be ignored or downplayed. It is imperative that you take action to reduce those risks. And the only way to reduce that risk to zero is to eliminate the weapons themselves. That is what the TPNW stands for. That is what the rest of the world demands. That is what humanity requires.

2. It will improve America’s standing in the world, and especially with our closest allies.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the US response to it may have greatly improved America’s standing, at least in Western Europe. But the imminent deployment of a new generation of US “tactical” nuclear weapons to Europe could quickly change all that. The last time such a plan was attempted, in the 1980s, it led to enormous levels of hostility toward the US and nearly toppled several NATO governments.

This treaty has enormous public support across the world and especially in Western Europe. As more and more countries sign on to it, its power and significance will only grow. And the longer the United States stands in opposition to this treaty, the worse our standing will be in the eyes of the world, including some of our closest allies. 

As of today, 68 countries have ratified this treaty, outlawing everything to do with nuclear weapons in those countries. Another 27 countries are in the process of ratifying the treaty and many more are lining up to do so.

Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium (and Australia) were among the countries who officially attended as observers at the first meeting of TPNW last year in Vienna. They, together with other close allies of the United States, including Italy, Spain, Iceland, Denmark, Japan and Canada, have voting populations who overwhelmingly support their countries signing the treaty, according to recent opinion polls. There are also hundreds of legislators in those countries who have signed the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) pledge in support of the TPNW, including the prime ministers of both Iceland and Australia.

It is not a question of “if,” but only of “when,” these and many other countries will join the TPNW and outlaw everything to do with nuclear weapons. As they do, US armed forces and the international corporations involved in the development and production of nuclear weapons will face increasing difficulties in carrying on with business as usual. It is already punishable with an unlimited fine and up to life in prison if found guilty of involvement with the development, production, maintenance, transportation or handling of (anyone’s) nuclear weapons in Ireland.

As it states very clearly in the US Law of War Manual, US military forces are bound by international treaties even when the US does not sign them, when such treaties represent “modern international public opinion” as to how military operations should be conducted. And already investors representing more than $4.6 trillion in global assets have divested from nuclear weapons companies because of the global norms that are shifting as a result of the TPNW.

3. Signing is nothing more than a statement of our intention to achieve a goal that the United States is already legally committed to achieving.

As you know very well, signing a treaty is not the same as ratifying it, and only once it is ratified do the terms of the treaty enter into force. Signing is just the first step. And signing the TPNW does not commit this country to a goal it is not publicly and legally committed to already; namely, the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The United States has been committed to the total elimination of nuclear weapons since at least 1968, when it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and agreed to negotiate the elimination of all nuclear arsenals “in good faith” and “at an early date”. Since then, the United States has twice given an “unequivocal undertaking” to the rest of the world that it would fulfil its legal obligation to negotiate the elimination of these weapons.

President Obama famously earned a Nobel Peace Prize for committing the United States to the goal of a nuclear-free world, and you yourself have reiterated that commitment on a number of occasions, most recently on August 1, 2022, when you pledged from the White House “to continue working toward the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Mr. President, signing the TPNW would demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to actually achieve that goal. Getting all the other nuclear-armed nations to also sign the treaty would be the next step, ultimately leading to ratification of the treaty and the elimination of all nuclear weapons from all countries. In the meantime, the United States would be no more at risk of nuclear attack or nuclear blackmail than it is at present, and until ratification, would still maintain the same arsenal of nuclear weapons as it does today.

In fact, under the terms of the treaty, the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons only takes place well after ratification of the treaty, in accordance with a legally-binding timebound plan that all parties must agree to. This would allow for staged reductions according to a mutually agreed timetable, as with other disarmament treaties.

4. The whole world is witnessing in real time the reality that nuclear weapons serve no useful military purpose.

Mr. President, the whole rationale for maintaining an arsenal of nuclear weapons is that they are so powerful as a “deterrent” they would never need to be used. And yet our possession of nuclear weapons clearly did not prevent the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Nor has Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons prevented the United States from arming and supporting Ukraine despite Russia’s threats.

Since 1945, the US has fought wars in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Libya, Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Possession of nuclear weapons did not “deter” any of those wars, nor indeed did possession of nuclear weapons ensure that the US “won” any of those wars.

The possession of nuclear weapons by the UK did not prevent Argentina from invading the Falkland Islands in 1982. The possession of nuclear weapons by France did not prevent them losing to insurgents in Algeria, Tunisia or Chad. The possession of nuclear weapons by Israel did not prevent the invasion of that country by Syria and Egypt in 1973, nor did it prevent Iraq from raining down Scud missiles on them in 1991. India’s possession of nuclear weapons did not stop countless incursions into Kashmir by Pakistan, nor has Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons stopped any of India’s military activities there.

It is no surprise that Kim Jong-un thinks nuclear weapons will deter an attack on his country by the United States, and yet you would no doubt agree that his possession of nuclear weapons makes such an attack more likely at some point in the future, not less likely.

President Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons against any country that tried to interfere with his invasion of Ukraine. That was not the first time anyone has threatened to use nuclear weapons, of course. Your predecessor in the White House threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation in 2017. And nuclear threats have been made by previous US Presidents and the leaders of other nuclear-armed nations going all the way back to the aftermath of World War II. 
But these threats are meaningless unless they are carried out, and they are never carried out for the very simple reason that to do so would be an act of suicide and no sane political leader is likely to ever make that choice.

In your joint statement with Russia, China, France and the UK in January of last year, you clearly stated that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” The G20 statement from Bali reiterated that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. The peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are vital. Today’s era must not be of war.”

What do such statements mean, Mr. President, if not the utter pointlessness of retaining and upgrading expensive nuclear weapons that can never be used?

5. By signing the TPNW now, you can discourage other countries from seeking to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.

Mr. President, despite the fact that nuclear weapons do not deter aggression and do not help win wars, other countries continue to want them. Kim Jong-un wants nuclear weapons to defend himself from the United States precisely because we continue to insist that these weapons somehow defend us from him. It is no surprise that Iran might feel the same way.

The longer we go on insisting that we must have nuclear weapons for our own defense, and that these are the “supreme” guarantee of our security, the more we are encouraging other countries to want the same. South Korea and Saudi Arabia are already considering acquiring their own nuclear weapons. Soon there will be others.

How can a world awash in nuclear weapons possibly be safer than a world without any nuclear weapons? Mr. President, this is the moment to seize the opportunity to eliminate these weapons once and for all, before more and more countries are engulfed in an uncontrollable arms race that can have only one possible outcome. Eliminating these weapons now is not just a moral imperative, it is a national security imperative.

Without a single nuclear weapon, the United States would still be the most powerful country in the world by a very wide margin. Together with our military allies, our military spending outpaces all our potential adversaries put together many times over, every single year. No country on earth comes close to being able to seriously threaten the United States and its allies – unless they have nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons are the global equalizer. They enable a comparatively small, poor country, with its people virtually starving, to nevertheless threaten the mightiest world power in all of human history. And the only way to finally eliminate that threat is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. That, Mr. President, is a national security imperative.

6. There is one final reason for signing the TPNW now. And that is for the sake of our children and grandchildren, who are inheriting a world that is literally burning down in front of our eyes as a result of climate change. We cannot adequately address the climate crisis without also addressing the nuclear threat.

You have taken important steps to address the climate crisis, through your infrastructure bill and the inflation reduction act. You have been hampered by Supreme Court decisions and a difficult Congress from achieving more of what you know is needed to fully address this crisis. And yet, trillions of taxpayer dollars are being poured into developing the next generation of nuclear weapons, along with all the other military hardware and infrastructure you have signed off on.

Mr. President, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, please use this opportunity to switch gears and begin the transition to a sustainable world for them. You don’t need Congress or the Supreme Court to sign a treaty on behalf of the United States. That is your prerogative as President.

And by signing the TPNW, we can begin the monumental shift of resources that is needed from nuclear weapons to climate solutions. By signalling the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons, you would be enabling and encouraging the vast scientific and industrial infrastructure that supports the nuclear weapons industry to begin to make that transition, along with the billions in private finance that support that industry.

And most importantly, you would be opening up a door to improved international cooperation with Russia, China, India and the EU without which no action on climate will be sufficient to save the planet.

Mr. President, as the first country to develop nuclear weapons and the only country to have ever used them in war, the United States bears a special moral responsibility to ensure they are never used again. As you yourself said in a speech on January 11, 2017, “If we want a world without nuclear weapons—the United States must take the initiative to lead us there.” Please, Mr. President, you can do this! Please take the first clear step to nuclear abolition and sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty.

Yours sincerely,

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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Where in the world can we find good leadership today?

(Article continued from left column)

* Organizations in bold = official signatories, organizations not in bold are for identification purposes only

Timmon Wallis, Vicki Elson, Co-Founders, NuclearBan.US

Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action

Darien De Lu, President, US Section, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Ivana Hughes, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

David Swanson, Executive Director, World Beyond War

Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Co-Founders, CodePink

Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Ethan Vesely-Flad, Director of National Organizing, Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA)

Melanie Merkle Atha, Executive Director, Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Susan Schnall, President, Veterans For Peace

Hanieh Jodat, Partnerships Coordinator, RootsAction

Michael Beer, Director, Nonviolence International

Alan Owen, Founder, LABRATS (Legacy of the Atomic Bomb. Recognition for Atomic Test Survivors)

Helen Jaccard, Manager, Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project

Kelly Lundeen and Lindsay Potter, Co-Directors, Nukewatch

Linda Gunter, Founder, Beyond Nuclear

Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, Nuclear Resister

Nick Mottern, Co-coordinator, Ban Killer Drones

Priscilla Star, Director, Coalition Against Nukes

Cole Harrison, Executive Director, Massachusetts Peace Action

Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director, Coalition For Peace Action (CFPA)

Emily Rubino, Executive Director, Peace Action New York State

Robert Kinsey, Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Rev. Rich Peacock, Co-Chair, Peace Action of Michigan

Jean Athey, Secretary of the Board, Maryland Peace Action

Martha Speiss, John Raby, Peace Action Maine

Joe Burton, Treasurer of the Board, North Carolina Peace Action

Kim Joy Bergier, Coordinator, Michigan Stop The Nuclear Bombs Campaign

Kelly Campbell, Executive Director, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Sean Arent, Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program Manager, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

Andrea Jones, Government Relations and Public Policy Director, Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc.

Lizzie Adams, Green Party of Florida

Lois Gagnon, Co-Chair, Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts

Doug Rawlings, Veterans For Peace Maine Chapter

Mario Galvan, Sacramento Area Peace Action

Gary Butterfield, President, San Diego Veterans For Peace

Michael Lindley, President, Veterans For Peace Los Angeles

Dave Logsdon, President, Twin Cities Veterans For Peace

Bill Christofferson, Veterans For Peace, Milwaukee Chapter 102

Philip Anderson, Veterans For Peace Chapter 80 Duluth Superior

John Michael O’Leary, Vice President, Veterans For Peace Chapter 104 in Evansville, Indiana

Jim Wohlgemuth, Veterans For Peace The Hector Black Chapter

Kenneth Mayers, Chapter Secretary, Veterans for Peace Santa Fe Chapter

Chelsea Faria, Demilitarize Western Mass

Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Program Director, Center for Nonviolent Solutions, Worcester, MA

Mari Inoue, Co-Founder, Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World

The Rev. Dr. Peter Kakos, Maureen Flannery, Nuclear Free Future Coalition of Western Mass

Douglas W. Renick, Chair, Haydenville Congregational Church Peace and Justice Steering Committee

Richard Ochs, Baltimore Peace Action

Max Obuszewski, Janice Sevre-Duszynka, Baltimore Nonviolence Center

Arnold Matlin, Co-Convenor, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace

The Rev. Julia Dorsey Loomis, Hampton Roads Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (HRCAN)

Lorie Cartwright, Trustee, New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution Inc.

Jessie Pauline Collins, Co-Chair, Citizens’ Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT)

Keith Gunter, Chair, Alliance To Halt Fermi-3

Hendrica Regez, Chair, Galena Green Team

Julie Levine, Co-Director, MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles

H.T Snider, Chair, One Sunny Day Initiatives

Topanga Peace Alliance

Ellen Thomas, Director, Proposition One Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Future

Lynn Sableman, Branch President, WILPF St. Louis

Mary Faulkner, President, League of Women Voters of Duluth

Sister Clare Carter, New England Peace Pagoda

Tracy Powell, No More Bombs

Ann Suellentrop, Program Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City

Robert M. Gould, MD, President, San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility

Cynthia Papermaster, Coordinator, CODEPINK San Francisco Bay Area

Patricia Hynes, Traprock Center for Peace and Justice

Christopher Allred, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

Jane Brown, Newton Dialogues on Peace and War

Steve Baggarly, Norfolk Catholic Worker

Mary S Rider and Patrick O’Neill, Founders, Father Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker

Jill Haberman, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi

Rev. Terrence Moran, Director, Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity/Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

Thomas Nieland, President Emeritus, UUFHCT, Alamo, TX

Henry M. Stoever, Co-Chair, PeaceWorks Kansas City

Rosalie Paul, Coordinator, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Maine

New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NYCAN)

Craig S. Thompson, White House Antinuclear Peace Vigil

Jim Schulman, President, A Thousand Friends of Virginia’s Future

Mary Gourdoux, Border Peace Presence

Alice Sturm Sutter, Uptown Progressive Action, New York City

Donna Gould, Rise and Resist NY

Anne Craig, Reject Raytheon Asheville

Nancy C. Tate, LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern)

Marcia Halligan, Kickapoo Peace Circle

Marie Dennis, Assisi Community

Mary Shesgreen, Chair, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice

Jean Stevens, Director, Taos Environmental Film Festival

Mari Mennel-Bell, Director, JazzSLAM

Diana Bohn, Coordinator, Nicaragua Center for Community Action

Nicholas Cantrell, President, Green Future Wealth Management

Mary Hanson, Chair, Seattle Fellowship of Reconciliation

Charles Michaels, Coordinator, Pax Christi Baltimore

Sven Lovegren, Coordinator, UUCA Peace Network

Rachel Roberts Bliss, Founder and Administrator, Western North Carolina for Peace

Jane Leatherman Van Praag, President, Wilco Justice Alliance (Williamson County, TX)

Ernes Fuller, Vice Chair, Concerned Citizens for SNEC Safety (CCSS)

The World Is My Country

Carmen Trotta, Catholic Worker

Paul Corell, Shut Down Indian Point Now!

Patricia Always, West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

Thea Paneth, Arlington United for Justice with Peace

Carol Gilbert, OP, Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters

Susan Entin, Church of St. Augustine, St. Martin

Maureen Doyle, MA Green Rainbow Party

Lorraine Krofchok, Director, Grandmothers for Peace International

Jasmin Nario-Galace, Facilitation Committee, Pax Christi Asia-Pacific

Bill Kidd, MSP, Convenor, Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament

Ed Lehman, President, Regina Peace Council

Dr David Hutchinson Edgar, Chairperson, Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament / An Feachtas um Dhí-Armáil Núicléach

Marian Pallister, Chair, Pax Christi Scotland

Ranjith S Jayasekera, Vice President, Sri-Lanka Doctors for Peace and Development

Juan Gomez, Chilean Coordinator, Movimiento Por Un Mundo Sin Guerras Y Sin Violencia

Darien Castro, Co-Founder, Wings for Amazon Project

Loreta Castro, Co-President, Pax Christi Philippines

Lynda Forbes, Secretary, Hunter Peace Group Newcastle, Australia