Three Anti-war Activism Updates

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The U.S. and its international allies are within reach of a peaceful resolution to the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Negotiations about Iran's nuclear program look very promising, with a framework agreement likely by March and a final deal possible by a June deadline. You may have seen promising media reports in the last day or two about negotiations in Geneva between Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, which is very good news.

However, conservative senators and even some supposed liberals are dead set on imposing new economic sanctions on Iran, which will risk scuttling the talks and putting us on a reckless path toward yet another Middle East war.

Contact your senators today and tell them diplomacy is the only answer, not more sanctions and threats of war.

We stopped sanctions last year, and intend to do it again, but your senators need to hear from you today. The new sanctions bill is scheduled to move through the Senate Banking Committee starting next week, with a full Senate vote expected in February or March. That may sound like we have a bit of time, but, unfortunately, pro-sanctions forces are lobbying hard, and senators may well decide their positions on this issue very soon, so this alert is extremely urgent.
While some senators claim their push for new sanctions is intended to support diplomacy, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) let the cat out of the proverbial bag, stating “The end of negotiations isn’t an unintended consequence of congressional action; it’s an intended consequence.”

Please take a few minutes to contact your senators today.

This may be one of the most important actions for peace you could take this or any year. After you’ve sent your email to your senators, if you want to do more, please visit our Peace Blog for a target list of Democratic senators and sample letters to the editor for you to write a letter to your local newspaper, still one of the best ways for us to get our views out to a wide audience (and to senators as well, their staffs monitor the letters to the editor pages religiously).
Humbly for Peace,

Kevin Martin
Executive Director
Peace Action
P.S. - When you go to our action page please take a few minutes to edit the letter to your senators in order to personalize your message.

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Invest in Peace

Peace Action: Working for Peace Since 1957
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Far too often, Congressional representatives say, "the government is broke" as they cut vital public services and continue to dole out 53% of annual discretionary spending to the Pentagon and huge subsidies to Big Oil.  And 2015 looks like we are in for a real battle on national spending priorities.
We need to send them a message about the social spending we need and the corporate welfare for Big Oil and defense contractors we don’t.
For over a century, special tax breaks for oil and gas companies have been on the books—and over the next decade they could cost taxpayers as much as $100 billion.
Did you know that in 2014 these Big Oil subsidies could have bought 1.1 million Pell grants? Or 200,000 Park Rangers? Or healthcare for 2.1 million combat veterans?
Our communities and, countries around the world, are paying the price for distorted national spending priorities and wars for control of oil.
The reason for all this free money isn’t a mystery. Last November, the Koch brothers spent millions to purchase the best Congress their dirty oil money could buy. In fact, in this past election cycle, the oil and gas industry alone spent more than $50 million to elect industry champions and climate deniers.
This explains why government programs that feed the hungry and heal the sick must struggle for funding, while billions of our tax dollars are still being sent to Big Oil in the form of tax subsidies and other special interest giveaways. And why the waste in the Pentagon budget goes unchecked. 
Power to the peaceful,
Judith LeBlanc
Field Director
Peace Action
PS: Please forward this email to your friends.  Ask them to help us roll back these giveaways.

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Peace Action has joined Friends of the Earth and twelve national groups to take a stand against business-as-usual spending priorities. Together, we are releasing a Fossil Fuel Subsidies Tradeoff Calculator — an online tool that compares the cost of government giveaways to Big Oil to the cost of crucial social programs, such as food stamps, Pell grants, healthcare for veterans, and many others.


Invest in Peace
15 January 2015
No Glory in War: Review of 2014
A year of activity countering attempts to gorify the First World War in the year of its centenary

Think back twelve months. Last January we feared the conscription of the nation, as Eric Pickles and Michael Gove unleashed a chorus of Jingo and Hero, blending sobs and hurrahs in their zeal to banish the war poets, silence Blackadder and restore the glorious propaganda of John Buchan and his chums.

On came the waves of revisionist spin. Gove used the Daily Mail to attack ‘left-wing myths’ that the war was ‘a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite.’ The BBC let Max Hastings play historian, so disastrously that even pro-war historian Sir Hew Strachan blanched when Hastings swallowed without suspicion the line about Britain entering the war to defend Belgian democracy.

The Economist asked if we were stumbling into world war again. It compared modern America to 1914 Britain, a superpower on the wane, and modern China to Germany, ‘a new economic power bristling with nationalist indignation’. Yet its article never mentioned the Ukraine which, in the event, proved the year’s most potent parallel of 1914.

The BBC filled its schedules with great war output, much of it magnificent. But sadly it reserved its main historical analysis for the likes of Jeremy Paxman, Dan Snow and Niall Ferguson, as well as Hastings and Strachan. For a time it felt like revisionists controlled the airwaves.

And in January we sadly lost Roger Lloyd Pack, the fine actor who spoke widely on political issues and gave much support to No Glory, Stop the War and the People’s Assembly.

So, not a good start to the year, but gradually a reaction grew. Simon Jenkins wrote, ‘I must apologise to the Germans. They are about to suffer an avalanche of often sickening Great War memorabilia … the British at their worst: sanctimonious, self-congratulatory, worshipping at the tomb of the unknown, awful German.’

More establishment voices joined Jenkins in decrying the government’s plans. The No Glory website started generating serious traffic. Our pamphlet by historian Neil Faulkner The Real History of the First World War sold strongly. Local groups organised events nationwide. Messages of support arrived from abroad.

There was pressure for debate about the start of the war. In a typical historians’ event at the British Library in February, Neil Faulkner stood alone in stressing the imperialist interests at the heart of the conflict. He also came up against Max Hastings on a Radio Two phone-in where, once again, an establishment pundit was baffled at the notion some forces within Britain might actually want war.

On 15th May, hundreds of people crammed into St Giles-in-the-Fields church in London to hear a No Glory evening of poetry and music. Michael Rosen read in French and German, AL Kennedy read her Letter to an Unknown Soldier, George Szirtes and Blake Morrison shared work, and Sam West made Wilfred Owen sing out afresh.

In June, the Government announced £1m to set up 100 new army cadet units in state schools to ‘ensure that as many young people as possible can benefit from military-themed activities’. It’s hard to think of a less appropriate way to commemorate the jingoistic militarisation that helped foster World War One. As historians Alan Bishop and Mark Bostridge explained, the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC) ‘provided the institutional mechanism for public school militarism … and contributed to the generation of 1914’s overwhelming willingness to march off in search of glory.’

The summer of 2014 proved as beautiful and unending as that of 1914, described by Vera Brittain as ‘the one perfect summer idyll that I ever experienced.’

July saw a campaign to write a Letter to an Unknown Soldier, part of the 14-18 NOW cultural programme. This inspired many to create poignant bridges with the past. It also triggered a letter from David Cameron, claiming ‘our world have been far darker if you had declined the call to act … from your toil and sacrifice there will be a better world.’ Thanks Dave, why not brighten the world with another war?

Come 4th August 2014, the day the war started 100 years before, the government had little to say beyond let’s turn the lights out for an hour or so. Yes, Cameron did hold hands with the French and German leaders, but it was lowkey. No Glory held rallies in Parliament Square and Glasgow (close to the Commonwealth Games) and focused on the political failure and horrific number of those killed or wounded in the war.

On 25th October No Glory organised a major conference on 1914-2014: One Hundred Years of War, at which one of the keynote speakers was Adam Hochschild from the United States, whose recent book The War to End All Wars is already regarded as a classic.

Learning new things

So much attention was focused on WW1 last year that many interesting perspectives emerged. Beyond the traditional narrative of the trenches, we found out more for example about the role of women, the numbers of conscientious objectors and their fate, the use of slave labour and the role of colonial conscripts. Every day during August, the No Glory website presented a different foreign language poem from the war - the poetry of the First World War you don't study at school.

We learnt about anti-slavery hero ED Morel -- the journalist acclaimed for exposing corruption in the Congo, but then jailed during the war for campaigning against it. We heard how the Daily Mail vilified Charlie Chaplin in Hollywood. We read about Africans rising up against their colonial overlords.

The Campaign against the Arms Trade (CAAT) reminded us how big arms companies exploited the war. The White Feather Diaries helped draw attention to those who opposed war.

Richard Mabey, one of Britain's best-loved nature writers, wrote about poppies and skylarks among the horrors of World War One.

No Glory made culture a feature of its campaigning throughout the year -- whether it was art, poetry, video, music -- and our final event of 2014 was a fantastic concert from radical songwriter Robb Johnson. His Gentle Men song cycle conveyed all the anger at the heart of our campaign, along with compassion for those who had done the fighting and the dying.

Those red and white poppies

The river of poppies at the Tower of London drew millions of visitors. Some commentators were appalled by this, others preferred not to judge how people grieve. But the government wanted feelgood grief and that's what the Tower poppies provided: grief without anger.

But wouldn’t it have been amazing – the actor Sheila Hancock told the BBC – if suddenly without warning a line of lawnmowers was sent in to harvest those lovely poppies. What better way to bring home the horror of a war that slaughtered over 20 million, close to one million of them British soldiers?

As 2014 Remembrance Day approached, the demand for white poppies could not be met, as thousands of people chose to wear a symbol of peace that said, 'never again'. On 9 November Remembrance Day veterans from more recent wars marched to the Cenotaph carrying a wreath of white poppies.

Much more to do

Just as the war in 1914 was not over by Christmas -- as the soldiers believed or were promised -- our campaign continues to counter attempts to glorify a war that the politician said would be 'the war to end all wars', but which in fact heralded 100 years of UK wars.

No Glory's original purpose, as announced in the open letter that launched our campaign, remains: to help ensure that this anniversary is used to promote peace and international co-operation.
Our thanks to everyone who has supported us through the year. We are particularly grateful to those who have given us donations, which have enabled us to fund our small office and finance our events.

No Glory in War's 2014 Awards

1) The most cynical exploitation of WW1 for commercial gain – the Sainsburys Xmas Truce advert.

2) The crassest castration of an anti-war song – Jeff Beck and Joss Stone for their cut-down version of Eric Bogle’s classic The Green Fields of France.

3) The dumbest statement by a politician to glorify WW1 – Michael Gove claiming Britain fought WW1 for ‘western liberal values’.

4) The most disappointing statement by a politician to glorify the 'war to end all wars': Barack Obama whitewashing WW1.

5) The most blatant hijacking of the Red Cross campaign by the arms industry – Lockheed Martin sponsoring the Poppy Rocks Ball.

6) The most prettified and toothless war memorial – the river of red poppies around the Tower of London.

7) The Paxman Prize for glib nastiness –  sneering to the granddaughter of a WW1 conscientious objector that her grandfather was a ‘crank’ and ‘just being awkward’.
8) Award for most egregious toadying of the government – the BBC giving the reins of its documentaries about the start of the war to Max Hastings, Jeremy Paxman and Niall Ferguson.

9) Best contemporary comment on WW1 – remains Harry Patch’s description of the war as ‘legalised mass-murder’.