Most people of a certain age are familiar with the old saying that goes something like this: “You can catch more flies with a spoonful of honey than with a barrel of vinegar.” That philosophy informs my approach in promoting peace while wearing my 51-year-old U.S. Army dress uniform and carrying a peace flag. I am unfailingly friendly, courteous and cheery when greeting people at various venues, most recently over the weekend when the Minnesota Twins were in town for a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians.[Read more…]
Saturday, July 6–With Major League Baseball’s decision to hold its 2019 All-Star game in Cleveland on Tuesday, July 9, I once again saw a golden opportunity to promote peace on a national–if not world stage–just as I was able to do three years ago when the Republican National Convention was held in Cleveland. Several baseball-related activities a few days before the All-Star game provided peace-promotion opportunities, particularly near the PlayBall Park held in the Huntington Convention Center on Lakeside Avenue, with outdoor activities nearby.[Read more…]
If you agree with our press statement below, contact your Senators and ask them to support S.1039 – Prevention of Unconstitutional War with Iran Act of 2019. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or use this link from AFSC.
This statement by Don Bryant and Francis Chiappa was sent to the media on June 20, 2019
Cleveland Peace Action calls on the Trump Administration to reverse military escalations in the Gulf of Oman and vicinity, to cease its bellicose and dangerous rhetoric, and to either return to the bargaining table with Iran or opt back in to the Iran-US nuclear agreement. While Secretary of State Pompeo was swift to blame Iran for the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last Thursday, saying “the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman…that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high degree of sophistication.” Yet there are at least three other proxy groups operating in the area that have such military capabilities: the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Israel. We should be wary of false intelligence as it has justified past wars.
Escalatory statements and actions from the Trump Administration raise the possibility of war, either by intention or miscalculation and accident. The Trump Administration is counting on the American public to be sufficiently outraged and to support a war. Europe and China are opposed to war in the region. Many, if not a majority in Congress, are wary of this march towards war and there are bills under consideration to prevent the Administration from initiating war. The American public might be less inclined towards war if they knew that the U.S. is taking sides in a regional conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. And that we have taken the side of Saudi Arabia, whose regime is clearly more brutal and repressive than Iran’s.
The Trump Administration has been far too cozy with the Saudis, doing its bidding in the region. This has included withdrawing from the nuclear agreement, issuing economic sanctions on Iran, and now building up military forces in Iran’s backyard. These actions have only emboldened hard-liners in Iran, in mirror-image of U.S. policy, making war a real possibility.
It’s time to de-escalate tensions and focus instead on restraint and diplomatic solutions.
by Mark Weber
Steve Cagan’s very informative talk last night got me to thinking. He mentioned that the United States was less of a presence in Colombia now than in years past. In the early 2000’s there was in South America what journalists dubbed the “pink tide.” In countries like Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, and Venezuela socialist or left populists came to power. Most famous was the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez. The United States feared that Colombia might be “lost” as well. Insurgent forces in Colombia controlled almost half of the country. I think these were mainly the FARC and the ELN, the two largest groups of insurgents at that time. The United States was determined to keep Colombia as an ally. U.S. representatives worked with then President Uribe (elected in 2002). The result was an agreement called Plan Colombia coupled with counterinsurgency training, which resulted in a spike in U.S. assistance making Colombia the highest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel. With an increase in military aid and funds for aerial spraying of some coca growers in the remote parts of the country, Colombia moved much closer to the top of the U.S. strategic priority list. The aerial spraying program was and continues to be a failure. However, Plan Colombia called for and Uribe implemented a kind of “militarization” of the entire country. This partly resulted in turning the tide in the ongoing civil war with the insurgents led by the FARC. In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement and then in 2016, the Colombian Government under the successor to Uribe, President Santos, signed a “peace agreement” with the FARC. In Washington, Colombia was seen as being on the road to “normalization.” In addition the “pink tide” has now receded with right-wing victories in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and in Colombia as Uribe’s puppet, Ivan Duque, succeeded Santos after narrowly beating a leftist candidate who was once a member of the insurgent group M-19. In addition, the ongoing economic and political crisis in Venezuela has taken Colombia out of the political spotlight. Of course, as Steve’s presentation powerfully asserted: Colombia remains an unhappy land with a decline in insurgent fighting but with a rise in targeted killings and other forms of localized violence against citizens whose only agenda is a better life.
My effort to promote peace Tuesday evening got off to a pleasant, wry start on East Fourth Street in downtown Cleveland while heading to The Jake–er, I mean Progressive Field- to greet drivers and pedestrians on their way to the match-up between the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians–the Battle of Ohio. Of course I was wearing my rather tight 51-year-old U.S. Army dress uniform and carrying my peace flag.
I was stopped by a man who, after seeing me walk by an outdoor table of a restaurant, ran up to me. He appreciated very much my peace message. I asked if he also is a Vietnam veteran and he answered in the affirmative. I asked what year he was there. When he indicated it was the early ’70s I said, “Aw, you missed out on the Tet Offensive” (Jan-Feb, 1968). He said, “Yeah, but we still saw plenty of action.” He was in the army’s Signal Corps, in the Mekong Delta. I elaborated on the intentions of my presence, saying, “We need much more peace, civility, tolerance, mutual respect and compassion in our society. They’ve been in short supply the last few years.” He smiled and said, “Since 2016?” I too smiled, as each of us knew what the other was thinking. “Yeah,” I said. “Funny coincidence…it began with the Trump campaign.”[Read more…]