All-Star Weekend with Lou

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.        

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Stop the march towards war with Iran!

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.  

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Colombia In Context

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.

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Do Baseball Fans Love Peace Flags?

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.”     

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A Trip to Colombia

By Mark Weber

Colombia, a South American nation of about 43 million people is seldom in the news. It is a beautiful country endowed with a biodiversity exceeded only by that of Brazil. However, it is a nation with the worst human rights record in the world. More targeted killings occur in Colombia than the rest of the world combined. Together, an oligarchy of the military, the large landowners, the church, narco-traffickers,  and conservative business elite run the country through a combination of selective enforcement of the law and outright intimidation up to and including murder. Colombia is a worn-torn nation that has just emerged from a 55-year-old civil war with several insurgent groups…Most notably the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), and the National Liberation Front (ELN).

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