Medea Benjamin

Bring the troops home, but also stop the bombing

As our nation debates the merits of President Trump’s call for withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, absent from the debate is the more pernicious aspect of U.S. military involvement overseas: its air wars. Trump’s announcement and General Mattis’ resignation should unleash a national discussion about U.S. involvement in overseas conflicts, but no evaluation can be meaningful without a clear understanding of the violence that U.S. air wars have unleashed on the rest of the world for the past 17 years.

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Here's why Green New Deal advocates should address militarism

In the spirit of a new year and a new Congress, 2019 may well be our best and last opportunity to steer our ship of state away from the twin planetary perils of environmental chaos and militarism, charting a course toward an earth-affirming 21st century.

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Will the new House Democrats take on the war lobby?

A new Democratic majority will take charge in the U.S. House of Representatives in January, thanks to a remarkable rebound in public participation in U.S. elections. Based on early data, it appears that over 49 percent of eligible voters showed up at the polls this year, compared to a 70-year low of 36.4 percent in the last midterm in 2014. More than ever before, the Democrats should thank young voters for their success, as 18-to-39-year-olds appear to have voted for them by a two to one margin.

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Trump Bullying Will Hurt Millions of Iranians

Treating the welfare of the Iranians people like a TV show, Donald Trump used a meme from Game of Thrones—an arrogant, stylized photo of himself with the tagline: “Sanctions Are Coming November 5”—to announce the new round of crippling sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports, banks and shipping.

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Who Represents You - Peacemakers, Warmongers or Fence Sitters?

As a foreign policy crisis explodes over the apparent Saudi assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul, the failure of the U.S. Congress to assert its constitutional war powers over three years of illegal U.S. military action in the war on Yemen and booming U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners is finally coming home to roost.

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Khashoggi Is the Tip of the Bloody Iceberg: 10 More Reasons to Cut the U.S.-Saudi Alliance

Saudi Arabia has made headlines recently for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. What happened to Khashoggi is certainly tragic, but it’s far from the only crime committed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Despite Saudi Arabia’s history of thuggery, the United States has been cozy with the kingdom for decades. Here are 10 reasons why the U.S. should not have this nefarious alliance with the Saudi kingdom.

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Here's the Perfect Plan to Troll Trump's Ridiculous Military Parade

The best thing about Donald Trump’s visit to England and Scotland was the protests—or Carnival of Resistance, as some called them. Their outrageous signs, costumes, and visuals, including the Baby Trump blimp, were in contrast to our oftentimes sedate U.S. demonstrations. That’s why a GoFundMe has been started to make Baby Trump Blimp the Guest of Honor at the November 10th protest against Trump’s scheduled military parade in Washington, D.C. The American public would certainly get a lift from an oversized Trump in a diaper hovering above Trump’s macho display of guns and missiles.

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Why Is a Retired Accountant from Texas Risking His Life to Sail to Gaza?

On the heels of the Great March of Return in Gaza, when Israeli soldiers killed 112 Palestinian protesters and wounded thousands more, a four-ship Freedom Flotilla will set sail for Gaza this month from a port in the Mediterranean Sea. Although it is an act of piracy for Israel to confiscate ships in international waters, the Israeli military will most likely do just that. The very first Freedom Flotilla boats traveled to Gaza in 2008, and four managed to get there—the first international boats to do so in over 40 years. Since then, however, the Israelis have intercepted every boat. But the heroic attempts to reach Gaza, year after year, draw international attention to the siege and the plight of the Palestinians who live there.

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How the War Industry Corrupts the U.S. Congress

Former President Jimmy Carter has called U.S. politics a system of “legalized bribery” in which powerful interests spend billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign funding to ensure that members of Congress pay more attention to them than to the general public. With the upcoming midterm elections, we will see the full force of this tsunami of cash washing over our electoral system.

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While Clinching Deals With Communist China, Trump Cracks Down on Trade and Travel to Cuba

On Wednesday, November 8, just as President Trump was clinching new business deals with the repressive Communist government of China, the Trump administration announced its new rules rolling back President Obama’s opening with Cuba. The new regulations restricting travel and trade with the Caribbean island will make it once again illegal for Americans to travel to Cuba without a special license from the Treasury Department and will dramatically reduce the number of Americans traveling there.

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Being Mentored by Henry Kissinger Isn't Something a Presidential Candidate Should Brag About

At the February 11 Democratic Debate, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton had a spirited exchange about an unlikely topic: Henry Kissinger, the 92-year-old former Secretary of State. Sanders berated Clinton for saying she appreciated the foreign policy mentoring she got from Henry Kissinger. “I happen to believe,” Sanders said, “that Henry Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country.”

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One More Reason to Re-Evaluate the Toxic U.S.-Saudi Alliance

The brutal Saudi execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr has led to protests around the globe, as well as the burning of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, followed by the Saudi severing of relations with Iran. This exacerbation of Sunni-Shia tensions is the result of the reckless Saudi action against a popular, nonviolent Shia leader. Also reckless is the US government’s response, which has failed to condemn the Saudi government and distance itself from the abusive regime.

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Hillary Clinton Hasn’t Learned a Thing from Iraq

As the first Democratic presidential debate drew to a close, moderator Anderson Cooper posed a question to Hillary Clinton: How might her presidency differ from Barack Obama’s?

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Got Peace? Here's a Democratic Debate Guide to Ending War

What will happen at the first 2016 Democratic Party presidential debate when a Socialist, War Hawk, Vietnam Veteran, anti-Iraq war opponent & former Maryland Governor take the stage? 

We don’t know either, but what we do know is there are a number of key issues about respect, cooperation and demilitarization that are missing from the national debates, as we’ve seen from the Republican Party thus far. 

We’d like to remind all candidates, Democratic or Republican, that U.S. foreign and domestic policies should not be based on war and policing.

As a conscious guide for candidates to address a country that is war-weary and struggling for racial justice, the women’s peace group, CODEPINK, created a 10-point peace platform, with a list of values and actions to transition the U.S. out of a war-based economy. 

View the first Democratic Party debate on Tuesday, October 13th on CNN and use the CODEPINK #President4Peace social media toolkit to gauge a candidate’s stance on the 10-peace positions.

1. REDUCE MILITARY SPENDING, INVEST AT HOME
Dramatically reduce military spending, with the freed-up funds to be invested in sustainable energy projects, infrastructure, care for veterans, education, housing, tax cuts for the lowest incomes, humanitarian aid, and payment of the federal debt. Create a transition program for workers to move from military- to peace-based jobs.

2. USE DIPLOMACY FIRST
Continue the policies started under the Obama Administration of making peace with Cuba and Iran, and extend to other conflict areas of the world, including North Korea. Cease US military involvement and  support diplomatic resolutions in the Middle East, including Israel-Palestine.

3. ABIDE BY INTERNATIONAL LAW - NO UNAUTHORIZED WARS
Abolish the presidential kill list, stop using weaponized drones for extrajudicial assassinations, and support a global treaty banning these weapons systems. Cease the practice of launching wars not authorized by Congress or the United Nations.

4. WORK TOWARD A NUCLEAR-FREE, PEACEFUL WORLD
Abide by obligations under the NonProliferation Treaty (NPT) to cut the US nuclear arsenal and promote a nuclear-free world. Stop intimidating Russia; end NATO expansion on its borders. Remove the missile defense systems from Europe.

5. PROMOTE WOMEN IN PEACEMAKING
Uphold UN Security Council Resolution 1325 that calls for the full involvement of women in preventing, resolving, and recovering from conflict.

6. CLOSE OVERSEAS MILITARY BASES
The United States spends at least $100 billion a year on over 800 bases in 70 nations, not counting permanent ongoing trainings and exercises. Close all foreign military bases.

7. OBSERVE US LAW PROHIBITING THE SALE OF WEAPONS TO HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS
Stop the practice of giving or selling weapons to countries that are human rights violators, such as Bahrain, Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

8. END THE MILITARIZATION OF POLICE DEPARTMENTS AND US BORDERS
End the policy of transferring military-grade weaponry and surveillance equipment from the military to local police departments. End the militarization of our national borders.

9. STOP ILLEGAL DETENTION OF PRISONERS IN GUANTANAMO AND ELSEWHERE, HOLD TORTURERS ACCOUNTABLE
Release prisoners who have been cleared for release and try the others in federal courts. Arrest and put on trial US personnel who engaged in torture. Close Gitmo

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10 Reasons to Oppose the Saudi Monarchy

During the discussion on the Iran nuclear deal, it has been strange to hear US politicians fiercely condemn Iranian human rights abuses while remaining silent about worse abuses by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia. Not only is the Saudi regime repressive at home and abroad, but U.S. weapons and U.S. support for the regime make Americans complicit. So let’s look at the regime our government counts as its close friend.

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10 Steps to Wean U.S. Foreign Policy off Militarism

This article was originally published in Telesur.

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El Salvador's Draconian Abortion Laws: A Miscarriage of Justice

“We are here to speak for them, to call for their release. When there is an injustice, silence is complicity,” said Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of the Americas Watch and a decades-long advocate for human rights in Latin America. He was referring to the 17 women, known as Las 17, who are currently serving 30-year sentences in prison for having miscarriages in El Salvador. 

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How Billionaire-Backed Lobby Groups Are Trying to Squash Iran Nuclear Deal

This story originally appeared in Telesur.

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No Room For Business as Usual at the Summit of the Americas

This story originally appeared in Telesur.

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In Busting Peace Efforts, Israel Lobby Group May Be Sabotaging Itself

Early in the morning of March 3, on AIPAC’s national lobby day and just hours before Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was set to address the joint session of Congress, AIPAC President Robert Cohen, along with the group’s Policy Director and two associates, briskly approached the Congressional office of Speaker of the House John Boehner. To their horror, they found the office locked and surrounded by crowd of CODEPINK activists staging a sit-in to protest the Netanyahu speech. After trying unsuccessfully to get in a side door, the AIPAC officials scurried away. But a CODEPINK swarm followed through the maze of Congressional halls, thrilled at the unique opportunity to confront the powerful AIPAC officials about their efforts to quash a nuclear deal with Iran.

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Hagel’s Departure Should Open Debate on Obama’s Wars

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was supposed to steer the Pentagon away from a decade of war, including bringing US troops home from Afghanistan and paving the way for a reduction in the Pentagon budget. Instead, the Obama administration has opted for remaining in Afghanistan, continuing the disastrous drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen, and dragging our nation into another round of military involvement in Iraq, as well as Syria. The ISIL crises has also been used as a justification for not cutting the Pentagon budget, as required by sequestration.

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Help Kill An American By Drone, Get a Promotion: The Case of Lawyer David Barron

If you think that as a United States citizen you’re entitled to a trial by jury before the government can decide to kill you–– you’re wrong. During his stint as a lawyer at the Department of Justice, David Barron was able to manipulate constitutional law so as to legally justify killing American citizens with drone strikes. If you’re wondering what the justification for that is, that’s just too bad - the legal memos are classified. Sounds a little suspicious, doesn’t it? What’s even more suspicious is that now the Obama Administration wants to appoint the lawyer who wrote that legal memos to become a high-ranking judge for life.

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Pakistani Journalist Who Lost His Brother and Son to a Drone Strike Has Been Kidnapped

In October 2012, I was with a CODEPINK delegation in Pakistan meeting families impacted by US drone strikes. Kareem Khan, a journalist from the tribal area of Waziristan, told us the heartbreaking story of a drone strike that killed his son and brother. Since then, Khan has been seeking justice through the Pakistani courts and organizing other drone strike victims. On February 10, he planned to fly to Europe for meetings with German, Dutch and British parliamentarians to discuss the negative impact drones are having on Pakistan. But days before his trip, in the early hours of the morning on February 5, he was kidnapped from his home in Rawalpindi by 15-20 men in police uniform and plain clothes. He has not been seen since.

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How the Turmoil in Egypt Is Causing Greater Suffering in Gaza

It unfortunately has become a truism that when Egypt sneezes, Gaza catches a cold. Fearful of the "terrorist elements" automatically associated with Hamas, the governing party in Gaza, neighbouring Egypt is quick to shut what amounts to "prison gates" at the first sign of turmoil either inside or outside the densely populated strip. Israel keeps its own crossings into Gaza on permanent lock-down, with permitted traffic a bare trickle, while also prohibiting travel by air and sea.

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How You (and President Obama) Can Close Guantanamo Prison

Yesterday, July 1, marked the first day in office for Clifford Sloan, newly appointed Guantanamo closure envoy. Shortly after his May address on counterterrorism, President Obama appointed Sloan to the Office of Guantanamo Closure in the State Department, a position that had been vacant since January. The appointment and reopening of the office is the only concrete step the President has taken concerning Guantanamo since his May speech. With over 100 of the 166 remaining prisoners on a hunger strike and over 40 being brutally force-fed, great hopes are being placed on Mr. Sloan to break the impasse.

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US Refusal to Release Gitmo Prisoners Is a National Offense for Yemenis

“In Yemen we are close to the bottom in all kinds of measures like income and education, but there’s one statistic where we come out on top: the number of prisoners in Guantanamo,” laughed Mohammad Naji Allaw, a successful Yemeni lawyer who ploughs his firm’s profits into the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms. “Over 90 of 166 Guantanamo prisoners are from Yemen. Most of them, 56 to be exact, have already been cleared by the US government for release but the US government still won’t send them back.”

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