With the U.S. military overstretched by the war in Iraq, the dollar weakened, the federal budget deep in the red, and countries like China and India on the economic rise, it looks like the United States’ brief run as the world’s sole superpower is coming to a close. But that doesn’t have to mean a change for the worse.
What if the United States cut back on military spending, abolished nuclear weapons, and used the billions saved to support peace and welfare at home and overseas? What if we started a national dialogue in our communities about America’s role in the world? As the A Just Foreign Policy issue of YES! illustrates, you can make it happen.
Vote for peace in your city or town. Talk to the media and your elected officials. Support returning veterans. Start conversations with your neighbors about how to create a just world. Here are some resources to help you get started:
:: GET INFORMED
:: TAKE ACTION AND GET CONNECTED
An important first step to healing our country may be helping our communities and returned soldiers cope with the devastating effects of war. The following organizations provide guidance and information.
Iraq War Veterans Organization provides information and links on education, employment, and counseling resources for returning veterans. www.iava.org
Military Veterans PTSD Manual. An online manual for anyone suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following military service, or for the friends and family of veterans with PTSD. www.ptsdmanual.com
Soldier’s Heart: Veteran’s Safe Return Initiatives provides resources for returning veterans and their families and communities (such as retreats and counseling) to deal with the trauma of war. Edward Tick, author of Heal the Warrior, Heal the Country in the Summer 2008 issue of YES!, is director of this organization. www.soldiersheart.net
Vets4Vets provide opportunities for veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq to use peer support to help each other through speaking and listening. It offers support groups, workshops, and trainings around the country. www.Vets4Vets.US
Veterans and Families offers information on how communities and families can prepare for the return of soldiers. www.veteransandfamilies.org
A just foreign policy supports trade that brings profits back to communities. Join the efforts of organizations in the U.S. and around the world working to ensure that everyone has a fair shot at a healthy living standard and a bright future.
50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice is a coalition of grassroots, women's, faith, policy, social and economic justice, youth, labor, and development organizations dedicated to the profound transformation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The Alliance for Responsible Trade offers resources for activists, teachers, and researchers interested in promoting fair trade and halting inequitable trade agreements. www.art-us.org
The Blue Planet Project, started by the Council of Canadians, works to protect water supplies around the world and keep them available to the public and out of corporate control. The group provides information about issues related to water and ideas for taking action. Maude Barlow, author of Life, Liberty, Water, in the Summer 2008 issue of YES! is chair of the Council of Canadians. www.blueplanetproject.net
Common Frontiers Canada provides a “Free Trade Kit” online for unions, churches, international NGOs, anti-poverty groups, women’s groups, environmental groups, human rights organizations, and others interested in how international trade impacts them. The group advocates for trade agreements and policies that would protect the environment, protect the rights and dignity of workers, and create good jobs and decent living standards. www.commonfrontiers.ca
Co-op America supports economic campaigns to promote a just and sustainable planet, and provides resources for action on issues ranging from shareholder rights to fair trade agriculture, the role of business in climate change, and health care for Wal-Mart employees. www.coopamerica.org
Food and Water Watch wants the public to have access to safe water and food. Its website offers opportunities to get involved, find information, write letters to representatives, watch films, choose a water filter, read food labels, make safe consumer choices, and work together for healthy food and water. www.foodandwaterwatch.org
Global Exchange promotes human rights and sustainability through innovative trade, travel, and activism projects; runs an online fair trade store that sells coffee, foods, books, crafts, and clothing; and offers resources on campaigns, events, and online tools for taking action. A brief story on their Reality Tours appears in the Do-It-Yourself Foreign Policy Heroes section of the Summer 2008 issue of YES! www.globalexchange.org
The Jubilee USA Network organizes actions like letter writing campaigns to help relieve developing countries of unfair debt burdens. www.jubileeusa.org
OXFAM, an international development organization, has resources for writing a letter to the World Bank, calling your representative, signing a petition, or joining a campaign for fair trade, health care for all, peace, debt relief for developing nations, or climate change solutions. www.oxfam.org
Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community works to unite faith communities in pursuing economic justice. The group pursues a wide range of issues and has campaigned to draw attention to Wal-Mart’s unjust labor practices, and launched a discussion program on The Great Turning, based on David Korten’s writings. www.uujec.org
United Students against Sweatshops is a student-run network fighting against sweatshops and mistreatment of workers on college campuses. Tactics include a yearly national conference, awareness-raising activities, and direct actions targeting university officials. www.studentsagainstsweatshops.org. For more on USAS, you can also read the Do-It-Yourself Foreign Policy Heroes section of the Summer 2008 issue of YES!
Also, check out United Students for Fair Trade, a similar group working on fair trade. www.usft.org
The world’s 25,000 nuclear weapons (most in U.S. and Russian arsenals) still pose one of the greatest threats to human security. Leaders the world over, on all ends of the political spectrum, are working to abolish nuclear warheads. Through the following organizations, you can help work toward a nuclear ban.
Abolition 2000 is a network of over 2000 organizations in more than 90 countries worldwide working for a global treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons. www.abolition2000.org
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability works to stop nuclear testing and to hold the U.S. government accountable for clean up, waste management, and warhead dismantlement programs. www.ananuclear.org
Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World works with the world’s nuclear nations to promote full disarmament and prevent the development of new nuclear weapons, with a focus on the U.S. nuclear arsenal. www.nuclearweaponsfree.org
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation does education and advocacy work around abolishing nuclear weapons. The group provides resources for action and links to public events to support peace. You can also purchase books and films on peace and nuclear dangers. www.wagingpeace.org
Physicians for Social Responsibility is working to create a world free of nuclear weapons, global environmental pollution, and gun violence. www.psr.org
Ploughshares Fund raises funds to support initiatives aimed at preventing the spread and use of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and other weapons of war, and preventing conflicts that could lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction. www.ploughshares.org
Shundahai Network is dedicated to abolishing nuclear weapons worldwide, stopping the ongoing dumping of nuclear waste at the Nevada Test Site, stopping plans to transport deadly high-level nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain or any Native American land, and ensuring that Native American voices and concerns are heard in the movement to influence U.S. nuclear policies. The late Corbin Harney, founder of the Shundahai Network, is featured in People We Love in the Spring 2007 issue of YES! www.shundahai.org
The Union of Concerned Scientists organizes a global security campaign that advocates for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The website provides information, action alerts, and an email newsletter. www.ucsusa.org/global_security
End War and Promote Diplomacy
The 3D Security Initiative (development, diplomacy, defense) encourages policymakers to pursue peacebuilding efforts based on diplomacy and development. The website provides ideas for getting involved, participating in an online community, spreading the word, organizing a community event, making fair-trade and sustainable consumer choices, and contacting leaders in Congress. www.3dsecurity.org
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute offers small grants for grassroots nonviolence social justice projects. www.ajmuste.org
American Friends Service Committee carries out service, development, social justice, and peace programs throughout the world. It is currently running campaigns on the Iraq war, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, debt forgiveness for African countries, military base closures and fair trade.For more on base closures, refer to the Do-It-Yourself Foreign Policy Heroes section of the Summer 2008 issue of YES! www.afsc.org
Beyond War is a community of people from around the world committed to ending the use of warfare. The group provides a study series on nonviolence and runs a campaign to establish public spaces and gardens for peace (much like veterans’ memorials, but honoring peace). www.beyondwar.org
Cities for Peace/Cities for Progress, a program of the Institute for Policy Studies, offers a toolkit for anyone seeking to campaign for a citywide or local resolution for peace. More than 200 cities have passed resolutions urging the federal government to bring troops home from Iraq. The group also provides toolkits for resolutions urging peaceful diplomacy with Iran. Karen Dolan, co-author of Cities Declare Peace in the Summer 2008 issue of YES!, leads this project. www.citiesforpeace.org
CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars, and redirect American resources into healthcare, education, and other life-affirming activities. www.codepink4peace.org
The Fellowship of Reconciliation is an interfaith group working for nonviolence, peace, and justice. The group provides action alerts and a calendar of peace and faith events and organizes peace delegations and nonviolence trainings. www.forusa.org
The International Solidarity Movement brings people from around the world to participate in nonviolent direct actions and document events on the ground in Palestine. www.palsolidarity.org
Iraq Veterans Against the War gives a voice to the large number of active duty service people and veterans who are against the war in Iraq, but are under various pressures to remain silent. The group’s strategy is to mobilize the military community to withdraw its support for the war and bring the troops home now. www.ivaw.org
Just Foreign Policy provides information on U.S. foreign policy in places like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. The group also coordinates petition and letter-writing actions. www.justforeignpolicy.org
The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund advocates for passage of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill (currently H.R. 1921). When enacted, this law will restore the rights of citizens whose conscience does not permit physical or financial participation in wars. www.peacetaxfund.org
National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation offers a clearinghouse of articles, books, links, trainings, manuals and tools on conversation and dialogue on issues like racism, democracy, peace, arts, and education. The group provides trainings and workshops, news, perspectives, and information on a vast range of peacebuilding and dialogue projects and happenings. www.thataway.org
National Youth and Student Peace Coalition develops national campaigns to advance youth-led social change and response to war. Their agenda, called “Books—Not Bombs!” rallies against prison construction, funding for war, the disclosure of student information to military recruiters, and violations of student civil liberties—and for increased support for education for low-income and immigrant students. www.nyspc.org
The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee provides information on resisting the war through refusal to pay taxes. www.nwtrcc.org
Nonviolent Peaceforce works in coalition with organizations on five continents to set up nonpartisan, unarmed civilian peacekeeping teams. The group has active projects in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, and the Philippines with projects planned for Colombia and Uganda. www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org
PAX Christi USA is a Christian faith group that promotes peace and nonviolence, economic and interracial justice, disarmament, and human rights. www.paxchristiusa.org
Peace Action is America’s largest activist network for peace. Peace Action members work for policy changes in Congress, state capitols, city halls, and the United Nations. www.peace-action.org
The Peace Alliance Campaign to Establish a U.S. Department of Peace is a citizen action organization working toward the creation of a cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace. www.thepeacealliance.org
PeaceTrees Vietnam engages in various peacemaking activities, including landmine clearing and education and medical support related to landmines. www.peacetreesvietnam.org
A Responsible Plan presents a plan for withdrawal from Iraq. More than 30 Democratic House candidates for the 2008 election have signed the petition. See Erik Leaver’s article on this plan in the Summer 2008 issue of YES!
Standupcongress.org gathers information and offers tools to help citizens pressure Congress to end the war in Iraq. www.standupcongress.org
United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of hundreds of peace groups. Their website offers a directory of member peace organizations and a calendar of peace events. www.unitedforpeace.org
U.S. Women and Cuba Collaboration aims to empower diverse women in the U.S. and Cuba to participate in and develop just and peaceful international relations, to deepen global women’s solidarity, and to use a woman-to-woman citizen diplomacy model to craft methods to improve the lives of women in both countries. www.womenandcuba.org
Veterans for Peace is an organization of veterans who seek to raise public awareness of the true costs and consequences of militarism and war and find peaceful, effective alternatives. www.veteransforpeace.org
The War Resisters League makes resources available to activists who want to organize against war and violence, including information for feminist organizers and groups fighting violence against women. www.warresisters.org
The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom is a 90-year-old international women's organization with sections in 37 countries, including the U.S. WILPF works for the equality of all people in a world free of racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and all other oppression; for world disarmament and peaceful resolution of conflicts; and for an end to all forms of violence. www.wilpf.org
Be a Citizen Diplomat
Coalition for Citizen Diplomacy promotes the idea that individual citizens have the right, even the responsibility, to help shape United States foreign relations "one handshake at a time." By opening their homes, offices and schools to foreign visitors participating in exchange programs across the United States, citizen diplomats foster international understanding and cooperation, constructive economic connections, and peaceful interaction. The coalition aims to increase the number of Americans engaged in such efforts. www.coalitionforcitizendiplomacy.org
The Compassionate Listening Project leads delegations to Israel and Palestine and other conflict-torn regions of the world, to facilitate healing and reconciliation through listening. The group also teaches skills for peacemaking for families and communities, on the job, and in social change work locally and globally. www.compassionatelistening.org
Global Exchange Reality Tours give people a chance to experience first-hand how the U.S. is impacting lives in places like Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, Haiti, and Mexico, and connect person-to-person with real people, their cultures, and their political and economic situations. For more, refer to the Do-It-Yourself Foreign Policy Heroes section of the Summer 2008 issue of YES! www.globalexchange.org/tours
Global Citizen Journey leads small delegations on missions of peacebuilding and stewardship to places like Ghana, Burundi, and the Niger Delta. www.globalcitizenjourney.org
The Holy Land Trust works with the Palestinian community developing nonviolent approaches to end the Israeli occupation and build a future founded on the principles of nonviolence, equality, justice, and peaceful coexistence. It offers travel and experiential learning programs that include home stays with Palestinian families. www.holylandtrust.org
Interfaith Peace-Builders, founded by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, organizes U.S. citizen delegations to Israel and Palestine to witness events on the ground. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences with communities at home and work to end the conflict. www.ifpbdel.org
The International Service for Peace (SIPAZ) brings peace observers to Mexico for nonviolence training, observation, and dialog. Formed in 1995 following the Zapatista uprising, SIPAZ now works in Chiapas, Oaxaca, and Guerrero. www.sipaz.org
Peace Brigades International sends international volunteers to areas of conflict, to protect activists threatened with political violence. PBI volunteers stand witness, deterring perpetrators by drawing national and international attention to actual and potential acts of violence. www.peacebrigades.org
The Peace Corps is a U.S. government agency that sends Americans abroad to do service projects. Find out more about the lives of Peace Corps volunteers in the Do-It-Yourself Foreign Policy Heroes section of the Summer 2008 issue of YES! www.peacecorps.gov
Sister Cities International is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities. www.sister-cities.org
A just foreign policy means fair treatment under international law and respect for the human rights of all people. These groups provide resources to citizens who want to stop human rights abuses, such as torture, forced labor, unjust imprisonment, and the suspension of due process. See also the YES! Spring 2007 issue, Is the U.S. Ready for Human Rights?
Amnesty International documents human rights abuses around the world and organizes actions to stop them. www.amnesty.org
Human Rights Watch gathers information on human rights issues and organizes campaigns to stop abuses. www.hrw.org
The Carter Center works on human rights, fights disease, and monitors elections when invited. The website has teacher resources, reports of elections, and other publications. www.cartercenter.org
US Human Rights Network promotes US accountability to universal human rights standards. Underlying all their human rights work is a commitment to challenge the belief that the United States is inherently superior to other countries of the world, and assert that the U.S. government can gain from the domestic application of human rights. www.ushrnetwork.org
:: GET INFORMED
Dig deeper into the issues. Learn about policy. Examine the numbers. Hear from the experts. Find out the truth about lives lost in Iraq, what “free trade” really means for our economy, what possibilities diplomacy holds for our future, and what the U.S. role is and could be in world affairs.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is a think tank that promotes cooperation among nations, with an emphasis on security and welfare for all. With offices in Moscow, Beijing, Beirut, Brussels, and Washington, the Endowment has a multinational perspective on global welfare and security. www.carnegieendowment.org
The Center for American Progress is a progressive think tank that provides reports and analysis on U.S. policy, domestic and foreign. www.americanprogress.org It has a separate program for students called Campus Progress. www.campusprogress.org
The Center for Economic and Political Investigations of Community Action (CIEPAC) communicates news of human rights issues in Chiapas, Mexico (Spanish). www.ciepac.org
The Center for International Policy's Americas Program maintains extensive information on North American border issues. www.americas.irc-online.org
The Council of Canadians is a non-profit that works with grassroots activists, seniors, students, community groups, and unions on fair trade, clean water, energy security, public health care, and other social and economic issues. www.canadians.org
Foreign Policy in Focus, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, does research and advocacy on reform of U.S. foreign policy. www.ips-dc.org/FPIF
The Institute for Policy Studies is a progressive think tank that focuses on issues related to the environment, peace, and economic justice. The group produces analyses and commentary on progressive solutions. www.ips-dc.org
The International Forum on Globalization is a research and education organization that provides analyses and critiques on the impacts of economic globalization, and organizes workshops and teach-ins. www.ifg.org
:: A JUST FOREIGN POLICY LIBRARY
If you prefer to read on paper and want to get deeper into the issues check out this selection of recent titles on the our relations with the world, that focus not only on the problem but offer practical solutions and a sneak preview to a world beyond super powers.
American Empire and the Fourth World, by Anthony J. Hall, takes a serious look at the history of indigenous Americans. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003.
Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics, and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, by Kevin Phillips, argues that shortsighted policies, mushrooming national debt, credit card debt, overreliance on oil, global overreach and deregulation have imperiled the U.S. economy—and that our superpower status is ending. Viking, 2008.
Beyond The Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, by Dahr Jamail, contains the reports of an independent journalist in Iraq. Haymarket Books, 2007.
Blue Covenant: The Global Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water, by Maude Barlow, looks at various issues threatening global access to fresh water and argues for making it a human right rather than a commodity. New Press, 2007. Maude Barlow talks about the book to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!
Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the U.N. Defy U.S. Power, tracks the rise of US unilateralism and the doctrine of preemptive war, looking particularly at Iraq and Israel/Palestine, and examines both the potential and the challenges ahead in reclaiming the United Nations as part of the global peace movement. Olive Branch Press, 2006.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins, is a memoir by a former corporate economist who claims to have worked for years to persuade international governments in developing countries to accept colossal loans for infrastructure projects from the World Bank, to their long-term economic detriment. Berrett-Koehler, 2004.
Dissent, Voices of Conscience: Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq, by Colonel Ann Wright and Susan Dixon, is a tribute to government and military whistle-blowers who exposed government misdeeds, cover-ups, and human rights abuses, resigned in protest of government wrongdoing, or refused to fight in Iraq. Koa Books, 2007.
Exodus From Empire: The Fall of America’s Empire and the Rise of the Global Community, by Terrence E. Paupp, lays out a comprehensive vision for a new world order based on cooperation between the developing world and leading Left countries in Latin America. Pluto Press, 2007.
From Oslo to Iraq and The Road Map, by Edward W. Said, is a collection of essays on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. Pantheon Books, 2004.
Getting to Peace: Transforming Conflict at Home, at Work, and in the World, by William Ury, is an account by a mediator and negotiation scholar (author of Getting to Yes), with a hopeful message that peace is possible if we learn to channel conflicts into cooperative processes for creating change. Viking Penguin, 1999.
The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, by David C. Korten, presents a history of empire, and an exploration of the transforming and necessary struggle to create a sustainable society, an Earth Community. Kumarian Press, 2006.
How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle over the Global Economy, by Mark Engler, discusses new terrain in globalization and alternatives. Nation Books, 2008.
Notes on the Occupation: Palestinian Lives, by Eric Hazan, is a simply written but powerful book offering images of life in Palestinian villages.The New York Press, 2006.
Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer, by Helen Caldicott, explains why nuclear power is not a viable alternative to fossil fuels or a solution to climate change, what alternative sources of power are available, and what individuals can do locally. The New Press, 2006.
The Occupation: War and Resistance in Iraq, by Patrick Cockburn, narrates impressions from the center of the conflict in Iraq. Verso, 2006.
Paradigm Wars: Indigenous People’s Resistance to Globalization, edited by Jerry Mander and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, is a series of essays on issues faced by indigenous peoples defending their resources and their communities, and confronting globalization. Sierra Club Books, 2006. Read more here.
A People's History of American Empire, by Howard Zinn, tells the story, in graphic novel form, of America’s actions in the world, from 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq to Vietnam, World War I, and U.S. responses in Central America and Iran. The book also includes some of Zinn’s own personal story, from his upbringing to his emergence as one of the country’s most influential historians. Metropolitan Books, 2008.
The Seventh Decade: The New Shape of Nuclear Danger, by Jonathan Schell, analyzes the current dangers posed by nuclear weapons and the opportunities for global nuclear abolition. Henry Holt, 2007.Read more here.
A Solitary War: A Diplomat’s Chronicle of the Iraq War and Its Lessons, by Heraldo Munoz, shares candid glimpses into behind-the-scenes decision-making. Fulcrum, 2008.
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, by Chalmers Johnson, is a history of American militarism and empire building. Henry Holt, 2004.
Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, by Raj Patel, is a global investigation of the real causes of famine and obesity—and who profits from them. Patel also finds hope in sustainable and local food movements. Melville House, 2008.
The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq, by Aidan Delgado, traces the transforming journey of a soldier who became a conscientious objector. Beacon Press, 2007. Read an excerpt from the book.
Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism, by Stephen Zunes, presents a critical overview of the modern history of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Common Courage Press, 2003. Stephen Zunes is the author of A Real Pro-Israel Policy Helps Palestine, Too in the Summer 2008 issue of YES!