From Maryland Peace Action Members
Take necessary steps to prevent war in Ukraine
2/7/22 in the Baltimore Sun
Thank you for the commentary by Jerome Israel (”Give Putin what he wants to prevent war: Bar Ukraine from NATO,” Feb. 1), of the National Security Agency. He outlines a common-sense solution to the current war fever.
NATO members actually have no intention of allowing Ukraine to join NATO anyway and so the current stand-off between the U.S. and Russia is totally unnecessary and serves only to create the most dangerous moment in world history since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The two countries with the most nuclear weapons, by far, are arguing over nothing that could not be resolved by a promise not to allow Ukraine to join NATO.
Wars always turn out differently from how their advocates thought they would. This one could easily spin out of control resulting in a nuclear war ending life on earth as we know it. All this over a phony issue? We must let Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen know that the U.S. should not be sending weapons to Ukraine and ask President Joe Biden to tell Russia that the U.S. pledges to keep Ukraine out of NATO.
Where Afghanistan is Concerned, We Suffer from a Serious Case of Hypocrisy
2/3/22 in the Washington Post
I was very disappointed by the Jan. 28 editorial “A split decision.” Of course, I don’t respect and perhaps fear what could come of the Taliban’s rule, but far worse would be the deaths of 1 million adults and children. The United States and its allies created a dependent economy. The United States spent $300 million a day during the war, according to an August analysis by Forbes.
The editorial board speaks as though providing 4.3 million doses of coronavirus vaccine is almost enough to get us off the hook. What right do we have to control money deposited in good faith in our banks, refusing the self-declared government from saving its people’s lives? >From paying its teachers, doctors and all government employees?I need not name the grossly undemocratic countries that we have supported with aid sometimes designated for the purchase of U.S.-manufactured arms, as well as countries to which we continue to sell arms — or bullets to kill children in their own and neighboring countries. We suffer from a serious case of hypocrisy.
The writer is vice president of the MD Peace Action Education Fund
US Must Act Now To Prevent Famine Deaths in Afghanistan
1/19/22 in the Baltimore Sun
Letter writer Rosalind Heid observes that “Something doesn’t feel comfortable about pledging $308 million to Afghanistan” (”U.S. should not send aid to Afghanistan,” Jan. 17). Perhaps she doesn’t understand the depth of the crisis. People in relief organizations who are in Afghanistan are predicting that as many as 1 million children will die because of drought and international economic sanctions.
The Taliban government is not to our liking. They discriminate against women in ways that most of us here in the U.S. find repugnant. However, a mother who dies, or watches her children die, will not be helped by Ms. Heid’s self-righteousness.
1 Million Children to Starve in Afghanistan
1/18/22 to Baltimore Sun, Unpublished
The letter by Rosalind Heid saying that the U.S. should not send aid to Afghanistan for the current humanitarian crisis is misguided and her position cruel. At least one million children under the age of 5 in Afghanistan are likely to die this winter of starvation–ONE MILLION–and this is primarily because the U.S. has frozen the assets of the Afghan people and placed onerous sanctions on the country, leading to a total meltdown of the economy. The writer expresses sympathy for the women of Afghanistan, but they are now having to bury their children because of our policies, and these women have very little to eat, either. How can we continue to be complicit in that? In fact, humanitarian assistance going to Afghanistan is totally insufficient, and that aid has nothing to do with the Taliban. The armaments Ms. Heid mentions were left behind by the U.S. government, after 20 years of a brutal war on a country that did not attack the U.S. It is the fault of the U.S. military that they remain there. The U.S. spent $300 million/day, for 20 years, on that war. Spending $308 million for famine relief—one day’s worth of the money spent on the war–for a situation that we have caused, is in fact not nearly enough.
We may not like the Taliban, but the U.S. negotiated an end to the war with them, knowing that they would take over. Ms. Heid does, however, touch on an important point: the taxpayers are certainly being ripped off, but it’s by the Pentagon, not the Taliban. We have been forced to pay literally trillions of dollars for two wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan) that we should never have fought, and the soldiers of those wars are continuing to suffer—check out the high suicide rate among veterans. Taxpayers are left paying the bill, but the weapons manufacturers’ profits continue to climb; stocks for companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman soared during the wars. We should cut military spending and stop engaging in war after war, and we should unfreeze the money that belongs to the Afghan people so that the economy can be restarted and they can support themselves, and in the meantime, we should provide enough humanitarian aid to avert a mass famine. We expect our members of Congress to refuse to give in to the Pentagon any longer and to support an end to the economic war on Afghanistan. In MD, that’s senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen and representatives Kweisi Mfume, David Trone, Jamie Raskin, Steny Hoyer, Andy Harris, John Sarbanes, and Dutch Ruppersberger.
Drastic Shift In Budget Priorities Needed
12/4/21 in the Frederick News-Post
Retired US Army Lt General Thomas Spoehr asks the question, “How lean can we make the US Army before it’s unable to do its job?” (Frederick News-Post Opinion page Oct 25). He then states that the Army has been “slicing billions from its programs to preserve readiness, maintain a minimum size and fund critical modernization programs”.
With all due respect to the General, the job of the Army needs to change if it is to remain relevant and continue to get its share of the obscenely bloated Pentagon Budget which is roughly $768 billion for this year alone. The US spends more on its military than the next 11 countries combined. This does not promote Peace, which is what would make Americans truly safer. Instead it promotes a continuation of our policy of Endless War as evidenced by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and it serves to fatten the coffers of Northrup Gruman and other defense contractors. Oh, and by the way, the Afghanistan war alone caused the death of 6,294 American soldiers and military contractors and injured over 200,000; not to mention the 113,000 Afghans killed and roughly 100,000 injured.
In addition to changing course drastically, internal improvement in use of military funds is sorely needed. For example, in 2016 Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward exposed a buried Pentagon study which documented $125,000,000,000 in administrative waste.
So what about the General’s worries regarding readiness, minimum size, and modernization? The US has more than 750 military bases in over 80 countries (Prof David Vine, American Univ). As of Aug 2021, the Dept of Defense sic reported 1,395,391 active duty armed services personnel. And regarding, modernization, unfortunately the plan is to develop faster, more powerful nuclear weapons to the tune of $634 billion over the next 20 years as reported by the Congressional Budget Office.
Clearly our Country’s budget priorities are tragically skewed. Let me ask this question Gen Spoehr: instead of advocating for continuation of a failed National Defense sic Policy of militarism, threatening, and intimidation, how about using your experience, knowledge, and gravitas to promote a shifting of the Army’s priorities to the prevention of pandemics and mitigation of the climate crisis?
US Must Help Address Hunger and Economic Woes in Afghanistan
11/24/21 in the Baltimore Sun
Thank you for the article on Afghan refugees, “Humanitarian Parole Proves Elusive.” It highlights the grief experienced by refugees over friends and family who are still in Afghanistan. However, the article omits the most serious threat facing those left behind: the freefall of the economy and the resulting lack of paid work and food, with famine now imminent throughout the country.
The UN estimates that one million children under the age of 5 are likely to starve to death this winter, along with millions of older Afghan children and adults. The economic upheaval largely responsible for the famine is mostly the result of conditions related to the American war and to post-war U.S. policies. The U.S. has placed sanctions on Afghanistan and has frozen over $9 billion of the country’s assets. This has caused banking to cease and the economy to crash, with Afghan civilians having no way to support themselves or to obtain food, while also making it impossible for most aid organizations to help.
The U.S. should negotiate with the Taliban to allow the government access to the country’s own funds, conditional on the Taliban’s respect for the rights of women and ethnic minorities, which could be easily monitored. Once assets are unfrozen, the banking system can become functional once again, the economy can begin to be rebuilt, and aid can flow in for those who are starving. We ask that our members of Congress, including Senators Cardin and Van Hollen, immediately urge the Biden administration to negotiate an end to these economic policies that are already beginning to result in the biggest famine of our lifetimes.
How can we just watch while hundreds of thousands of babies starve to death?
Let’s set reasonable limits on the launching of nuclear attacks
10/5/21 in the Baltimore Sun
Thank you for printing the important commentary by Nancy W. Gallagher and Steven Kull (”Gen. Milley’s concerns about Trump underscore need for nuclear guardrails on president,” Sept. 30) urging passage of a bill in Congress that would require the president to consult Congress before initiating a nuclear strike.
On Sept. 23, 2021, over 300 locally elected officials from 41 states, including 28 from Maryland, sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to embrace “no presidential first use,” plus four other policy changes called “Back From The Brink.” They included taking nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert, renouncing the policy of initiating a nuclear war, ending our $1.7 trillion nuclear arms race build up and, most importantly, negotiating nuclear disarmament with the other nuclear nations. In addition, 62 local governments have passed BFTB resolutions, including Baltimore, the District of Columbia, Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Most endorse the “UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons” now in force for the 56 ratifying nations.
The letter and the resolutions demonstrate widespread support for a change in old, dangerous Cold War policies as the president and his team craft their nuclear weapons policy, called the Nuclear Posture Review. However, a dark cloud now looms over this process. In September, the Pentagon fired the lead official overseeing the NPR, an advocate for nuclear restraint, with roots in arms control rather than the defense industry. U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachussetts, sent a letter to President Biden to “Please identify the individuals and organizations consulting on the Nuclear Posture Review, including paid contractors.” It appears there may be a “no tolerance” for new ideas policy within the U.S. Department of Defense.
There is reason for concern regarding the nuclear arms race and for hopes that the administration will follow what President Biden had promised. His pledge: “We will address the existential threat posed by nuclear weapons. We will head off costly arms races and re-establish our credibility as a leader in arms control.” As Democratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin observed last November, ”American national security should not be defined by the bottom lines of Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon.” Can popular support for change outweigh the influence of defense lobbyists inside and outside the Pentagon?
Gwen L. DuBois, Baltimore
The writer is president of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility.
September days with critical significance
9/27/21 in the Frederick News-Post
September brings us not only the crisp, cool days of the end of summer, but also some memorable days. 9/11 was a somber anniversary of tragic events that brought devastation to our country and, subsequently, to the world; 9/21, the first day of autumn, is also the United Nations (UN) International Day of Peace; and 9/26 is the UN International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. If 9/11 reminds us of the horrible consequences of violence and hatred, and the wholesale murder of innocents, the other two dates give us hope for a more peaceful future. This year, the theme for 9/21 is Recovering Better for an Equitable and Sustainable World. For that day, the UN calls for a “sustained humanitarian pause” to local conflicts. Can we do that? Is it too much to ask for one day of peace in a world badgered by a pandemic that has already claimed millions of victims, hampered the education of many (Frederick News Post 9/18), and crippled economies worldwide; a world threatened by climate change that is already causing havoc with more intense hurricanes, higher sea level, more droughts and floods?
Let us not forget the existential threat of nuclear weapons. Today, nine nations possess more than 13,000 nuclear weapons, and these nations have well-funded, long-term plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals. More than half of the world’s population still lives in countries that either have such weapons or are members of nuclear alliances. While the number of deployed nuclear weapons has appreciably declined since the height of the Cold War, not one nuclear weapon has been physically destroyed pursuant to a treaty. In addition, no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently underway. As the Doomsday Clock is set at 100 seconds to midnight, the closest it has ever been, the UN International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, 9/26, provides an occasion for the world community to reaffirm its commitment to global nuclear disarmament as a priority. Let us build on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which entered into force on 1/22/2021. It is the first multilateral, legally binding instrument (for the 88 countries that have signed onto it) for nuclear disarmament to have been negotiated in 20 years.
Let us convince the nine nuclear-weapons nations to join the Treaty and back away from this existential threat to all of us. Indeed, to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons is one of humanity’s greatest and most urgent challenges.
Afghanistan Shows Folly of Militarizing Foreign Policy
8/21/21 in the Baltimore Sun
Thank you for the editorial, (“The fall of Afghanistan: A sudden collapse years in the making” Aug. 17). In 2010, I traveled to Afghanistan to find out for myself what was really going on, a “fact-finding” mission on behalf of Peace Action. I interviewed as many people as I could from all walks of life. What I found there was quite different from the narrative that we were being fed in the U.S.
The people I talked to often named their three enemies: the Taliban, the Afghan government, and the United States. No one I met liked the Taliban, which they viewed as ruthless and primitive. They hated the Afghan government, which consisted of war criminals with violent pasts at least as horrible as the Taliban. As for the U.S., no one viewed the country favorably. Our bombing campaign was killing civilians in huge numbers and Kabul was overrun with internally displaced refugees living in the most horrible conditions. No one believed that the U.S. was in Afghanistan for benign reasons. They believed, with good evidence, that the U.S. presence was due to its desire for new bases that could threaten Iran, Pakistan, and China, all of which has common borders with Afghanistan. Or, they believed that it was to protect a new pipeline being built across Afghanistan, one that would benefit the West, but not Afghanistan.
It is only those of us in the U.S. who seemed to believe that we were there to help the Afghan people — they certainly didn’t see it. All the pundits and U.S. government leaders are explaining the American defeat by saying that Afghan soldiers didn’t fight for their country. Well, some 70,000 Afghan soldiers and police have already died in the fighting (more than the number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War), and really, why should those still alive be willing to die for a corrupt and venal government that was put in place by the U.S. — and that the U.S. had already said it was no longer supporting?
There were some clear winners of the American war in Afghanistan: the U.S. weapons manufacturers and contractors who made a fortune off it. The editorial mentions the number of Americans killed there (2,372), and the amount of money that was spent on the war (over $1 trillion, most of which went to the contractors and weapons manufacturers), and that is a terrible price that was paid. But too often the American media neglect to mention what the people of Afghanistan suffered: at least 47,000 civilians killed (thousands more indirectly), hundreds of thousands displaced, the country in ruins. This war was first of all waged for revenge (on people who were not to blame for 9/11), and for the very geopolitical reasons that the people of Afghanistan believed from the start. Women’s rights? Please.
Like the people of Afghanistan, we should be very angry about this war, and it is time that we as a people stopped allowing the weapons manufacturers and contractors who donate so heavily to members of Congress — our own form of deep corruption — to continue the militarization of foreign policy that has cost us so much and that have destabilized so much of the world. Can we not summon the political will to stop this murderous cycle?
Endless Wars Have Meant Endless Waste and Failure
7/23/21 in the Capitol Gazette
New York Times columnist David Brooks bemoans the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan (The Capital, July 19). But, as he admits, Americans across the political spectrum are sick and tired of the country playing cop on the global stage at the cost of thousands of lives and countless resources.
The public is right. Let’s start with the fiasco in Afghanistan. America’s original mission was narrow: get Osama Bin Laden and punish the Taliban for providing sanctuary to terrorists. Yet months after the Taliban fell from power, the goal posts moved. The United States sought to engage in “nation building” and develop Afghan security forces that could establish internal security.
We failed on both counts, in part because we never understood or appreciated the culture of the country we were trying to help and in part because the American people were never engaged. One of the characterizations of U.S. foreign policy is an inability to acknowledge a mistake and reverse course; in this case, it took 20 years and a new president who had always recognized the futility of our involvement.
Afghanistan is a poster child for the endless wars that have dominated U.S. international affairs since the end of World War II. Thirteen American presidents have been in office during wartime, and seven of them served since 1945: Harry Truman (Korea), Lyndon Johnson (Vietnam), Richard Nixon (Vietnam), George H.W. Bush (Gulf War), George W. Bush (Iraq and Afghanistan), Barack Obama (Afghanistan) and Donald Trump (Afghanistan). Presidents of both political parties have engaged our military in all sorts of ways in at least 85 countries in the name of defeating “communism” or “terrorism.” And that does not count the staggering number of U.S. military bases around the world and the massive arms sales to foreign governments. Congress has abdicated much of its constitutional powers to the president.
The outcome of our commitments to these hot and faux wars has been unsatisfactory. The Korean War ended in a stalemate. We lost the Vietnam War. The Persian Gulf War lit a fuse that exploded on 9/11. We failed to win the peace after the Iraq intervention in 2003. The Global War on Terrorism was a flop. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone resulted in the deaths of 800,000 and have cost the United States $6.4 trillion.
The United States has become addicted to perpetual war. This condition has created a system of violence that has come to define the United States as a nation. These wars are a cancer on our democracy. We cannot accept a near-permanent military presence in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. We must disengage from these self-defeating military missions and pursue a new course based on diplomacy.
Michael Keller, a resident of Annapolis, is co-chair of the Board of Directors of Peace Action Education Fund, a nonprofit with offices in Silver Spring, MD and in Oakland, CA.
Costs of 20 Years in Afghanistan
Thank you for the articles this past week on Afghanistan, including the one on July 7 about the U.S. exit from Bagram Air Base (“Some Afghans Denounce How U.S. Departed Airfield”). This whole 20-year debacle should make all of us feel ashamed as Americans and determined never to allow something like this to occur again. Let’s review what happened.
The war itself was about revenge for 9/11, not “protecting the homeland”—in fact, the people of Afghanistan had nothing to do with that crime. True, the Taliban government had provided a locale for al-Qaeda to train, although most all the trainees were Saudis. The Afghan government was preparing to kick al-Qaeda out when Bush decided to bomb anyway and start a war. The real goal of the U.S. government was to create more foreign military bases and assert U.S. military power, while exacting retribution[CC1] . The war had nothing to do with defending the U.S.
What did this war of vengeance cost us and what did it cost the Afghan people–many of whom did not even know about the crime of 9/11? U.S. deaths (military and contractors) were 6,384 and injured many times more. Afghan civilian deaths are estimated at 71,334, and no one has any idea of the number of injured Afghans. If you count all the deaths attributed to the war, the total is estimated to be about 240,000.[i]
The dollar cost of the war to the U.S. is some $2.3 trillion.[ii] This is an inconceivable amount of money. Our children and grandchildren will continue to pay for it for decades, as most of the costs were put on the U.S. credit card. There will be a long-lasting drag on our economy—and on our pocketbooks.
Afghanistan was essentially destroyed; it is now among the ten poorest nations on earth.
The attack on the twin towers was actually blow-back from the foreign base-building project of the Pentagon. The U.S. has over 800 military bases on foreign soil, far more than any other country. How would you like a foreign military base next door? We almost had a nuclear war in 1962 over the USSR’s attempt to put a foreign military base in Cuba. We do not want foreign military bases on our doorstep, and neither do people in other lands. In fact, Osama bin Ladin’s hatred of the U.S. stemmed from his opposition to a U.S. military base in Saudi Arabia. Thus, 9/11 and the wars that followed are directly attributable to U.S. base-building abroad, what the Pentagon calls “projecting power” and “full spectrum dominance.”
Given the U.S. history in Afghanistan, it is no wonder we sneaked out of the country in the middle of the night.
Jean Athey, Baltimore
Eyes on China?
7/2/21 in the Baltimore Sun
I very much appreciated the perspective taken by the very respected Professor Robert Reich (Baltimore Sun, June 25) which reminds us of how we have demonized the USSR and Japan in the past and now seem to be doing the same with respect to China.Our education system is very lacking in funds and perhaps direction and scores show us far below other industrialized nations. We have so many other things to worry about–“the beam in your own eye before the mote in your brother’s.”
Also, as Secretary Reich points out, our corporations love the price of labor in China and a shopper finds it very hard to buy clothing or shoes–or household items–not imported, largely from China. When will we invest in our own industry? When will profits for CEO’s and stockholders not be the major concern in choosing where to locate? Perhaps infrastructure will now improve before more bridges collapse, yet Congress fights about it, tries to hold down spending, and doesn’t comment often on reversing Trump-initiated tax benefits to the rich.
Let’s buckle down and improve our health, prevent further global cooking (note: current conditions in the West), and take care of our “own house.”
Marilyn Carlisle, Baltimore
Israel’s apartheid treatment of Palestinians must end
5/20/21 in the Baltimore Sun
I was part of a human rights delegation to the occupied territories of Palestine in 1987 and became familiar with the use of rubber bullets, which are very capable of killing. This trip was during the first intifada, and I visited many homes where the Israeli Defense Force killed a child for alleged stone-throwing.
During the subsequent years, there has been an escalation in state and settler violence against the Palestinians (”Biden calls for ‘significant de-escalation’ from Israel as Gaza conflict continues,” May 19). The armed assault on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the airstrikes in Gaza, including the destruction of a building which housed media groups, are some recent examples. Unfortunately, my government supports this horrific violence by word and $3.8 billion in U.S. tax dollars.
I find it very timely, though, that as the settler colonialism and the Jim Crow citizenship laws are getting more oppressive, on April 27 Human Rights Watch released “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.” This is remarkable and very fitting considering that Israel lacks a government, and its ultra-right prime minister is looking at years in prison. So what better way to turn attention away from his judicial problems than to bomb back to the Stone Age one of the poorest plots of land in the world?
As a pacifist and believer in nonviolence, I urge Hamas to reconsider its violent response to on obdurate Israeli government. Of course, it is easy for me to say turn the other cheek, as I am not suffering under an oppressive occupation. However, I have to believe that some day there will be a U.S. government unbiased against the Palestinians which will work tirelessly to end this apartheid occupation.
Max Obuszewski, Baltimore
Biden’s budget overspends on military
4/29/21 in the Baltimore Sun
I always look forward to finding an op-ed by Robert Reich in The Baltimore Sun, and I relished reading his latest, “Biden’s industrial policy is the key to his economic restructuring” (April 22).
While praising President Joe Biden’s perspective on economic restructuring, Mr. Reich was not shy in challenging him when his policy perspective went awry: “Mr. Biden’s whopping $715 billion defense budget — larger even than Trump’s last defense budget.” Of course, I agree with the former Bill Clinton cabinet secretary, but would use more derisive language when discussing the obscene military budget.
I am ecstatic to see such criticism in my newspaper, as the military budget is rarely discussed. Also I compliment Mr. Reich for this acidic comment: “The new [industrial policy] should focus on cutting-edge breakthroughs and not be frittered away on pointless projects like the F-35 fighter jet. And it should meet human needs rather than add to an overstuffed defense arsenal.”
Ouch! The Berkeley professor nailed his critique to the wall.
Max Obuszewski, Baltimore
U.S. return to Iran nuclear deal merits broad support
4/15/21 in the Baltimore Sun
To say I was pleased with the recent commentary, “Biden’s foreign policy challenge: reining in Iran’s nuclear program” (April 13), would be a vast understatement. As a member of Baltimore Peace Action, I and other concerned citizens recognize the importance of convincing President Joe Biden to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Like most everything President Donald Trump did, his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement was disastrous. Iran was in compliance with the agreement which meant it would not become the 10th nuclear weapons country.
Peace Action and so many other groups have been lobbying our senators and representatives to put pressure on President Biden to do the right thing. Then we discovered that several Maryland members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed a letter with Republicans calling on the Biden administration not to re-enter the agreement. We then organized three demonstrations urging our reps to support re-entry. Later, we discovered that Sen. Ben Cardin signed a similar letter. So we held a demonstration outside his Baltimore office and requested a meeting. In response, we were granted a meeting with a foreign policy adviser.
In this meeting, we made three points. First, the nuclear agreement was working and was possibly President Barack Obama’s finest foreign policy achievement. Second, we urged the senator to support lifting President Donald Trump’s sanctions on Iran which are harming the people, not the elite. Sanctions on a country during a pandemic are deeply troubling. And third, we explained how we were baffled that the senator would sign a letter with Sen. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans who would not acknowledge that Mr. Biden won the presidential election. The aide was very accommodating, and indicated he would take our concerns to the senator.
Many of us lobbied very hard to convince Senator Cardin in 2015 to vote in favor of President Obama’s deal with Iran. Unfortunately, we failed to convince him. In 2021, we were not surprised that Senator Cardin was going against President Biden’s campaign promise to reenter the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA. However, it shocked us that he would sign a letter with 29 Republican senators. This is not the GOP which once included liberal Republicans. This is Donald Trump’s Republican Party.
There was no need for one of my senators to sign this letter. Mr. Cardin could have simply told the president that he was unwilling to support him on this issue. Instead, he joined with senators from a party that unanimously voted against COVID-19 relief. Those of us in the peace and justice movement will continue to push the president to rejoin this agreement. It benefits everyone as its intent is to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. I am confident that the Biden administration will see the light and will prevent Iran from going nuclear.
Max Obuszewski, Baltimore
U.S. should rejoin nuclear deal with Iran
3/30/21 in the Baltimore Sun
Thank you for the brilliant analysis by Melvin Goodman (”Biden administration’s approach to Russia and China unproductive,” March 26). Mr. Goodman outlines some of the errors made so far by President Joe Biden and his administration with regard to Russia and China, errors which make a dangerous and costly Cold War much more likely. As he points out, the only winners when tensions are ramped up like this between these countries and ours are the arms manufacturers beholden to the Pentagon.
A critical foreign policy issue that Mr. Goodman did not discuss, but that is also extremely problematic, is the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration with Iran, then unilaterally canceled by President Donald Trump. This deal showed what is possible with respectful, concerted diplomacy. It was working to reduce the probability of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and its success increased the likelihood of further treaties between the two countries on other important issues. Intrusive inspections in Iran were a part of that deal, and these inspections proved that Iran had complied in all respects with its responsibilities under the deal, referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
Joe Biden campaigned on a pledge to immediately rejoin the JCPOA, but he has made no effort to do so, and due to internal politics in Iran, including upcoming elections, time is rapidly running out for the U.S. to return to the deal. President Biden has important domestic issues to deal with, but losing this opportunity to ramp down tensions in the Middle East would be a huge mistake and disastrous for U.S. foreign policy in that region. The Biden administration should immediately rejoin the JCPOA, without adding new, unrelated preconditions (being demanded by some in Congress who never liked the deal to begin with), and should also lift all the Trump-era sanctions on Iran which have devastated Iran’s economy, impeded its ability to fight the coronavirus pandemic, and deeply harmed the people of Iran.
There is no excuse for the Biden administration to ignore such an important foreign policy issue.
Jean Athey, Baltimore
The writer is executive director of Maryland Peace Action.