Commentary

Extend Unemployment Assistance by Cutting the War Budget

 Just over a week ago, the Senate fell one vote short of overcoming a Republican filibuster to pass a three-month extension of assistance for the long-term unemployed.

The New York Times reported:

Could We Make @BilldeBlasio Meet with J Street?

 It was, without doubt, a world-historical moment last Thursday when AIPAC concededthat its push to sabotage U.S. diplomacy with Iran had been decisively rebuked. As theNew York Times noted, it had been decades since AIPAC lost such a high-profile showdown so decisively.

The Big Wins of 2013

2013 was a big year for Just Foreign Policy. Here's a brief summary of our greatest wins.

Preventing a US military strike on Syria. When President Obama announced his intention to bomb Syria, Just Foreign Policy was the first progressive organization to say that Obama should go to Congress to seek authorization. We initiated a petition to Congress to get them to demand that the President come to them. We also worked to get Democratic signatures on two Congressional letters to the same effect. When Obama announced he would go to Congress, we urged members to oppose authorization. Read more >

Getting the US to talk to Iran. This year, the Obama administration took major steps toward a comprehensive deal with Iran, something that we have been pushing for since our inception. Read more >

Going up against AIPAC many times—and winning. Starting with its failed fight to against Chuck Hagel's nomination for Defense Secretary, AIPAC has lost many a battle against us and our coalition partners this year. Read more >

Raising a $70,000 bounty on the TPP—and WikiLeaks publishing the text. Last year, we initiated a campaign to crowdsource a reward for WikiLeaks should it publish the draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). After attracting attention from mainstream media and techie sites alike, we had raised over $70,000 in pledges by the time WikiLeaks published the most controversial portions of the agreement in November. Read more >

President Karzai, Stand Tall Against U.S. Pressure to Sign the Troop Deal

A key reason that many Americans are turned off by politics is that they don't experience news sportscasters who are on their side. The average American, if she read the New York Times, would feel like a Chicagoan watching the Cubs game on St. Louis TV. Her team hits a home run and the sportscaster is melancholy. Her team strikes out and the sportscaster does a dance. Who wouldn't be turned off?

The day after the budget deal, we should have had a National Day of Gloating Over Wall Street because Social Security once again evaded the knives of the Wall Street greedheads. The day after the U.S. didn't bomb Syria, we should have had a National Day of Gloating Over AIPAC and the Neocons. But the U.S. news media was so sad! No Social Security cuts. No new war. What is America coming to?

Victory! Sen. Warren Backs Interim Iran Deal (Video)

At a Senate Banking Committee hearing on December 12, Sen. Warren backed the interim Iran deal between the P5+1 and Iran.

Thank you, Sen. Warren, and thank you to the over 14,000 JFP supporters who signed the petition!

Watch the clip here.

Here's a transcript:

Senator Warren: (To Chairman Johnson) Thank you Mr. Chairman; (to Ms. Sherman and Mr. Cohen) thank you for being here.

Does Hillary's Silence on Iran Deal Show Neocon Pull on Her Presidential Run?

People have noticed the silence of former Secretary of State and widely presumed 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry. Where does she stand? How long can she dodge? And how long can former President Bill Clinton dodge?

It's not like the Clintons have gone into seclusion on public affairs in general or U.S. foreign policy in particular.

WikiLeaks and the Drone Strike Transparency Bill

by Robert Naiman

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently took an important step by passing an intelligence authorization which would require for the first time - if it became law - that the Administration publicly report on civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes.

Sarah Knuckey, Director of the Project on Extrajudicial Executions at New York University School of Law and a Special Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, calls this provision "an important step toward improving transparency," and notes that "Various U.N. officials, foreign governments, a broad range of civil society, and many others, including former U.S. Department of State Legal Advisor Harold Koh ... have called for the publication of such basic information."

This provision could be offered as an amendment in the Senate to the National Defense Authorization Act. It could be offered in the House as an amendment on the intelligence authorization, or as a freestanding bill. But it's not likely to become law unless there's some public agitation for it (you can participate in the public agitation here.)

Keep America at Peace: Keep the Pentagon Sequester

Folks who think that (at the very least) we should be allowed to experience a few years of peace before launching the next military adventure are on the cusp of a major victory in Washington. All we have to do to win this historic victory is maintain the "sequester" cuts to the Pentagon budget that are already planned in existing law. And if we win the next round -- if we avoid any kind of "grand bargain" one more time -- we will likely win forever, because the Pentagon cuts will be an accomplished fact, and when everyone sees that the Earth is still spinning on its axis, we'll all realize that cutting the Pentagon budget is no big deal. The Pentagon will be smaller, the sun will come up in the morning, and life will go on.

Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan? Let Congress Vote!

In mid-November, the Christian Science Monitor reports, a loya jirga in Afghanistan - a national meeting of tribal leaders and other notable Afghans - will vote on whether to meet the Obama administration's terms for keeping U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of 2014.

If you care about democracy in Afghanistan, you should be happy for the Afghans. Whether or not - and if so, under what conditions - they want to have thousands of U.S. troops in their country after 2014 is obviously a very big deal for them. Why shouldn't they have full deliberation and debate?

But if you also care about democracy in the United States, you should be a bit troubled. Because Congress has never approved keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014.

The closest Congress has come to considering this question is in language passed by the House in June, 2013. Offered by Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, this language - which passed the House 305-121, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voting yes- said [my emphasis]:

NYT Public Editor responds to our petition on budget reporting

Earlier this week, we initiated a petition at MoveOn to Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of the New York Times, urging that the Times put budget numbers in context.

.@nytimes, @Sulliview: Put Budget Numbers in Context
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/nytimes-sulliview-put?source=c.url&r_by...

Margaret Sullivan has responded. You can read her response here:

The Times Is Working on Ways to Make Numbers-Based Stories Clearer for Readers
http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/the-times-is-working-on...