Action Alerts

Urge the Pope to Call for a Christmas Ceasefire in Afghanistan

In early December 1914, Pope Benedict XV called for a "Christmas Truce" in the First World War. Leaders on all sides were forced to respond to the Pope's call. No formal truce was agreed, but across the trenches of the Western Front many soldiers on all sides observed the Christmas truce the Pope had called for.

Today the war in Afghanistan continues killing Americans and Afghans for no reason. If Pope Benedict XVI - the current Pope - called on Western leaders to announce an offensive ceasefire in Afghanistan for the Christmas holiday, Western leaders would have to respond. If we could stop the war for one day, it would set an important precedent, making it easier to achieve a lasting ceasefire and an end to the war.

Pope Benedict XVI has just inaugurated the use of a Twitter account. The Pope already has a million followers on Twitter, and the fact that he is now on Twitter is in the news. Sign and tweet our petition, and people around the world will see your appeal for the Pope to call for a Christmas ceasefire:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/xmas-ceasefire

We're making our appeal for a ceasefire to the Pope because he is the most prominent and influential Western religious leader, and because of the historical precedent of his predecessor's call for a ceasefire in 1914. If Pope Benedict calls for a ceasefire in Afghanistan, other Western leaders will join his call, and Western governments with troops in Afghanistan will have to respond. Upon becoming Pope in 2005, he said: [1]

End Haiti's Cholera Epidemic with UN Action Now!

The people of Haiti are fighting a deadly cholera epidemic introduced by UN troops that has killed thousands and sickened hundreds of thousands more. [1] Since the UN accidentally caused this catastrophe, it has a special responsibility to help Haitians stamp out killer cholera for good. Press reports have suggested that announcement of a UN plan is possible very soon.

Let's press the UN to make sure it announces decisive action and to build momentum and public attention to make sure the UN and major donor governments follow through on their commitments. We're partnering with Avaaz, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, and other organizations to build momentum for decisive action. You can sign our petition to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/Oliver_Stone_to_UN_end_Haiti_cholera

Since it began in October 2010, Haiti’s cholera epidemic has killed over 7,700 and brought untold suffering to poor communities. Although doctors, scientists, and even UN Special Envoy Bill Clinton recognize that UN troops brought the epidemic to Haiti, the UN has refused to take responsibility.

According to recent news reports [2], key players – including the Haitian government, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Pan-American Health Organization and UNICEF – may soon announce a plan to respond to cholera with medical treatment and water and sanitation infrastructure. This would be an important step in the right direction, but it would be a tentative step, with only a tiny fraction of funding secured so far. At the current pace, thousands more Haitians will die before their communities receive clean water.

We have no time to lose. A spike in cholera cases has been reported after Hurricane Sandy. Together we can save lives and help Haitians finally rid the island of this killer, if we act now. Sign this urgent petition and share it with everyone you know.

Demand Obama Press for Immediate Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas

Didn't they learn anything last time?

In 2008, the Israeli military invaded Gaza, claiming they were going to destroy Hamas. They didn't destroy Hamas - politically, they made it stronger - but they did kill a thousand Palestinian civilians and destroy a lot of Palestinian civilian infrastructure, some of which was never fully rebuilt due to the Israel-Egypt-US blockade of Gaza.

Now Israel is attacking Gaza again. The stated reason is rocket fire from Gaza into Israel. Of course, that's not the complete story. [1] But more violence from Israel into Gaza isn't going to end rocket fire from Gaza. It hasn't in the past and won't in the future. The violence can only end with a political agreement to stop all violence across the Israel-Gaza border. The first step is an immediate cease-fire. This should lead to a political agreement that guarantees a permanent end to armed attacks across the border from both sides and permanently ends the siege of Gaza's economy and people.

Urge President Obama and Members of Congress to work towards an immediate ceasefire and a political agreement that permanently ends the violence and ends the blockade. You can use the following link:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/gaza-ceasefire

Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,

Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy

Please support our work. Donate for a Just Foreign Policy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

References:

1. See, e.g.,

“Who Started the Israel-Gaza Conflict?” Robert Wright, The Atlantic, November 16, 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/who-started-the-israel-gaza-conflict/265374/

WaPo calls for more debate on drone strikes! Let's respond

As you are well aware, there's been a disturbing lack of public debate so far about U.S. policy on drone strikes. Guess what? The Washington Post editorial board agrees. In a new editorial, they say: "the means and objectives of drone attacks — and the Obama administration’s steps toward institutionalizing the system — deserve much more debate than they have attracted during the presidential campaign." [1]

Let's show the Washington Post editorial board we agree with their call for more debate by getting some letters into the Post challenging the drone strike policy. We've tried to make it easy for you by setting up a tool for sending them a letter, together with some suggested talking points. You can find that here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/wapo-drones-lte

Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,

Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy

Please support our work. Donate for a Just Foreign Policy.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

References:

1. "Pulling the U.S. drone war out of the shadows," Editorial, Washington Post, November 1, 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/us-drone-war-demands-accountabili...

Something Wicked is Brewing in Washington

The United States may be drawing down its longest war, but its second longest war seems to have just begun. November 3 will mark the tenth anniversary of the US's secret war of targeted killing—but according to a three-part series published in the Washington Post last week, US officials have no plans to draw this war down any time soon. [1] [2]

The Post's description of the program and its de facto head, John O. Brennan, are quite terrifying. A “dispositional matrix” that is said to be in development as a guide for targeting sounds like the title of a bad Hollywood thriller. US officials calling Brennan a “priest-like presence” and lauding his moral depth is not only horrifying, but seems to reflect the frightening moral vacuity of those running the US drone program. [3]

The Post series notes that there is little internal contention over the effectiveness of the drone program. Neither is there any espoused difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney's views on the matter, as evidenced by Romney's zealous endorsement of Obama's drone program during the third presidential debate. [4]

And yet, when pressed, supporters of the US drone program sound inhuman when making their defense. When former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, was asked recently to justify the killing of Anwar al Awlaki's 16 year old son—who was a US citizen—in a drone attack two weeks after his father was killed in another US drone strike, Gibbs' soulless response was to say that the boy shouldn't have had a terrorist for a father. [5]

Today, polls show that a majority of Americans support US drone strike policy. We're working to change that. Through education and grassroots organizing, we can turn the tide against current US drone policy, just as the tide turned against the Afghan war.

Success! Now Tell Schieffer and Others to Follow Up on Monday Night's Drone Question

Just Foreign Policy supporters urged Bob Schieffer to ask a question on drones—and he did!

During Monday night's presidential debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked a direct question on a candidate's drone strike policy, which is more than had been raised in any previous debate this election season. Unfortunately, Schieffer only asked Mitt Romney the question—and let President Obama completely off the hook.

But that doesn't mean that the question was a failure. Simply raising the issue during the debate has led to a wave of media interest in US drone strike policy. Perhaps the most notable discussion occurred on MSNBC's Morning Joe when Joe Scarborough, the host and a former Republican congressman, challenged Joe Klein's defense of US drone strike policy with a passionate and well-reasoned argument against drone strikes. [1] And that's a true victory.

If Morning Joe can have a substantive debate about drone strikes, then other top news talk programs ought to be able to do so as well.

Tell Bob Schieffer and other talk show hosts to follow up on Monday night's drone question by facilitating a real discussion about drone strike policy.

We learned at least one thing from Bob Schieffer's drone question: Mitt Romney supports President Obama's drone strike policy, and would continue it as president. However, Schieffer didn't press the point with Obama, claiming that “we know President Obama’s position on this.” [2] Schieffer's failure to ask Obama a question on drones was the topic of an article in the Washington Post, [3] and the lack of substantive debate on the issue inspired an article in Time detailing the real controversy drones have caused in Pakistan. [4]

In Next Debate, Let's Get a Question on Drones

During the last two presidential debates, the foreign policy discussion—what little there has been—has largely centered around the murder of four members of the US embassy staff in Benghazi. But while these four deaths were certainly grievous, the killing of hundreds of civilians in Pakistan from US drone strikes has so far been ignored—and that's outrageous.

But we may be able to change that. Next Monday, October 22, President Obama and Mitt Romney will face off in the final debate before election day—and the entire debate will be dedicated to foreign policy issues. Drones deserve a place in the discussion.

Tell moderator Bob Schieffer to ask a question on drones during Monday's presidential debate on foreign policy.

In the last four years, the use of unmanned drones to engage in so-called “targeted killing” has escalated dramatically. In Pakistan alone, US drone strikes have increased five fold during the Obama administration. Drone campaigns have also expanded in other countries, such as Yemen and Somalia, and recent reports suggest that the administration is considering further expanding the CIA drone fleet and using drones to hunt down the terrorists involved in last month's Benghazi attack.

Yet, the Obama administration has failed to engage substantively on the morality, efficacy, and accuracy of US drone strikes.