Liberty Tree News- Democratizing Defense

November 11, 2014
Democracy News: a service of the Liberty Tree Foundation
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Peace action organized by CODEPINK
Dear Friend,
This Veterans day we bring you important updates about the movement for genuine democratic control over issues of war and peace.
Fundamental to this movement is the question – Who Decides About War? – a topic taken up by Liberty Tree many times over the years including during our Bring the Guard Home campaign, Democracy Conventions (via the Democratizing Defense conference), and many other events.
As the U.S. government continues to escalate yet another military action in the middle east, this question remains more relevant then ever, and is being taken up across the country by individuals and organizations dedicated to the ending the unchecked militarism and endless war that pervades our society.
Read on for more information about the movement to democratize defense:
Tom Hayden: Letter to Congress on escalation in Iraq & Syria
Tom Hayden
In an open letter lifelong democracy advocate Tom Hayden calls on Congress to reassert its authority over matters of war.  Recounting how over the past fifty years the executive branch has assumed greater and greater control over when to use military force, he urges Congress to act both to set clear limits on the current campaign against ISIS and to reclaim Congress's constitutionally mandated role (emphasis below added):
"One of the bitter lessons of Vietnam, learned again in Iraq, is that it is relatively easy for Congress to authorize a war, but far more difficult to end one. Instead, there comes quagmire, suffering, cost, regret and political fallout.
In the last few months, it was expedient for both political parties to pass the sword of war to the president in the midst of a national campaign that avoided the war-peace debate altogether.
Now the American voters want to know where their representatives stand."
Medea Benjamin: Corporate media responsible for selling ISIS war
Medea Benjamin
Writing in the Guardian last month renowned peace activist and Liberty Tree Foundation board member Medea Benjamin exposes how once again the corporate media is manufacturing consent for war.
Addressing the recent escalation in U.S. military action against ISIS, she points out that mainstream news outlets are framing the conflict by inviting hawkish and discredited political figures to spin fear-mongering narratives while excluding virtually any voices interested in discussing alternatives to our national policy of endless warfare.
The mainstream media, she concludes, tragically reveals yet again that it is no longer a democratic check on power but rather a servant to its worst abuses.
IPS to host webinar on "U.S.-ISIS Crisis and Washington's New Wars"
Join Phyllis Bennis, Director of the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies, for an in-depth webinar discussion on the crisis.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
12:00 - 1:00 p.m. EST
Topics will include:
  • Why is the Obama administration going back to war in Iraq and Syria?
  • What is ISIS and why are they considered such a threat?
  • Is this U.S. war helping the Syrian regime?
  • Who – AND IN what country – is next?
Alternatives to war, now and in the future
World Beyond War
World Beyond War is an organization dedicated to building a global movement to eradicate the use of war.  They argue that "nonviolent alternatives to war are abundantmorally superior, and strategically more effective" and have applied this line of thinking to the current U.S. actions against ISIS.
A related intellectual current is that of Peace Ecology- which links the ideas of peace and nonviolence to those of deep ecology.  In a recent essay author Randall Amster expounds upon this concept and argues that as we enter an era of extreme resource scarcity-especially water scarcity- a Peace Ecology framework is urgently needed if we are to preserve life on this planet.
Reclaiming November 11th as Armistice Day; Remembering the Christmas Truce of 1914
Vets for Peace
Armistice Day
National anti-war group Veterans for Peace is urging Americans to commemorate the original name and meaning given to the November 11th holiday – Armistice Day.
As Vets for Peace explains, after World War I "Congress responded to a universal hope among Americans for no more wars by passing a resolution calling for 'exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding'...Later, Congress added that November 11th was to be “a day dedicated to the cause of world peace."
Christmas Truce
Reclaiming the original intent of November 11th is especially poignant this year, the 100th anniversary of the start of the war.  As such Vets for Peace is also marking the 100th anniversary of the remarkable "Christmas Truce" of December 1914, when soldiers on both sides of the Western Front laid down their arms and approached one another on Christmas Day in a temporary spirit of peace.
Community organizing successfully ends militarized-policing convention's presence in Oakland
Rally against Urban Shield
Urban Shield t-shirts
Shirts for sale at the Urban Shield convention
Earlier this fall a large community coalition organizeda protest of the national Urban Shield conventionin Oakland, CA.  
Urban Shield is a trade show and police training event sponsored by arms manufacturers and the Department of Homeland Security.  Organizers behind the protest note that it "is part of a growing national and international coordination of policing empowered by military tools and tactics."
Energized by the struggle against militarized policing taking place in Ferguson, the Oakland community successfully pressured the mayor to call off hosting the convention in the future. Organizers say that this victory is a first step towards the broader goal of enacting genuine community self-determination over policing and public safety.