When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
PLEASE NOTE: PEACE Iowa is operated by volunteers. If a volunteer is absent due to illness or bad weather, PEACE Iowa might not be open during regular office hours. We apologize for any inconvenience and ask for your understanding. Thank you!
PEACE Iowa Summer 2014 Newsletter
Find out more about our project Iowans and Iranians Cultivating Peace
Promoting international peace through education,
citizen involvement, and personal choices
Veterans for Peace and PEACE Iowa organized a demonstration
on October 7th, 2014 in Iowa City
commemorating lost lives and resources in 13 years of war in Afghanistan.
One of the events on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014,
brought together a variety of organizations on the Ped Mall in Iowa City
for a Campaign for Nonviolence.
At Soul Fest, visitors could spin the large color wheel,
and depending on where on the wheel the pointer landed,
were asked to answer a specific question about nonviolence.
Answers were rewarded with a candy Kiss.
At the Johnson County Fair in July, 2014,
PEACE Iowa and a coalition of other groups
presented the public with healthy and realistic alternatives to policies
that are not in the public interest.
From the Summer 2014 PEACE Iowa Newsletter ...
Not Another Iraq War
The United States must NOT fire a bullet, launch a missile, or drop a bomb in Iraq. To do so would be an act of war. To do so would not only be illegal, it would be tragically counterproductive for both Iraqi and U.S. citizens. By what stretch of imagination can our military actions in Iraq accomplish now that eight years of war, 160,000 U.S. troops, and $1.5 trillion failed to accomplish? Our invasion and occupation, preceded by a decade of debilitating sanctions, have left Iraq in much worse condition than it had been. Iraqis are not stupid; they know that. Our military action would ultimately be welcomed by no one, and would incite further sectarian violence.
Representatives Barbara Lee (D) and Scott Rigell (R) have circulated a letter to President Obama insisting that there can be no new U.S. war in Iraq without the approval of Congress. Eighty members of Congress have signed that letter. None of the Iowa congressional delegation has signed that letter. Why not?
President Obama is being pressured by prophets like Dick Cheney ("My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators." March, 2003) to give war in Iraq another go, as he lays the blame for Iraq's ills at Obama's feet. The people of the U.S. did not approve of our Iraq war in 2003, and we don't approve of another now. But we must not be silent.
The above statement was written by Ed Flaherty and signed by 20 members of Veterans For Peace #161 on July 8, 2014. It has been sent to Representatives Loebsack and Braley, and Senators Grassley and Harkin, and to eight newspapers.
Militarism: Climate Health and Human Rights Connections
Our health and a livable future depend on a healthy environment and a health-supporting climate. Without reducing the production of greenhouse gases, increased frequency of severe storms, heat waves, degraded air quality, and reduced water quality increase risks to public health and the likelihood of violent outbreaks over scarce resources. Rising temperatures alone increase interpersonal conflict. Environmental challenges induced by the changing climate are increasingly recognized by military leaders as drivers of violent conflict. Yet, in the quest for security, society has overlooked how militarism and armed conflicts themselves constitute important drivers of the evolving climate chaos.
Conflict-related destruction of the environment, including fragile ecosystems and health infrastructures, brings death, injury and disease to combatants, civilians, and other living beings alike. Any military action, whether in actual conflict or in preparation for war, involves the profligate use & waste of petroleum products and other non-renewable resources. Conflict in the oil-rich Middle East has meant the burning of oil wells, massive contamination of air and water, and destruction of water, agriculture, health and other life sustaining infrastructure, while simultaneously producing massive flows of refugees and displaced people. These resultant refugee flows disrupt the environment along their path and within crowded camps. Staff, materials, food, and water must all be produced and transported to protect those caught in such untenable situations. Tons of building materials and energy are then required for reconstruction after the cease-fire is declared. Loss of forests and concrete themselves constitute a significant source of greenhouse gas given the loss of greenhouse gas sinks and the energy required to produce concrete.
What about the period before a violent conflict? Consider the greenhouse gas emissions coming from the industries producing weapons systems, large and small, especially here in the U.S. Massive use of resources and energy are required for daily military exercises, war games, weapons testing, military aviation, troop transfer, after which there is all the waste such activities generate all across the globe. The military is the single largest consumer of fossil fuels.
Even less recognized are the ways militarism kills without war. Global military expenditures greatly outpace those devoted to education and health, research, alternative fuel production, or green development. There is a huge gap between what nations are prepared to allocate for military means to provide security and maintain their global and regional power status, versus that which is allocated to alleviate poverty or promote environmental and climate sustainability.
Human health depends on a low carbon climate even more than on a low carbon diet! Militarism is a threat multiplier not only as it directly affects the environment and climate before, during and after violent conflict, but indirectly as it reduces funds available to combat climate change, and diverts funds and resources from research into climate solutions. Reducing dependence on fossil fuels will make us healthier and reduce threats of climate change. Similarly, reducing dependence on militarism to solve the world's challenges will help stabilize the climate and improve global health. How many more have to suffer before we change course? How much can we afford to gamble before taking serious action? The time to cut military spending and waste is now.
Peace Day at the Iowa Children's Museum
Peace Day . . . why does this community need it? Educating young children, youth and adults about the various ways violence is perpetrated and how it impacts our lives can never be taken for granted, even in a predominantly middle and upper middle class community such as Iowa City. It is exactly in this kind of community that it can be dismissed until a serious problem occurs in the schools, home, churches, neighborhood or nation. Only through awareness can action be taken to address violence.
For the past two years teacher Alisa Meggitt has been invaluable in her ability to recruit junior and senior high students for our peace literacy training and Peace Day. Deb Dunkhase, the executive director of the Iowa Children's Museum, has generously allowed us to partner with the museum to conduct the training and host Peace Day at the museum. By collaborating with Nancy Porter and other PEACE Iowa members, junior and senior high students were educated about issues of violence and peace. In addition, John Jadryev, member of Veterans for Peace, spoke to the youth about the controversial use of drones in warfare.
Out of this training the youth developed mini-workshops in which they taught peaceful options to violent encounters to younger children who visited the museum on Sunday, April 13, 2014. The workshops and activities that were implemented by the junior and senior high school students for Peace Day included:
· Trust: Trust Maze and Peace Turtle
· Sharing: Peace Garden and Helping Hands for Peace
· Cooperation: Peace Market and Take Flight for Peace
· Compassion: Peace Feelings and Peace Fortune Tellers
· Games: Peace Frisbee and Stamp Out Violence Strategies
As the day concluded, all the youth and adult volunteers expressed their desire to do this project again next year.
Two Ignominious Anniversaries
This summer we have to decide how to digest two anniversaries: July 28, which marks 100 years since the beginning of WW I in 1914; and August 7, which marks 50 years since Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964.
All wars are evil, and all could have been avoided if individuals, tribes, leaders, and countries had practiced common decency and common sense. But some wars are more vile, more unjustified than your run-of-the-mill war. WW I and the Vietnam War both fit that description.
What might have been settled with some arm-wrestling contests or sword fights among royal cousins in 1914 instead led to the deaths of 10 million soldiers and 6 million civilians. British Prime Minister Lloyd George said, "If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know." Not only was the war the most devastating
the world had ever seen, it did not lead to peace. In spite of the widespread horror at the carnage of WWI, WWII grew out of the seeds of WWI.
Fast-forwarding from 1914 to August 7, 1964, we witness the U.S. Senate voting 88 to 2 to approve the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, henceforth used as the legal basis for the U.S. war in Vietnam. The resolution was based on lies and pretense—history is clear on this. The two senators, Morse and Gruening, who had the courage to say no, should be honored as heroes. Many have visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington D.C., which lists the 58,286 U.S. troops who died as a result of the war. It's about 150 yards long. If a similar wall were built for the Vietnamese who were killed in the war, the wall would stretch for miles. People are still dying today from the Agent Orange and land mines of that war.
The anniversaries are an opportunity to understand our past and thus more effectively wage peace in our war-torn present.
Peace Worker of the Month
Who's Who at PEACE Iowa?
Peace maker extraordinaire, Lori Nelson's conception of a community peace center in Iowa City came to fruition when she called a meeting of local activists together, who believed enough in the idea to work with her to found PEACE Iowa. Her convictions and her leadership skills are an outgrowth of her work as a director of a multicultural understanding program while in Pennsylvania, her involvement with the Iowa City Friends meeting for many years, her membership in Iowans for Peace since 9/11/2001, and her work teaching psychology, most recently for the University of Iowa.
Benyamin "Ben" Kazemi has been an extremely valuable volunteer for PEACE Iowa, translating children's messages from English to Farsi for our Iowans and Iranians Cultivating Peace Children's Project. He also staffed our Iran booth for kids in the Global Village at Art Fest 2013. Ben came from Iran to the US to go to graduate school. After he received his master's degree in computer science, he started working in the IT department at the University of Iowa. He has been living in Iowa City since January 2011, and he says he is happy that he has ended up in such a beautiful city with beautiful people.
Though not in Vietnam, Ed Flaherty was in the Army in 1966 to 1968, and was among those veterans who threw their medals over the fence at the Capitol in 1971. He always thought that if the US had only learned the right lessons from the Vietnam fiasco we'd have had a chance of pursuing a just foreign policy. In civilian life Ed worked as a banker serving farm families and small businesses from 1981 to 2009, and now retired, welcomes the opportunity to devote time to rabble-rousing for peace as an active member of Veterans for Peace. Ed is currently on the PEACE Iowa Board of Directors.
A University of Iowa graduate, Alisa Meggitt has lived in Iowa City in recent years, working as a middle school global studies teacher, introducing her sixth graders to issues such as child labor, world hunger, ageism, and factory farming. At one point her students raised $3500, which Alisa took to her former Peace Corps village in Senegal, Africa, to coordinate draught rescue and relief efforts. Alisa is one of the main organizers of Peace Day, our annual collaboration with the Iowa Children’s Museum. In preparation for Peace Day, she leads peace literacy workshops to educate 7th-10th graders about war and peace, and then helps these middle and high school students create peace education activities for younger children.
Currently the secretary of the PEACE Iowa Board and a PEACE Iowa office volunteer, Ann Stomquist has lived in Iowa City for over 30 years, 19 of those years as a Research Scientist in the UI College of Public Health coordinating a federally-funded rural environmental health study. A lifelong Quaker and pacifist, she attends the West Branch Friends Meeting for which she is currently Co-Clerk of the meeting's Peace and Social Concerns Committee. Her past work includes two years of mentoring women and teaching Swahili literacy in Tanzania as an AFSC volunteer, and participating in the anti-Vietnam War movement as a member of the Milwaukee Catholic Worker community. Ann brings to PEACE Iowa her administative skills and a lifetime of commitment to improving lives.
Aaron Rempp grew up in Iowa
City and has many years of
experience in human services. He is
currently employed as a social
worker in Cedar Rapids. He is
working with our intern Peyton on an
interview project, as well as assisting
us with seeking in-kind donations
from local businesses and [with] staffing the Peace Literacy
Workshops for Youth.
—from the PEACE Iowa Spring 2013 Newsletter
This semester, Peyton, an International Relations
major at the University of Iowa is doing an internship
at PEACE Iowa. He is assisting us with fundraising,
staffing information tables, and interviewing peace
activists about their motives for a new section of our
web site. We are excited about having our first intern,
and we are pleased to work with someone who is so
dedicated to human rights and peace.
—from the PEACE Iowa Spring 2013 Newsletter
Miriam Timmer-Hackert is our first ever
paid employee and works 8 hours per week, making a big
difference in the office, by taking
on tasks that had been put off,
organizing files, helping
coordinate the office volunteers,
and freeing up PEACE Iowa
director Lori Nelson to focus on
—from the PEACE Iowa September 2012 Newsletter
Marcia Shaffer, one of those faithful folks who hold PEACE Iowa together, is that familiar voice who answers the office phone on Wednesdays. In addition to taking on the duties of organizational treasurer, she is the principal staff person for the office once a week, handling the backlog of E-mail, returning and answering phone calls, and taking on the considerable PEACE Iowa paperwork.
Dennis Bricker is a Professor Emeritus of Industrial Engineering for the University of Iowa, having contributed to his field with a considerable body of published research. Dennis brings an unassuming, unruffled management style to the Internet office tasks required of him weekly, and is currently in the development stages of the PEACE Iowa website upgrade.
A member of Veterans for Peace, Jeff Strotmann has been involved in the movement since the Viet Nam war era when he was arrested for demonstrating against US involvement in that war. As a weekly PEACE Iowa office worker, Jeff terms himself "master of the copy machine," running off everything on that recalcitrant piece of equipment from fliers to mailings to meeting notes.
This summer, PEACE Iowa was fortunate to benefit from the talents of high school student volunteer Lushia. She has a long-standing interest in spreading awareness about peace issues, and she has visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park in Japan. Lushia is a West High School student whose talents include music and journalism. She used her graphic design skills to create event fliers and other publicity materials for PEACE Iowa, and she redesigned the information bulletin board outside our office door. In addition, she staffed our Iran booth for children at Arts Fest.
Thanks to Rose & Peter Persaud for this photo of the January 1, 2007
Iowa City vigil mourning the Iraq War dead—3000 U.S. soldiers and many more Iraqi civilians.