Report Back: UFPJ Tackles Forever War & Nuclear/NATO Threat at Left Forum 2016 (Video)

Exactly one month ago, United for Peace and Justice participated in the Left Forum 2016 in New York City. The Left Forum is one of the largest gatherings of radicals and leftists in the United States, with thousands of participants and hundreds of workshops, panels, and plenaries. Last year, the UFPJ coordinating committee decided to represent our network at the Left Forum 2015 by tabling. We had been too preoccupied with organizing for the Peace and Planet conference, march, and rally to adequately organize any panels, but we did support and promote the panels of our member groups. We tabled all three days, between the Jacobin Magazine and US Labor Against War.
This year, UFPJ focused more energy on workshop and panel planning, and promotion for the Left Forum. Our goal was to connect with more UFPJ activists, to provide important peace movement and anti-war analysis at the Left Forum, and to inspire challenging discussions that would influence our strategy and future actions. We partnered with Peace Action NY, American Friends Service Committee, and the US Peace Council and co-hosted 3 workshops (see video of each below). Both Jackie Cabasso and Terry Rockefeller, UFPJ’s co-conveners were in attendance, as well as Matt De Vlieger, UFPJ’s part-time staff. We also flew-in George Martin, former UFPJ Co-Chair to participate in our events.
Through the three workshops (not including others we attended) we engaged about eighty-five attendees of the Left Forum. Hundreds of others have already viewed video of our panels’ online live-stream on Facebook. Another dozen or so people joined the small social meet-and-greet we planned at a nearby lounge to connect with other Peace Movement activists and organizers. We also met dozens of people who identify as members of UFPJ in conversation between panels, and at the many tables in the conference center lobby. Overall, it was a meaningful experience for us to connect in person, in one place, with other peace movement leaders and movers to assess the state of our movement and discuss plans for our shared future. It was also made clear to us how necessary it is to have UFPJ as a reasoned and experienced body in a broader Leftist gathering. You can view video of some of the discussions we had and read background info below. Thanks to those of you who participated and donated online makes this peace-work possible. Please donate here, to keep our program going in this time of need.      


US Militarism’s Expanse and the Need for a Movement to Cut Military Spending and Invest in Human Needs

United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) was formed in 2003, as millions of people around the world said no to the impending U.S. invasion of Iraq. Thirteen years later, despite the fact that we inhabit a war culture and machine with a vast reach and capacity never seen before, UFPJ continues to stand strong in opposition to endless war. It falls upon us as peace activists to inspire American people – and people around the world – to call for an end to war, to protest drone attacks and nuclear weapons modernization, to wage campaigns to cut the military budget, to stand up in our communities to bring attention to the futility of war, and to demand a full focused effort on diplomacy and redirection of resources to meet human needs and protect mother earth. It’s time for the movement for peace and justice to rise again! Read the accompanying statement here:

Chair/Facilitator: Matt De Vlieger View Bio
Speakers/Co-Facilitators: Jackie Cabasso View Bio, Joseph Gerson View Bio, George Paz Martin View Bio, Terry Rockefeller View Bio

The Imperative of Nuclear Disarmament in an Increasingly Dangerous World

We live in an era of fluid, contentious, complicated, provocative and potentially dangerous military geopolitical struggles for power and influence. Almost every month, even every week, we see signs of intensifying military and political tensions between the United States and Russia, especially in regions already marked with strife such as in Syria and Ukraine, and separately between the United States and China, across the South China Sea and North Korea. As all these countries have, between them, over 15,000 nuclear weapons, the possibility of any of these tensions quickly escalating into nuclear war is significant. South Asia continues to be a potential nuclear flashpoint, especially in the region of Kashmir. Instead of trying to reduce the danger from these nuclear weapons, all of these countries are in the process of modernizing or further advancing their nuclear weapons programs. All of this is happening in a world where elites envision and plan for continually escalating competition for increasingly scarce resources. Military planners, in turn, interpret this as a sign of impending armed competition in both conventional and high tech arenas. How should people on the left think about what is happening and how should they organize against these dangerous trends? This panel will discuss these questions, by drawing upon the activist/scholars’ research and their work with local, national and international campaigns to eliminate the dangers of nuclear war.

Chair/Facilitator: Jim Anderson View Bio

Speakers/Co-Facilitators: Jackie Cabasso View Bio, Joseph Gerson View Bio, M. V. Ramana, View Bio, Matt De Vlieger View Bio

No to NATO/No to War!

NATO is an imperial alliance. Beyond the ostensible goal of containing the USSR, now Russia, NATO reinforces US interventions across the Middle East and North Africa. With the war against Serbia, NATO began wars violating the UN charter, followed by Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Eight NATO nations are at war in Syria. The Ukraine crisis, with potential nuclear dimensions, is rooted in NATO’s expansion. Violating the commitment not to move NATO closer to Moscow, President Clinton began the expansion to Russia’s borders and new “partnerships” with Ukraine, Georgia, Asia nations and the Global South. Given the history of invasions of Russia, Moscow’s militarized responses to NATO expansion were predictable. July’s NATO summit will be in Warsaw. It will build on President Obama’s commitment to quadruple spending for U.S. Eastern Europe war preparations. Activists from across Europe will demand peaceful alternatives in a counter-summit. Bahman Azad, professor of economics and sociology, serves on the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, active in Veterans For Peace and the International Campaign in Solidarity with the Iranian People’s Green Movement. Joseph Gerson is Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Peace & Economic Security Program. He serves on the steering committee of the No to NATO/No to War Network, the board of the International Peace Bureau and is Co-Convener of the Peace & Planet Network.

Chair/Facilitator: Jackie Cabasso View Bio

Speakers/Co-Facilitators: Bahman Azad View Bio, Joseph Gerson View Bio


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