July 20, 2017
Dear Friend of the Campaign for Peace and Democracy,
These are indeed critical times. Domestically, Donald Trump is attempting to roll back the gains, inadequate as they are, that we’ve won over the past decades on the environment, labor and reproductive rights, racial justice, gay and transgender rights, health care, internet equality, and more. He has taken steps to weaken public education, cracked down on immigrants, promoted Islamophobia, tried to intimidate the media and the left, and fostered a climate of violence against Muslims, Blacks, and Latino/as.
Internationally, Trump’s actions have made the Campaign’s support of democratic and social justice movements and call for a democratic, peaceful United States foreign policy more crucial than ever. Trump has made ominous war threats to the North Korean regime, worked to relegitimize torture and increase an already obscenely huge military budget, tried to slam the door shut on immigrants and refugees from many Muslim-majority countries, moved ahead on his plan to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, supported bloody assaults on thousands of civilians in Yemen, Mosul, and Raqqa, escalated warnings to China, increased sanctions on Iran, authorized troop increases in the losing Afghan war, continued the long-time U.S. policy of issuing Israel a blank check to continue oppression of the Palestinians, and in an ugly symbolic move has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accord (which itself was a toothless agreement dependent on voluntary compliance).
Meanwhile the president has embraced dictators and brutal authoritarians from Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In many respects, Trump has been simply continuing the bipartisan U.S. policy of realpolitik, but in his own special, more vulgar fashion – one that essentially abandons even rhetorical doubletalk about defending democracy and human rights in favor of explicit support for extreme authoritarians. And lest anyone be under the illusion that Trump’s celebration of the leaders of traditional U.S. adversary nations like China and Russia means some sort of détente from above, we need to keep in mind that the president is a notoriously impulsive, reckless and vengeful man with an outsized fear of being humiliated, leading a country whose imperial dominance is in decline, and who is capable of turning on a dime to become aggressive against the same countries whose leaders he has flattered and defended moments before.
We need your help to sustain CPD’s efforts on behalf of a fundamentally new U.S. foreign policy – a policy that undermines dictators by renouncing military intervention and consistently showing solidarity with democratic social change movements from below, wherever they arise. And we need to reject the idea that preserving NATO and strengthening traditional U.S. “leadership” over an inequitable global economic, political and social order is the alternative to Trump’s economic nationalism.
Thanks to your generosity, we’ve been able to support the campaigns llisted below in the first months of 2017. Now we’re asking for your further supportto continue our work in the challenging months ahead.
- In February 2017 CPD issued a statement on resisting Trump. It began by noting that " Trump’s demented rhetoric ," and"horrendous initiatives" were being met by"absolutely unprecedented mass resistance in every corner of the nation and around the globe.” We urged everyone to join this inspiring resistance but also that "it is essential not only to block Trump’s reactionary initiatives, but also to move beyond a defense of the status quo and start building...an independent left, free of all ties to corporate neoliberalism and able to join with democratic social justice and anti-war movements around the world."
- In February CPD promoted a speaking tour of the Northeast, Chicago, and Canada, sponsored by Global Campaign of Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution, by Swiss-Syrian leftist writer Joseph Daher, who addressed the debate on the left about the Syrian Revolution, Assad’s counter-revolution, and the role of the imperialist and regional powers. Daher is the founder of the blog Syria Freedom Forever and the author of Hezbollah: The Political Economy of Lebanon's Party of God and (with John Rees) of The People Demand. A short history of the Arab revolutions. The tour’s Facebook page is here. You can read Joseph Daher's blog here and his book is available here.
- In March CPD urged its supporters to sign a statement circulated by secular, pro-democracy Syrians, declaring their solidarity with the people of Yemen in the face of brutal Saudi aggression. The text of “Syrian Statement in Solidarity with the People of Yemen” is on the Campaign for Peace and Democracy website.
Médecins Sans Frontières at work in Yemen. Photo by Guillaume Binet/MYOP
- In April CPD released a statement “No to Assad's Brutality, No to ISIS, No to U.S. and Russian Bombing and Military Forces in Syria, For a Revival of the Arab Spring" http://www.cpdweb.org/letters/Syria-bombing.shtml. The statement declared: "For sheer brutality the butchers in Damascus have few equals in the world today," but it also strongly condemned U.S. bombing and military forces in Syria because they "will kill innocent people and contribute nothing towards a just solution to the Syrian conflict, while at the same time serving to deepen the reactionary U.S. military presence in the Middle East and reinforce Assad’s rhetorical claim that he is defending the Syrian people against Western imperialism, hollow though that claim may be." The statement ends by calling for "a revival of the movements and the spirit of the Arab Spring, which offer the only possibility of breaking out of the death spiral of Middle Eastern politics," adding that "Many will dismiss this perspective as impractical, but what is truly impractical is the idea that the great powers, each with its own imperial agenda, will bring justice or democracy.”
- CPD has been actively involved in solidarity with the Greek struggle against austerity since 2012, and we have not abandoned our solidarity with that struggle even though Greece is no longer in the headlines, at least for now. In May and June of this year we co-sponsored with Monthly Review Press a Northeast speaking tour by Helena Sheehan, author of The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left, exploring the lessons of the Greek experience for today’s global resistance to austerity. The tour included talks in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., where she was joined by Tom Harrison, Nantina Vgontzas, Molly Nolan, and Medea Benjamin. A video of Sheehan’s talk at NYU with Nantina Vgontzas is available here and audio of Sheehan’s talk is posted on the same page.
- In June CPD co-sponsored three panels at the Left Forum:
"The Syriza Wave: Surging and Crashing with the Greek Left" with Helena Sheehan, Despina Lalaki, and Aaron Amaral
"What Next for the European Left: Confronting the Challenge of Right Wing 'Populism'" with Helena Sheehan, Catarina Principe, and Jonah Birch
"Fighting Back on Both Sides of the Mexico-U.S. Border" with Cinthia Santos, Juan Carlos Ruiz, Edur Velasco Arregui, Andres Barreda Marin, and Richard Roman
- In June CPD joined the Catholic Worker in a vigil for Yemen, and invited its supporters to join the weekly Saturday vigils which will take place from 11 am to 1 pm by the equestrian statue of Washington in Union Square Park, Manhattan. We urged people to look for a protest against the brutal U.S.-Saudi war in Yemen at a location near their homes.
CPD depends on your contributions, so please give as generously as you can.
To donate on line, visit our website. You can mail your check made out to Campaign for Peace and Democracy. For credit card gifts, mail the amount, card number, expiration date and your name, noting if it’s a one-time or a monthly donation. Foreign donations must be made by U.S. money orders or checks payable in U.S. currency drawn on U.S. banks. Our address is Campaign for Peace and Democracy, 2808 Broadway, #12, NY, NY 10025.
Donations are tax-deductible. Thank you very much in advance for your support -- we could not survive without your help.
In peace and solidarity,
Joanne Landy and Thomas Harrison