Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
East Bay and San Francisco Branches
Work to Advance Peace, Justice and Human Rights
BEFORE ENLISTING VETERANS AND ALLIES SPEAKING TO HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS IN EAST BAY
During the pandemic, our Before Enlisting team worked hard to develop an on-line program for teachers to use in their classroom. The program includes an introduction by one of our military veterans, the video “Before You Enlist” in both English and Spanish with a quiz to review after watching the documentary, and other short videos by our team about a range of topics: Racism in the Military; What If You Change Your Mind?; A Marine’s Reflections; A Combat Veteran offers Perspective; Rights You Lose at Boot Camp; Military Sexual Trauma; PTSD Explained; and Know Your Rights. We also provide links to resources for Job Alternatives to Military Service and Funding Higher Education, as well as an online brochure entitled “12 Questions for Military Recruiters Before Enlisting”. To see our Online Program, go to our website: www.BeforeEnlisting.org
Last school year we started going back into high school classrooms to talk directly to students about the realities of the military. In order to meet their quota, military recruiters will mislead or even deceive students. Our mission is to give students a more complete picture of how serving in the military can impact their lives, and to give them tools to make an informed decision about their future after graduation.
This 2022-23 school year, we have been very busy going into high school classrooms throughout Oakland and the East Bay. Last week six of us, vets and allies, shared the task of speaking to 17 classes of Juniors at Oakland High in three days. We showed the powerful documentary “Before You Enlist”, shared our stories, answered questions, talked about alternatives, and handed out materials to every Junior at the school. Quite an accomplishment!
Because our program is growing, we need more veterans and allies to join us. If you might be interested in helping us by making contacts at schools, organizing presentations, attending our monthly planning meeting, or going into schools as an ally, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know any veterans who might be interested in joining our team, ask them to email me and we can start a conversation.
We also need funds in order to continue to give our veterans an honorarium for their time speaking to students and organizations, as well as for printing costs for the brochures we hand out and paying for our website.
If you would like to donate to our work, you can write a check made out to Grandmothers Against War. Send check to: Before Enlisting, Box 13083, Oakland, CA 94661-0083.
EXPOSING MILITARIZED POLICING IN SAN FRANCISCO (AB 481)
Following police brutality in the George Floyd protests, in September 2021 California created laws both to limit police violence at first amendment assembly (AB 48), which prohibits the use of kinetic energy projectiles or chemical agents by any law enforcement agency to disperse any assembly, protest, or demonstration, except in compliance with specified standards set by the bill; and also to increase transparency and accountability in the acquisition and deployment of militarized equipment in California communities (AB 481).
AB 481 notes that “Military equipment is more frequently deployed in low-income Black and Brown communities, meaning the risks and impacts of police militarization are experienced most acutely in marginalized communities.”
WILPF members in SF have been working since June, 2022 with the assistance of the AFSC California Healing Justice project to ensure that the required policies about the use of military equipment by the police and sheriff will adequately address the public’s right to know and participate in decisions on funding, acquisition, and use of militarized equipment, given these weapons’ impact on “the public’s welfare, safety, civil rights, and civil liberties”. The SF Board of Supervisors will vote on the police department policy in December. The Sheriff’s Department policy is awaiting review.
For more context on police militarization across California, read AFSC’s very thorough report entitled Equipped for War: Exposing Militarized Policing in California.
NORTH KOREA ABANDONS US AND ALIGNS WITH CHINA AND RUSSIA
by Jackie Cabasso The Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation
If our attention wasn’t riveted on the midterm election results and Russia’s continuing nuclear threats in Ukraine, we would be rightly alarmed about rising nuclear tensions on the Korean Peninsula. It’s a very dangerous situation and one that presents extraordinary challenges.
Against the backdrop of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and increasing military and economic tensions between the United States and China, the North Korean regime has given up on prospects for meaningful negotiations with the United States while courting favour with Russia and China in hopes of joining a powerful new anti-west alliance.
According to North Korea’s state news agency, KCNA, last month’s flurry of missile tests was carried out in response to large-scale navy drills by South Korean and US forces. Designed as a dramatic warning display, the tests simulate showering South Korea with tactical nuclear weapons.
KCNA reported that the various tests simulated targeting military command facilities, striking main ports, and neutralizing airports in the South, to demonstrate a robust deterrent capability. The North Korean Ministry of Defense also warned that the US deployment of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan near the Korean Peninsula is causing a “considerably huge negative splash” in regional security, and it defended its recent missile tests as a “righteous reaction” to intimidating military drills between its rivals.
Rather than ratcheting down hostilities, right now, some 26,000 Japanese and 10,000 American troops, as well as 30 vessels and 370 aircraft from both sides, are participating in a major joint military exercise, “Keen Sword,” in southern Japan. Australia, Britain and Canada are joining parts of the drills.
The unclassified version of the Biden Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, released in October, could be read as pouring gas on the fire. Rather than issuing a clarion call for diplomacy, military restraint and new, non-nuclear global security arrangements, the new NPR doubles down on the centrality of nuclear deterrence—the threatened use of nuclear weapons—in US national security policy. While giving lip service to “a renewed emphasis on arms control,” it declares, “For the foreseeable future, nuclear weapons will continue to provide unique deterrence effects that no other element of US military power can replace….”
The NPR identifies Russia in the near term and China in the longer term as posing growing nuclear threats to the United States, its Allies and partners, describing them as “strategic competitors and potential adversaries.”
It also identifies North Korea and Iran as lesser potential threats, warning that “Any nuclear attack by North Korea on the United States or its Allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of that regime.”
US President Joe Biden will be meeting in person with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the G20 meeting in Bali next week. As an urgent priority, he should take this opportunity to begin a dialogue seeking to turn down the heat on the Korean Peninsula and in the Taiwan Strait.
The United States, South Korea and their allies should postpone joint military exercises in the region indefinitely. The US and South Korea should continue to pursue dialogue with North Korea without preconditions and put “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula in the context of multilateral denuclearization efforts.
The United States, Russia and China must also address a course of denuclearization if the promise of peace is to be realized. They must honor their 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) obligation to make good faith efforts to pursue nuclear disarmament by seeking negotiations with the other nuclear-armed states to eliminate nuclear weapons. North Korea, which withdrew from the NPT in 2003, could, in due course, rejoin the Treaty, which promised it access to peaceful nuclear technology in return for its pledge never to acquire nuclear weapons.
With festering nuclear flashpoints in Ukraine, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, South Asia, and the Middle East, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. For starters, we need a bold vision for a different kind of future, where human security takes precedence over “national” security and where, as Gandhi said, nations “will want to live as much for other nations as for [themselves].” There is no place in that future for nuclear weapons.
EXPLORE WILPF TODAY
WILPF East Bay, P. O. Box 13083, Oakland, CA 94661
WILPF-SF, P. O. Box 590253, San Francisco, CA 94159
National WILPF www.wilpfus.org
International WILPF: www.wilpf.org