THE MICHIGAN PEACE ALLIANCE (MPA) MEETS WITH SENATOR GARY PETERS ON PEACE AND JUSTICE ISSUES
by Nelson Brown, PEC Co-Chair | Sept 9, 2022
This week four representatives from different Michigan peace and justice groups — under the aegis of the statewide MPA and with twenty-five people listening — met for twenty minutes with Senator Gary Peters and his staff by Zoom seeking his support on several world peace and justice issues. While the meeting was cordial and MPA speakers thanked him for the meeting and for supporting some issues, the senator did not agree to support any of the major requests that the MPA made. The MPA represents a newly formed state-wide organization comprising nineteen (and growing) Michigan peace-and-justice groups that have united to bring their issues before political leaders and policy makers
MPA’s representatives first thanked him for being one of seven co-sponsors of Senator Sanders’s Resolution S.R. 56 that directs the removal of U.S. armed forces from hostilities in Yemen due to a lack of Congressional authorization. On the MPA request for cuts in military spending, Senator Peters was non-committal. While he did support an audit of Pentagon spending, he was non-committal even on restoring the Pentagon’s budget to the $813 billion request President Biden made instead of the current $37 billion higher figure he previously had supported. On cutting funding for the problem-plagued F-35 fighter, he agreed it was expensive but stressed that the military was moving towards un-piloted aircraft undermining any need for more F-35s. He did not say he would support cutting any specific part of the Pentagon budget.
About ending the war in Ukraine as soon as possible, the MPA requested that he publicly support starting diplomatic peace negotiations by the United States and Ukraine with Russia, perhaps assisted by other governments, like Turkey, and by the United Nations. The MPA stressed that the war was causing increasing major social, economic and political harm all over the world, including the U.S., and most likely would devolve into a long-term stalemate after much destruction and carnage. Moreover, the war was making it harder to work on greater long-term challenges, such as Climate Change and productive relations with China.
Senator Peters offered no support for starting diplomatic negotiations. Instead, he stressed the righteousness of Ukraine’s fight against Russia and supported President Biden’s efforts to mobilize support for the war. He said, “we don’t want to give an inch.” A reasonable conclusion drawn from his remarks would be that he strongly supports continuing the war until Russia is driven out of all previously occupied Ukrainian territory. He offered no suggestion about how to end the war if it turned into a protracted stalemate.
While Senator Peters did not support MPA requests, we thanked him for listening to our concerns and asked to keep in touch with him and his staff on our issues. After Peters left the meeting, it continued with staff. The MPA hoped the senator would support paying the $1.5 billion dues and debt the U.S. owes the United Nations for Peacekeeping forces; also, to add money to the World Food Program to combat the climate/drought/famine crisis in Africa, parts of Asia, and the Middle East; and additionally, to provide more funds to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to help the 100 million refugees worldwide. We hope he will respond positively on these requests.
Although Senator Peters’s failure to support or even to directly address the major issues the MPA presented was disappointing, the MPA will continue to bring its issues and concerns to him and his staff. We are hopeful that as events develop and more people become concerned, he will become more responsive to our issues. After all, the MPA is in the fight for peace and justice for the long haul.