Founded in 1982, the Campaign for Peace and Democracy (CPD) contends that America’s foreign policy is “based on domination, militarism, … enforcement of an inequitable and cruel global economy, and … persistent support for authoritarian regimes.” As a remedy, CPD “works to advance a new, progressive and non-militaristic U.S. foreign policy—one that encourages democracy and social justice by promoting solidarity with activists and progressive movements throughout the world.”
Specifically, CPD calls for the U.S. to dismantle its military bases worldwide; to take “a clear stand against corrupt and authoritarian governments,” be they friends or foes of America; to oppose “all forms of terrorism worldwide”—including terrorism “by forces with which the U.S. is now aligned, such as … the Israeli Army, and by the U.S. itself in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere”; to support the right of “self-determination for all peoples,” including the Palestinians; to support “freedom of speech, press, religion, artistic expression, and association—including the right of workers to form trade unions—in every nation”; to support “equal rights for women, lesbians and gays, and all sexual, racial and ethnic minorities”; to take “unilateral steps toward renouncing weapons of mass destruction … and vigorously promoting international disarmament”; to take “drastic, emergency steps to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions”—a measure rooted in the premise that human industrial activity (a.k.a. “corporate depredation”) is the cause of global warming; to abandon the capitalist “economic policies that bring mass misery to people in large parts of the world”; and to initiate a foreign-aid and economic-development program “directed at popular rather than corporate needs.”
During its early years, when Cold War hostilities were palpable, CPD advocated “detente from below.” It not only engaged Western peace activists in the defense of democratic dissidents in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, but also enlisted Eastern-bloc human-rights activists against “anti-democratic U.S. policies in countries like Nicaragua and Chile.”
In November 2002, CPD opposed the American invasion of Iraq, stating that “it is up to the Iraqi people themselves to oust Saddam Hussein … and democratize their country.” By CPD’s reckoning, the Bush Administration’s real objective was to “expand and solidify U.S. predominance in the Middle East” and seize control of Iraq’s oil fields.
In 2003, CPD asserted that the Cuban government’s violations of democratic rights did not justify sanctions by the United States. Citing America’s own “imperial goals,” its “barbaric practice of capital punishment,” its history of “international terrorism and economic warfare,” and its “long criminal record of … interventions in Latin America,” CPD said the U.S. was “hardly in a position to preach democracy and human rights.” Further, the Campaign condemned the Guantanamo Bay detention center for its alleged abuses, and the PATRIOT Act for “drastically undermin[ing] civil liberties for both citizens and non-citizens of the United States.”
In 2006, CPD stated that “under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has the right to develop civilian nuclear power.” And even if Tehran were ever to develop a nuclear weapon, the Campaign asserted, “it is unlikely that the ayatollahs, who hold decisive power, would use it since it would be suicidal to do so.” Noting further that Israel and the U.S. together possessed thousands of nuclear warheads capable of striking Iran, CPD reasoned that “as long as a handful of nations arrogate to themselves the exclusive right to possess nuclear weapons, the have-nots … will constantly seek to acquire such weapons for themselves.” The best way to persuade Iran to abandon whatever nuclear ambitions it might have, said CPD, would be for America to end its “belligerence” and “begin disarming.” Further, CPD stated that although Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “has made outrageous statements about the Holocaust,” he “has not actually threatened to attack Israel or destroy its people.”
In early 2009, after Israel had launched its “Operation Cast Lead” military operation against Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza, CPD lamented the “Gaza crisis” and issued a “No More Blank Check to Israel” declaration against U.S. aid to the Jewish state.
In the fall of 2011, CPD expressed its support for the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protesters across the U.S. and abroad. In October, CPD co-director Joanne Landy brought “solidarity greetings” to OWS occupiers in Rome (Italy), where, on the 15th of that month, hundreds of demonstrators erupted in extreme violence.
Among CPD’s more notable endorsers are Stanley Aronowitz, Ed Asner, Medea Benjamin, Leslie Cagan, Noam Chomsky, Marjorie Cohn, Jodie Evans, David Hartsough, Kathy Kelly, Naomi Klein, Michael Lerner, and Cornel West.