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Peace Activist Calls for Foreign Policy Reforms

By Mark Scott

Buffalo, NY – The head of the nation's largest peace organization says now is the time to reform US foreign policy. Kevin Martin of the group "Peace Action" addressed the annual meeting of the Western New York Peace Center Thursday night.

It comes as no surprise that Peace Action was a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq. Martin says he's troubled that more US troops have died since the end of major combat in Iraq than were killed during the war itself.

He says he sees no end to the "quagmire" in Iraq. Martin says it all points to the need for a national campaign to reform US foreign policy.

"I think clearly the politics of this country has to change. I think we need to mobilize a big movement for peace and social justice and for a foreign policy that's based on American values such as democracy and human rights," Martin said. "That movement can hold officeholders accountable and have an impact on whoever is in power in Congress or the White House."

Martin argues the nation doesn't need to wait for a new administration in Washington for the foreign policy to change. He says there's evidence that the Bush administration is already changing its approach when it comes to other so-called rogue countries such as Iran and North Korea.

"Because of intense pressure in this country, including some from Republicans, the Bush Administration is now pursuing a better, multi-lateral, diplomatic strategy with both Iran and North Korea," Martin said. "I must say, though, those policies leave much to be desired."

Martin admits his organization came under attack for its vocal opposition to the war in Iraq. But he says peace activists shouldn't be forced to justify their right to free speech and dissent.