By Sallyann McCarthy
DUBUQUE — More than 100 activists and organizers gathered in Dubuque recently for the first Iowa Peace Initiative Conference. Twenty-nine peace organizations from across Iowa were represented at the Sept. 18 conference, including the Clinton Franciscan Center for Active Nonviolence and Peacemaking, Clinton Peace Coalition, Students of St. Ambrose University (Davenport) Anti-War Committee, Ambrosians for Peace and Justice and St. Ambrose University Campus Ministry.
The morning panel discussion featured national peace groups’ efforts. Discussion sessions in the afternoon focused on the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, nuclear-weapons proliferation, environmental impact and the human costs of war, and prospects for peace in the Middle East.
Tad Daley, author of “Apocalypse Never: Forging the Path to a Nuclear Weapon-Free World,” read excerpts from his recently released book as part of the day’s focus on working for ratification of the New START treaty. Recently passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the bilateral treaty between the U.S. and Russia to reduce their nuclear arsenals by 10 percent over the next 10 years is critical to reducing the threat of nuclear annihilation, reported Daley and others. Art Roche, Dubuque, who chaired the planning committee, was grateful for the combined efforts of doctors, teachers, and veterans working to end wars and encouraging others to join their efforts.
Conference attendees committed to maintaining the fledgling Iowa Peace Initiative and to focus on organizing to bring about change in national policies regarding nuclear weapons and war as means of conflict resolution. They also committed to holding another conference next fall. This year’s event was held in conjunction with the Sept. 21 United Nations International Day of Peace.
The Iowa Peace Initiative is a statewide consortium for all interested Iowans, planned by representatives of a still-growing list of “partner” groups.