Nonviolent Communication: A Path Toward a More Peaceful and Just Future for Us All

By Jacopo DeMarinis

We at CAPA UIUC dedicate a lot of our activist efforts to promoting awareness of social and economic inequities, as well as the climate crisis, and campaigning for social justice and action on climate change. As previous blog posts have made clear, unjust social and economic conditions, exacerbated by climate change, play an important role in driving conflict. But they are not the only factors at play!

Destructive conflict can also frequently arise due to a pattern of violent and destructive communication, as we are seeing in the United States with political polarization. We all know what destructive and violent communication looks like; we see it on TV, have witnessed it frequently in our daily life, and probably have engaged in a pattern of violent communication with others at one point or another. So, what does nonviolent communication look like? 

Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, a prominent mediator, teacher, psychologist, conflict scholar, and the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, popularized this concept by developing a method for nonviolent communication that laid the foundation for a reconciliatory, constructive way to communicate with others. 

As depicted above, the nonviolent communication model (NVC model) is rooted in 2 main ideas: empathetically listening and honestly expressing. When people are communicating nonviolently, they are engaging compassionately, actively listening to perceive the other person’s needs and feelings, and honestly conveying their feelings and needs as well. According to Dr. Rosenberg, the NVC process consists of 4 steps: 

  • Observations, where we actively observe how our surroundings, including others’ actions, are affecting us, or how others are reacting to their surroundings and our actions.
  • Feelings, where we translate our observations into corresponding feelings; does what we observe upset us, make us happy, etc.? Furthermore, we listen and observe others’ feelings as expressed through the community- verbal or nonverbal.
  • Needs, where we identify our specific needs as they relate to our feelings, or observe the needs of others. For example, “I am defensive because I am observing that you are judging me, and I really need you to just accept me as I am right now.”
  • Requests, where we request a specific action from another person, which is connected to our observations, feelings, and needs. If the person complies with this request, it would have a very positive impact on your relationship and life. For example, the “request” in the example above was that the other person accept you. 

Marshall Rosenberg employed the NVC process that he created throughout his work in conflict-affected countries all over the world, including in Israel and Palestine, Croatia, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. Importantly, this process is very applicable to a wide variety of contexts. You can use this communication model to understand your feelings and needs more deeply, foster stronger and more compassionate relationships with others, handle workplace conflicts, relate with people of different political and cultural identities, or help others resolve disputes as a mediator or facilitator.

Furthermore, there are several things to keep in mind when we are following the NVC model: 

  • Consciousness: Am I in tune with my feelings and needs, as well as those of others? Am I actively and empathetically listening and honestly expressing myself? Do I value solutions that fulfill the needs of others, as well as myself?
  • Thought: Are my thoughts judgemental or angry toward the person with whom I am communicating? How can I reframe my thoughts so that they emerge from a place of love?
  • Language: Do my words convey judgment or blame?
  • (Nonverbal) Communication: Do nonverbal elements of my communication- body language, tone and pitch of voice, etc.- convey judgment or blame?
  • Use of Power: What are my intentions and goals regarding this communication? Do I seek to establish power over, instead of power with, the person with whom I am engaging, or do I value their needs as much as I value my own? Am I willing to converse with this person until we find a solution and establish an understanding that works for both of us?

Importantly, the NVC model has some key values and assumptions: 

  • Universal Human Needs: The Center for Nonviolent Communication defines human needs as “the energy in living organisms that compels them to seek fulfillment and to thrive.” Different universal human needs include: a) Connection, b) Physical Well-being, c) Honesty, d) Play, e) Peace, f), Autonomy, and g) Meaning. Furthermore, since all of our actions are “attempts to meet our needs,” we can better understand others’ actions and the understanding that all share a desire to comply with our needs is a way in which we can foster more compassion for others and build common ground with them. We will discuss the importance of human needs in later chapters.
  • Connection First: Defined as “the moment in which two people experience what is alive in each other simultaneously,” the Center views connection as an extremely important experience that, when engaged in empathetically, can give rise to solutions that meet everyone’s needs peacefully.
  • The Need for Contribution: Contributing to others’ lives in a way that enhances their well being is an important universal human need. NVC is conducive to this desire since it allows people to convey their needs to others that are willing to receive their request. Furthermore, when you are disconnected from your “need for contribution,” seeking empathetic connection with others or listening to yourself and your needs can help you regain this motivation.
  • Interdependence: Since all human beings are interconnected, one’s actions have ripple effects that influence the whole world. Furthermore, our socio political and economic systems are all connected in this ever globalized world.
  • Value Judgements: In accordance with NVC, it is vital to judge actions and situations by comparing them with our basic values, rather than characterizing them according to our simple moral beliefs- i.e., “terrorists are evil.” In other words, judge by reaffirming our commitment to compassion and peace instead of emphasizing our condemnation of evil, which further justifies violence against the aggressor. 
  • The Protective Use of Force: Kind of like self defense, the use of force is only acceptable as a way to protect ourselves, rather than inflict unnecessary harm. Restorative justice and nonviolent education are acceptable ways to restore community cohesion when violence occurs, rather than retributive justice.

The Center for Nonviolent Communication has also published a list of different feelings and needs to assist NVC participants in identifying their needs and feelings when engaging in the NVC process. We encourage you to check out the complete list on the Center for Nonviolent Communication website!

One thing that’s important to note is that a fundamental assumption of the NVC method, that I happen to agree with, is that people ultimately crave compassionate human connection and that anger and fear is a departure from our natural equilibrium of love and compassion. Thus, while this process might sound easy on paper, many times, due to the unmet needs and strong emotions that may beset conflict situations, it may be difficult to immediately gain the other person’s trust and willingness to collaboratively engage in this process. However, Rosenberg believes that the other person will eventually emulate the compassionate way in which you interact with them and that the desire to authentically and empathetically engage with others is in our DNA. 

We at CAPA UIUC encourage you to read more into the wisdom of nonviolent communication (there’s a book Dr. Rosenberg wrote on nonviolent communication: Nonviolent Communication, a Language of Life!) and to try adopting the style of nonviolent communication as you interact with others, especially those who think and act differently from you. If we all do this and share the brilliance of nonviolent communication with others, we can make a big, tangible difference in the world by encouraging the peaceful and productive resolution of conflict. The adoption of NVC will also encourage people of different political views and cultural backgrounds to unite in pursuit of a more just world that meets everyone’s needs.

One person embracing NVC would be a small step, but a giant leap for humanity, as others will follow suit once realizing the immense benefits of NVC. So keep at it!

References

Rosenberg, Marshall. (n.d.). Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, The Heart of 

Nonviolent Communication. The Center for Nonviolent Communication. 

https://www.cnvc.org/training/resource/book-chapter-1

Walden, Myra. (n.d.). What is Nonviolent Communication? PuddleDancer Press. 

https://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/What-is-NVC-Inf

ormation.pdf

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What is the Justice for Black Farmers Act and What Will it Do?

Written by Jacopo DeMarinis, with contributions from Andrew White 

During the majority of America’s growth periods, Black Americans were given leftovers, broken promises, and even broken bodies. This has been as true of American land-use policies as anything else, and the Justice for Black Farmers Act (JBFA) was written with this in mind. This bill aims to make Black people the focus of the US government’s economic generosity, rather than the target of its oppression. In this article, we explain the context behind the JBFA, some of its main goals, and how it aims to achieve them. 

The Justice for Black Farmers Act is not the first time that the United States government has proposed (and implemented) land transfers (Philpott 2020). One of the most important land transfers in US history is the Homestead Act of 1862, which transferred 270 million acres of land from Native American communities to smallholders, enhancing agricultural production and enabling these farmers to build wealth for generations to come (Philpott 2020). The beneficiaries of this land transfer were overwhelmingly male, white landowners despite the fact that women and Black citizens were eligible for land. Another land transfer effort was the Southern Homestead Act of 1866, which aimed to provide freed slaves with 46 million acres of public land seized from Confederate territory. The effort largely failed to transfer land to Black Americans, however.

After President Johnson decided to pardon former Confederates, these landowners were able to reclaim their land. As a result, around 77% of beneficiaries of the Southern Homestead Act were white (Mitchell 2010). Despite the failure of this land transfer, Black farmers were a sizable group in the agricultural sector and constituted one out of every seven farmers in the United States by 1920, or around 925,000 farmers. However, this number decreased to 35,470 by 2017 (Abbott 2020). In the 1999 Pigford lawsuit, Black farmers sued the USDA and its county committees for discriminatory lending and farm payment policies and won, suggesting that USDA policies have played a role in Black farmers’ departure from farming (Mitchell 2010). And history shows us that, not only have Black farmers not received as much financial support from the USDA as other groups of farmers, but they have not benefited from generous land transfers like the Southern Homestead Act. 

It is in this context that Senator Booker has introduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act, which would apportion $8 billion annually from 2021 to 2030 for the USDA to buy land at “a price no greater than fair market value” from “willing sellers” and transfer that land to prospective and current Black farmers, especially those with a “family history of land dispossession” (S. 300 2021). The land transfer would be carried out by the Equitable Land Access Service, and each land grant would not exceed 160 acres (S. 300 2021). Furthermore, the Act calls for establishing a $1 billion annual grant program that would assist Black Americans in identifying eligible land to be bought and provide them with the financial resources necessary to cover capital and operating costs associated with farming (S. 300 2021). The Act would also establish a Farm Conservation Corps program to provide new farmers with apprenticeship opportunities and the skills necessary to undertake a career in agriculture, as well as enhance funding for HBCUs and ag extension programs that target socially disadvantaged farmers (Philpott 2020). Finally, the Act would set up a “National Socially Disadvantaged Farmer and Rancher Bank” to enhance Black and other minority farmers’ access to credit, and create ‘civil rights oversight boards’ to address discriminatory policies in the USDA (S. 300 2021). 

Contact us at capa.uiuc@gmail.com if you want to view more information regarding the Justice for Black Farmers Act and/or meet with us to discuss ways you can make a difference in this campaign.

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Joint Statement Calling on Biden Administration to Condemn Israeli government plans to Forcibly Displace Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem

Chicago Area Peace Action and our Palestinian Human & Civil Rights Campaign wholeheartadly endorse the below statement.

Read more about this statement and the grassroots advocacy from The Hill and Middle East Eye 

The undersigned grassroots and advocacy organizations stand in solidarity with the Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem currently at risk of losing their homes and call on the Biden administration to immediately and publicly condemn the Israeli government’s plans to forcibly displace 1,550 Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Bustan neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem and to exert the utmost diplomatic pressure to prevent these potential war crimes from taking place. 

The situation is particularly urgent in Sheikh Jarrah, where the Israeli government plans to forcibly displace hundreds of Palestinians from homes they have lived in for generations, in order to allow Israeli settlers to move in, an act which is illegal under international humanitarian law. On May 7, the United Nations urged the Israeli government to halt these plans, stating that the forced displacement could amount to war crimes. This takes place in the broader context of Israel’s ongoing policy to forcibly remove Palestinians from their homes through eviction, home demolition, and displacement, with the express intent of pushing Palestinians out of Jerusalem in order to create and maintain a Jewish majority and supremacy in the city. 

Furthermore, we are deeply disturbed by the violence and use of force that Israeli police in East Jerusalem are employing against Palestinian residents, protestors, and worshippers during the last ten days of Ramadan. Over the past week, residents and activists leading sit-ins, vigils, and protests against the forced displacement in Sheikh Jarrah have been met with overwhelming violence and force from Israeli police and settlers, including a police officer kneeling on a protestor’s neck while he shouts that he is being suffocated, and attacking worshippers at Al Aqsa Mosque , Islam’s third holiest site. Protestors have also faced harassment from Israeli officials, including an incident in which the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem told a Palestinian activist it was “a pity” that he wasn’t shot in the head. 

Israeli state violence is, of course, not limited to Jerusalem. We are horrified by Israel’s use of disproportionate and deadly force against Palestinians in Gaza which have already resulted in the killings of dozens of Palestinians, including children. This comes within the context of Israel’s 14 year illegal blockade on Gaza which has created an open air prison with severe shortages of life-saving medicines, food, electricity, and clean water, making life unsafe and unbearable. We call on the Biden administration to condemn this violence and address its root causes: Israeli blockade and occupation. 

The Biden administration has repeatedly stated that it intends to center its foreign policy around respect for human rights and international law. We therefore call on the administration to uphold international law and act in accordance with the urgency of the moment to prevent the Israeli government’s forced displacement of thousands of Palestinians. 

We support the asks articulated in a letter led by Congresswoman Marie Newman (IL-03) and signed by 24 members of Congress calling on the Biden administration to:

1. Immediately send the strongest possible diplomatic message to Israel to desist from its plans to demolish Palestinian homes in Al-Bustan and evict Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah; 

2. Publicly reiterate that U.S. policy opposes Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and that East Jerusalem is Occupied Territory under international law; 3. Undertake an expeditious review of previous Congressional requests that the State Department investigate whether Israel’s demolition of Palestinian homes with U.S. weapons violates the Arms Export Control Act (AECA); 

4. If Israel proceeds with its plans to demolish Palestinian homes in Al-Bustan and evict Palestinian residents from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah, then the U.S. Embassy to Israel should send observers to document Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians, including details on the military units involved in these operations and the usage of any U.S. weapons for purposes of oversight and accountability regarding Leahy Law and AECA violations. 

Sincerely, 

350.org 

About Face: Veterans Against the War 

Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE) 

Adalah Justice Project 

African Public Affairs Committee 

Alianza Americas 

Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine 

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) 

American Friends Service Committee 

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) 

American Muslims for Palestine 

Arab American Association of NY 

Arab American Caucus 

Arab American Civic Council 

Arab American Institute 

Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC) 

Armenian-American Action Network 

As the Spirit Moves Us 

Ayada Leads 

Borderlands for Equity 

Center for International Policy 

CHANGE (Center for Health and Gender Equity) 

Chicago Faith Coalition on Middle East Policy 

Christian Peacemaker Teams 

Churches for Middle East Peace 

CODEPINK 

Common Defense

Community Renewal Society 

Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) 

Council on American-Islamic Relations, Washington Chapter Cross Border Network for Justice & Solidarity 

Demand Progress 

Democracy for America 

Democratic Socialists of America 

Detention Watch Network 

Disciples Palestine Israel Network (DPIN) 

Dissenters 

Dream Defenders 

Emgage Action 

Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC) 

Episcopal Peace Fellowship-Palestine Israel Network 

Eyewitness Palestine 

Fellowship of Reconciliation 

The Feminist Front 

For All 

Freedom Forward 

Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) 

Friends of Sabeel North America 

Grassroots Global Justice Alliance 

Grassroots International 

Historians for Peace and Democracy 

Hometown Action 

ICNA Council for Social Justice 

IfNotNow 

Indiana Center for Middle East Peace 

Indivisible 

Indivisible Illinois 

International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN) 

Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno 

Islamophobia Studies Center 

Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church Jetpac Resource Center 

Jewish Voice for Peace Action 

Jews for Racial And Economic Justice (JFREJ) 

Just Foreign Policy 

Justice Democrats 

Justice for Muslims Collective 

Kehilla Community Synagogue 

MADRE 

Mainers for Accountable Leadership

March For Science 

Massachusetts Peace Action 

MediaJustice 

Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) 

Migrant Roots Media 

Monthly Review Foundation 

MoveOn 

MPower Change 

Muslim Peace Fellowship 

National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd National Arab American Women’s Association (NAAWA) National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) National Iranian American Council 

National Network for Immigrant & Refugee Rights National Writers Union 

New Hampshire Youth Movement 

New Internationalism Project at Institute for Policy Studies Nonviolence International 

Northeast Political Prisoner Coalition 

OD Action 

On Earth Peace 

Our Revolution 

Palestine Advocacy Project 

Palestine Legal 

Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace 

Pax Christi USA 

Peace Action 

People’s Action Institute 

Presente.org 

Progressive Democrats of America 

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada 

Project Blueprint 

Project South 

Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice RAICES 

ReThinking Foreign Policy 

Revolutionary Love Project 

Revolving Door Project 

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights 

RootsAction.org 

School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) 

Security Policy Reform Institute (SPRI) 

Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) 

Solidaire Action Fund

South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) 

Southern Anti-Racism Network 

Sunrise Movement 

TakeAction Minnesota 

Tree of Life Educational Fund 

Tunisian United Network 

UltraViolet Action 

Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East United Church of Christ Palestine-Israel Network 

United for Peace and Justice 

The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society United Vision for Idaho 

United We Dream 

US Campaign for Palestinian Rights 

U.S. Labor Against Racism and War 

Veterans For Peace 

Virginia Coalition on Human Rights 

Voice for Refuge Action Fund 

Voices for Justice in Palestine 

WESPAC Foundation, Inc. 

Whatcom Peace & Justice Center 

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Win Without War 

Working Families Party 

World BEYOND War

Peace Action: Once Again Trump Scoffs Congressional War Powers with Republican Help

Press released author by Peace Action National

Washington, D.C. — May 7, 2020 — In response to the veto by President Trump yesterday of a bill (S.J.Res.68) to reclaim congressional war powers in regards to Iran and the anticipated failure today of the Senate override vote, Paul Kawika Martin, Senior Director for Policy and Political Affairs at Peace Action, released the following statement:

“President Trump’s seventh veto yesterday represents the fifth time he’s ignored bipartisan restraint on him for conducting or selling arms to support unconstitutional wars.  The Senate vote today failed to garner the 67 votes needed to override the president’s veto because most Republicans continue to ignore the supermajority of voters who oppose a war of choice with Iran.

“Congress passed this bill to confirm what the constitution makes clear: any president, especially President Trump, must come to Congress before going to war with Iran and stop any unauthorized military activities.

“The pandemic clearly shows that expensive endless wars make Americans less safe as they take funds from critical needs like health care.

“The failed policy of maximum provocation towards Iran keeps the U.S. on the precipice of another disastrous war of choice in the Middle East.  President Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the successful Iran nuclear agreement, which blocked all the pathways to a nuclear weapons and imposition of crippling sanctions on Iran, created high tensions and slammed the door on diplomacy.  We need conversations not a catastrophe.”

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Founded in 1957, Peace Action (formerly SANE/Freeze), the United States’ largest grassroots peace and disarmament organization, with over 100,000 paid members and nearly 100 chapters in 36 states, works to abolish nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs, encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights and support nonmilitary solutions to international conflicts. The public may learn more and take action at www.PeaceAction.org.

Notes to editors:

1.  S.J.Res.68 passed on February 13 used the War Powers Act to force a vote that would have been blocked by Majority Leader McConnell.

2.  The House passed on a bipartisan basis Representative Ro Khanna’s (D-CA) bill to stop funding for an Iran war and Representative Barbara Lee’s bill to repeal the 2002 Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) on Iraq.

The US Public Doesn’t Want War With Iran. The Senate Must Reaffirm That.

Originally published on Truthout.org | January 12, 2020 | By Hassan El-Tayyab

Join us for a Global Day of Protest – No War on Iran! on Saturday, January 25th. Find more details here.

 As early as this coming week, the U.S. Senate may vote on whether to join the House of Representatives in asserting the rightful role of the U.S. Congress in deciding whether the president is authorized to wage war against Iran.

It’s not looking likely that the Senate will vote on the same bill passed by a bipartisan majority of 224-194 in the House on Thursday because Republicans leadership may not allow this bill to get out of committee. The passage of that bill, H.Con.Res.83, which was introduced by Rep. Elissa Slotkin, was a critical move by Congress at this moment of escalating tensions, making clear that the House doesn’t want more military aggression against Iran.

Senate Republicans should obey the law and bring this up for a vote, as the War Powers Act of 1973 explicitly states that this concurrent resolution is privileged and must be brought to the floor. If not, the Senate will have the chance to vote on Senator Tim Kaine’s Iran War Powers Resolution, S.J.Res.68, regardless.

A Symbolic Victory in the House or Something More?

The bill passed by the House on Thursday invoked the War Powers Act of 1973 to limit the president’s ability to launch unauthorized war against Iran by forcing him to obtain congressional authorization before taking further military action.

Three Republicans voted in favor of the resolution, including Republicans Reps. Matt Gaetz and Francis Rooney of Florida as well as Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky. It was less than many supporters of the bill had hoped for, as a similar provision to the FY2020 Defense policy bill had 27 Republicans vote in support, but it was still a significant statement of bipartisanship in support for congressional war powers.

On the House floor during debate, Rep. Gaetz said, “I represent more troops than any other member of this body. I buried one of them earlier today at Arlington. If our service members have the courage to fight and die in these wars, Congress ought to have the courage to vote for or against them. I’m voting for this resolution.”

Though peace activists have lauded the passage of the bill as historic, there has been a dispute over whether this bill is binding and has the force of law because it is a concurrent resolution, meaning it doesn’t go to the president for a signature and cannot be vetoed. But House Democrats and several legal scholars have argued that concurrent resolutions under the War Powers Act are a special case that hasn’t been tested by the courts yet and should be interpreted as legally binding until the courts explicitly say otherwise. Rep. Ro Khanna has argued that the Supreme Court case Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer could be used as precedent for enforcing war powers resolutions, as it was an example of the courts stepping in to allow Congress to limit the powers of the president.

The bottom line is that if Rep. Slotkin’s concurrent resolution were to be passed by the Senate — which is unlikely, considering Majority Leader McConnell won’t bring this up for a vote — then Democratic leadership would argue that the Youngstown Supreme Court case says that it is binding. Republican leadership and the Trump administration might then argue that it is not, citing the Immigration and Naturalization Service vs. Chadha Supreme Court case. Ultimately it wouldn’t bind the president unless Democrats forced the Supreme Court to make a decision.

The Senate Vote Ahead

Now that the House has spoken out, the question of Iran War Powers goes to the Senate, which is expected to vote on Sen. Kaine’s Iran War Powers Resolution either this week or next. Kaine’s resolution was structured as a joint resolution and will not face the same legal criticisms as Rep. Slotkin’s concurrent resolution, since there is no question that a joint resolution can be enacted into law.

In a huge win for the peace movement, Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul have come out publicly in favor of Sen. Kaine’s bill. After being briefed on the intelligence used to justify Trump’s strike on Suleimani, Sen. Lee saidit was, “the worst briefing I’ve seen, at least on a military issue, in the nine years I’ve served in the United States Senate.” He is now an original cosponsor on Sen. Kaine’s resolution.

To get over the hurdle of passing Senator Kaine’s Iran War Powers Resolution, all Senate Democrats need to vote in favor, along with at least four Republicans. Senators Todd Young and Susan Collins have both asked for changes to the text and have indicated that if these are made, they are open to supporting it. The changes include removing any language criticizing Trump for assassinating Suleimani — which would attempt to make this an apolitical war powers issue. Other members on the swing list include Senators Lisa Murkowski, Jerry Moran, Steve Daines, Doug Jones and Joe Manchin, who all voted in favor of the Yemen War Powers Resolution last May.

A Momentous Moment

While we wait for the Senate to act, it’s important to reflect on the importance of this House vote and this moment. The War Powers Act reaffirms what’s already in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution and makes explicitly clear where war powers reside – Congress. The law was passed in 1973, not just as a rebuke to President Nixon for bombing Cambodia in secret and the unpopular Vietnam war, but to also ensure that Congress going forward had a mechanism to force votes and debates on where and when we go to war. It’s a welcome sign to see members reasserting a constitutional power that has been left on the shelf to gather dust for decades without use. The House has made it clear that Trump does not have the authority to attack Iran. The House vote also showed that members of Congress are with the American people, who according to recent polling, overwhelmingly want no war with Iran and a diplomacy-based approach for easing tensions.

While we may not have the votes to override an almost inevitable Trump veto should this legislation pass both chambers, it’s critical that Congress force the question. Even if this is not enacted into law, it will help deescalate tensions with Iran, win in the court of public opinion, and set the stage for further congressional action during consideration of defense appropriations and authorization bills later this year. Some legal experts have also argued these votes could be used in a potential Supreme Court lawsuit against the President over separation of powers issues.

After authorizing a $738 billion FY2020 military budget that was stripped of measures preventing the President Trump from starting an unauthorized war with Iran, Congress now has an opportunity to change direction. At a time when we need to address so many issues here at home, from crumbling infrastructure, rising inequality, climate change, and more, it’s absolutely critical for Congress and the American people not to let the president waste trillions of dollars and human lives on a war of choice with Iran. The last thing America or the world needs is another endless war in the Middle East. The House and Senate must pass the Iran War Powers Resolution immediately, uphold their constitutional responsibilities and find a pathway to peace with Iran through diplomacy.