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  Peace and Justice Works
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065

Governor Tina Kotek
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, OR 97301-4047

August 3, 2023

To: Governor Tina Kotek

Re: Deployment of Oregon National Guard to undeclared war zones

Governor Kotek

For at least 15 years, peace groups in Oregon have been urging our Governors not to send the Guard overseas for combat and support missions in countries against which Congress has not declared war. In 2008-09, many of the groups organized the Keep Oregon's Guard in Oregon campaign, pushing for a resolution from the legislature to prevent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan under the outdated 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force. Over 7000 signatures from all over the state were submitted urging the legislature to pass a resolution about keeping the Guard home. Because the 2001 AUMF was specific to those responsible for what happened on 9/11 that year, and the 2002 AUMF was about ousting the now long-dead Saddam Hussein from power, there is no authority for the US to maintain troops in Iraq, assert its right to intervene in Afghanistan, or for that matter have a presence in Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Pakistan or Syria.

The people of Oregon need the National Guard to stay stateside to handle wildfires, conduct search and rescue missions, and provide support for the medical system in public health crises such as the pandemic. With climate change not abating, there will likely be more natural disasters needing the Guard's attention in the years to come.

Annual letters to Governor Brown included one in 2020 which called attention to six of Oregon's 13 helicopters normally used to fight wildfires being deployed in Afghanistan.

The US has withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan, but retains the right for "over-the-horizon" attacks against suspected terrorists.*-1 There are 2500 troops still in Iraq,*-2 and at least 900 in Syria in over 20 bases.*-3

We urge you to set a firm policy that Oregon's Guard will not take part in any current or future deployments without a formal declaration of war from Congress. Open-ended Authorizations for Use of Military Force have been used to justify ongoing war actions without congress reconsidering the underlying policies. Efforts to repeal the 2002 Iraq War Authorization have stalled, and Congress does not seem to have an appetite to amend or repeal the 2001 Authorization, with a vote earlier in 2023 failing 9-86 in the Senate.*-4

Governor Brown did not send the National Guard to participate in crowd control during the 2020 racial justice uprisings in Portland, and would not allow President Trump to send the Guard to the Mexican border to support his prejudiced and often racist immigration policies. We appreciated those decisions.

Many of us reached out to you as a candidate in August 2022 to seek your opinion on this life-and- death policy issue for Oregon's Guard.

We are sending this letter to you in proximity to the 78th anniversary of the US bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, thinking about the devastation caused by war no matter which side you are on. We would like you to have Oregon take the lead in ending the reliance on violence to resolve conflict and instead Keep Oregon's Guard in Oregon.

Thank you,

Dan Handelman for
Peace and Justice Works (Portland)

Rick Staggenborg, MD, President for
Veterans For Peace Linus Pauling Chapter 132 of Corvallis-Albany

Veterans For Peace, Rogue Valley Chapter 156

Stand for Peace (Portland)

Albany Peace Seekers

Oregon PeaceWorks

Some Members of the Jewish Community of Portland, Oregon

Pacific Green Party

Alliance for Democracy (Portland)

Peace Action Group of the First Unitarian Church (Portland)

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee

Barry Reeves for
Buddhist's Responding (Corvallis)

Natasha Beck for
Portland Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

Congregation Shir Tikvah

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility**

**--Note, this group's signature was left off the original
  due to an administrative error on PJW's part, we apologize for the oversight.

Signers after August 3, 2023:

Community Alliance of Lane County

Eastside Democratic Club (Portland)


*1- 08-01/
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*2- awe
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*4- introduce-the-end-endless-wars-act/
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2021 letter

2020 letter

2019 letter

2018 letter

2017 letter

2016 letter
  (to gubernatorial candidates)

2015 letter  

2013/2014 letters  


Peace and Justice Works
PO Box 42456
Portland, OR 97242
(503) 236-3065

Page posted August 3, 2023, last updated September 14, 2023


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