Tonight is Trump’s State of the Union address.
This is a critical time: we face a frightening escalation towards war, the abandonment of diplomacy, and attacks on human rights.
Here are a few items to look out for in Trump’s address — and what’s at stake for people and the planet:
- On Trump’s escalation towards war with Iran: Trump’s assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a senior Iranian military commander, has brought us dangerously close to war with Iran and worsened violence across the region. It scuttled any prospects of diplomacy and undermined the concrete progress that Iran had made under the nuclear deal. Trump then slapped additional economic sanctions on Iran, claiming this was a de-escalation of the crisis. Far from it: these sanctions are war by another name. They’re causing shortages of medicine and increasing the costs of vital food and fuel, resulting in real suffering for the Iranian people.
- On the uprising in Iraq: For months, Iraqi people have been rising up to confront corruption, sectarian politics, and foreign interference — from both the US and Iran. This powerful grassroots movement has united people across sectarian divisions, creating new hope for the possibility of a government accountable to all its people. But the strike on Soleimani was used by political elites to undermine protesters’ demands for genuine political change. US military action in the region feeds into this devastating tactic and works to destroy the seed of possibility this uprising represents.
- On the so-called Middle East “peace deal”: Trump recently announced a “peace deal” for Israel and Palestine. But a real deal requires inclusion and diplomacy; here, Palestinians had no voice in shaping this plan. Trump’s proposal legitimizes Israel’s occupation, allowing Israel to annex much of the West Bank, Arab East Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley. It forces Palestinians to live in patches of land surrounded by Israeli security forces. The plan rubber stamps Israel’s violations of international law and undermines any chance of real peace. Any real peace negotiations must center the Palestinian people, including civil society and women’s organizations pushing for peace, self-determination, and an end to occupation and militarization.
- On ending the war in Afghanistan: The Trump administration may be planning to draw down additional troops in Afghanistan while resuming peace talks with the Taliban. But the peace process so far has been haphazard and undemocratic, leaving out the Afghan government and people. To bring peace, women and civil society must be at the forefront of negotiations. Otherwise, the outcome will fail to meet the needs of women and vulnerable communities, resulting in a fragile, unsustainable peace.
- On denuclearization in North Korea: Recently, Kim Jong Un announced that he no longer felt bound to a moratorium on developing nuclear power and that North Korea might develop a “new strategic weapon.” This followed the breakdown of talks between Trump and Kim last year. During February 2019 talks, Trump rejected North Korea’s proposal to dismantle its primary nuclear complex in exchange for a partial lift of sanctions. Later, in October 2019, Trump’s rapid shut down of negotiations left little space for continued dialogue or incremental progress. A return to real, long-term diplomacy is vital to pushing for peace and denuclearization on the Korean peninsula — and it requires the US to move away from “maximum pressure” economic sanctions that harm the Korean people. Further, women’s movements have long been calling for peace on the Korean peninsula. Any lasting solution must center women and civil society leaders and uplift their demands.
- On Trump’s attacks on immigrants: Since taking office, Trump has pursued a relentless anti-immigrant and anti-refugee agenda. In 2018, through the Matter of A-B- case, the Trump administration eroded legal protections for survivors of domestic violence who seek refuge in the US, framing that violence as “private criminal activity” — and claiming that as a reason to deny asylum rights. And last Friday, on the heels of the third anniversary of the Muslim Ban, Trump expanded the Muslim Ban to six new countries. This Islamophobic policy has ripped families and loved ones apart, forced refugees to stay in harm’s way, and prevented people from accessing vital medical care. We call for an end to these hateful, dehumanizing immigration policies.
- On the climate crisis: Even as wildfires continue to rage in Australia, Trump keeps moving us backward on the climate crisis. He’s pulled the US out of the historic Paris climate agreement, opened public lands and waters to oil and gas drilling, and cut global climate finance. Now, he’s announced new plans to gut environmental regulations, making it easier to approve infrastructure projects without considering their climate impact. Already, communities around the world are experiencing the disproportionate impact of climate breakdown. Meanwhile, women climate defenders are organizing to confront this crisis and protect their communities. We call for climate policy that recognizes these impacts and centers the solutions and needs of frontline communities.