News Release

Helsinki Summit: Looking Beyond “Partisan Fixations”


With the Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki just days away, The Nation has published “Common Ground: For Secure Elections and True National Security,” which the magazine describes as “a rare open letter cosigned by over 20 prominent cultural and political figures — Democratic Party loyalists and former Republican politicos alike — imploring public officials to implement a pronounced shift in the U.S.’s approach to Russia.”

The letter warns that “the U.S. and Russian governments show numerous signs of being on a collision course.” Serious tensions “are festering between two nations with large quantities of nuclear weapons on virtual hair-trigger alert; yet the current partisan fixations in Washington are ignoring the dangers to global stability and, ultimately, human survival.”

Among the signers of the open letter are Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, writer and feminist organizer Gloria Steinem, former UN ambassador Gov. Bill Richardson, political analyst Noam Chomsky, former covert CIA operations officer Valerie Plame, activist leader Rev. Dr. William Barber II, filmmaker Michael Moore, former Nixon White House counsel John Dean, former U.S. ambassador to the USSR Jack F. Matlock Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Alice Walker and Viet Thanh Nguyen, former longtime House Armed Services Committee member Patricia Schroeder and former senator Adlai Stevenson III.

Signers of the open letter are available for interviews, including:

PHYLLIS BENNIS, pbennis at
Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. Her most recent book is Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror.

She said today: “Whatever role Russia may have played in the past, the most important threat to our elections right now comes from the increasing campaigns of voter suppression underway across this country. The Helsinki summit won’t help that — but it does provide an opportunity to significantly de-escalate the rising threat of U.S.-Russian tensions turning into an even more dangerous — potentially even military — confrontation. Reducing the threat of new wars abroad will allow us to focus on rebuilding our democracy at home.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at
Solomon is national coordinator of the online activist group, which has joined with five other organizations to cosponsor a nationwide petition campaign in support of the open letter. The petition gathered 10,000 signers during the first 24 hours after its launch on Wednesday and passed the 15,000 mark this afternoon.

He said today: “The petition campaign behind the open letter aims to build grassroots support for rejection of the false choice between protecting the digital security of U.S. elections and reducing tensions with Russia that boost the chances of nuclear apocalypse. We need a major shift in the U.S. approach toward Russia. Clearly the needed shift won’t be initiated by the Republican or Democratic leaders in Congress — it must come from Americans who make their voices heard in favor of a more rational approach to U.S.-Russian relations. The lives — and even existence — of future generations are at stake in the relationship between Washington and Moscow.”

Along with RootsAction, the other sponsors of the petition are The Nation, Just Foreign Policy, World Beyond War, Progressive Democrats of America, and Peace Action.

Solomon is IPA’s executive director.