March 29, 2009

Creech AFB and the Nevada Desert Experience (NDE)

 I was blogging about the drones last night and then I ran across the Nevada Desert Experience.(NDE) 

It was a wonderful relief to see that people have been putting together information, resources, and  actions protesting the drones and the activities that take place at Creech Air Force Base and the nearby Nevada Test Site. This group offers some insightful and loving thoughts on the issue and links to many resources and articles. There is a vigil scheduled for April 1 - 13. They are also doing their 2009 Annual Sacred Peace Walk from Aprl 6-13.

Predators and Reapers
Predators and Reapers are remotely controlled, hunter-killer, unmanned aerial vehicles currently operated out of Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada as well as in New Mexico and other locations. The United States Air Force flies these drones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, among other countries for surveillance and bombing. "Ground the Drones…Lest we Reap the Whirlwind A witness in the desert that peace will come through love and not through predators armed with hellfire.

Creech Air Force Base is home to the latest high tech weapons that use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) to carry out surveillance and increasingly lethal attack missions in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. 

The idea that technology can provide a cleaner and safer battlefield is seductive but has been proven a lie. From the catapult and crossbow, through the use of poison gas and airplanes in World War I, the atom bomb, helicopters and napalm in Vietnam to the “smart bombs” of the Gulf War, war has only grown deadlier. Technological advances may reduce the danger of casualties among the military personnel in the short run, but with each advance the number of civilian deaths multiplies and every war of the past century has numbered more children than soldiers among its victims.

Proponents of the use of UASs insist that there is a great advantage to fighting wars in “real-time” by “pilots” sitting at consoles in offices on air bases far from the dangerous front line of military activity. With less risk to the lives of our soldiers and hence to the popularity and careers of politicians, the deaths of “enemy” noncombatants by the thousands are counted acceptable. The illusion that war can be waged with no domestic cost dehumanizes both us and our enemies. It fosters a callous disregard for human life that can lead to even more recklessness on the part of politicians.

With audacity that would confound Orwell, the Pentagon touts the “true hunter-killer role” of these robot “drones.” Armed with “Hellfire” missiles and other weaponry, they have names that suit their lethal uses: the MQ-9 “Reaper” and the MQ-1 “Predator.” Such tools can kill but not pacify. By killing civilians, UAS drones do not prevent or eliminate terrorism, but instead incite more violence and retaliation.

We wait in vigil at the gates of Creech AFB to witness that peace will not come through the work of predators armed with hellfire. Antagonisms against the US in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced when we actively respond to the reality of the poverty and lack of infrastructure revealed to us by the drone’s own surveillance cameras. Human interaction, negotiation, diplomacy and dialogue, not surveillance and bombing by robots, will ensure a more peaceful future at home and abroad.

People of all faiths are invited to gather from April 1-13 in the Nevada desert, sacred land stolen from the Western Shoshone. Our vigil marks the holy days of Passover and the last days of Lent, the season in which the Christian church commemorates Jesus’ struggle of forty days with demons in the desert. We come to this desert parched and thirsty--with intention to act as the winds and breath that will erode and sculpt the structures of war into thirst quenching rivers. We come to confront and resist our own high tech demons. On Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ execution by the Roman Empire, we act nonviolently in solidarity with the victims of our own empire.

Vigil sponsors include Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Nevada Desert Experience, the Des Moines Catholic Worker, Strangers & Guests Catholic Worker Farm, Catholic Peace Ministry, Iowa Peace Network, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service.

Contacts: (Renee, 4/1 to 4/11)515- 664-1326 (Voices for Creative Nonviolence)773-878-3815
(Nevada Desert Experience)702-574-7420 (Jim, NDE Coordinator)415-828-2506
info(@) / info(@) (remove parens)

View / Download PDF -
Ground the Drones

This past September they were protesting the drones at the Creech AFB and delivered the following letter to the base:

Delivered on September 16, 2008

We come to Creech to speak out against the killing of twenty three in Pakistan by two drone bombers last week. Two drones dropped three bombs on a sprawling complex comprised of a house and a religious school, in the North Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan. Of these twenty three, only ten were thought to be militants, while most were family members of a well-known Taliban leader, including his wife, his sister-in-law, a sister, two nieces, eight grandchildren, and a male relative. An additional fifteen to twenty people were wounded in the bombings, most of them women and children. 

We are compelled to speak out against these bombings because the loss of innocent life, especially children, is an abomination to the Creator and a blasphemy against Creation. It is an abomination when it happens in the United States and it is equally an abomination when it happens in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere.

We are compelled to speak out against these killings of innocent lives because we recall our own feelings when American civilians were killed on September 11. We believe that to honor their lives requires us to speak against the violent loss of lives everywhere.

And we are compelled to speak out at Creech Air Force Base because it is the home of the drone bombers, which represent a particularly glaring violation of our divine imperative to love one another.

The advent and use of unmanned drone bombers means that Man can now engage in combat from the safety of a control station far removed from the battlefield, operating remote controlled killing machines as though he were running a simulation or playing a video game. He can drop bombs on military and civilian targets at virtually no physical risk, save that of carpel tunnel.

This represents a new and heinous assault on the notion of human equality. One no longer needs to put oneself in harm's way in order to inflict harm on another.

We are gravely concerned at the implications that these drones may have for the future of our military's interventions. The lesser the sacrifices that we are required to make to engage in warfare, the easier it will be to justify war and the more likely it will become. While the present technology of the drone warriors is not such that it is able to replace human soldiers on the battlefield, we recognize that American military operations are happening in situations which would have previously been deemed too dangerous. This increase in military activity is deeply disturbing to those of us who understand that our foreign military interventions increase imperialistic hegemony and threaten the prospects of a global democracy.

We are also concerned about the effects that remote killng has on drone pilots. [2] All forms of violence stress and fracture the relationships of those involved, and the reverberations of the routinized drone violence will be felt in other aspects of our culture.

While we are quick to denounce the drone technology being used to take life, we hasten to add our hopes and prayers that this new technology can instead be used to save life. There are situations in which firefighters, bomb squads, and rescue personnel put themselves in harms way to save life. Such nonviolent uses of drones would justify the development and use of the technology.

In speaking out against the drone bombers and surveillance planes housed here at Creech, we do not speak out against any one person in particular. We recognize that we all have the same desires in our hearts. All of us want peace and security. None of us wants to see terrorist acts or civilian deaths. We differ only in how we think this can occur. You believe that peace comes from security; we believe that security can come only from peace. We join you in praying that someday we may have both.
The following is from their newsletter, Desert Voices:
The Problem with Drones 
[Editor’s Note: NDE is building a campaign of awareness to
the issues raised by unmanned aerial systems, commanded
at Creech AFB just south of the Nevada Test Site. Many
non-combatants have been killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan
and Iraq by vehicles controlled in Nevada. P.W. Singer is the
author of the new book, Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution
and Conflict in the 21st Century. The following excerpts are
from NPR’s Fresh Air interview with Singer by Terry Gross on
January 22, 2009. more here]

“On three separate occasions we thought we got bin Laden
with one of these Predator drone strikes, and it turned out
not to be the case. We have to figure out what are the legal
consequences of what you could call unmanned slaughter,
and who do you hold responsible? And this is with systems
that don’t have a lot of autonomy in them yet. The stuff that’s
coming soon, or is already in the prototype stage, really does
push it into that science fiction realm.

“There’s a great quote from a Predator pilot who I interviewed,
and he said it this way: You’re going to war for 12
hours, shooting weapons at targets, directing kills on enemy
combatants. And then you get in the car and you drive home,
and within 20 minutes, you are sitting at the dinner table
talking to your kids about their homework.

“And that’s one of the things coming out of this; we’re
actually finding that the drone pilots, because of this tough
psychological juggling they’re having to do, the drone pilots
actually have higher levels of PTSD - Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder - than those who are actually physically serving in
the combat zone.

“If you send that machine in first, the belief is that you’re
avoiding some of the risk. Now, long term, if you pull back
and think about this broadly, what does it do, for example, to
your foreign policy if you have a shift where you are able to
undertake war without human consequence?

“And it is a killing machine. These are systems designed for
war. But war is a place also of psychology, and I think that is
a huge aspect of this that we’re just now starting to understand.
How does this effect the enemy’s attitudes? How does
it affect the public’s attitudes around this? There’s a belief,
for example...The thing that scares people is our technology.
But when you go out, for example, and interview people in
the Middle East, it is very different. One of the people that
appears in the book is an editor from Lebanon who described
these technologies as just another example of the cold-hearted
Americans, and how it shows that we only have to kill a few
of their soldiers to defeat them, that they are cowardly for
sending out machines to fight on their behalf. So you have
a complete opposite message from what you think you are
sending and what people are receiving.”

2009 Annual Sacred Peace Walk
Las Vegas to the Nevada Test Site
April 6 - 13
We walk in the footsteps of a long legacy of peace walkers
and spiritual leaders to draw attention to the nuclear
dangers that continue to threaten our sacred planet and the
community of life. We come to heal this, the most bombed
place on Earth.
Schedule includes:
•• Western Shoshone sunrise ceremony
• Full Moon ritual at the Cactus Springs Goddess Temple (Thurs.)
• Civil Resistance at Creech Air Force Base, headquarters of
the Air Force’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems wing, equipped
with more than 100 MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper
unmanned aircraft (aka “drones”) – includes Good Friday
“No More Victims” Stations of the Cross re-enactment
(Friday morning)
• Passover Seder (Friday night)
• Easter Sunday vigil at the gate to the Nevada Test Site
• Buddhist, Muslim and Hindu holy days also will be honored

Check the website for schedule additions. Some walkers may
risk arrest at either Creech AFB (Fri. or Mon.) or at the Nevada
Test Site (Sun. or Mon.). Considering arrest actions is in no way
a requirement for walking with us.
Suggested donation is $150 (sliding scale)
Sponsors for low-income walkers needed
Deadline to apply is March 7

No comments: