August 31, 2010

Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism Program at the Institute for Policy Studies, previewing Obama's speech:

The U.S. occupation of Iraq continues on a somewhat smaller scale, with 50,000 troops. These are combat troops, “re-missioned” by the Pentagon with new tasks, but even Secretary of Defense Gates admits they will have continuing combat capability and will continue counter-terrorism operations. The 4500 Special Forces among them will continue their "capture or kill" raids while building up the Iraqi Special Operations Forces as an El Salvador-style death squad.
The only transition underway is not from U.S. to Iraqi control, but from Pentagon to State Department deployment. Thousands of new military contractors, armored transport, planes, “rapid response” forces and other military resources will all be shifted from Pentagon to State Dept control, thus remaining within the terms of the U.S.-Iraqi Status of forces Agreement that calls for all U.S. troops and Pentagon-controlled mercenaries to leave by the end of 2011.
President Obama’s speech will not use any terms remotely close to “mission accomplished” – because with violence up, sectarianism rampant, the government paralyzed, corruption sky-high and rising, oil contracts creating more violence instead of national wealth, there is no victory to claim.

-thanks to Carol Baum

Agent Orange workshop at the Veterans For Peace 2010 Convention

Veterans for Peace discuss Bradley Manning with Ethan McCord

August 24, 2010

Direct Action at Fort Hood & Resistance Against Deployment of 3rd Battalion to Iraq

I'm not sure what happened to this video, but it's gone. I'm late already, so here is a substitute post from we move to canada that is about the same issue:

the duty of disobedience on display at fort hood

Q: If the war is over, why are soldiers still deploying to Iraq?

A: Because the war is not over.

Five peace activists successfully blockaded six buses carrying Fort Hood Soldiers deploying to Iraq outside Fort Hood's Clarke gate this morning at around 4 am.

Anti-war veterans protest at Fort Hood

UnderThe Hood Cafe via Malachi Muncy:
Some people believe that direct action has no effect. Well you tell that to the soldiers on the buses that had their fist in the air as they drove by!!

-thanks to Bruce

Toxic legacy of US assault on Fallujah 'worse than Hiroshima'

The shocking rates of infant mortality and cancer in Iraqi city raise new questions about battle

The following article is from The Independent:

By Patrick Cockburn Saturday, 24 July 2010
Dramatic increases in infant mortality, cancer and leukaemia in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was bombarded by US Marines in 2004, exceed those reported by survivors of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, according to a new study.

Iraqi doctors in Fallujah have complained since 2005 of being overwhelmed by the number of babies with serious birth defects, ranging from a girl born with two heads to paralysis of the lower limbs. They said they were also seeing far more cancers than they did before the battle for Fallujah between US troops and insurgents.

Their claims have been supported by a survey showing a four-fold increase in all cancers and a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in under-14s. Infant mortality in the city is more than four times higher than in neighbouring Jordan and eight times higher than in Kuwait.

Dr Chris Busby, a visiting professor at the University of Ulster and one of the authors of the survey of 4,800 individuals in Fallujah, said it is difficult to pin down the exact cause of the cancers and birth defects. He added that "to produce an effect like this, some very major mutagenic exposure must have occurred in 2004 when the attacks happened".

US Marines first besieged and bombarded Fallujah, 30 miles west of Baghdad, in April 2004 after four employees of the American security company Blackwater were killed and their bodies burned. After an eight-month stand-off, the Marines stormed the city in November using artillery and aerial bombing against rebel positions. US forces later admitted that they had employed white phosphorus as well as other munitions.

In the assault US commanders largely treated Fallujah as a free-fire zone to try to reduce casualties among their own troops. British officers were appalled by the lack of concern for civilian casualties. "During preparatory operations in the November 2004 Fallujah clearance operation, on one night over 40 155mm artillery rounds were fired into a small sector of the city," recalled Brigadier Nigel Aylwin-Foster, a British commander serving with the American forces in Baghdad.

He added that the US commander who ordered this devastating use of firepower did not consider it significant enough to mention it in his daily report to the US general in command. Dr Busby says that while he cannot identify the type of armaments used by the Marines, the extent of genetic damage suffered by inhabitants suggests the use of uranium in some form. He said: "My guess is that they used a new weapon against buildings to break through walls and kill those inside."

The survey was carried out by a team of 11 researchers in January and February this year who visited 711 houses in Fallujah. A questionnaire was filled in by householders giving details of cancers, birth outcomes and infant mortality. Hitherto the Iraqi government has been loath to respond to complaints from civilians about damage to their health during military operations.

Researchers were initially regarded with some suspicion by locals, particularly after a Baghdad television station broadcast a report saying a survey was being carried out by terrorists and anybody conducting it or answering questions would be arrested. Those organising the survey subsequently arranged to be accompanied by a person of standing in the community to allay suspicions.

The study, entitled "Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009", is by Dr Busby, Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi, and concludes that anecdotal evidence of a sharp rise in cancer and congenital birth defects is correct. Infant mortality was found to be 80 per 1,000 births compared to 19 in Egypt, 17 in Jordan and 9.7 in Kuwait. The report says that the types of cancer are "similar to that in the Hiroshima survivors who were exposed to ionising radiation from the bomb and uranium in the fallout".

Researchers found a 38-fold increase in leukaemia, a ten-fold increase in female breast cancer and significant increases in lymphoma and brain tumours in adults. At Hiroshima survivors showed a 17-fold increase in leukaemia, but in Fallujah Dr Busby says what is striking is not only the greater prevalence of cancer but the speed with which it was affecting people.

Of particular significance was the finding that the sex ratio between newborn boys and girls had changed. In a normal population this is 1,050 boys born to 1,000 girls, but for those born from 2005 there was an 18 per cent drop in male births, so the ratio was 850 males to 1,000 females. The sex-ratio is an indicator of genetic damage that affects boys more than girls. A similar change in the sex-ratio was discovered after Hiroshima.

The US cut back on its use of firepower in Iraq from 2007 because of the anger it provoked among civilians. But at the same time there has been a decline in healthcare and sanitary conditions in Iraq since 2003. The impact of war on civilians was more severe in Fallujah than anywhere else in Iraq because the city continued to be blockaded and cut off from the rest of the country long after 2004. War damage was only slowly repaired and people from the city were frightened to go to hospitals in Baghdad because of military checkpoints on the road into the capital.
-thanks to The Independent

August 23, 2010

Arundhati Roy: Biodiversity of Resistance

Opening speech by Arundhati Roy at the WRI conference on the 22 of January 2010 in Gujarat Vidyapith, Ahmedabad, India

Arundhati Roy - War Resisters' International, india 2010 from War Resisters' International on Vimeo.



We, the undersigned organizations and individuals, mark the August 31st partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq with the following evaluation and recommendations:

The U.S. occupation of Iraq continues and the reduction of U.S. troops in Iraq can at best be called only a rebranded occupation. While the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will be reduced from a high of 165,000, there will still be 50,000 troops left behind, some 75,000 contractors, five huge “enduring bases” and an Embassy the size of Vatican City.

The U.S. military’s overthrow of the brutal dictatorship of Saddam Hussein did not lead to a better life for Iraqis—just the opposite. It resulted in the further destruction of basic infrastructure—electricity, water, sewage—that continues to this day. The U.S. dropped more tons of bombs on Iraq than in all of WWII, destroying Iraq’s electrical, water and sewage systems. Iraq’s health care and higher education systems, once the best in the entire region, have been decimated. The U.S. war on Iraq unleashed a wave of violence that has left over one million Iraqis dead and four million displaced, as well as ethnic rivalries that continue to plague the nation. We have seriously wounded millions of Iraqis, creating a lifetime of suffering and economic hardship for them, their communities and the entire nation as it struggles to rebuild.

Life expectancy for Iraqis fell from 71 years in 1996 to 67 years in 2007 due to the war and destruction of the healthcare system. The U.S. use of weapons such as depleted uranium and white phosphorous has taken a severe toll, with the cancer rate in Fallujah, for example, now worse than that of Hiroshima.

The majority of the refugees and internally displaced persons created by the US intervention have been abandoned. Of the nearly 4 million refugees, many are now living in increasingly desperate circumstances in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and around the world. As undocumented refugees, most are not allowed to work and are forced to take extremely low paying, illegal jobs ($3/day) or rely on the UN and charity to survive. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has documented a spike in the sex trafficking of Iraqi women.

Iraq still does not have a functioning government. Many months after the March 7 elections, there is still a political vacuum and violence that is killing roughly 300 civilians a month. There is no functioning democracy in place and little sign there will be one in the near future.
The Iraq War has left a terrible toll on the U.S. troops. More than one million American service members have deployed in the Iraq War effort. Over 4,400 U.S. troops have been killed and tens of thousands severely injured. More than one in four U.S. troops have come home from the Iraq war with health problems that require medical or mental health treatment. PTSD rates in the military have skyrocketed. In 2009, a record number of 245 soldiers committed suicide.
The war has drained our treasury. As of August 2010, U.S. taxpayers have spent over $750 billion on the Iraq War effort. Counting the cost of lifetime care of wounded vets and the interest payments on the money we borrowed to pay for this war, the real cost will be in the trillions. This misappropriation of funds has contributed to the economic crises we are experiencing, including the lack of funds for our schools, healthcare, infrastructure and investments in clean, green jobs.

The U.S. officials who got us into this disastrous war on the basis of lies have not been held accountable. Not George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Karl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld. No one. Neither have the Bush administration lawyers who authorized torture, including Jay Bybee and John Yoo. The “think tanks,” journalists and pundits who perpetuated the lies have not been fired—most are today cheerleading for the war in Afghanistan.
The war has led to the pillaging of Iraqi resources. The U.S. Department of Defense has been unable to account for $8.7 billion of Iraqi oil and gas money meant for humanitarian needs and reconstruction after the 2003 invasion. The invasion has also led to the dismantling of Iraqi government control over the nation’s oil. In 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force, which included executives of America’s largest energy companies, recommended opening up areas of their energy sectors to foreign investment. The resulting Iraq Oil Law has led to the global grab for Iraq’s resources.

The war has not made us more secure. The US policy of torture, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, violent and deadly raids on civilian homes, gunning down innocent civilians in the streets and absence of habeas corpus has fueled the fires of hatred and extremism toward Americans. The very presence of our troops in Iraq and other Muslim nations has become a recruiting tool.

Given the above, we, the undersigned individuals and organizations, mark the occasion of this partial troop withdrawal by calling on the Administration and Congress to take the following actions:
* Withdrawal of all U.S. troops and military contractors from Iraq and the closing of all U.S. bases;

* Reparations to help the Iraqis repair their basic infrastructure and increased funds for the millions of internally and externally displaced Iraqis;

* Full support for the U.S. troops who suffer from the internal and external wounds of war;

* Prosecution of those officials responsible for dragging our country into this disaster;

* Transfer of funds from war into resources to rebuild America, with a focus on green jobs.

* The lessons of this disastrous intervention should also be an impetus for Congress and the administration to end the war in Afghanistan. It’s time to focus on creating real security here at home and rebuilding America.

* Veterans For Peace
* Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice
* CODEPINK: Women for Peace
* Community Organizing Center
* Courage to Resist
* Fellowship of Reconciliation
* Global Exchange
* Institute for Policy Studies' New Internationalism Project
* Iraq Veterans Against the War
* Jeannette Rankin Peace Center
* Just Foreign Policy
* Mid-Missouri Peaceworks
* Military Families Speak Out
* Pax Christi - USA
* Under the Hood
* US Labor Against the War
* Voices for Creative Nonviolence
* Voters for Peace
* War Is a Crime

August 22, 2010


This is a copy of the talk by Ed Kinane,, at the National Kateri Tekakwitha Schrine for the 12th Annual Interfaith Peace Conference in Fonda, New York on August 21, 2010.

I’d like to start us off with a one-sentence quote from a poem by Thomas Merton. The poem is in the voice of a Nazi death camp commandant. It’s called, “Chant to be used in processions around a site with furnaces.”

Here’s how the poem concludes,

do not think yourself better because you burn up friends and enemies with long-range missiles without ever seeing what you have done.

[cited by Jim Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable, p. xiii]

And here’s one more quote.

This one is two sentences:

“If war becomes unreal to the citizens of modern democracies, will they care enough to restrain and control the violence exercised in their name? Will they do so, if they and their sons and daughters are spared the hazards of combat?”

[Michael Ignatieff, Virtual War (2000)]

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle.

A drone is a robot.

These robots are widely used over Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan

-- and elsewhere -- for surveillance and killing.

A drone has no pilot or crew on board.

It is “piloted” via electronic satellite signal by technicians

operating joy sticks at computer consoles on the ground.

The so-called “pilot” may be thousands of miles away from any battlefield,

thousands of miles away from any risk.

Drones come in all shapes and sizes, and can have a variety of functions.

The Pentagon sees drone robots as the wave of the future.So much so that the Pentagon now trains more drone “pilots” than pilots for manned aircraft.

This morning I’m interested in one particular drone, the very high-tech Reaper drone. Because of its duel function, the Pentagon calls the Reaper a “hunter/killer.” It both hunts and kills, and does so with deadly effect. The Reaper is used by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan, and among other places, by the CIA in Pakistan.

This past week, on August 16, the Eurasia Review published a table of the annual number of US drone attacks in Pakistan. Now remember, the US isn’t even at war with Pakistan – a country that is supposedly our ally. Each year since 2007 those attacks in Pakistan have increased; the number of casualties has also increased.

In 2007, there was only one drone attack, but it killed 20 human beings.

In 2008 there were 19 attacks that killed 156 human beings.

In 2009 there were 46 attacks that killed 536 human beings.

So far in 2010 there have been 41 attacks in Pakistan

that have killed 366 human beings.

In other words, each year there are more attacks and more victims. The “pilots” in these attacks are often no older than a college kid. For better or worse, few have battlefield experience. Few have knowledge of his or her victims

or their motivation or circumstances or culture. Few have adequate grounding in the legal implications of his or her actions….

Despite this vast ignorance these youngsters get to play god – making life and death decisions.

And all of this is happening under the Obama administration –

All of this has been accelerating under the Obama administration.

Some things to bear in mind:

-These ongoing attacks occur outside of combat…

in a country with whom the US is not at war.

-The large majority of victims are civilians.

-The victims are not engaged in fighting our soldiers… nor, obviously, were they a threat to our shores.

-These children, women and men, not being combatants, had no means of self defense.

-None of the attacks display a warrior’s courage.

-The Reaper’s hellfire missiles or 500 pound bombs come like a bolt out of the blue. Their victims “never knew what hit them.”

-Surely these victims are survived by relatives, friends and neighbors who may well bear enduring hostility toward the US.

-The attacks are assassinations or extrajudicial executions. In some instances, where the death toll is high enough, these attacks can be considered massacres.

-The attacks violate international law.

-They are war crimeswar crimes committed by our nation with our tax money. Some might say, therefore with our complicity.

Now, understand that Pakistan is no ordinary country:

-Like over a fifth of the human species, Pakistan is Islamic.

-Thanks to the drone attacks, Pakistan has hundreds of thousands of displaced people fleeing the death pouring down out of the skies.

-Even before the current floods in that country, Pakistan was extremely volatile.

-Pakistan has a powerful military and a notoriously corrupt and shaky government.

-It has nuclear weapons.

These realities mean that the drones attacks are likely to lead to unmanageable, unpredictable consequences. The Reaper drone attacks on Pakistan are clandestine CIA operations with little or no accountability. The CIA’s drones are “piloted” from airfields in Virginia and launched at secret airstrips in Pakistan by so-called civilian contractors – that is, mercenaries, men outside of any chain of command.

A little later in my talk I’ll discuss “blowback” – unintended negative consequences of ill-considered military actions.

For a compelling survey of what’s known about the CIA Pakistan operation, read Jane Mayer’s excellent article in the

October 2009 New Yorker Magazine.

By contrast to the CIA operation in Pakistan, the Reaper drones now operating over Iraq and Afghanistan, are mostly “piloted” by the US military from an air base in Nevada called Creech air base.

This morning, however, I want to focus on the Reaper drone that’s much closer to home: Just outside Syracuse, New York, about 120 miles due west of us here, lies Hancock Air Base, the home of the 174th New York State Air National Guard. Hancock, formerly an F-16 fighter jet base, is now the national maintenance center for the Reaper drone.

Hancock has facilities for “piloting” the Reaper drone. In other words, like it or not, upstate New York is part of the war zone. Few upstate New Yorkers – except our congressional representatives – were consulted about our becoming part of the war zone. There was no poll or plebiscite or public hearings to check whether we wanted the Reaper drone in our very midst.

[[see Ed Kinane, “Drones and Dishonor in Central New York,” Oct. 2009 Peace Newsletter,]]

The hunter/killer Reaper drone, maintained at Hancock, is built by General Atomics, a private corporation in San Diego. General Atomics is one of a number of corporations profiting from the various US wars overseas. Few besides such war-profiteering corporations -- and some who have made a career in the military – gain anything from war. And let’s not forget the oil companies – after all, controlling the Mid-east oil reserves is what our incessant wars over there are mostly about.

But it’s these few corporate players who subsidize the politicians and fraternize with the generals. It is these few players who corrupt our Congress, which in turn finances the Pentagon’s voracious appetite for enemies.

The Pentagon lovingly calls the Reaper a “hunter/killer.”

We know what “killer” means.

“Hunter” means that the Reaper has extraordinary surveillance capabilities. It can hover unseen and unheard miles above particular targets, whether these be particular apartment buildings, or homes. The Reaper can track the movements of particular vehicles or individuals. The drone’s heat-detecting instrumentation reportedly can tell whether an automatic weapon has recently been fired. With its infra-red technology the Reaper can see in the dark; it can see through clouds.

The Reaper’s cameras send back to its “pilots” an incessant stream of real-time images. These allow their “pilots” to make their life and death decisions about whom to spare…and whom to incinerate.

The hunter/killer Reaper drone is the Pentagon’s favorite new toy. And for good reason. Unlike the very costly F-16 fighter jet which it tends to be replacing, the Reaper drone can be quickly manufactured.

And it’s pretty cheap – only ten or 12 million dollars a pop. So cheap in fact that it’s expendable; It can be used for more risky missions. he Reaper is portable; it can be disassembled and transported over sea, air or land

and then reassembled at airstrips close to the action.

Unlike a jet, the Reaper can hover over a target for hours and hover so high that it can’t be heard or seen from the ground.

Thanks to its laser-guided high-tech ordnance – Hellfire missiles and 500-pound bombs – the Reaper’s so-called “kill radius” is very narrow. That means its targeting can be remarkably precise. In other words, if a drone targeted the folks in the back row here, we in the front might well go unscathed.

Because the Reaper is a robot, it has no pilot or other crew on board. There’s no crew to get hungry, or chilled, or exhausted. Or to misinterpret or disobey orders. There’s no crew to be shot down and captured or killed. This means no body bags coming back to the US. Which means no one back home is getting upset that “our boys” are dying “over there.” The hype around the drones is that they “save lives” – Admittedly a strong selling point…unless of course you think the lives of Pakistani civilians, for example, have some value. In Pakistan the CIA uses the Reaper especially to assassinate enemy leaders… or, rather: those – on pretty sketchy grounds -- it believes are enemy leaders.

Does it really believe the 366 souls it’s killed in Pakistan since the beginning of this year are all Al Qaeda leaders? For those of you with a research bent and who want to know more, I encourage you to read P.W. Singer’s book,

Wired for War: the Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, published last year by Penguin Press.

In Syracuse there are a number of us working to make upstate New Yorkers aware of the Reaper in our midst. We have twice held large demonstrations – last November and last April – at the entrance to Hancock air base. Activists came from Albany and Buffalo and everywhere in between. And for the past year or so we have held regular but more modest demonstrations at Hancock twice a month. We gather there for an hour at the entrance every second and fourth Tuesday afternoons at rush hour. If you’re ever over our way, we would very much welcome your joining us.

We begin with the premise that war and killing are wrong. That they are immoral. The Reaper is an instrument of death par excellence.

Under the Nuremburg laws if we know such a major evil exists

  • and if we know our money is helping to pay for it –
  • we have a responsibility to try to expose and counteract it.

Estimates vary, but for every enemy leader the Reaper kills, many civilians are killed. The Reaper causes a “disproportionate” number of civilian casualties. I don’t know what a “disproportionate number” is, I don’t know why any civilian should be murdered. Setting aside for the moment the question of whether killing enemy leaders is moral,

it is obviously immoral to kill non-combatants or civilians. Do we really think our oil-guzzling, globe-warming militarized civilization is worth all the killing?

The Reaper has become a tool of state terrorism; it is an instrument of terror. By terrorism I mean the use of force to harm or intimidate civilians for political purposes. After World War II, after the Nurnburg trials, the US and its allies hanged war criminals. It hanged those death camp commandants. But even those criminals were afforded due process.

In targeting suspected enemy leaders, the Reaper is perpetrating extrajudicial executions. That means murder occurs with no due process. Two or three guys in a trailer somewhere on a US base play investigator, prosecutor, judge and executioner: they play god.

Another problem is that the drone technology makes it oh-so-easy to violate the sovereignty of other nations. As we have seen, Pakistan is a prime example of such violation. Letting a bunch of gung-ho militarists violate another nation’s sovereignty can get us into a heap of trouble. Already Reapers are being used over other nations -- such as Somalia and Yemen – with whom the US Congress has yet to declare war. Clearly the Reaper makes mission creep more likely.

(Funny how this “Christian” nation of ours is so inclined to attack Islamic nations. We need to challenge the Islamophobia we’ve become so infected with. Is it just because they’ve got the oil? Or does it go deeper than that?)

Yet another problem with the burgeoning use of the Reaper is that these days they tend to be used in remote mountain or desert areas where they can operate with a high degree of clandestinity. The civilian death rates in those regions are difficult to monitor.

A further concern about this wave of war technology is that it distances both those of us who pay for war and those who plan and implement war from the consequences of our actions. It makes war into a computer game, something that seems sanitary and merely simulated. Let me just ask again the questions Michael Ignatieff poses:

“if war becomes unreal to the citizens of modern democracies, will they care enough to restrain control and violence exercised in their name? Will they do so, if they and their sons and daughters are and spared the hazards of combat?” Virtual War (2000)

There’s still another aspect of the Reaper revolution and that is blowbackthe unintended negative consequences of ill-considered military actions.

Two recent examples:

~ Faisal Shahzad, the handsome young man who this past May almost detonated a bomb in Times Square. This US citizen, who had visited his family’s homeland of Pakistan, said he did what he did because he was so appalled by what the Reaper had done to so many people in Pakistan. Now, we may find vengeance a pretty sorry motivation, but it certainly seems to be a powerful one. After all, the US probably wouldn’t have gotten bogged down in Afghanistan for these past eight years, if a certain George W. Bush and his Neo-Con pals weren’t able to ratchet up this country’s thirst for vengeance after 9/11.

~ Another example of blowback:

the physician-turned-suicide bomber who inveigled his way into a Reaper-launching base in Pakistan killing a large handful of men whose job it was to launch Reapers. We’ll never know how many other individuals, appalled by US state terrorism, have become – and will become –

resisters and terrorists targeting those they hold responsible for the mayhem wreaked on their countrymen and -women. We can only pray that more of the Reaper’s chickens don’t come home to roost.

I hate to add to the load of concerns every person of conscience – or at least every person of conscience

paying taxes in the imperial homeland – must bear. But I must mention yet another variant of blowback:

drone proliferation. Some in this audience, I’m sure, have worked to stem nuclear proliferation. We’ve seen how since 1945 the atomic genii has burst its bottle, multiplying the threat to us all. Hiroshima and Nagasaki ushered in a new era, a new moment in the menace that surrounds us.

It may well be that what Peter Singer calls the Robotics Revolution is ushering in a somewhat parallel new era, another new moment in the surrounding menace. Over 40 countries are now importing or building their own drones. The US and Israel -- both on the cutting edge of drone technology -- are developing thriving drone export industries. Israel, a pioneer of drone development, sells its drones to Turkey, India, Russia, Brazil and numerous other nations.

[[Ed Kinane, “Drones and Death: the Israeli Connection,” Feb. 2010 Peace Newsletter, ]]

Do such exports make the world any safer?

One thing our government might do to reduce the growing proliferation danger is to tell Israel:stop exporting drones or we’ll stop providing you $3 billion every year in military aid.

In closing my remarks this morning, I want to point out just one more aspect of the robotic revolution now upon us. Already drones are used by military and border police to monitor the US/Mexican and US/Canadian borders. This in itself raises issues about immigration policy too tangled for us to get into here.

But we have to at least consider the question: if high-flying, high-tech surveillance aircraft

are being used on our borders, where else domestically are such aircraft being used? Who defines how narrow – or how broad -- those border regions can be? And what’s to keep them from expanding out to cover all of upstate New York…or all of Pennsylvania…or all of – well, you get the picture. In other words, what is to keep drone surveillance technology from coming home to roost? The prospect of such drone mission creep is truly creepy. And doesn’t such technology tip the scales even further in favor of the militarists who have already gotten us into such a mess internationally?

I am well aware as I draw to a close that what I have provided this morning is not a dose of inspiration. I’m also aware that these kinds of presentations conventionally end with at least a rhetorical flourish about “hope.” Over the years of my activism dealing with such issues as the Reaper drone, I’ve come to believe in the value of intellectual honesty -- even if it means acknowledging that things aren’t rosy. I’ve come to believe that we have a responsibility to raise our own consciousness… and then work to raise the consciousness of others… letting certain chips fall where they may.

I began my remarks with quotations; I’d like to end with a poem,

It’s by Carolyn Forche. It’s called “Poem for People Concerned”

Monsignor Romero told me

not to need hope.

He said if you need to feel hope

you’re courting despair

you’ll stop working.

So try to wean yourself

from this need to have hope.

Try to have faith instead, to do what you can, and stop worrying

about whether or not you’re effective

or important.

Worry about what is possible

for you to do,

which is always much greater

than you can imagine.

I like the Hindu idea

that we are all

caught in a humming interconnected web.

Anything anyone does

sends a hum through the web

that might be barely discernible

but always affects

every part of the web.

Everything you do

for good in the world

affects the web,


of whether you can trace the effects

or not.

It is not ours to measure

our effectiveness

or the results of our actions.

-thanks to Ed Kinane and Vicky Ross

August 21, 2010

IVAW: It's Not Really Over

Mainstream television news yesterday made a big show of the withdrawal of America's "last combat troops" from Iraq, but the painful saga continues for our service members. Many returning home to their tearful and joyous families in the coming days will ultimately be sent to serve more tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In fact, members of two different units heading to Iraq and Afghanistan are calling on their commanders right now to halt their deployments because they are not physically or mentally ready to deploy.

Will you stand with them?

President Obama makes it sound like the troops remaining in Iraq will be serving largely administrative and 'advisory' functions. But in reality, 50,000 "combat capable" troops will remain in Iraq to:

  • Train the Iraqi military, including accompanying them on dangerous patrols;
  • Support special forces operations in their continued hunt for terrorists; and
  • Provide air support to the Iraqi military (a.k.a overhead artillery and bombing).

In an Iraq which grows increasingly violent each month, does this sound like desk duty?

The 3rd ACR at Fort Hood1

This Sunday, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR) at Fort Hood will be shipped out to Iraq. The military wives and family members of 3rd ACR soldiers say that hundreds of the 5,000 about to go to Iraq are suffering from PTSD and other ailments, and are not fit to deploy. This week they demanded that those wounded warriors stay home.

IVAW's Fort Hood chapter and Fort Hood's military families are asking the civilian community to join their calls for the military to stop deploying traumatized troops.

Call 3rd ACR Commanders and tell them not to deploy soldiers who have PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury.

3rd ACR Commanders:
Regimental Commander - Col. Allen (254) 553-3526
Command Sgt. Major Jonathan J. Hunt (254) 287-0598

Call between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and ask for whatever commander you're ringing by name. If they won't speak to you, leave them a message or call back. If you get anyone else's ear, tell them to stop deploying soldiers who are medically unfit. After you've made your call, send us an email at to let us know you've called.

The 656th Transportation Company2

The 656th is an Army Reserve unit based in Indiana, made up of reservists from several midwestern states. Due to deploy this weekend for Afghanistan, members within the unit have cited lack of training and mental health problems among the reasons they are not fit to go. IVAW member, Alejandro Villatoro, a Sergeant in the Company, has raised concerns that they have not been trained on the weapons they will be using, and do not know how to operate the vehicles they will have to drive, once in Afghanistan. There are also serious mental health issues among some of the troops set to deploy.

After Alejandro first exposed this crisis, others in the unit also came forward. They are now pushing for a Congressional inquiry into their unit's readiness. We will keep you posted next week with steps you can take to support their efforts. For a full explanation of the situation facing the 656th, click here.

-thanks to IVAW

August 17, 2010

Postal Workers' Union: Get mail to Gaza on the boat

| AUGUST 13, 2010

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers wants mail delivered to Gaza.

Following an announcement by Canada Post that Israel Post has suspended mail delivery to Gaza, the union is encouraging people who wish to send mail to Gaza to get their mail onto the Canadian boat bound for the blockaded Palestinian territory.

"As postal workers, we know very well that cutting off mail creates suffering and hardship for people, who are isolated from their loved ones," said Denis Lemelin, National President of CUPW. "How many more abuses will the people of Gaza have to endure?"

Numerous organizations are working together to endorse a Canadian boat to Gaza in the autumn. Others, including Independent Jewish Voices, have supported the idea of getting mail onto the boat.

"We are heartened by the growing international response to Israel's cruel treatment of the Palestinian people," said Lemelin, whose union has been at the forefront of condemning human rights abuses in the occupied territories. "We stand in solidarity with all efforts to break the blockade and end the indignities imposed on the Palestinian people by the state of Israel."

What should you do if you want to send a letter to Gaza? Lemelin suggests contacting organizers at the website

-thanks to