Archive for May, 2010

What Do Drone Attacks Really Do?

May 28, 2010

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“The drone strike had killed three people. Their bodies, carbonized, were fully burned. They could only be identified by their legs and hands. One body was still on fire when he reached there. Then he learned that the charred and mutilated corpses were relatives of his who lived in his village, two men and a boy aged seven or eight. They couldn’t pick up the charred parts in one piece. Finding scraps of plastic they transported the body parts away from the site. Three to four others joined in to help cover the bodies in plastic and carry them to the morgue.

“But these volunteers and nearby onlookers were attacked by another drone strike, 15 minutes after the initial one. 6 more people died. One of them was the brother of the man killed in the initial strike.

“The social worker says that people are now afraid to help when a drone strike occurs because they fear a similar fate from a second attack. People will wait several hours after an attack just to be sure. Meanwhile, some lives will be lost that possibly could have been saved.

“The social worker also told us that pressure from the explosion, when a drone-fired missile or bomb hits, can send bystanders flying through the air. Some are injured when their bodies hit walls or stone, causing fractures and brain injuries.”

That quotation from Kathy Kelly and Joshua Brollier in a recent article Bonnie wrote is dramatic evidence of what drones really do.

Bonnie also quotes Kelly and Brollier who give reasons why it is hard for US citizens to know about the atrocities being perpetrated with their tax money. They say, “In U.S. newspapers, reports on drone attacks often amount to about a dozen words, naming the place and an estimated number of militants [sic] killed.”

I thought of the devastating photographs during the Viet Nam war of the little naked girl who had been napalmed and of the man being shot in the head.  At least during that war, US citizens saw some of what it was like.  Now we read a dozen sanitized words.  I am very grateful to Bonnie for bringing drones to my attention.

The corporatocracy has learned well since Viet Nam how to keep people in this country quiet: few photographs of the wars themselves nor of wounded and maimed US soldiers; distractions with entertainment and fear; violent repression of protest by storm troopers in frightening gear such as we saw at the national conventions in 2008 where journalists and peaceful protesters were tear gassed and pepper sprayed.

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What can we do to stop these illegal aggressions against innocent people?  How can we connect ourselves to the atrocities this country perpetrates?  Can we not imagine something of what it must be like to live in fear of drone attacks?  Can we not care for the people who live daily under the threat of drone attacks and for the innocent children, women, and men who are dying because we do not stop these wars?

The last sentence of Bonnie’s article says:

American citizens, the new “good Germans”?

Will we in fact go down in history that way or will we do something now to change?

Read Bonnie’s complete article here.

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Oil and War

May 26, 2010

There is no doubt in my mind that US aggression is related to oil and to the powerful corporate interests that now control the US government.  This connection explains why British Petroleum, with its record of criminal negligence, continues to drill with the permission of the US government, in places that the US claims to control*.

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For anyone not aware of BP’s egregious record, here is a quotation from an EPA lawyer that appears in an article in ProPublica:

“‘In 10 years we’ve got four convictions,’ Pascal said, referring to BP’s three environmental crimes and a 2009 deferred prosecution for manipulating the gas market, which counts as a conviction …”  Read the entire article here.

In addition to that, a little research into the extent of consumption of oil by the US military reveals that it is “the single largest consumer of oil in the world,” according to former IEA official Sohbet Karbuz.

Adding to the insanity of allowing BP, with its track record of criminal activity (not even counting the loss of life it has caused) and waste of oil to continue to operate, there is the insanity of waging costly wars for control of oil producing areas and potential pipeline areas that use so much of that very commodity.  The current evidence of the rapidly encroaching “end of oil” would seem to indicate that careful management of that resource and investment in developing renewable energy sources would be wiser.

Do such wise plans never materialize because of short term gains for the masters of the universe who are now in charge?  Is there some other agenda?

Whatever it might be, it is clearly not good for the homeostasis of the Earth nor for that of its people.

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What can we do to change this?

*I say BP is allowed to drill in “areas that the US claims to control,” because more and more I don’t believe that any area of the world belongs to any country, but that the Earth, as the Cochambamba declaration of rights that was presented recently to the UN says, has rights and that the only guarantee of the continuation of life for human beings is to live in balance with the rest of the earth.  No one owns the Earth.

War Crimes Continue

May 19, 2010

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Above is the ad that World Can’t Wait ran in the New York Review of Books and which WCW plans to run in other national media.

The full text follows:

In the past few weeks, it has become common knowledge that Barack Obama has openly ordered the assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, because he is suspected of participating in plots by Al Qaeda. Al-Awlaki denies these charges. No matter. Without trial or other judicial proceeding, the administration has simply put him on the to-be-killed list.

During this same period, a video leaked by whistleblowers in the military showing U.S. troops firing on an unarmed party of Iraqis in 2007, including two journalists, and then firing on those who attempted to rescue them – including two children – became public. As ugly as this video of the killing of 12 Iraqis was, the chatter recorded from the helicopter cockpit was even more chilling and monstrous. Yet the Pentagon said that there would be no charges against these soldiers; and the media focused on absolving them of blame – “they were under stress,” the story went, “and after all our brave men and women must be supported.” Meanwhile, those who leaked and publicized the video came under government surveillance and are targeted as “national security” threats.

Also during this period, the Pentagon acknowledged, after denials, a massacre near the city of Gardez, Afghanistan, on February 12, 2010, in which 5 people were killed, including two pregnant women, leaving 16 children motherless.  The U.S. military first said the two men killed were insurgents, and the women, victims of a family “honor killing.”  The Afghan government has accepted the eyewitness reports that U.S. Special Forces killed the men, (a police officer and lawyer) and the women, and then dug their own bullets out of the women’s bodies to destroy evidence. Top U.S. military officials have now admitted that U.S. soldiers killed the family in their house.

Just weeks earlier, a story broken in Harper’s by Scott Horton carried news that three supposed suicides of detainees in Guantánamo in 2006 were not actual suicides, but homicides carried out by American personnel. This passed almost without comment.

In some respects, this is worse than Bush. First, because Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of “terrorism,” merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly. Second, Obama says that the government can detain you indefinitely, even if you have been exonerated in a trial, and he has publicly floated the idea of “preventive detention.” Third, the Obama administration, in expanding the use of unmanned drone attacks, argues that the U.S. has the authority under international law to use such lethal force and extrajudicial killing in sovereign countries with which it is not at war.

Such measures by Bush were widely considered by liberals and progressives to be outrages and were roundly, and correctly, protested.  But those acts which may have been construed (wishfully or not) as anomalies under the Bush regime, have now been consecrated into “standard operating procedure” by Obama, who claims, as did Bush, executive privilege and state secrecy in defending the crime of aggressive war.

Unsurprisingly, the Obama administration has refused to prosecute any members of the Bush regime who are responsible for war crimes, including some who admitted to waterboarding and other forms of torture, thereby making their actions acceptable for him or any future president, Democrat or Republican.

We must end the complicity of silence and say loud and clear:

The things that were crimes under Bush are crimes under Obama.
Outrages under Bush are outrages under Obama.
All this MUST STOP.
And all this MUST BE RESISTED by anyone who claims a shred of conscience or integrity.

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Bonnie and I both attended the meeting last night at Revolution Books where Debra Sweet, Carl Dix, Ray McGovern, and Clark Kissinger spoke about the issues raised in the ad.  The 17 minute version of the film leaked in April of the helicopter attack on civilians mentioned in the ad was screened as well.  I had seen it on my computer, but it is even more striking on a larger screen.

Here is the link again to the WCW site where you can, if you care to, sign the statement and donate to make more ads possible.

I benefited from the discussion about what to do, especially in the face of wide spread public apathy and a completely unresponsive government.  I heard a number of people say that we can and must resist these crimes, make it known that there is resistance, thus the ad for instance, and take what actions we can.

World Can’t Wait organizes protests and other events.

Bonnie’s Report On Drones and Protest

May 14, 2010

Here is a link to Bonnie’s article about the World Can’t Wait event at Judson Church recently and the callous remarks about drones of Obama at the White House Correspondents dinner.

She heard moving accounts by journalist Dahr Jamail

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activist Elaine Brower, whose work is often chronicled here

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and veteran for peace and activist Matthis Chiroux, who is seen here on Broadway  in front of the Federal Building the night after the 2008 election, protesting the wars and torture

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Bonnie reports:

“Jamail was calling in to the panel discussion from a cell phone, dangerously un-embedded, somewhere presumably in the Middle East. He testified passionately that the United States, building colossal embassy infrastructures over there, had no intention of ever leaving. The promise of drawing down troops and exiting these countries was an outright lie on the part of our administration and military. The Baghdad embassy, for example, is the size of Vatican City, reportedly 80 football fields long. Avaricious corporate imperialism was the driving force of these wars.

“He discussed the stress levels of the troops, many on their fourth and fifth deployments. How could they not be suffering from severe psychological damage? Some become trigger happy. Some become suicidal. Some desert. None will escape this war without severe physical and/or psychic damage. Many will even join the ranks of the homeless.”

and

“Elaine Brower is the mother of a soldier who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. She spoke of her heartbreaking recognition that her son had been so indoctrinated with demonization of the enemy that he returned to the United States having lost the sense of moral grounding he had been raised with. I recently read The 1870 Mother’s Day Proclamation of Julia Ward Howe and immediately thought of Ms. Brower’s passionate demonstration of maternal tough love and commitment to morality. She spoke out against the glorification of war, the dangerous sentimentalizing of war memorials and ceremonies.”

You can read here about Elaine’s ongoing work to prevent our young people from being recruited and exploited by the corporate backed US war machine.

About Matthis Chiroux, Bonnie reports:

“When Matthis Chiroux finally spoke, the young soldier who had refused to be deployed to Iraq as a conscientious objector, I was awed by his courage and his clear commitment to ending the violence of war in the world. He gave a personal account of his boot camp desensitization training. How young men and women used bayonets and knives even before learning about guns to cultivate their aggression. They would attack dummy victims shouting “Blood” and “Kill!” They were also trained to shoot using ambushing pop-up specters of the “enemy” and would automatically shoot out at EVERY appearance of a faux-menacing, surrogate target. Matthis also revealed that one recruiting station he had visited had a military computer game accessible outside so young people would be softened up for recruitment.”

You can read here Matthis’s statement when he refused to deploy.

Since the traditional media never cover events like these nor much intelligent commentary about things like Obama’s callous statement, it is especially wonderful to have Bonnie’s report, which you can read in full here.