On January 16th, peace devotees will gather at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia to protest the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), operated primarily by the CIA to kill al-Qaida in Iraq, Pakistan, and along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. These attacks have killed many more civilians, children included, than the “terrorists” they target.
I often wonder, especially when I’m trying to fade into sleep, if many Americans are considering the collide-with-disaster tragedy our leadership is directing. It seems the majority go about their lives as if the most important contemplation is selecting a fast-food joint to patronize or what to watch on television.
We are a country that now accepts torture. According to a Pew report, 67 percent of Republicans and 47 percent of Democrats support its use. We imprison and place in solitary confinement the young and the old, those who may be guilty of one thing only—being in the wrong place at a time when justice has been rendered meaningless by something called the Global War on Terrorism and the Patriot Act, a weird acronym for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act.” This chilling mouthful, especially “Providing Appropriate Tools,” describes a nation gone rogue.
For decades, we have endured inept lawmakers and cabinet appointees. But 9/11 turned many into caricatures. The invasion of Afghanistan with its resultant war fever added another level of absurdity. We witnessed jaw-dropping, waste-of-time lunacy during the buildup to topple Saddam Hussein. When France refused to sign on to the disastrous destabilizing of the Middle East, French fries were renamed freedom fries on the menus of eateries run by the House of Representatives. This derangement was contagious. Francophobes poured French wine down sink drains. Restaurants removed it from their wine lists. Germany weighed in on the side of France. Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor at the time, said, “War may never be considered unavoidable.” His sanity was anathema to a nation of warmongers. Soon, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld referred to France and Germany as “old Europe.” All this would have been farcical had the Project for the New American Century not been so diabolical.
We have watched Congress become frenzied to avenge the deaths of those who died on that September morning by funding operations that have killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq, creating a widening gyre of violence that has expanded to Pakistan. The director of the Afghanistan Rights Monitor, Ajmal Samadi, reports “at least three children were killed in war-related incidents every day in 2009.”
At least a half million people who lived in the lands we’ve ruptured have been displaced. Their countries are environmental disasters as a result of our weaponry.
Army historians now say that early errors are to blame for the current problems in Afghanistan. This is inaccurate—because the initial mistake was invading in the first place.
With the Christmas 2009 “incident,” Yemen has become the new front in the war on terror. Yemeni leaders stress that they don’t want our boots on their ground, and Obama’s top counterterrorism advisor, John Brennan, said the US has no plan to deploy troops to Yemen. But with Obama’s continuation of his predecessor’s policies, the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war forebodes more aggression.
Each day of combat is another 24 hours of desolation somewhere. Here at home with the ringing of the doorbell by a messenger of death. In lands far away where entire families are incinerated by the technology of drone warfare, war fire, war power.
We created what we’re fighting and we’ve become what we’re fighting. Our troops are illegal enemy combatants.
So, how do we forge peace? What can we do to reach inside our hearts and find humanity—that which connects each of us regardless of ethnicity, borders, religious beliefs, gender, philosophies? How can we hold what seems to be moving inexorably from our grasp, nurture, and then deliver it to those who will shepherd its safe passage through the tomorrows of our children and grandchildren?
Only by taking nonviolent action can we stop the atrocities, can we stop the dronings, stop the suffering, stop the wars.
Come to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia on January 16th to protest drones. If you can’t make the distance, organize a rally in your community. Also, participate in Peace of the Action (www.peaceoftheaction.org) in Washington, DC, starting in March and continuing until our troops come home.
Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com