Waging Peace


The new book, Waging Peace:  Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist by veteran peace activist David Hartsough, is part autobiography, part recent history, and part call to action.  The book shows how a commitment to active nonviolence can plant the seeds and provide the impetus for significant social transformation.

In 2012 I was arrested with David and Jan Hartsough, Shirley Osgood, and Janie Kesselman at a demonstration at Beale Air Force Base, near my home in Northern California.  We were the first of many to be arrested at anti-drone protests at Beale, home of the Global Hawk drone, a surveillance drone that helps identify targets for armed Predator and Reaper drones.  Our arrests resulted in a trial that generated significant publicity. I believe that our case and others like it at bases around the country got people discussing and questioning the morality of killing people by remote control.

Throughout the trial, David urged our lawyers to focus on the Nuremburg Principles and International Law, although the judge refused to consider these factors as a defense.  We were found “guilty” of trespassing onto base property.  Before being sentenced we each gave a statement to the court.  David’s complete sentencing statement, available here, is printed as an addendum in Waging Peace.

The judge could have sentenced us to six months in jail.  After hearing our statements, she acknowledged that we were motivated by “deeply held ethical and religious beliefs” and sentenced us to just ten hours of community service.  We continue to demonstrate at Beale on an ongoing basis.  As David says, “Sustained resistance brings transformation.”

David is Executive Director of Peaceworkers, based in San Francisco, and co-founder with Mel Duncan of the Nonviolent Peace Force.  In Waging Peace, David shares some of his many adventures in active nonviolence, as well as his strong faith and the spiritual beliefs that motivate his action, as a Quaker and as a Christian.  This book engages the reader every step of the way.

Waging Peace is a compelling autobiography that beings with the story of a life-threatening encounter David had at age twenty while sitting with a number of African American students at a “whites only” lunch counter in Arlington, Virginia.  A man held a knife to his heart and threatened to kill him.  Fortunately for David, he had already incorporated a deep inner commitment to nonviolence, and was able to respond in a way that diffused the anger of his would-be killer.

What brought David to this historic event, and how did he handle this threatening situation?  He explains all this as he tells the story of his childhood and how he came to live out the principles of nonviolence at an early age.  He describes how the seeds of peace were sown by his remarkable parents, how he came to understand what Jesus meant when he said to love your enemies, how he began early experiments with nonviolence, and how he came to dedicate himself to living a life consistent with his values.  He was strongly influenced by friends and colleagues of his father, a Congregational minister who worked for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), especially Martin Luther King, Jr.  David was organizing demonstrations against nuclear weapons by the age of fifteen.

In addition to being an autobiography, this book is a modern-day history of nonviolent social movements, written from the perspective of a committed activist. As an agent for nonviolent social change, David seems to have always been at the right place at the right time.

During the Cold War, David traveled to Russia and organized peace demonstrations there.  As the United States and Soviet Union were threatening nuclear war over the divided city of Berlin, David lived in West Berlin just a few blocks from Checkpoint Charlie.  He traveled back and forth to East Berlin, learning as much as he could and speaking out against both communist and capitalist propaganda.  Ten years later the FBI issued a warrant for his arrest and questioned him about his activities there.

He and Jan, his beloved wife and partner in nonviolent action, stopped paying “war taxes” early on.  David claimed conscientious objector status and was an outspoken critic during the Vietnam War.  He was protesting with his friend Brian Willson on the day that Brian was run over and his legs were severed by a train carrying munitions to Central America.  He writes about the trauma of that event, but also about how many people continued to block the trains.  A short time later his elderly mother and father joined him and others on the tracks.

David and Jan traveled in Central American war zones during the 1980s, when U.S. financial support to corrupt regimes and death squads made such travel and life for people who lived there extremely dangerous.  He worked in the United States with Cesar Chavez in the struggles for the rights of farm workers.  In the 1990s, David was part of a Fellowship of Reconciliation delegation for peace in Bosnia-Hertzegovnia.  He has travelled extensively in his peacemaking work, including to Iran and Palestine.  His peacemaking work continues, including through Peaceworkers and the Nonviolent Peaceforce.

For those who are aware of these various historical events, and for those who are not, this book brings them to life.  It is written not only by an observer, but from the perspective of one who is committed to the good—to compassion, justice, and peace.

In addition to being an autobiography and a first-hand history of social movements, Waging Peace is an inspiring call to action.  Every page expresses David’s hope for lasting social transformation based on his faith and his experience.  By reading about David’s adventures as a skilled practitioner of active nonviolence in key historical events of our time, the reader gains hope and confidence that significant change is possible.

Waging Peace is a “how to” book for transforming our society and the world.  It encourages us to start where we are, by learning and practicing nonviolence in all areas of our lives—in our personal relationships, in the workplace, and in social movements.  It includes a wealth of suggestions and resources for would-be activists.  This book not only gives practical direction but shows us the strong foundation built by others upon which we can stand, in solidarity with other people of faith and conscience around the world.

After describing some of the astonishing changes that nonviolent action has brought about in recent years in places around the world, David writes:

“What other spots on our earth are waiting for such stunning change?  What corner is beckoning to your heart and spirit?  Where is God leading you to invest your life on behalf of a world where all God’s children share the abundance and live as one family in peace and harmony with the earth?”

He closes the book with this statement of faith:  “Deep in my heart, I do believe, that—togetherWe Shall Overcome!”

Order signed copies of Waging Peace from Peaceworkers or order from a local bookstore.  It is also available on online outlets. 

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell FaceBook page.  Read here for her specific blog postings about arrests at Beale and related court cases.   Find out more at Earth Justice Ministries website and the Earth Justice Ministries Facebook page.  More about Beale protests at the Occupy Beale Air Force Base website and Occupy Beale Facebook page. 

Aren’t Drones Better than All-Out War?

PRISM article

I wrote the following article, which was published Monday by Prism Magazine:


Posted by  on Monday, September 30, 2013

by Sharon Delgado

Beale Air Force Base near Marysville, Calif., is the home of Global Hawk surveillance drones, which identify targets for armed drone attacks.  Drones are remote-control, pilotless, aerial vehicles that are controlled by “pilots” who sit at computer terminals in the United States and launch attacks in countries half a world away.

I was arrested last October for crossing the line onto federal property during an anti-drone demonstration at Beale.  During this act of civil disobedience, I was wearing my clergy collar as a symbol of the authority of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Prince of Peace.  I was arraigned with four others for misdemeanor trespass, which carries a penalty of up to six months in jail.

At a party I attended a few weeks later, a woman approached me and brought up the topic of drones.  She said, “I believe in peace.  I’ve gone to anti-war demonstrations.  But isn’t it better to use drones to take out a few bad guys than to have an all-out war?”

She was struggling with whether the use of drones in targeted killings could be justified.  Her question reminded me of the argument of Caiphus before the Sanhedrin so long ago:  “It is expedient that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50).  The case against Jesus was built upon the claim that he was a threat to national security.   The argument that it is expedient to use drones for the sake of national security is a big part of the conversation today.


How can Christians sort through the moral complexities reflected in public perceptions and attitudes about drone warfare?   The teaching and example of Jesus can provide a compass with which to navigate our way to clarity and solid ground.

Jesus didn’t talk about expediency but about loving God and neighbor.  He even said that we should love our enemies, a radical idea both at the time and today in the age of international terrorism.

You’ve seen the bumper sticker that states: “When Jesus said, ‘Love your enemies,’ I think he probably meant don’t kill them.”  In reality, however, Christians differ in their beliefs about whether or not war or execution by the state can be considered just.  If we could target and use surgical strikes to assassinate terrorists who are planning to attack the United States, wouldn’t that prevent an even greater harm?  Wouldn’t that be morally justified?

This question is debatable, but the idea that US drones are simply “taking out a few bad guys” is erroneous. Only 2 percent of drone victims are so-called high-level targets.  Our nation’s “signature strikes” target groups that fit a particular profile.  In some regions of Western Pakistan all military-age men are considered militants and therefore legitimate targets, which makes accurate accounting of civilian deaths impossible.

US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have killed thousands of people, many of them civilians, including children, with many more injured.  These people are our neighbors, precious souls for whom Christ died.  These “extrajudicial” killings take place without trial, judge, or jury, often in countries where we are not at war.  Although the Obama administration justifies the legality of such attacks, many claim that drone attacks violate international law.

Jesus said, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31), but friends who have traveled to rural Pakistan tell about whole communities being terrorized by drones, where people are afraid to gather for weddings or funerals, afraid to send their terrified children to school.  Our drones have engaged in secondary strikes, attacking the same target twice.  This makes it difficult for emergency response teams and would-be good Samaritans to rescue victims or alleviate their suffering.

Drone attacks foster anti-American sentiment and create future terrorists.  Violence begets violence.  Our policies are creating enemies that may last for generations.

Furthermore, over 70 countries now have drones.  If the United States acts with impunity, other countries will follow our example.  This could lead to a drone arms race and a complete breakdown of international law.  What we do to others, they may in the future do to us.

Who is responsible for the use of drones in targeted killings and signature strikes?  We can’t blame just the drone operators, some of whom suffer from PTSD.  Those responsible include religious leaders who, like Caiaphas, provide moral justification for the preservation of empire at any cost; public officials like Pilate, who wash their hands of culpability; corporate lobbyists who promote increased military funding for high-tech weaponry; an out-of-control military industrial complex that has taken on a life of its own; a corporate media that both interprets and shapes reality; and a public that suffers from moral confusion, the failure of critical thinking, and resignation to the powers of this world.

Jesus ushered in a new way of being, not based on domination and violence but on love of God and neighbor.  May those of us who follow Jesus live and love accordingly, for the well-being of the world and for the glory of God.

Sharon Delgado is a United Methodist minister, the executive director of Earth Justice Ministries, and author of Shaking the Gates of Hell:  Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization (Augsburg Fortress Press, 2007).

See the article at Prism Magazine. 

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Beale 5 Statements: Shirley

Shirley making a peace sign, with other RAFTT members

Shirley making a peace sign, with other RAFTT members

For the past few days I have posted the statements that Janie Kesselman, David Hartsough, and Jan Hartsough gave in court last Monday before we were sentenced for civil disobedience at Beale.  Today I am posting  Shirley’s article which appears on the Radical Art for These Times (RAFTT) website.  Shirley did not write a statement but she spoke passionately in court, as she explains below:

“The other four had prepared statements, and they spoke eloquently of their histories, drone warfare, and their reasons for being there. I had not written a statement, though I had general ideas floating in my head. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was something about being a grandmother, my grandchildren being children of the world, just like the children on the drone panels, who have been killed in Yemen and Pakistan. And something about our fragile little planet, and how war does not support its healing.” 

Please take the time to read Shirley’s article, which gives the background on our action at Beale and the whole case.  Plus, it has wonderful pictures.

I am privileged to have spent these months with such wonderful people.  Nonviolent direct action can be a deeply bonding experience, in addition to being a powerful, empowering, and potentially effective form of direct democracy.


Beale 5 Statements: Jan

Before trial

Jan Hartsough outside courtroom

Below is the statement Jan Hartsough gave on September 9 at our sentencing hearing for our nonviolent protest against drones at Beale Air Force Base. For background on the Beale 5 case and on drone warfare, see my past blog postings on drones.

Jan Hartsough’s Statement

By standing at the gates of Beale Air Force Base I was joining with others to say that drone warfare is wrong. I do not believe that killing is the solution to anything.  I believe that if Americans really knew the lethal danger of drones, more people would speak out against them.  Beale is the closest base where I could stand in opposition.

Back in the mid-sixties I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Pakistan, helping to develop educational and economic resources there.  After living and working there for two years, Pakistan is a part of me. I have followed with great pain and sadness the drone attacks on Pakistanis.  I have learned from Pakistani victims of drone strikes that they are experiencing psychological trauma – never knowing when a drone might strike again.  Kids are afraid to go to school; adults are afraid to gather for a funeral or a wedding celebration for fear of becoming a “target.”  I have also read that 75% of Pakistanis now view the U.S. more as an enemy than an ally.

Drones (unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs) can drop bombs on targets on the ground anywhere in the world, based on information from surveillance cameras mounted on another drone.  This remote technical warfare removes the human dimension from war.  People are not meeting face to face.  It’s much more like a computer war game.  The battlefield is often in a country that we have not declared war with.  Are these drone attacks making America safer?  I believe they are just creating more enemies.

A person becomes a drone target based on their “suspicious” activities, and their associates appearing “suspicious.”  These are often called “signature strikes” when there is not a specific target – very different from the specific people whose names appear on kill lists (who are also killed by drones).  Often in drone strikes innocent bystanders are also killed, including women and children.  Is it moral to kill multiple innocent bystanders in order to kill a particular person/target?  I say unequivocally NO – killing is wrong.

So what have we accomplished with our drone attacks?  When will we wake up and see that there are much better ways to win the respect of the world’s people?

What if we spent the money currently going to develop drone warfare (and maintenance of over 800 military bases around the world) on effective economic development projects in other countries, and expanded the number of people serving in the Peace Corps?  I am sure it would do more to end the violence against the U.S. than our targeted killings by drone strikes ever could.  Each innocent killed as “collateral damage” makes us MORE enemies, not LESS – and makes us less secure as a people and a nation.

As a mother and grandmother I seek to find ways to help create a more peaceful world for future generations.  Ending drone warfare is a concrete step we can and must take.  I feel I must speak out against this new form of warfare before it’s too late.  That’s why I stood in front of Beale Air Force Base last October.

Direct Action Protest Demands prepared for Beale AFB Commander  10/30/2013

  1. An immediate ban on the use of all drones for extrajudicial killing.
  1. Halt all drone surveillance that assaults basic freedoms and inalienable rights, and terrorizes domestic life in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia.
  1. Prohibit the sale and distribution of drones and drone technology to foreign countries in order to prevent the proliferation of this menacing threat to world peace, freedom and security.

4.  The U.S. must immediately stop this lawless behavior of drone warfare that violates many international laws and treaties.

Beale 5 Statements: David


David Hartsough

Below is the statement David Hartsough gave on September 9 at our sentencing hearing for our nonviolent protest against drones at Beale Air Force Base. For background on the Beale 5 case and on drone warfare, see my past blog postings on drones.

David Hartsough’s statement 

Drones have killed thousands of innocent civilians and are immoral and illegal under US and international law. They also recruit many more people into Al Qaeda.

We are one human family. All people in the world are children of God and are our brothers and sisters. If someone attacks our blood brother or sister, we would do everything in our power to stop them. This is the way we feel about innocent civilians being killed by drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

One hundred and seventy-eight children and thousands of other civilians have been killed by drones in Pakistan and Yemen. Does this strengthen our national security? Is this making the world a safer place?

Drones are totally immoral and are against everything we have been taught in our religious Faiths: Love one another, Love your enemy and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is a question of religious freedom. I am a Quaker and my religious Faith requires me to try to stop the killing of innocent people.

How would we feel if Russians or Chinese or Afghanis or Pakistanis were flying drones over the US and killing American people?

It is illegal under international law to go into another country and drop bombs on people our government doesn’t like. The Nuremberg Principles require citizens to attempt to stop crimes against humanity and killing innocent civilians is a crime against humanity. Doing nothing or remaining silent is complicity in these crimes. In protesting at Beale AFB, I was trying to uphold international law.

The United States is making decisions to kill people without them ever coming before a court or found guilty. The US government is playing Judge, Jury and Executioner. Is this what we call the rule of law?

Using drones and killing many innocent people is creating more and more enemies of the US. Every person we kill has at least 50 family members and friends who will mourn the loss of their loved ones.  Many will seek revenge on the people and nation that has killed their loved one or friend.

Instead of drones and dropping bombs on people we need to send Peace Corps people to build schools and medical clinics and help people in these countries recover from the wounds of war. We could be the most loved country on earth rather than the most hated.

By our silence we condone this senseless killing. We must speak out and act to stop this madness. By our nonviolent protest at Beale AFB, we were acting to uphold God’s law, US law, the Nuremberg Principles and international law.

We call on our fellow Americans, people in churches and synagogues and mosques, students, all people of conscience to join us in stopping Drones before they kill more innocent people and recruit more people into Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, our “war on terror” is a receipe for perpetual wars and endless suffering and death for people around the world.

Judge Carolyn Delaney, at a time when our country is preparing to reign down missiles and bombs on Syria which could start a much larger war in the Middle East killing thousands or hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps the best place for people of conscience is behind bars.

I am at peace with whatever you sentence me to.  I cannot pay a fine or accept probation for a nonviolent action in which I was trying to uphold God’s law, US law and international law. Judge, if you so decide, I am ready to do community service or spend time in prison.

David Hartsough