Today I was arrested for peace with my dear friend Shirley Osgood at Beale Air Force Base, supported by several Veterans for Peace and other peacemakers. Beale is home of Global Hawk surveillance drones, which identify targets in countries around the world for U.S. killer drones.
Shirley and I walked through the main gate to sprinkle ashes on the base in an act of resistance to our government’s endless wars. The ashes symbolize the innocent people incinerated by our government in faraway lands by drones via remote control. I think especially of the children.
As movements of resistance multiply around the country and around the world, it’s important to include a critique of the permanent war economy and a call to international cooperation and peace. The Trump Administration’s approach to foreign and military policy is exemplified by attempts to ban Muslims and other immigrants, alienation of allies, threats to revive torture, promises to raise military spending (again), and the recent Navy Seals raid in Yemen that resulted in the deaths of at least fourteen civilians, including nine children. The stories told by witnesses of the raid are horrendous.
At Beale today we commemorated the deaths of these people. Demonstrators will be there again tomorrow. But we are also mourning the deaths of the fifteen Afghan civilians who were killed by a U.S. drone strike while sleeping in their beds last September. While Barak Obama was president, he authorized drone strikes in seven countries. U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children. These extrajudicial killings ignite hate, fuel terror, and perpetuate the cycle of violence.
How has this nightmare come to be reality? As divided as Congress appears, the Washington Consensus still holds in Deep State matters of finance and national security. The “experts” that guide the Ship of State in these areas have been there for decades, even as presidents come and go. The power of the “imperial presidency” has grown under both Republican and Democratic administrations, while the reach and secrecy of the national security/surveillance state has grown, consuming an ever-greater share of the economy.
Now we have a right-wing ideologue in the office of the presidency who is, evidently, uneducated in matters of State, irrational, and unpredictable. Obama’s drone “kill list” is now in the hands of Donald Trump, as is the authority to use the new generation of “useable” nuclear weapons approved by Obama. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists reports that the hands of the Doomsday Clock have now been moved to two and a half minutes to midnight.
I am so happy to see people rising up, finally! In times of tyranny, the only way to maintain our humanity is to resist. But the answer is not a matter of simply getting Democrats back into power. If we continue to accept the unacceptable actions of our government, deep systemic change will be impossible.
I chose to sprinkle ashes on Beale Air Force Base because the day after tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, a day for repentance and reflection on our mortality. I chose to kneel and pray for mercy for the people my government is targeting, and to plead for the transformation of the hearts and minds of people in my country who accept and perpetuate these atrocities. War is not the answer. God help us all.
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