2003
03.31

Quote of the Day

    Extract from a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Christopher:

    10 April 1944

    I sometimes feel appalled at the thought of the sum total of human misery all over the world at the present moment: the millions parted, fretting, wasting in unprofitable days – quite apart from torture, pain, death, bereavement, injustice. If anguish were visible, almost the whole of this benighted planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapor, shrouded from the amazed vision of the heavens! And the products of it all will be mainly evil – historically considered. But the historic version is, of course, not the only one. All things and all deeds have a value in themselves, apart from their “causes” and “effects.” No man can estimate what is really happening sub specie aeternitatis. All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labors with vast power and perpetual success – in vain: preparing always the soil for unexpected good to sprout in.

    – from “The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien” (Thanks to the Soujourners Email Newsletter for this.)

2003
03.31

Hope in times of despair

  • I often post updates from the CPTnet, but this one is probably one of the most moving I have read. Please read it. It speaks volumes about the kind love of the civilian population of Iraq and horrible attrocity of the US/UK war against that people…
      CPTNET

      Welcome at Rutba

      Mar. 30 2003

      by Doug Hostetter

      (The author of this piece is a 15 year adviser and friend of CPT who is currently supporting peace work in Amman, Jordan. He is Peace Pastor, Evanston Mennonite Church (Evanston IL), and Senior Middle East Correspondent for American Friends Service Committee.)

      Amman Jordan – A three vehicles convoy started out early Saturday morning (3/29/03) heading for the Amman Jordan on the road that runs through the Western Iraqi desert from Baghdad to the Jordanian border. The group included Iraqi drivers for each vehicle, 8 Americans and an Irishman from

      Christian Peacemakers Teams and Voices in the Wilderness, two Japanese reporters and a Korean peace activist. As the group headed west in the early morning light, there was ample evidence of the effects of US/British bombing. There were the downed bridges, the destroyed gas stations, and the blackened shells of destroyed military and civilian vehicles by the side of the road. US and British planes could be seen in the skies, and were actively engaged in bombing near the road so the drivers decided spread their vehicles apart and travel at maximum speed so as to minimize the likelihood of their becoming “collateral damage” in this war. The last of the vehicles carried three Christian Peacemaker Team Members: Weldon Nisly, Seattle Washington, Kara Speltz, Oakland, CA and, Cliff Kindy of CPT staff in Ohio, along with Shane Claiborne, Philadelphia, PA who was in Iraq

      with the Voices in the Wilderness Iraqi Peace Team. They were a few hours from the Jordanian border traveling at about 80 miles per hour when a tire blew, causing the diver to lose control. The vehicle left the road and landed on its side at the bottom of a 10 foot ditch. The driver thought

      that the wheel had been shot by a nearby Allied plane, but the team thinks it was just as likely that the tire was destroyed by shrapnel or debris on the road from earlier Allied strikes.

      They were able to open the doors on the top side of the vehicle and eventually were able to pull everyone out. Everyone was bruised, badly shaken, but all were conscious though it was clear that Weldon was badly injured, and Cliff was bleeding badly from a large gash in his head. The car was totaled, and the other two cars in the convoy were well out of sight down the road toward the Jordanian border and no one in the delegation had a satellite phone. Because of to the intensive US/British bombing, with very good reason, there were very few vehicles on the road between Baghdad and the Jordanian. The group was just beginning to panic, when an Iraqi civilian car approached, pulled over and asked if he could help. Without a second thought, the driver packed the 5 additional

      passengers into his car and drove to the closest Iraqi town, Rutba, about 6 km from the site of the accident. Rutba is a city of about 20,000 people located 140 km east of the Jordanian Border. The group was astounded to see that this civilian town, with no apparent military structures had been

      devastated by US/British bombing three days earlier. Much of the town was destroyed including the children’s hospital in which two children were killed in the bombing. The group was taken to the only remaining functioning medical facility in town, a 20-foot X 20-foot four-bed clinic. The people of the town quickly gathered to inspect their uninvited foreign guests. The group hastily offered everyone a copy the CPT hand-out, a description of the Christian Peacemakers Team’s mission and work in Iraq, with English on one side of the page and Arabic on the other. Introduction in hand, the people of Rutba warmly welcomed the wounded stranded American refugees, just three days after their town had been destroyed by American/British Aircraft. The next morning, Shane asked, “How do you think Americans would respond to Iraqi civilians accidentally stranded in their community three days after Iraqi aircraft had destroyed their town?”

      When the doctor arrived, the group was in for an even bigger surprise. In this town of 20,000 in the middle of the Iraqi desert, the doctor who would treat them spoke perfect English, and without delay, he started his examinations. Everyone in the vehicle was badly bruised, but Weldon Nisly

      had a broken thumb, several broken ribs and other possible fractures, while Ciff Kindy had a very bad gash in his head. The doctor was professionally embarrassed. Because of the embargo, and the Allied attack on their primary hospital three days earlier, many medications were unavailable. Some painkillers were on hand, but Cliff Kindy would have to get the 10 stitches he needed to close the gash in his head without anesthesia. Under normal circumstances, the doctor explained, they would

      gladly have offered to take the wounded of group by ambulance to Jordan. But, he could not make that offer in the current situation. As was obvious from the bombed out ambulance not far down the road, it appears that even ambulances are at times considered legitimate targets of American/British bombing. By the time everyone in the group had been treated, about two hours after they had arrived, the two other cars in the convoy had returned and found them. The group warmly thanked the people of Rutba for their hospitality, and tried unsuccessfully to pay the clinic and doctor for their services. “We treat everyone in our clinic: Muslim, Christian, Iraqi or American. We all are part of the same family you know,” the doctor said.

      Christian Peacemakers Team

      Weldon Nisly, Mennonite Pastor from Seattle, WA

      Jonathan & Leah Wilson-Hartgrone, Philadelphia, PA

      Kara Speltz of Oakland, CA

      Betty Scholten, Mt. Rainier, MD

      Peggy Gish, Athens, OH CPT staff

      Cliff Kindy, Indiana CPT staff

      Voices in the Wilderness Iraq Peace Team

      Michael Birmingham, Ireland

      Shane Claiborne, Philadelphia

      Christian Peacemaker Teams is a program of Brethren, Quaker and Mennonite Churches.

      CPT P. O. Box 6508 Chicago, IL 60680 tel. 773-277-0253; Fax: 773-277-0291, E-Mail cpt@igc.org WEB www.prairienet.org/cpt

2003
03.31

This weekend

    These last few days have been blur.

    The Muskogee protest on Friday was intense. It was everything I thought a protest in “Merle Haggard” country would be and more. It was one of most intense experienes of my life, at least in a political or activist vein. (I’ll talk about it more tomorrow on the POLIblog.)

    Friday after the protest I crashed at a friend’s house in Holdenville (definitely good to just chill for once). Then Saturday we met up with another friend (both my comrades in peace from C.R.O.P. in Shawnee for the most amazing Italian food I have ever eaten, followed by a good afternoon of joyful politics (which I know sounds like an oxymoron, but it isn’t if you’re in the Oklahoma Green party. -)

    After the meeting, my CROP buddies and I started wondering about the press coverage in Muskogee. We had a very nice reporter from the Muskogee Phoenix (local daily) who came out to talk to us but the photographer who was there seemed to only take pictures when the anti-peace folks were hostile, so we weren’t sure what to expect. So anyway, we decided at a late hour to drive back to Muskogee (1-1/2 hours away) to buy a newspaper. hehehe

    As it turns out, the newspaper article was excellent and the photos did not make us look bad (only the pro-war folks who were shouting in our faces). Best of all, we made the front page!

    So, after that we drove back to Seminole and then I drove to Newcastle arriving at 1 a.m. (which is really funny since I had to preach the next morning!)

    Then after church today, I went to the OKC protest (pictures here)and then back to church for evening. What a weekend! It was good. Very much a learning experience, especially about myself. If there is anything peace activism is teaching me, it is that I can’t really advocate for peace effectively, until I am peace with myself and at peace with others. I have so much to learn.

2003
03.27

Tomorrow in Muskogee

2003
03.27

The Peace Movement

2003
03.27

The Cost of War

  • NY Times: Pictures of the aftermath on yesterday’s cruise missle strike on working class Baghdad neighborhood. May God forgive us all!
  • NY Times: Casualties at Home — By Bob Herbert

    (Bold typeface emphasis was added by me in the quote below…

      . . . With attention thus deflected, the administration and its allies in Congress have come up with one proposal after another to weaken programs that were designed to help struggling Americans.

      In his budget last month the president offered a plan to make it more difficult for low-income families to obtain government benefits, including tax credits and school lunch assistance. This month, as The Times’ Robert Pear reported, the administration proposed changes in the Medicare program that would make it more difficult for elderly people, many of them frail, to appeal the denial of benefits like home health care and skilled nursing care.

      The extent to which the most vulnerable Americans are being targeted is appalling. Billions of dollars in cuts have been proposed for food stamp and child nutrition programs, and for health care for the poor.

      Collectively, these are the largest proposed cuts in history. Even cuts for veterans’ programs are on the table — in the midst of a war!

      The administration is actually fighting two wars — one against Iraq and another against the very idea of a humane and responsive government here at home.

      At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, the war against Iraq will end. Americans will then have the opportunity to look around and be stunned by the fix we’ll be in. We’ll look at the enormous costs of the postwar occupation in Iraq, and at the social and economic dislocation that’s occurring here. And we’ll look at the disaster that the federal budget has become. We’ll be broke, and we’ll ask ourselves, again and again, “What have we done

    I say call Congress and ask them if they really support the troops or not. I’m sick and tired of the way we lie to those who serve our country. I’ve had too many friends who are veterans who have been screwed by Uncle Sam. This war is bad enough, but to CUT VETERAN’S BENEFITS during the war is crazy whack!

2003
03.27

Peace/War

  • MSNBC: Fired up by TV, Iraqis return to fight — From Jordan, exiles vow to take up arms Boy, it sure looks like those Iraqis are cheering on the Americans in “liberating” their country.
  • From a recent listserve post:
      The Dalai Lama was asked recently why the world does not go to war to liberate Tibet from China.

      “No oil under Tibet” he said. “Ours is a nonviolent struggle, and if a liberating war were offered, we would decline.”

  • MSNBC: U.S. ready to impose martial law — Coalition forces hope Iraqi judicial system does not fall apart
  • SWT Daily University Star: Austin police use force to end protests, by Mike Jones
  • Coalition of the Unwilling – an Austin anti-war collective
  • NY Times: Channels of Influence
      By and large, recent pro-war rallies haven’t drawn nearly as many people as antiwar rallies, but they have certainly been vehement. One of the most striking took place after Natalie Maines, lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, criticized President Bush: a crowd gathered in Louisiana to watch a 33,000-pound tractor smash a collection of Dixie Chicks CD’s, tapes and other paraphernalia. To those familiar with 20th-century European history it seemed eerily reminiscent of. . . . But as Sinclair Lewis said, it can’t happen here.

      Who has been organizing those pro-war rallies? The answer, it turns out, is that they are being promoted by key players in the radio industry — with close links to the Bush administration.

      The CD-smashing rally was organized by KRMD, part of Cumulus Media, a radio chain that has banned the Dixie Chicks from its playlists. Most of the pro-war demonstrations around the country have, however, been organized by stations owned by Clear Channel Communications, a behemoth based in San Antonio that controls more than 1,200 stations and increasingly dominates the airwaves.

2003
03.26

The Oklahoma Peace Movement

2003
03.26

Regime change starts at home

2003
03.26

US attacks residential neighborhood with 2 cruise missles

  • NPR this morning and MSNBC are both reporting that at least 14 Iraqi civilians were killed in a residential neighborhood, with death counts likely rising.

    Folks on the ground report that there were NO military or government targets nearby. Either this is a horrible mistake or the US/UK coalition is changing strategies.