KATHY KELLY – The U.S. government owes reparations to the civilians of Afghanistan for the past twenty years of war and brutal impoverishment.
KATHY KELLY – The U.S. government owes reparations to the civilians of Afghanistan for the past twenty years of war and brutal impoverishment.
KATHY KELLY – The cries against war in Yemen fall like rain and whatever thunder accompanies the rain is distant, summer thunder. Yet, if we cooperate with war making elites, the most horrible storms will be unleashed. We must learn–and quickly–to make a torrent of our mingled cries and, as the prophet Amos demanded, ‘let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
KATHY KELLY – The world that our global empire is swiftly creating, through our devastating oil wars in the Middle East and our arriving cold wars with Russia and China, is a world without winners. We must resist signing contracts with weapon makers profiting from endless immiseration of the Middle East and needless superpower rivalries inviting full nuclear war. Such contracts, inked in blood, doom every corner of our world to perish as a battleground state.
KATHY KELLY – After the onset of COVID-19, Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, had this message for the world: “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown….. Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes. End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.”
KATHY KELLY – As COVID-19 threatens to engulf war-torn Yemen, it is even more critical to raise awareness of how the war debilitates the country.
KATHY KELLY – U.S. sanctions against Iran, cruelly strengthened in March of 2018, continue a collective punishment of extremely vulnerable people. Presently, the U.S. “maximum pressure” policy severely undermines Iranian efforts to cope with the ravages of COVID-19, causing hardship and tragedy while contributing to the global spread of the pandemic. On March 12, 2020, Iran’s Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif urged member states of the UN to end the United States’ unconscionable and lethal economic warfare.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The people do not want war, but right now we have almost no say in the matter. A future without war will not be an easy birth. We must continue learning how to become a democracy.
KATHY KELLY – What are the lessons learned from the rampage, destruction and cruelty of U.S. wars? I believe the most important lessons are summed up in the quote on Cynthia Banas’s T-shirt as she delivered water to Marines in Baghdad, in April, 2003: “War Is Not the Answer”; and in an updated version of the headline Ramzi Kysia wrote that same month: “Heavy-handed & Hopeless, The U.S. Military Doesn’t Know What It’s Doing” -in Iraq, Afghanistan or any of its “forever wars.”
KATHY KELLY – Many who are working for the abolition of nuclear weapons are deeply disturbed by the madness of maintaining nuclear weapons arsenals and believe such weapons threaten planetary survival. They are joined by people everywhere who worry that, similar to the 1930s, citizens of countries possessing nuclear weapons sleepwalk toward utter disaster.
KATHY KELLY – Palestinians in Gaza cope with constant tension. Denied freedom of movement, they live in the world’s largest open-air prison, under conditions the United Nations has predicted will render their land uninhabitable by 2020.
KATHY KELLY – Rather than punish Iran, the United States should immediately return to the Iran nuclear agreement and support proposals regularly advanced at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty conferences for a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East.
KATHY KELLY – Chelsea Manning, who bravely exposed atrocities committed by the U.S. military, is again imprisoned in a U.S. jail. On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2019, she was incarcerated in the Alexandria, VA federal detention center for refusing to testify in front of a secretive Grand Jury. Her imprisonment can extend through the term of the Grand Jury, possibly 18 months, and the U.S. courts could allow formation of future Grand Juries, potentially jailing her again.
KATHY KELLY – On January 27th, 2019, the Taliban and the U.S. government each publicly stated acceptance, in principle, of a draft framework for ongoing negotiations that could culminate in a peace deal to end a two-decade war in Afghanistan.
KATHY KELLY – Recent polls indicate that most Americans don’t favor U.S. war on Yemen. Surely, our security is not enhanced if the U.S. continues to structure its foreign policy on fear, prejudice, greed, and overwhelming military force. The movements that pressured the U.S. Senate to reject current U.S. foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen will continue raising voices. Collectively, we’ll work toward raising the lament, pressuring the media and civil society to insist that slaughtering children will never solve problems.
KATHY KELLY – In the state of Georgia’s Glynn County Detention Center, four activists await trial stemming from their nonviolent action, on April 4, 2018, at the Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay. In all, seven Catholic plowshares activists acted that day, aiming to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.” The Kings Bay is home port to six nuclear armed Trident ballistic missile submarines with the combined explosive power of over 9000 Hiroshima bombs.
KATHY KELLY – U.S. foreign policy is foolishly reduced to the good guys,” the U.S. and its allies, versus “the bad guy,” – Iran. The “good guys” shaping and selling U.S. foreign policy and weapon sales exemplify the heartless indifference of the smugglers who gamble human life in exceedingly dangerous crossings. The nefarious actions of the US-supported Saudi military in the Middle East must arouse citizen opposition in the one country where democracy is still strong enough to make a difference, the US.
KATHY KELLY – The U.S. has decidedly taken the side of the Saudi-led coalition. Consider a Reuters report, on April 19, 2017, after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis met with senior Saudi officials. According to the report, U.S. officials said “U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition was discussed including what more assistance the United States could provide, including potential intelligence support…” The Reuters report notes that Mattis believes “Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East would have to be overcome to end the conflict in Yemen, as the United States weighs increasing support to the Saudi-led coalition fighting there.”
KATHY KELLY – No matter what gang is issuing the orders to kill, whether a massive military power or a smaller group that has acquired weapons, we can all claim our right not to develop, store, sell or use weapons. We can claim our right not to kill and not to live with the memory of having killed. “Declaring eternal hostility” to the fear, greed and hate which are our real enemies seems to be our true hope. We can lay aside forever the futility of killing. We can be hopeful and determined that our resources and ingenuity are directed toward meeting human needs.
KATHY KELLY – December 10th marks the U.N. Human Rights Day, celebrating and upholding the indispensable and crucial declaration of universal human rights. On the eve of this event, I visited a refugee camp housing 700 families in Kabul. Conditions in refugee camps can be deplorable, intolerable. Here, the situation is best described as surreal.
KATHY KELLY – Along with Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) companions, I’m part of a 150 mile walk from Chicago to Thomson, IL, a small town in Northwest IL where the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is setting up an Administrative Maximum prison, also known as a Supermax. Prison laborers from U.S. minimum security prisons now labor to turn what once was an Illinois state prison into a federal supermax detention facility with 1900 cells that will confine prisoners for 23 hours of every day. Drivers seeing us with our signs often wave or honk approval as they whiz past us on the road. “Education not Incarceration” says one sign; “Build hospitals, not Prisons,” says another.
KATHY KELLY – Here in Kabul, I read a recent BBC op-ed by Ahmed Rashid, urging a “diplomatic offensive” to build or repair relationships with the varied groups representing armed extremism in Afghanistan. Rashid has insisted, for years, that severe mistrust makes it almost impossible for such groups to negotiate an end to Afghanistan’s nightmare of war. U.S. people should earnestly ask how the U.S. could help build trust here in Afghanistan, and, as a first step, begin transferring funds from the coffers of weapon companies to the UN accounts trying to meet humanitarian needs. The “giant” could be seen stooping, humbly, to help plant seeds, hoping for a humane harvest.
KATHY KELLY – How can we, each of us, help lift the hammer of justice, cultivating a world at peace.
MIKE FERNER – As the macho, gun-toting, testosterone-addled cowboys who took over the wildlife refuge in Oregon call it quits, their pitiful whine can be heard all the way to Florida: “Waaahhh…but we don’t wanna get arrested…” So much for the rugged-individualists and badass proponents of personal responsibility. Let’s see what happens as their armed insurrection winds down. How will the system treat the militant bullyboys?
KATHY KELLY – Before the 2003 “Shock and Awe” bombing in Iraq, a group of activists living in Baghdad would regularly go to city sites that were crucial for maintaining health and well-being in Baghdad. These sites included hospitals, electrical facilities, water purification plants, and schools. The activists would then string large vinyl banners between the trees outside these buildings that read: “To Bomb This Site Would Be A War Crime.” At the time, we encouraged people in U.S. cities to do the same, trying to build empathy for people trapped in Iraq, anticipating a terrible aerial bombing. Tragically, sadly, the banners must again condemn war crimes, this time echoing international outcry.
KATHY KELLY – “Guantanamo Diary,” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, is his story of being imprisoned in Guantanamo since 2002. In all his years of captivity, he has never been charged with a crime. He has suffered grotesque torture, humiliation and mistreatment, and yet his memoir includes many humane, tender accounts, including remembrances of past Ramadan fasts spent with his family.
KATHY KELLY – Living, as I briefly do, in a world of imprisoned beauty, on an island inside that archipelago of U.S. prisons so unacceptably similar to that of our old superpower rival, it’s no wonder I’m thinking of Prof. Yang Yoon Mo. What we do to the environment, we’re doing to each other. What we let our state impose on those walled beyond our borders we will tend to inflict on more and more people walled up within them, until there is no world of beauty left to keep safe for our own use, and no trust left on which any safety can be built. Until it all dries up. Whereas if we recommit to risk and beauty, refusing paths of alleged safety which only avoid temporary danger by leading us toward certain doom, if we seek our security in treating other people fairly, we may find our way to decent lives, along the way toward “decent human survival.”
KATHY KELLY – From January 4-12, 2015, Witness Against Torture (WAT) activists assembled in Washington D.C. for an annual time of fasting and public witness to end the United States’ use of torture and indefinite detention and to demand the closure, with immediate freedom for those long cleared for release, of the illegal U.S. prison at Guantanamo.
KATHY KELLY – It seems the greatest danger – the greatest violence – that any of us face is contained in our attacks on our environment. Today’s children and generations to follow them face nightmares of scarcity, disease, mass displacement, social chaos, and war, due to our patterns of consumption and pollution.
KATHY KELLY – News agencies reported this morning that weeks ago President Obama signed an order, kept secret until now, to authorize continuation of the Afghan war for at least another year. The order authorizes U.S. airstrikes “to support Afghan military operations in the country” and U.S. ground troops to continue normal operations, which is to say, to “occasionally accompany Afghan troops” on operations against the Taliban.
KATHY KELLY – Here in Kabul, one of my finest friends is Zekerullah, who has gone back to school in the 8th grade although he is an 18-year old young man who has already had to learn far too many of life’s harsh lessons.
KATHY KELLY – The Borderfree Center is named for Prof. Noam Chomsky’s call, in a 2013 American University of Beirut commencement speech, for participation in “a worldwide struggle to preserve the global commons” so as to secure “decent human survival in a world that has no borders.” The symbol of their participation is the blue scarf they distribute to friends and supporters, symbolizing the blue expanse of sky upon which national boundary lines will never be drawn.
KATHY KELLY – Jeju Island, South Korea – For the past two weeks [the latter part of May], I’ve been in the Republic of Korea (ROK), as a guest of peace activists living in Gangjeong Village on ROK’s Jeju Island. Gangjeong is one of the ROK’s smallest villages, yet activists here, in their struggle against the construction of a massive naval base, have inspired people around the world.
KATHY KELLY – In Afghanistan, funds have been available for tanks, guns, bullets, helicopters, missiles, weaponized drones, drone surveillance, Joint Special Operations task forces, bases, airstrips, prisons, and truck-delivered supplies for tens of thousands of troops. But funds are in short supply for children too weak to cry who are battling for their lives while wasting away.
KATHY KELLY – Ten years ago, in March of 2003, Iraqis braced themselves for the anticipated “Shock and Awe” attacks that the U.S. was planning to launch against them. The media buildup for the attack assured Iraqis that barbarous assaults were looming. I was living in Baghdad at the time, along with other Voices in the Wilderness activists determined to remain in Iraq, come what may. We didn’t want U.S. – led military and economic war to sever bonds that had grown between ourselves and Iraqis who had befriended us over the previous seven years. Since 1996, we had traveled to Iraq numerous times, carrying medicines for children and families there, in open violation of the economic sanctions which directly targeted the most vulnerable people in Iraqi society— the poor, the elderly, and the children.
TOM H. HASTINGS – When I teach about the possibilities of a nonviolent response to terrorism, I try to cover many aspects of this complex topic. One of the main strands is the idea that the objectives of al Qa’ida, as stated by Osama bin Laden on several occasions in the 1990s, were not at all unreasonable, but their methods, we agree, were grotesque.
KATHY KELLY – Kabul– Khamad Jan, age 22, remembers that, as a youngster, he was a good student who enjoyed studying. “Now, I can’t seem to think,” he said sadly, looking at the ground. There was a long pause. “War does this to your mind.”
KATHY KELLY & DAN PEARSON — In accepting General McChrystal’s resignation, President Obama said that McChrystal’s departure represented a change in personnel, not a change in policy. “Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks.” he stated, “We persist and we persevere.” Yet, President Obama and the U.S. people don’t face up to the ugly truth that, in Afghanistan, the U.S. has routinely committed atrocities against innocent civilians.
KATHY KELLY & JOSH BROLLIER — These brave peace correspondents, reporting from a desperately dangerous place, reveal why U.S. policy is failing in Afghanistan.
KATHY KELLY: In early June, 2009, I was in the Shah Mansoor displaced persons camp in Pakistan, listening to one resident detail the carnage which had spurred his and his family’s flight there a mere 15 days earlier. Their city, Mingora, had come under massive aerial bombardment. He recalled harried efforts to bury corpses found on the roadside even as he and his neighbors tried to organize their families to flee the area.