Friday, August 31, 2007

Supporting the Troops, Killing the Troops

by Dr. Craig Greenman

(400 words)

Seventeen years ago, just after the U.S. began its war with Iraq, I encountered a Vietnam veteran in jail. He cried, “If somebody asked me to kill my mother, I wouldn’t do it! I would not do it! He stood there naked and threw his feces against the wall.

“Messiah” is a song about him. It goes like this:

I am the Messiah – I’ve come to save the world

Sometimes I think I’m Satan, ‘cause I killed that little girl

Jehovah, won’t you come down and set your poor boy free

I’m just an ever faithful, crazy Marine who fought for his country

The Marine was a “Messiah,” teaching us to end bad wars. His insanity would end other insanity. Far from making his sacrifice meaningless – as the hawks argued, even then – it would make it supremely meaningful: He would be the last soldier to go nuts for nothing.

...(to view this unpublished commentary exclusively, contact


Dr. Craig Greenman is Assistant Professor of Humanities at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, New Hampshire. He teaches Philosophy and Religious Studies.

A river basin is a terrible thing to waste

(504 words)

by Angela Crowley-Koch

Last night I attended my 20th Hanford public comment meeting. This meeting was about bringing new nuclear waste to the Hanford nuclear reservation, the most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere which sits on the Columbia River in Washington State.

The meeting was pretty similar to the 19 other Hanford meetings I’ve attended.

The conference room in a Troutdale hotel was overcrowded and unbearably hot. Despite the heat, most stayed three hours and half the attendees stayed for four. The Department of Energy (DOE) didn’t allow time for public Q & A, but after vocal cries of protest, they gave in and answered our questions about the proposal.

Then came the public comment period. ... (to view the unpublished full text exclusively, contact


Angela Crowley-Koch is the Executive Director of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility, a non-profit educational organization committed to the elimination of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and the achievement of a healthy, just, and peaceful world for present and future generations. PSR is the US affiliate of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. Ms. Crowley-Koch lives in NE Portland.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Destroying democracy whilst sprucing up Saddam

(464 words)

by Tom H Hastings

When I was an inmate in Wisconsin’s prison system I noted that not many of the inmates felt all that positive about society, the economy, or the government. This is hardly surprising. The Wisconsin prison system, like most of America’s prison systems from the Bureau of Prisons to states to counties and towns are based on retributive justice, not restorative justice. This helps account for high rates of recidivism. Why try to fit in if you’ve deepened your hatred of the system during your time sequestered?

The American military now reports that it has “detained” some 24,500 in Iraq as insurgents (no figures for those detained by Iraqi troops or police), up some 50 percent in the past few months, a manifestation of the surge. They also report, says a 25 August New York Times story, that the “detention system itself often serves as a breeding ground for the insurgency and a training opportunity for those who, after they are released, may attack Iraqi or American-led forces.”

...(for exclusive view of the unpublished full text, contact


Tom H Hastings is director of PeaceVoice and a founder of Whitefeather Peace Community in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Association.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

No Guns, No Bombs

By Kathy Kelly

(965 words)

Amman, Jordan

On August 14, 2007, CNN reported about an unusual school for teenagers, run by the U.S. Army in Iraq, calling it a “jailhouse school.”

Here is the transcript from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr’s interview with First Lieutenant Rob Glenn:

“These are the latest U.S. weapons against the insurgency -- textbooks, classrooms and soccer fields. This video, provided by the military, shows where the U.S. is now holding daily classes for hundreds of Iraqi teenagers it has imprisoned for being a security risk.

1ST LT. ROB GLENN, U.S. ARMY: Juveniles in custody right now are nearly 800. That's 800 lives that we have an opportunity to impact.

STARR: That's a sharp increase from the 272 juveniles -- all boys aged 11 to 17 -- detained back in February, when the surge started.

U.S. commanders say as a result of the surge, insurgents have stepped up recruiting children to lay IEDs and act as lookouts for snipers, believing the U.S. troops will be reluctant to shoot them. The U.S. has one goal for the jailhouse school.

GLENN: We ensure that when they are released that they don't -- they pick up a book instead of an AK-47 or laying an IED. And that's what this really gets back to.”

The report didn’t mention what methods Lieutenant Glenn uses to reach the school’s “one goal.” Certainly, we must ask whether the children’s parents are allowed to visit them, and how long they’ll be detained, and whether or not their legal rights are addressed. What message is being taught to these students by imprisoning them?

But, Lieutenant Glenn’s “one goal,” to ensure that students pick up a book instead of an AK 47, that they choose books not bombs, merits special attention.

I wish this goal would be adopted by every military school and junior ROTC training facility in the United States.

...(to exclusively examine the full text of this piece, please contact

Kathy Kelly ( is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (

We Shouldn’t Be Causing This

(938 words)

by Kathy Kelly

Amman, Jordan

Here in Amman, Jordan, a British teenager, Sonia, age 12, recently spent four days interviewing and befriending Iraqi youngsters close to her in age. She wanted to learn, firsthand, about the experiences of Iraqi youngsters who have fled war and violence in their home country.

A versatile and talented child, Sonia loves to play the trumpet and perform classical Indian dances, the latter being somewhat unusual for a Muslim girl. When she was eight years old, shortly before the U.S. and the U.K. attacked Iraq, she wrote a poem urging respect for the rights of Iraqi children whose lives and hopes would be destroyed by war. The poem reached many people, intensifying efforts of peace activists to stop the war before it started. Sonia continued her efforts on behalf of Iraqi children, even founding an organization called “Children Against War.” ...

(to read the full text exclusively of this unpublished piece, simply request it:

Kathy Kelly ( is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (

A pax on both their houses: Congress and US

(549 words)

by Tom H Hastings

Meeting with US Senator Ron Wyden was instructive to a poor member of a public that wants peace. After years of trying to meet with him—including numerous lobbying visits and even an arrest in his office for simply quietly sitting to wait for him after the office closed for the day—I was finally able to meet the man in person. There were 10 of us, each representing a peace organization in Oregon. The meeting followed the senator’s town hall on Iraq held on the campus of Portland State University.

It was that meeting that made me fully realize why Americans have a benthic appreciation for Congress—some 18 percent of us think they are doing a decent job, according to a new Gallup Poll. This is the lowest rate of approval since Gallup began this measurement in 1974.

Ron Wyden opened his town hall by saying he was there to listen. ...(for your exlusive consideration of this piece, email and request full text)


Tom H Hastings is director of PeaceVoice and a founder of Whitefeather Peace Community in Portland, Oregon. He is the co-chair of the Peace and Justice Studies Association.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eisenhower’s Warning Ignored at Our Peril

by Peter N. Kirstein

Americans need to construe the Iraq War and the so-called “War Against Terrorism” as symptoms of a broader problem that afflicts America. That problem is militarism as a key component of our culture and ethos, and explains in part why the United States is unwilling to behave in a more responsible manner as a custodian of our planet. The obsession with national security, vital strategic interests and America’s global power projection have undermined the nation’s capacity to assume responsibility or even concern about the future of the world’s six billion people. American is driven merely by geopolitics fueled by adoration of its destructive power.

The United States, despite the warnings of President Dwight Eisenhower in his 1961 Farewell Address,

... (to get exclusive consideration of this piece, contact for full text)

Peter N. Kirstein is professor of history at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois.

Monday, August 20, 2007

One Down . . .

(490 words)

by Michael Nagler

The retirement of Karl Rove from his position as advisor to the President has given progressives like myself additional hope that the destruction of our democratic values, our standing in the world, much of our wealth and many of our young men and women that President Bush has been able to undertake, seemingly without obstruction from anyone, may be losing its momentum at last, as all bad things eventually do.

Rove was a leading example of those who, in the words of Al Gore, have mounted the “Assault on Reason” we have been living through. This he was not because he was unique, in this world of ‘spin doctors’ and ‘fixers,’ but because of the degree to which he was able, as Bob Burnett has put it, “to employ his extraordinary propaganda talents in the service of a polarizing, destructive and unscrupulous targeting of his leader's political opponents.” In this, Burnett continues, “he has played a major role in the coarsening of American democracy.”

Unfortunately his departure, however welcome, ... (contact to obtain exclusive consideration of this unpublished piece)

Michael N. Nagler

Prof. emeritus, UC Berkeley

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Report from Iran

by Gabriele Ross

(2,900 words)

I went to Iran for almost three weeks in July of 2007 with “Global Exchange.” Since 2000 Global Exchange ( ) offers several tours to Iran each year with the goal of fostering citizen to citizen diplomacy. In collaboration with an Iranian partner organization we went to Tehran, Yazd, Shiraz, Pasargadae and Persepolis, Esfahan, Natanz, Abyaneh, Namak Abrud, Ramsar, Lahijan, Masuleh and Rasht. This tour took us to hyper modern urban centers and ancient adobe towns, to deserts and rainforests, and from the Alborz Mountains to the Caspian Sea. Below is an attempt to answer some of the common questions I have been asked about this trip.


One of the strangest questions came from an Iranian American: “Did you have to do the HIV test and all that to get the visa?“ At first I am totally confused but then I remember: when I immigrated to the US on a fiancĂ©e visa some twenty years ago, I had to submit to an HIV test and other health exams, the result of which were kept from me and given to immigration officials in a sealed envelope. Funny - when memory plays tricks on us, even outrageous practices by the US government are attributed to the Islamic Republic.

To answer the question: there were no tests. Based on my European password I even got a discount on the visa fee, compared to the twelve US citizens and one Australian who traveled with me. I never figured out what restrictions there are on individual Iran travel for US citizens. If there are any, they do not apply to other nationalities, as evident from the independent travelers I met for example from Germany, Japan and Spain. I was not always with the group, there was no problem with me venturing out on my own.

... (to view the full text exclusively, email and request it)

Gabriele Ross (, 503.235.6136) is a graduate of the Masters Program for Conflict Resolution at Portland State University, the "Bread and Roses” Programmer at KBOO 90.7 FM Community Radio in Portland, and a Founding Board Member of the Iranian American Friendship Council


(1,350 words)
By Kathy Kelly

Amman, Jordan

“GET A JOB!” These three words are very familiar to activists bearing signs calling for an end to war, whether standing on street corners, walking along highways, holding vigils, or nonviolently occupying the offices of elected representatives. Listen to the activists, and you’ll often hear, “We’re doing our job. We’re trying.”

I’m convinced that our work must always have one foot placed in nonviolent resistance to the forces that design and wage wars, with the other foot standing among people who bear the physical and mental affliction caused by these forces. Today, I’m thinking especially about two young women who found themselves in nightmare circumstances because, in their view, they simply wanted to have a job.

When American troops invaded Iraq in 2003, Noor (not her name), was living with her aunt in a small town near Baghdad. The aunt received a minimal “retirement” salary from the former Iraqi government. As a young teenager, Noor had left her family to assist the aunt and to enter college there. She felt deep and strong attachments to people in her town, and she loved her aunt intensely. After graduating, still living with her aunt, Noor didn’t want to become a burden to her parents who were already being supported by her brothers. She wanted to earn money and a measure of independence. When a neighbor suggested she come with him to the place where he worked, she was surprised by how easily she had become employed, working to inspect the handbags and purses of people entering the workplace of a large American contractor. Initially, when troops began occupying her town, residents could walk the streets without much anxiety. Working for an American company didn’t seem to carry grave danger. ...

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Kathy Kelly ( co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( which is organizing “The Occupation Project.” a campaign of nonviolent resistance to U.S. funding for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. For more information about support for Iraqis who have fled to Jordan, see

Monday, August 6, 2007

She Stands At Every Door

(910 words)

By Kathy Kelly
Amman, Jordan
At a small, informal school in the basement of a church in Amman, many strings of colorful paper cranes bedeck walls and windows. The school serves children whose families have fled Iraq. Older children who come to the school understand the significance of the crane birds. Claudia Lefko, of Northampton, MA, who helped initiate the school, told them Sadako’s story.

The Japanese child survived the bombing of Hiroshima, but suffered from radiation sickness. In a Japanese hospital, she wanted to fold 1,000 origami crane birds, believing that by doing so she could be granted a special wish: hers was that no other child would ever suffer as she did. Sadako died before completing the task she’d set for herself, but Japanese children then folded many thousands more cranes, and the story has been told for decades in innumerable places, making the delicate paper cranes a symbol for peace throughout the world. Today, August 6, children who’ve recently joined the informal school in Ammam will learn Sadako’s story.
Having survived war, death threats, and displacement, they may be particularly aware of the enormous challenge represented by Sadako’s wish. ###
(To see this piece in full text for your exclusive consideration, write and request this full text)

Kathy Kelly ( is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Judgment Call

(1,329 words)

by Kathy Kelly

Amman, Jordan

Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations may seem to be transfixed, almost mesmerized, by the mounting humanitarian catastrophe in Iraq. Bus, since 2003, an admirable group of NGOs, including Oxfam, has steadily tried to address humanitarian needs through collecting and organizing data, establishing priorities, responding to emergencies, and working out ways to deliver food, medicine, and clean water to some of the neediest areas in Iraq.

Although it isn’t ideal, these groups have generally relied on “remote management,” primarily from Jordan, working with anonymous human rights and relief workers, primarily Iraqis, inside of Iraq. From their experience, they are able to identify problems which could be solved, they believe, given the political will of the U.S. government, the Iraqi government, other foreign governments, and the United Nations. The report strongly urges each of these groups to accept critiques of their current programs and to greatly increase efforts to deliver emergency assistance to impoverished and displaced Iraqis.

They’ve particularly urged the Iraqi government to decentralize the distribution of aid.

There are seven huge warehouses in Baghdad. The Iraqi government requires relief groups to deliver all incoming food and medical aid to these central warehouses for quality control followed by coordinated distribution. In theory this could work, but Iraqi government ministries such as the Ministries of Trade and of Labor and Societal Affairs, haven't been functioning well enough to actually allow for delivery, leaving desperately needed food and medicine piling up inside the warehouses.

...(for full text exclusive consideration email


Kathy Kelly ( is founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence in Chicago and Amman, Jordan.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Stop the Air War Too

word count: 954
By Lenny Siegel

“The Air Force … takes a long view: Many expect the Army to draw down its Iraq forces by 2009, but the Air Force is planning for a continued conflict in which it supports Iraqi troops.”—Associated Press, July 14, 2007

Unless the American people and our elected representatives take a clear stand, the hoped-for withdrawal or redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq could create conditions similar to Richard Nixon’s secret plan for ending the Vietnam War. Ostensibly in support of Iraqi government forces, U.S. aircraft, supported by the latest in high-technology electronic gizmos, will continue to bomb, rocket, and strafe Iraq indefinitely. This might lead to fewer American casualties, but it will not salvage military victory from the jaws of defeat. More important, unless the air war in Iraq is halted, the devastation and civilian death toll will not only continue; it will grow.

Air power, particularly when applied to unconventional warfare, is by its nature indiscriminate. Even where U.S. planes do not intentionally target noncombatants, they are likely to kill civilians. has collected reports on such incidents from the mainstream press, but they are likely only the tip of the iceberg. Of course insurgents and evildoing militias are not going to sit out in the middle of the desert, with concentric circles painted on the top of their tents. They live, train, and fight in Iraqi cities. So of course, even when U.S. forces actually know whom they’re bombing or firing at, there is inevitably “collateral damage.”…

Lenny Siegel is Director of the Pacific Studies Center, in Mountain View, California, and a member of Mountain View Voices for Peace. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was a leader of the anti-war movement at Stanford University, where activists challenged the U.S. air war and electronic battlefield in Southeast Asia.

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