Army chaplain condemns U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy and global power projection

May 19, 2016

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Mark Shapiro has forwarded a link to an article by Andrea Germanos reporting the resignation of an Army chaplain with the 354th Transportation Battalion at Fort Totten, New York. The Army Times relates his growing unease here.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Rev. John Antal, now a Unitarian Universalist Church minister in Rock Tavern, New York, wrote:

“The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any tie, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials.”

Zubair gran pakistan usaidIronically, as a USAID-funded program enables a grandmother in Pakistan to learn to grow vegetables and preserve food, US drone strikes kill another over the border.

Antal served as a chaplain from September 2012 to February 2013 at the Kandahar Airbase in southern Afghanistan. “While deployed,” he wrote in February last year, a the Times Herald-Record, “I concluded our drone strikes disproportionately kill innocent people.

Less than a month after I deployed to Afghanistan, on October 24th, 2012, a grandmother who lived over the hill from our base camp was out gathering okra in a field when she was killed by a U.S. drone strike . . . I didn’t see her, or anyone else, die. All I saw were the drones, taking off, landing, and circling around. I did not even hear the explosion . . .

At a US congressional briefing 13-year-old Zubair Rehman described how he saw his grandmother blown to bits by two hellfire missiles on the day in question, asking his American audience: “Why?” They didn’t have an answer”. Official sources claimed they killed “militants” that day. Rev. John Antal continues:

Zubair gran okra“From the perspective of both religious wisdom and military values, drone warfare, as conducted by the United States today, is a betrayal of what is right.

“Military leadership has a responsibility to advocate for a method of war-fighting consistent with military values like respect, integrity, and personal courage. Too often, I worry, our program of drone warfare falls short of these ideals.

“I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy, and global power projection”.

His letter of resignation may be seen on the Portside website

 

 


“The Holocaust must lead us to fundamentally rethink how we, here and now, behave towards the other”: the Israeli army’s deputy chief of staff

May 6, 2016

jerusalem post headerjerusalem post yair golanheader

The Israeli army’s deputy chief of staff Major General Yair Golan gave a Holocaust Remembrance Day address at Tel Yitzhak. He said:

“The Holocaust should bring us to ponder our public lives and, furthermore, it must lead anyone who is capable of taking public responsibility to do so. Because if there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe – particularly in Germany – 70, 80, and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us in the year 2016.

“The Holocaust, in my view, must lead us to deep soul-searching about the nature of man. It must bring us to conduct some soul-searching as to the responsibility of leadership and the quality of our society. It must lead us to fundamentally rethink how we, here and now, behave towards the other.

“There is nothing easier and simpler than in changing the other. There is nothing easier and simpler than fear-mongering and threatening. There is nothing easier and simpler than in behaving like beasts, becoming morally corrupt, and sanctimoniousness.

“On Holocaust Remembrance Day, it is worthwhile to ponder our capacity to uproot the first signs of intolerance, violence, and self-destruction that arise on the path to moral degradation.

“For all intents and purposes, Holocaust Remembrance Day is an opportunity for soul-searching. If Yom Kippur is the day of individual soul-searching, then it is imperative that Holocaust Remembrance Day be a day of national soul-searching, and this national soul-searching should include phenomena that are disruptive.”

Golan made reference to the Hebron incident in which an IDF infantryman was filmed shooting dead a wounded Palestinian assailant who was on the ground and had ceased to pose a threat . . .

“We very much believe in the justice of our cause, but not everything we do is just,” Golan said. “We are certain of the high level of morality in the IDF as an organization, and we do not ignore exceptions by individuals. We demand from our soldiers the same that we demand of ourselves, and we insist that upstanding behavior and setting an example for everyone become second nature for every commander.

“On Holocaust Remembrance Day, as we remember the six million of our people who were slaughtered in Europe, it is incumbent upon us to remember the 6.5 million, those living now, and to ask ourselves what is the purpose of our return to our land, what is appropriate to sanctify and what is not, what is proper to praise and what is not”.

It is reported that Israel’s opposition leader, Isaac Herzog, praised Golan as a “courageous commander”.

 

 

Read the full article here.

 

 


The British government attempts to mitigate the effects of yet another disastrous military adventure

April 19, 2016

blair gaddafiIn September 2004, Col Muammar Gaddafi was finally considered to be “on side”. Oil and infrastructure deals were struck with Britain & other countries. Excited by the Arab Spring, in 2011, the UK and France (aka ‘NATO-backed forces’) led efforts to back rebels fighting to overthrow Gaddafi. The country has since descended into chaos, with two rival governments and the formation of hundreds of militias, some allied to the so-called Islamic State (IS).

One step forward

hammond libyan pmForeign secretary Philip Hammond has visited a Libya exhausted by five years of fighting. Speculation about UK involvement in a possible international military force is rife; the stated intention is to provide £10m for training support to the Libyan administration’s armed forces.

But a Moseley reader alerts us to another step backwards

In 2006, when he was opposition leader, David Cameron said trust in politics could only be restored if MPs had the final say on committing British troops to war – instead of the prime minister making the decision using royal prerogative powers.

Ministers have abandoned plans to introduce a war powers act that would institute a legal commitment to seek parliamentary approval before deploying British troops in combat.

Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, told MPs that such a measure would ”constrain the operational flexibility of the armed forces and prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of those forces” and that there could be accusations of acting in bad faith if unexpected developments were to require a different course of action.

However he later told MPs that ministers would “keep parliament informed and we will of course seek its approval before deploying British forces in combat roles into a conflict situation . . . This convention would not apply to British military personnel embedded in the armed forces of other nations”.

revolving door peopleDavid Cameron said trust in (defence?) politics could only be restored if MPs had the final say.

We add to this the need to close the revolving door between oil and armaments corporations.

Total trust would require many more reforms – Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn could do it.


Vatican conference: there is no justification for war – prioritise work for a just peace

April 15, 2016

 

Western media – apart from the Catholic Press – appear to be in a state of shock judging from their absence from first 100 entries brought up by a Google search. The only coverage found was one Machiavellian reaction from the BBC, by implication upholding the current devastating military aggressions, regurgitating Just War doctrine and giving no indication that the Vatican conference had rejected it. Later, another rear-guard action was found in Providence, ‘a journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy’ – its only redeeming feature being this photograph:

vatican ceiling

The participants of the conference stated that there is no ‘just war’ in a press release on Thursday morning.

Joshua J. McElwee, NCR’s Vatican correspondent reports that the Vatican’s first conference – to reevaluate just war theory, justifications for violence and re-examine the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, was cohosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International on April 11-13.

The conference was organized around four themes: Experiences of Nonviolence, Jesus’ Way of Nonviolence, Nonviolence and Just Peace, and Moving Beyond Unending War, led by experts in the separate topic areas.

The eighty attenders included participants engaged in global nonviolent struggles in countries such as Chile, Japan, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Palestine and Burundi. They have developed a new moral framework rejecting ethical justifications for war and displacing the centuries-old just war theory as the main Catholic response to violence. Also taking part were a senior policy fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, several noted theologians, and Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire.

Just War theory uses a series of criteria to evaluate whether use of violence can be considered morally justifiable. First referred to by fourth century bishop St. Augustine of Hippo, it was later articulated in depth by 13th century theologian St.Thomas Aquinas and is today outlined by four conditions in the formal Catechism of the Catholic Church.

One criteria for the moral justification of war in the Catechism is that “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated” and notes that “the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.” Below: killed by widely used ‘modern means’ – the armed drone.

children drone killed

Conference organizers said in a note to participants: “After more than 1,500 years and repeated use of the just war criteria to sanction war rather than to prevent war, the Catholic Church, like many other Christian communities, is rereading the text of Jesus’ life and re-appropriating the Christian vocation of pro-active peacemaking . . . Emphasizing the need to work for a Catholic Church, the Church is moving away from the acceptability of calling war ‘just’ . . . because that language undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacity for nonviolent conflict.”

As part of their goals for the conference, organizers stated they sought a “new articulation of Catholic teaching on war and peace, including explicit rejection of ‘just war’ language” and “an alternative ethical framework for engaging acute conflict and atrocities by developing the themes and practices of nonviolent conflict transformation and just peace.”

The outcome

The Catholic Church’s long-held teachings on just war theory were ‘bluntly rejected’, as having too often been used to justify violent conflicts and it was stated that the global church must reconsider Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence.

The group’s final appeal states: “The time has come for our Church to be a living witness and to invest far greater human and financial resources in promoting a spirituality and practice of active non-violence . . . In all of this, Jesus is our inspiration and model, neither passive nor weak, Jesus’ nonviolence was the power of love in action.”

ugandans need peaceUgandans plead for peace: http://chrisblattman.com/projects/sway/

“I came a long distance for this conference, with a very clear mind that violence is outlived,” said Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, Uganda. “It is out of date for our world of today. We have to sound this with a strong voice. Any war is a destruction. There is no justice in destruction . . . It is outdated.”


Pope Francis: the cynical will mock, the inhibited, cringe and those ‘beholden to the weapons industry’ will do their utmost to undermine

March 25, 2016
pope2http://aleteia.org/2016/03/24/gesture-of-brotherhood-pope-washes-feet-of-muslim-christian-refugees-as-brussels-recovers/

Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees during Holy Thursday Mass at a refugee centre on the outskirts of Rome.

Nicole Winfield reported from Rome in The Washington Post that in Castelnuovo di Porto, Pope Francis declared Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees children of the same God, as he performed a gesture of welcome and brotherhood at a time of increased anti-Muslim sentiment following the Brussels attacks.

Francis denounced the carnage as a “gesture of war” carried out by blood-thirsty people beholden to the weapons industry.

“We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace,” the pope said in his off-the-cuff homily, delivered in the windy courtyard of the center.

Francis shocked many Catholics within weeks of his 2013 election by performing the ritual on women and Muslims at a juvenile detention center. After years of violating the rules, in January he changed the regulations to explicitly allow women and girls to participate.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, explained that the Vatican norms are meant for traditional liturgies in Catholic communities, not necessarily a unique papal Mass where the overall message is one of universal brotherhood and the love of God for all his children. He added that Francis clearly intended the message to be universal. “All of us, together: Muslims, Hindu, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals. But brothers, children of the same God.

“We want to live in peace, integrated.”

 

 

 

 


The Peace Museum in Bradford

February 26, 2016

peace museum leaflet


Iraq and Libya and semi-destruction of Syria — western foreign policy disasters

February 16, 2016

In 2002 a state visit: – welcomed by Queen Elizabeth and the Blairs:

syria assad queen

Truth in the words of a ‘prophet without honour’

“Whatever one thinks of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, might we agree that the destruction of two states — Iraq and Libya and semi-destruction of Syria — have been western foreign policy disasters?

“When you destroy a state the gates to every corner of hell are opened — no frontiers, no police, no law, no education, no infrastructure, no government, a Hobbesian war of all against all. After Iraq one might have thought western policymakers would have paused before turning Libya into a 1000km breach in the previously reasonably solid southern Mediterranean border through which refugees and Islamist jihadis now pour or export weapons and Islamist ideology”.

And now:

alleppo destruction

The Times reports that the five year conflict in Syria has claimed at least 250,000 lives.

Continued (minus anti-Russian bias):

“Of course we all celebrate an uprising against nasty authoritarians and there are no end of them to chose from in the Middle East, the Gulf, parts of Africa and further afield. It is so easy to start fuelling a conflict but so hard to say it is time to end it, hold our noses and let death and internal politics take the place of external intervention. Restoring state authority in Iraq, Libya and Syria should now be the supreme object of statecraft . . . “

Instead of the destroyed or semi-destroyed states and tsunamis of refugees that have been the main fruits of western policy this decade, we could build a stable Euro-Mediterranean region where investment can replace intervention on its southern and eastern littorals and return the EU to growth, prosperity and confidence.

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d7db9bc6-d18b-11e5-92a1-c5e23ef99c77.html#ixzz40KQVHPTg

 

 


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