Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

October 2, 2012

LION AND THE LAMB: Waging war and peace today

CROSSVILLE — Living in the center of a vast world empire, it's often hard for us to keep up on what's going on in the outer parts of our empire. We do know that our nation has a large fleet of drones in the skies all over the world, keeping watch on what's going on below and eliminating those deemed a threat to our empire.

In addition, we've found this a way to save American lives. The operators of these drones, many of whom work from consoles in the U.S., don't have to risk their lives in their daily jobs of fighting terrorists and troublemakers. They can go home safe and sound each day to their families.

Occasionally, however, we do get troubling information in this country, such as when we are told that our government's definition of a combatant—and therefore a legitimate target for death by drone—is any military-age male in a strike zone.

A recently released study, "Living Under Drones," by human rights researchers at Stanford and New York Universities has brought us new and troubling information about the impact of our nation's drone program in Pakistan. The study, based on nine months of documentation and media reporting, provides firsthand testimony of the tremendously damaging impact that our nation's drone program has had on civilian life in Pakistan.

The report states that the number of "high level" targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low, estimated at just two percent. In the 98 percent there have been family income earners, students studying for needed occupations, and community leaders. The drone strikes have brought great housing and property damage, economic hardship, and emotional trauma for the survivors. The continual presence of drones in the sky above have led to constant and severe fear, anxiety, and stress, especially in a setting where those on the ground are unable to ensure their own safety.

Specifically targeted by drones are community gatherings such as town meetings, funerals, and family reunions. Often after these first strikes come second strikes at the same location, targeting first aid responders and friends, neighbors, and relatives who have come to help. As a result, people are hesitant to approach the site. Parents are also hesitant to let their children leave the house, and many of these children have nightmares at night. A large number of schools have closed and in those that are still open, students exhibit a diminished drive to study.

Researchers found multiple examples of post-traumatic stress disorder among the population. General community trust and cohesiveness have decreased significantly. Overall, life in Pakistan is becoming less communal and more individualistic. It is apparent that there will be many troubling long-range effects of our drone program in Pakistan and in other parts of our American empire for years to come.

The study concludes that the CIA drone program in Pakistan has not made our nation any safer, and instead has turned the Pakistani public against the U.S. Three-in-four Pakistanis now consider the U.S. their enemy. A 44-page summary of the researchers' report can be obtained by googling "Living Under Drones."

A number of critics of our wars in Yemen and Pakistan have commented that our nation's justice values have been "radically altered" and that we now have a foreign policy of trial by execution. The power of Congress has morphed into the "derogation to the executive of the power to strike at any nation at any time for any reason." No longer do we need an arrest process, a reading of charges, a trial by jury, a judge—only an executioner. The U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings has said that U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan threaten 50 years of international law.

It would be interesting to hear this point debated by Mitt Romney, a Mormon missionary and bishop in the past, and Barack Obama, a lawyer and overseer of the drone program.

Today, October 3, a peace delegation sponsored by Codepink Women for Peace, in age from 23 to 85 and paying their own way, will travel to Pakistan to stand in solidarity for a week with Pakistanis who are suffering from the U.S. foreign policy. The delegation made up of students, doctors, political analysts, veterans, writers, artists, and retirees will meet with drone victim families, lawyers, academics, representatives of major Pakistani political parties, and U.S. officials.

The members of the delegation believe that Americans must do more to stop the killing and work for peace. They want to show Pakistanis that there are Americans calling for an end to the CIA's killer drone strikes and for our government to apologize and compensate the families of innocent victims.

The group is already receiving an outpouring of support from Pakistanis. One respondent said, "I didn't know that there are Americans willing to speak out against your government's policies. Your gesture has helped change my opinion of Americans."

Waging war and waging peace: can these ever be done at the same time, or do they always confront us with an either/or choice?

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Lion and the Lamb: Our war on women

    Jimmy Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981, has had quite an impressive career as an author. His first book was published in 1975, and he has now written a total of 37 books, 23 of them after his presidency. He has set a high example for other past presidents, especially those who would like to find ways of being as beneficial to their nation as possible in the days after their retirement.

    April 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: "Selfie" destruction

    Technology continues to profoundly impact our daily lives, from the Heartbleed Bug that put hundreds of thousands of websites at risk of compromising customer usernames and passwords, to the little light that tries to tell me I'm about to run out of gas. Technology also impacts our language, with new words being created to describe the latest gizmo, gadget or trend.

    April 21, 2014

  • Stumptalk: It depends on what you mean

    A writer’s headline asks, “Do we really believe in democracy?” To which I answer, “What do you mean by democracy?

    April 21, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Parade
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice