Iraq

Running in Fear

Ever feel like you’re somewhere where you shouldn’t be?

Yesterday I was running on the Coal & Coke Trail outside Mount Pleasant when I found myself in the midst of hunting season in Western PA. Orange-clad hunters with rifles patrolled the woods on either side of the trail.

This isn’t abnormal this time of year…after all, the PA hunting season is short and the interest, strong (i.e. supply and demand sends hunters and the hunting-inclined out in droves), and I’ve certainly seen hunters out and about during my daily runs.

But I felt particularly vulnerable this time around.

Yeah, I was wearing bright red and running in a b-line down a wide jogging trail, and I realize that hunters for the most part are very careful with their rifles. Most of the hunters I saw even acknowledged me with a hand wave or a tip of the cap.

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Revelations from WikiLeaks

The recent revelations about U.S. and British forces in Iraq uncover a stunning darkness. According to The Guardian, the 400,000 documents made available last week through WikiLeaks reveal “15,000 previously unreported civilian deaths.” The number of deaths kept secret by the leaders of our government exposes the sickening violence of war. While I would rather ignore the stories of killing and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am reminded of the words of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In 1934 he wrote to a friend, “Only complete truth and truthfulness will help us now.”

Here are two stories that I can’t get out of my head as I think about the truth of war. In 2006, in the town 60 miles north of Baghdad, Khalib and his pregnant sister Nabiha were in a rush to get to the hospital. As they made their way down the usual streets, they came upon a new U.S. military checkpoint. The soldiers perceived the approaching vehicle as a threat, so they opened fire and killed Nabiha and the child in her womb. She was 35, and the dead baby was a boy.

War is never kind to women and children, especially to pregnant women. Neither is war kind to the mentally disabled, who are some of the most vulnerable among us. (more…)

Official: 3,000 Christians flee Iraq’s Mosul

BAGHDAD (AP) — Hundreds of terrified Christian families have fled Mosul to escape extremist attacks that have increased despite months of U.S. and Iraqi military operations to secure the northern Iraqi city, political and religious officials said Saturday.

Some 3,000 Christians have fled the city over the past week alone in a “major displacement,” said Duraid Mohammed Kashmoula, the governor of northern Iraq’s Ninevah province. He said most have left for churches, monasteries and the homes of relatives in nearby Christian villages and towns.

“The Christians were subjected to abduction attempts and paid ransom, but now they are subjected to a killing campaign,” Kashmoula said, adding he believed “al-Qaida” elements were to blame and called for a renewed drive to root them out. (more…)

Intergenerational Activist Conversation

An older woman activist that I admire came up to me. She was obviously weary, and looked a bit as if she had just been crying. I had just received an email from her earlier, calling all the activists, who stand and witness for peace on Wednesdays at the Civic Plaza, to an emergency meeting. She asked me and my friend to come, saying in all sincerity, “we need a word of wisdom from the younger generation. We really aren’t sure what we should do.”

Only 2 or 3 people have been showing up in the last two months to the public witness here in town. Should we go on with our Wednesday 4:30pm vigils? Recently, the entire leadership of these vigils fell to this older woman–because others wouldn’t or couldn’t do it–and she was feeling exhausted. In addition to hoping to share the load with others, the sadness of the whole situation (16 more people were killed today in Iraq, for example) and the state of the world overwhelmed her. (more…)

My arrest in Fort Wayne

I suppose the best way to start all this is to explain who I am and what I’m doing. My name is Nick, and I’m a member of the Church of the Brethren and a Peace Studies major at Manchester College. A couple months ago I was arrested at a witness in Fort Wayne, and was asked by my employers in the Residential Life department at Manchester to write a paper explaining what happened. I posted the paper on my own blog, and was subsequently urged to re-post it here. The paper was intended to be a complete account of my experience, and as such does not necessarily have one coherent message. I’ve edited out the parts that really only pertain to my school, so it may appear to jump around some but… well, read it for yourselves.

Thursday, March 29, 2007, I joined eight other Manchester students, and three faculty and staff in a peace vigil at the federal building in Fort Wayne as part of a nationwide campaign called the Occupation Project, a civil disobedience campaign aimed at literally occupying the offices of U.S. Congressmen who refuse to cut off funding for the continuing war in Iraq. (more…)

Responses to nonviolent protest in the West Bank and in Iraq

Who is Our Enemy? Part 2

Since Ben Anderson asked about the difference between pacifism and nonviolence over on the Practical nonviolence prevents bank robberies post, I thought I’d start a new thread along the same line to see if others wanted to add their thoughts on the topic. It just so happens I came across a current event which adds an interesting angle to the discussion.

This past Friday, Irish Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire was shot by the Israeli military while participating in a nonviolent protest against the wall being built in the West Bank. I for one didn’t hear anything about until this evening when it happened to show up on my Google news page. A quick search shows that only 13 articles have been written about this incident in the past week. Robert Naiman highlighted this dearth of coverage in a blog post on the Just Foreign Policy website (also sent out as a press release by the International Solidarity Movement). Naiman’s challenge is a good wake up call to pacifists who often advocate nonviolent social change as an alternative to armed struggle: (more…)

Responding to Bush’s Irresponsibility.

Hi, I’m new.

I was going to leave this as a comment to the post left a few days ago, asking the question how we support our troops without supporting their mission. I decided to leave it as a post instead. Here it is.

I struggle with this question as well.

I think one possible message to send is that Bush, in his latest plan of escalation, in which he committed 20,000 extra troops to Iraq (including giving orders that 4,000 troops deploy to the Anbar province), was irresponsible. (more…)

a day late

I was just reminded of the significance of the fact that yesterday was April 4. If you go back in history a few decades – you’ll remember that April 4, 1968 was the day MLK Jr. was assassinated. But right now, I’m more interested in what happened one year before that on April 4, 1967 (40th anniversary was yesterday). King gave one of his more famous speeches at Riverside Church, titled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.

I’ll spare you a reflection or commentary of that here but I just want to make note of this anniversary and suggest that you all take a little time to read it (pdf)* or listen to it (quicktime).* It’s pretty long so you might have to take more than a “little” time. I must have been out of the loop yesterday because I didn’t hear or read anything about it in the media. I usually catch things like this.

I must say though, that it’s not a very big mental jump to replace a few words and King could be speaking to us today. Forty years later, the message is as relevant as when he made it.

*if you don’t want to download the pdf, it’s also here and audio can also be heard here (realmedia) and here (mp3).

Analysis of a President

What’s going on with George W. Bush? How can he stay so seemingly oblivious to the havoc (and human suffering) his decisions are wreaking—especially in Iraq?

In my view, he’s a black-and-white, binary thinker who needs enemies and a cause to give his life order and meaning. The 9/11 attacks were a “godsend” for him, as they were for Rudy Giuliana. From a floundering sense of things his first eight months in office, Bush soon got his focus: war on terror and, oh yes, war on Saddam Hussein and Iraq. It wasn’t much of a leap to try to “finish” what his dad had started. (more…)

Just an image in my head

I thought I would share this little image that I can’t get out of my head. I don’t think there’s a point here, I just find it frightening. It’s my image for how things are going in the current administration.

The United States is a big car hurtling down a busy highway at about 150 mph. It is swerving a lot and hitting things but keeps barreling on. Bush is at the wheel and his buddies are in the front seat. They’re all drunk teenagers and they’re having a big party up there. The rest of the country is in the backseat. Some in the back are sleeping peacefully and some are holding on with white knuckles and have that freaked out look on their faces. They’re freaked out because they know there is a really big wall just a mile or two up the road and we’re all going to crash and burn. They also have a sneaking feeling that after all the crashing and burning. Bush and his buddies are going to get up, brush themselves off and stumble away – unscathed.

Anyway, that is my image. I’d really like to get out of the car. Anyone else?

A reflection on the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq

For the last week I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts on the service in the National Cathedral that began last weekend’s Christian Peace Witness for Iraq. After some delay, here they are.

Personally, I found the service in the National Cathedral much more powerful and moving then I expected. This may have partly been do to a conversation with a peace activist friend the week before who said he felt the National Cathedral was unredeemable because of its central in the civil religious ceremonies of our country in which God’s will is so often equated with America’s will. (more…)

Christian Peace Witness raises more questions than I had before

Yes, I call myself a pacifist. And yes, I went with a group from my area as a reporter on the Christian Peace Witness. If alarm bells are ringing in your head about my capacity to be objective, you’re not the only one.

Here’s why I thought I could do it: While overall I oppose war and violence, I have a lot of questions and issues with the war in Iraq. The CPW was a response to that war specifically, not a call to disband the U.S. military or whatever. The more I learn about Iraq, the more I realize it’s an intensely complex situation that has no easy answers. I don’t pretend to know what should be done there. Not to mention I didn’t seek out the CPW—it came to me when the local trip coordinator contacted my editor to see if we’d do a story. I looked at the info and realized it would be a much better story if I went with them. My editors know our readers eat it up when local people do interesting things, so I ended up doing a front-page package deal of three stories and lots of photos for Sunday’s paper. (more…)