Ground the Drones;
Lest we Reap the Whirlwind
A witness in the desert that peace will come through love
and not through predators armed with hellfire
Creech Air Force Base is home to the latest high tech weapons that use unmanned aerial systems (UASs) to carry out surveillance and increasingly lethal attack missions in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The idea that technology can provide a cleaner and safer
battlefield is seductive but has been proven a lie. From
the catapult and crossbow, through the use of poison gas
and airplanes in World War I, the atom bomb, helicopters
and napalm in Vietnam to the "smart bombs" of
the Gulf War, war has only grown deadlier. Technological
advances may reduce the danger of casualties among the
military personnel in the short run, but with each advance
the number of civilian deaths multiplies and every war
of the past century has numbered more children than soldiers
among its victims.
Proponents of the use of UASs insist that there is a
great advantage to fighting wars in "real-time"
(with a 2-second satellite delay from Nevada to the Middle-East)
by pilots sitting at consoles in offices on air bases
far from the dangerous front line of military activity.
With less risk to the lives of our soldiers and hence
to the popularity and careers of politicians, the deaths
of “enemy” noncombatants by the thousands
are counted acceptable. The illusion that war can be waged
with no domestic cost dehumanizes both us and our enemies.
It fosters a callous disregard for human life that can
lead to even more recklessness on the part of politicians.
With audacity that would confound Orwell, the Pentagon
touts the “true hunter-killer role” of these
robot “drones.” Armed with Hellfire; missiles
and other weaponry, they have names that suit their lethal
uses: the MQ-9 Reaper and the MQ-1 Predator. Such tools
can kill but not pacify. By killing civilians, UAS drones
do not prevent or eliminate terrorism, but instead incite
more violence and retaliation.
We wait in vigil at the gates of Creech AFB to witness that peace will not come through the work of predators armed with hellfire. Antagonisms against the US in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq will be reduced when we actively respond to the reality of the poverty and lack of infrastructure revealed to us by the drone’s own surveillance cameras. Human interaction, negotiation, diplomacy and dialogue, not surveillance and bombing by robots, will ensure a more peaceful future at home and abroad.
People of all faiths gathered from April
1-13 in the Nevada desert, the ancestral sacred lands
of the Western Shoshone (Newe) people. Our vigil marked
the holy days of Passover, the last days of Lent (commemorating
Christ's struggle with demons in the desert). We come
to this desert parched and thirsty--with intention to
act as the winds and breath that will erode and sculpt
the structures of war into thirst quenching rivers. We
come to confront and resist our own high tech demons.
On Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ execution by the
Roman Empire, we held a prayer-action in solidarity with
the victims of our own empire.
Vigil sponsors include Voices
for Creative Nonviolence, Nevada
Desert Experience, the Des
Moines Catholic Worker, Strangers & Guests Catholic
Worker Farm, Catholic
Peace Ministry, Trinity Nuclear Abolitionists, Iowa
Peace Network, and Pace
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