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From Baghdad to Syracuse: Exposing the Reality of War


This article originally appeared on openDemocracy

Although I was oblivious, in those days war clouds were gathering over Vietnam. I’m not sure why, but I signed up for the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) for college students, a program operating on many U.S. campuses. Around six weeks into my freshman year, we cadets gathered on the football field for bayonet training. There, for 40 or 50 minutes, we lunged at the air with imaginary weapons. With each lunge, we screamed, ‘Kill! Kill!’

At some moment in time I was gobsmacked by the absurdity of it all—struck by the contradiction between this exercise in the de-sensitization and normalization of murder, and the so-called Christian schooling I thought I had chosen. The next morning I told the ROTC commander that I was resigning. “You can’t resign, Kinane, he sputtered. “You’re fired!”

Members of the upstate Drone Action Coalition outside the Hancock Air Force base, New York: Ed Kinane is on the far left. Photo Credit: Upstate Drone ActionMembers of the upstate Drone Action Coalition outside the Hancock Air Force base, New York: Ed Kinane is on the far left. Photo Credit: Upstate Drone Action

On Eve of Pope's Visit, Citizen Activists Urge Obama to Heed Pontiff

(based on Max Obuszewski’s summary, Sept. 23, 2015)

Just prior to the historic visit of Pope Francis, NCNR activists gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House. Amidst heavy security, speakers raised issues about Islamophobia, nuclear weaponry, extraction and consumption of fossil fuels, global inequality, corporate control of governments, climate chaos, killer drone strikes and other abusive actions in which the U.S. government is complicit. During the White House rally some twenty-five of the citizen activists went to the visitor’s entrance to the White House to seek a meeting. After their request for a meeting was rebuffed, many of them sat down in solidarity with the world’s suffering. While sitting there, they noticed many people, including members of the media, did get through to the White House. Since people were entering through this gate, some of the activists got in line. Again they were rebuffed, and eventually fifteen of them were arrested.

The Question Foremost

By Cathy Breen

The question foremost in my own mind is: What about the responsibility of the United States who unleashed this war on Iraq, a war based on self-interest and lies? A war without end that has unleashed unspeakable terror in the whole region!

In Baghdad, Organized Destruction

by Cathy Breen June 26, 2015

…The grandmother takes her grandson each day to school and sits against a wall under its shadow until Ali finishes his exam. She is “old and weak,” Ali’s father writes, “and honestly it is meaningless to think she could protect Ali as she can’t really protect herself. But I do appreciate her efforts.” Ali told his dad that his grandmother was causing him “too much embarrassment as she doesn’t understand the rules of the exams.” She always tries to enter the exam class to give Ali cold water because it is very hot. The first day the director of the exam allowed her to do this, but another day during the exam she tried again. This time it was not to give him water. She had cooked a rooster and told the staff that he had to eat well to do good on the exam! Ali was a little bit angry but his love for her “let him forget the embarrassing feeling!” He is “crazy in love” with his grandmother as she is the only grandparent left…

Obituary for Tariq Aziz

…we had hoped that influential leaders would see it as their moral responsibility to see that Tariq Aziz, a sick and elderly statesman, would be allowed to live his last days in the comfort of his family. We were wrong. We had appealed to former US Secretary of State, James Baker, who co-chaired with Tariq Aziz the 1991 Geneva negotiations on Iraq, to support calls for humane treatment of his former counterpart. Baker refused to act as a statesman. We also had hoped to hear the Pope’s voice for fellow Christian Tariq Aziz following our contact with the Holy See’s foreign minister. The Vatican remained mute. Other leaders in Europe and elsewhere preferred silence to compassion…

"We Are Like People Drowning"

Cankiri, Turkey
May 6, 2015

Dear Friends,

As I write I am looking out a bus window at a beautiful landscape of rolling hills and mountains. Everything is green, and the trees are budding. It is hard to know where to begin. In the past week, I have traveled hundreds of miles by bus and train in order to visit Iraqi refugees living here. Eskisehir, Ankara, Bolu, Mersin and now Cankiri. Some of the families are refugees twice over, having fled to Syria where we first met them some years ago. Others fled more recently after ISIS took Mosel last June and then the surrounding villages. Some of them I was meeting for the first time. Muslims, Christians and Palestinians, all from Iraq.

Iraqi family living in TurkeyIraqi family living in Turkey

"We Are a Country at War"

Karbala, Iraq, April 23, 2015

Dear Friends,

As I attempt a first writing for this trip to Iraq, Kurdistan and Turkey, I ask myself if there is a salient theme, or themes, emerging. Perhaps they would be: family, war and refugees.

I am presently in Karbala which is housing approximately 70.000 refugees, the majority from Nineveh (Mosel) and Anbar. As I traveled by car two days ago from Najaf to Karbala, the road was lined with makeshift tent-like structures, pieces of cloth to provide some privacy and shelter.

Karbala streetKarbala street

Killing the Future

roof of the Ameriya shelterroof of the Ameriya shelter

Visiting the al-Ameriya shelter is creepy; it feels like a tomb. It feels like an atrocity happened here, where silent echoes of human terror scream something too big for words, too atrocious for metaphor.

Letter to the Editor of the Jordan Times

I hope your country does what America did not: take the time to stop, to reflect, and to reach a reasoned consensus on her answer. Mr. al-Kasasbeh’s death was gruesomely horrible. Jordan’s response should not be more of the same.

Learning from _American Sniper_

American Sniper is a racist, militaristic movie. But it has much to teach us if we want to build a successful antiwar movement.