Kathy Kelly to James Baker: "Tell the Truth about Iraq!"

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“Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”

— John F. Kennedy

Catonsville, Maryland – On the evening of Nov. 20, 2006, peace activist, Kathy Kelly, gave a talk at the U. of Maryland’s Baltimore County campus (UMBC). It was entitled, “Eyewitness to War, Witness for Peace.” She said: “It’s a heck of a lot more ‘comfortable’ to take the party line of former Secretary of State, James Baker. He went for four days into the ‘Green Zone’-[a heavily-guarded, fortified community, with numerous military checkpoints and closed off streets, located in Central Baghdad, Iraq.] Baker emerged from there as the head of the Iraqi Study Group (ISG). He said: ‘We will not wring our hands over memories of what may or may not have been past mistakes in Iraq.’ Well, I would like to say to…James Baker and Mr. Lee Hamilton and the entire ISG: We will wring our hands. One of the ways to stop the next war is to continue to tell the truth about this war. And, It’s not going to be such a pleasant mirror to look into.”

A native of Chicago, Illinois, Kelly, an educator, has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize on three separate occasions. She is the co-coordinator of “Voices for Creative Nonviolence” and has been traveling the world promoting peace and bearing witness to the horrors and futility of war. [1] Kelly has been to Iraq “thirty times since 1996,” according to the press release of the “Iraq Conversations Group,” the presenter of the program. Most recently, she has been in Ireland, Haiti, Nicaragua, the West Bank, Bosnia, and Lebanon. Kelly was in Baghdad in March, 2003, when the Bush-Cheney Gang launched its illegal and immoral war. She was also in Lebanon during the 34-day Israeli invasion of that country, which began on July 12, 2006. She hasn’t paid any federal taxes since 1979. Kelly told the near capacity audience, in the Meyerhoff Chemistry Building, that as a pacifist, she would rather pay that money “to the Mafia!” Her speech was also sponsored by the Student Solidarity Committee, among other school-based groups. UMBC is located just south of the Baltimore City line.

Kelly continued: “Because our ‘comfort’ has a lot to do with why our elected officials go along with the Defense Department. Many of them think that we put them there because we don’t want to rock the boat. We don’t want to change. So, it’s incumbent on us to let these elected representatives know that we do want change-that we don’t want war after war after war…in order to keep the Defense Lobby, the strongest lobby on Capitol Hill, satisfied. We won’t sacrifice any more children to such satisfaction. We don’t believe in child sacrifice! We don’t believe in becoming an imperial menace. And for those who do believe that this war should be waged, let them ‘cut and run’ to the front of the line. Cut in front of the students or the people that might be students and let them go fight this war. Don’t send the sixteen, seventeen and eighteen year olds…off to be caught up in a war of aggression, unprovoked, in another land, a far off land.”

In the summer of 2006, Kelly was in Beirut, Lebanon, as the Israelis were dropping “600 pound bunker buster bombs” on the city. She said: “You could feel the furniture under our seats and under our feet, the floor is shuttering…an estimated 4,250 Lebanese were wounded, an estimated 1,230 killed, 50 factories destroyed, three-fourths of the overpasses and bridges destroyed, the airport close to destroyed and one million people homeless.” After the war ended, Kelly visited the village of Qana, where in 1996, 106 Palestinian children were slaughtered by the Israelis, via a missile attack. The children were in a refugee shelter under the UN’s protection. She related how on July 30, 2006, 56 innocent civilians were killed, in another shelter in Qana, by the Israeli, in yet another reckless missile attack. [2] When Kelly arrived at Qana, a funeral commemoration was taking place for the victims of the latest Israeli outrage. She talked with a mother, whose six year old daughter was killed in the vicious assault. As unmanned Israeli drones were then flying overhead, the Lebanese mother asked, pointing to the sky: “Didn’t they know? Couldn’t they tell? Didn’t they have the information that there were children in that home?” The grieving woman showed Kelly a picture of her dead child and told her that her daughter “loved to study English and to practice her English words.” [3]

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention at this time, that rallies were held across the country, and around the world, objecting to Israel’s brutal invasion of Lebanon and its disproportionate use of military force in the conflict, which Curt Goering, Senior Deputy Executive Director of Amnesty International, labeled “a war crime.” [4] There were also rallies supporting the Israeli offensive and its extremely hawkish Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, who had wisecracked that “nobody dies from being uncomfortable.” One was held in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 25, 2006, although it was protested by local peace and justice activists. [5] Advocating for the Israeli military offensive were Baltimore’s Mayor, Martin O’Malley, now Governor of Maryland-elect and Rep. Ben Cardin (D-3rd District), now U.S. Senator for MD-elect. It was only five days after this event and the rabid, pro-Israeli cheer leading by O’Malley and Cardin that the bloodstained Qana Massacre occurred.

Kelly underscored: “In the last four days of the Israeli-Hezbollah War, Israel dropped 1.2 million cluster bombs. Does that fact relate to us? Well, if you go to Hopkins, MN, there is a plant there, Alliant Techsystems, that produces cluster bombs. [6] I asked one of my friends there if they knew anything about the plant having a contract with Israel? She said that they go there on ‘a vigil’ and that on some days, the ‘Israeli flag’ is flying over the plant. They always fly the flag of ‘the country’ they are doing business with. So, do you see? If 1.2 million cluster bombs are dropped, then that is great for business for the Alliant Techsystems company. They can make 1.2 million more!”

The criminal case of the “Pit Stop Plowshares,” also came up for Kelly to discuss. The five individuals involved were “put on trial for disarming a U.S. warplane parked on the tarmac of Ireland’s Shannon airport.” [7] Ireland is a neutral country, whose Constitution proscribes it from aiding and abetting any belligerent entity in attacking civilians in another nation. It was suspected that this particular U.S. Navy aircraft, a C48, supply plane, was on a “pit stop” on the way to Iraq. The defendants followed the vision of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote that the day will come when nations shall “beat their swords into plowshares.” The airport incident happened on Feb. 3, 2003, just as the Bush-Cheney Gang, was building up its terror-filled War, Death & Mayhem Machine, via the urgings of War Hawks, like Paul Wolfowitz, the then-Deputy Secretary of Defense, and other repellent Neocons in and outside the regime, for a preempted military strike on Iraq. [8] Wolfowitz, the prime architect of the conflict, was later rewarded for his warmongering lust by President George W. Bush, who posted him to the cushy position of President of the World Bank. [9]

Kelly appeared as a defense witness at the trial of the “Pit Stop Plowshares,” in Dublin, at the “Four Courts.” She was deeply impressed by the work of all of the barristers for the defense, particularly, Mr. Brendan Nix, Senior Counsel. [7] He read the “Sermon on the Mount” to the jury and argued that Jesus was “the greatest pacifist of all time.” He also told them about a scene that he had recently witnessed in a Dublin park of children playing, laughing and chasing ducks. He said, “The sound of universal happiness is a sound of children playing.” Then, he told the jury what had just happened in Southern Lebanon, near Tyre, and the refugee camp of Qasmia. An Israeli missile had struck a swimming hole used by children, killing three of them and critically wounding four others. The barrister said: “Lebanon is burning. Today, a swimming pool was bombed. A swimming pool is now filled with burning children. This is war.” In his final words to the jury, he asked them: “What would drive you to action?…More than 500,000 children, under five years of age, killed by sanctions in Iraq…We’ve heard lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction…People being rendered for torture…Should people who act out of conscience be labeled as having extreme views?” [7] The jury, on July 25, 2006, answered the barrister’s plea for justice by returning a verdict of “Not Guilty” as to each of the five defendants. [10]

Finally, Kelly said that in a broader sense, looking at the continuing wars and awful conflicts in the Middle East, and this country’s predatory role in them: “We are all still on trial. The question is: What is our excuse not to do more?”

Notes:

[1]. http://www.vcnv.org/

[2]. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qana and
http://www.resistance.jeeran.com/massacres/qana/index.htm and
http://www.bintjbeil.com/E/occupation/robert_fisk_qana.html

[3]. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUl8LomcPnQ

[4]. http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/
viewArticle.asp?articleID=14196 and
http://yalibnan.com/site/archives/2006/07/qana_massacre_2.php
See also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSAqNuf55k0

[5]. http://baltimore.indymedia.org/newswire/display/13220/index.php

[6]. http://www.robert-fisk.com/american_terrorism.htm

[7]. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/77455

[8]. http://batr.net/neoconwatch/

[9]. http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/29114

[10]. http://www.peaceontrial.com/

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