Batch's Blog

Nathanial Batchelder (click image to read news and views from Peace House OK's Director, Nathaniel Batchelder)

As Plentiful as the Fish in the Sea?

OPS, May 2007

There are huge concerns about the depletion of the earth’s oceans and particularly the over-fishing of many species.  For instance:  Orange Roughy has been a very popular seafood choice.  But it turns out they have a reproductive cycle of 20-plus years (some reports indicate 35 years).  They mate and reproduce later in their lives than most humans and they have already been fished to “economic extinction.”

Other species, which are abundant, like tuna, are caught with methods that kill thousands fish of other species in the process.  While some tuna is caught using dolphin-friendly systems, so that dolphins are freed, many other species are caught in nets along with other fish species.  These are considered “bycatch” (or to use a war metaphor, ‘collateral damage’) and are discarded back into the ocean to die if they are not already dead. According to research by the United Nations Food and Agriculture , worldwide fishing operations throw away 25% of  their catch.  Tons of fish are tossed out, dead or dying, because they’re not the kind the fishermen wanted to catch. The discarded animals may have no market value, or there may be no room on the boat to bring them to shore. Or the bycatch may be a marketable species, but too small to sell. Sometimes, fish are discarded because the fishermen lack the proper permits to land them. Dolphins, sea turtles, seals and whales all get caught by accident in fishing gear and drown. Seabirds, including endangered albatrosses, drown when they snatch baited hooks and are pulled under water.  Sharks, swordfish and red snapper are harmed by accidental kills. Bycatch often takes young fish that could rebuild depleted populations if allowed to grow up and breed.

The animals we catch and throw away have important roles to play in marine food webs. By killing these animals, we’re taking food away from tunas, salmon, swordfish, dolphins, sea lions and other ocean wildlife.  Still other species are ‘farmed’ using methods that pollute the surrounding ocean.  Meantime, we are being encouraged to increase our consumption of fish for our health.  Below is a Seafood Watch brochure from Monterrey Bay Aquarium.  This one is specific to the Central U.S. It is a guide to which fish species are being harvested or raised in an environmentally friendly way and those which are endangered or are harvested in a way that is environmentally destructive.  Each of the entries on the guide has a corresponding website.  You can even order free guides to share.  Learn more.

Good Seafood Chart

High Schools and Military Recruiters

Recently, the Peace House was sent a copy of a letter written by a Metro area high school student expressing frustration at presence of military recruiters in his high school. A portion of that letter is printed here along with reflections by Risa Wilkinson, a member of the local Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors (OCCO). The OCCO is currently accessible at the Joy Mennonite Church, (405) 945-1925.

The writer identifies him or herself only as “Freedom Writer” and includes the following remarks in his or her letter to the principal:

As objection to this war has reached record highs, the president wants to send even more troops to Iraq only to come home in body bags. Where do they find such recruits? . . .They send recruiters to high schools to recruit students with few academic opportunities. They advertise free college tuition and signing bonuses that are subject to change without the recruit’s notice . . . They come with their fancy cars and their flashy uniforms promising career opportunities that cannot be upheld.

By letting these military recruiters infiltrate our school cafeterias and classrooms, you are jeopardizing the lives of your students. . . As soon as they graduate, these high school recruits will be sent almost directly to Iraq and yet you do nothing to educate these students on the dangers of entering the service.

. . . You should not let recruiters peddle their b__s___ on the great opportunities the military currently has to offer them . . . (You may read the full text of this letter at www.peacehouseok.org.)

Risa Wilkinson, OCCO member and counselor for the GI Rights Hotline offers the following to Freedom Writer and others who are concerned about on-campus military recruitment.

Q: What are the options for students, parents, or schools who do not want recruiters in area high schools?
In 2002 Pres. Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act and as a requirement to get federal funding, schools must hand over student contact lists to military Recruiters. This information includes home phone numbers, addresses. Schools are also required to offer equal campus access to military recruiters as they do to college recruiters. In order for recruiters to be expelled, the school would have to reject federal funding.

Q: What options currently exist to counter the influence of these military recruiters?
Giving military recruiters equal access as college and career recruiters does not mean giving them more access. And alternative options may also be granted equal access. An equal amount of information from opposing sides should be granted. For example, a representative of OCCO could be invited to any school to present non-military options for post-high school graduation, including how to get funding for school without military obligation, including how to find grants. Since many young people join the military in order to travel, OCCO can also provide information on how to affordably travel.

Q. Have OKC Metro schools taken advantage of this option?
I don’t know how many, but I know of at least one area high school that has invited CCO to talk about non military options and the effects of war.

Q. What other venues are suitable for presenting this type of information?
OCCO would be happy to send representatives to churches, peace clubs, community events, or anywhere we might be invited.

Q. What other resources are available?
www.okobjector.org has more information on the No Child Left Behind Act and things you can do about in your area. Veterans for Peace also has some materials.

It is important for parents to know that there is an “opt out” form that they can sign prohibiting schools from giving out their child’s information. Parents who are concerned should certainly do this. However, be aware that recruiters are also gathering information on the internet through blogs, chat rooms, and other popular websites such as Myspace.

The Oklahoma Committee for Conscientious Objectors has plenty of materials and brochures available. Call (405) 945-1925.

Saving the Seven Seas

When the Mediterranean Sea was on the way to becoming a polluted toilet bowl from unregulated dumping, all shoreline nations risked losing its beautiful waters supporting vacation tourism as well as industrial fishing. But, who would give up free dumping first? A compact agreement was proposed to halt and reverse the damage, ultimately signed by all Mediterranean nations. Regulation saved the sea.

Global oceans need similar protection. Efforts beginning in the 1950s to draft such agreements have been revised dozens of times to address objections of this or that powerful nation. The current U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) came into force in 1994, and has been signed by 152 nations. But not the United States.

A handful of conservative senators, led by Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, has blocked American ratification of the treaty, claiming that it would impinge upon US sovereignty. Inhofe argues that signing any treaty curtailing U.S. activities in any way is antithetical to U.S. national interests. Tom Coburn has also been an opponent both as a US Representative and now as a Senator.

UNCLOS has been officially endorsed by Presidents Bush and Clinton, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and by all living State Department Legal Advisors. UNCLOS is also supported by more than 60 U.S. environmental, business, military, legal, and public interest organizations.

While earth’s human population continues growing toward seven billion, all the rest of nature is in retreat. Species extinction rates are unprecedented. Changes in the planet’s atmosphere are not in question, though the consequences are debated. Baby birds soiling their nest grow up to fly elsewhere. There is no elsewhere for humanity. Earth is a sacred trust to human stewardship. Our spherical planet can no longer afford flat-earth thinking.

Greening America

Oklahoma Peace Strategy Newspaper Aug/Sept 2006

All Americans simply must see Al Gore’s movie on global warming: An Inconvenient Truth. With charts, graphs, testimonies and news clips, Gore closes the controversy on whether global warming is a consequence of human activities: It is. The final 15 minutes are devoted to actions and solutions — all available technologies — which must be implemented to reverse global warming and bring sustainability to human life on our earth. Gore’s challenge is moral not political. What will we do with our planet? This film can bring to millions the enlightenment about this reality well-known to environmentalists and America’s well-read minority.

In Oklahoma City, An Inconvenient Truth will be shown free, at 7 pm, on Tuesday, October 10th, at Church of the Open Arms, 3131 N. Pennsylvania.

This film can galvanize Americans to see the urgent necessity of national collective action for change. Doing our part to save Nature and earth’s capacity to sustain human life can inspire in Americans a missing spirituality of mission which can flow into all areas of national endeavor. In becoming good world neighbors, US citizens can discover a higher purpose for life than consumerism and personal comfort. We can discover the energizing potential of mission in service to a higher purpose than our own appetites.

Everyone needs a sense of mission and vision, without which, as scripture says, a people perish. Flooded with commercial messages stressing selfish consumerism, our society wanders in a desert where all of our leadership, apparently, challenges us to satisfy our hungers through acquisition of more stuff. In lives motivated by passion and vision, values fall into place, and wandering turns into living with focus and direction. With the clear insights Gore presents, we can shake off our national selfishness and raise a call to national leadership impossible to ignore. Leadership will follow the people. That’s us.

Bringing human activity into sustainability with our planet will require implementation of green technologies in architecture, transportation, agriculture, housing for starters. All human activity and production must be redesigned with sustainability as a central driving theme. Doing this will be simpler and cheaper that going to the moon. All that is required is the political will.

It is always baffling to activists and advocates that so many people seem adrift without vision or mission, when there are so many things calling to us for action. Perhaps saving our planet for future generations can finally unify all humanity, particularly here in the U.S.

It’s up to each of us to make this a priority, in our families, schools, houses of worship, work places, political parties and daily life. We’ll be better people for it, living lives with meaning and zeal, and – incidentally – we may succeed in saving the planet and Nature. It’s the only one we have.

Three Wars Against Iraq

OPS Newspaper, April 2006

The US military adventure in Iraq is a tragedy beyond words to describe. But it is really the third war in 16 years against Iraq. The 1991 Gulf War and sanctions through the intervening years smashed Iraq’s military power and killed more than a million Iraqis. And these are just the latest in a long history of conflicts and wars in which economic interests, power, and geo-political dominance have been the driving forces; in which rallying cries about freedom, justice and democracy have been little more than fig leaves to cover real motives. (On page 3, see the excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933, by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC, retired, decrying war entirely.)

The first Gulf War in 1991 was ostensibly to drive Saddam Hussein’s army out of Kuwait. Another view is that Saddam Hussein was snookered into attacking Kuwait, providing the pretext for the US-British alliance to gather a coalition to go to war. War with Iraq would cut its large military machine down to size. During Iraq’s war with Iran, the US had sold Saddam Hussein, then considered America’s ally, every kind of military equipment including chemical and biological weapons. When Iraq and Iran called their war off, it left Saddam Hussein and Iraq disquietingly powerful in the Middle East balance of power. Many believe that neutralizing Iraq was a “real reason” for the 1991 Gulf War … aside from the obvious desire among US planners to gain greater geo-political power and control in the Middle East.

For years Iraq had accused Kuwait of drilling sideways into Iraqi oil fields, stealing Iraqi oil. Indeed, Middle East commentators have expressed the belief that Kuwait was encouraged to do so, to prod Iraq into a border conflict. Before Iraq’s action into Kuwait, Saddam Hussein met with US Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie. Notes from that meeting indicate that Glaspie assured Saddam Hussein that the US had no stake in border disputes between Iraq and Kuwait. Eight days later, Iraq attacked Kuwait.

Historically, Iraq had maintained that Kuwait was part of its territory – one of its states — since the modern borders in the Middle East were set following World War I largely by Britain and the United States. One historian said that Iraq had more justification to take Kuwait than the United States had to take Texas. In any case, Iraq did seize Kuwait, and the Gulf War ensued.

Following the build-up of 500,000 troops in Saudi Arabia, hostilities began with the heavy bombing of Iraqi military targets for 40 days and 40 nights. Daily satellite passes over Iraq permitted precision bombing of every target in Iraq larger than a helmet. Fuel-air bombs – also called “the poor man’s nuclear weapon” – sucked the air out of underground installations of Iraqi forces suffocating untold thousands. When the ground attack finally began, tens of thousands of Iraqi troops immediately surrendered, most in dehydrated and starving condition. The war was finally called off during the US bombing of the road to Basra, as vehicles of every description carried terrified Iraqis fleeing for their lives. Little remained of Iraq’s military inventory.

Twelve years of economic sanctions against Iraq following the war, which was monitored by continuous over-flights by US fighter jets and bombers, keeping Iraq militarily neutered and bereft. Iraq’s sanitation and water treatment facilities were never returned to their former capacity, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths to water-borne diseases. Full power generation never returned either, creating challenges to every segment of society.

From the early days of the GW Bush administration, the President, Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condi Rice are all on videotape stating that Iraq presented no danger to its neighbors or anyone else, and had no weapons of mass destruction. That line changed following the 9/11 terrorist attack on America.

The CIA was immediately assigned the task of “finding” connections to Saddam Hussein and Iraq. CIA terrorist specialist Richard Clarke reports that the administration showed little interest in Al Quaeda or Afghanistan, but wanted only information supporting their desire to blame Iraq. A campaign was launched to convince Congress, the American people, and the world that Iraq did possess weapons of mass destruction, and did present a danger to his neighbors. All that proved not to be true.

The current Iraq War was an arrogant and misguided adventure to extend US influence and control into the world’s primary oil-producing region. Justified with misinformation and waged in defiance of cautions from State Department professionals, the war has been a litany of blunders, miscalculations, and rosy predictions based on false hopes. It has killed another 100,000 Iraqis, some 2,500 Americans, and will cost American taxpayers a trillion dollars, with no happy outcome in sight. It has cost the US any reputation we might once have had as a protector of human rights or world peace.

The presence of US troops in Iraq is the primary thorn fueling the insurgency. The US must simply get out, and turn over the civil strife among Iraq’s religious and political factions, unleashed when their government was smashed, to some international body while Iraq is rebuilt. Because leaders of both major US political parties seem committed to continuing the war, an end to the war can only be brought about by a visible popular movement of war resistance and peace actions by the American people.

What Oklahoma/America Needs

By Nathaniel Batchelder, 2/15/06
Address to OK Conference of Churches’ 2006 “Day at the Legislature”

Thank you for this opportunity. I’ll touch briefly on the purpose of government, a few issues in our world, share some inspirational stories and close with a reminder to be people of God from a surprising source.

I trust we all have a shared commitment that government policy should serve the common good and general welfare of all citizens – now and for future generations – even for the world community of nations.

Government is necessary for the protections of individual rights, human & civil rights, labor rights, workplace safety, pure food, pharmaceuticals, quality of roads & bridges, environmental impact, etc., etc.

Naturally, we always appeal to the conscience and higher values of individuals and corporations to do the right thing to make things better. But regulations set the standard. Without traffic regulations the streets would be undriveable.

So, what’s going on that needs some regulation?

I am concerned about trends over the past 30 years whose impact is alarming. I see the wealthy getting more wealthy, poverty expanding, environmental regulations compromised, and the power of government to intrude into citizens’ private affairs growing.

I do not lay these trends at either political party. Actually, the differences between our political parties seems to diminish with time. Rather, I’m concerned about the growing power of money in politics because money pollutes fairness in government, and makes every other consideration less important.

In the US, policies on taxes, trade, finances, and banking, have contributed to enormous growth and concentration of wealth at the top of our economic ladder: In 1983, Forbes magazine reported that there were some 17 billionaires in the world. Today, according to Forbes, there are more than 300 billionaires in the US alone.

Unfortunately, poverty has also expanded in America — many families with 2 or 3 jobs cannot support a household, and luxuries like health insurance, or saving for college and retirement are impossible. Everyone doing missions to the poor reports that their client numbers are growing.

The stock market went up, but the fortunes of America’s working and poor families have gone down.

Tax cuts for the wealthy also shift the tax burden down the economic ladder onto the backs of those with less…. and necessitate cuts to the programs offering ladders of opportunity or a safety net to those at the bottom – public education, college loans, assistance in medical care, housing, access to food — with the resultant expansion of the numbers in poverty.

The so-called global free trade treaties have backfired with regard to the interests of working and poor families. — NAFTA, the GATT, the World Trade Organization, and CAFTA – were all written by the corporations and bankers whom they would benefit most. They made it easier for US corporations to relocate to El Salvador or China, but did nothing for workers left behind, and nothing about worker safety, labor rights, or environmental regulations in the nations where a business might move.

On the environment, let’s agree that it is up to us to pass on a world as clean and healthy as the one we inherited. Few believe we are doing that. Why not? Those with a financial interest in lax regulations successfully influence policy-makers with targeted donations. In his book, “Crimes Against Nature,” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. reports on some 400 environmental regulations compromised or reversed just since the year 2000.

And the beat goes on.

Is our government becoming a government “of, for, and by the rich?” What do we do?

Some call us a Christian nation. But if we believe in the teachings of Jesus, who spoke incessantly about the dangers to the spirit of great wealth and our duty to remember the plight of the poor, then what do we do? If the book of Matthew is really to be heeded, which admonishes that “the nations” will be judged by how they treat “the least among us”, what do we do? What does Oklahoma – and the nation – really need, in terms of policy for the common good and general welfare?

Of course we need quality public schools, accessible to all, with well-paid teachers.

We need wise policies in criminal justice, to bring down our huge prison populations. Oklahoma is 3rd in the nation, per capita, in incarcerating men, and first in the nation, per capita, in incarcerating women. This is unjust and wasteful of lives and money. It costs $30,000 a year to keep someone in prison; it would be cheaper to send them to Harvard. We must give back to judges the power to do alternative sentencing; we need special courts for handling drug and alcohol cases, so people can get into treatment, live with their families, support their own children.

We need wise transportation and energy policies, especially with fuel prices on the rise and no ceiling in sight. We must protect our railroads which ship freight at only 5% the energy cost of heavy 18-wheeler trucks, which, in addition to being fuel gluttons, do the most damage to our bridges and highways. Think about this: If Oklahoma City’s General Motors plant had been producing fuel-efficient hybrids instead of SUVs, they would be opening up another shift now, instead of closing the plant entirely. Federal incentives to build and buy fuel-efficient cars could have saved our GM plant.

We need care facilities for the mentally ill who are poor and unable to earn a living. Hats off to Sheriff John Whetsel, who is developing an alternative housing plan for the mentally ill who take up some 400 beds in the Oklahoma County Jail. This could be a model for all our 77 counties.

We need programs to assist families with the rising costs of fuel and energy for utilities. Current leadership in the Oklahoma Conference of Churches has done exactly that, building a fund of some $4 million from private sources, helping thousands of families with utility bills which have almost doubled in the past year.

We need full funding of the Head Start program and other programs offering the pre-school experience they need to start school ready to learn. Such programs not only help the kids and their families, they save money. Studies in this country and around the world demonstrate that for every dollar invested in pre-school programs, society will save between $4 and $7 while the child is in school, because they will not repeat grades, they will more likely graduate from high school, they will become job-holders instead of societal dependents.

We need sensible policy on animal wastes polluting ground water and surface water in our state. It is unconscionable that corporate hog and chicken operations — called CAFOs — should operate without responsible waste handling.

We need sensible environmental policies and special attention to blights like the notorious Tar Creek Super-Fund site in eastern Oklahoma, where thousands live in close proximity to toxic mine tailings — a situation languishing for lack of direction and attention. The Oklahoma Conference of Churches has this under discussion as well, and may harness the influence of Oklahoma’s Christian denominations to focus state and federal resources to address Tar Creek. Stay tuned on this one.

We need to defeat TABOR – the so-called “taxpayer bill of rights” – which is transparently a bill to further reduce the resources government needs to do the things we believe in.

We need a “Living Wage” in Oklahoma, so that working individuals can earn a salary making it possible for them to escape poverty.

Nationally, we need a guarantee of health insurance including preventive care and not just intervention when illness becomes catastrophic. Canadians have a single-payer health-care system which most Canadians think is terrific. The cost of health care in Canada is far less per person than the cost-per-person in the US, where conflicting demands of a thousand insurance plans gobble up 30-cents of every dollar spent for medical care. And, in our system, millions receive virtually no care at all.

We need a rational national defense policy and budget acknowledging that the greatest danger in the world today is not attack from another nation, but attack from desperate organizations or movements –- typically called terrorist — whose members may come from many nations, but who align with organizations like Al Quaeda. Against this threat, nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons — even war against nations — are useless, wasteful of our resources, and even counter-productive. Some call these relics of the past “necessary evils” but like most necessary evils, I believe they are more evil than necessary.

We need a creative Foreign Assistance policy to demonstrate America’s commitment to help eliminate the worst aspects of poverty and disease around the world. Technical interventions to prevent disease, save lives, and contribute to economic possibility in poor families are astonishingly cheap and cost-effective. Our Foreign Aid Budget is currently less than 1% of our national budget. Perhaps you have heard of the “ONE Campaign” — to increase US Foreign Assistance up to 1% of our national budget. Think of the impact this would have: Imagine Al Quaeda trying to recruit terrorists in a population whose children were saved by US medical assistance.

Are these not ideas and possibilities that inspire passion for action?

And the record is clear: individuals taking personal action based on their real values always make a difference.

Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat sparked the Montgomery bus boycott that launched the Civil Rights Movement.

Nelson Mandela, in prison for 27 years for refusing to comply with South Africa’s apartheid laws, became President of that nation, and a world leader.

Who knew that a handful of committed Oklahomans in the 1970s could take action resulting in Oklahoma’s utility rate-payers saving more than $2-billion dollars since then? It was the Sunbelt Alliance that helped to stop construction of the Black Fox Nuclear Power plant until the disaster at Three Mile Island put a stop to nuclear power plants until their safety could be insured. The billions saved by Oklahomans is a largely untold story.

Another handful of Oklahomans, opposed to the death penalty, have successfully ended executions of severely mentally retarded individuals, and individuals whose crime was committed while they were juveniles. The death penalty has no effect in preventing violent crimes; it costs far more than life without parole; no European nation practices the death penalty; it’s time to do away with it.

The efforts of another handful of Oklahomans, many here today, resulted in Oklahoma committing $10 million for drug and alcohol alternative sentencing treatment programs, lifting Oklahoma to first place in the nation in this commitment, per capita.

To me it seems crucial that we heal the terrible break that exists today between American citizens and our government. Most people know the values and policies they support, but too many of us don’t know who to call. Few Americans know who their US Representative and US Senators are … much less who their state Senator and Representative are. By contrast, a person once told me, “A year ago, I didn’t know my US Representative’s name. Now my US Representative knows MY name.” That’s a person transformed into an effective citizen.

We need places and opportunities where citizens can learn about our system; comfortably admit what they do not know; and safely ask questions how to make government work. No wonder a majority do not vote. They hate admitting their ignorance, so they leave it all to others.

Nobody can do this work alone. We all need the support and solidarity of collective actions through a group with experienced organizers. American government is not an ‘us-&-them’ game. WE ARE the government, and together, we can effect change and policies in ways that will surprise even ourselves.

To hold the door open for the possibility of unity among people of different political perspectives, we must all learn that it is politically savvy — and spiritually mature — to respect every person in government, in the hope that they will help us on our issue.

Did you know that Senator Jim Inhofe and Representative Frank Lucas are both committed to Microcredit Lending for Self-Employment, and support it every year? Citizens taught them about Microcredit, and faithfully ask for their support.

I visited Daily Oklahoman editor Patrick McGuigan the first time in 1992, resulting in his writing an editorial supporting foreign aid for Child Survival Programs. Over the years, Pat wrote 20 more editorials supporting poverty-reduction policies supported by RESULTS — not all the policies we supported — but some of them. We honored Pat for his efforts at a RESULTS dinner where many guests were shocked to see him in attendance. He and I disagree on most issues, but Pat is still a friend whom I greet at our exercise club. The new editor, Ed Kelley has written two editorials about global disease issues, and just last week, I had a piece published on the editorial page expressing my opposition to the Iraq War.

We must remain open and ready for such surprises, to be an instrument in bringing them about. Or else we just retreat into the safety of cynicism to justify our resignation and to make doing nothing seem rational.

I think what we all need is a little of that very hopeful Revolutionary Spirit that formed this nation — nonviolent revolution, I mean — grounded in citizen education and improved voting habits … everybody getting involved. That would wake ‘em up over at the Capitol.

Oklahoma may be the perfect place to start. We have 3 million citizens. That seems to be a magic number for revolutionary change.

The American Colonies had about 3 million people at the time of the American Revolution.

Alabama had about 3 million people at the time of the Montgomery bus boycott launching the civil rights movement.

Nicaragua had 3 million citizens at the time of their 1979, almost bloodless revolution ousting the Somoza family’s dictatorship and beginning their experiment in public education, public health, and safe water for all.

As a Vietnam Veteran, I have found a job and life at the Peace House where issues of justice and compassion consume all my working hours. I find it exhilarating — every day — and it brings me in touch with others who inspire me with their dedication to similar values. Look around this room at the people just like yourselves making a difference through individual actions. Maybe this excitement can spread like a virus throughout all our Oklahoma neighbors, and ultimately the whole nation.

And, through it all, we must listen for the call of God to be people of God, actively involved in the betterment of this world, wherever that call may come from. The international rock star Bono of the music group U2 was a speaker at the recent annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC., attended by President Bush and many Congressional leaders. This is an excerpt. Bono said:

“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poorest make their home. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us, when we are with them. ‘If you remove the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness, and if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday, and the Lord will continually guide you and satisfy your desire in scorched places.’ ”

So, I say, in the name of God, let’s start that revolution!


The full text of Bono’s comments are on the website of Sojourners Magazine, www.sojo.net.

Tragic Misuse of the Military

By Nathaniel Batchelder
Printed in the Daily Oklahoman, Wednesday, February 8, 2006

In January three years ago, almost 2,000 Oklahoma City citizens participated in an interfaith Spiritual Walk for Peace, expressing hope in prayer that war in Iraq could be avoided. Many of us had supported the U.S. effort to capture Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, but it seemed the 9/11 terrorist attack was being used to justify a war in Iraq that some had wanted for years. Most Americans now believe the war was a mistake but go along for a host of reasons. It’s tough to challenge your government when your government is waging war, but, many of us see a bad decision bringing worse outcomes. Some 2,200 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqis have been killed. More than half a trillion dollars has been spent. Many believe this war inflames antiAmerican sentiment throughout the Middle East, assisting the recruitment efforts of America’s enemies there.

Before the war, U.N. weapons inspection leaders Hans Blix and Scott Ritter said they were finding no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They were ridiculed by the Rush Limbaughs on U.S. radio, but today we know they were right. The assertion that Iraq already had nuclear weapons has proven groundless. Iraq’s alleged mobile chemical weapons labs didn’t exist. The American people and Congress were whipped up for war with allegations of dangers for which no evidence has been produced.

Our leaders said the war would be quick. When American forces reached Baghdad and toppled the statue of Saddam Hussein, President Bush announced victory from the deck of an aircraft carrier before a banner proclaiming, “Mission Accomplished.” At that point only about 150 Americans had died in Iraq. Since then, another 2,000 have been killed, and untold thousands wounded and maimed.

Many have asserted, and I believe, that the U.S. presence in Iraq is the primary fuel for the continuing insurgency. Of course, I pray for the best possible outcome of this tragic violence. But many also believe that no government installed by the United States in the Middle East will be tolerated without permanent military and economic support. Many predict Iraq’s religious and political factions will descend into civil war without a perpetual military presence holding them in check. Since the Shiites make up 60 percent of Iraq’s population, Iraq could become a political ally of Iran.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has resorted to torture and humiliation of Middle East prisoners, compromising our national reputation for supporting human rights, and deepening resentments against us. Around the world the U.S.’ is seen as a threat to world peace. Would this war ever have been waged if Iraq and the Middle East were not the world’s center for oil production? Shame on us if we went to war for oil.

The United States must engage the international community in seeking oversight of Iraqi security while we remove our military forces, which fueling the insurgency. In any case, peace walks and demonstrations will continue in Oklahoma City and around the world to decry what we see as a tragic misuse of U.S. military force.

We love the troops. We want them home.

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