Anti-Drone Protest

May 2016

Protesters against drones

Both Bob Smith of the Brandywine Peace Community and The Reverend Robert Moore of Coalition for Peace Action spoke of the recent passing of the Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan.

A literary giant in his own right, Berrigan was best known for his dramatic acts of civil disobedience against the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. He burned draft files with homemade napalm and later hammered on nuclear weapons to enact the Isaiah prophecy to “beat swords into plowshares.” His actions challenged Americans and Catholics to reexamine their relationship with the state and reject militarism. He constantly asked himself and others: What does the Gospel demand of us? “For me, Father Daniel Berrigan is Jesus as a poet,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote. “If this be heresy, make the most of it.”

Protester outside Horsham Air Base

The next Horsham Air Base protest in June will feature a conference the night before (June 24). The conference will take place at the Christopher Dock Mennonite High School at 1000 Forty Foot Rd Lansdale PA 19440.

An anti-war buddy passed on to me a letter about drones from Representative Alan Grayson.

About a year prior to that hearing, a grandmother in her sixties was picking okra in her garden in a small village in South Waziristan, in Pakistan. Her nine-year-old granddaughter was with her. Neither one was an enemy of the United States. Neither one was a threat to any American. Neither one was any kind of militant. In fact, neither really had ever given much thought to the United States. A U.S. military drone flew overhead. It bombed them. The grandmother screamed and died. Her body was so butchered that the villagers would not allow her own children to see it. Her granddaughter was permanently injured. She can’t walk anymore.
The grandmother joined the 1000 innocent victims of American drone warfare in Pakistan. A list that includes almost 200 children. By most accounts, between 10 percent and 30 percent of drone victims were guilty of nothing but being in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Tom Mullian

Tom Mullian sings "Pledge of Resistance" outside Horsham Air Base

An Army chaplain, infuriated over the illegality of drone program, quits.

On April 12, Antal resigned his commission as an officer in the Army because of his conscientious objection to the United States’ drone policy. In a letter addressed to Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama, Antal wrote, “The executive branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on Earth, at any time, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials. I refuse to support this policy of unaccountable killing.”

Protester with Horsham Air Base sign
Chris Robinson of the NW Greens

From a pro and con piece on military drones:

According to a July 18, 2013 survey, 61% of Americans supported drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Support spanned the political divide, including Republicans (69%), independents (60%), and Democrats (59%). [2]
So fighting drone strikes is an uphill battle in PR terms.
Point #10 from the "con" side.
Drone strikes are extremely unpopular in the affected countries. General Stanley McChrystal, former leader of the US military in Afghanistan, says that the "resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes... is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who've never seen one or seen the effects of one." [79]

Bob Smith
Bob Smith

Interestingly, the drone killing of Mullah Mansour, the leader of the Taliban, required Americans to avoid Pakistani government forces.

The U.S. knew Pakistani radar could detect the intrusion. Pakistan might then scramble jet fighters to intercept the drones, so timing was critical.
The military’s Reaper drones crossed the border into Pakistani airspace, flying low over the mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to exploit gaps in radar coverage, the officials said.
Officers in the U.S. military command center overseeing the operation held off briefly because the vehicle pulled over near unidentified buildings, the officials said. It’s not clear why the stop was made.
They waited until the car got back on the road and away from other vehicles and buildings. Then they launched the strike, and two Hellfire missiles took out Mullah Mansour, the officials said.

Rev. Robert Moore
Rev. Robert Moore

This is a bit concerning. Daesh (IS, ISIS) is now flying drones itself. A surveillance drone from them that cost less than $1000 was shot down recently. Daesh has also used cloth and burlap stretched over rooftops and alleys in their capital city of Raqqa in order to defeat drone surveillance.
Qadir said drone traffic has become so heavy that military commanders report difficulty in distinguishing IS drones from Kurdish and coalition drones. “Sometimes they are too high for us to reach or we’re not sure if they belong to our friends or to enemies," he said.