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"Routine" was sadly how U.S. President George Bush labeled the bombing of an area outside of Baghdad, Iraq earlier this month. It’s not a routine we with the FOR will accept as normal it is, we believe, yet one more criminal action. We along with Peaceworks and other local peace groups continue to condemn the ongoing U.S. war against Iraq, both the economic sanctions and the frequent military attacks.
On Friday, February 16th, the Bush administra-tion initiated a brief bombing campaign outside the no-fly-zones, striking five "strate-gic" sites just outside Bagh-dad. While the U.S. has regu-larly bombed sites within what they have declared "no-fly-zones," this bombing ex-pands the United States’ "free-strike" zone to include all of Iraq.
The Education for Peace in Iraq Campaign (EPIC) suggests several good talking points with regards to U.S. belligerence toward Iraq. Among them:
* The most recent bombing, while unusual in its choice of targets, is not new. The U.S. has been illegally bombing Iraq on the average of 2-3 times a week for over two years; the United Nations does not recognize the "no-fly-zones," and under interna-tional law, these self-declared zones are illegal. More than 300 civilians have been killed by "routine" U.S. bombings over the last two years, in-cluding at least three in the most recent bombing.Suggested Actions:
* The U.S. war against Iraq isn’t limited to bombings. Our on-going blockade, the "sanctions," have resulted in the deaths of more than one million people – most of them children. Ac-cording to UNICEF, over 500,000 children under the age of 5 have died due to our blockade.
* Rather than undermine Saddam Hussein, this bombing will likely in-flame the Iraqi and Arab peoples against the U.S., and strengthen Saddam’s political rehabilitation in the region by portraying him as David against the American Goliath. Former Chief Weapons In-spector Scott Ritter, and for-mer weapons inspector Dr. Raymond Zilinskas have both stated that Iraq was qualita-tively disarmed of any Weap-ons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capability by 1998 and does not pose a WMD-based threat to the region today.
* Sec. of Defense Colin Powell stated on Face the Nation on Sunday, Feb. 11th, "[Saddam’s] much weaker. That million-man army of 10 years ago is gone. He is sitting on a very much smaller army of perhaps 350,000 that does not have the capacity to invade its neighbors any longer . … I'm sure he can hold on to his po-wer… What he can't do is invade his neighbors…. anymore."
Come hear a presen-tation entitled “Clean Water, Not Bombs and Sanctions: Veterans for Peace Iraq Water Project” on Tuesday, March 6 with Tom Sager of Rolla. The following month he will be returning to Iraq to work on a water-purification project. The program will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Room 202 of the Missouri United Methodist Church on 9th St. and Locust in downtown Col-umbia, and is being sponsor-ed by the Mid-MO FOR and Peaceworks.
The Center on Conscience and War (CCW) and the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) have begun focus-ing on two congressional bills. One re-introduced by Rep. Peter DeFazio, called the Selective Service Stand-by Act, would defund the “Service,” grant amnesty to non-registrants and put the agency into deep standby. Rep. Ron Paul will introduce a bill to repeal the Military Selective Service (SS) Act, which would end the SS and draft registration.
Registration mili-tarizes our nation’s youth, and teaches them falsely, that preparing for war is normal and necessary. Those who fail to register because they are conscientious objectors are not give legal options to the military; they are penal-ized for their beliefs, an in-herent violation of their free-doms of conscience and reli-gion. All non-registrants are denied federal scholarships, grants, financial aid, access to some government jobs and job-training.
The Mid-MO FOR encourages you to contact your U.S. representative and ask him or her to cosponsor either one or both of these bills. Contact the Center at 202-483-2220, check out their website at www.nisbco.org or locally call John Schuder (573-445-7569) or Jeff Stack (449-4585) for more details.
Public Information Research (PIR), a non-profit research organization, has a new website which supplies information on the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) continuing activities on U.S. college campuses: www.cia-on-campus.org. PIR also maintains a database & website at www.pir.org, which documents the com-plex web of the power elite. In Columbia and many other parts of the na-tion during the 80s & early ‘90s, a number of demonstra-tions were held on days a-gency interviews were sched-uled. Activists performed street theater skits and col-lected hundreds of signa-tures on petitions urging the University to disallow the CIA to recruit and do other business on campus.
The CIA has been implicated in assasinations, overthrows of democrat-ically-elected governments, sabotage, drug trafficking and many other contemptible activities by former employ-ees, reporters and various congressional reports. The World Court convicted it of various crimes in the mid-‘80’s. In related news, the Bush administration has had new legislation introduced into the Congress, asking to lift the ban on US involve-ment in assassination at-tempts. Such a ban was urged by the (Sen.) Church Committee (1975-76) and enforced through Executive Order by the five previous presidents. More information on this bill can be obtained at: thomas.loc.gov.
I wanted to give you some feedback on your recent newsletter but I want to let you know a bit about where I'm coming from so you can better understand my comments. I'm a deacon with Columbia Fellowship, a Mennonite and Church of the Brethren Congregation here in Columbia. Like you, I am opposed to the death penalty. Our church receives your newsletter so I've been aware of your activities and stated mission. I'm neither Republ-ican nor Democrat and I don't tend to vote based on any one-issue litmus test. I don't favor the use of power to intimidate people with differ-ent views and prefer peaceful witness and reasonable persu-asion.
Your recent news-letter concerned me in several places and reinforced my hes-itancy to participate in your efforts opposing the death penalty. In your blurb about a "Democracy Teach-In" you use excessively pejorative and divisive language in writ-ing: "In light of the recent stolen and undemocratic U.S. presidential election..." This rhetoric seems contradictory to your stated mission of re-conciliation and unity and may betray a political agenda that favors the Democratic Party and not restricted to the issues you defend.
I understand your opposition to John Ashcroft based on his support for the death penalty. Your opposi-tion stated you were concern-ed for many reasons but didn't state what those reas-ons were. This gives the appearance that your oppos-ition may just as well arise from what are essentially hidden agendas, does it not? Your choice of language leaves me no other conclu-sion. Your piece also seems to betray a party bias since you listed the senior Demo-crat on the Judiciary Commit-tee but not the senior Re-publican. I've written to Senator Ashcroft many times on various subjects and tried to practice peaceful witness and reasonable persuasion on issues not partisan division. This piece seems adverse to that approach.
The announce-ment of the "Peoples Inaug-ural Ball" also used a sar-castic tone in the phrase "In response to the coronation, er, inauguration of President-Select George W. Bush..." I didn't vote for Governor Bush but I believe your tone once again betrays your party-bias and ends up den-igrating the voters in this country. Reason and balance should govern your response not party-bias.
Overall, I view it as a shame that our common ground can't be defended in a collaborative effort. Your newsletter, it seems to me, betrays an ideologic frame-work that is exclusive to those with ideas that would apparently lie outside your stated mission. I get the impression from your ex-pressed views that I would not be welcome though I'm non-resistant, oppose the death penalty, and seek jus-tice for the poor but apparent-ly disagree with your other agendas that fall outside your stated mission. My views that are pro-life and more often reflected within the Re-publican party don't seem welcome. As you try to bring people under your umbrella by adopting various causes you are also pushing others out into the rain who don't share those views. I hope you re-evaluate and refine your message and your mis-sion.
Editor’s Note—The Mid-Missouri FOR is a non-partisan group, working with like-peaceably spirited indi-viduals. We refrain from endorsing any candidates, only concepts and positions. Some of the writers on occa-sion, let their views on parti-san issues become perhaps too apparent. Thanks to Greg for his thoughtful comments.
We wel-come any letters, poems, art-work for the FOR News. We’ll print them as space allows.
For more information on legislative matters contact Rita Linhardt (635-7239, firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jeff Stack (449-4585, email@example.com) with Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Thank You’s in Order Special thanks to the folks who made this newsletter and our out- reach efforts possible: Bertrice Bart- lett, Laura Bergin, the Catholic Campaign for Human Develop- ment, Lorraine Crouch, Nan George, Kent Gipson, Dean Hargett, John and Kim McHale, David Mehr, Mike Murray, Marty Patton, Liz Schmidt, John Schuder, Jude Sommer, Jeff Stack, the many donors to FOR and for Jeff’s work, plus the hearty mail- ing crew.
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