From PCUSA: The Long, Brutal U.S. War on Children in the Middle East

A related article from PCUSA

Here is an article originally from The Progressive and Pax Christi USA

by Kathy Kelly

On November 28, sixty-three U.S. Senators voted in favor of holding a floor debate on a resolution calling for an end to direct U.S. Armed Forces involvement in the Saudi-UAE coalition-led war on Yemen. Describing the vote as a rebuke to Saudi Arabia and the Trump Administration, AP reported on Senate dissatisfaction over the administration’s response to Saudi Arabia’s brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi last month. Just before the Senate vote, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called current objections to U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia “Capitol Hill caterwauling and media pile-on.”

The “caterwaul” on Capitol Hill reflects years of determined effort by grassroots groups to end U.S. involvement in war on Yemen, fed by mounting international outrage at the last three years of war that have caused the deaths of an estimated 85,000 Yemeni children under age five.

When children waste away to literally nothing while fourteen million people endure  conflict-driven famine, a hue and cry—yes, a caterwaul —most certainly should be raised, worldwide.

How might we understand what it would mean in the United States for fourteen million people in our country to starve? You would have to combine the populations of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, and imagine these cities empty of all but the painfully and slowly dying, to get a glimpse into the suffering in Yemen, where one of every two persons faces starvation.

Antiwar activists have persistently challenged elected representatives to acknowledge and end the horrible consequences of modern warfare in Yemen where entire neighborhoods have been bombed, displacing millions of people; daily aerial attacks have directly targeted Yemen’s infrastructure, preventing delivery of food, safe water, fuel, and funds. The war crushes people through aerial bombing and on-the-ground fighting as well as an insidious economic war.

Yemenis are strangled by import restrictions and blockades, causing non-payment of government salaries, inflation, job losses, and declining or disappearing incomes. Even when food is available, ordinary Yemenis cannot afford it.

Starvation is being used as a weapon of war—by Saudi Arabia, by the United Arab Emirates, and by the superpower patrons including the United States that arm and manipulate both countries.

During the thirteen years of economic sanctions against Iraq— those years between the Gulf War and the devastating U.S.-led “Shock and Awe” war that followed—I joined U.S. and U.K. activists traveling to Iraq in public defiance of the economic sanctions.

We aimed to resist U.S.- and U.K.-driven policies that weakened the Iraqi regime’s opposition more than they weakened Saddam Hussein. Ostensibly democratic leaders were ready to achieve their aims by brutally sacrificing children under age five. The children died first by the hundreds, then by the thousands and eventually by the hundreds of thousands. Sitting in a Baghdad pediatric ward, I heard a delegation member, a young nurse from the U.K., begin to absorb the cruelty inflicted on mothers and children.

“I think I understand,” murmured Martin Thomas, “It’s a death row for infants.” Children gasped their last breaths while their parents suffered a pile-up of anguish, wave after wave. We should remain haunted by those children’s short lives.

Iraq’s children died amid an eerie and menacing silence on the part of mainstream media and most elected U.S. officials. No caterwauling was heard on Capitol Hill.

But, worldwide, people began to know that children were paying the price of abysmally failed policies, and millions of people opposed the 2003 Shock and Awe war.

Still the abusive and greedy policies continue. The U.S. and its allies built up permanent warfare states to secure consistent exploitation of resources outside their own territories.

During and after the Arab Spring, numerous Yemenis resisted dangerously unfair austerity measures that the Gulf Cooperation Council and the U.S. insisted they must accept. Professor Isa Blumi, who notes that generations of Yemeni fighters have refused to acquiesce to foreign invasion and intervention, presents evidence that Saudi Arabia and the UAE now orchestrate war on Yemen to advance their own financial interests.

In the case of Saudi Arabia, Blumi states that although Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman wants to author an IPO (Initial Public Offering), for the Saudi state oil company, Aramco, no major investors would likely participate. Investment firms know the Saudis pay cash for their imports, including billions of dollars’ worth of weaponry, because they are depleting resources within their own territory. This, in part, explains the desperate efforts to take over Yemen’s offshore oil reserves and other strategic assets.

Recent polls indicate that most Americans don’t favor U.S. war on Yemen. Surely, our security is not enhanced if the U.S. continues to structure its foreign policy on fear, prejudice, greed, and overwhelming military force. The movements that pressured the U.S. Senate to reject current U.S. foreign policy regarding Saudi Arabia and its war on Yemen will continue raising voices. Collectively, we’ll work toward raising the lament, pressuring the media and civil society to insist that slaughtering children will never solve problems.

Annual Retreat Report 2018

The report from the annual retreat of 2018

Pax Christi Maine held our annual retreat on the weekend of November 17-18, 2018 at St. Augustine Church Hall in Augusta.  The retreat, titled “Becoming Peace: Continuing Our Nonviolent Journey in Turbulent Times” included prayer, silence, individual reflection and small/large group sharing. 

In preparation for the retreat, participants were asked to watch a TED talk video given by Valarie Kaur titled “Revolutionary Love.” Ms. Kaur is acivil rights activist, lawyer, faith leader, and founder of the Revolutionary LoveProject which promotes love as the foundation of our lives and our politics.

The Saturday session was facilitated by Jack Seery, an experienced retreat leader and member of both PCM and Unity of Greater Portland faith communities. Through scripture reflection, silence and a series of questions intended to elicit our response to the turmoil of our times, Jack guided the group to explore our journey of faith and practice of nonviolence. 

Throughout the day, we prayed the Prayer of St. Francis led in song by Ann O’Brien on guitar. A lovely prayer corner designed by Georgia Kosciusko added to our contemplative practice. Before supper, people joined in a prayer service coordinated by Mary Ellen Quinn which included a candlelight ritual where social concerns of our times were named and held in prayer. We also remembered deceased members of PCM as well as others who have inspired peacemaking and the practice of nonviolence in our lives. 

In the evening, Denny Dreher presented on the role of Compassion both toward ourselves and others. We discussed and shared how we demonstrate and live out Jesus’ teachings on love and compassion. 

Many Pax Christi members gathered on Sunday to participate in Mass at St. Augustine Church celebrated by Rev. Mike Seavey, parochial vicar, and then gathered for a final discussion over brunch. We will continue to gather for ‘mini retreats’ in small regional groups throughout the coming year.

Sincere thanks to all members who assisted in set up of the space, who planned, implemented and participated in our fall retreat.