Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Kathy Kelly Talks about the Killing Fields in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Kathy Kelly Talks about the Killing Fields in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Article excerpt

Activist, author and three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Kathy Kelly spoke at Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines on July 30 about her concern over civilian deaths in the U.S. war in Afghanistan and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, in the U.S. targeted assassination campaign in Southwest Asia.

Kelly recalled and described several attacks in which large numbers of Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. military forces.

"General [Stanley] McChrystal was known, he was legendary for his ability to coordinate night raids-death squads-assassinations, the kind of killing that is done in the dark of night, that is much less visible to people who might have cameras," said Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence (VCNV).

"Basically, General [David] Petraeus, President [Barack] Obama, Admiral [Michael] Mullen, in collusion, were all saying to General McChrystal, 'Here's your job: Create terror, create fear, create the killing fields, but do it in a way that won't be so noticeable,'" Kelly told an audience of about 75 who gathered in the church basement.

Kelly noted that McChrystal was sacked "because of insubordination, not because of the killing of civilians, not because of the ghastly attacks and these various atrocities that were committed by U.S. forces.

"Did you know that when the United States first went to war there, Afghanistan was the world's third-worst country in the world in terms of mothers dying during childbirth?" Kelly asked. "Now it's the worst. It was also the third-worst country in the world into which a child could be born. Now it's the worst, after our nine going-on-ten years of warfare."

Along with her VCNV and Catholic Worker colleagues, Kelly believes that non-violence necessarily involves simplicity, service, sharing of resources, and nonviolent direct action in resistance to war and oppression. She lived in Baghdad during the U.S. bombardment and invasion of that country in 2003 and visited Gaza during Israel's 2008-09 assault on the tiny, besieged coastal enclave which killed some 1,500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, women, and children.

Kelly, who visited Pakistan for a month in 2009 and traveled there and in Afghanistan again this year, told her Des Moines audience what she had learned in her conversations with survivors of drone attacks. …

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