Why Leadings?

Not to lead, but to be led            -- by the Holy Spirit.

See Leader, Servant, or Slave? in the section below, "Walking the Walk".

Jack in Denali National Park, 2012.

God's Wrath

Why was Sodom destroyed? Ezekiel tells us in chapter 16, verse 49: "This was the sin of your sister, Sodom: Pride, full-ness of bread, and abundance of idleness. Neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy."

That's also why Jerusalem was destroyed.

And now, with greed as our national virtue, what hope is there for the United States of America? We are afflicted by imperialistic pride, obesity, and entertainment addiction, and we are all called to do our part to "strengthen the hand of the poor and needy".

"Strengthen the hand" is the King James wording. Modern translations say "help the poor and needy." And there's a world of difference between the two. Helping the poor = as little as throwing some cash in the Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time. That's charity. It's doing for, not doing with.

My Grandmother was right about charity. On a below-zero day, she went out on the back porch with a skillet to throw hot grease on the back-yard snow. She shivered as she re-entered the kitchen and said, "Wooooh, colder than charity."

Strengthening the hand is much different. We get personally involved with another person who needs help, and we work with her or him to get the needed help. That's risky. You're vulnerable. It takes prayer, time and patience. You need knowledge and wisdom from the LORD. There are great rewards, however. You get a brother or sister.

Strengthening the hand is great work for our churches -- which we ignore far more often than we perform. Why? Because we're afflicted with the Ameri-can curse of individualism. Christians are to be a tribe -- a tribe that takes care of each other. In Galatians 6:16, Paul calls us "the Israel of God" -- the new 13th tribe.

Jesus said, "The poor you shall always have with you." He didn't mean that as a curse -- the notion that the poor are an inevi-table nuisance and expense, to be hidden in the slums. Rather, He was saying, "You shall always be among the poor."

When you strengthen hands, you fulfill Deuteronomy 15:4-5: "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the LORD your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you, if only you fully obey the LORD your God . . ." It's a glorious responsibility and promise.

And how do prosperous Americans fulfill that promise? Generally, by making sure they have no contact with people who are poor -- and we have been that way from our beginnings in the 17th century. Early villages in Massachusetts solved the problem by out-lawing poor people. Today, we deal with the same problem by confining the poor in urban reservations, our slums.

As the Supreme Court Bailiff says at the beginning of each session, "God save the United States of America..." 

Wednesday
Mar062013

RAINING DRONES

The United States currently has worldwide technical superiority in drone warfare. We can expect our superiority to be short-term, because other nations will soon catch up. 

What impact do our drone attacks produce? 

What retaliatory effects can we expect?  In a few years, will drones be raining on us?

Should we ban drones?

Would it do any good?

We don’t often get superior information from our newspapers (or TV).  However, a recent exchange in The Seattle Times hit home.  I've reproduced it below as published.  Since then, the Senate has confirmed John Brennan as CIA Director.

 

Drone attacks are not precise weapons

By Bill Distler

Special to The Seattle Times.  2/24/2013

 

JOHN BRENNAN, Obama’s nominee for CIA director, says that missiles and bombs from drones are the most “effective” weapon against terrorists. He calls them “precise,” claiming they minimize civilian casualties.

Brennan often uses the word “effective,” a soft and soothing sound.

But the main product of missiles and bombs is shrapnel, a sharp and ugly word.  Shrapnel is the jagged bits of metal formed from the casing of an explosive.

I have some experience with shrapnel. My unit in Vietnam was hit at night by shrapnel from our own artillery. The shrapnel killed two and wounded about twelve. The injured moaned and screamed like wounded animals.

As medics stumbled around in the dark, giving morphine to those who were hurt, the screaming subsided.

Medevac helicopters came immediately to carry away the wounded.

I was hit by shrapnel twice. Both times it came from our own side. The first time, I thought my finger had been torn off. The second time, I thought my throat was ripped open and that I was dying. Another time, I was bumped by a piece of shrapnel that landed against my hip. When I tried to pick it up, it burned me.

It came from our own artillery, exploding about 700 meters away, supposedly a safe distance.

I saw three of our men killed by shrapnel from hand grenades and a land mine.

My brother Ken was in the 4th Infantry Division. His left leg was broken by a bullet during a firefight in May, 1969. While he lay there, unable to move, our own artillery landed too close and shrapnel broke his right foot.

When I hear Brennan painting a reassuring picture of precision missiles and bombs, and when I hear the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney, describe the drone program as “wise,” I ask myself, “Are they ignorant? Or are they liars?”

The Hellfire missile used by our Predator drones weighs 100 pounds, roughly 80 pounds of which becomes shrapnel, plus whatever gravel, rocks and glass are thrown out by the blast.

The 500-pound bombs carried by Reaper drones are even more destructive. (By the way, what mad scientist names these things?)

How many children are maimed by this shrapnel? There are no medics to help them, there is no morphine to ease their pain, and there are no medevacs waiting to rescue them. As their parents look on helplessly and curse the United States, we should ask ourselves:  Is this the most effective way to fight terrorism, or are we creating terror? This is neither precise nor wise.

This is the reality of war as I have seen it, as opposed to the reassuring but false picture painted by our morally hollow politicians. Here at home, we don’t hear the missiles exploding or see the pain and fear on the faces of the wounded children.

Our politicians like it that way. They want to make silent war, using drones, to maintain our silent consent. We should not give it to them.

Our government’s policies in Afghanistan and Pakistan are neither wise nor just. We should speak out against them.

We can start by contacting our U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, both D-Wash. Ask them to vote against Brennan’s nomination to head the CIA and to speak out against never-ending war.

As citizens of the United States we have a responsibility to call on our senators and representatives to help us to, as it says in the Constitution, “establish justice.”

Bill Distler was a fire-team and squad leader in Delta Company, 2/506th (Airborne Infantry Regiment), 101st Airborne Division, in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968. He is a member of Veterans for Peace.

 

And in reply –

Current weapons more precise than during Vietnam

 –-  Letter to the Editor by Pete Soverel, Capt., U.S. Navy, retired, Edmonds.  2/27/2013

“Drone attacks are not precise” significantly misses the aiming point — opposition to the war in Afghanistan. Precision is measured by how close to the intended target the munition will hit.

The weapons carried by U.S. drones — Hellfire missiles and laser or GPS-guided bombs — will strike within two to five yards of the aim point compared with Vietnam-era artillery with a first-shot accuracy of about 300 yards.

The Hellfire’s extreme accuracy and small warhead translate into high lethality for the intended target while dramatically reducing collateral damage — civilian or friendly forces. Current fratricide rates (1.24 percent) are a small fraction of the 12 percent to 15 percent in Vietnam. Similarly, civilian deaths from coalition action in 2012 were about 400 individuals from all causes, including several thousand drone strikes, compared with about 65,000 North Vietnamese civilians killed in U.S. bombing raids.

Sadly, in war there will be unintended victims. However, the current levels of fratricide and civilian deaths are astonishing low compared with previous conflicts as a result of the extreme accuracy (precision) of allied munitions of all types.

Bill Distler should state the reasons for his opposition to the war rather than clouding the issue with unrelated, inaccurate and misleading sentimentality.

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Comment

I’m impressed by Captain Soverel’s reasoning.  Because we now kill fewer people with collateral damage, we can now conduct war with a clear conscience.  As we say about the Civil War, two-thirds of the deaths were from disease.  Because we have eliminated nearly all our wartime diseases, we can now conduct war with a clear conscience.

Or, as G. K. Chesterton stated in his hymn, O God of Earth and Altar:  “. . . and all the easy speeches that comfort cruel men.”

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All weapons, when introduced, are horrifying and immoral.  Tragically, we get used to them.

In World War I, we excoriated the Germans as barbarians for using chemical warfare. In World War II, we used flame throwers against the Japanese in their concrete bunkers on the Pacific Islands. As a ten year-old boy, I watched newsreels with elation as they showed our incineration of Japanese troops. But we were not barbarians. No, we were just getting the job done effectively and efficiently.

Consider:  Stones are also horrifying weapons.

Unlike many lethal weapons, stones are personal – and thus even more terrible.

The problem is not the weapons.  The problem is us -- all of us – that we keep on using them.

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Purpose of this blog is to compile a book for my grandchildren to read in 25 years.

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