American Friends Service Committee
Sara Burke, Managing Editor
Sam Diener, Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
From the Editor's Desk
This month, we consider the renewed threat of nuclear weapons. It is almost incomprehensible that we still have to fight this demon; it's been nearly sixty years since the devastation and horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should have ended the need for debate. But for those whose worldly power is great and whose dissociation from the humanity of others is complete, there is no prospect terrible enough to make untempting the prospect of bigger explosions, more destruction.
There are far more of us, however, who want no part of it. We do not want mini-nukes, we do not want mega-nukes. We do not want them underground, we do not want them in space, we do not want them used by terrorists, we do not want them used by governments. Like so many other nasty tricks of warfare, nuclear weapons invariably leave generations of ordinary people to leach out the poison through their bodies, their families, their land. Dr. Jawad Kadhim Ali-Ali, an oncologist from Basrah, Iraq, tells us what effects Iraqis are coping with from radiation and other legacies of the 1991 war and ten years of sanctions.
As Mohamed ElBaradei (International Atomic Energy Agency director) points out, and as he has had reason to point out before and since giving the talk included here, it is not enough to keep a tight hold on the technological secrets of weapons production. Eventually, others will catch up, and then the only thing that will stop proliferation is strong, multilateral control over the weapons themselves, and in the case of nuclear weapons, the material used to make them. Such control depends, in turn, on the degree of real security felt by increasingly interdependent global actors.
Some brave individuals are honored in these pages for their work to end the madness. Peggy Schirmer, founder of Concerned Educators Allied for a Safe Environment, and three nuns serving multi-year sentences for cutting a fence and hammering on the cover of a missile silo, are models for us of common-sense courage.
And many more continue the work as well. Adam Miles and his colleagues at Friends Committee on National Legislation chronicle for us the ongoing struggle in Washington between the commitment to restraint and the urge for new weapons development. Nancy Wrenn's group, the Coalition for a Strong UN, works to shore up the peacekeeping potential of that institution.
Several authors in this issue offer useful information and insights for organizers. Jack Cohen-Joppa cautions progressives not to rely on faulty facts and inflated numbers as we press for change; specifically, he criticizes several recent articles that make claims about the amount of depleted uranium recently used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Michael Kiesow Moore has been boning up on the new field of "protest management," which is big-business parlance for how to minimize the impact of public demonstrations. He offers a few ideas for how to stay comfortably unmanageable. And Thea Paneth shares a practical and effective model for raising community awareness about military recruitment in high schools.
Will there be a military draft? Joseph Gainza has carefully weighed the evidence, and offers his assessment. In the meantime, members of our country's "volunteer army" and their families speak out in increasing numbers against the war in Iraq.
Dissenters within the military go against the grain of intensive training to conform, to stay obedient and tractable. To resist in this context is a powerful act and draws a retaliatory response from those whose authority is threatened. A comparable and even more harsh environment for dissent is prison. In this issue of Peacework, Arnie King, a longtime Massachusetts prisoner, reviews a new book by Staughton Lynd about the 1993 prison uprising in Lucasville, Ohio. Organized in response to intolerable conditions, the rebellion quickly impelled prisoners to cooperate across racial and cultural lines in a largely successful effort to keep violence and death to a minimum. The men who worked hardest to negotiate with prison authorities and save lives are those who have been scapegoated since, and are now facing death sentences on what Lynd contends are wrongful charges.
To those on the inside, courage. May the rest of us remember to honor your daily struggle with our own.