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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/16/10

Norfolk Without the Navy

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"Not only can the B-52, like the one we were atop at the air show, drop 1,000 lb. bombs as described in the story I told earlier of the bombing of the Afghan village, but it can also drop cluster bombs. A June 2005 internal memorandum from the U.S. Army's 42d Infantry Division which describes how a 15-year old Iraqi boy, working as a shepherd, 'was leading the sheep through north Tikrit, near an ammo storage site, when he picked up an unexploded cluster bomblet. It detonated and he was killed.' Asked to pay $3,000 in compensation for the boy's life, the Army granted that his death was 'a horrible loss for the claimant,' his mother, but concluded that there was 'insufficient evidence to indicate that US. Forces caused the death.'

"According to a member of the Federation of American Scientists, 'Cluster bombs are 1,000 pound deadly munitions that break into 202 bomblets, each of which fractures into 300 fragments of steel. The blast from a single bomblet covers a football field; it can make an apple orchard into applesauce, or people into hamburger...Unexploded munitions are also a concern, the bomblets are yellow with a little white umbrella, and they're very attractive to children.' Some 15% of cluster bomblets fail to explode and become de facto land mines. Like Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia before them, Iraq and Afghanistan are littered with unexploded bomblets that will continue to kill and maim people there for decades to come, especially children.

"A single B-52 can also carry 20 nuclear armed cruise missiles with the capability of 320 Hiroshima bombs. That one plane can pack more explosive power than has been used in the history of the world. The Air Force has 66 of these bombers. So it is appropriate that our time on the B-52 led to this courtroom. It is precisely US law and the courts which ignores the desires of most of humanity by protecting such omnicidal weapons and the indiscriminate killing they engage in around the globe. In the end, US courts trample God's law of love for all people, by rubber-stamping every war, every new weapons system, and every military intervention, invasion, incursion, occupation, police action, and special forces operation coming out of the Pentagon--and they are many and constant. The courts protect our world's largest stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction despite international treaties and laws the US is a party to that declare them illegal and require their disarmament. US courts ensure that if our weapons of mass destruction are one day used to destroy the planet and all life on it, it will be perfectly legal.

"Lastly, blood is on all of our hands. Every US citizen is enmeshed in the structures of empire and militarism. Our troops are put in atrocity producing situations, and we are all responsible through our payment of taxes, our consumption of oil, our votes, and our silence. The gospel call is to turn from indiscriminate killing to indiscriminate love, even for the enemy. We must repent and embrace the way of nonviolence, the way of Jesus, Gandhi, King and Dorothy Day. Our hope is to disarm and redistribute the planet's wealth. We must stop heaping corpses upon the altar of national security and instead follow God who resides in its victims."

In December 2009, Baggarly joined others in passing out leaflets about our wars at the Pentagon. A trial in March found six people guilty. Apparently the Pentagon feels threatened by leaflets. On Tuesday, Baggarly goes to court to face the charge of having violated his probation. If he's asked what he is doing there, I imagine that -- like Thoreau -- he will respond by asking what the rest of us are doing not there.

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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