This year President Obama has stepped up drone strikes, which took out, among others, Sakhar al-Taifi, a key al-Qaeda commander in Afghanistan. Such strikes disturb a coalition of Muslim groups, sixties reenactors and the religious left now launching stateside protests.
On October 30 some 50 anti-drone protesters, many from churches and religious organizations, showed up at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville, California, home to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing. Beale deploys unarmed drones to gather intelligence but that cuts no slack with protesters such as Sharon Delgado founding director of Earth Justice Ministries and a United Methodist minister.
“I just want to shut down the business as usual at the base,” the Rev. Delgado told reporters. “The longer the better.”
The Rev. Delgado is signer of “A Call from the Faith-Based Community to Stop Drone Killings,” which states: “As representatives of faith-based communities, we are deeply concerned about the proliferation of lethal unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones. The United States is leading the way in this new form of warfare where pilots in US bases kill people, by remote control, thousands of miles away.”
Signees of the anti-drone statement include Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun editor and chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives; Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, Professor of Rabbinic Literature, American Jewish University; Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Co-Founder Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence; Jim Winkler, General Secretary, United Methodist General Board of Church and Society; Reverend John M. Fife, former moderator, Presbyterian Church USA; Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Archdiocese of Detroit; Marie Dennis, Co-President, Pax Christi International; and Father Louis Vitale, a Franciscan priest present at the Beale protest.
The anti-drone signatories also include Samina Faheem, Executive Director, American Muslim Voice; Naqi Haider, Executive Director of Muslims for Peace; and Imam Abdul Malik Mujahid of the Muslim Peace Coalition USA. The list also includes three members of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations: Hussam Ayloush and Zahra Billoo, CAIR directors for Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Cyrus McGoldrick, CAIR Civil Rights Manager in New York.
“We urge our government to put an end to this secretive, remote-controlled killing and instead promote foreign policies that are consistent with the values of a democratic and humane society,” says the statement, which calls on the United Nations to regulate “lethal drones.”
Signer Sharon Delgado, meanwhile, is no stranger to activism at Air Force bases. In May of 2001 she participated in a protest at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County. The issue at the time was missile defense, what the left derided as “Star Wars.”
“The Missile Defense system is expensive and idolatrous,” Delgado wrote. “The government’s plans to spend $120 billion on this system robs the poor and working people of money that could be used to better human lives. It is a golden calf, an idol, something to worship that human beings have created. It is a way of placing our security in high-tech weapons systems rather than in the gracious love of God.”
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Delgado wrote “Peacemaking in the Wake of Terror,” which laments the loss of life but fails to condemn the attacks, which she did not connect to Al Qaeda or Islamism. “We must also open our eyes to our part in the pain of the world; we must look at our collective shadow,” she wrote. “Why is racism so close to the surface, erupting now into hate? How does the US contribute to the climate of hate in the larger world, and how can this be changed?”
The “faith-based” drone demonizers failed to shut down Beale AFB but did confirm a reality of the left. From their viewpoint only the United States and its allies need to change. And only the U.S. military is worthy of protest, whether facing Stalinist totalitarianism or Islamic terrorism. Consider also the collaboration issue.
During the Cold War, Soviet front groups backed the “peace” movement that demonized U.S. missile defense and the NATO alliance. In similar style, CAIR is a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, and uncritical of Islamic supremacism. And CAIR is part of the national anti-drone movement now trying to shut down U.S. Air Force bases.
The U.S. missile defense so stridently opposed by the left played a major role in ending the Cold War. The drones, for their part, are proving effective against terrorists. The next U.S. president and his advisers can find lessons here. Take notice of what the religious left-Muslim axis is protesting. Ignore the protests, however theatrical. Escalate the drone strikes as necessary.
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