News Release

Obama at UN, in Time of Perpetual War, a No War Conference

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JOE LAURIA, joelauria[at]gmail.com, @unjoe
Lauria is a veteran foreign affairs journalist who has covered the UN for 26 years for the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, the London Daily Telegraph and other news outlets. His pieces include “Why We’re Never Told Why We’re Attacked,” and “Obama’s Self-Deceit,” about President Obama’s speech last year to the United Nations.

KATHY KELLY, kathy[at]vcnv.org, @voiceinwild
Kelly is co-coordinator of the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

She will be among the many speakers at the conference No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism at American University, which will be live streamed and begins on Friday.

She was recently on a delegation to Russia. She stressed the importance of focusing “on the UN and ask how the UN will fulfill its mission to find non-lethal solutions to disputes between countries.”

She notes that recently the “Chicago Tribune reported that China and Russia are now doing joint military exercises in the South China Sea, on the borders of the DIU or Spratly Islands.

“I think the U.S. ‘Anakonda’ exercises have exacerbated Russian and Chinese determination to prove that they can compete, militarily, to secure or expand their borders.” She highlights the extensive network of U.S. military bases, noting this map, displaying the U.S.’s “chokehold” on Russia and China from Bruce Gagnon.

She recently wrote: “As of April 15, 2016, the U.S. DOD [the Pentagon] was proposing that the U.S. Fiscal Year 2017 budget significantly increase funding for the ‘European Reassurance Initiative’ (ERI) from $789.3 million the previous year to $3.4 billion. The document reads: ‘the expanded focus is a reflection of the United States’ strong and balanced approach to Russia in the wake of its aggression in Eastern Europe.’ The requested funds will enable the U.S. ‘defense’ establishment to expand purchases of ammunition, fuel, equipment, and combat vehicles. It will also enable the DOD to allocate money to airfields, training centers, and ranges, as well as finance at least ’28 joint and multi-national exercises which annually train more than 18,000 U.S. personnel alongside 45,000 NATO Allies.’ This is good news for major ‘defense’ contractors.

“In the past year, the National Guard of my home state of Illinois has participated in the DOD reserve component. Twenty-two U.S. states matched up with 21 European countries to practice maneuvers designed to build up the ERI. The IL National Guard and the Polish Air Force have acquired ‘Joint Terminal Attack Controller’ systems that enable them to practice coordinating airstrikes with Poland in support of ground forces combating enemies in the region.  Members of the IL National Guard were part of NATO’s July 2016 ‘Anakonda’ exercises on the Russian border. As the state of Illinois spent an entire year without a budget for social services or higher education, millions of dollars were directed toward joint military maneuvers with Poland that ratcheted up tensions between the U.S. and Russia.

“Many families in Illinois can relate to the impact of rising food prices in Russia while family income stays the same or decreases. People in both the U.S. and Russia would benefit from diversion of funds away from billion dollar weapons systems toward the creation of jobs and infrastructure that improve the lives of ordinary people.

“But people are bombarded with war propaganda. Consider a recent piece of propaganda-lite, just under five minutes, which aired on ABC News, showing Martha Raddatz in the back seat of an F-15 U.S. fighter jet, flying over Estonia. ‘That was awesome,’ Raddatz coos, as she witnesses war-games from the F-15’s open cockpit. She calls the American show of force a critical deterrent to Russian forces. The piece neglects to mention ordinary Russians on whose borders, in June 2016, ten days of U.S. / NATO military exercises involving 31,000 troops took place.”

Kelly has made 20 trips to Afghanistan as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. She has protested drone warfare by joining nonviolent civil resistance actions at U.S. military bases in Nevada, New York, Wisconsin, and Missouri. In 2015, for carrying a loaf of bread and a letter across the line at Missouri’s Whiteman AFB, Kelly served three months in federal prison. Her books include Other Lands Have Dreams: From Baghdad to Pekin Prison.