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December 2, 2005 5:02 PM   Subscribe

Tom Fox, a Quaker peaceworker, abducted in Iraq with three others. He understood the risks, accepted them, and now must "stand firm against the kidnapper as... against the soldier". His friends and supporters are calling for the hostages to be released, making it clear that they "[do] not advocate the use of violent force" to save lives.
posted by dsword (29 comments total)

 
Disclaimer: One of Tom's close friends, who is working to bring attention to this situation, is also a close friend of mine.
posted by dsword at 5:02 PM on December 2, 2005


I hope he's okay.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:25 PM on December 2, 2005


This is a sad story and further proof that the terrorists/insurgents/fundamentalists don't know at all what the eff they are doing. Tom could be the most pure and innocent soul on the planet but those fuckers wouldn't know it. I hope he's ok too!
posted by snsranch at 5:31 PM on December 2, 2005


Talk about putting your principles to the test. What a very courageous group. I may not completely agree with the Christian Peacemakers - but, damn, do I respect them. I hope they get back safe and sound because we sure need people like that back here.
posted by tkchrist at 5:40 PM on December 2, 2005


if I am not one with God then I am one with Satan

Beliefs like that are exactly the cause of this whole mess.

I hope this guy survives his Christian adventure holiday to Iraq, but I can't help but feel more sympathy for the millions of Iraqi civilians who, unlike him, had no choice about having their lives destroyed by Bush's evil war.
posted by cleardawn at 6:03 PM on December 2, 2005


I hope this guy survives his Christian adventure holiday to Iraq ...

Uh, you are aware that the Quakers and Mennonites who're participating in this "Christian adventure holiday" are as anti-war as you are, right? They were over there because they felt the same sympathy that you mention - strongly enough that, unlike you, they went to do whatever they could about it.
posted by me & my monkey at 6:34 PM on December 2, 2005


No, I don't think they are as anti-war as I am, or at least, not in the same way. They oppose violence because of supernatural beliefs - because Jesus said violence is bad. I oppose violence because I can see that it causes harm. The two mindsets are different, and lead to different outcomes.

What the Christians are doing out there is essentially similar to what some of the more well-intentioned US troops are doing. They aim to make the occupation more humane, more civilised, more Christian. I'm not saying they're bad people, or that the work they're doing has no value. But it is fundamentally flawed.

The only way to fight an imperial occupation is to increase the costs (social, political, and economic) to the occupiers, so that they leave faster.

What this Christian group seems to be doing, from what I've read, is to seek to mitigate the occupation's local effects by acting as a humanitarian buffer, aiding negotiations between the occupation forces and the population. They act as an "acceptable face of Empire", in other words.

Although doubtless well-intentioned, this will still tend to make life easier for the occupiers, reducing local opposition, reducing the costs to the military, and therefore prolonging the occupation.

It also generates stories like this one, which is getting wall-to-wall media coverage of course, about how the evil Iraqis are killing pure, innocent, sweet, virgin Christians... and this story, in itself, thus becomes further raw material for the racist imperial war machine. Tom should have (and perhaps did) think about that risk, too, before setting out on what he evidently sees as a religious pilgrimage - literally, a Christian adventure holiday.

That said, I wish him luck, and I hope his captors have the good sense to let him go! Clearly, he is not their enemy, and from their point of view, to kill this unarmed, peaceful man would be a massive tactical blunder, playing into the hands of the pro-Bush media, as well as an act of senseless and anti-Islamic immorality.
posted by cleardawn at 7:05 PM on December 2, 2005


cleardawn: Your comments are assinine, and seem to reflect a certain ignorance about Quakerism. I don't think you understood the first thing about Tom's writing.

I fail to see how you parallel Tom Fox's belief that he must rid himself of hatred to the puritanical beliefs of this administration. Perhaps you should read up on Quakers before categorizing their beliefs... Quakers, for the most part, are non-proselytizing, stating their beilefs without making any demands that others convert to them. The typical Quaker service--at least in the eastern United States (Hicksite Quakers), where Tom is from--involves sitting silently and listening to others, constantly searching for what is described as "God's" truth. There are other sects, primarily in the southwest US, that are much more traditional, and Tom was involved with these groups as well (he helped to organize a program called YouthQuake, which hopes to bring together Quaker youths of different beliefs), so his vocabulary is naturally chosen so that members of these groups may more easily relate. Keep in mind that the Quaker definition of God is very different from the typical Christian one; Quakers believe that God is found in every person, regardless of what they do or believe. Becoming "one" with God refers to acknowledging this, and becoming "one" with Satan (the word 'Satan' is virtually unused among Hicksites outside of historical discussions), then, is failing to do so and allowing hatred to dictate how one lives his or her life. It is this belief that led to the Quaker testimony of peace--one of the very few ideas that may be called "a tenet" of Quakerism, and a religious belief that has resulted in countless Quakers being imprisoned across the world for refusing military service.

How exactly would we have ended up in a war with Iraq if everybody in the United States believed that prison or death was preferable to harming another human being?

If you are to interpret somebody's religiously framed writings, at least endeavor to actually understand the beliefs underlying those writings before dismissing them. I would argue that it is precisely the behavior that you engage in--the eagerness to categorize a religious group as batty and dangerous--that is the "cause of this whole mess."

In short, please take a brief moment to think before you equate the beliefs of a group that: a) contributed in a large way to the abolitionist movement in the United States, b) has actively protested every war this country has been involved in, and c) doesn't hand out bibles in front of your child's school (the list goes on) with the beliefs of a power hungry administration. Note that similar statements can be made about virtually any religion in the world.

Also, keep in mind that this was a blog written primarily for friends who probably share similar beliefs, and thus understand the context of his remarks.

Furthermore, your characterization of his trip as a "Christian adventure holiday" is, to say the least, confusing. The man was walking around in areas that would switch randomly and unexpectedly between being war zones and neighborhoods, trying to provide activities for youths and encouraging them to discuss the consequences of violence, in the hope that they may decide on their own to steer their lives in peaceful directions. He refused to carry weapons, found himself targeted perhaps as much as the people of Iraq, and insisted only that he not be sheltered from the suffering doled out by his own government to others.

Maybe, if you're lucky enough to get some vacation time this winter, you'll find time to think about how your holiday is similar to Tom's.

On preview: what me & my monkey said.
posted by dsword at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2005


the timing of the kidnappings is frankly really quite remarkable. just like in May 2004, the political administrators of the war against terror are facing serious troubles flaring up on the home front. yet again, it's another international prison scandal. this time a major embarrasment about secret cia prisons. in case you're in america and therefore 'missed' this minor story in the MSN, the European Union is currently warning the US administration over the purported jails.

in this half of the world, a small number of people were gleefully grinning for some reason on May 11 2004. i'll heartily suspect similar gleeful grins will manifest once more in washington as this impending emotional tragedy rapidly unfolds to overshadow the now exploding secret cia jail scandal. it seems the next round of fake deja vu has already been lined up.
posted by rodney stewart at 7:26 PM on December 2, 2005


No, I don't think they are as anti-war as I am, or at least, not in the same way. They oppose violence because of supernatural beliefs - because Jesus said violence is bad. I oppose violence because I can see that it causes harm. The two mindsets are different, and lead to different outcomes.

Wake me up when you go to iraq to try to make things better mr. intelectual.
posted by delmoi at 7:31 PM on December 2, 2005


Religion loses. Yours, mine and the other guy's. Jesus isn't good enough, nor is Buddha or God or Mohammed.

Sometime in the near future (hopefully) a leader will make it clear that killing other people in the name of religion sucks, whether it be Christian, Muslim or whatever. That's what I'm praying for, and praying to the moon, cus at least it's really there every day.
posted by snsranch at 7:32 PM on December 2, 2005


Thank you dsword for this post. I have known Tom for several years now and it is very surreal and upsetting seeing his name at the top of my RSS feeds over the past few days. He is an extraordinary person who has had a profound effect on every community i have worked with him in, as he is probably the kindest, wisest and most selfless human being you could ever hope to meet. And no, he is not in Iraq because "Jesus said violence is bad" but because of a very firm belief in promoting peace and being of service despite the consequences. As dsword describes, there is little to no dogma in Hicksite or "unprogrammed" Quakerism as people are urged to explore their spirituality and beliefs through personal meditation and reflection, which is what I imagine led Tom to where he is in the first place. That said, there are many of us greatly worried about Tom right now and it is very heartening to see outpourings of support such as this. Come home soon Tom.
posted by jhick at 8:21 PM on December 2, 2005


dsword, thank you for your eloquent post. I have a few friends who are unprogrammed Quakers and they are some of the loveliest folks I know. cleardawn, dsword is absolutely correct. You would look a lot less silly if you took the time to learn what it is most Quakers actually believe. You'd be hard-pressed to find a religious tradition more dedicated to working for peace.

I'll keep Tom, Harmeet, Norman and James in my prayers, along with everyone else suffering over there.
posted by LeeJay at 8:40 PM on December 2, 2005


cleardawn: Ahh, now something to actually reply to. Heh.

They oppose violence because of supernatural beliefs - because Jesus said violence is bad. I oppose violence because I can see that it causes harm.

The harm is invisible to many Americans. The Quaker community refers to Tom as a witness for peace--by sharing his experiences with people back here, he makes the damage apparent to those that are otherwise sheltered from it.

Also, a technical note, Friends General Conference (Hicksite) Quakers do not believe in Jesus as a deity, but as somebody who had some good things to say. They don't use the bible. When relating to the more traditional (and stubborn) Quaker meetings, however, they are happy to talk about Jesus as a teacher in order to promote dialogue.

Quaker pacifism has pragmatic origins, as well as spiritual origins. When protestants were being locked up in England for going against the Catholic church, Quakers were right there with them. The Testimony of Peace was a way of saying, "Leave us alone, we're not a threat," and it worked pretty damn well.

To further address your point, though, an "empirical" opposition to violence lends itself to being selfishly abandoned. We went to Iraq because, supposedly, there were WMDs, blah blah blah, we were all going to die. "Harm," then, becomes a relative concept, and no longer a reason to oppose war.

Although doubtless well-intentioned, this will still tend to make life easier for the occupiers, reducing local opposition, reducing the costs to the military, and therefore prolonging the occupation.

A point I've heard before, in regards to homeless shelters. I've worked at one for some years now, and the point has been made that shelters reduce the visibility of homelessness, making it easier for people to just ignore the problem.

However, many of these shelters (though not enough, certainly) are not JUST providing shelter, but are very active advocates for the homeless. They are raising awareness, pressuring officials to do more for affordable housing, etc... It's not an either-or type of situation. I can go around and say that I'm in solidarity with the homeless all I want... But this is still Minnesota, it's winter, and people need a warm bed and dinner. My words of support are little comfort to those who are actually suffering, but my actions combined with my words can be very useful.

Back to the Iraq situation, Quakers are actively working against the war, organizing demonstrations here, etc., but are simultaneously trying to provide relief, and have been doing so for years. There are groups that have been back and forth since Bush I, doing such things as smuggling in pencils so that children could have some sort of education (graphite was forbidden by sanctions because it might be used to make weapons). When you can't do everything, such as feeding everybody and expelling the occupying army, it can still help to do something, and increases the likelihood of peace in both the long and short-terms.
posted by dsword at 8:51 PM on December 2, 2005


I am an atheist, but I grew up attending a Quaker school. What dsword said is correct. For many of my Quaker friends, "God" was simply a metaphor for their profound inner moral compass.

Seriously, they're the good guys.
posted by nev at 8:56 PM on December 2, 2005


They aim to make the occupation more humane, more civilised, more Christian.

No.

> According to a statement by the National Council of Churches, Tom, Norman, James and Harmeet are in Iraq for the sole purpose of bearing witness to the love of God as it is expressed through the sacrificial presence of the Prince of Peace. Because of their lifelong commitment to Jesus and the holy calling of peacemaking, these our brothers live to bear witness to the fact that violence is a sin against God. Indeed, they have consistently carried that message to the Coalition forces, first by condemning the political decisions to make war and later by expressing horror at the degrading violence the war begets. Long before the media reports, they were the first to protest the torture of prisoners in Abu Ghraib Prison. Their message of peace was also expressed to those whose attacks on Coalition forces escalated the violence and whose suicide bombs took the lives of thousands of innocent human beings.

Although doubtless well-intentioned, this will still tend to make life easier for the occupiers, reducing local opposition, reducing the costs to the military, and therefore prolonging the occupation.

This seems at odds with your other statement,

I oppose violence because I can see that it causes harm.

If you oppose violence, why do you oppose non-violence? Or do you advocate situational ethics?

Clearly, he is not their enemy, and from their point of view, to kill this unarmed, peaceful man would be a massive tactical blunder, playing into the hands of the pro-Bush media, as well as an act of senseless and anti-Islamic immorality.

No, it would be a strategic success, because they win the psychological war whether escalation or disengagement is the outcome. Al Qaeda, certainly, is just as invested in the concept of eternal war as the administration.
posted by dhartung at 9:02 PM on December 2, 2005


Wake me up when you go to iraq to try to make things better mr. intelectual.

My point was that "going to Iraq to try to make things better" is likely to make things worse. But feel free to wake up, any time.
posted by cleardawn at 9:41 PM on December 2, 2005


Dhartung, I don't oppose non-violence. Nor do I propose it. One should always use one's best judgement to minimize harm - that's the meaning of the term "ahimsa".

I do oppose American/British missionaries and peace activists going to Iraq right now. I think it's almost certain to be counterproductive, as this sad story unfortunately demonstrates. The people who need to hear the message of Christian peace are in Washington and London, not in Baghdad. There's no shortage of Iraqi Muslim peace activists.

You're entirely wrong to claim that killing these hostages would be a "strategic success" for the kidnappers. Al-Qaeda's greatest strength is their claim (among Wahabi muslims) to moral, religious superiority. By releasing these blameless people, they would strengthen that claim. If they kill them, they lose credibility, appearing as indiscriminate killers of holy men. Hardly the image they're after.

Speaking of credibility, I'm writing this post for the sole purpose of bearing witness to the love of God as it is expressed through the sacrificial presence of the Prince of Peace. Just so you know.
posted by cleardawn at 10:03 PM on December 2, 2005



posted by nenequesadilla at 10:43 PM on December 2, 2005


"We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. government due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people," the statement said.

I think once you accept the "teammates" metaphor, like you plays for some great spiritual football team, you are playing into a competitive sports paradigm that is one of the underlying cultural support pillars for the military industrial complex

Plus, why blame the fact that you were kidnapped by the "Swords of Righteousness Brigade" only on the actions of the U.S. and U.K. government? What about the actions of the Swords of Righteousness Brigade? Why are they so easily absolved? And what about your own "team's" actions? Are the Christian Peacemaker Teams totally without blame in this unfortunate tragedy? You can strive your whole life to work for peace, and ironically end up with a legacy that includes war. Look at poor Jesus, and think of all the wars in his name.

Well, maybe they were just trying to get their teammates released.

I hope so. Iraq does not need more martyrs.

I know these are good people, but I agree with cleardawn, and his suggestions/warnings of unintended consequences.

I call for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq of the Christian Peacemaker Teams.
posted by extrabox at 10:47 PM on December 2, 2005


I still wonder how this all would have unfolded if, instead of 140,000 troops, the US of A had sent a coalition of Christian footwashers to Iraq. I mean, Hey XtianFundies, WWJD?

Witness this willya?

God bless all humble saints who put their truly selfless beliefs into action instead of handpicking vengeance verses from teh Old Testament to condemn their enemies. Onward xtian soldiers indeed.
posted by HyperBlue at 10:51 PM on December 2, 2005


Uh....is there actually a debate here as to what anti-war ethos has the greater claim to validity?
So, why are we not then devolving into which secular philosophies have a better chance of having an impact on the situation.
"Hey you can't argue for peace! You're an analytic philosopher!" "Well, we certainly don't want Kantians down there Mr. Everyman!."

I'm not arguing the details cleardawn. For all I know you work for the state department or have access to a variety of information I'm not privvy to (no snark). But at some level we have to compartmentalize the argument.
If someone isn't going to raise their hand against me, I'm simply not going to harm them. I don't care whether they're doing it for Jesus or Bertrand Russell.
You're not going to convince me that a pragmatic pacifist is somehow superior to a deontological pacifist in these limited circumstances. As all appeals to force are inherently immoral so all opposition to such appeals are inherently moral.
Beyond that your talking effectiveness. I'll concede a few well meaning folks getting killed might not help. And they're probably not schooled in geopolitical theory. But not everyone is. And just getting that message out there that they don't "advocate the use of violent force" to save lives in their voice might do more for the peace movement here.

Lotsa fundies in America. It might just shame them into listening the good things J.C. & the boys had to say where mountains of erudition, no matter how correct, might fail. It certainly answers the cyclops' who state we should kill 'em or convert 'em (I'm thinking of Coulter for one).
You don't need to believe in Christ to recognize the truth of the term "Blessed are the peacemakers"
/and I'm not a member of the JC fan club

"True pacifism is not unrealistic submission to an evil power. ...It is rather a courageous confrontation with evil by the power of love, in the faith that it is better to be the recipient of violence than the inflicter of it, since the latter only multiplies the existence of violence and bitterness in the universe, while the former may develop a sense of shame in the opponent, and thereby bring about a transformation and change of heart."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Gandhi would have worked as well. Or Margret Mead.

The point being - certainly one requires methods and tools (social, political, and economic) to stop the machine. But often it must be treated first like a beast. And so one must get it's attention. This might. Getting the message to Washington is not a matter of distance.

Of course, not being an acting pacifist myself I can only speculate. Taking peace workers hostage makes me want to kill someone.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:07 PM on December 2, 2005


cleardawn, I can completely understand your views on whether peace activism is likely to be effective. I share your sense of futility about how much difference it is likely to make, although I have the utmost admiration for anyone brave enough to put their beliefs on the line. I am sure I haven't got 1% of the moral conviction and bravery that people like Tom Fox demonstrate.

Where I diverge a bit is in my perception of the motives behind anti-war views. Does it matter what the source of one's conclusion is in a case like this? There is a broad spectrum of "rational"/non-religious anti-Iraq war views, and not all of them are based on a direct appeal to morality and that violence is wrong - what about all the arguments that this is the right war for the wrong reason? If you're judging on grounds of whether the argument is morally superior, it seems to me that both your views and Tom's views come out equally well - but of course you could equally argue that about theological just war theory. And I think you might be overestimating how dogmatic Quaker beliefs are.

Having said that, it has been great to see a religious thread that has been well debated. I really hope Tom is released - I see the Muslim Association of Britain has now sent an Iraqi envoy to talk to the group holding him hostage.
posted by greycap at 2:23 AM on December 3, 2005


When protestants were being locked up in England for going against the Catholic church, Quakers were right there with them.

Err... no they weren't! The Society of Friends developed in the 1650s in England under the ultra-protestant Cromwellian regime, not in the 16th century as a reaction against Catholicism. Cromwell persecuted some Quaker leaders such as James Naylor for blasphemy, but he was most certainly no Catholic. After the fall of Cromwell and the re-establishment of the (Protestant) Church of England, one of the few things most Catholics and Protestants in England and Scotland could agree upon was that persecuting Quakers was a jolly good thing. It took considerable personal courage to be a Quaker in the face of this - and as this case shows, members of the Society of Friends are still prepared to risk their lives in their witness.
posted by Flitcraft at 7:38 AM on December 3, 2005


Correction - sorry that should be 'after the fall of the Cromwellian regime' above, not the 'after the fall of Cromwell' - he didn't fall from power, but died in his bed still Lord Protector.
posted by Flitcraft at 7:42 AM on December 3, 2005


There is a strong possibility that these individuals were kidnapped not by "insurgents" or even al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists, but by counterinsurgency forces acting as proxies for SOCOM operations.

That is, their activities in some way, and to the imaginations of those individuals conduction the "shadow war" which is also going on in Iraq, crossed over the line from opposition to the war to actively assisting the insurgency in some way.

To explain, the techniques of counterinsurgency operations became very developed throughout the 20th Century, culminating in the highly effective Phoenix Program in Vietnam, whose purpose was to discover and eliminate individuals and cells performing espionage and sabotage operations in the South, under the guise of legitimate occupations. People who were politically connected, or who had established themselves as important citizens, but used those positions to assist the enemy.

These people were "above the law" as part of South Vietnam's business and civilian authority. Therefore, when they were discovered to be assisting the enemy, they would be kidnapped, interrogated and killed; or if they were of no intelligence value, then outright assassinated.

The Phoenix Program, under Special Operations Command (SOCOM), systematically rooted out entire networks of these individuals, many of whom were indirectly involved in numerous terrorist activities, espionage and sabotage. The Program was closely affiliated with the CIA, and used Special Forces and trusted ARVN assets for many of its "night of the long knives" operations. Other targets includes fifth columnists involved in propaganda operations, foreign intelligence agents and advisers, and individuals who interfered in combat operations.

I give this background because in the WoT, SOCOM has not only been reactivated, but at many times its Vietnam-era strength. It conducts operations worldwide, but is also very active in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So what could be *their* (please, I emphasize *their*) motivation for kidnapping these people, or for having them kidnapped, and probably to be killed, by Iraqi proxies?

***********

"We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. government due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people," the group said.

"The team's work has focused on documenting and focusing public attention on detainee abuses, connecting citizens of Iraq to local and international human rights organizations, and accompanying Iraqi civilians as they interact with multinational military personnel and Iraq's government officials," the group said.

After a year and a half of coordinated advocacy for Iraqis detained by U.S. and other occupying forces, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is ending its Adopt-a-Detainee Letter-Writing Campaign. CPT's Iraq project will, however, continue to monitor the situation of Iraqis captured by the Multinational Force in Iraq (MNF) and by the new Iraqi Forces...

**************

As far as an argument for it being a SOCOM or SOCOM-proxy that did the kidnap, here is a description that sounds downright odd about the event:

"Four Christian peace activists held hostage in Iraq
were kidnapped at the same place where an Italian
journalist*
was abducted, raising the possibility one
group carried out both attacks, police said Thursday.

The style of the abduction also was similar: The
activists were seized Saturday in the vicinity of a
mosque near Baghdad University. A car blocked their
car, gunmen got out, threw the driver and translator
out and drove away with the four captives, security
officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity
because they are not authorized to talk to the media.

Giuliana Sgrena, a reporter for the Italian newspaper
Il Manifesto, was seized Feb. 4 and held for a month
by a group calling itself Mujahedeen Without Borders.
That previously unknown group has not been heard from since, but may now be using a different name...

************

If you remember, this Italian journalist was decidedly anti-American in her reporting.

The kidnappers believed to be the same men, have not been heard from since her kidnapping. They are very expert in their kidnapping technique, however, and have done it the same way twice.

Calling themselves "Mujahadeen Without Borders" seems to be a sarcastic slap at the France-based NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), that has given and received some criticism from the MNF.

The bottom line is that this sounds like a SOCOM operation. And because SOCOM would probably not want to do this directly, they have hired and trained Iraqi secret police to do the job for them. This would be very similar to the Vietnam M.O.
posted by kablam at 8:39 AM on December 3, 2005


Yes, I believe I mixed up the timeline of Charles II's wild ride. He didn't convert back to Catholicism until after Quakers had presented him with the Testimony of Peace, and was dying. Then, there was the lovable James II of England. Exciting times in the history of religious persecution. Man do I love Wikipedia.

Thanks for the correction!
posted by dsword at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2005


i once spent a weekend with CPT folks on an action up in Wisconsin in protest of the now-closed ELF facility... they are some of the most amazing, profoundly spiritual, and practical people i've ever had the pleasure of spending time with. (and i'm an atheist, for the most part.) i've also transcribed a young woman's journal from her Iraq trip during the sanctions period as she traveled with CPT, and edited another's articles describing her similar journeys. what they do is exactly as discussed above: witness for peace. (some of the people who join them, BTW, are not Christians, but quiet Buddhists.) that means mostly meeting people, talking to them about what they are dealing with, and trying to alleviate suffering in whatever small way possible (materially and immaterially). that's far more than i'm doing sitting on the street with a sign.

when i get really fed up with Christianity, i remind myself of the many CPTers and Catholic Workers i have met, and i am reassured that there are some out there who truly adhere to Jesus-based philosophy.

as someone who's not even close to perfect in her pacifism, i have managed to learn much from these people, from their commitment to peace, and especially from how well-trained and prepared they are in dealing with extraordinary situations. as a friend of mine said when i offered my sympathies for this situation over the phone, if there is a chance of surviving this kidnapping, these folks have more chance than most.

despite knowing several CPTers, i was still taken aback to hear that same friend explain his desire to go, and another mutual friend's effort to move up her trip to Iraq as a result of this incident. to want to go more, because of this? i often have mixed feelings about the effectiveness of the action, of the personal risk taken, and of how it might make certain situations worse--and in ages past i admit i've gone through periods of feeling resentful of their "purity of act" (even going so far as to call them irritatingly sanctimonious in my own head)... but i will say this: i'm always filled with pride that i know them, that i've shared arrests with them, and that i've learned from them.

if there's one thing they can never be accused of, it's lack of forethought. the training one goes through to become a member of CPT is extensive and comprehensive. they are nothing even close to fundamentalist or "sports team." they are the closest collective group we have alive that connects to Ghandhi's ideals. and i'll be damned if i have a hard time condemning that, even if i'm not brave enough to go participate myself.

i hold hope that the many friendly connections CPT has made in communities in Iraq will save these men from death.
posted by RedEmma at 12:12 PM on December 3, 2005


“There is a strong possibility that these individuals were kidnapped not by "insurgents" or even al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists, but by counterinsurgency forces acting as proxies for SOCOM operations.”
posted by kablam
Interesting line of reasoning kablam.
The motive is there. Method. I’m not seeing anything I can use to kick over the argument. It’s not proven of course, but I don’t see how it’s not possible.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:27 AM on December 5, 2005


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