The Conference on Drone Warfare was held at Chicago Theological Seminary on Thursday, June 7, 2018, co-sponsored by Chicago Theological Seminary InterReligious Institute (IRI) and the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare. It was attended by about 30 people of faith. It explored why many people of faith believe that the use of lethal drones should be limited or ended.
The presenters included:
Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson (U.S. Army retired), Former Chief of Staff to General Colin Powell ; Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, Past President, Chicago Theological Seminary; Bishop Richard E. Pates, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Des Moines and former chair of the International Justice and Peace Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; and Robert Naiman, Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy
Two films produced by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare for congregations were also screened.
During the conference, several concerns were expressed about lethal drones, including:
1. Because lethal drones are so easy to use, it is tempting to expand warfare into non-war zones thereby increasing the likelihood that the U.S. will resort to war.
2. Though it is possible to kill terrorist leaders with lethal drones, drones cannot kill an extremist movement. In fact, the opposite is likely – drone attacks increase the determination of the terrorist and increases the number of extremists. There is an expression that says “Kill a terrorist; create ten more.” Drones do not kill violent ideology; they generate hatred and mistrust of America.
3. Though the number of civilian casualties, including children, may be smaller than those resulting from the use of other weapons, the weapon is not as precise as the government claims. As of 2013, Senator Lindsay Graham (R – SC) indicated that there were 4,700 civilians killed as a result of drone warfare.
4. Drones are proliferating. More than 80 countries currently have lethal drones. It is increasingly likely that lethal drones will be used against the U.S. The world urgently needs strong international agreement banning or limiting the use of lethal drones.
5. The use of drones is not transparent. The U.S. government has kept much of this program secret. There is a disconnection between what Americans know and what the government is doing. It is difficult for Americans to publicly criticize drone warfare because they have very little information. When information has been made public because of litigation, policies have changed.
6. The use of drones directly harms attempts to promote human rights and the rule of law by violating international human rights law.
7. Terrorist groups, like ISIS, now use lethal drones.
8. Though drone operators cannot be killed or physically wounded, they are often damaged psychologically and some have been diagnosed with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Speakers: Marjorie Cohn, professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, editor and contributor to Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues; Lisa Ling, a former technical sergeant in the U.S. Air Force; Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, a Professor of International Relations at Catholic University, the author of several books about peace and faith; Rep. Barbara Lee, the congressperson from the 13th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Berkeley and Oakland.
Rep. Barbara Lee speaking at the Bay Area Conference
Click here for report, along with photos and videos!
Friday Afternoon: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gGItcCnVLAtvxoRE7F4rhnJ7pPDJcyZI/view
Friday Evening: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1V0HXmgsXx9Udib_Pyt1bqKUfv4o-NXVp/view
Speakers included: Medea Benjamin, National Director of Code Pink; Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Sect. of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff (2002-05); Cain Westmoreland, Former Drone Operator and Whistleblower.
Click here for video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkWwz9-tXQc
Videos can be found here: https://vimeo.com/channels/icdw/videos
Mentioned in the New York Times here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/13/magazine/veterans-ptsd-drone-warrior-wounds.html
Approximately 80 people attended the Multifaith Anti-Drone Conference at the Stony Point Center from April 8-9, 2016. Above are some pictures from the conference.
Click Here to read a list of action items from the Regional Grassroots Mobilization Session at the Stony Point conference.
Two consecutive panels discussed the moral and legal issues associated with U.S. conduct in the “War on Terror.” The panels featured Cora Currier, reporter for The Intercept, Jean Porter, John A. O'Brien, Professor of Theology, David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Mary Ellen O’Connell, Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law, Law School; Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution, Kroc Institute, Rashied Omar, Research Scholar of Islamic Studies and Peacebuilding, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and Craig Iffland, PhD student, Department of Theology.
A briefing was held in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC which was attended by many staff members for Senate & House offices as well as members of various DC based faith offices. This briefing was co-sponsored by the Interfaith Network on Drone Warfare, the Interfaith Working Group on Drone Warfare and the National Council of Churches of Christ (NCCC). See full report here.
"Our concerns center on the nature of lethal drones as a weapon, namely their use in targeted killings of specific individuals most of whom are Muslims, their impact upon targeted communities, their operation by remote control, and the consequences that drones increase hostilities. As people of faith, we advocate the rigorous pursuit of Just Peace, based on upholding dignity and human rights for all, with resources dedicated to this alternative at a level matching that spent on the current drone warfare program."
The Peace Action Education Fund of CFPA facilitated the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare at Princeton Theological Seminary from January 23-25, 2015.
IMMEDIATELY HALT LETHAL DRONE STRIKES
The Hebrew Bible states, and the New Testament affirms, "Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it." (Psalm 34:15, I Peter 3:11)
The Quran teaches, "Act justly for that is what piety demands." (49:9)
The Sikh tradition teaches that all of humanity is one family. "The sword may only be used for self-defense or to protect life when all peaceful means have failed." (Guru Gobind Singh, Tenth Guru of the Sikhs)
Unitarian Universalists covenant to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person and justice, equity, and compassion in human relations.
Pope Francis has said that, "War is madness" and warns that perhaps World War III has already begun, "one fought piecemeal, with crimes, massacres, destruction."
We, the more than 150 religious leaders who attended the Interfaith Conference on Drone Warfare at Princeton Theological Seminary, January 23-25, 2015, represent many of the world's religions, and the Just War, Pacifist and Just Peace traditions. We are compelled to address our growing concern about the use of lethal drones by the United States and other countries.
Our concerns center on the nature of lethal drones as a weapon, namely their use in targeted killings of specific individuals most of whom are Muslims, their impact upon targeted communities, their operation by remote control, and the consequences that drones increase hostilities. After two and half days of presentations and conversation and in full awareness of the differences in our faith traditions and our beliefs about war, we have come together to issue this statement of recommendations.
1. We call on the Administration to immediately halt targeted lethal drone strikes.
2. We call on the administration to be transparent and accountable on the past use of such strikes by public disclosures including but not limited to:
3. We call on Congress to repeal the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that has been used as a legal justification for the lethal drone program.
4. We call on the President to rescind the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency, Joint Special Operations Command, or any other government agency or contractor to use weaponized or lethal drones.
5. We call on the President and Congress to commission an independent study on the impact of lethal drones on drone operators, targeted persons and affected communities to determine the full extent of costs and consequences (including political, economic, social, psychological, racial, and religious) of the use of drones from 2001-present.
6. We call on the U.S. government to pursue a negotiated global ban on semi-autonomous and autonomous weapons systems.
7. We call on the U.S. government to press the international community to abide by and especially hold our allies accountable to the same recommendations as stated here, beginning with an immediate halt to targeted lethal drone strikes.
We call on our leaders to take us off the path of unending war by implementing these recommendations. As people of faith, we advocate the rigorous pursuit of Just Peace, based on upholding dignity and human rights for all, with resources dedicated to this alternative at a level matching that spent on the current drone warfare program.
Montage video of the Quilt made in honor of victims of Drone Warfare