Munich American Peace Committee (MAPC)
Radio Lora, 11. Dezember 2006
(die 50. Sendung)
Weihnachtsprogramm des Munich American Peace Committee
mit englischen und deutschen Beiträgen der Mitglieder
(dies sind zunächst nur einige der Beiträge. Es folgen evtl. auch Audiobeiträge)
SANTA CLAUS comes to Washington DC
Conversation between Santa and a member of MAPC
Jingle bells, jingle Jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh
Member of MAPC:
Hey, here comes Santa , over there, look up at the sky. I see him heading towards Washington DC. Yeah, it looks like he'll be landing on the roof of the White House. He is! And he's climbing down the chimney there. I guess he'll be checking whether the Bushes have been bad or good. Wonder if he'll put something in George's and Laura's stockings?
Oh look! He's already coming out the front door. That was a short visit. Let's go down and meet Santa Claus on the White House Lawn. Come on!
O, O, Santa doesn't look at all pleased.
Ho, ho, hi there. I didn't have a lot to do at the Bushes in the White House. They had their stockings hung out all right, but after checking my list to see who's been naughty or nice, I couldn't leave them anything with a good conscience. There's been too much war and chaos, too much dividing and not enough uniting, and too much isolating you guys from the rest of the world. I don't like all this fibbing about weapons of mass destruction, about terror and restrictions in name of patriotism. George W. won't even get a fig from me for his Guantanamo antics. A downright outrage!
Oh poor Santa. I guess you're really discouraged. I guess we haven't been as good in Washington this year as we should have been. But there are some good people here in DC doing some good things. There're stars on the horizon. For instance there's Nancy Pelosi. Why don't you run over to the Senate and see what she's been doing. I'll bet you can get rid of a lot of those goodies in your candy bag when you see her.
OK. Good idea. But I want you to tell me about this gal first before I have to fly by sled over there.
O.K. Santa. If you want me to. Nancy Pelosi is a democrat from California and she was just voted the first female speaker of the House for the 110th Congress beginning in 2007. By winning she shattered what she describes as "not a glass ceiling but a marble ceiling" in the halls of Congress.
I'm impressed. Go on
The democratic victory in taking control of the House of Representatives, means that Pelosi will stand second in the line to the presidency - in other words, if the president and vice president die while in office, she will become president. And she now ranks as the nation's top elected Democrat.
This is indeed good news. It seems that Nancy Pelosi's rise reflects the extent to which women have gained political ground over the past 3 decades. There is that Clinton woman too, Democrat Senator from New York and former white house first lady. She's in there fighting too.
Yes, but Pelosi rose to national prominence by mastering the traditional political rules of the game: fund-raising, policy-making and deal cutting. And she has relentlessly hammered GOP (grand old party) leaders as a culture of corruption. She says there are 3 words that will define the new Senate majority: civility, honesty, and fiscal responsibility.
That's quite a bill to fill. Especially after the past years. But I'm certainly impressed. How did she manage to get where she is What is Nancy Pelosi 's background?
Pelosi is 66 yrs old and is the mother of 5 children and has 5 grandchildren. She is a Roman Catholic and comes from an Italian family, in Little Italy, a section of Baltimore Maryland. She has a reputation of furthering liberal causes, including embryonic stem cell research, pro-choice views on abortion, minimum wage, gay rights and public health policies. She is known to be a very very hard worker.
Good to hear. I'll certainly drop in on Nancy Pelosi later and she will get her stocking filled to the very top.
But now I'm on my way over to the Senate, where I want to look in on John McCain.
Why John McCain of all people?
Because up at the North Pole where as you know I come from, we've been hearing the rumour that McCain will most likely be the republican nominee for president in the 2008 elections. He's from Arizona, and I'd rather catch up with him here in Washington than in Arizona because it's so hot there and my sleigh tends to get stuck in the sand when I go there.
Do you know anything about McCain?
Well, he's known as a conservative Republican. He is a Vietnam veteran and was a POW for 5 1/2 years in Vietnam. He campaigned for George W. in the elections in 2000 but said, only through "gritted teeth". He has since broken ranks with the Bush Administration on major issues: Bush's tax cuts, banning gay marriages, banning stem cell research. He criticises Bush for his handling of post war Iraq. But at the same time he calls himself a hawk, a nation builder and a pro life advocate. John McCain has always supported Bush's foreign policy , even after no weapons of mass destruction were found.
I heard that he was in Munich in February. I want to check what his position was this year when he led the US delegation to the Munich Conference on Security Policy.
Well, he certainly set off fireworks at the annual Munich conference by establishing his premise: "September 11 made plain that the security of Europe and North America is dependent upon the promotion of democracy in the Middle East. Therefore "we cannot afford the view that a despotic ally is preferable to an unfriendly democracy" he said. He was referring to Russia and Mr. Putin. He attacked Saudi Arabia where "repression remains the norm" . Then on to Egypt and President Mubarak who has "reigned as a dictator for almost 24 years and seeks another term while grooming his son for a "pharaonic succession." He said, that if these and other governments continue in their anti-democratic ways, the US should reassess its relationships to them and the billions of dollars in bilateral aid that flows to them".
Hey, Santa, you look worried.
Yes, that worries me. I'm sure that such a cut off of aid would destabilise the Egyptian - Israeli peace accords. And he undoubtedly means Iran and Syria as well.
John McCain is a charging bull. He loves to fight. And he didn't win a single friend in Munich this year.
Isn't there anything good on his record?
Well, in fact there is. He voted for two amendments in the Senate that I think you'll like Santa. There's the one bill to improve nuclear non-proliferation programs, and the other is McCain's own amendment to prohibit torture in interrogations. This means cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of any prisoner detained by the US will be prohibited.
I'm not sure. Hmmm, a conservative Republican? a 70 year old charging bull? A defender of human rights? A fighter? WOW! What strange combinations. I guess I'll go over there and see if McCain has even bothered to hang up his stocking.
And while I'm there I'll stop in to see the spring chicken Barack Obama in the Senate building.
Barack Obama, no, no, not Osama, Obama , with a b, not an s.
I've been hearing about this fellow recently. He's a shooting star and I can see shooting stars the best from my view at the North Pole. He makes the sky light up.
Sounds like a nice guy. I'll tell you in a nutshell what I know about his personal life. He was born in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii. His black father came from Kenya and his white mother from Wichita Kansas. He says he was lucky that he had a race-blind early childhood. Barack, his first name, in Swahili means "Blessing! Maybe that's an omen.
Obama studied at Columbia and then Harvard Law School where he graduated Magna cum Laude in 1991.
That is definitely an asset. A president must be intelligent and bright. We've had enough of the other kind.
There's more good news. After working for a civil rights law firm ,Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School where he dealt with the burning questions about abortion, gay rights, and affirmative action. He was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996. He always worked on programs benefiting the poor, on aids prevention and legislation for covering costs for residents not covered by health insurance.
Obama as Junior Senator from Illinois was elected in 2004, and became the only 5th African American now serving in the US Senate.
And listen to this!
Recent polls identify Obama as the second most popular choice among Democrat voters for the party's nomination in the 2008 presidential election.
This sounds almost too good to be true. But wait a minute. Let's check his record on voting in Congress.
Hey Santa, I've got to tell you -- Barack Obama has a perfect voting record according to the standards set by The Friends Committee on National Legislation. You know, the Quaker lobby organisation in Washington that keeps an eye on the decisions made by our politicians.
Tell me more.
He is against border fences, he is against torture, he is for programs for renewable energy, he is against drilling in the wildlife reserves in the Arctic, he is against sanctions for Iran, he is for cutting dollars on missile defence, he is for improving nuclear non proliferation programs, and most important right now, he is for a timetable for US military withdrawal out of Iraq. The only vote that is puzzling is his yeah for re-authorising the USA Patriot Act. Could that have something to do with his name??? Barack Hussein Obama? Oh dear, I hope his name won't spoil his career.
Well, don't we call that "racial name-filing". And that certainly won't do.
This guy is doing a great job. He is working on programs that are curbing racial profiling and death-penalty reforms.
And Time magazine named Obama one of "the world's most influential people for his popularity within the Democratic Party. Even the New Stateman has predicted that Obama is one of the 10 people who could change the world.
That's quite a bill to fill. I hope he'll have the strength and perseverance for it. We'll see.
I'll be on my way now, my raindeer are getting restless, I'll go over and fill Obama's stocking right up to the brim and leave my sack there too, to make sure he gets enough.
Bye, Santa, See you next year. Merry Christmas.
Jingle bells, jingle Jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Oh what fun it is to ride in a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells ......
The Story of Agustín Aguayo
Agustín Aguayo is a US soldier that the Munich American Peace Committee met almost two years ago. We have got to know him well and we respect him greatly.
Army Specialist Aguayo is a Mexican-born naturalized US citizen from Los Angeles and a veteran of the Iraq War. Right now he is sitting in a cell in the US Military Prison in Mannheim. He has been there for more than three months. He is awaiting a court martial and a possible jail sentence of up to seven years for refusing to go back to Iraq for a second one-year tour of duty.
A combat medic, Aguayo was decorated for his service under combat conditions during his first tour in Iraq. At the beginning of that tour in February 2004, he filed an application for recognition as a conscientious objector. While in Iraq, he refused to load his gun as required when on guard duty or patrol.
Although the officers and experts who interviewed him found him to be sincere and recommended granting his CO application, it was later denied by higher officers in August, 2004. No reasons were given.With the assistance of the Mennonite based Military Counselling Network, the American Voices Abroad, a network of American peace groups in Europe, to which our Munich group belongs, and the Center on Conscience and War in the US, 12,000 dollars were raised to retain lawyers to file a civil case, that is, non-military court. In August of 2006, his appeal was denied. Meanwhile, in Schweinfurt he had received orders to deploy to Iraq for another year. His active duty contract, due to expire in January, was extended against his will by the Army until at least September, 2007. On August 25th he filed the present appeal which was denied.
On September 1, Aguayo did not appear when his unit went to Iraq again. The next day he turned himself in to the US military police, expecting to serve a jail sentence. But his commander ordered him brought to Iraq by force if necessary. Aguayo escaped through a rear window of his military living quarters in Schweinfurt. As a fugitive, he made his way via Munich and Mexico to his family, who were now back in California. He drove with family and supporters to Fort Irwin Army base and turned himself in.
Very soon afterwards, he was put in handcuffs and taken back to Germany by plane. He was put in the US military prison in Mannheim, where he may now be charged with desertion to avoid dangerous duty, which may mean up to seven years in prison.
Aguayo's contact with his family, consisting of his wife Helga and his twin eleven-year-old daughters, has now been reduced to brief phone calls.
You might also be interested to hear part of Agustin's testimony in his own words:
I have been to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and I know what to expect. I know what will be expected of me. And
because of this first-hand knowledge, I simply cannot take part in this deployment¦ By helping countless soldiers for sick-call as well as driving soldiers around on patrols I helped them get physically better and be able to go out and do the very thing I am against: Kill!
As a result of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, I have seen many veterans whose lives have been shattered. Many men came back with missing parts, and countless physical and emotional scars, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have personally seen my comrades come back to commit suicide, drink themselves to death, and develop a strong addiction to drugs. It is obvious to me that these men's lives were destroyed by war. What participation in war does to our own soldiers is another reason why war is fundamentally immoral and wrong¦
In my last deployment, I witnessed how soldiers dehumanize the Iraqi people with words and actions. I saw countless innocent lives which were shortened due to the war. I still struggle with the senselessness of it all, Iraqi civilians losing their lives because they drove too close to a convoy or a check point, soldiers being shot by mistake by their own buddies, misunderstandings (due to the language barrier) leading to death. This is not acceptable to me. It makes no sense that to better the lives of these civilians they must first endure great human loss¦
I would much rather suffer the consequences of missing a movement „ prosecution by court-martial" than be part of any war activity. To participate in this deployment I would have to ignore my deep sense of responsibility to uphold my moral values. No human has the moral authority to decide when it's acceptable to end another's life in this way.
I have made my choice for peace, for humanity, and for a better tomorrow. Even though I understand that one of the consequences of refusing to deploy may possibly be a trial by court- martial and even my imprisonment, I cannot and will not deploy.
Helga is struggling to raise funds for his large legal fees and is seeking for a job to support their children. Aguayo receives no pay and his family no support from the Army. Although through the efforts of the Mennonite Military Counselling Network, the American Voices Abroad and fundraising efforts of friends and supporters 12,000 Dollars were raised, that has all been used up and he now needs more money to pay a civilian lawyer to defend him at his court martial. The lawyer needs a guarantee of 2000 dollars before he begins the case.You can help by donating through Connection e.V.( http://www.connection-ev.de/ ) Donations are tax deductible. Account # 7085704, Connection e.V., Bank für Sozialwirtschaft, BLZ 37020500 or through the Web-site http://www.AguayoDefense.org.
Another way you can help him is to write letters in English. Letters are pouring in and this lifts Aguayo's spirits a lot. The address is SPC Agustín Aguayo, Unit 29723, Box LL, APO, AE 09028-3810 USA
This man is one of the finest people I have ever met. For me he is a hero. MAPC members and my family and I have tried to help him in every way, but we can't win over the US Army alone. We need your help!