PEACE PROBE by Gene Stoltzfus

Lenten Vigil at Creeh Air Force Base by peaceprobe
March 28, 2009, 2:05 pm
Filed under: Digital/Star War, Nonviolence

In these closing days of lent, April 1-11 I will be joining a vigil at Creech Air Force Base west of Las Vegas. On March 27 national news reported stepped up drone (Unmanned Arial Systems, UAS) missile attacks directed at villages in Western Pakistan and Eastern Afghanistan.  The attacks are now reaching further to the South and increasing in number. We are gathering to vigil at Creech because the UAS air missiles are controlled from there by specially trained pilots and navigators who huddle in front of vast rooms of monitors and send digital signals of instruction that both bomb and collect information as the drone hovers over villages. 

I believe the attacks are not just killing people but they are making enemies in a time when people need to be talking to each other in the sectors where attacks are happening.  The attacks spread suspicion in the Pakistani and Afghan community.  “Who is telling the Americans to do this?” they ask.    

Drones like the MQ-1 Predator which is used for these unmanned raids are the most recent instrument in the long search for a cleaner, safer battlefield where attacking an enemy involves less risk.  Crossbows, poison gas, aeroplanes, nuclear weapons, agent orange, smart bombs and other vessels for combat light up the history of this search for the perfect weapon.  With less risk for “our” soldiers, these digital weapons are popular with politicians.

By joining with people of faith in this vigil at the place where these weapons are commanded I hope to deepen my own consciousness about the state of violence in the world.  I also hope to jump start my own imagination in three areas.  How do I understand and communicate the danger, risk and ethical implications of digital warfare?  How do I awaken my own sensitivity to villagers’ travail of danger and death in Afghanistan and Pakistan?  How do I integrate all of this to the central theme of Lent, overcoming violence through sacrifice and new life?

I look forward to your own questions and Lenten messages as this vigil unfolds.  I will be pleased to share them as appropriate with my companions in the desert.  Vigil sponsors include Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Nevada Desert Experience, the Des Moines Catholic Worker, Strangers & Guests Catholic Worker Farm, Catholic Peace Ministry, Iowa Peace Network, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Service. You may contact me by leaving a comment at the end of this blog or by sending me an email at


12 Comments so far
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Thank you for joining the vigil. I wanted to go but am committed to a couple of speaking engagements in D.C. as well as Witness Against Torture which will be in its final month of the Hundred Days Campaign in front of the White House. Standing there in orange jumpsuits is also a good time time to meditate on violence on human beings and on the effects on the humamity of all of us. Please give my love to friends in Las Vegas. Peace, Anne

Comment by peaceprobe

Hi Gene: I appreciate what you are doing. I think some of the optical equipment on these Predator drones is manufactured at L3 Wescam in Burlington, Ontario where there have been several demonstrations against this use of their equipment. CPTers David Milne and myself and others have been arrested for trespassing there. David’s and 10 others’ case just ended after 1.5 years a few months ago with probation and a fine I believe. I will be thinking about and praying for the attention your vigil will draw against this horrible murderous weapon. Murray

Comment by Murray Lumley

Our blessings on this vigil holding consciousness for a new possibility. Krissa

Comment by peaceprobe

Gene is my best friend,he was head of christian peace makers teams now retired ,but not from peace work.He is old but still active. Please send him messages and circulate email in your circle. Maybe someone is interested to join him
in the vigil.
warm regards

Comment by peaceprobe

Yes, we are peacemakers and healers. There is no place for violence especially in these times. There is no reason to use the latest technology in war. We can struggle to understand our differences and strive towards compassion. Girlie

Comment by peaceprobe

Awareness– of understanding and communicating; what does it mean for my life? Is there room in the concepts of justice, while violence is renounced on principle, for the idea that attacking with a weapon against which the attacked has no defense heightens (or even creates) the injustice of the attack?
Blessings to you as you ponder these things in the desert. If you ever need bail be free to contact me. Really.

Comment by peaceprobe

This is so remiiscent of the so-called automated battlefield of Vietnam. Andrew

Comment by peaceprobe

Blessings on you and the brothers and sisters who are undertaking this Lenten vigil. It is an action that I would dearly love to join but will not. You may know that I and several friends (Homes Not Bombs people) finished a lengthy court process this past December for our action at L-3 Wescam in Burlington, just 40 km. west of Toronto. L-3 Wescam makes the optical sights for the Predator, another model of an UAV. The Predator is often armed with Hellfire missiles and has been responsible for many deaths in Pakistan and the Middle East. David Milne

Comment by peaceprobe

Thanks to Dorothy, I learned about what you’re doing during Lent. Thank you and the community with whom you are bearing witness in opposition to what the U.S. military and government are doing in Afghanistan. In one sense, it seems like the same old, fear-based reaction of destroying a perceived enemy.
I’ve joined in an effort that complements your effort in Nevada. FINCA is a microlending organization that works in multiple countries, including Afghanistan. An in-country staff person from FINCA was killed in the war there last year. FINCA has launched a campaign to raise $500,000 to lend to very poor people in Afghanistan, as well as a letter to Obama that he match the contribution bringing it to a total of one million dollars of a peaceful alternative to war.
Also, Greg Mortenson’s book, Three Cups of Tea is now required reading in Washington, D.C. for those who are involved with Afghanistan. Building schools is another peaceful alternative to war. His example of getting to know the people, their language, and their customs is the example that needs to be followed.
Blessings to you and your companions in your witness.

Love, John Pool

Comment by peaceprobe

How can we find a way to break through the barriers of ingorance and denial? Maybe your vigil can be that spark. You go with our prayers and hopes. J. R.

Comment by peaceprobe

This is almost like an April’s Fools joke. Almost.

US Expands Pakistani Drone-Strike Zone by Reuters

Comment by Wilson

National Defence , Government of Canada
Foreign Affairs , Government of Canada

I would like assurances from the Canadian and the US governments that the recently-begun drone flights along the US-Canadian border are not in any way intruding into Canada. There should be no images or records of any persons, communities or land in Canada coming in or through the drone border flights. I do not want any Canadian partnership or support for anything like this. This is far more than enough.

Thank you for your time and thank you for the ork you do.

Ray & Marilyn Hamm

Copies to
Office of the Prime Minister
Office of the Leader of the Liberal Party
Office of the Leader of the Bloc Quebecois
Office of the Leader of the NDP
Office of C Hoeppner, our MP

Comment by peaceprobe

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