The Jul-Sep 2005 issue of Peace Magazine carries a letter by a John Dirlik in reply to another letter from the April-June issue by one Norman Epstein in defence of "Israel's so-called security fence." I wish to make it clear now that I, another Norman Epstein, can find no justification whatsoever for a fence or wall that is an Israeli land grab from the West Bank, robs thousands of land-sliced Palestinians of their livelihoods, and is the product of a brutal, illegal and intolerable occupation. The suicide bombers, from whose indefensibly repugnant acts against civilians the wall is supposed to protect Israelis, are themselves an Israeli creation, as detailed by John Dirlik in the above mentioned reply.
(Member of Jews for a Just Peace, Vancouver)
Just when it seems that things cannot get any worse, we learn that the Pentagon is pursuing the development of its new microwave gun. This will be the ultimate torture weapon: Its purpose is to cause excruciating pain but leave no evidence of wounds on the victim. Imagine this weapon at Abu Ghraib or at Guantanamo, or perhaps at your local police station (the Department of Defense has given it the name of "Project Sheriff").
This is the ultimate crowd control weapon. Will it be used at sites of labor disputes and strikes? At a war protest near you? At the borders to prevent immigration? Will the NRS lobby for access to this weapon? The ray gun could literally make your blood boil. It is based on the same technology as a microwave oven, and is intended to cause a level of pain so unbearable that the victim will have no choice but to submit to the will of the "Sheriff."
The gun produces a 95 gigahertz microwave beam which is designed to penetrate only 1/64 inch into the skin. But can we trust the experts to achieve zero defects with a technology which requires such a precise tolerance?
The good news is that the Pentagon is having some major design problems. The designers have failed to realize that a person is not a potato. Microwaving a human to the exact degree of "doneness" is proving to be problematic.
Raytheon is listed as the prime contractor on the project. It is more than a little ironic that Raytheon boasts on its website of having received an award for ethics (in 2005, it was awarded the Telly Award for a training video).
The design and production of redundant weapons systems is pushed by the lobbying efforts of the arms manufacturers, with no ethical objections from, among others, the employees of companies such as Raytheon. The argument that "we need the jobs" is an old one which has been used to justify the development of the most horrific weapons.
Further revelations on the use of Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown in the 1960s (see article in Peace Jul-Sep 2005) has aroused media attention and public concern. Thankfully, awareness of the dangers of live experiments (bombs, defoliants, germ warfare) might now nudge more people into action.
I couldn't believe the response of US Major-General Bill Libby -- commander of the National Guard in Maine -- to the Agent Orange issue. In an article in the Bangor Daily News, he claimed that he was "disappointed that the Canadian Defence Department has not been more proactive in providing information to the United States." He was especially disappointed because "the use of Agent Orange at Gagetown has been publicly acknowledged in Canada snce the early 1980s."
In addition, he is also questioning "whether it is safe to continue training at Gagetown in the future," and has directed his staff to "begin the process of locating another training site in case it's needed."
Such rhetoric can warrant nothing less than a frosty northern reply. It is well known here that it was the US itself which sprayed Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown. Given that 40 percent of New Brunswickers are on well water, we find it even more disturbing that the US was spraying Agent Orange over our province even after they had learned of its serious health effects in Vietnam.
Hoyt, New Brunswick
Re the Jul-Sep issue of Peace: Sometimes it seems we're sinking in a sea of acronyms: NATO, NORAD, AWAC, SCO, COPINH, CPT, and so on.
How about an International Database for Intercepting Odd Terrorists In Canada?