Also on December 28, 2017, six peace activists from Wisconsin, South Dakota and Iowa, were arrested outside the gates of Offutt Air Force Base, the home of STRATCOM, the United States Strategic Command, outside Omaha, Nebraska.
Here is a report of the protest by Brian Terrell, a drone war protester for nearly a decade, one of those arrested:
For an hour, we stood in the snow with a banner that read, “KING HEROD MURDERED THE CHILDREN OF BETHLEHEM; TRUMP MURDERS THE CHILDREN OF AFGHANISTAN, YEMEN, SYRIA; STRATCOM THREATENS ALL CHILDREN; MERRY CHRISTMAS- DISARM!”
Although the significance of the day is rarely heard above the commercial and sentimental noise of the season, on December 28 many Christian churches remember the “Holy Innocents,” the children of Bethlehem two years old and under, massacred by the order of King Herod as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus’ parents, warned in a dream, escaped with him to live as refugees in Egypt. The birth of a “prince of peace” who would end oppression and poverty was welcomed by poor shepherds but was viewed as a mortal threat to “national security” by the elite who liked things as they were.
“STRATCOM is responsible for strategic deterrence, global strike, and operating the Defense Department's Global Information Grid. It also provides a host of capabilities to support the other combatant commands, including strategic warning; integrated missile defense; and global command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance,” boasts STRATCOM’s website. This command controls not only the nuclear missiles, bombers and submarines on hair-trigger alert that threaten the planet with nuclear destruction, “it also provides a host of capabilities to support” the military aggressions actually being waged by the United States today in some 134 countries around the globe. While the technology has expanded beyond recognition from the clubs and swords of Herod’s troops, STRATCOM is evidence that the same values and national priorities prevail in the United States today. Our banner could list only a few of the places where soldiers, drones, missile strikes and strategic famine are massacring children today in response to perceived threats to the interests of our own elite.
Small as we were, we represented a wealth of experience. In a time of reflection, prayer and breaking of bread before going to the base, we shared stories of accompanying children in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Philippines, memories of a childhood in ruins of post-World War II Germany, stories of children in the United States separated from their incarcerated parents, children of the reservations, cities and rural places whose lives are stunted by Herod’s priorities. It was noted that the median age of people living in Afghanistan is now just over 18 years, so half of population in that country were younger than the age of Herod’s victims in Bethlehem, or not even born yet, when that war began in 2001.
Our modest witness at Offutt might have better been expressed with fewer words. “MERRY CHRISTMAS- DISARM!” would have been enough. Any celebration of the birth of Jesus should be such a plea for the lives of children.
Those participating in this witness were Dagmar Hoxie, Dennis Davis and Michael Sprong from South Dakota, Jim Murphy and Cassandra Dixon from Wisconsin and Brian Terrell from Iowa.