New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Friends Without Borders

August 15, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Guest Author, Kathy Kelly, Politics

Why Afghanistan (and the World) Can’t Wait…

by Kathy Kelly and Hakim

Recently, we spent three anxious hours in an outer waiting area of the “Non-Immigrant Visa” section of the U.S. consulate in Kabul, Afghanistan, waiting for our young friends Ali and Abdulhai to return from a sojourn through the inner offices where they were being interviewed for visas to come speak to audiences in the U.S.

They are members of the Afghan Peace Volunteers and have been invited to travel with the U.S.-Mexico “Caravan  for Peace” that will be touring the United States later this summer.  We didn’t want to see their hopes dashed, and we didn’t want to see this opportunity lost to connect the experiences of poor people around the world suffering from war. The organizers of the Caravan envision and demand alternatives to the failed systems of militarized policing in the terrifyingly violent, seemingly endless U.S.-Mexico drug war. They want to connect with victims of war in Afghanistan especially since, as the top producer of opium and marijuana in the world, Afghanistan has a failing war against drugs as well. (more…)

Vision of Peace

August 08, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Guest Author, Kathy Kelly, Politics

Soft Necks Will Not Be Slaughtered

by Kathy Kelly and Hakim

Abdulhai remembers his father being killed by the Taliban. “Anyone who takes up a weapon in revenge, whether the Talib or any other, is acting like the Talibs who murdered my father,” he says, in a matter of fact way. “The solution does not lie in taking revenge, but in people coming together like the people of Egypt to defend themselves in a nonviolent way.”

Nine people gathered this morning for an unexpected although welcome meeting here in Kabul, in the home of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, at which Raz Mohammed, a member of the group who is from Wardak province, had arrived along with a fellow student, named Rohullah. The meeting included Tajiks, Hazaras and one Pashtoon. We were surprised and pleased to see our good friend. (more…)

Fear the Reaper

June 04, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Balancing the Worst Human Instincts with Our Best

by Robert C. Koehler

The poison seeps slowly into the future. No one notices.

“The Obama administration,” the Wall Street Journal informs us, “plans to arm Italy’s fleet of Reaper drone aircraft, a move that could open the door for sales of advanced hunter-killer drone technology to other allies . . .”

I can’t quite get beyond the name: Reaper drones?

“The Predator’s manufacturer, General Atomics, later developed the larger Reaper,” John Sifton wrote last February in The Nation, “a moniker implying that the United States was fate itself, cutting down enemies who were destined to die. That the drones’ payloads were called Hellfire missiles, invoking the punishment of the afterlife, added to a sense of righteousness.” (more…)

Sonic Youth

April 02, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, David Smith-Ferri, Politics

Above the Drone of War, Voices for Peace Rise in Afghanistan

by David Smith-Ferri

In 1876, at the so-called Battle of the Little Bighorn when U.S. Cavalry regiments attacked an Indian village along the Little Bighorn River in Wyoming, the first casualty was a ten-year old Lakota Sioux boy named Deeds. Unaware that U.S. troops were nearby planning an attack, he and his father were combing a hillside looking for a lost pony when U.S. troops encountered and killed him. The next casualties were six Lakota women and four children, who were murdered while in a field gathering wild radish bulbs, one of the many indigenous plants that Native people depended on for their livelihood, and hardly a threatening activity.

I think of these events today because of the recent killings of Afghan civilians, not only the 17 women and children killed in villages outside Kandahar, but also two recent and less publicized atrocities resulting from NATO airstrikes that killed civilians in Kapisa Province, including eight Afghan boys who were tending their sheep. Sheepherding, of course, is an activity as integral to their livelihood as gathering indigenous plants was to Lakota people. (more…)

One Bad Apple?

March 28, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Family, Robert C. Koehler

Challenging the Military’s Reason for Being

by Robert C. Koehler

So it turns out that mass-murder suspect Robert Bales once used a bad word in a Facebook conversation.

This is one of the more bizarre details of his life that has come breathlessly to light in the media, along with his big smile, arrest record and disastrous financial dealings. The word was “hadji” (misspelled “hagi”), which is the racial slur of choice among U.S. troops to denigrate Iraqis; and stories where I have read about his use of it fixate on it judgmentally, as though to suggest it might explain something: the tiny flaw that reveals a propensity for massacring children.

Something had to be wrong with him, right? As always, the mainstream media’s unquestioning assumption is that the atrocity is the work of an individual nut . . . a flawed patriot, a bad apple. Oh so quietly ignored is the possibility that there’s something wrong with the military system and culture that produced him. (more…)

Assembly Time

January 05, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Family, Kathy Kelly, Politics

Keeping Lit the Fires of Peace, Justice, and Democracy

by Kathy Kelly

Arab Spring, European Summer, American Autumn, and now the challenge of winter. Here in Kabul, Afghanistan, the travelers of our small Voices for Creative Nonviolence delegation share an apartment with several of the creative and determined “Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers” who’ve risked so much for peace here and befriended us so warmly over the past two years.

Our apartment doesn’t have indoor heating or hot tap water. We bundle up, overnight, in blankets, quilts and sleeping bags, and the Westerners, unaccustomed to the indoor cold, wear at least five layers of clothing during the daytime. Tap water is contaminated, electricity shortages are frequent, and internet access is spotty, but compared to those who live in Kabul’s refugee camps, we’re ensconced in plenty of creature comforts. (more…)

Another Way Home

December 28, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Kathy Kelly, Politics

Amid War, Following Yonder Star Toward Peace

by Kathy Kelly

Beneath our flat, here in Kabul, wedding guests crowded into a restaurant and celebrated throughout the night. Guests sounded joyful and the music, mostly disco, thumped loudly. When the regular call to prayer sounded out at 5:20 a.m., the sounds seemed to collide in an odd cacophony, making all music indistinguishable. I smiled, remembering the prayer call’s durable exhortation to live in peace, heard worldwide for centuries, and went back to sleep.

Through most of my life, I’ve found it easy to resonate with the ringing and beautiful Christmas narrative found in the Gospel of Luke, but less so with that jangling discord with which westerners are so familiar — the annual collision between (on the one hand) the orgy of gift-purchasing and gift-consumption surrounding the holiday and the the sweeter, simpler proclamations of peace on earth heralded by the newborn’s arrival. (more…)