Military whistleblower to speak in mid-Missouri on dangers of drone warfare
COLUMBIA - An ex-airman turned whistleblower will speak on the negative impact of drone warfare locations in mid-Missouri Tuesday.
Cian Westmoreland, a former U.S. Air Force communications expert, will give presentations in Fulton and Columbia on the U.S. "drone war." He was responsible for helping build the communications infrastructure for the drone program in Afghanistan.
A news release on the event states Westmoreland is "one of four drone experts who signed an open letter to President Obama proclaiming that U.S. drone attacks, which have killed thousands of civilians, have served as recruitment tools for ISIS and other terrorist groups rather than curtailing wars."
The meetings come one week after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, who will soon take over the role of commander-in-chief and thus, make decisions on the use of drones in the military.
"Mr. Trump is kind of a blank slate," said Jeff Stack, coordinator of Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation, an organization co-sponsoring the event. "There's really not much of a long-term strategy as we can see it. We're convinced, unfortunately, that these kind of belligerent foreign policies may continue and so we who are concerned about peace and trying to support non-violent alternatives to war will have plenty of work to do."
Westmoreland declined a $50,000 bonus to re-enlist in 2009, and has given talks around the world pushing for an end to U.S. belligerence, the news release said.
"There is no doubt that [using drones] has killed terrorists," said MU professor Jack Kultgen, who teaches a class called Philosophies of War and Peace. "The judgment of 'political realism' is that it all depends on whether it works to win the war. I have no way of judging whether it works against terrorism."
Stack said the most necessary improvements are in the United States' foreign policy.
"U.S. military foreign policy is not working," Stack said. "We need to be more active in our efforts to try to settle international strife with non-violence, with diplomacy, something that, unfortunately, our government has been rather sparing in trying to pursue."
Westmoreland will speak in the model courtroom at William Woods University in Fulton at noon, followed by a presentation at MU's Mumford Hall, room 133, at 7 p.m. If you have questions about the program, you can call Stack at 573-449-4585.