November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website,, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to, a multimedia blog and resource center.

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

Letters of David Keppel

David Keppel, writer and occasional op-ed writer for the Indianapolis Star, is one of the great "letters to the editor" activists. More than a letter writer, David - working with MoveOn activists in Indiana, has met with Senator Richard Lugar. He has also contributed his writings to MoveOn national campaigns.

David is currently writng a book. He has resisted pleas from us for treatises, but continues to write letters to the editor that he shares with us. As letters to the editor are effective activism - such letters are one of the most read portions of a newspaper - as well as an art form (just try being so succinct and persuasive in the letter format), we have created a separate section of David's letters.

We hope that this collection will inspire more to write letters, and that it will serve as a guide on how to write a good letter to the editor. We're open to publishing letters by others as well.

We have printed his recent letters in reverse chronological order, and will add to the list as time goes by.

Links to organizations providing aid

The Tsunami and Colin Powell


December 28, 2004

The Honorable Richard G. Lugar
306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-1401

Dear Senator Lugar:

Thank you very much for your kind letter of December 7th. I will write to
you again soon about the war in Iraq and United States foreign policy.

Today's New York Times reports that Secretary of State Colin Powell says the
United States will contribute $15 million in disaster relief for the
earthquake and tsunami that wreaked havoc in Asia. The figure is derisory,
both in relation to the scale of damage in eight nations and in relation to
the hundreds of billions of dollars we are spending to occupy Iraq. It is
an indictment of this Administration's priorities. Unless challenged, it
will also stand as an indictment of the United States - one with long-term
human and political consequences.

There are also important long-term lessons from this tragedy. While the
earthquake and tsunami were unpredictable, future floods from storms caused
by global warming are a near certainty. Their magnitude rises with
President Bush's disgraceful refusal to address this issue. How will future
victims feel about America's SUVs or our Orwellian trick of calling coal

With best wishes,

Respectfully yours,


David Keppel

[Traprock Note: The Boston Red Sox paid Pedro Martinez more last year ($17,000,000) than the US has announced it will send for Tsunami relief.
December 29 update: The US has upped its figure to $35 million. That'd pay for Pedro and A-Rod (great Yankess player) and maybe a player to be named later. Still pathetic. Welcome to the Bizzaro World. How about, for starters, end the occupation of Iraq - with reparations, and pay $35 billion for tsunami relief?
January 2 - Now it's up to $350 million. The US is still low on the list in terms of aid per capita.

December 13, 2004

"[C]onquest and occupation are poor conditions for democracy, and Europeans and
Arabs are wise not to legitimate it."

Published by NYTimes December 14, 2004

Letters Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036

To the Editor:

Thomas L. Friedman puzzles why NATO, the European Union and the Arab League
are reluctant to send troops to help guard "a free and fair" election in

Yes, Iraqis will be free to vote - among choices approved by politicians
installed by an occupying power. Major parties have put together combined
slates to reduce voter choice to a minimum. Those truly opposed to American
domination of Iraq have been excluded.

Meanwhile, the United States has wreaked havoc on civilians in Falluja and
elsewhere in the name of making Iraq safe for democracy. That doesn't mean
that armed insurgents are liberators or that they represent the will of
Iraq's majority. It does mean that conquest and occupation are poor
conditions for democracy, and Europeans and Arabs are wise not to legitimize

David Keppel
Bloomington, Ind., Dec. 13, 2004

Bush Attack on New York Times

September 2, 2004

Letters Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-3959

To the Editor:

In specifically attacking the foreign policy editorial writers of The New
York Times in his nomination acceptance speech, President Bush borrows a
familiar tactic of dictators, who often threaten and sometimes shut down the
independent press of their nations. That he dares to do so in what, with
Orwellian doublespeak, he calls "the liberty century" is an insult to his
fellow citizens and a betrayal of the framers of the Constitution he is
sworn to protect.

Do not be intimidated. The future of the planet depends on bringing greater
realism, depth, and maturity into American political debate. We need your
voice, unmuted. We - your readers -- will stand by you (and sometimes
nudge you forward).

David Keppel

This letter is exclusive to The New York Times.

American Hiroshima sequel

August 12, 2004

Mr. Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-3959

Dear Mr. Kristof:

Thank you for your column "An American Hiroshima." I look forward to its
sequel and would like to offer a suggestion.

I am glad that you took Graham Allison up on his bet. Not that I (or you)
think it is possible to set an exact probability of disaster, but because
such threats can justify mistakes that themselves make life more dangerous.

I heard Professor Allison on National Public Radio's "Fresh Air" on Tuesday.
Discussing North Korea, he said the United States should make clear that it
will not accept a nuclear North Korea and should present Pyongyang with
every possible "carrot and stick" to prevent that "up to military action."

"Military action" is like "surgical procedure": a phrase that obscures its
own meaning. I would like those who favor even possible military action
against Pyongyang or Tehran to say publicly and precisely what they have in
mind - for it is we, the public here and globally, who will live with the
consequences. Do they mean bombing alone? Would we have any confidence of
really striking their nuclear materials - or might these be dispersed in
fear? Would Pyongyang strike Seoul - or would we also bomb forward troops,
command and control, and the regime in order to preempt such a reaction?
Would US planners - as you suggested might be the case in your February 28,
2003 column - resort to "tactical" nuclear weapons? What would be the
consequences for our relations with China? If the target were Tehran, what
further damage would we have done to our relations with the Islamic world?
(It is a grave error to think that no further damage is possible.)

No sane person can welcome a nuclear North Korea or Iran. But can any sane
and dispassionate person welcome a nuclear Pakistan or India or United
States? Should we not hasten to attack a country that has a record of using
nuclear weapons and has an avowed nuclear doctrine of using them even
against non-nuclear states? And can we really discuss the Iranian nuclear
threat without mentioning Israel's nuclear arsenal?

In a complex world, the issue of political legitimacy - in the world's eyes,
not just ours - becomes especially crucial. The United States simply cannot
enforce nuclear abstention on those it deems irresponsible while itself
failing to fulfill its own obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to
move towards nuclear disarmament. A No First Use pledge - and actual
changes in weapons, doctrine, and deployment to back it up - would be a
modest start.

Comparable changes are vital in United States biological weapons policy.
Our pursuit of genetically altered anthrax in Project Jefferson is
objectively offensive. The new Biosafety Level 4 laboratories such as the
one in Boston concentrate infectious pathogens and thus hazard, inviting
catastrophe through error, terrorism, or an inside job.

I look forward to your next column and hope that you will be outspoken in

Best wishes,

July 29, 2004

Iran: The Next Target?

Mr. David C. Unger
Editorial Board
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-3959

Dear Mr. Unger:

The Times's Editorial Page has been more circumspect than most of the press
about Iran. I hope you will now go further and actively caution against the
drift towards confrontation.

Yesterday's Sunday Herald has a piece you may have seen entitled "Iran: the
next target?"

It discusses the charges that Iran was complicit in the September 11th
attack. As we learned from the mistaken estimates before the attack on
Iraq, it is hard to assess information until after we have made a mistake on
its basis. While Iran has clearly harbored and supported terrorists
attacking Israel, it is far less clear that its government wishes to support
attacks on the United States. The hijackers who passed through Iran may
have exploited its long border - just as many people enter the United States
by crossing the Rio Grande. Even if local Iranian officials or some faction
of the government consciously allowed them to pass, that would not prove
that the Iranian government as a whole did so. Part of the problem, of
course, is the deep political division in Iran; and blanket accusations only
force moderates to back hard-liners.

Likewise, it is hard to gauge Iran's nuclear program. But it is surely
unrealistic to expect Iran to give up any nuclear weapons program without
any mention of the Israeli nuclear arsenal or the US Nuclear Posture
Review's placement of Iran on our nuclear target list.

It is only natural that Iran should be uneasy about the US occupation of
Iraq. Of course a conventional ground invasion seems unlikely given our
difficulties controlling Iraq itself. But there are other possibilities.

One is bombing, by either the United States or Israel. Writing in Haaretz
before the March 2003 US attack on Iraq, Amir Oren raised the question: "You
in Iraq, Us in Iran?" He suggested that once the United States controlled
Iraqi airspace, Israel might overfly it to strike suspected Iranian nuclear
facilities. Such an attack would have obvious and incalculable political
costs to the United States. But that does not mean it is impossible - only
that it would be unwise and damaging.

It is likely that the United States and Israel are using Iraqi territory to
send agents into Iran (as Seymour Hersh suggests). Covert programs aimed at
destablilization and regime change will only legitimize paranoia in Tehran
and make it harder to stop the nuclear program. It is far more likely that
terrorists would acquire nuclear weapons or materials in political chaos
than through official transfer.

How sad it is to see normally astute critics of the Bush administration
(such as Maureen Dowd) criticize the Iraq war only to feed the flames of war
with Iran.

With best wishes,
David Keppel


New Iraqi Strongman Iyad Allawi Executes Prisoners

July 16, 2004

More on More on Messrs Allawi and Filkins

Dear Mr. Okrent:

As a postscript to my letter of the 11th on Dexter Filkins's story on Iyad
Allawi, I here give a reference to a Sydney Morning Herald account of what
was probably the same incident. But this account, which is attested by
witnesses, reports that Mr. Allawi shot six prisoners.

Among American media, only The Washington Times (of all people) has reported
the SMH account. What interests me is the difference between a legendary
account that Allawi chopped off their hands - which can be dismissed as
"Wild East" story telling - and a very serious allegation that deserves to
be investigated. Was Mr. Filkins aware of the pistol account that Paul
McGeough gives? At any rate, the SMH version needs The New York Times's
urgent attention.

With thanks,
David Keppel

July 11, 2004

Dexter Filkins's glamorous tough guy

Mr. Daniel Okrent
Public Editor
The New York Times
229 West 43rd Street
New York, NY 10036-3959

Dear Mr. Okrent:

Dexter Filkins's article today on Iyad Allawi ("A Tough Guy Tries to Tame
Iraq," Week in Review) is an egregious example of the misreporting that
often occurs when an American correspondent cites the views of the
"natives." After telling what he assures us is the apocryphal story of Mr.
Allawi's chopping off a Lebanese prisoner's hand with an ax, Mr. Filkins
assures his gentle readers that "Iraqis" admire that. Thus readers (and the
fussy editorialists at The Times itself) are by implication out of touch
when they worry about Allawi's authoritarian bent (on our behalf).

No doubt Mr. Filkins did talk to Iraqis who admire Allawi's legendary
brutality. But it is perilously easy for an American correspondent to chat
with friendly, pro-American locals. For one thing, he is less likely to get
his head blown off. My model for such reporting is the American
correspondent (not current) who writes about Brazilians - and fails to
mention that he had lunch with them at the Rio yacht club.

Reporting is always hard - and doubly so in today's Iraq. I admire the
risks that many of The Times's correspondents do take. But in the absence
of a scientific sample, writing such as Mr. Filkins's today borders on
disinformation and propaganda. At a minimum, he needed to make clear just
who his sources were - if not by name, at least by social background and

With thanks,
David Keppel

More Coming


July 16, 2004 - page created by Charlie Jenks