Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 1:38 pm | Fair 76º


90-Plus for Peace: Joe Pollock

The philanthropist is speaking out in support of pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Editor’s Note: This is one in a series of stories by Steven Crandell to introduce readers to extraordinary Santa Barbara peace leaders. All of them are older than age 90. Although their lives are very different, one thing binds all of them: They take individual satisfaction from contributing to the greater good.

Dr. Joe Pollock is starting a peace movement at age 94. His message is straightforward: “Get our military forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.”

Joe Pollock

The enormity of the task isn’t daunting to him. He shrugs and says, “I never give up.”

Pollock was born in 1913, the same year the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified — authorizing the federal government to impose and collect income tax. It also was the year Woodrow Wilson became president, stainless steel was invented in England and Mohandas Gandhi was arrested while leading a march of India miners in South Africa.

In the near-century since then, Pollock has been a surgeon, an author, a steel factory owner, a horse rancher and a philanthropist. Since coming to Santa Barbara 22 years ago, he has played pivotal roles with the Santa Barbara Film Festival, the Channel Island Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Santa Barbara City College and the Center for Film, Television and New Media at UCSB. Pollock, wife Helene and other family members gave $2 million in 2004 to build the 299-seat Pollock Theatre at UCSB.

Right now, he has an even bigger agenda. Read all about it on his blog at

“I have lived through wars and recessions. I have witnessed many disasters our country has suffered,” he writes. “Now, I must speak out about our present catastrophic situation concerning our part in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I feel that the U.S. is fighting a useless war. It’s time for the U.S. and President Bush to admit we have lost the war. In the Vietnam War, we finally admitted our failure. We walked away. ... Now, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fear is that Iran will take over the Middle East. ... So what? We continue, and will continue, to lose our kids. The cost of the war is a terrific drain on our economy. Our dollar is at an all-time low. ... We must get out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.”

He expresses frustration about the major presidential candidates. He says they will “follow Mr. Bush’s program” and keep troops in Iraq if elected, so Pollock is calling for people across the country to demand the withdrawal of U.S. troops without delay.

“What’s the war about?” he says. “Being successful? War is like anything else. Sometimes you have to admit that you’ve lost. And walk away.”

Steven Crandell is the director of development and public affairs for the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

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