Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Iraq again

I've been watching with more and more despair of late as the news just gets worse in Iraq. Even hawks like Henry Kissinger have come to the conclusion that we cannot "win" there while at the same time more and more are fearing that if we leave, we will see a firestorm overtake the Middle East. That of course leaves a wonderful option... continue to send young men and women to die or be maimed with no reasonable goal in mind. And none of it needed to happen!

I think the situation underscores my belief that our leaders are approaching the current world with a mindset that has its roots in a past long since gone. Warfare does not look like it did during WWII. In a time when one independent terrorist cell can turn the world upside down, it is silly to think that a large army or airforce can go in, do its thing, and force an enemy to sign a peace treaty and then see it kept. It just doesn't work that way anymore. Putting huge resources into the military will not make us more secure in this day and age. Supporting tyrants like Saddam will only come back to bite us. We must work for a more stable and egalitarian economy around the world so everyday people have something to preserve. We must work to understand those with whom we disagree and we must learn to appreciate their perspectives even when we do not agree. We must learn to talk, talk, talk, and then talk some more. And we must learn to build large and far-ranging alliances. The world must want to be our friend rather than fear being our enemy.

More than ever before, we need a national Peace College to train leaders to make peace and we need to place at least equal the resources there that we put into our military academies.


Dennis E. McFadden said...
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Dennis E. McFadden said...


Depsite my knee jerk support for Doubya, I find your idea of a Peace College fascinating. IFF it could be done with the intellectual toughness of those who understand fallen human nature (e.g., practical use of appeals to self interest as a motivator for right behavior among nations rather than expecting idealistic selflessness), it could add measurably to the critical need for cooperation in such a dangerous world. My problem is with most pacifists who keep concentrating on the utopian ideal while ignoring the uncomfortably gritty realism of the present world.

A "peace college" that did more than make fuzzy headed leftist pronouncements could be a GREAT help in our troubled world. But how would you avoid the pitfalls that have dogged the UN since its inception?

Anonymous said...

Actually, Peacemaking is serious work. Legislation to establish a cabinet level U.S. Department of Peace has been introduced to congress on a regular basis for many years now. http://www.thepeacealliance.org/

Amongst other things, it would include establishing a U.S. Peace Academy, on par with the U.S. military academies. Be sure to contact your congressional rep. and ask them to sign on as a co-sponsor in the upcoming congressional session. Given the new Democrat majority, it actually has a chance of passing this time around. BTW, Congresswomen Barbara Lee--an American Baptist (Allen Temple) from the Sacramento area is one of the bill's sponsors.

For a Christian look at modern peacemaking methods, look at _Just Peacemaking_ by Glenn H. Stassen, which does an outstanding job of integrating international relations theory with Christian ethics. This is not a book of warm fuzzy leftist pronouncements but, rather, an effort--based on serious research--to provide an alternative to the just war vs. pacifism debate. Since even just war theorists insist that war should be used as a last resort (and not for preemptive purposes with out cause), they can work together with pacifists to implement the objectives of just peacemaking. Though, if those ultimately fail, they--unlike their pacifist friends--may ultimately choose to pursue war as a last resort. But the idea here is to use proven methods for peacemaking first, and exhaust those methods, before resorting to war.

Hard work, yes. But not hardly utopian.

Josh Cartwright

Dennis E. McFadden said...


Glenn is a friend of mine (and one of my former parishioners). I respect him a great deal. Yes, he is committed to the "hard work" of just peacemaking. However, my experiences with Glenn do not completely disabuse me of the fear of fuzzy headed utopianism. But, hey, I'm a fundy on the right. Maybe normal people find his ideas realistic.

Josh Cartwright said...


If Stassen hasn't convinced you, try reading Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices For Abolishing War (not to be confused with his other book Just Peacemaking: Transforming Initiatives for Peace and Justice), which is an edited collection of articles authored by top-notch scholars on peace and justice.

It doesn't matter if you're a right wing fundy. You've already admitted that peace is needed in our troubled world. And no doubt as a fundy, you would consider Jesus' teachings on peacemaking and loving our enemies to be authoritative for believers today. Just ignore the warm fuzzy lefty stuff and concentrate on finding concrete practical ways to put Jesus' teachings from the Bible into practice. After all, that's what really counts, right?