Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ending the Iraq War

Today there were hearings in congress to learn about the progress of the Iraq war. Needless to say, those testifying stayed with the party line. As a person of faith and as an American, those answers are not acceptable to me. We must leave and do so now.

Following is the text of a proposal from the Network of Spiritual Progressives that was drafted by Tony Campolo, an American Baptist and noted evangelical, and Rabbi Michael Lerner who represents the other end of the religious spectrum. It can be found here and if you agree, you can sign it and/or make a donation to have the proposal appear as a newspaper advertisement in major papers around the country. I signed.

The war in Iraq is unlikely to end until Congress specifically cuts the funding for the war and refuses to pass any funding authorization for the Dept. of Defense until the troops are headed safely home. Many Americans are not ready to make that demand on their Congressional representatives quite yet. They want to know what will happen next after funds are cut. To answer that, and strengthen Congressional resolve to end the war, the peace forces need to introduce a new ethical and spiritual vision of how America could change the way it acts and is perceived in the world. Here’s how.

I. The War is Wrong: Repentance Is Necessary

The remedy for wrong-doing begins not only with the act of changing the path (stop funding war) but also with apology and repentance (in the Biblical sense repentance conveys a return to one’s highest self after one has gone astray and betrayed one’s highest values). Therefore, we ask that our elected representatives go before the U.N. and acknowledge that it was wrong for the U.S. to invade Iraq, that hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed and wounded in the chain of events that our invasion precipitated. The war has also created over two million refugees. For the suffering and deaths that have come from this invasion, we, the American people, must ask forgiveness since we overwhelmingly supported this great wrong when it began in 2003 and allowed it to continue. The scripture declares:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (II Chronicles 7:14 KJV)

It is not a sign of weakness to confess wrong-doing. We believe that it is only the spiritually strong who are able to do this. Such a confession will go far to restore the stature of America as a truly moral nation. And in repenting on behalf of all Americans, including those who are not religious, the president (or Congress) should acknowledge that this entire society has mistakenly adhered to the view that safety and security can be achieved through domination or control of others, but that a better path to safety and security is to treat others with generosity, kindness and genuine concern for their well being.

We urge the Congress to pass a resolution rejecting the strategy of domination and embracing the strategy of generosity, and calling upon the world’s peoples to forgive our society for the destructive path it has followed. It should then convey this appeal for forgiveness on behalf of the American people to the peoples of the world.

II. Replace U.S. and British Forces in Iraq with an International Peace Force Acceptable to the Iraqi People

While no such force is possible as long as the U.S. presence continues, an international force, composed primarily of Muslims from non-neighboring states, but also non-Muslims from other states not engaged in violence or economic boycotts against the Iraqi people, could provide security and fill the power vacuum and conduct a plebiscite so that the Iraqi people themselves could determine their own future. The U.S. should give all our Iraqi military bases to this force, leave no forces behind as “advisors” or deployed in neighboring states ready to re-intervene. And we should require that all U.S. corporations operating in Iraq give at least the majority of their Iraq-derived profits to the task of Iraqi reconstruction.

III. Rebuild Iraq. Launch a Global Marshall Plan.

True repentance requires the works of repentance. It is not enough to simply say We’re sorry!” So the U.S. must commit the hundreds of billions needed to fully rebuild Iraq. Yet the rebuilding of Iraq should only be part of a larger Global Marshall Plan which the U.S. should announce now—to commit at least 1% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the U.S. each year for the next twenty years toward the goal of eliminating global and domestic poverty, homelessness, inadequate health care, inadequate education, and for repairing the environment. Just as the first Marshall Plan allocated 1.5–2% of GDP after the Second World War to the rebuilding of Europe, this second Marshall Plan, extended to the rest of the world, will provide far more homeland security for the U.S. than the currently planned military spending that will squander our resources.

The Global Marshall Plan we propose is a major step toward a Strategy of Generosity which is the key to rebuilding trust in the United States. It is this kind of generosity which is required by the Scriptures of all the Abrahamic religions and should be pursued not only because it helps increase American security and respect for America around the world, but because it is morally appropriate and religiously mandated. If our Global Marshall Plan is backed by American political leaders purely for utilitarian reasons, it will be far less successful than if it is perceived by others around the world to have been supported by Americans because of a genuine caring for others and not solely because it is in our security interests to do so. Fostering an ethos of genuine caring for others—countering the ethos of selfishness, materialism and me-firstism that has been the “common sense” of a cynical media and our market-driven-culture—must become the highest domestic and foreign policy priority for our society.

If you agree with our perspective, please join the Network of Spiritual Progressives (you don’t have to be religious or believe in God—secular people with a spiritual consciousness as reflected in this ad are welcome) and help us spread these ideas. And ask anyone seeking your political support in 2008 to publicly endorse the Global Marshall Plan and the Strategy of Generosity. Don’t let media and politicians convince you this is “unrealistic” or “utopian,” because history shows (and the Iraq war proves) that militarism and domination are far less “realistic” as paths to peace and security. Please donate to help us publish this information in Congressional districts that do not yet call for an end to the war. (Donors of $500 or more will have their names listed on future ads, but every donation, no matter how small, will be greatly appreciated).

We, the undersigned, support the concept of repentance and generosity as central to the way to end the war in Iraq. We call upon our elected officials, media, and fellow citizens to give serious consideration to the strategy outlined above which requires a fundamental rethinking of what can really provide security for the U.S.

Drafted by Rev. Tony Campolo (author, Letters to a Young Evangelical) and Rabbi Michael Lerner (editor, Tikkun Magazine and national Chair, the Network of Spiritual Progressives) and signed by over 2500 people


Dave Miller said...

Roy, where did you find Tony's name on this? I looked all through the web site and missed it.

roy said...

Dave, it is at the end of the document...

Dave Miller said...

I saw that there, but missed it on the web site. Thanks.