In this season that proclaims Peace on Earth and Goodwill towards Men, it is a sad irony that there are dozens of violent conflicts throughout the world. It is not until the world learns that it cannot solve problems with violence that we will be able to address the vital issues of poverty, famine, literacy, disease and global warming. I guess we just do not learn very well because we repeat the same mistakes with violence, war and misery again and again.
Nonviolence is the answer to the crucial political and moral questions of our time; the need for mankind to overcome oppression and violence without resorting to oppression and violence. Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love. – Martin Luther King, Jr. 12/11/1964
With the bipartisan Iraqi study committee’s report there is a new tenor to the debate on the war with Iraq. I have long opposed this war as unjust and a huge mistake and now this commission has basically said that it was a mistake. Ooops, we just killed nearly 4000 of our soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and what for? We are not safer, we have not defeated an enemy, we have not created a democratic utopia. Instead, we have squandered hundreds of billions of dollars of our country’s future to stand in the middle of a civil war. Just think of what good that half a trillion dollars could do
– like provide health insurance for everyone in our country (and Iraq, too think of the benefits of that versus bombs and violence!).
The commission’s report did not go far enough and even with our president now saying that we need a “new approach” we remain in Iraq, creating a breeding ground for terrorists and exacerbating a deteriorating situation. Not only was it a mistake to get into this war but the president misled the congress and the American people about the reasons for the war and refused to listen to any voices other than his own, until the people made it very clear that they were tired of his abuse of power. The commission should have taken their report to the logical conclusion, which is a complete withdrawal from Iraq and a commitment to diplomacy and non-violence in addressing the many problems of that region.
The world has become a much more dangerous place because we have abandoned diplomacy and non-violence in favor of machismo and armed conflict. Instead of being the beacon of liberty and hope, our country has become the perpetrator of might makes right. As the strongest and most powerful nation in the world we have an inescapable moral obligation to lead. To lead to a more civilized world where we work together to solve problems that have plagued humanity for eons.
While the science freak in me gets stirred up about the talk of water on Mars or a manned permanent base on the Moon, I fear we are not ready to leave our world until we have learned to solve our problems without resorting to violence. There are many important lessons to be learned from the mistake of a war in Iraq but the most important is to learn what our soldiers know so intimately:
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. – Dwight Eisenhower 4/16/1953
As we complete 2006, I look forward not to 2007 but to 2056 and wonder whether the lessons of a thousand wars will ever be learned.
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