"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Drones or Development, or Show Me The Love


Valentines Day has passed, so we can drop the pretense about love. Let's face it; for all the talk of love, for all the roses, for all the chocolates, for all the Hallmark cards, we just aren't getting it. Romantic love aside; the original love children (also known as Christians) still haven't gotten that love thing down, even a couple thousand years after the death of the very person who showed us the way and gave his life for it.

From my experience in the church, we are good at loving each other (those within the church community) but not so good at showing the kind of Agape love that is meant for all humankind. So in a very real sense we are practicing conditional love, and I've always understood that to be the unhealthy kind, and definitely NOT the kind of love that Jesus lived and taught. Why am I hammering on my fellow Christians? Because we represent over 75 percent of the population of the United States (based on 2001 figures), and that means we are pretty well in control of the decision making process that includes making WAR.

While President Obama is laying the groundwork to gear down in Iraq (a good thing), he is concurrently preparing to gear UP in Afghanistan (a very bad thing - just think "Soviet Union"). It's not just that we will get mired in a larger, intractable occupation (which is already going less than well); but the worst thing is that we will end up applying even more violence than was used by the Bush administration, creating more and greater suffering and death on all sides. And to what end? Is this "change we can believe in"???

(Soviet) history has already cleared the smoke from the crystal ball, if we dare to gaze within. Military action (and its associated violence) will never transform Afghanistan into anything more than a heap of larger rubble and suffering, and create an even richer breeding ground for hatred towards America (and the West), and you know where it goes from there. It is time to stop this madness and dare to imagine different approaches to creating stability in countries like Afghanistan, as I described in a previous blog post; see Three Cups of Tea (and a Skateboard). We need far fewer Predator drones and far more development aid.

Father John Dear laid out a different road map for U.S. engagement in Afghanistan in his February 10th blog post, War is not 'change we can believe in'. It is well worth reading, and when you finish, I hope you will be convinced to take action to prevent an increasing cycle of violence (and suffering) in Afghanistan. The kind of change we CAN believe in does not contain the word WAR. Indeed, War is NOT the answer. Love is.

As Father Dear says, What we need is "nonviolent change we can believe in." I propose the immediate removal of our troops and a massive inflow of aid to abolish poverty, illiteracy and disease. In Afghanistan and Iraq. War will fail to cut the roots of terrorism. Active peacemaking is the only solution.

Let the President and your members of Congress know that you support development, not drones; nonviolent solutions over violent ones. You can send an email to President Obama, or click here to find contact information for you Senators and Representative. We need to counter the drums of war; speak out for peaceful alternatives! Isn't THAT the kind of change we can believe in?



Read more on U.S. plans for Afghanistan in Aides Say Obama’s Afghan Aims Elevate War , in the New York Times.

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