A blog by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration about justice and peace issues

Posts tagged ‘Iraq’

Root causes

The past few days I was at the annual School of the Americas Watch Vigil calling for the transformation of inequitable policies between the United States and Latin America. Every morning before I headed out for a day full of meetings and actions I listened to the news on CNN.

I was stunned by the misinformation, war mongering and outright exploitation of grief and fear from the events in Beirut and Paris. This rhetoric was chorused by presidential candidates naming shameful and ridiculous solutions from children being denied refugee status to a “registry” for Muslims in the U.S.

A lot of candidates say they are for the troops and will do anything to support vets. But how many listen to veterans when they call for an end to war? In our ongoing exploration of what never makes it into the main stream media during a campaign year, I offer to you a vitally important statement from vets on how we need to respond to events unfolding around the globe:

IVAW Statement on Recent Attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq, & Nigeria
 

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the victims and families who have suffered from the acts of brutality committed in Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Zabul and now multiple cities in Nigeria over the last number of days.

We condemn these terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, France, Iraq and Nigeria. We mourn with the victims and send our deepest condolences to their families. No one’s life should end in this way; no family should suffer the anguish and loss that these people are suffering.

For these attacks to stop, we must address their root causes and take responsibility for U.S. participation in the destabilization of countries that span the Middle East, North and Western Africa, and South and Central Asia. The deliberate destabilization of once functional states in the region, and the current bombardment of Yemen by U.S. ally Saudi Arabia, has created the perfect environment for groups like ISIS and Boko Haram to grow and thrive. We must see the rise of terrorism and the attacks in Paris for what they are, blowback for western intervention in the Middle East and elsewhere around the globe.

We, as current and former military members, understand that who the U.S. military kills is never certain and differentiating combatants from civilians is not a priority. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed and thousands of others are being stalked and killed by drones in at least seven countries, creating an environment filled with constant terror. Russia joining the bombardment of Syria and Iraq, the recent announcement of more troops to be deployed around the globe, and the extension of troop withdrawal in Afghanistan will only exacerbate an increasingly volatile situation until the “all out war” that France’s President Hollande called for is upon us. The end result of all of this can only be destruction, terror and lost lives, not only from predominately Muslim countries, but everywhere terror and war will inevitably reach.

We know from experience that declaring war on terrorism is a futile gesture that engages the world in a downward spiral of destruction. A full land war in Syria plays into the goals of terrorist groups and will undoubtedly destroy more innocent lives. Meanwhile, western countries will be no safer than before, in fact, increased blowback resulting from these actions will remain an ever present threat for years to come. An escalation of warfare will also violate civil liberties by establishing a securitization regime in France as an extension of the already existing “security measures” in the U.S., England and elsewhere
.

We call on the US and its NATO allies to:

1)    Exercise restraint and exhaust all avenues of diplomacy;

2)    Take full responsibility and hold themselves accountable for the illegality of the Iraq war and the continuance of the Afghanistan war, their colonial exploits, and their extra military actions which gave rise to the instability of various regions as we see today;

3)    De-escalate from the perpetual violence, and reduce militarization both at home and abroad; and

4)    Accept responsibility for the resettlement of all refugees, who are victimized by the so-called “War on Terror,” and resist scapegoating those with the least power in this tragic string of events.

Repeating the disastrous choices made by our nation after September 11th will result in nothing short of squandering the future of millions. This cycle of violence and exploitation has to end now.

“Peacemaking is more courageous than warfare….” Pope Francis

Iraqi Children

A perspective from religious leaders to consider before President Obama’s address:

Dear President Obama:

As religious communities, leaders, and academics, we write to express our deep concern over the recent escalation of U.S. military action in Iraq. While the dire plight of Iraqi civilians should compel the international community to respond in some way, U.S. military action is not the answer. Lethal weapons and airstrikes will not remove the threat to a just peace in Iraq. As difficult as it might be, in the face of this great challenge, we believe that the way to address the crisis is through long-term investments in supporting inclusive governance and diplomacy, nonviolent resistance, sustainable development, and community-level peace and reconciliation processes.

Pope Francis has affirmed that “peacemaking is more courageous than warfare,” and more recently said that “it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop;’ I don’t say bomb, make war — stop him.” But how, we ask?

In addition to the complex factors spilling over from the civil war in Syria and pressure from other neighbors, decades of U.S. political and military intervention, coupled with inadequate social reconciliation programs, have significantly contributed to the current crisis in Iraq. More bombing will ultimately mean more division, bloodshed, recruitment for extremist organizations, and a continual cycle of violent intervention.

The current state of crisis and the breakdown of state institutions in Libya provide another stark example of the failure of a militarized strategy. Like Libya, the air strikes in Iraq will ultimately fail to build and maintain sustainable peace in the long-term.

We understand and deeply share the desire to protect people, especially civilians. However, even when tactics of violent force yield a short-term displacement of the adversary’s violence, such violence toward armed actors is often self-perpetuating, as the retributive violence that flares up in response will only propitiate more armed intervention in a tit-for-tat escalation without addressing the root causes of the conflict. We see this over and over again. It is not “necessary” to continue down this road of self-destruction, as Pope Francis called the hostilities of war the “suicide of humanity.”

There are better, more effective, more healthy and more humanizing ways to protect civilians and to engage this conflict. Using an alternative frame, here are some “just peace” ways the United States and others can not only help save lives in Iraq and the region, but also begin to transform the conflict and break the cycle of violent intervention. To begin, the United States should take the following steps:

  • Stop U.S. bombing in Iraq to prevent bloodshed, instability and the accumulation of grievances that contribute to the global justification for the Islamic State’s existence among its supporters.
  • Provide robust humanitarian assistance to those who are fleeing the violence. Provide food and much-needed supplies in coordination with the United Nations.
  • Engage with the UN, all Iraqi political and religious leaders, and others in the international community on diplomatic efforts for a lasting political solution for Iraq. Ensure a significantly more inclusive Iraqi government along with substantive programs of social reconciliation to interrupt the flow and perhaps peel-back some of the persons joining the Islamic State. In the diplomatic strategy, particularly include those with influence on key actors in the Islamic State.
  • Work for a political settlement to the crisis in Syria. The conflicts in Iraq and Syria are intricately connected and should be addressed holistically. Return to the Geneva peace process for a negotiated settlement to the civil war in Syria and expand the agenda to include regional peace and stability. Ensure Iran’s full participation in the process.
  • Support community-based nonviolent resistance strategies to transform the conflict and meet the deeper need and grievances of all parties. For example, experts have suggested strategies such as parallel institutions, dispersed disruptions, and economic non-cooperation.
  • Strengthen financial sanctions against armed actors in the region by working through the UN Security Council. For example, disrupting the Islamic State’s $3 million/day oil revenue from the underground market would go a long way toward blunting violence.
  • Bring in and significantly invest in professionally trained unarmed civilian protection organizations to assist and offer some buffer for displaced persons and refugees, both for this conflict in collaboration with Iraqi’s and for future conflicts.
  • Call for and uphold an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict. U.S. arms and military assistance to the government forces and ethnic militias in Iraq, in addition to arming Syrian rebel groups, have only fueled the carnage, in part due to weapons intended for one group being taken and used by others. All armed parties have been accused of committing gross violations of human rights. Along with Russia, work with key regional players such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait to take independent initiatives and meaningful steps towards an arms embargo on all parties in the conflict.
  • Support Iraqi civil society efforts to build peace, reconciliation, and accountability at the community level. Deep sectarian and ethnic divisions have long been exacerbated by various factors, including the U.S. military intervention in 2003. Sustainable peace will require peace-building and reconciliation efforts from the ground up.

With hope, deep-felt prayers, and a splash of courage, we ask you to move us beyond the ways of war and into the frontier of just peace responses to violent conflict.

Sincerely,

Susan T. Henry-Crowe, MDiv.DD
General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society
The United Methodist Church

Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (USA)

Janet Mock, CSJ
Executive Director
Leadership Conference of Women Religious

Diane Randall
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Shan Cretin
General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. James Moos
Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Sandy Sorensen
Director, DC office
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Eli McCarthy, PhD
Director of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men

Patrick Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network

Stanley J. Noffsinger, General Secretary
Church of the Brethren

Sr. Patricia Chappell
Executive Director
Pax Christi USA

Marie Dennis
Co-President
Pax Christi International

Gerry G. Lee
Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Scott Wright
Director
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach

Rev. Michael Neuroth
Policy Advocate for International Issues
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Very Rev. Michael Duggan, MM
U.S. Regional Superior of Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers

Very Rev. Carl Chudy, SX
Provincial Superior of Xaverian Missionaries in U.S.

Very Rev. Domenico Di Raimondo, M.Sp.S.
Provincial Superior of Missionaries of the Holy Spirit
Christ the Priest Province

Provincial Council of the Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)

María Teresa Dávila, PhD
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Andover Newton Theological School

Bill Barbieri, PhD
Professor of Religion and Culture and Moral Theology/Ethics
Catholic University

Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite
Professor of Theology
Chicago Theological Seminary

Sr. Marianne Farina, CSC
Ethics Professor
Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Laurie Johnston, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies
Emmanuel College

Rev. Priscilla Eppinger, PhD
Associate Professor of Religion
Graceland University/Community of Christ Seminary

Peter Phan, PhD
Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought
Georgetown University

Fr. Ray Kemp, S.T.L.
Theology Professor
Georgetown University

Francis X. Clooney, SJ
Parkman Professor of Divinity
Director, The Center for the Study of World Religions
Harvard University

Betty Reardon, PhD
Founding Director Emeritus
International Institute on Peace Education

Maureen O’Connell, PhD
Associate Professor of Theology and Chair of Department of Religion
LaSalle University

Amir Hussain, PhD
Professor of Theological Studies
Loyola Marymount University

Kathleen Maas Weigert, PhD
Carolyn Farrell, BVM Professor of Women and Leadership
Loyola University Chicago

David Cortright, PhD
Director of Policy Studies
Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
Notre Dame University

Margaret Pfeil, PhD
Assistant Professor of Theology/Ethics
Notre Dame University

John Berkman, PhD
Professor of Moral Theology
Regis College, University of Toronto

Gerald W. Schlabach
Professor of Theology
University of St. Thomas

John Sniegocki, PhD
Associate Professor of Christian Ethics
Director, Peace Studies Minor
Xavier University

Kathryn Getek Soltis, PhD
Director, Center for Peace and Justice Education
Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Villanova University

Suzanne C. Toton, EdD
Theology and Religious Studies Department
Villanova University

Rev. Louis Arceneaux, CM
Promoter of Peace and Justice
Western Province, Congregation of the Mission, USA

Fr. Robert Bossie, SCJ
Priests of the Sacred Heart
Chicago, IL

Fr. John A. Coleman, SJ
Saint Ignatius Parish
San Francisco, CA

Fr. John Converset, MCCJ
Director, Office of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation
North American Province of Comboni Missionaries

Doreen Glynn, CSJ
Justice Coordinator
Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Albany Province

Bro. Michael Gosch, CSV
Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation Director
Clerics of St. Viator (Viatorians)

Jude A. Huntz, Director
Office for Peace and Justice
Archdiocese of Chicago

Bro. Brian McLauchlin, SVD
Justice, Peace, Integrity of Creation Promoter

Bro. Frank O’Donnell, SM
Marianist

Brian Reavey
Lay-Marianist

Bro. Jerry Sullivan, SM
Marianist

Rev. Dr. Peter A. Wells
Justice LED Organizer
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Bro. Stan Zubek, SM
Marianist

cc:

  • Secretary of State John Kerry
  • U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power
  • Department of State, Undersecretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Sarah Sewall
  • USAID, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg
  • Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives Shaun Casey
  • Special Assistant to the President for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Melissa Rogers

Global call to prayer for the end of violence

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious calls for protection of the
persecuted in Iraq.

In the face of imminent danger for the people there, the leader of the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna in Mosul, Iraq has called her sisters throughout the country to a time of intense prayer and retreat to beg God for the protection of the Iraqi people.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in the United States also calls upon people of all denominations in the world community to join the Iraqi Sisters in a moment of prayer on Thursday, June 19 at 6 PM (in your time zone) to pray for an end to the violence and the protection of those victimized.

The Dominican Sisters are all Iraqi nationals and minister in health care, social services, and education. In fact, they started the first Montessori school in the country. They serve all people in their ministry.

As the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine continue their days of intense
prayer, they ask that people throughout the world join them on June 19,
believing that this intensification of global prayer can make a difference.

“We believe that prayer has the power to change the course of events in
Iraq,” says Sister Carol Zinn, SSJ, LCWR president. “We stand with our sisters and brothers who courageously remain with the people they serve and will join with them in prayer for as long and as often as it takes until the violence ceases.”

About LCWR:

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) is an association of the leaders of congregations of Catholic women religious in the United States. The conference has more than 1,400 members (including the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration), who represent more than 80 percent of the approximately 51,600 women religious in the United States.

Founded in 1956, the conference assists its members to collaboratively carry out their service of leadership to further the mission of the Gospel in today’s world.

We remember them: the Kandahar killing spree

I am haunted this week by the Kandahar killing spree. I keep thinking of the young men I met through the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative, some as young as 12, and I wonder what if they were one of the 16? What if one of those brave young men working for peace in Afghanistan had been dragged from their bed at 3 a.m. and shot in the head?

I am haunted by this soldier. After his third tour and traumatic brain injury he believed he would be sent to Hawaii for a desk job, instead he was sent to the most unstable area in yet another war zone. What had happened to him that the only option left was to shoot men, women and children in the middle of the night and then light their bodies on fire?

I am haunted by Leon Panetta who bluntly told the press, “war is hell,”  and to expect that this type of tragedy would happen again.

I am haunted by the story we keep telling ourselves that in this war there are “good” deaths and “bad” deaths as if the loss of any human life fits into such cheap categories.

I am haunted and yet I know that peace, justice and healing find their roots in what haunts us, what disturbs us and what will not allow us to say death and suffering and horror are what we should expect. So I borrow from the traditions of healing I have been taught in Colombia. Another war zone, another place where too often death is treated as a normalized outcome of “war.”

The Colombians have taught me the power of memory and how in honoring those who have suffered, those who have died, you hold open the space for what can be – for what we do not yet see but refuse to ever relinquish our hope for…

So as a way to honor memory and pray for hope I offer this prayer for all those who have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan and all the places of war around the world…

Leader: In the rising of the sun and in its going down,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the glowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the blueness of sky and in the warmth of summer,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,

All: We remember them.

Leader: In the beginning of the year and when it ends,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we are weary and in need of strength,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we are lost and sick at heart,

All: We remember them.

Leader: When we have joys we yearn to share,

All: We remember them. So long as we live, they too shall live,

For they are now a part of us, as we remember them.

From Prayers for Life, Edited By: Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Amidon

Killing Osama bin Laden: Justice?

The headlines are filled with the killing of Osama bin Laden by the U.S. Special Forces. One headline in Chicago read, “Justice Has Been Done.” The images of Americans celebrating in the streets, waving flags and soldiers abroad cheering all seem to indicate that we just completed something monumental. We achieved a goal or overcame a dire obstacle and so it is time to herald a new beginning free of the danger of the past.

It would seem that we are in a nation-wide pep rally and not that just we killed a man in his home in front of his family. Literally in front of his family since we shot one of his wives to be able to shoot him.

Interesting that the over 100,000 troops in Afghanistan had nothing to do with the killing of Osama bin Laden even though that is why we invaded that country 10 years ago. Equally interesting that the troops who have been in Iraq, our other war, since 2003 were also not involved.

No, a Special Ops Team went into Pakistan, our ally in the double wars, and killed him. Interesting that we have spent close to a  trillion dollars on two wars and what “got us” the intellectual author of the 9/11 attacks was intelligence and a small group of soldiers none of which were harmed.

So our double occupation and destruction of two countries in the end had nothing to do with the killing of America’s “enemy number one” – and yet we celebrate.

Equally interesting that we kill a man without even the pretense of a trial and we call it justice. We kill a man who according to our own laws, no matter how horrible the crime, had a right to have his innocence or guilt proven in a court of law. We celebrate and announce justice as if the entire story exists between Osama bin Laden and those Special Ops.

No dead civilians in Afghanistan or Iraq, no families who lost their sons and daughters to two wars, no corruption of our own rule of law, no Abu Grahib or Bagram, no torture and indefinite detention, no environmental devastation and extravagant debt. Nope all we have is a victory, at last, the U.S. has been avenged as was our right.

There has been a lot of misinformation and outright lies that we as a country have been expected to overlook as we struggled through the unknown territory of the “borderless war on terror” for the past ten years.

But to be asked to celebrate this assassination and call it justice, to see “victory”  or closure with two ongoing wars is too much. We cannot afford to cede any additional moral ground to the disaster that is the “war on terror.” Join with the Quaker Friends Committee and click on the link below to contact your Reps and Senators and ask them for real solutions to the two wars and real justice for the victims of 9/11.

http://www.capwiz.com/fconl/issues/alert/?alertid=44473501&type=CO

“I believe in the creative energy that weaves the fabric of relations..”

“I believe in the creative energy that weaves the fabric of relations…” Graciela Pujol

Dear All – I am struck today as we near the six year anniversary of the war in Iraq as well as more than seven years in Afghanistan what a different place we are in from this time last year.

We sadly greet yet another year of war and occupation but yet greet this anniversary with the knowledge that Guantanamo may be closed, troop withdrawals are being discussed, and dialog is returning to our presence at the United Nations. 

It is not a complete solution, but a beginning and such a beginning has not been seen since September 11, 2001. It matches well the small buds, burgeoning shoots, and unfurling leaves that are starting to mark our entry into spring.

Simple, small and yet deeply nourishing these little flags of hope raise our eyes to the horizon as winter buttons her coat and whispers a gracious goodbye. This delicate opening for change can help us as we continue to raise our voice for peace in the world. To speak for the rights of the Iraqis and Afghanis who have born the burden of our limited vision in the past and still bear that burden today.

We have left Egypt and yet are still in the desert, still crafting the way forward to a land that does not require military might to control resources, settle differences, or ensure domination.

Here is to all the little green leaves, plants, blooms that will help guide us all forward to a peace that brings full justice….Blessings on this Almost Spring…Liz

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