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

Posts tagged ‘war’

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.

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

Finding Hope in Afghanistan

Last week Liz blogged about her travel to Afghanistan as part of a delegation of U.S citizens who are accompanying  the Afghan Youth Peace Initiative through a week of activities to build peace. She is there now and we are sharing updates from Liz and others who are with her.

Guest blog entry: Jake Olzen (he writes from Kabul, Afghanistan).

Finding Hope in Afghanistan, March 20, 2011

In a country torn by thirty years of war where the promise of peace is continually broken, despair and resignation seem to be the norm for Afghan society.  War – and its corollaries of social decay, poverty, corruption, and trauma – does not discriminate.  Not a family in Afghanistan has been left unaffected by the death or disappearance of a loved one and the daily, traumatizing stress of living in an occupied war zone.  Billions of aid intended for reconstruction has been siphoned off leaving little left over for meaningful, local development.  Afghanistan is an unstable society wracked by corruption at nearly every level of government and a pervasive distrust of strangers and neighbors alike is the expectant result of such disintegration of social ties.  But as the late Studs Terkel reminds us, “hope dies last.”  And this is certainly true for the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, a small but growing group of young Afghans committed to a life of peace in the midst of so much violence.  While cynicism and disbelief  run deep across generations, the AYPVs have an alternative vision for their country embedded deep in their hearts – and they believe this hope for peace is already in the heart of every Afghan.


Hope in the Afghan Spring

Fifty-five young saplings mark the beginning of a new year in Afghanistan.   The various apple, apricot, and almond trees were planted in a Kabul elementary and high school as a sign of hope and promise of peace.  Organized by the AYPVs, twenty-five international partners joined together with over fifty ordinary Afghans to declare a commitment to an Afghanistan without war.  The previous day, the AYPVS along with members of the Open Society organized and participated in an inter-ethnic walk for an end to the war.  As far as anyone can tell, this is the first public gathering calling for peace in Afghanistan that is not politically aligned or sponsored.  The bright blue scarves of the AYPVs, their smiles and words of gratitude to the accompanying riot police, and banners denouncing warmongering is a considerable different message that most Kabulis are not used to seeing or hearing.  The steadfast commitment to nonviolence of the AYPVs and their deep desire for peace offers a kind of hope that is unheard of in Afghanistan but it also offers a breath of fresh air.  Slowly but surely the AYPVs and their partners – both Afghan and international – are growing into a sizable community with a peace-filled vision for Afghanistan.  The planting of trees is a small gesture indeed and the challenges for ending the foreign occupation of Afghanistan, confronting corruption and human rights abuses (particularly of women), and promoting a culture of peace are many.  But the planting of trees is a beginning and it may very well be the birth of a movement that transforms Afghanistan.

Jake Olzen is a member of the White Rose Community in Chicago, Il.  He can be reached at jake.olzen@gmail.com.

 

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