When I was still in college I heard something that was kind of amazing to me. Two people, one advocating peace and one advocating war, said the exact same thing.
One of my Religion professors, Duane Friesen, had was talking about the potential involvement of the U.S. in military action in Afghanistan. This was in early 2002 and we had not yet begun either the war with Iraq or Afghanistan. He argued that the basic response of the U.S. to Al-Queida should not be one of war but of police action. The reason was because there are restraints within the concept of policing that ultimately lead to the perpetrators being brought to trial and ultimately justice. The framework of war, however, is about obliteration and destruction and would allow us to do horrible things to other people.
Then I caught a very pro-military, pro-war advocate on TV. He said the exact same thing that Duane did. The framework of policing held within it restraints that the framework of war did not. The difference was that he was using this to say that we needed to see this as a war because the enemy was so horrible that we needed to obliterate them and destroy them at all costs.
So how’d that work out for us.
Eight years later we’re still fighting two wars, one of which was unnecessary.
In the name of war and retribution the U.S. has illegally picked up people who they saw as a “threat” and shipped them off to secret torture facilities in a whole host of unnamed countries.
Not to mention the abuses at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Gahrib.
Racial and religious discrimination has spiked against not only Arabs and Muslims but all kinds of other people as well.
The position of the U.S. as a leader in the world has almost completely been destroyed because of our disregard for other people and nations, both militarily and politically.
So now we stand at another crossroads. President Obama is considering what overarching strategy to move forward with in Afghanistan. Some are arguing for large numbers of new troops. Some are calling for a complete pull out.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) just sent a bulletin insert out to all the churches. In addition to reiterating our general peace position it calls for three things.
All of these are to be carried out within a framework not of war but of policing.
Afghanistan is a country that is unbelievably impoverished. I remember that the joke back in the early 2000’s was that if we bombed Afghanistan back to the stone age it would be an improvement. The way the MCC describes it is this:
Afghanistan is one of the least developed countries in the world, with
more than 60 per cent of its population living on less than U.S.$1 a day.
More than 20 years of wars and internal instability and recent floods
and disease have nearly destroyed the country. Only 22 per cent of the
population has access to improved drinking-water sources and 30 per
cent to safe sanitation facilities.
In a country with that much desolation it’s no wonder that it has become a breeding ground for hatred and violence. The response that is needed now is not to re-escalate a war that can’t be won. The barrel of a gun has never brought safety and security. What brings security is living in a society where everyone extends respect and trust to their neighbor and agrees to live in peace.
From a Christian perspective, if we are really a people that put our hope and trust in Jesus for our security, then we should be the first ones in line to speak the truth that no government, military, bomb or any other act of violence will ultimately create security.
So, to echo Bruce’s words, it’s time to Bring ’em home.