The Common Good

Tackling the 'inevitability' defense

Sojomail - February 26, 2003


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+++++++++++++++++++++ 26-February-2003 ++++++++++++++++++++++
++++++++++++ Tackling the 'inevitability' defense +++++++++++

 Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k
     *Two superpowers at odds

 P. O. V.
     *Tackling the 'inevitability' defense

 F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
     *Getting in God's way

 B i z   E t h i x
     *David Batstone: Money, family, & ethics

 S o u l   W o r k s
     *Irish Poetry: Jo Slade

 P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
     *Lani Guinier: The 'quota' smokescreen

 B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
     *A national teach-in on the war on Iraq
     *Helping the children of Iraq

 B o o m e r a n g
     *SojoMail readers hit reply
 W e b s c e n e
     *War in Iraq? Read all about it...
     *Worldwide theater event for peace
     *More worldwide photos from February 15

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Q u o t e   o f   t h e   W e e k

"There may still be two superpowers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion."

Patrick E. Tyler, in "The New York Times"
article "A New Power in the Streets,"
Feb. 17, 2003.


P. O. V.
Tackling the 'inevitability' defense

by Rose Berger

What do you do with 200,000 soldiers after you've called off the war?

Former Supreme NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark perfectly captured the "inevitability defense" on a recent Sunday morning talk show. He said that he could not envision a scenario where the United States backs off from war with Iraq. "It's too late," said Clark, with all those troops in place, "war is inevitable."

Conventional thinking (and the higher in a bureaucracy you go the more conventional the thinking gets) says that the United States is now committed to war with Iraq, even if tens of millions of people and most of the world's governments are against it. You don't send 200,000 troops to staging areas in the Mediterranean, Kuwait, and Jordan only to call them back without a fight.

I agree. It is a waste of time and money. The question is - What kind of fight?

One of America's shining military moments occurred between May 10 and June 13, 1991, just after the Persian Gulf war. Just as troops were returning home, Cyclone Marian hit Bangladesh. It was a disaster. More than 100,000 people died and millions were left homeless. More than 1 million cattle died. Crops on 74,000 acres of land were destroyed. The soil was contaminated.

The president of Bangladesh turned to the world for help. Within 24 hours President Bush directed the U.S. military to provide humanitarian assistance. A 15-ship Navy amphibious force returning from the Persian Gulf was redirected to Bangladesh. When a Bangladeshi citizen spotted the force arriving from the water, he allegedly called them "Angels from the Sea." Operation Sea Angel had begun. It was one of the largest military disaster relief forces ever assembled. Thousands of U.S. soldiers worked with multinational forces over the next month to provide food, water, and medical care to nearly 2 million people. The valiant relief efforts of the troops were credited with saving as many as 200,000 lives.

What would it take for American to wage an "Operation Sea Angel" in Iraq, rather than a repeat of the horrors of Desert Storm? What would it take to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people? This is the kind of "war" our troops could wage and win with honor.

Imagine our 200,000 troops working with multinational agencies to rebuild Iraqi water systems; rebuild roads; transport medicine and food to the non-urban areas where access is severely limited; rebuild hospitals, churches, mosques, and homes; assist UNICEF's social mobilization for a polio free Iraq. Imagine our troops serving as teachers, doctors, engineers, and veterinarians. Imagine them rebuilding Iraq's agricultural base that has been so badly neglected. Imagine them training people for democracy. Imagine starting a massive humanitarian aid project for the people of Iraq now, not after a war.

Imagine also our troops coming home without nightmares, without "syndromes." Imagine not having the post-war spike in depression, addiction, and domestic abuse among our vets.

Would Saddam Hussein ever allow such a thing? Probably not, but it's hard to know without trying it.

Rose Marie Berger is associate editor of Sojourners magazine.


Join the National Poverty March for Peace at San
Francisco's Grace Cathedral on Sunday March 2. The
Interfaith Prayer Service commences at 3 p.m. and
a Candlelight Procession and Rally will follow at
4:30 p.m.

Speakers include Bishop Beverly Shamana of the United
Methodist Church, Rabbi Stephen Pearce of Congregation
Emanu-El, Omar Ahmad of the Council on American Islamic
Relations, and others.

Please come wherever you are on your journey of faith.
Come with your own congregation, come with a neighbor,
come alone and join with thousands of others searching
for ways to achieve social justice and prevent war.

For more details, including information on how you can
volunteer, please visit
or call the San Francisco Interfaith Center at

And help spread the word by sending invitations to
your friends at:


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s

"I have no objections to churches so long as they do not interfere with God's work."

- Brooks Atkinson (Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. journalist and theater critic, 1894- 1984)

********************** ANNOUNCEMENT ************************

Sojourners National Roundtable on Faith, Art, 
and Social Activism
Friday, March 7, 2003, 1-5 p.m.
Josephine Butler Parks Center
2437 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Listen to artists, activists, and theologians 
explore the church's role in disturbing and 
unsettling the status quo. How can both the church 
and the arts community foster civic dialogue in 
sacred spaces?

Roundtable panelists include: musician Michelle 
Shocked, painter Betty LaDuke, poet E. Ethelbert 
Miller, performance artist Lisa Alvarado, Spirit 
House founder Ruby Sales, Afrilachian poet Frank 
X Walker, the members of Sol & Soul, and many 

This event is free of charge, but space is 
limited. Please RSVP to Rachel Medema 
( or 202-328-8842 x227) 
or call Sojourners for more information. 
Sojourners National Roundtable is made possible 
by the Henry Luce Foundation.


B i z   E t h i x
Money, family, & ethics: lessons to grow by

Interview with Sojourners Executive Editor
David Batstone in USA Weekend

Most parents don't simply want their children to succeed - they want them to achieve success the right way. Especially now, as we continue to reel from one corporate scandal to the next, Americans are learning the hard way that dishonesty simply doesn't pay....

Parents concerned about raising children with a strong sense of ethics that will carry into their adult lives may wonder where to start. The truth is that kids encounter issues every day that have a direct correlation to things that happen in the business world. To illustrate these common connections - and conundrums - the staff of USA WEEKEND Magazine, including the many parents among us, created seven such sticky scenarios. They cover commonplace quandaries, from whether it's all right to buy CDs with a gift certificate Grandma intended for books, to whether it's acceptable to exaggerate a bit on a college application.

For answers, we consulted one of the country's leading authorities on ethics in the business world - and a father of four - David Batstone.

To read the interview, link to:

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vocation - where your heart is. Join us as we 
continue to resist the drumbeat of war and keep
the message of peace in the public eye.
Sojourners has two job openings:

Communications Manager
Business Manager

for more information. Sojourners is an equal opportunity
employer. Women and persons of color are especially
encouraged to apply.


S o u l   W o r k s
From Where It Came

by Jo Slade

From where it came,
the cold translucent water,
the pain
that nameless flew off
the same moment
a tree
devoured by the sun
in a single gulp
cried out.

From where it came,
that was change
a shattering.
The wood turned to water
became rings
to count days,
the river
the tireless water
that calms me.

From where it came,
out of one
from the smallest
and wood once frail
assumed a permanence.
That was stillness
a completed rhyme
a flower alone
in the blue night.

From where it came,
I saw nothing I was blind
The field emptied
turned to dust.
We obtain grace
we descend gracefully,
we are deeper
than the mercy
shown to us.

From "The White Page: Twentieth-Century Irish Women Poets"
For more info link to:


P o l i t i c a l l y   C o n n e c t
The 'quota' smokescreen

By Lani Guinier

George W. Bush mounted his bully pulpit on Martin Luther King's birthday and took aim at the University of Michigan's affirmative-action policies, calling them "a quota system." He tried to soft-pedal his quota-slinging rhetoric with an "I strongly support diversity of all kinds" statement and then fired off several more rounds of anti-quota talk directed at the "method used by the University of Michigan to achieve this important goal." His sympathy for the goal but condemnation of the method harked back to the compassionate conservatism of white moderates in Birmingham in 1963, whose equivocations prompted Dr. King to write his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail."...

Before we can have a meaningful conversation about alternative ways to achieve diversity, we first need to have an honest conversation about merit and opportunity. Test scores are not a fair or reliable way to distribute a scarce public resource, given the strength of their relationship to wealth rather than performance. Nor does the fictitious equation between test scores and merit actually fulfill the mission of public colleges to graduate students who go on to achieve individual goals, serve community needs and help society realize its democratic potential. With its incendiary use of the language of quotas, the Bush administration shifts our attention from this long-overdue debate about the relationship of admissions standards across the board to the democratic mission of higher education in an increasingly multiracial and knowledge-based economy.

To read Lani Guinier's entire commentary, link to:


B u i l d i n g   a   M o v e m e n t
A national teach-in on the war on Iraq

February 24-28 (this week!)

Can Saddam be disarmed without war? What role can nonviolence play in bringing justice and democracy to the region? What are the real reasons for the rush to war? Will war lessen - or increase - the threat of terrorism in this country? Are there alternatives to war?

Across the country, students will explore the complex issues surrounding the planned war on Iraq and engage in a dialogue about creative nonviolent alternatives to war.

If you are interested in downloading a free copy of the Teach-In packet, visit or contact Nathan Johnston at


Helping the children of Iraq

All children are our children. They are the common hope and future of the world. During the last 20 years, the children of Iraq have suffered at the hands of both internal and external forces. The Gulf war in 1991 and more than a decade of sanctions followed a protracted Iraqi war with Iran during the 1980s. Estimates of the number of children who have died run from 500,000 to more than 1 million. It is a crisis of tragic proportions to which compassionate people of faith in the United States must respond.

"All Our Children" is a $1 million campaign to respond to critical health care needs of Iraqi children. At a time of great anxiety about another war in Iraq, this effort by people in the United States will be a tangible demonstration of our love for children - a love shared by all humanity. This response includes desperately needed items such as antibiotics, anesthesia, IV solution kits, and methods for accessing clean drinking water. It will send a message to the world, particularly the people of the Middle East, that compassion for all our children unites us.

As we continue to pray and act for peace, we can also act with compassion to save the lives of thousands of innocent children.

"All Our Children" was initiated by Church World Service, Jubilee Partners, Mennonite Central Committee, the National Council of Churches, and Sojourners. You can find more information and make a donation at

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B o o m e r a n g

Alan Hatfield writes from Florey, ACT, Australia:

I was so pleased to read in SojoMail (2/20/03) the account of Jim Wallis' leading of a widely based churches delegation to speak with Tony Blair. The issues raised with the British PM were exactly the ones that I would have wanted to raise with him myself and, in that sense, the delegation very fairly represented me and, I imagine, many other concerned Christians worldwide.

But the ever-so-important information missing from this article was: What was Tony Blair's response and justification for his over-enthusiastic support of George Bush? Did he not respond? Or did SojoMail simply overlook telling us?

**Ed. note: The discussions with Prime Minister Tony Blair were private; hence, by accord, PM Blair's responses must remain confidential.


Jason Hicks writes from Jackson, Mississippi:

It was strange to read Jim Wallis agree with Tony Blair that Saddam is a threat to the world, but just that he thinks war is a bad option to deal with the problem. Because the CIA has said that chances are Saddam will only use any weapons he might have if he is attacked. There seems to be no reason, especially with inspections, to think that Saddam's a threat to the world. Yes, he is a threat to his own people - as are Turkey and Colombia even more so with their US-supplied weapons. So if Sojourners wants to campaign for the Iraqi people, I think it should campaign against the genocidal sanctions - both for moral and practical reasons.


Rev. Joel Mark Solliday writes from Maple Grove, Minnesota:

Jim Wallis used the phrase "U.S. rush to war" in his article about the meeting with Tony Blair. Consider that after 12 years of deception, countless broken resolutions, ongoing horrendous torture of Iraqi dissenters, countless dead Kurds, much heated rhetoric, negotiations, agreements, disagreements and so on, we are still not currently at war. Did that register? After all that has transpired, you and I can still fervently pray for a peaceful solution that makes war unnecessary.

Thankfully, President Bush has been patient but yet has kept up the pressure on Iraq. Instead of acting alone, he brought the matter to debate in Congress. Then, he submitted it to debate and international process in the UN (something Clinton never did for all his aggressions). He has thus far refused to act unilaterally even while his opponents ritually condemn him for being unilateral.

No leader in the history of planet earth that I can recall has been given as many second, third, fourth, and 500th chances to avoid war than has Saddam. But Bush is not pretending that the problem will go away on its own or even with talk or with threats. Evil is not necessarily unique but Saddam is unique in his defiance of diplomacy.

Be fair to the facts.


Carolyn Scarr, board member of the Ecumenical Peace Institute/Clergy & Laity Concerned, writes from San Francisco, California:

I was glad to hear of your meeting with Tony Blair. I was sorry to see that, according to your report, you did not remind him that Jesus commands us to take out the beam from our own eye before we try to take out the mote in someone else's eye. As far as weapons of mass destruction are concerned, the United States is far and away the leader in possession, development, and *use* of weapons of mass destruction.

These facts are also missing from your posted description of your teach-in packet. You discuss a need to disarm Iraq. You do not mention the need to disarm anyone else. In fact, UN Security Council Resolution 687, which continued sanctions after the Gulf war and instituted the inspections, clearly calls for the disarmament of all the countries of the region. This includes Israel with its several hundred nuclear missiles which are ready to use at any moment.

Even the most determined Christian is capable of succumbing to the "civil religion" and failing to use the same measure to evaluated the actions of one's own country as is used to judge another country. Biblical Christians strive to use the same measure. Make your good work at Sojourners better. You have done so in the past and can do so again.


Nils von Kalm writes from Melbourne, Australia:

I thoroughly enjoy reading SojoMail weekly. Firstly I would like to commend Sojourners on putting forward a credible alternative to a war against Iraq. I have always been against a war, with or without UN authority. However, I believe that if the peace movement is to be taken more seriously and not be seen as a bunch of raving left-wing hippies, we need to have a credible alternative. Simply saying 'no war' is not enough and I am glad that Sojourners has had the courage to put forward an intelligent response.

Secondly, the peace movement is often criticized for being naive in believing that war is never justified. People point to the example of Hitler in 1939 and that if we hadn't gone to war against him then he would have simply taken over the whole of Europe and possibly more of the world. Being of German descent myself and being a pacifist by nature, I struggle to answer this question. I want to believe that there was a credible nonviolent way to stop Hitler. My only response is that the Treaty of Versailles after WWI created the conditions for a leader such as Hitler to take control, and if that would have been prevented then Hitler may not have risen to power. However he did rise to power and I am interested to hear if Sojourners would have a response on how the world could have dealt with Hitler in a nonviolent way in 1939, thus saving many thousands of lives that were lost in WWII.


William Leitch writes from Bridgewater, Massachusetts:

I appreciate Sojourners' concerns about the pending war against Iraq. However, what puzzles me is that I have seen little or no movements to protest the horrific regime of Saddam Hussein. Why hasn't Sojourners been protesting the real enemy of innocent Iraqi people for all the years he has been in power?

It damages the credibility of Sojourners to suddenly come to the defense of the Iraqi people, when from what I have seen, the organization has not said or done anything to protest their cruel treatment under Saddam Hussein. It makes me wonder if Sojourners is like most of the people and organizations I know who appear to be protesting against the war, but who in fact are really protesting against President Bush. It hints that Sojourners is in fact a politically aligned organization, rather than a movement about "promoting values."


Kimberli Ward writes from Weatherford, Oklahoma:

I am appalled at the non-response by the government "of the people, by the people, and for the people," as the massive protests are patronizingly dismissed. Students at the university I attend have formed a Coalition for Peace, something rare in this part of the U.S. Thank you, Sojourners, for being here.


Maria J. Stephan writes from St. Petersburg, Russia:

I am a doctoral candidate from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Medford, MA). I am specializing in international conflict resolution, human rights, and security studies. I read Sojourners with great pleasure and consider it an extremely well-done publication. Thanks for your great work. I am currently volunteering at a human rights NGO in St. Petersburg, Russia, called the Soldiers Mothers of St. Petersburg, comprised mostly of women who work incredibly hard to protect the human rights of soldiers, conscripts, and their families.

The Soldiers Mothers organization, along with all other NGOs in Russia who actively condemn the war in Chechnya, are facing an up-hill battle now that the rest of the world has forgotten about the war there (or, as presidents Putin and Bush prefer to call it, "anti- terrorist operation"). It will take internationals pressuring their representatives to pressure the Putin administration to engage in negotiations in Chechnya for the war (and it *is* a war) to end.


Kenneth Kepler writes from Kimball, Michigan:

Yes, I'm glad gasoline is cheaper than Scope, Pepto- Bismol, and Evian. However, I can buy a gallon of milk any time at Sam's Club in Michigan for $1.84 but a gallon of gasoline costs $1.89...too bad my car won't run on "nature's perfect food"!


Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views. The views expressed are not necessarily those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang e-mails to the editor:


W e b s c e n e
This week's best of the Web

*War in Iraq? Read all about it...

Powell's (no connection to Colin) in Portland has collected a handful of books representing various points of view on the war with Iraq.


*Worldwide theater event for peace

Check out this Web site for the Lysistrata Theatre Project, which has organized readings of Aristophanes' "Lysistrata" all over the world on March 3, 2003. View the site and check out the phenomenal list of readings that will take place.


*More worldwide photos from February 15-16

To see more than 200 pictures from 133 protests from around the world on February 15-16, 2003, link to:


To make a secure donation to support our work, go to:


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