One of the amazing things about scripture is that, even after thousands of years, it continues to inspire. Many scholars believe that the prophet Isaiah lived in the 8th century B.C.E. Nearly 3,000 years later, his words in Isaiah 2:4 still give me hope.
[The Lord] shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)
While this day that Isaiah describes might still be a long way off, our work for peace is not in vain. In the past few months, I have seen some hopeful signs that we are getting ready to turn at least some of our swords into ploughshares:
- Congress is fed up with the war in Afghanistan, and their turn against the war mirrors the quickly changing public opinion. Last week, an amendment offered by Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) garnered the support of 204 members of Congress. This amendment calls for an end to the war in Afghanistan by requiring the president to provide a plan and timeframe for an accelerated drawdown of military operations in Afghanistan. The vote for a similar amendment in July 1, 2010 garnered only 162 votes in favor (McGovern-Obey-Jones). The growth in support was unexpected and puts pressure on the president to begin a significant troop withdrawal in July, and provide clear benchmark reports to Congress.
- The country is fed up with the war. When the war started 10 years ago, the first Harry Potter movie edged out the first Lord of the Rings movie at the box office, and most of our current Sojourners interns were still in middle school. Today, 64 percent of the country no longer believe that the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting. The 10 years of war have shown us that terrorism isn't best fought and defeated by full scale wars, but rather by good intelligence, good police work, targeted actions, and draining the swamp of terror through focused and smart development.
- Despite the lack of bipartisan agreement in Congress, many Republicans and Democrats agree that the war in Afghanistan is a waste of lives and resources. Congress is making cuts to programs that help people move out of poverty, while also voting to spend $100 billion a year on a failed strategy and corrupt government in Afghanistan. Cutting this needless military spending not only helps the deficit, but it will also save the lives of both Americans and Afghans. Politicians who are serious about both security and fiscal responsibility know that it is time for us to get out of Afghanistan.
Our exit strategy needs to be responsible and must focus on long-term stability, development, and security for the Afghan people. It needs to respect the long-standing traditions and realities of the country (through political tools such as power-sharing), while ensuring rights and education for women and girls, who are crucial to the country's future.
There is much work left to be done. The president has heard from Congress, but now he needs to hear from you. Tell President Obama it is time to end this war.
Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.