This summer's tango between the Bush administration and Iran over the Iranian nuclear program provided an object lesson in how not to do diplomacy. Threats and rhetoric dominated the discourse, with Iran refusing to step back from its "right" to develop nuclear power and the Bush administration refusing to rule out a military attack - even a nuclear attack - on Iran. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote to President Bush, asking, almost in so many words, "What would Jesus (Peace Be Upon Him) do?" Bush rejected the overture with a dismissive "there's nothing new here."
As Jim Wallis points out on the facing page, what's not new here is the Bush administration's bellicose approach to the rest of the world, which Wallis calls the U.S. "hammer habit." David Cortright, a Sojourners contributing writer and president of the Fourth Freedom Forum, suggests one foundational requirement of a less warlike stance: the willingness to engage in dialogue. And Brian McLaren pens a cautionary "history" of the 21st century - a troubling path that still can be avoided.
Longtime Sojourners friend Nane Alejandrez once lived a life of violence, a never-ending cycle of guns, blades, and gangs that cost him 14 family members and countless friends. Now, through his work with Barrios Unidos, he brokers tough truces between rival Latino and African-American gangs and counsels kids who face the same struggles he did. Countries aren?t gangs, but the principles used by Barrios - dialogue and nonviolent conflict resolution - might just have something to offer on the international scene as well.