Hard Questions for Peacemakers

This has been a very difficult time for Christian peacemakers, for those of us who believe that following Jesus leads us to the path of nonviolence. Despite the great challenges to that commitment since the terrorist attacks, I still identify myself as a Christian peacemaker. But since Sept. 11, I think we have to go deeper in that commitment.

I’ve been part of the peace movement for more than three decades. But the U.S. government’s "war on terrorism" presents far more difficult challenges than the other wars and interventions I’ve fought against. In those other wars—declared and otherwise, from Vietnam to Central America, from Chile to the Congo—there was no worthy goal to be pursued, and any notion of "defending" America was nothing but propaganda. In fact, I believe that most American foreign policy since World War II has been wrong. In the name of anti-communism, the United States violated its professed values by backing a succession of ugly regimes that killed tens of thousands of their own people, trampling on every human right we hold dear. Our government backed the wrong people in South Africa until the very end. We have never really stood up for Palestinian rights against our ally Israel, and we made the Persian Gulf safe not for democracy but for our own oil interests. For 50 years, U.S. nuclear weapons policy has been based on a willingness to exterminate hundreds of millions of people. U.S. weapons sales have fueled conflicts around the world. Under both Republican and Democratic presidents, U.S. foreign policy has been morally flawed at its core. That’s what I believe, and I’ve protested it with 20 arrests in 30 years, all for nonviolent civil disobedience.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2002
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