Foreign Policy

'Winning' in Afghanistan

Few things are certain about the complex insurgencies raging in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but one thing seems clear: A military surge and escalation of the war will make matters worse, not better. The presence of large-scale foreign forces in Afghanistan is the problem, not the solution. Local opposition to U.S.-led military operations is growing, and adding more troops will likely fuel further resistance and increase support for al Qaeda-inspired extremism.

U.S. military attacks in the region validate Osama bin Laden’s warped portrayal of America waging war on Islam. More than 80 percent of the population in Pakistan believes that American policy is directed against Islam, according to recent polls. Equal percentages consider the United States more of a threat than al Qaeda or the Taliban. As long as these attitudes prevail, there will be no end of would-be recruits willing to blow themselves up to kill Americans and their allies.

Over the decades, Washington has pumped tens of billions of dollars into the region in an elusive search for military solutions. The Pakistani military and intelligence forces we fund have actively supported the Taliban. Some of the Afghan warlords we armed in the 1980s are now leaders of the insurgency fighting U.S. and NATO forces. Jalaluddin Haqqani, whom former member of Congress Charlie Wilson described as “goodness personified,” currently commands one of the most ruthless Taliban factions.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine March 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Building Bridges

What will it take to improve America’s standing in the Muslim world over the next four years? With conservatives and liberals calling each other Islamophobes and apologists, it often seems like there’s nothing but disagreement about how to answer this question.

But last September in Washington, D.C., a bipartisan, interfaith, and interdisciplinary group of 34 American leaders—including people as different as Madeleine Albright, Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the Cor­doba Initiative, and former GOP State Department official Richard Armitage—came together and proved otherwise. This diverse group was convened by the nonprofits Search for Common Ground and the Consensus Building Institute. They had some advice for the next administration:

First, President Obama must start early with peace efforts in Israel-Palestine, listening to both sides in the first year of his administration, rather than putting it off until the last year, as Presidents Bush and Clinton did.

Second, the administration should start talking to America’s adversaries. The new president should commit to diplomatic engagement with Iran as part of a broader movement that emphasizes diplomacy over military action. The current U.S. military budget is more than $600 billion, which is more than 40 times the budget of the State Department. More money would give American diplomats—the public face of our society on the ground—a greater presence in Muslim-majority countries.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine February 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Dear President Obama

 

A Two-Way Street
by JIM WALLIS

We haven't seen many good models recently, from either party, about how the White House relates to religious communities. We need to do more than merely having chaplains in the corridors of power, or religion functioning as a power bloc within a party to legislate its own narrow agendas, or mere photo-ops at prayer breakfasts for faith leaders at the White House.

Let me suggest another model: the "two-way street."

One direction of the two-way street is for the faith community to offer you its prayers and support. There will be times when you are going to feel an acute need for those prayers. On that same road is the support from people of good religion and good will, whether or not they voted for you. Your election was a historic milestone in this nation's life and history. Most of us in the churches, synagogues, and mosques are celebrating that achievement. Wanting the very best for our nation at this time of crisis, and for you and your family as you seek to lead, is a bipartisan religious commitment.

THE OTHER DIRECTION of the two-way street is what the faith community can say back to you, which previous administrations, from both parties, haven't fully availed themselves of.

For example, on the issue of poverty, you know that it is often people of faith who live and work alongside the poor in the worst neighborhoods in this country. People of faith best know the families, the kids, and the streets in our neediest communities, as you know from your own experience as an organizer. Street workers and leaders from faith communities often know a great deal about what will actually work to overcome the pain and misery of poverty in America. Let the faith community help you and even serve as your eyes and ears on the ground.

Read the Full Article

Sojourners Magazine January 2009
​You've reached the end of our free magazine preview. For full digital access to Sojourners articles for as little as $2.95, please subscribe now. Your subscription allows us to pay authors fairly for their terrific work!
Subscribe Now!

Pages

Subscribe