Peacekeeping

The Cost of the Military

Each year, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) publishes a study on the amount world governments spend on their militaries. The 2011 report was released this week, showing that all countries together spent $1.7 trillion. The Guardian has a helpful country-by-country data page and interactive map. The top 5 in the world last year, totaling $1.05 trillion, were:

U. S.  - $711 billion


China - $143 billion 


Russia - $72 billion

Britain - $63 billion

France - $62 billion

In contrast, the budget for UN Peacekeeping operations for fiscal year July 2011-30 June 2012 is about $7.84 billion. That’s 0.5 percent of what the world spends on its militaries.

It’s a stark example of the world’s misguided priorities.

Web exclusive: Full text of Hanan Ashrawi interview

Hanan Ashrawi broke on to the global scene in 1988 during an interview between Israelis and Palestinians on ABC’s Nightline. Brilliant, articulate, pragmatic, and Christian - she surprised the world. Ashrawi’s father was a founder of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. She has been active in Palestinian leadership circles all her life. In 1991, Yasser Arafat appointed her as the official spokesperson of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace Process. She later served as Palestinian Minister of Higher Education and Research and as a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Jerusalem. In 1998, Ashrawi resigned from the Palestinian Authority in protest against political corruption and founded the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She is an Anglican Christian, a feminist, an author, poet, and diplomat, and a brave proponent of nonviolent resistance in the most violent situation in the world. Hanan Ashrawi was interviewed in September 2004 by Sojourners associate editor Rose Marie Berger in Washington, D.C.

Sojourners: Your father was a doctor, writer, and founding member of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. How did your parents shape your political and spiritual perspective and commitments? Tell me about your family. I know that your father was very influential but your mother was too - in terms of your faith and also your political perspective.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2005
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Tanks vs. Olive Branches

Hanan Ashrawi broke on to the global scene in 1988 during an interview between Israelis and Palestinians on ABC'

Hanan Ashrawi broke on to the global scene in 1988 during an interview between Israelis and Palestinians on ABC’s Nightline. Brilliant, articulate, pragmatic, and Christian - she surprised the world. Ashrawi’s father was a founder of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. She has been active in Palestinian leadership circles all her life.

Ashrawi is an Anglican, a feminist, an author, a poet, a diplomat, and a brave proponent of nonviolent resistance in one of the most violent and enduring conflicts in the world, between Israel and Palestine.

On a visit to Washington, D.C., in September 2004, she was asked about her family, and her response reveals the painful, textured complexity known as the "politics of the Middle East." Ashrawi was born in the city of Nablus in the region of Tiberias in 1946, two years before the formation of the state of Israel. Her family was forced to relocate to Ramallah during the subsequent reconfiguring of Palestine - what Palestinians call "Al Nakba," or "the Disaster."

"When I was very young we became refugees from Tiberias," Ashrawi said. But they were lucky because they had resources. "My father was a medical doctor, an intellectual," she said. "He was a writer, an advocate of women’s rights…quite progressive. He was Greek Orthodox. My mother was very much a believer and practiced her own faith as an Anglican Episcopalian. When they married it was in the Anglican church. That’s where we were born and baptized."

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Sojourners Magazine February 2005
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Truth-Telling Time

Several hundred people marched through Greensboro, North Carolina, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Greensboro Massacre and to complete the 1979 anti-Klan march that was cut short when Klansmen open fired on the group, killing five and wounding 11. The survivors of the massacre have formed the country's first truth and reconciliation commission, which will examine documents and hear testimony about the shootings.

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Sojourners Magazine February 2005
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After Arafat

A week after U.S. elections, President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair jointly declared their renewed commitment to invigorate the stalled Middle East peace process. The sudden illness and death of Yasser Arafat, president of the Palestinian Authority, occasioned the highly visible pledges to work diligently for a resolution of this longstanding conflict—including the creation of an independent Palestinian state. Numerous political leaders and pundits have joined with Bush and Blair, expressing hope that a change in Palestinian leadership will provide an opportunity for much-needed progress in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The commitment to make Middle East peacemaking a top priority is both wise and necessary. Now, perhaps more than ever, it is vitally important that leaders in the international community—the United States, Britain, Russia, the European Union, and the U.N. Security Council—work with Israelis, Palestinians, and neighboring Arab states to translate hopeful words into more than wishful thinking. What is at stake? What is possible? Where do we go from here?

The urgency is visible in several ways. People caught in the ongoing strife experience daily frustrations and indignities born of physical uncertainty and insecurity, economic hardship, and military occupation. The rise of extremism on both sides is a predictable response to frequently thwarted expectations and dreams of a better future. The status quo is untenable, particularly since it includes massive walls of separation, expanding settlements, and violent extremism that often targets civilians.

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Sojourners Magazine January 2005
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Rescuing Ourselves

"It is not only what we do, but also what we do not do, for which we are accountable."

—Molière, actor and playwright (1622-1673)

Imagine the euphoria that must have swept through the national football arena in Monrovia, Liberia, on June 13. Thousands of refugees had been crammed into the stadium for days, cowering under a driving rain, seeking sanctuary—again—from 14 years of civil war. On three sides of the city, rebel forces had been killing civilians indiscriminately. Inside, the two things most in evidence were rotting corpses and armed thugs.

The Pentagon announced that day that the U.S.S. Kearsarge—carrying attack helicopters and 3,000 bristling Marines—was diverted to Liberian waters from its journey home from Iraq. U.S. forces were on their way to a land with which America had deep historical bonds. Liberia was founded by freed slaves in 1822; its capital is named after U.S. President James Monroe.

The most recent effort to topple Liberian president Charles Taylor has come with wearying tales of brutal crimes. As is often the case when lawlessness reigns, both government and insurgent forces have engaged in mayhem and murder. "At night we don't sleep," said refugee Ciaffa Fahnbulleh. "Fighters go around raping, breaking into people's homes and looting." Enslaved child soldiers, doped up to make them fearless and fierce, have perpetrated many of the most macabre atrocities. The Los Angeles Times ran a photo of one such young warrior; he wore a teddy bear pack on his back.

Imagine, then, how quickly elation in that arena turned to bitter disappointment when the full meaning of the Pentagon's announcement became clear. Was the American military coming to bang a few heads together, protect vulnerable refugees, and bring an end to bloodshed and butchery? No. American soldiers were deployed for one reason—to rescue Americans.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 2003
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