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Peace on earth and goodwill towards all?

“A so-called limited war will leave little more than a calamitous legacy of human suffering, political turmoil, and spiritual disillusionment.” – Martin Luther King Jr.,

The holidays always bring about a certain amount of self-reflection. Whether you question spending time with a certain irksome family member, or gauge the reality of achieving your New Year’s resolution, the spirit of the holidays begs contemplation. And as 2009 comes to an end and 2010 approaches, some reflect on broader aims: what is the United States’ role in making a peaceful world and how can we affect it?

Mary Anne Towler of the Rochester City Newspaper writes, “With a new president, there was the possibility that this troubling decade would end in optimism, that we would forsake the war lust that followed 9/11. Instead, we’ll continue down the same path, slipping deeper into a quagmire that will cost precious lives and resources. The lessons from Vietnam have been set aside. Afghanistan is ‘different’.”

Some would disagree and believe that retaliation against the Muslim world is becoming more justified, especially after the attempted terrorist attack on Flight 253. In his piece “Cause & Effect” Glenn Greenwald of writes, “…one can smell the excitement in the air — that all-too-familiar, giddy, bipartisan climate that emerges in American media discourse whenever there’s a new country we get to learn about so that we can explain why we’re morally and strategically justified in bombing it some more. Whether justified or not, we are constantly delivering death to the Muslim world.  We do not see it very much, but they certainly do.”

For some, war is the only answer. An anonymous commentator to Greenwald’s piece writes, “We saved more Muslim lives during the 90’s than any other country (or organization). What did we get for our magnanimity? Cole, Khobar, Embassy bombings, WTC1 . . . and finally 9/11. For them it’s not “Cause and effect” . . . It’s a cause/Jihad and has been going on for a very long time.” 

Is any country ever justified in declaring war on another land, and if not, what other methods would ensure the safety of all global citizens?

In his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo last June President Obama called for the abandonment of violence using the Civil Rights Movement in the United States as an example. However some think the escalation of troops to Afghanistan and Obama’s handling of the Middle East contradict what he asserts. Christopher Dickey of Newsweek writes, “I kept wondering when Obama, this admirer of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, would pay more than lip service to their greatness and get down to the core question of peace among Arabs and Jews. ‘In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sown, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, children scarred’, (Obama) said in Oslo. And nowhere is that truer than in Gaza. But Obama did not mention Gaza.”

Jane Addams said that “Peace was not merely an absence of war, but the nurture of human life.” How do we begin the New Year considering what it means to work towards peace and nurture human life?

How do we promote a culture of non-violence? What will it take for there to be a global movement for peace? What other methods can the United States enlist in order to ensure the safety of its citizens? Is peace on earth a plausible reality?  How do you envision a peaceful society? Do you think war is the only answer to ensure our safety? Why or why not?

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