War on Peace

I was listening to NPR’s Talk of the Nation a few days ago and heard this very interesting interview with journalist and author Ahmed Rashid. Rashid is a respected expert regarding the happenings in the Middle East and he’s written a book about the Taliban. Basically, this interview highlights the fact that the Taliban is mounting a formidable resurgence since it’s initial overthrow by coalition forces after 9-11. Military officials are beginning to concede that the situation with the Taliban is far from being under control.

Obviously, this news is very upsetting, especially since the operation in Afghanistan has been heralded the more “successful” of the two military operations since the war on terror began. We are now roughly four years removed from the end of the overthrow of the Taliban and the situation has been gradually getting worse, not better. Not only is the Taliban making a comeback, but the U.S. military is planning on withdrawing 3,000 troops sometime this summer. Maybe that plan needs to be revised. Needless to say, if Afghanistan begins to become yet another black eye in this “War on Terror”, then the United States will have even greater problems with our already crumbling credibility in the world community.

So with the very real prospect of the progress in Afghanistan beginning to regress and the continuation of the terrible conditions in Iraq, what do we have to show for our nation’s effort in the “War on Terror”? In addition to pondering that question, we also have to consider what kind of ripple effect issues such as Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, and the newly reported Haditha incident will have in the Arab world. Our military is also being confronted by accusations from Iraq’s own Prime Minister of hostile behavior shown towards the Iraqi people on a regular basis. In the effort to root out the evildoers and terrorists, it seems that we’ve only succeeded in creating more of them. If this current example in Afghanistan will continue to be the trend, then imagine how much worse the situation in Iraq could be in a few years. How many young sons and daughters have we orphaned and turned into perfect candidates for future terrorists?

My intention for this entry isn’t to ridicule our troops in the theater. They’ve sacrificed much more than I ever could and that willingness to sacrifice must be honored and respected. If you get a chance to watch the documentary “Baghdad ER”, please do so and you will be absolutely blown away by the courage and dedication that our troops possess. In the end, the answers to these tough questions that myself and others have raised are not their responsibility. I would suggest that we direct our questions towards the very top links in the military chain of command.

My intention here is to simply ask how our response of revenge after 9-11 is serving us in the quest for the mirage of “national security”. With regard to our efforts in Afghanistan, maybe the short term results are actually turning out to be shorter than we anticipated. If the short term benefits from the war effort are evaporating this quickly over time, what are we to expect the long term results to be? Is it possible that our quest for revenge in this war on terror could be a pathway to even more hatred and violence not only for us but also for our future generations? Considering what kind of damage 19 men with chips on their shoulders and $500,000 can do, I have to admit that it’s a very daunting thought.

On September 14, 2001, President Bush said these words while standing on the rubble in New York City:

“I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

By many people’s estimation, that may have been his best moment as President to date. I’d have to say that I agree, but only part way. It was a great moment and at that time, President Bush had an amazing opportunity to have the world’s ear. But seeing what has transpired since that famous proclamation, it is now possibly the saddest moment of his Presidency. What saddens is me is not that they’ve heard from us but it’s the message we’ve sent. In that moment we chose revenge over peace. We chose security over mercy. If we intend to do good, we must only do good. If we intend to seek peace, we must only be peaceful. I’m almost positive there was some dude about 2000 years ago who was saying something like this, right? This isn’t about fairness or the right for our country to defend itself. We are perfectly within our right to defend ourselves, but as we are in the middle of the “defense” of our nation, don’t ask yourself if it’s “ok”. Ask yourself if it’s actually working. Maybe that ancient dude was on to something.


6 thoughts on “War on Peace

  1. Zach,
    I think that you bring up a good point in asking the question is our campaign on terror actually working. I’m not convinced anymore that we as a nation being in Afganistan and Iraq are the right answer to that question. However, what message would we have sent if we would have done nothing in response to 9/11? Yes we would have taken the road of peace, but at what price to american lives or others around the world? How about after another attack either in the states or abroad? Would or should we only be concerned with the goings on within our own borders?
    All I know is that I’m challenged by your question as someone who is trying to follow Jesus as best as I can. Thanks for

  2. Andy,

    I would suggest that if we would have done nothing in response to 9-11, we’d be better off than we are right now in light of how terrible the results have been in our war on terror. As far as another attack in the United States goes, I think that will just be a matter of time. You suggest that if we were to take the road to peace, there would be a cost and I think you’re right. In order to strive for peace, we must be willing to pay the price. With our current effort, we are still paying dearly without any movement towards peace. Just our troop casualties alone in Afghanistan and Iraq will soon rival the number of those killed on 9-11. This is not even taking into account the innocent civilian casualties.

    I’m not suggesting we only care about what’s going on within our borders. We need to be actively seeking peaceful solutions all around the world. We begin to find some interesting tid bits if we do a little historical research on our country’s foreign policy in the middle east during the 80’s. We supported both Osama Bin Laden’s military operations against the Russians and we supported Saddam Hussein’s effort to counter Iran. Needless to say, we’ve not been supporting peace. We have been aiding the same violence and aggression in the past that we now find ourselves fighting now in the “war on terror”. This photo of Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein says it all. It was taken AFTER Saddam gassed the Kurds. That’s certainly not the road to peace.

  3. i’ve recently been wondering what would happen if america never fought back? what would happen if we were struck and we did nothing? would we be overtaken? i know people always said that we can’t be pushed around and we have to show other countries that we will take a stand, but what if we didn’t?

    it’s interesting that sometimes God used the Isrealites in non-violent ways to defeat an area. they would suround a camp and bang pots and pans together and in the confusion and fear the enemies would kill themselves. the israelites just trusted God.

    i’m not saying that we surround iraq and band a bunch of kitchen appliances together but what if we just trusted God to make things right? what if we just focused on reconciliation and God would take care of the rest? i wonder if we will ever have enough faith for that?

  4. Zach,
    It is interesting to look back on history and see what role did the U.S play in it’s problems today. You’re right to point out U.S foriegn policy during the past few decades as a major role. I think that we were reckless in our attempt to stop communism to a fault. We didn’t seem to care if we were playing all sides and screwing people over. I know that it’s not that simple and it is a complex issue.
    I used to think that we were fighting a just war. I’m not convinced of that anymore. However, what do we do now? Do we completely pull out of both Afganistan and Iraq? Do we as Americans have an obligation to help rebuild those countries or do we leave them in their current state? I would like to pull our troops out in the worst way. I’m just not sure how we do that now. Maybe that’s what we have to do and suffer from whatever consequences follow.

  5. I don’t neccessarily think it’s our government leading us. Often, I think we (as a nation) really do set the tone for the government. I question whether in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 whether the nation desired peaceful reconcialiation with much of the world. I remember standing the day after on the campus of ASU with other students and all anyone talked about was how we all thought we were now going to war as a country.

    Where has our imagination gone? When did our people lose the idea of losing our lives in the name of peace rather than in the name of “war for peace”? We have lost our hunger for pushing against the gates of hell so that it will not prevail. We can only do this by non-violent means. Violence begets violence. By not protecting our comfortable lives, by standing in the midst of violence in order to expose it will we ever make headway.

    We as a country rely so heavily on our government to do it all. I’m not so sure our government is really in touch with what our country says it wants because I don’t know if we really desire it like we say we do. Not if our actions are a good indicator.

  6. In the case of Iraq, it’s very much a scenario where the government is leading the citizens. But regardless of who’s leading who, the issue remains the same. Hopefully the citizens of this country will regain their imagination and stand up and be counted as those who oppose our current effort on the war on terror.

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