Tuesday, March 30, 2010

U.S. State Department offers hope for an end to resorting to force as U.S. policy

First--a brief background to my reflections....
Phyllis Bennis, fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and author, most recently, of "Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer" was interviewed in February by Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now! Bennis stated that in order to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the U.S. anti-war movement needs to "mobilize in different ways with different allies", and recognize that the "costs of war are going to be key". She also said that people in the U.S. anti-war movement need to "work as much with people that are fighting for new green jobs as we do fighting against the travesty of civilian deaths in Afghanistan or Iraq."
(Source: Phyllis Bennis on Ending the US War in Afghanistan; http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/23/phyllis_bennis_on_ending_the_us )

My reaction to what Bennis says is "yes"....and, "no". "Yes" as a way to eventually help bring the current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a stop. But "no" in that unless there's also a fundamental change in how America "does" foreign policy, reflexively resorting to force, we will only find ourselves in another "Afghanistan" in the not-too-distant future.

The American government itself has provided the answer, as expressed at the web site of the U.S. Department of State, which basically says that America totally buys into and is committed to, principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "The protection of fundamental human rights was a foundation stone in the establishment of the United States over 200 years ago. Since then, a central goal of U.S. foreign policy has been the promotion of respect for human rights, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The United States understands that the existence of human rights helps secure the peace, deter aggression, promote the rule of law, combat crime and corruption, strengthen democracies, and prevent humanitarian crises."
(Source: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/hr/, retrieved 3-13-10; also, see the text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2008/108544.htm)

I perused the text of Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was immediately struck by how America has, in some glaring and tragic ways, not lived up to key values expressed there. But at least the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a standard that you and I could hold in common with the U.S. government. There are creative, intelligent groups of people of good will in our country who are offering guidance to Congress, to help our country live up to its stated values by implementing peace-building initiatives. One group amongst others is the Friends Committee on National Legislation and their "Peaceful Prevention of Deadly Conflict" initiative. You can learn more about it at: http://www.fcnl.org/ppdc/.

There IS hope for an America that can be seen around the world as humanitarian super-power, not a military super-power.