The Crescent Report

October 8, 2010

Afghanistan is Another Reason Why We Need a Federal Department of Peace

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 12:19 pm

The need to actively institute within our government real initiatives for peace and conflict resolution is a goal worth pursuing. Check out the piece below.

-Imam Mahdi Bray

Quote of the Day: There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.

Afghanistan is Another Reason Why We Need a Federal Department of Peace

Several years ago, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) made a bold proposal for the creation of a cabinet-level federal department that would be dedicated to the nonviolent resolution of conflicts in the world and the establishment of peace. The initial proposal called for the funding of the Department of Peace to be one percent of the annual appropriation given to the Pentagon- that is, about six billion dollars (and change). Regrettably, but predictably, the proposal gained little traction as a viable piece of legislation.

But it now seems like the passage of such a bill would have been a bargain for the American people- especially given the spiraling cost, in both lives and national resources, of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.

The DOP (as I will refer to it) is an idea that would put resources into the efforts to teach and implement strategies and programs for ending war, and resolving human conflicts in the global community. It proposed no crazy and untested ideas, but rather, proven methodologies based on the theory and praxis of Mohandas Gandhi, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day, and other luminaries of successful nonviolent actions for justice.  Such a department could have taken a tiny fraction of the national resources used for war and transformed them into a massive commitment that would save lives and build permanent bridges of human connection around the globe.

In early October of 2010, a news story from Afghanistan emerged that indicates that elements of the Taliban resistance and the government of Hamid Karzai are, in fact, engaged in some discussion of how to end the fratricidal war in Afghanistan.  These talks are in a very embryonic stage, at best, and the killing in Afghanistan is still going on, at the moment.  But imagine, for a moment, what might happen is a tiny fraction of the U.S. budget for missiles, bombs and combat operations could have been available as resources for the parties in this negotiation, or even resources for the physical reconstruction of their war-ravaged nation.

Critics and opponents of nonviolence are quick to point out the violent nature of religious extremism in Afghanistan, and the brutal (and socially retrograde) aspects of Taliban ideology.  In many ways, this critique is valid.  But if the Taliban haven’t disappeared after a decade of massive military attacks by the NATO forces, is might be useful to consider other strategies to transform this violent conflict into something less bloody.  And that is precisely what a nonviolent, peace-affirming mission in the country would attempt to do.

If America had a Department of Peace, our nation could have deployed doctors, teachers, agricultural scientists, grassroots development specialists, architects, and others in much larger numbers to Afghanistan over the last ten years.  Thousands of civilian casualties in the war might have been avoided.  And, no doubt, at least some of the resistance fighters would have seen Americans not as crusaders and imperialists, but as a nation committed to supporting an end to fratricidal warfare and helping to build the social and economic structures that really give peace a chance.

Nonviolent actions, to be sure, have great risks, and no guarantees of success in the near term.  But war is a risky, and far bloodier, proposition as well.  And the current one in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be a winning proposition for the United States.

This proposal from Representative Dennis Kucinich is a bold one, but it a visionary and practical one as well. The risk of pursuing peace is still less than the horrible consequence of continued war,  but the United States must have the national will and the material resources to help break the dysfunctional cycle of military violence that grips Afghanistan, as well as other places in the world.

This would be an ideal mission for a Department of Peace, and the time could not be better to resume a serious discussion, at the highest levels of the American government, to create it.

Ibrahim Abdil-Mu’id Ramey

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2 Comments »

  1. This is an excellent post! If we are to avoid the next catastrophe like Afghanistan, the American people need to get behind the Department of Peace idea in a big way and lobby their Representatives & Senators to make it a priority. That’s the only way it’s going to happen. Check out The Peace Alliance (http://www.thepeacealliance.org) and DoPeace (http://DoPeace.us) to get involved.

    Comment by Ted N. — October 9, 2010 @ 10:15 am


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