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Part I: The Failure of the Military Option

Syria Peace Sign ImageIt may seem odd to speak of nonviolence in the same sentence as Syria, one of the bloodiest and most tragic destructions of a state and a culture in contemporary history. But the fact is that we are inching closer to a mainstream and politically realist understanding of nonviolence as a legitimate course of political change. This is very significant, because if in fact the major powers are beginning to acknowledge the futility of armed conflict, at least in places of a geopolitical standoff, such as Syria, then we can expect more Western support may to nonviolent resisters in the future. This in turn may inch the globe a bit closer to a nonviolent system of social change.

Why has the military option become increasingly futile in the Syrian case? Because Russia and Iran will not back down in their support …

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He was racing in a Humvee with four other soldiers, having arrived there just days before, 19 years old. The day he got there his best friend was shot in the head, boom, gone in an instant. Now he was racing along this road when a missile directly hit the cab of the vehicle. One guy’s legs were gone and another was killed right away, and the missile flew right by his head, just missing him. He seemed uninjured, but he was, and now he is back in Boston.

It was a sunny August afternoon in Boston as I leaped into a cab. I had just finished attending a conference of great religious educators at Boston University, and I was feeling very good about my presentation. I thought it was a home run because I really connected with the message and the people.

The 50-something Irish cab driver, whose presence …

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Armed forces: they have guns and probably aren't going away anytime soon. We need to recognize, and encourage their potential for peace.

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Peace Education and Fort Hood

by mgopin on November 15, 2009 · 4 comments

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By Cheryl Duckworth, PhD

Could peace education have done anything to prevent the shooting at Fort Hood?

Could peace education have done anything to prevent the shooting at Fort Hood?

Can peace education help to prevent the violent loss of life, such as we all witnessed recently at Ft. Hood? I believe that it is an essential piece of the puzzle. People offer various explanations regarding why a soldier murdered fellow soldiers. Some are pointing to Maj. Hassan’s Islamic identity or possible extremist views. Others point to his impending deployment to Iraq or sense of humiliation and social isolation. Since we know that very few behaviors are motivated by just one cause, I think it’s likely that all of these dynamics interacted.

Why do I think that peace education could have prevented such a violent act? At its core, peace education nurtures two vital skills, which are problem solving and relationship-building. Peace education also challenges stereotypes and resists the easy, pat explanation for …

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Pentagon Office Home to Neo-Con Network

by mgopin on September 11, 2009 · 3 comments

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This is an important unnoticed piece that helps piece together the corruption of power during the Bush years that led to the Iraq debacle. It deserves study to help solidify democratic checks and balances to avert this in the future. Democratic systems require constant vigilance in order to checks and balances to work in ever changing circumstances.

Pentagon Office Home to Neo-Con Network
By Jim Lobe

wolfowitz rumsfeld

An excerpt from the article:

The Office of Special Plans (OSP), which worked alongside the Near East and South Asia (NESA) bureau in Feith’s domain, was originally created by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to review raw information collected by the official U.S. intelligence agencies for connections between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Retired intelligence officials from the State Department, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) have long charged that the two offices exaggerated

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Below are two extraordinary stories. One is an excerpt from an inside look at how and why extremists still filter into Iraq from Syria. It is hardly the tale that neoconservatives gunning for war with Syria want to hear, but it is far closer to the harsh reality and complexity of the situation. The only answer seems to me to be a strengthening of Western-Middle Eastern relations, everyone’s acknowledgment of shared responsibility for Iraq’s situation, better communications, and more cooperation on state strengthening and the rule of law.

The second story is an astonishing tale of reunion between a Syrian soldier and an Israeli soldier who had been on the same battlefield. But where they reunite is shocking, and is s a testimony to our common humanity.

An excerpt from “Merchant of Death”:

suicide bomb

It is common sense and supply and demand. When the decision was made that Saddam Hussein had

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Hamas, Israel Reject Amnesty Report

by mgopin on July 7, 2009 · 1 comment

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It is a half year anniversary of the Gaza War of 2009. I love this incisive report. Amnesty must be doing something right for both sides to condemn them. Their critiques are trenchant, to the point, based on simple facts, and they expose the brutality of this confrontation, including Israel’s paradoxical use of pinpoint, precision weapons to create wanton destruction, and Hamas’ purposeful and unabashed targeting of civilians while calling it defense. The moral bankruptcy of the military leaders on both sides is plainly apparent, and cries out for global leaders to intervene forcefully, for the sake of the innocents on all sides. Since the “precision” weaponry of Israel’s is so lethal when used indiscriminately, however, the vast majority of civilians killed are on the Palestinian side as usual, which is why the Occupation must go. (Those who think that Gaza is not occupied anymore with all borders and commerce …

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The tumultuous events of recent days have further confirmed just how destructive militant American thinking about Iran has been. As President Obama understood and said relentlessly in the past year, there are clearly a huge amount of people to engage in Iran, probably the majority. Of course, the overwhelming question will be how to reach them. But the damage has been done to the conservative regime, and events on the ground in Iran, in addition to events in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and Gaza, intimate a re-alignment is emerging across the Middle East, a move of Islamic political movements toward the center and away from radicalism, as Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi, the Palestinian scholar,  has wisely noted. A wise president, and a wise Congressional leadership, will not squander the opportunity to engage.

Reported in the Washington Post, this Rand study, a bastion of American military thinking, should be read by …

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I spent almost an hour on the phone with this excellent reporter, Manya A. Brachear, who wrote the Los Angeles Times story. The more I studied the pictures the more horrified I became that this man was running the United States military, and that our country was actually engaged in a Christian crusade in the eyes of so many of its soldiers. I am so glad the reporter gathered the responses of the Christian community and I do hope that, as I said in the article, there is a bipartisan Christian effort to put this dark period behind us in the United States.

Here is an excerpt:

One passage plucked from the New Testament’s Epistle to the Ephesians instructs believers to “put on the full armor of God.”

An excerpt from the Old Testament’s Isaiah directs them to “open the gates that the righteous nation may enter.”

As American

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President Obama and Senator Mitchell

President Obama and Senator Mitchell

I was concerned by a recent description in the New York Times of the inner workings of Fatah, and the questions facing the United States and Israel. The author writes as if he accepts everything that Israeli leaders tell him at face value.  Speaking about the question of a Fatah meeting in order to reform the movement and thus present a better challenge to Hamas at the polls, he writes:

For Israel and the United States, the problem is equally vexing. They have an interest in helping the nationalists to reform and hold their congress. But they also have to decide how much to help the new leaders, some of whom may end up becoming opponents if the peace negotiating process fails.

Oh really? Endless interviews with Fatah activists over the years come back to one theme: the leadership of Israel, in order to hold …

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