After hosting the Transition to Peace radio show for two years on KWMR-FM, I will now be a contributor to KWMR’s Peace Paradigm Radio hosted by Stephanie van Hook and Michael Nagler of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, the premier organization in the US promoting nonviolence. My first segment proposes a nonviolent way to respond to Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
Segment #1 – Carpe Diem, Mr. President
Good afternoon, President Obama. You have in your grasp an opportunity to be the statesman we elected you to be. You have just taken an important first step by backing off of a missile strike against the Syrian government because of its use of chemical weapons. Out of the many further actions that you could take, I want to suggest several.
First, show care and concern for the refugees that have fled the fighting. Civilian society in Syria has disintegrated. Out of a total population of 20 million, 7 million people, roughly one third, have been displaced internally or to surrounding countries (imagine if 100 million Americans were displaced out of our 330 million population). So instead of wasting billions on a military strike that can’t succeed, why not put the money into humanitarian aid for the refugees. Partner with Israel and other Middle East countries to launch a Mideast Marshall Plan, patterned after the post-WWII that rebuilt the shattered economies of Europe.
The US military is ideally suited to provide humanitarian aid on the scale that would be required. We have the only organization in the world that can deploy tens of thousands of well-trained people to any spot on the globe in a matter of days. We could use our bases in Turkey and Jordan as staging areas. This action would be politically and logistically challenging, but it would ease the suffering in the civil war, improve our image in the world and demonstrate how generous and caring the American government can be.
Second, stop the CIA’s delivery of weapons to the rebels, a violent, fractured group of sectarian, Islamist and pro-al Qaeda forces. Violent revolutions tend to replace one oppressive regime with another. Instead we should offer aid and support to the broad-based nonviolent movement for change that started in March 2011. We can’t resolve the internal politics in Syria, but at least we can refrain from aggravating them.
And if you want to go further with nonviolent tactics, work with the United Nations and the US military to send unarmed and trained peacekeeping forces to conflict areas in Syria. The US Institute of Peace and civilian organizations, such as the Nonviolent Peaceforce and Peace Brigades International, are currently engaged in this type of unarmed intervention around the world.
The time is ripe for such actions. There is virtually no international support for US military action and the war-weary American public is sharply against a strike. You are wise, nimble and sly as a fox. Step up and be the statesman we know you can be. It’s time for a healing to begin in the Middle East.