From "The Religion of Guns," by John Feffer in the October 28, 2008 issue of World Beat, the weekly ezine of Foreign Policy in Focus:
Americans worship guns. We stockpile nuclear weapons, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars on conventional weapons, and we keep handguns under our pillows. Not me, you might say: never touched a gun, never will. But you can still be part of the religion without visiting the church. Consider all the video games that involve shooting. And all the movies that center around gunfights in the same way that medieval paintings focus on the life of Jesus. And all the plastic guns our kids have. Then there's our $2,000 annual per-capita share of the Pentagon budget - that's a hefty contribution to the collection plate.
The troop "surge" in Iraq is frequently touted as evidence for the efficacy of military solutions over negotiation and diplomacy in dealing with enemies. The reduction of violence in Iraq, however, has been due to at least as much, if not more, to these nonviolent methods as to increased troop strength, as the architect of the "surge," Gen. David Petraeus, made strikingly clear in a recent speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative policy organization in Washington. Excerpts from a report by the Washington Independent:
Citing his Iraq experience, Petraeus said, “You have to talk to enemies."...
Petraeus emphasized throughout his lecture that reaching out to insurgent groups — some “with our blood on their hands,” he said — was necessary to the ultimate goal of turning them against irreconcilable enemies like Al Qaeda in Iraq.
Aminatou Haidar, a nonviolent activist from Western Sahara and a key leader in her nation's struggle against the 33-year-old U.S.-backed Moroccan occupation of her country, won this year's Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
This recognition of Haidar and her nonviolent freedom campaign is significant in that the Western Sahara struggle has often gone unnoticed, even among many human rights activists. In addition, highlighting the work of an Arab Muslim woman struggling for her people's freedom through nonviolent action helps challenge impressions held by many Americans that those resisting U.S.-backed regimes in that part of the world are misogynist, violent extremists. Successive administrations have used this stereotype to justify military intervention and support for repressive governments and military occupations.
Unfortunately, given its role in making Morocco's occupation possible, the U.S. government has little enthusiasm for Haidar and the visibility her winning the RFK prize gives to the whole Western Sahara issue.... more