The fourth in a series of posts by Barry Bussey, associate director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists:
The messiness of peace was evident today in the convocation. Exactly what does “Peace among the Peoples” look like. The modern state has a number of actors that causes one to pause in trying to figure out the complexities of war. Consider for example the country of Norway. It seeks to maintain a very positive image around the world as not only a peaceful country but a peacekeeping country.
During the plenary session this morning Kjell Magne Bondevik, former Prime Minister of Norway and current president of Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights got a thunderous applause for his very adamant description of a phone call with former President Bush wherein in Bush asked for Norway's entrance into the Iraq War. Bondevik recalled the experience, “I said no. I cannot. “There were two main reasons for that.” I said to the president, “First of all you don't have a mandate from the UN and you cannot invade a country in another part of the world if you want to attack it yourself without a mandate from the UN.” The second argument I used, because I know about President Bush, his lifestyle and I am a Christian as well, I said to him, “From my Christian ethical values using military means must be the very, very, last solution after you have tried all other peacekeeping means and you haven't tried that in Iraq. It was not so easy for a small NATO country like Norway to stand up against the US and the UK but we did. And we kept the friendship with the US. Thanks to them for that.”
Later in the day a group of Norwegian students presented a seminar and described how they challenged what they saw as the double standard of Norway in its very profitable ammunition manufacturing. These Christian students organized a campaign to out the fact that while Norway sought to portray an image of peacekeeping it was shipping munitions around the world to conflict areas without properly checking where the goods were going.
Using their creativity they put on media events in the country where they blind-folded themselves and held up mock guns pretending to be arms dealers to the people passing on the street. Their point of course was that Norway was wilfully blind as to who was getting the arms. The media loved the stunt and soon “Changemakers” were about to heard by the highest politicians in the land. Another project was a post-card with a beautiful young Norwegian girl in traditional costume holding a machine gun. That post-card was considered controversial. Soon the public was on the side of the students. Politicians were listening and finally the government agreed to ensure that all of the Norwegian munitions had the appropriate “End User Declaration” even of those produced by the state owned company outside of Norway; and agreed to provide a better marking and tracing mechanisms on the ammunition so that it could be determined in conflicts around the world where the Norwegian ammo was being used; and finally to work on an ammunition trade treaty.
Though the students were successful in getting those concessions from the politicians they admit that it has yet to be enforced. They recognized the need to be putting pressure on politicians to carry out what they said they would do.
“Action without knowledge is stupid,” they maintain, but “knowledge without action is cowardly.” As to the charge that they are overly optimistic in changing the world they have the following response:
“Of course we can change the world! Injustice is man made. Therefore man can unmake it.”