This 9/11 I am home in Cranston preparing to attend a wedding in VA. The upcoming nuptials will be full of Navy officers in dress uniform, as both bride and groom, are U.S. Navy …
This 9/11 I am home in Cranston preparing to attend a wedding in VA. The upcoming nuptials will be full of Navy officers in dress uniform, as both bride and groom, are U.S. Navy officers. The dress code is formal so I needed a formal gown and decided to have one custom made by a young Afghani woman I’m mentoring through Dorcas International in Providence.. She and her family were splintered when the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan. Her parents and younger brother all ended up here in RI. Her four older brothers, her sister-in-law and two young nieces are still stuck in Afghanistan struggling to get by and fearful of the Taliban.
The aftermath of 9/11, our invasion of Afghanistan as a response to it, the 20 years the U.S. military was deployed there, the lives shattered by the Afghan war, as in all wars, clearly show that, “War is not the answer” (Martin Luther King, Jr. 4/4/1967). Yet if war is not the answer to the threats we face around the world, what is?
The answer is peace-building: the diplomatic plus humanitarian responses to anticipated potential and on-going violent conflicts followed by reconciliation programs to prevent the violence from recurring.
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way” (A.J Muste). The local Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) Advocacy Team and I have been asking our members of Congress -Senator Reed, Senator Whitehouse and Rep. Magaziner- to appropriate funds for 3 existing, effective peace-building programs within the Dept. of State and USAID. We are asking for just $131 million ($25 million for Atrocities Prevention, $40 million for Reconciliation Programs, and $66 million for the Complex Crises Fund which is used to fill short-term funding gaps during emergent crises quickly). This is less than the cost of a single F35B fighter jet. In fact, the Institute for Economics and Peace estimates that every dollar spent preventing violence saves about $16 responding to it.
But why should my neighbors in Cranston support spending taxpayer dollars in the rest of the world when we have great needs here at home? Besides the fact that problems in the rest of the world have a way of coming home to us here as 9/11 showed, the fact is that if we can reduce the need to rely on the military and spend less on defense, we will have more money available to address homelessness, infrastructure needs, education, healthcare, etc. Currently the U.S. spends about half our annual discretionary budget on the Department of Defense and roughly half of that goes to weapons contractors which are reaping great profits at public expense. And the Dept. of Defense cannot defend us against the most immediate existential threat: climate change. In fact, the U.S. military is the largest consumer of fossil fuels and the world’s biggest single emitter of greenhouse gases. Addressing the climate threat requires international cooperation, not more weapons.
Please call on our members of Congress to invest in robust funding for peace-building as they discuss and vote on fiscal year 2024 appropriations. And join us and other RI Peace Groups to commemorate the UN International Day of Peace at the RI Statehouse, Sat. Sept. 23, from noon to 2 p.m. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in another speech, “We must all live together as brothers, or we will all perish together as fools” (3/22/1964).
RI FCNL Advocacy Team