We must take advantage of this time of opportunity in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, where illiteracy stands at 48% and unemployment is at 50%.
We must take advantage of this time of opportunity in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, where illiteracy stands at 48% and unemployment is at 50%.
We have been hearing about health care all over the place recently: from screaming town hall meetings to vigils to facebook. I was reminded of something--strike that--someone, that has been left out of the debate: the global poor. I certainly agree that we need health care reform in the US so that more people are covered with better coverage.
As a matter of fact, for the last few days my facebook status has been: " Stephen Donahoe thinks that no one should die because they can not afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree please post this as your status for the rest of the day....let's get up to speed with the rest of the civilized world and take care of each other!"
Then a friend brought to my attention that the global poor are left out of this conversation.
In answer to What we are Doing about Global Warming from the last post---Please take a few seconds right now to sign this petition! There are already over 50,000 people that have signed the petition from ONE asking the Senate to make sure that a portion of the money from the climate bill goes toward helping the poorest people in the world deal with the effects of climate change. Add you voice too!
Looking over the headlines from today, one major thought kept coming into my mind: When did governments quit serving their people and start controlling them?
The Iranian government is still holding protesters arrested after the election dispute. Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president accused of atrocious war crimes denied everything at the International Criminal Court. I talked to a South Carolinian today who said their governor missed some very important meetings recently because he is taking time to reconcile with his wife for his unfaithfulness (while unemployment is soaring in SC). Coal companies benefit more from the climate bill that the House passed than the environment does.
So my question is again when did governments stop serving people? Even better, how did we let this happen?
After thinking about this, I realized maybe I was wrong. Maybe I misunderstood what government means. So I looked up the definition. And it focuses mostly on control, not service: "the political direction and control exercised over the actions of the members, citizens, or inhabitants of communities, societies, and states". I disagree.
Government is about service. It is about taking care of the people one is elected to represent. It is about representing them fairly.
Maybe I am too idealistic, maybe I am just a dreamer, but as John Lennon says: "I'm not the only one." Join us. Let's create a better world.
As an advocate for Native Americans, I was glad to see that Sen. Brownback from Kansas introduced a joint resolution to "acknowledge a long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the United States Government regarding Indian tribes and offer an apology to all Native Peoples on behalf of the United States."
Finally -- SOMEONE representing the U.S. government will simply acknowledge the fact that our European ancestors committed awful crimes against humanity: genocide against a people who have lived on this land for thousands of years before white settlers stepped foot on it.
SOMEONE will apologize for the forced removal of Native Americans from their homes and their sacred and spiritual spaces. Someone will apologize for stealing lands and treasures and never returning them.
SOMEONE will apologize for the forced assimilation techniques white people used to "kill the Indian, save the man." This included separating children from their families and forcing them into boarding schools where they were punished if they spoke their own language or practiced their tribal customs. This also included sterilizing many women and some men so that they could not bear children.
The human rights group Amnesty International warned yesterday that "An all-out massacre is about to take place in Sri Lanka any day now" if the international community did not intervene rapidly to save civilians in the war zone.
Tags: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Amnesty International, Channel 4, Human Rights Watch, LTTE, Obama, Outreach International, Sri Lanka, Tamil Tigers
For those of us who don't follow politics every day (I was one of those people for a long time), it may seem from the headlines that Obama's budget has passed and that we are done worrying about the budget this year. Unfortunately, we are far from that point.
What passed in early April, was the top line numbers for the budget, the upper limits for accounts that include a wide range of programs. On this blog we were concerned mostly about the International Affairs Budget, which includes funding for a lot of development programs. We were successful in lobbying for an increase of the International Affairs Budget--It was increased by over $4 Billion!
Now Obama has submitted his specific requests for each program and it is time to lobby again. As you can see from the chart above, there are some very important programs that are underfunded in this budget.
1. “Africa: A Biography of the Continent,” by John
Reader. A wide-reaching and sweeping look at trends and broader
explanations for the way things are, covering history, geography,
anthropology, biology and politics. While it is a thick tome (some 700
pages) it manages to be engaging, interesting and easy to read. This
would be a good place to start for the interested newcomer to African
2. “Africa Works: Disorder as a Political Instrument,” by Patrick Chabal and Jean-Pascal Daloz. A lucid and theoretically-rich exposition of African politics. Describing how systems of patronage operate within the context of modern states, Chabal and Daloz provide powerful explanations for conflict, corruption and poor economic development. It also introduces English-speakers to the rich seam of francophone research and literature about Africa.
Tags: Adam Hochschild, Africa, Africa A Biography of the Continent, Africa Works, Alex De Waal, Emily Welty, Famine Crimes, Gerrie Ter Haar, Jean-Pascal Daloz, John Reader, King Leopold's Ghost, Matthew Bolton, Non-Fiction, Patrick Chabal, Stephen Ellis, The Examiner, Worlds of Power
We can’t all get along because resource competition, prejudice, racism, bigotry, and insecurity are very real. Someone who is running for their life in Darfur cannot afford to pretend that by hugging the Janjaweed then everyone will be able to live happily ever after. We can’t ‘just all get along’ because conflict is inherent to the human experience.
Conflict is the result of a very real divergence of interests and values. We are in a world constrained by scarcity. Not everyone can have as much water, land, food as they want. As a society we are forced to interact with people who are potential competitors. We must decide whether to negotiate with them or compel them to accept our will.
We resolve these conflicts through politics – the process of discussing, negotiating, managing and neutralizing conflict over interests, values, power and identity. We set up institutions and systems (such as markets, courts, elections) that simplify the distribution of resources and the arbitration of disagreements.
It might be a politically unpopular thing to say, but I believe taxation is underrated. That doesn’t mean I believe in crushing, oppressive and unsustainable taxes – when taxes are too high or unfair, they can be quite destructive. But a well-designed system of public finances is crucial to democratic governance.
I believe taxes are so important because I have lived and worked in countries where tax systems, even government, have collapsed or almost nonexistent.The result? Unaccountable political authorities, ineffective justice systems, crumbling infrastructure and inadequate social safety nets for the poor and vulnerable.
There have been so many good things happening in the news recently (lots of bad too...but let's be optimistic, shall we?) that I thought I would do a short "What's in the News" post. Here are some of the great things going on in the world:
The Senate Restored $4 Billion in Funding for the Foreign Affairs Account (although the House didn't restore it, so we will see what happens when they go to conference and compromise).
Obama Committed to Working Toward a World Free of Nucs (see page three of the speech)
Urge your Senators to Join Obama in Seeking this World
Obama's Budget Passed. At least the top-line numbers passed in both the House and the Senate. Now they have to compromise between the two versions. Obama is going to submit more specific budget details in early May. This budget will have some absolutely transformative effects on health care, the environment, and social programs.
What have you seen in the news recently that gives you hope?
Cluster munitions campaigners in the US are urging Americans to call their senators on 30 March 2009 and ask them to support the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, S. 416.
This legislation would prohibit the US from using cluster munitions that have more than a 1% failure rate or in civilian areas. This would help prevent the deadly contamination of conflict zones with dangerous unexploded ‘dud’ bomblets that act like de facto landmines.
Tags: cluster munitions, Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, Cluster Munitions Coalition, Cluster Munitions Convention, FCNL, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Guardian, National Call-in Day, Obama, S. 416, USA
In retaliation for the International Criminal Court's indictment of the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for war crimes in Darfur, the Sudanese government has revoked the registration of over a dozen humanitarian agencies operating in the country. Some of the groups affected include Oxfam GB, CARE, Save the Children UK, the Norwegian Refugee Council, MSF-Netherlands, the International Rescue Committee, Action Against Hunger, CHF International, Mercy Corps and Solidarites.
Millions of Sudanese, especially in the Darfur region, rely on humanitarian assistance, such as food and medical care, from such groups. Many have been displaced by the fighting in Darfur which the US government has called a genocide. The decision will also affect over 6000 humanitarian workers.
It is still unclear what consequences the indictment will have on the people of Sudan. The International Crisis Group called it a "a welcome and crucial step towards challenging the impunity that has worsened conflict in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan." However, they also acknowledge that the Sudanese government could use this as an opportunity to "direct, or encourage, violence against the millions of displaced Darfuris living in camps in the war-torn region."
For background on the history of the conflicts in Sudan, see the AlertNet briefing or read the in-depth reports from International Crisis Group. To read an interesting blog about the current crisis, click here.
Tags: Action Against Hunger, Aid, CARE, CHF International, Darfur, humanitarian, International Criminal Court, International Crisis Group, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, MSF, Norwegian Refugee Council, Omar Al Basher, Oxfam, Save the Children, Soloidarites , Sudan
1) While the cost of action will be great, the cost of inaction will be even greater.
During the last moments of Barack's Inauguration yesterday, I picked up one of the flags that had been given out and dusted it off. This was a powerful symbol for how I feel about these amazing times. I feel like we have a tremendous opportunity to take Barack's challenge and dust ourselves and this nation off--wiping away years of hopelessness and bad policy. I am excited to wipe away exploitive foreign aid and trade policies that have helped create the global poverty crisis. And I am thrilled that Obama made poverty a priority in his Inauguration speech!
"I’ve just come from the Congressional briefing by representatives of Israeli human rights organizations sponsored by Americans for Peace Now, Churches for Middle East Peace and other groups.
These groups are doing invaluable work to provide a clear picture of what’s happening in Gaza and to preserve human ties between Israelis and Palestinians.
The organizations have joined to provide information at the blog site: http://www.gazaeng.blogspot.com
Their current summary of the dead and injured:
Gaza: at least 700 killed, of them at least 240 children and 100 women. More than half those killed since the ground incursion began (313) are women and children. Over 3,100 injured, of them over 350 severely injured. Israel: 10 killed, of them 1 woman and 7 soldiers. Over 68 civilians injured, of them 4 severely injured, not including those treated for shock, and 60 soldiers injured, of them one in critical condition."
Spending Christmastime with my in-laws in Michigan really opened my eyes to the depth of the economic crisis. I heard many people talking about their fear of slowdown and layoffs in the auto industry and the surprising number of small businesses that have gone under. I spoke with the owner of a small independent bookshop that has struggled to make ends meet as people have cut back on spending.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is extremely complex and is rooted in the last 60 years of failed policy. However, I think that one of the main causes of the most recent outbreak in violence is the blockade that Israel is placed on Palestine that has made the situation there absolutely horrible. There was a shortage of everything--food, water, medical supplies--even before the Israeli attack started four days ago.
A six month truce between Israel and Palestine that resulted in a severe reduction in violence during that period ended less than a week ago. And now look what is happening. During the truce, Israel still wasn't letting adequate supplies into Gaza.
Is it any wonder that Hamas is shooting rockets at Israel? When people are struggling for the simple necessities of life, they do desperate things.
This video, which in the satirical tradition of Swift's 'A Modest Proposal', calls on people to help child soldiers fight, is rather shocking. But rather than seeing it as bad taste, it forced me to think about how my complacency actually allows the phenomenon of child soldiers to continue unchallenged -- almost as if I was sending them weapons myself.
Tags: A Modest Proposal, armed, child soldiers, Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, conflict, Ishmael Beah, Jonathan Swift, Lord's Resistance Army, P.W. Singer, Sierra Leone, Uganda, violence, war, War Child
It is my firm belief that the kind of work Outreach International is involved in provides more than just health care, education, economic security, and nutrition. It devlops more than self-esteem and an ability to voice struggles to those in power.
Outreach International prevents shoes being thrown at presidents.
You may or may not sympatize with Muntader al-Zaidi, the journalist who threw his shoes at President Bush, but that's beside the point.
Far too often, wars begin because there is a fight over limited resources. Economic insecurity breeds political insecurity which breeds conflict. Of course wars, and in particular the Iraq war, cannot be described in such simplistic terms. But I can't help but think about Outreach's philosphy -- building community, and then supporting that community in solving their own problems -- and wonder if States adopted this way of working out problems, there would be as many international conflicts as there are these days. Bush claimed that American soldiers were going to come to Iraq as liberators. Cue the images of Iraquis showering us with flowers and praise.
It is the arguement that the Sustainable Good blog was founded on and Outreach International works from every day: doing long-term development is much more successful than short-term, reactionary humanitarian aid. And one of my coworkers found a great report by the Center for American Progress with evidence to back this up. The report called "The Cost of Reaction: The Long-Term Costs of Short-Term Cures" argues that the United States has been pursuing short-term solutions to development for much too long, at the detriment to the safety and security of everyone, including the self-serving interests of the U.S.
The report argues that U.S. foreign aid is much too reactive, instead of proactive. Much of the funding the U.S. provides goes toward areas after conflict or disaster in the form of humanitarian or security (military) aid. After the crisis has subsided, or the U.S. interest in the region diminishes, aid "flatlines." This has created an aid system that is incapable of doing anything but emergencies services. Imagine a hospital where after the emergency is averted there is no follow-up, no cures offered, no ability to help prevent the next emergency.
Negotiators for the Ugandan government waited in vain last week for the illusive rebel leader, Joseph Kony to emerge and sign a peace agreement to end the twenty year civil war in Northern Uganda. Once again, Kony failed to appear, demanding further concessions. However, while Kony continues to stall peace efforts, the people of Uganda have continued to pursue peace amongst themselves.
This week, we travelled to Soroti, in eastern Uganda to meet with an inspiring local organization which is taking peace into its own hands. The Teso Dioceses Development Office (TEDDO) has a peace project headed by Pastor Sam Eibu which specializes in community-based mediation. Under Eibu’s initiative, a group of one hundred “peace promoters” have been trained to carry out localized conflict resolution and conciliation initiatives in the villages surrounding Soroti.
Torture, assassination, murder of innocent civilians--these practices are far from American values and ideals. However, the School of the Americas (now Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation or WHINSEC) has been teaching these practices to Latin American militaries and their leaders for years. This past weekend, I went to the 18th Annual School of the Americas Protest. Father Roy Bourgeois started the School of the Americas Watch in 1990 after the brutal murder of 6 Jesuit priests, their co-worker and her teenage daughter on November 16, 1989.
I just got back from Dr. Atomic, an opera about Dr. Oppenheimer, the leader of the Manhattan Project to develop the Atomic Bomb. (I know it sounds odd, and it was, but it was also powerful.) And I just kept thinking that if the US ever spent as much money on any public sector (health, education, development, environmental protection) as we spend on the weapons and war machine, this would would be SO much better. I watched in anguish as Dr. Oppenheimer struggled with the morality of the work he was doing. And I was so thankful that I believe in the movements and organizations I am a part of. I wish that for everyone.
I also wish that we really would make progress on shifting budget priorities away from weapons and war toward the needs of people and the environment in this country and around the world. At a conference this weekend, a representative from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities spoke about opportunities in the next year with the new Congress and Administration, but when asked if she thought we could actually shift funding from the Pentagon to other priorities in the next year, she wasn't optimistic. Apparently, Congress has made some long-term budget committments to the Pentagon that have come due. While I appreciate her honesty and expertise, I can't accept that answer. I do not accept another year of such lopsided priorities. And I am going to work toward making sure this doesn't happen. You can too! Before Nov 26, 2008, urge your Senators to take action to ensure our priorities are better reflected in next year's budget.
Movements start with one person standing up. Let's stand together against injustice!
Today is a big day. Lines of people are weaving in an out of polling places. "I voted" stickers are the newest fashion accessory of the day. Radio stations, news channels, and blogs are all talking about the election non-stop. Websites like www.fivethirtyeight.com obsessively count and recount the polls and are predicting the winners of the various campaigns throughout the country. This is a pretty big deal (understatement of the year.)
I was watching the Daily Show the other night and Bill Kristol, conservative op-ed writer for the New York Times, muttered (jokingly?) “It’s just an election”. Jon Stewart looked flabbergasted and replied, “Yeah, it’s just an election, what could happen?” Truth is, the person in the White House for the next four years will have a lot of power. And yes Bill Kristol, a lot can happen.
This week I have been attending a film festival in Kampala, Uganda, run by Makerere University Law School and the Refugee Law Project, aimed at spurring discussion on ways forward in the country’s peace process.
While things are more peaceful these days, Uganda has suffered from a devastating conflict in its northern region for some 20 years. Over 1 million people were forcibly displaced into camps by government troops, 25,000 children were abducted by brutal rebel forces that believe they are divinely inspired. The country now faces the challenges of reintegrating former rebels, mostly abducted children. It struggles with hope best to seek justice and accountability while also recognizing the need for reconciliation.
Last night I saw a particularly impressive documentary called Uganda Rising (available from www.ugandarising.com) that delves into the roots of this conflict, tells the story of survivors and provides sophisticated analysis from academics and policymakers.
Today is the 63rd Aniversary of the creation of the UN! I have the unique opportunity to celebrate UN Day with a day off work. My employer gives us a day off today instead of on Christopher Columbus Day, which every organization should consider doing.
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the FDR Memorial and tour the maze of beautiful waterfalls and powerful quotes. Toward the end of the memorial, there is a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt with this quote beside it: "The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation, it must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world." Eleanor lived out her belief in cooperation by serving as US Ambassador to the UN for many years. She also was elected head of the UN Commission on Human Rights and helped write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the most important documents ever written.
It is sad to me that despite the United States' key role in creating the UN, we have recently undermined it's authority and failed to pay our share to make it effective.
Sometimes I am amazed at how connected different parts of work and life are.
One of the issues that the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) (the organization that I work for) is working on is banning cluster bombs. A couple of months ago, Matt wrote about how cluster bombs affect the poor. His video post on August 26th called "How Cluster Bombs Impact the Poor." is very good. Then a few weeks ago, one of my collegues that is working on the cluster bomb issue told me that Senator Voinovich from my home state of Ohio was critical to legislation to ban cluster bombs. So I went to his office with my collogues and asked him to sign the bill to ban these terrible weapons. We were met with some resistance, because Voinovich's staff said they hadn't heard from constituents on this issue. Never understimate the power you have to influence your Congressional representatives!
I remember reading quite awhile ago (hence no source, sorry) about media attitudes toward people in different parts of the world and it went something like this: If one American is killed, it's newsworthy. After that the journalistic worth of other people around the world looks much like this math equation: 1 American = 10 Europeans = 100 Asians =1,000 Central/South Americans = 10,000 Africans. This is now the unspoken rule when it comes to those "Breaking News" headlines. Africans just don't qualify as important unless tens of thousands are massacred or killed -- and even then, the story has a quick shelf life.
I know very little about economics, Wall Street, the housing market, investment banking...so I am not qualified enough to know what the answers to the current economic crisis is. And I don't even know if we are in a crisis right now.
What I do know is that it is absolutely ridiculous the crises that we are are happily ignoring. I was shocked to read today that on Sept 18th, the Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the number of undernourished people in 2007 was 923 million! This is 73 million people (mothers, fathers, chidren) higher than the estimate of 850 million in 2005. Why? Because there is a food crisis: the price of food rose 52% in the last year!
So I did some calculating. If we thought that 923 million hungry people was a crisis and decided that these people were just as worthy of bailing out as the banks we are bailing out now, we could: invest that $700 billion in sustainable global development. This would equal an investment of exactly $758.40 per person. What that money could do!!
I recently went to a UN information session for faith based organizations. The UN, while not perfect, seems to at least try and bring power to those who need it most. Personally, it was just nice to sit in a room surrounded by other people who find their religious and human calling to be for social justice. We were discussing the 60th anniversary for the UN Declaration of Human Rights this year. It's a remarkable document (translated in more languages than any other publication) and the director of the UN in Washington DC admitted that this declaration probably would not have passed if it were in the making today.
We then got on the topic of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There will be high-level meeting next week in New York where many heads of state will come together to discuss specifically how they can take these goals a reality by the year 2015. Frankly, it's been off to a slow start but it is still possible to reach them if governments start to honor the promises they made in 2000. For example the US promised to donate .7% of GDP to the cause and as of now they are donating .22% (the smallest of any other developed nation) and most of that money is going toward the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Perhaps it shouldn't get to me so much, but it does. Why is it that so many people from the US and Europe, when talking about Africa, speak of it as if it were single country?
"So... What's it like living in Africa?" people ask me. I want to respond with "What's it like living in the Americas?" or "What is life like upon the Eurasian Continent?" But I recognize that would be a bit cruel. People are often genuinely interested, starved for information about an enormous continent (over twice the size of the USA and Western Europe put together) that is scarcely mentioned in the daily news. For instance, in 2007 the New York Times published 144 articles about Uganda, a country of 26 million people, where I now live. They published 185 articles about Britney Spears and 204 about Paris Hilton.
Back during the Cold War, a Swedish government minister talked of the ‘game of disarmament’ played by the US and USSR. But Control Arms, a coalition campaigning for a new Arms Trade Treaty, have created a very different kind of disarmament game — an interactive online game to raise awareness of conventional arms proliferation.
“We need a global, effective, Arms Trade Treaty,” says British Foreign Minister David Miliband yesterday, urging support of the proposed convention. ”It is bizarre that while treaties and conventions have existed for several decades to control the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, there is no equivalent global arrangement to stop weapons flooding into conflict zones.”
As I have been visiting the amazing sites of Washington DC, I have been absolutely thoroughly impressed by the amount of human ingenuity that it has taken to build everything--the National Cathedral, the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument are spectacular. And while I realize the value of buildings, I became a little disheartened, because I wished that the ingenuity used on these structures could have been used to help solve the problems of poverty, war, environmental destruction. And then I stumbled upon these globes outside of the US Botanic Gardens.
Each globe represents one thing that we could do to make our world more sustainable. One covered with windmills encourages us to push for more wind power. Another covered with all kinds of colorful trash asks that we simply consume less. And one lined with bottle caps encourages us to buy recycled products.
I had goose bumps last night. When Hillary Clinton said at her DNC debut that her mother was born before women were allowed to vote and her daughter was able to vote for her mom for president she showed us how much has changed in the last few decades – not only for women’s rights but for the rights of all of us who are not white, non-disabled, heterosexual men. While we have much work to do, the democratic presidential races of both Clinton and Obama have spurred me to choose to see the glass half full.
Human rights groups have strongly condemned Russia's alleged use of cluster bombs in the fighting in Georgia. These weapons, which target whole areas and often create de facto minefields, are considered illegitimate by much of the international community -- 107 countries have signed on to a new cluster munition ban treaty. The US is not a signator -- contact your elected officials and ask them to support the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act.
I'm 5 feet away from Uribe, the president of Colombia, but I can't help but question the way the billions of dollars the US provides to fight drugs in Colombia is being used.
Have you ever made a phone call to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo)? Chances are, probably not. But your phone may be more involved in the DR Congo conflict than you think. A recent report found that the batteries from Nokia, LG, Motorola, Samsung and possibly Sony Ericsson mobile phones contain cobalt mined in the DR Congo, that may help finance the warring factions. Indeed, the voracious global demand for many of DR Congo's rich mineral resources -- potentially a resource for development and economic growth -- has unfortunately profited the wrong sort of people.
After 13 years of evading justice, Radovan Karadzic (pronounced Kara-jich), a key mastermind of brutal ethnic cleansing campaigns in the Bosnian war was arrested in Serbia's capital this week. He will be extradited to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where he faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Reading of his capture was a cathartic experience for me. Living in Bosnia, I was constantly surrounded by the reminders of the crimes of Karadzic and his henchmen. Bullet holes in the side of an apartment building, where civilians had been executed. The remains of a mosque, exploded to deny people a sense of history and belonging. The rows and rows of graves covering parks and empty spaces all over Bosnia's capital, Sarajevo (see photo). I had long despaired that Karadzic would ever be caught or face justice for his crimes.
The new pro-European government in Serbia, which faces nationalist resistance following Kosovo's declaration of independence, was very brave to make this leap towards ending impunity. While Serbia's pro-democracy movement has had an uphill struggle, even after deposing the authoritarian leader Slobadan Milosevic, they have won a small but important victory for peace and justice in the Former Yugoslavia.
To read more about the difficulties faced by development agencies in building peace after conflict, click here.
I believe provoking war with Iran could have disastrous consequences. Unfortunately, the possibility of an armed confrontation with Iran is not as far-fetched as it may seem. A resolution, H.Con.Res. 362, is making its way through U.S. Congress that would demand the president impose “stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran.”
While this might sound like a good way to isolate Iran, passing such a resolution would be an act of careless brinksmanship. As the Friends Committee on National Legislation point out, “By whatever name it is called, unless authorized by the U.N., this action would be widely construed as a blockade and an act of war by Iran and most of the international community.”
The U.S. must work to constrain the Iranian government’s attempts to throw its weight around, but I do not believe military action is the most effective way to seek meaningful transformation in Iran. Iran is an ancient civilization, with a history of sophisticated culture, including poetry, film and art. They also have a large population of young people fed up with rule by the clerics and want contact with the outside world. There is potential, however small, for engagement, citizen diplomacy and long-term change.
For the sake of peace, the economy and sensible foreign policy, call your elected officials and urge them not to support H.Con.Res. 362. Check out this page for details of how to take action: http://www.fcnl.org/issues/item.php?item_id=3368&issue_id=123
-Matthew Bolton reporting.
Sometimes it is hard to see how US policy impacts the world. I just got back from a trip to Kenya that helped me to realize just how important US policy can be to the world's poor. In Ukwala, Kenya, a rural village in Western Kenya, I worked with a clinic that is set to receive a $1.4million grant from USAID that comes from PEPFAR (The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief).
I got home and had an email in my inbox about the PEPFAR funding being in jeopardy and my heart broke. I just met people that will be benefiting tremendously from this legislation. Among them was one of the most inspiring people I have met: Collins is disabled from the waist down. He gets around by a hand-pedaled bike. He doesn't have HIV/AIDS, but 1 out of 10 people in his area do. He is a member of an AIDS Support Group, because he wants the message of prevention to reach the disabled population, a group that is normally ignored. He is one of the smartest people I know.
Because of a possible decision by some powerful Congresspeople in DC, millions of lives are at risk. We can't let that happen. We can join Collins and stand up for our brothers in sisters living with AIDS. Keep updated on PEPFAR funding by checking the blog. You can also learn more at: http://www.data.org/issues/what_is_PEPFAR_0607.html.
-Stephen Donahoe, Outreach International Intern