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Pushing Obama's Arc Toward Peace

We must grapple with key issues such as the Afghan war, killer drone attacks, maintaining peace with Iran, U.S. policy vis-a-vis Israel and Palestine, and the bloated Pentagon budget.

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And then there's the bloated Pentagon budget. At a time when the nation is looking at how best to allocate scarce resources, all eyes should be on the billions of dollars wasted on Pentagon policies and weapons that don't make us safer. From the more than 800 bases overseas to outdated Cold War weapons to monies given to repressive regimes, we need a rational look at the Pentagon budget that could free up billions for critical social and environmental programs.

Key to building a vibrant peace movement in the next four years is coalition-building, reaching out to a broad array of social justice groups to make the connections between their work and the billions drained from our economy for war. Environmentalists, women's rights advocates, labor unions, civil rights -- there are so many connections that have to be rekindled from the Bush years or started anew.

Finally, we have to provide alternatives to the worn narrative that the military interventions around the world are making us more secure. It's time to demand alternatives like negotiations, creative diplomacy and a foreign policy gearing toward solving global problems, not perpetuating endless war. The UN declared November 10 "Malala Day" in honor of Pakistan's 15-year-old Malala Yousefzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban for supporting education for girls. This tragedy awoke international commitments to ensuring girls can get to school, a relatively inexpensive goal with major returns for the advancement of women's rights, health, prosperity, and security. Wouldn't it be nice to see our government prioritizing funds for school over drone warfare and endless weapons stockpiling?

"The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice," Martin Luther King said. If we can connect these foreign policy issues with domestic needs and climate change, if we can follow the powerful examples of mass direct action movements from Chile to Egypt, and if enough people practice democracy daily rather than waiting until the next presidential election, then maybe-just maybe -- we'll be able to push the arc of Obama's second term in the direction of peace and justice.

 
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