Avoiding War: Peace Leaders Speak

[Editor's note: This is the second in a series of articles interviewing peace group leaders about the recent terrorist attacks and their suggested alternatives to war. Part one of the series was published on September 17.]

Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Director of the Women and Policy Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is the founder of Women Waging Peace, which brings women peacemakers from conflict areas around the globe to Harvard for two weeks each November to attend workshops and network, and to share their experiences in dealing with conflict.

We are hosting conversations around the current situation with Harvard faculty and women here from Sudan, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. The women talk about what it is like to live in a society warped with terror and the lessons they have learned.

Regarding alternatives to war, I am not a pacifist. Certainly there are people in our group who have the strong conviction that violence begets even greater violence. Others say that military intervention can be the less violent of the alternatives. There are women from Kosovo who were pleading for military intervention long before it occurred. But it is very important to distinguish between military intervention to stop genocide and military intervention as a form of retribution or retaliation.

What else is possible in the current situation? In talking to a former member of the Clinton cabinet, I said that we must come to grips with the fact that we cannot ultimately defend against terrorism. We can make airports safer, but then terrorism shifts to the less protected areas. If we again try to protect these, we can become a locked society.

Ultimately we are left with what happens at a person-to-person level. Let me suggest this. What if we decided to put $40 billion into the 10 countries in the world most thought to harbor terrorists? What if we put that money into economic empowerment, micro enterprise, elevating the voice of women in the society, and massive citizen-exchange programs? Can you imagine what $40 billion could do? That approach has a much higher possibility of providing safety for us all.

Think of community policing, where policemen and women get out of their cars and walk their beats. They get to know their neighbors, and the neighbors are more likely to say, I saw this suspicious character. Then if the policeman says I want to keep an eye on him, the neighbor is likely to invite him to watch from his son's bedroom.

We forget all of this in our foreign policy. In Bosnia, U.S. troops were told to stay on the base for security reasons and were not allowed to go out and help someone putting a roof on a house. The Brits were out there doing all kinds of things to help the community, and their morale was great. These are all basic ways of interacting with other people at a human level that I think women are particularly adept at.

Regarding the Women Waging Peace Conference this November, this attack will certainly change the dynamic and tone of our colloquium. Instead of the West offering advice, help, and counsel, we will be joining our sisters from around the world with much more understanding.

Janice Auth, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Peace Links:

We issued a statement last week condemning and mourning the terrorist acts while also calling for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We believe that violence begets more violence and that we must work for justice through international collaboration and systems such as the International Criminal Court.

Next, we wanted to take this to another level. We decided to send a letter to the President and the media, urging the President and his advisors to bring the great peacemakers of the world into his discussions of how to resolve this problem. President Bush is now meeting only with his military leaders. Yet this problem, which is a problem for the world, demands the wisdom of the minds of peacemakers. We're including a list of 16 peacemakers, including Nobel Peace Prize recipients, in the letter.

We'll also be present at the Emergency Mobilization Meeting called by The Thomas Merton Center for Peace and Social Justice this weekend for anyone who wants to get together and talk about the problem and its solution. We do not want to criticize and undermine the government but are trying to help and offer input. These attacks require a long-term solution as well as the short-term solution of finding the perpetrators and bringing them to justice. The world needs to protect itself against this type of insanity, a person so deranged that he kills thousands of innocent people.

How to capture the perpetrators is a tough one. We as an organization haven't tackled that one. We do hear from our supporters that something as off the wall as bombing a country like Afghanistan will have little effect.

We are not in favor of an invasion or an attack on a country that harbors terrorists. We are in favor of using international systems like the International Criminal Court, which tried the war criminals from the war in Yugoslavia.

How to find the perpetrators is still a question mark.

Daniel Sheehan, Esq., President of The Christic Institute (a non-profit public interest law firm), and Adlai E. Stevenson Visiting Professor of World Politics at UC Santa Cruz:

To bring perpetrators of terrorist acts to justice, one engages in law enforcement.

I want to recommend a made-for-TV motion picture that came out in the late '80s, called Under Siege. It starred Hal Holbrook as the President. It is uncannily prescient of the current situation. It sets forth all the instinctive reactions that are happening here, the way the media are handling it, the way the CIA wants to use the situation to settle old scores. Bob Woodward was co-author of the script.

It showed the fundamental conflict that arose between a Director of the FBI who advocates using very professional head law enforcement to track down the perpetrators, and the CIA and major political parties that were posturing, and the pressure that was brought to bear on the president to take some reactive type of military action. This movie's like a two-hour seminar on almost everything you need to know about this current thing.

With sound professional law enforcement and sound professional application of proper diplomatic tools, we can ascertain who committed last Tuesday's terrorist attacks and bring them to justice just as we did with Lockerbie and Milosovich.

With the Lockerbie bombing of the Pan Am jet, there was professional law enforcement immediately put into place. The FBI, the FAA, all the in-place institutions came into play, coordinated through the interagency law enforcement team investigating the forensics of the bombing. They found where the bomb was placed -- in the luggage compartment. They investigated who had access to the luggage, consulting with the security department of Pan Am. They isolated who they believed did it.

They investigated them and brought indictments against them in the U.S. They then contacted the proper authorities in the countries where they thought these people were and asked for their cooperation.

They didn't get the immediate cooperation of Libya. Here they did one inappropriate thing, they launched military action against Gaddafi, which killed Gaddafi's daughter. This didn't help the situation.

But then they got back to normal law. They wanted the Libyan government to extradite the perpetrators to them for a trial, but the U.S. didn't have jurisdiction since the place of the crime was Scotland. They then agreed to have the trial in a neutral country, The Netherlands, where it was mutually felt that the defendants could get a fair trial. One of the defendants was convicted and one was acquitted because there was not enough evidence.

This demonstrates that this can be done in regard to the current situation too. The kind of remedies they are talking about now -- killing hundreds and thousands of women and children -- won't do anything except generate more potential terrorists.

Janet Jai is a writer and founder of the firm Vision and Values. She is currently writing a book called World Peace: A Beginners' Guide.

Sidebar: Peace Links urges President Bush to include peacemakers along with military advisors in discussions about last Tuesday's terrorist attacks. Here is their recommended list:

Kofi Annan, Secretary General of the United Nations
Oscar Arias, former President of Costa Rica, Nobel Peace Prize 1987
Betty Bumpers, founder of Peace Links
Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States
Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, Nobel Peace Prize 1989
Father Theodore Hesburgh, former President of Notre Dame University
Swanee Hunt, founder of Women Waging Peace, Harvard University
Aung Sun Suu Kyi, leader of the democracy movement in Burma, Nobel Peace Prize 1991
Dr. Arjun Makhijani, consultant on nuclear and energy issues
Colman McCarthy, author, teacher, and peace activist
George Mitchell, former U.S. Senator, advisor in Northern Ireland peace negotiations
Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Dr. Desmond Tutu, South African bishop, Nobel Peace Prize 1984
Elie Wiesel, author, Nobel Peace Prize 1986
Jody Williams, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Nobel Peace Prize 1997
Robin Wright, author, commentator, Middle East expert
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