Peace and Justice - Fr. Benjamin J. Urmston

Peace and Justice - Vision of Peace

Vision of Peace

Peace is more real than anything we know. Peace was given us by Jesus. We cannot let our fears, insecurities, isolation, selfishness keep us from peace. There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. We will inch closer and closer each day to peace when we inch closer and closer to the idea of peace.

There are positive and negative drives within us. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola help our courage and hope prevail over our fear and apathy. I invite you to join me as I try to break out of what is and move to what can be and should be. When we dream alone, it remains a dream. When we dream together, even impossible dreams can come true.

Scripture and Peace

There are at least two main understandings of peace. To some peace is an absence of war. To others genuine peace certainly includes an absence of war, but it also includes the presence of justice. Pax Romana was an absence of any significant war. But it was hardly justice for Roman slaves.

Although Catholic social teaching certainly agrees that peace is the absence of war, peace is also the presence of justice. Scripture holds up for us a vision of peace. "God shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again." (Isaiah 2.4)

Jesus stated that his peace was unique. To achieve the peace of Christ is a grace. The peace of Christ is integral peace, peace within the person and with all persons. "Even though the disciples had locked the doors in fear. . . Jesus came and stood before them. Peace be with you," he said. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced, 'Peace be with you,' Jesus said again. "Peace is my farewell to you, my peace is my gift to you. I do not give it to you as the world gives peace. Do not be distressed or fearful." (John 20.19; 14.27)

Feeding the hungry and curing the sick, Jesus was certainly concerned with peace in this world. He confronted the leaders of his day on justice issues. But the New Testament understands "world" in a special way. "The world is humankind as fallen, as alienated from God and hostile to God and to Jesus Christ." (McKenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, 943) Repeating a theme frequent in Scripture, Jesus considers fear as an obstacle to peace. It's hard to grow in our understanding of others or of ourselves when fear dominates over courage and creativity.

Although I have always tried to live the peace of Christ, I don't identify the peace of Christ with political and economic peace. I look upon integral peace as grace and mystery. Comprehending peace can be as elusive as God, the author of peace, or the human person, who never fully reaches peace, or the human family, who at this stage groans and is in agony as it searches for peace. I don't think we should be too quick to conclude that we fully understand what the peace of Christ is or can be.

I do believe, however, that we can trace the basic outline of the peace of Christ. I think Jesus wants us to form a global world ethic such as do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Jesus wants us to affirm basic human rights; pursue the various forms of non-violence; work toward participation by each human person in basic economic decisions; strive day and night, night and day to establish a democratic world order that will outlaw war, poverty, and oppression.

Christians, Jews, and Muslims share at least in theory a common understanding of peace as not only the absence of war which is certainly important but also the presence of justice which is equally essential. Peace is harmonious relationships among God, the family, the community, ourselves, and the earth. Peace is the exercise of basic human rights protected by law.

God has reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. "I mean that God, in Christ, was reconciling the world to himself, not counting humankind's transgressions against them, and that he has entrusted the message of reconciliation to us." (2 Corinthians 5.17-21.)

Peace as Harmony

From a religious perspective, peace is harmonious relationships with God, our neighbor, ourselves, and the earth. Peace is respect for basic human rights. In Peace on Earth, Blessed John XXIII had a positive vision. Not once does Pope John XXIII mention the just war theory.

The US Bishops understand peace in this way. "The Catholic tradition has always understood the meaning of peace in positive terms. Peace is both a gift of God and a human work. It must be constructed on the basis of central human values, truth, justice, freedom, and love. The Pastoral Constitution of Vatican II states the traditional concept of peace: 'Peace is not merely the absence of war. Nor can it be reduced solely to the maintenance of a balance of power between enemies. Nor is it brought about by dictatorship. Instead, it is rightly and appropriately called 'an enterprise of justice' (Isaiah 32.17) Peace results from that harmony built into human society by its divine founder and actualized by us as we thirst after ever greater justice." (The Challenge of Peace, God's Promise and Our Response, No. 68)

Peace includes law and security, but it also includes a reasonable amount of freedom.

Other religions also understand peace in a holistic sense. As we look at other religions, we see the notion of reconciliation is by no means unique to the Christian scriptures.

The Jewish concept of Shalom is similar to the Catholic notion. Peace includes being a co-creator with God, with God's help striving to perfect the act of creation. "The Hebrew word yetzer 'creative impulse' connotes a creative role for the peacemaker. The concept of tikkun olam, fixing the world, assigns to God's creatures the task of co-creation, the task of assuming partnership with God in the building of a world at peace. Martin Buber urges us to become no less than God's fellow workers. Shalom derives from a Hebrew root meaning wholeness or completeness, the state of positive well-being that is our task as God's co-workers to help realize." (Grob, "Pursuing Peace: Shalom in the Jewish Tradition" Education for Peace, 42)

From Egypt Abram went up to the Negeb with his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot accompanied him. . . The land could not support them if they stayed together. . There were quarrels between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and those of Lot's. . So Abram said to Lot: 'Let there be no strife between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land at your disposal? Please separate from me. If you prefer the left, I will go to the right: if you prefer the right, I will go to the left. (Genesis 13)

A third century Rabbi Alexandri points to God as solving conflict in nonviolent ways through the Torah. He tells the story of two donkey-drivers who hated one another. They were traveling the same road when one of their donkeys sat down. The other driver went on. Later he thought: It is written in the Torah: 'If you see the ass of one who hates you, you shall surely help him to lift it up.' So he returned and helped the driver who was his enemy. The former began to say to himself: ?So-and-so is my friend and I did not know.' Both entered an inn and ate and drank. Rabbi Alexandri attributes their reconciliation to the Torah. (Leonard Grob, "Pursuing Peace: Shalom in the Jewish Tradition" Education for Peace, Testimonies from the World Religions, Haim Gordon and Leonard Grob, eds. 38)

Muslims also believe in justice as a part of reconciliation. Peace is dependent upon justice; and justice is dependent upon jihad f sabin Allah, striving in the cause of God. Although Muslims believe in self-defense of themselves and others, especially the weak, Muslims must be fair even to their enemies. Moreover, if an enemy takes an initiative toward peace, a Muslim must be reconciled and respond in good faith and with good will.
(Riffat Hassan, "Peace Education: A Muslim Perspective" Education for Peace, 116)
The Muslim concept of peace shares the same vision of wholeness as that of Christians and Jews. "The very term Islam is derived from a root, one of whose basic meanings is peace. . . the ideal of being at peace with oneself, one's fellow human beings, the world of nature, and God, is deeply cherished by Muslims. Many tend, unfortunately, to define peace negatively, as an absence of war. But in quranic terms, peace is much more than mere absence of war. It is a positive state of safety or security in which one is free from anxiety or fear. Peace on earth (which is a precondition of peace in heaven) is the result of living in accordance with God's will. In quranic terms, peace is obtained when human beings, conscious of their duty to God, fulfill their duty to other human beings. In fulfilling this duty they honor what I call the human rights of others. These rights are those that all human beings ought to possess because they are rooted so deeply in our humanness that their denial or violation is tantamount to negation or degradation of that which makes us human. These rights came into existence when we did: they were created, as we were by God in order that our human potential could be actualized." (Hassan, "Peace Education: A Muslim Perspective" Education for Peace, 97)

Islam teaches strongly that one must do Jihad against her/his bad deeds. The Prophet of Islam calls this type of Jihad, Jihad Akbar, meaning the greatest Jihad, the struggle to respect the rights of others, the struggle to forgive others. Jihad may mean what Christians call a just war or a just insurrection, but only after all other alternatives are exhausted. A just war must be against an aggressor, against injustice. Non-violence is preferred. When fighting an aggressor, make sure you don't become one. God is displeased with aggression. (Quran, Bagh 190-193) Jihad is for justice, not the amassing of land and possessions. Jihad must be according to the standards of God, not our own standards and criteria. Muslims are encouraged to forgive, but reserve the right of just compensation if they have been injured.

When the Prophet Muhammad went to the mosque each day, his Jewish neighbor threw trash and garbage on him. The Prophet ignored him and continued on his way. One day the prophet noticed that his neighbor didn't come to throw trash on him. When he went to find out what had happened to his Jewish neighbor and found he was sick, he went to visit him. His Jewish neighbor was moved by the prophet's sense of forgiveness.

Buddhists are especially inclined to nonviolence. In the sixth century before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, in the area which today is the border between India and Nepal, the Sauciness and the Callowness shared the river Roughhewn as a border, using its waters to irrigate their crops. In a very dry year there was not enough for both sides. Each armed themselves and set out to the battlefield to fight over who would get the water. Gautama, of the Sakyan clad, had become the enlightened one, the Buddha. When the Buddha came between the opposing armies, he asked a very pointed question: ?What is more valuable, water or human persons?' The answer was obvious. Buddha concluded, "It is not fitting that because of a little water, you should destroy warriors who are beyond price." The Sauciness and the Callowness agreed and found a nonviolent solution. Even under torture or when in danger of being killed, Buddhists are to train themselves to abide compassionately, lovingly, and without resentment. Self-protection itself is not placed above the ideal of nonviolence. The first of their ten precepts is "to abstain from harming living beings."
(Venerable Sangharakshita, Buddhism, World Peace, and Nuclear War)

In the Hindu tradition Gandhi pursued satyagraha, which means "clinging to truth." The purpose of satyagraha was not coercion but persuasion and conversion. It aims to win others over by the power of love, trying to arouse in others a sense of injustice. Those who pursued satyagraha wanted a new consensus between parties in conflict in which both parties could feel they were satisfied. When deep-seated prejudices are present, an appeal to reason alone is not considered sufficient . Reason has to be strengthened by suffering which opens the eyes of the understanding. Gandhi practiced nonviolence and was at least partially successful with all kinds of injustices. Gandhi opposed the caste system, the segregation of the untouchables, and discrimination against women. Gandhi's most well-known use of nonviolence was his success in attaining India's independence from the British.

Thus we see that Christians, Jews, and Muslims share at least in theory a common understanding of peace as not only the absence of war which is certainly important but also the presence of justice which is equally essential. It's a tragedy that members of these three great religions have been often at war with one another.

Clarifying a Vision

I have a combat infantry medal from service in General Patton?s Third Army in Europe. I was also in the Philippine Islands. I emerged from the war with the conviction there had to be a better way. I knew not what that better way would be, but I felt that becoming a Jesuit priest was a way I could search toward a peace with justice.

As I started to educate and work for a peace with justice so many immediate peace and justice emergencies crowded upon me, I couldn?t see the forest for the trees. I decided I needed a long-range vision to give me perspective. Once I had a vision, I could prioritize appropriate steps toward the vision. Without a vision I found it hard to decide where to begin or what to do next.

An integral part of Ignatian spirituality is freedom from domination by inner insecurities, a freedom to have eyes wide open to what?s really happening, a freedom to think new thoughts, a freedom to dream, a freedom to ?make believe.? As followers of St. Ignatius today we strive for that same inner freedom, freedom from domination by addictions and negative drives, a positive spiritual freedom to imagine a world with structures different from what we now experience.

I developed my vision over the last fifty years and corroborated it during my doctoral studies by fifty extended interviews with those committed to faith and justice. In my vision there are five major pieces, or pillars, that we need to focus on to build a just world. The basic fundamentals of the vision are the vision of Jesus. It's not hard to conclude that Jesus wants a faith-filled and just world.

The first pillar of a new world order is to develop and begin to live a global ethic. Religions are exploring today what they have in common. We need to establish world-wide moral guidelines as we move together toward a common future of peace. The World Parliament of Religions has declared we are all interdependent. Each of us depends on the well-being of the whole. . .We consider humankind our family. Shouldn't we acknowledge ourselves as citizens of our city and country, but also as citizens of the world?

We add the second pillar of a new world building when we create a culture of non-violence, healthy and positive relationships, persuasion rather than coercion. If we are treated unjustly, we can strike back violently or we can be prudent and simply keep quiet. Imaging a third alternative, active non-violence is an historic development on a par in the evolutionary process with the breakthrough to intelligence. It will change our future in a radical way.

Non-violence has many components, education, conflict resolution skills, appropriate laws, intelligent and reflective voting, prayer and meditation.

The third pillar of a new world structure is promotion of a culture where basic human rights are second nature. God did not create us to be essentially frustrated. Natural human rights are pleas to one another for our basic material, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. The new Constitution of South Africa gives each person the right to shelter, to health care, to food, water, education; the right to live in a healthy environment. On a more widespread basis natural human rights need to be codified in positive civil law and made part of state, national, and a world constitution.

The fourth pillar of a new world building are economic structures through which the people can participate in policy decisions. Made in the likeness of God, we have the right and responsibility to make our own decisions on basic fundamental issues. We can control corporations externally by laws and agencies. We need legally to expand the bottom line of corporations to include care for the common good. We can better control corporations by ownership. The worker-owned cooperatives such as Mondragon are democratically structured. Rather than a limited number of large conglomerates, there should be widespread ownership of the means of production, the factories and farms. This would be another check and balance to government at all levels.

The fifth pillar of a new world structure is democratic world order. The Catholic Catechism urges us to pray every day that we be free of the "ancient bondage of war." Since law distinguishes terrorists from the innocent and determines degrees of guilt, something bombs cannot do, law is a more humane way to provide security. Although the UN has made many important strides toward a peace with justice, the present UN is only a confederation. A stronger, more democratic body needs to be imagined. Although law needs to be more humane and infused by the Spirit, law can bring us order, stability, and security. One of the greatest men of the 20th century, Pope John XXIII, made a democratic international structure a moral imperative.

A democratic World Authority, economic democracy, a culture of basic human rights, non-violence, a global ethic are pillars of a new world mansion, a mansion more in accord with God's Word. Details of course need to be worked out and developed by small faith-filled communities, but God certainly wants a more humane world.

How do we proceed toward the vision? There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. Some seem to think if we bring God into it, we don't need research, dialogue, and communal discernment. We need to get in touch with our light and dark graced stories. How has God loved us in good times and in bad? How have we taken that love to others?

We need to expand our experience by contact with the materially poor and marginalized. When we see in justice we need to ask "why?" We need to do research and social analysis. "Who is making the decision? Who is benefiting from the decision? Who is paying the cost of the decision?"

We need to engage in theological reflection, having the values of Scripture and the churches interface with the world in which we live. We pray at Catholic Mass: "Keep the church alert in faith to the signs of the times and eager to accept the challenge of the gospel."

Writers as far apart ideologically as St. Ignatius of Loyola and the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre agree that we need to be honest with ourselves. St. Ignatius developed skills in discerning positive drives within us from negative inner movements.

Christian Life Community embodies this process today. Small religious communities need to make decisions for social action within a definite time line. None of us can do everything. All of us can do something. We need to evaluate how faithful we have been to the process. We will not always experience immediate external success. If we strengthen the local church, we can protect the larger Church from excessive over-centralization. The Church will not grow unless all are invited to develop church life and teaching. Unity in essentials, responsible freedom in the fallible and uncertain, charity in all. None of us have absolute certitude in all things! We walk humbly together toward the truth of Jesus, listening to others even those with whom we disagree.

We have before us life and death. Let us choose a globalization of the Spirit, a globalization of hope. Let us choose life.

The prophet Habakkuk 1.1 complains to God: "How long O Lord? I cry out to you, Violence! but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery? Destruction and violence are before me: there is strife, and clamorous discord. . . 2.2 Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live.? In 600 BC there was internal corruption and dissension. There was oppression by Babylon who was besieging Jerusalem. The vision of faith has an inward dynamism moving forward to its ultimate fulfillment. We need in faith to promote that vision.

Let us then look ahead at the year 2034 and again try to clarify the vision of what a decent future would look like. As we look ahead, we need to ignore obstacles at least for now, and picture what the minimum essentials of the beginning of peace would be. Do the elements of peace I have described blend and become interconnected? The elements of a plan for peace are not new. But I think the connection between the parts of the revolution and how the sections of the plan are interrelated is not a popular concept.

A vision sets goals for what needs to be done. A vision is a picture that can be used to motivate. Although history is the story of the past, a vision of utopia is the truth of tomorrow. As I have said, unless we have a vision we cannot see the forest for the trees. We can get so lost in details and the myriad of issues that we lose a sense of the larger picture. When the astronauts went into space, they looked back and got a different view of our planet earth. If we have a vision, the vision helps us to determine our priorities now as we journey toward our goals. Otherwise our agenda is determined by those who oppose growth and change.

If a couple had the freedom to design and build their own house, their first thought would be to create what would be at least an adequate shelter to meet their needs. They would not begin their design by wondering whether they had enough money to pay for the materials. They would design a house suitable for themselves, and then try to examine whether they had the financial resources or could raise them. If their financial resources were meager, that would influence the final design. But if they had a defeatist attitude in the beginning, they could not plan for a house suitable to their needs. The couple would want a house that would at least keep them dry when it rains, warm when it's cold. In the first world they would probably want electricity and running water.

We must design a plan for a world that is at least livable, then search for the resources to build it. I think that together and with God we are more powerful than the forces of evil in our world. Thus I feel we should picture what the minimum would be for a world of peace with justice and then search for the means to build that peace. The companion of Dorothy Day, Peter Maurin, always called for clarification of thought. I suggest that ignoring obstacles we clarify our vision of what a peaceful world would be like. When we dream alone, it remains a dream. When we dream together, the dream becomes reality. Below is how I think the elements of a peace with justice blend together.

Without basic human rights, the world does not really have peace in a meaningful sense. Without basic human rights, especially economic rights, the human family does not have the minimum essentials necessary for human life. God did not create us to be essentially frustrated. As a human race, we need to reach the starting line. Individuals and groups have indeed made remarkable progress in the arts and sciences. In a sense, technology has brought many of us together. But the human race is a whole. If one person lacks basic human rights, as a human family I do not think we have reached the starting line. In reality, there are millions who lack their basic human rights. Indeed, since we live in a world of such technological abundance, giving subsistence to each human person is the least we can do.

Without a democratic world authority, basic human rights are not possible. A single nation state or a group of nations states are incapable of judging fairly or acting promptly. Without a global democratic political entity, we do not have freedom from war, from economic oppression, or environmental pollution. If it is democratically chosen with sufficient checks and balances, an international governing body, and only an international governing body, can insure peace, economic justice, human rights, and a healthy earth for all nations. The present United Nations is not such a body, but it is a beginning.

Moreover, without common security, I don't think national, regional, state, and local governments can operate properly. National governments are being asked to do what they are incapable of. This hinders their ability to do in an adequate manner what they were created for.

Without active non-violence, we will not reach or maintain genuine peace, basic human rights, or international law and order. New structures and new values will work only if we work at it. Education is a key. Being intelligent, thoughtful citizens is a key. If enough people really want peace, it will happen. If we are lazy or fatalists, our attitude will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and nothing will happen, certainly nothing to stop our present slide toward selfishness and apathy.

Actually, there are more people who choose non-violence than we realize. Objections to non-violence usually come in the form of extreme examples. If our nation is overrun by a hostile army which is pillaging, raping, and killing civilians, what do we do? Non-violence has to be tried from the beginning. We can't expect non-violence to solve immediately acute problems that have festered for decades, generations, even centuries.

Without economic democracy, we will not achieve or maintain basic human rights. Political democracy is not enough to insure basic freedom. Indeed is genuine political democracy possible without economic democracy? If only a wealthy few control the media, those few will also control politics. Economic freedom is a basic human right. We have simply been slow to acknowledge the need for the people to be able to make crucial policy decisions concerning the farms and factories.

Economic democracy could take many forms. I'm not ready to say it would mean any one structure or practice. At the very least it would mean there are no hungry or homeless people. At the most it would mean widespread ownership of the factories and farms, transportation, and the media.

I think the principle of subsidiarity needs to be followed in the economic as well as the political sphere. This would result I believe in much more local community ownership of the means of production rather than large, overly centralized conglomerates.

Without religion and faith, violence and disintegration are bound to prevail. The forces of evil outside of us and within us are enormous. But if we are open to God's grace, nothing is impossible to God. Where sin abounds, there grace does more abound. We need a vision. We also need a way to the vision. Communities of faith and action lend support, moderation, analysis, and prayer.

Here I am bold enough to proclaim that Ignatian spirituality can help in clarifying our vision. Ignatian spirituality can help small groups to assimilate our past, be more genuinely present, and see better toward the future. These small groups can then communicate their vision to the larger community.

Each element of a revolution of values is necessary. Promoting one without the other won't work. If we put the elements of a radical change together, we can have a genuine peace with justice.

I have sketched a vision for peace. Those working for peace can follow this vision and way of proceeding, modifying or changing it as they see fit. If there's any defect in my vision, I feel it's too minimal. I think we expect too little of ourselves.

There are millions of people hungry and malnourished in our world. Related to hunger is the alarming number of unemployed and underemployed. All of us live under the threat of war and on an earth which environmentalists say is deteriorating in unacceptable and unnecessary ways. I have sketched basic structures that I think will alleviate world problems. It's not that there aren't people of good will in our world. Nor are we lacking in intelligent women and men. What is lacking are structures adequate to make this a humane world. It's hard to avoid indigestion when we eat with a sword suspended over our heads, a sword that hangs supported only by a thread. People who live under threat of war and deterioration of our earth are not free people.

The present structures of our world include the nation state and an very unbalanced system of power in which only a few have vast amounts of wealth. I don't think it takes a genius to see our world needs global democratic authority, economic democracy, and the exercise of basic human rights by each human person.

Perhaps I am too timid or conservative. Perhaps my sights are too low. But working together as one human family I think we can reach at least the beginning. The deepening of our faith suffuses all our efforts to achieve peace. All is interconnected. If we have a strong relationship with God, we will reach out to our neighbor. If we love our neighbor and the earth, we will examine any structures that may be oppressing our neighbor or damaging our earth. Since the effort to make this a better world is at times overwhelming, faith and discernment can support us in the struggle.

"Then the Lord answered me and said: Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash man has no integrity; but the just man, because of his faith, shall live." (Habakkuk 2. 2)

"I saw a new heavens and a new earth. . I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with humankind, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!. . .To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son." Revelation 21.3-7

Various Forces for Peace

I recommend Dr. Helen Caldicott, The New Nuclear Danger, p. 185 ff "Under the banner Business Are Us, the Pentagon hosts a paper on their web site proclaiming that they are America's largest company, the next being Exxon with a budget of 165 billion dollars. With 5.1 million, the Pentagon is the nation's largest employer. It maintains 600 fixed facilities nationwide, with more than 40,000 properties and 18 million acres of land. It stations employees in 130 countries out of a total 178 of the world. Its global presence is ubiquitous.

America is a nation that spends only six cents out of every dollar on educating its children and four cents on health care for every fifty cents it spends on the military-industrial complex. Overall, the Pentagon's 310 billion dollars per year dwarfs the 44.5 billion dollars for the education department and 20.3 billion dollars for the National Institutes of Health.

Globally the annual military expenditure stands at 780 billion dollars. The total amount required to provide global health care, eliminate starvation and malnutrition, provide clean water and shelter for all, remove land mines, eliminate nuclear weapons, stop deforestation, prevent global warming, ozone depletion and acid rain, retire the paralyzing debt of developing nations, prevent soil erosion, produce safe, clean energy, stop overpopulation, and eliminate illiteracy is only one third that amount--237.5 billion dollars."

I belong to Veterans For Peace, a progressive group of veterans from all wars.

Veterans For Peace includes men and women veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, other conflicts and peace time veterans. Our collective experience tells us wars are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent. Thus, other means of problem solving are necessary.

Concerned Philosophers for Peace

Concerned Philosophers For Peace (CPP) was initiated as a response to the increased militarism of the Reagan Administration, especially in relation its deployment of Euromissiles and policies on nuclear weapons. Subsequently, the organization progressed from a critique focused on nuclear war fighting strategies to the promotion of cooperative endeavors, first, with Soviet and, now, Russian philosophers

Permanent Scars from War

No one knows the human cost of war better than those who were there. To read the stories of veterans I suggest D. Hallock Hell, Healing and Resistance, Veterans Speak. Veterans reveal their inner scars and the ongoing suffering shared by their families and many others whose lives they touch. Sometimes I see prominently displayed the slogan "Support our troops." Obviously one way to support our troops is not by blind obedience to immoral wars, but by providing needed services on their return to civilian life.

Some also feel below that some scars from war are not widely known. The research below is old. I invite any new research a reader may have.

Depleted Uranium: Dirty Bombs, Dirty Missiles, Dirty Bullets

By Leuren Moret SF Bay View

A death sentence here and abroad "Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy. - Henry Kissinger, quoted in "Kiss the Boys Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed Its Own POW's in Vietnam"

Vietnam was a chemical war for oil, permanently contaminating large regions and countries downriver with Agent Orange, and environmentally the most devastating war in world history. But since 1991, the U.S. has staged four nuclear wars using depleted uranium weaponry, which, like Agent Orange, meets the U.S. government definition of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Vast regions in the Middle East and Central Asia have been permanently contaminated with radiation.

And what about our soldiers? Terry Jemison of the Department of Veterans Affairs reported to the American Free Press that "Gulf-era veterans" now on medical disability since 1991 number 518,739, with only 7,035 reported wounded in Iraq in that same 14-year period.

This week the American Free Press dropped a dirty bomb on the Pentagon by reporting that eight out of 20 men who served in one unit in the 2003 U.S. military offensive in Iraq now have malignancies. That means that 40 percent of the soldiers in that unit have developed malignancies in just 16 months.

Since these soldiers were exposed to vaccines and depleted uranium (DU) only, this is strong evidence for researchers and scientists working on this issue, that DU is the definitive cause of Gulf War Syndrome. Vaccines are not known to cause cancer. One of the first published researchers on Gulf War Syndrome, who also served in 1991 in Iraq, Dr. Andras Korenyi-Both, is in agreement with Barbara Goodno from the Department of Defense?s Deployment Health Support Directorate, that in this war soldiers were not exposed to chemicals, pesticides, bioagents or other suspect causes this time to confuse the issue.

This powerful new evidence is blowing holes in the cover-up perpetrated by the Pentagon and three presidential administrations ever since DU was first used in 1991 in the Persian Gulf War. Fourteen years after the introduction of DU on the battlefield in 1991, the long-term effects have revealed that DU is a death sentence and very nasty stuff.

Scientists studying the biological effects of uranium in the 1960s reported that it targets the DNA. Marion Fulk, a nuclear physical chemist retired from the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab and formerly involved with the Manhattan Project, interprets the new and rapid malignancies in soldiers from the 2003 war as ?spectacular ? and a matter of concern.?

This evidence shows that of the three effects which DU has on biological systems - radiation, chemical and particulate ? the particulate effect from nano-size particles is the most dominant one immediately after exposure and targets the Master Code in the DNA. This is bad news, but it explains why DU causes a myriad of diseases which are difficult to define.

In simple words, DU "trashes the body." When asked if the main purpose for using it was for destroying things and killing people, Fulk was more specific: ?I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people.?

Soldiers developing malignancies so quickly since 2003 can be expected to develop multiple cancers from independent causes. This phenomenon has been reported by doctors in hospitals treating civilians following NATO bombing with DU in Yugoslavia in 1998-1999 and the U.S. military invasion of Iraq using DU for the first time in 1991. Medical experts report that this phenomenon of multiple malignancies from unrelated causes has been unknown until now and is a new syndrome associated with internal DU exposure.

Just 467 U.S. personnel were wounded in the three-week Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991. Out of 580,400 soldiers who served in Gulf War I, 11,000 are dead, and by 2000 there were 325,000 on permanent medical disability. This astounding number of disabled vets means that a decade later, 56 percent of those soldiers who served now have medical problems.

The number of disabled vets reported up to 2000 has been increasing by 43,000 every year. Brad Flohr of the Department of Veterans Affairs told American Free Press that he believes there are more disabled vets now than even after World War II.

They brought it home

Not only were soldiers exposed to DU on and off the battlefields, but they brought it home. DU in the semen of soldiers internally contaminated their wives, partners and girlfriends. Tragically, some women in their 20s and 30s who were sexual partners of exposed soldiers developed endometriosis and were forced to have hysterectomies because of health problems.

In a group of 251 soldiers from a study group in Mississippi who had all had normal babies before the Gulf War, 67 percent of their post-war babies were born with severe birth defects. They were born with missing legs, arms, organs or eyes or had immune system and blood diseases. In some veterans? families now, the only normal or healthy members of the family are the children born before the war.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has stated that they do not keep records of birth defects occurring in families of veterans.

How did they hide it?

Before a new weapons system can be used, it must be fully tested. The blueprint for depleted uranium weapons is a 1943 declassified document from the Manhattan Project.

Harvard President and physicist James B. Conant, who developed poison gas in World War I, was brought into the Manhattan Project by the father of presidential candidate John Kerry. Kerry?s father served at a high level in the Manhattan Project and was a CIA agent.

Conant was chair of the S-1 Poison Gas Committee, which recommended developing poison gas weapons from the radioactive trash of the atomic bomb project in World War II. At that time, it was known that radioactive materials dispersed in bombs from the air, from land vehicles or on the battlefield produced very fine radioactive dust which would penetrate all protective clothing, any gas mask or filter or the skin. By contaminating the lungs and blood, it could kill or cause illness very quickly.

They also recommended it as a permanent terrain contaminant, which could be used to destroy populations by contaminating water supplies and agricultural land with the radioactive dust.

The first DU weapons system was developed for the Navy in 1968, and DU weapons were given to and used by Israel in 1973 under U.S. supervision in the Yom Kippur war against the Arabs.

The Phalanx weapons system, using DU, was tested on the USS Bigelow out of Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in 1977, and DU weapons have been sold by the U.S. to 29 countries.

Military research report summaries detail the testing of DU from 1974-1999 at military testing grounds, bombing and gunnery ranges and at civilian labs under contract. Today 42 states are contaminated with DU from manufacture, testing and deployment.

Women living around these facilities have reported increases in endometriosis, birth defects in babies, leukemia in children and cancers and other diseases in adults. Thousands of tons of DU weapons tested for decades by the Navy on four bombing and gunnery ranges around Fallon, Nevada, is no doubt the cause of the fastest growing leukemia cluster in the U.S. over the past decade. The military denies that DU is the cause.

The medical profession has been active in the cover-up - just as they were in hiding the effects from the American public - of low level radiation from atmospheric testing and nuclear power plants. A medical doctor in Northern California reported being trained by the Pentagon with other doctors, months before the 2003 war started, to diagnose and treat soldiers returning from the 2003 war for mental problems only.

Medical professionals in hospitals and facilities treating returning soldiers were threatened with $10,000 fines if they talked about the soldiers or their medical problems. They were also threatened with jail.

Reporters have also been prevented access to more than 14,000 medically evacuated soldiers flown nightly since the 2003 war in C-150s from Germany who are brought to Walter Reed Hospital near Washington, D.C.

Dr. Robert Gould, former president of the Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), has contacted three medical doctors since February 2004, after I had been invited to speak about DU. Dr. Katharine Thomasson, president of the Oregon chapter of the PSR, informed me that Dr. Gould had contacted her and tried to convince her to cancel her invitation for me to speak about DU at Portland State University on April 12. Although I was able to do a presentation, Dr. Thomasson told me I could only talk about DU in Oregon ?and nothing overseas ? nothing political.?

Dr. Gould also contacted and discouraged Dr. Ross Wilcox in Toronto, Canada, from inviting me to speak to Physicians for Global Survival (PGS), the Canadian equivalent of PSR, several months later. When that didn?t work, he contacted Dr. Allan Connoly, the Canadian national president of PGS, who was able to cancel my invitation and nearly succeeded in preventing Dr. Wilcox, his own member, from showing photos and presenting details on civilians suffering from DU exposure and cancer provided to him by doctors in southern Iraq.

Dr. Janette Sherman, a former and long-standing member of PSR, reported that she finally quit some time after being invited to lunch by a new PSR executive administrator. After the woman had pumped Dr. Sherman for information all through lunch about her position on key issues, the woman informed Dr. Sherman that her last job had been with the CIA.

How was the truth about DU hidden from military personnel serving in successive DU wars? Before his tragic death, Sen. Paul Wellstone informed Joyce Riley, R.N., B.S.N., executive director of the American Gulf War Veterans Association, that 95 percent of Gulf War veterans had been recycled out of the military by 1995. Any of those continuing in military service were isolated from each other, preventing critical information being transferred to new troops. The ?next DU war? had already been planned, and those planning it wanted ?no skunk at the garden party.?

The US has a dirty (DU) little (CIA) secret

A new book just published at the American Free Press by Michael Collins Piper, ?The High Priests of War: The Secret History of How America?s Neo-Conservative Trotskyites Came to Power and Orchestrated the War Against Iraq as the First Step in Their Drive for Global Empire,? details the early plans for a war against the Arab world by Henry Kissinger and the neo-cons in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That just happens to coincide with getting the DU ?show on the road? and the oil crisis in the Middle East, which caused concern not only to President Nixon. The British had been plotting and scheming for control of the oil in Iraq for decades since first using poison gas on the Iraqis and Kurds in 1912.

The book details the creation of the neo-cons by their ?godfather? and Trotsky lover Irving Kristol, who pushed for a ?war against terrorism? long before 9/11 and was lavishly funded for years by the CIA. His son, William Kristol, is one of the most influential men in the United States.

Both are public relations men for the Israeli lobby?s neo-conservative network, with strong ties to Rupert Murdoch. Kissinger also has ties to this network and the Carlyle Group, who, one could say, have facilitated these omnicidal wars beginning from the time former President Bush took office. It would be easy to say that we are recycling World Wars I and II, with the same faces.

When I asked Vietnam Special Ops Green Beret Capt. John McCarthy, who could have devised this omnicidal plan to use DU to destroy the genetic code and genetic future of large populations of Arabs and Moslems in the Middle East and Central Asia - just coincidentally the areas where most of the world?s oil deposits are located - he replied: ?It has all the handprints of Henry Kissinger.?

In Zbignew Brzezinski's book "The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives," the map of the Eurasian chessboard includes four regions strategic to U.S. foreign policy. The South region corresponds precisely to the regions now contaminated permanently with radiation from U.S. bombs, missiles and bullets made with thousands of tons of DU.

A Japanese professor, Dr. K. Yagasaki, has calculated that 800 tons of DU is the atomicity equivalent of 83,000 Nagasaki bombs. The U.S. has used more DU since 1991 than the atomicity equivalent of 400,000 Nagasaki bombs. Four nuclear wars indeed, and 10 times the amount of radiation released into the atmosphere from atmospheric testing!

No wonder our soldiers, their families and the people of the Middle East, Yugoslavia and Central Asia are sick. But as Henry Kissinger said after Vietnam when our soldiers came home ill from Agent Orange, ?Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used for foreign policy.?

Unfortunately, more and more of those soldiers are men and women with brown skin. And unfortunately, the DU radioactive dust will be carried around the world and deposited in our environments just as the ?smog of war? from the 1991 Gulf War was found in deposits in South America, the Himalayas and Hawaii.

In June 2003, the World Health Organization announced in a press release that global cancer rates will increase 50 percent by 2020. What else do they know that they aren't telling us? I know that depleted uranium is a death sentence for all of us. We will all die in silent ways.

To learn more consult: International Criminal Tribunal for Afghanistan. Written opinion of Judge Niloufer Baghwat

Discounted Casualties: The Human Cost of Nuclear War by Akira Tashiro, foreword by Leuren Moret

Leuren Moret is a geoscientist who has worked around the world on radiation issues, educating citizens, the media, members of parliaments and Congress and other officials. She became a whistleblower in 1991 at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab after experiencing major science fraud on the Yucca Mountain Project. An environmental commissioner in the City of Berkeley, she can be reached at

Peace and Justice Studies Association

The Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) is a non-profit organization that was formed in 2001 as a result of a merger of the Consortium on Peace research, Education and Development (COPRED) and the Peace Studies Association (PSA). Both organizations provided leadership in the broadly defined field of peace, conflict and justice studies.

We are dedicated to bringing together academics, K-12 teachers and grassroots activists to explore alternatives to violence and share visions and strategies for social justice and social change.

PJSA also serves as a professional association for scholars in the field of peace and conflict resolution studies.


PJSA works to create a just and peaceful world through: The promotion of peace studies within universities, colleges and K-12 grade levels The forging of alliances among educators, students, activists, and other peace practitioners in order to enhance each other's work on peace, conflict and non-violence The creation and nurturing of alternatives to structures of inequality and injustice, war and violence through education, research and action.
Our members share many of the following values and beliefs: A democratic community: diverse, consensus-based, non-hierarchical and non-discriminatory. Active nonviolence as a positive force for social change. Critical analysis of institutions and social structures societal transformation toward justice equitable sharing of world resources. Life-long education: community-based and service learning Innovative and effective pedagogy Use of technology and media research in support of community needs.