We Need a Nonviolent Foreign Policy

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When in 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr. declared that he would no longer be silent about our war in Vietnam, he did more than simply voice his opposition and call for an end to that conflict. Just as critically, he also directly challenged our nation to embrace nonviolence as the very foundation of both our domestic and foreign policies. These, he argued, must reflect a “true revolution of values” through which we realize that we must “lay hands on the world order and say of war: ‘This way of settling differences is not just.’”

With this in mind, I offer this blog as an invitation for all of us to imagine a nonviolent alternative to the war that we are waging and the mess we have made in the Middle East, and in the process re-think our entire foreign policy framework.

And while we’re at it — let’s liberate ourselves from Realpoltik. This we do not only because it is a significant part of the problem with our entire policy approach, but also because we can no longer afford to sacrifice our aspirations for peace and justice to the so-called politics of realism – a politics upon which our violent world order absolutely depends. It is not serving us, in other words, to submit to the tyranny of realism.

Here, then, are the ground rules:

1. Offer your idea without judgment about whether or not it is “realistic.” Just put it out there;

2. Refrain from debating someone else’s idea because, for the moment, this is not a debate;

3. If someone’s idea inspires another on your part, please offer it;

4. No cross-talk;

5. Don’t restrict yourself to nonviolent strategy and tactics. Offer, if you’d like, policy statements;

6. No cynicism allowed; and,

7. Please feel free to “like” this blog post on FB or to tweet it so that others outside of our little world can join in.

Let me begin by providing my own foundational statement (feel free to offer your own):

“We realize that in order to serve as a force for peace in the Middle East and to ensure that nonviolence is the lived experience of its children, women and men, we must first acknowledge and apologize not only for the violence that we have visited upon the nations of this region; but also for the violence we have fomented to secure our so-called national interests. This we do because it is right and because it serves as the basis for reconciliation as well as reparations for past harms. And this we do because we cannot serve peace without confronting and rejecting our own violence.”

It’s time for a change.

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