Peace On Earth: How Do We Begin?

Courtesy Royalty-Free/Corbis
Courtesy Royalty-Free/Corbis

Yes, it’s Christmastime, and Yuletide carols implore us to seek peace on earth. Yet we all know that is not reality and has never been reality throughout human history. Should that prevent us from dreaming and thinking about what steps would bring about world peace? No. So, let’s do a little naive dreaming. Here is where I would start:

The U.S. Must Quit Interfering in the Affairs of Other Countries.
Since World War II, the U.S. has constantly interfered in the internal affairs of other nations, often leading to disastrous results from war and loss of lives to the economic stress and neglect of our own American citizens. Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are major examples; “meddling” in Egypt, Syria, Libya and the whole of the Middle East are others. And while all of this has yet to fully play out, as my grandmother used to say, “No good can come from it.”

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I also fear our biggest attempt at “meddling” is just beginning — and may become our nation’s biggest mistake. The ramifications and consequences boggle one’s mind. I hope I am wrong, but the evidence grows that the U.S. is enlisting its allies in an effort to overthrow Vladimir Putin by use of sanctions and by driving down the price of oil at the expense of the Russian economy, the Russian people and perhaps the future of the world.

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The American people are celebrating the cheap prices at the gas pump and the resurgence of the American economy without thinking of the consequences of “meddling” in Russian affairs. Time and time again, history teaches us that replacing one dictator usually leads to a more oppressive leader, that starving out a country seldom leads to positive results, and that a cornered animal becomes very dangerous and vicious.

I was confident that the Obama administration would deny any involvement in this almost miraculous drop in oil prices, and I reasoned such denials would come from an administration that also denied spying on its own citizens and lied to Congress “for our own good.” The Obama administration hardly has a good record for honesty and transparency. There have been just too many examples of this administration sacrificing honesty for what it thinks is in our best interest to believe them if they deny involvement in the lowering the price of oil to force Putin out. “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

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Then, last Sunday, President Obama seemed to celebrate his strategy, not deny it:

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…right now, [Putin’s] presiding over the collapse of his currency, a major financial crisis and a huge economic contraction.

And he taunted Putin by dismissing the idea that he

…is the chess master and outmaneuvering the West and outmaneuvering Mr. Obama and this and that and the other.

The President used not the language of concern about the welfare of people facing hardship but the in-your-face jawing of a professional athlete.

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So, how do we first bring peace to a situation that is starting to simmer and may be uncontrollable if it overflows? First and foremost, call off the dogs when it comes to artificially driving the price of oil down. America can survive an uptick in the price of oil if that is where the market takes it. But Russia may not if it continues to drop. Second, offer massive aid in the way of food, clothing, shelter, etc., to the Russian people regardless of its leader. Third, offer a massive reduction in nuclear weapons so that Russian rubles can be diverted from keeping up their nuclear arsenal. Finally, tone down the rhetoric. Russia was an ally in World War II and can be again. It was not that long ago that Russia convinced Libya to lose its chemical weapons. Remember, the U.S. was ready to send in, and use, missiles to achieve the same goal.

How else do we bring peace to the world? Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin developed the framework for the U.N. to resolve disputes peacefully, to enforce human decency and order, and to provide humanitarian relief. We can and should contribute to the U.N.’s efforts proportionately, and even be generous especially when it comes to humanitarian relief, but leave the affairs of other nations to our participation in this world body. Lead the world by example by turning our attention to the care and welfare of our own citizens and to stop selling weapons to countries that would use them against other countries. or those who would overthrow other countries, turn our military’s focus to primarily defending our shores and skies, and by sharing scientific and medical advancement with the world.

My suggestions are dreams, I know, of one naive citizen, but we used to be a country of dreamers, not warriors. I guess that’s the point. Somehow, somewhere, our leadership and our citizens took on the mantle of warriors — not just farmers and factory warriors who rose to the occasion when facing real threats to our freedoms and then returned home, back to their plows and tools. Over time, we have allowed our leaders to further corporate interests in the name “pursuing democracy for all,” and to mislead us to the point where we do not care or do not feel we can do anything about it.

Christmas represents a time of beginning, of starting afresh. I dream today of a new beginning for my country and for all of us. I used to believe that we begin with an educated and participating electorate that doesn’t accept leadership that fabricates facts “for our own good” and listens only to a select, wealthy few. That is still very important. But now I believe in a much more fundamental and radical premise: peace must be at the core of who we are as individuals and as a nation. We must be willing to sacrifice everything for peace, and must demand such a mindset from those who lead.

My apologies to John Lennon and my generation but “All (I) am saying is give peace a chance.” If our leaders and their financial puppeteers won’t take us there, perhaps we must take to the streets to show them the way.

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