May 2, 2013
“If the U.S. discretionary budget were a pie, Pentagon spending would easily make up more than half of it. Because so many resources are devoted to the military, fewer resources are available for programs like job training, transportation, and support for those struggling to overcome poverty in this country and around the world.”
Rachelle Lyndaker Schlabach writes about military spending in the discretionary budget for the latest Third Way Cafe.
When President Obama released his budget for Fiscal Year 2014 a few weeks ago, he requested $527 billion for the Pentagon and another $88 billion in war spending.
While a slight decrease from last year’s request, the request ignores the automatic cuts that kicked in this spring, coming in at $50 billion more than allowed by budget caps.
Read the entire article here.
April 17, 2013
Yesterday the MCC Washington Office joined a dozen other faith-based organizations in a letter to President Obama. The letter begins:
As people and communities of faith, we are moved to express our great concern about the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles, known commonly as drones, for targeted killings of alleged members of Al Qaeda, its affiliates and other associated forces around the world.
The use of these lethal weapons within the borders of other sovereign nations, at times without their permission, shrouded in secrecy and without clear legal authority, raises serious moral and ethical questions about the principles and the implications of this practice for U.S. foreign relations and the prospects for a more peaceful world.
Read the full letter. An updated list of signers is available here.
April 3, 2013
A global arms trade treaty was overwhelmingly approved in the UN General Assembly yesterday, April 2. The United States voted in favor of the treaty. Formal approval by the United States of the treaty will require the president’s signature and ratification by the U.S. Senate.
Read an earlier blog entry about the treaty.
February 26, 2013
In a letter delivered February 19 to President Obama, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. joined 35 human rights, development, religious, and security organizations in calling on the U.S. to provide the support necessary to conclude an effective Arms Trade Treaty.
The treaty is up for renegotiation at the United Nations this spring and would regulate the cross border trade of conventional weapons by closing loopholes in the current international system. The letter notes that a strong treaty “can provide a key tool to help reduce the enormous human suffering caused by irresponsible international arms transfers and arms brokering.” The United States is the world’s leading arms supplier.
February 20, 2013
Electrical stoves purchased with Mennonite Central Committee funds help to keep the children warm as they attend National Evangelical School in Homs, Syria. (Photo courtesy of National Evangelical School)
Sarah Adams, Mennonite Central Committee representative for Syria and Lebanon, reflects on the conflict in Syria:
The first time I went to Syria through my work with Mennonite Central Committee, almost four years ago, I was unable to access social networking websites. Today, the armed conflict prohibits me from entering the country, but I get a lot of my daily updates through my Facebook feed.
Recently I was chatting with a friend in Aleppo:
Me: How are you? Are you safe?
Friend: No one is safe here.
Naive question to someone in a city under siege, I admit. He’s right. Throughout the country, no one knows where violence will break out next. As the conflict has grown, cities that were home to people of all faiths and ethnicities and enjoyed calm for months have suddenly been caught up in the violence.
My friend goes on:
Friend: They are fighting now around the main electric generator. My friend who volunteers in the area told me that both armies won’t leave the station until it is totally destroyed. No electricity now and soon no water.
Me: Who’s benefiting from all of this destruction?
Friend: Everyone but the Syrians are benefiting…
Read the entire article.
October 18, 2012
Visiting Senator Durbin’s office in Springfield. The photo was taken in front of Abraham Lincoln’s home, one block from the Senator’s office.
Last weekend I had the privilege of being in central Illinois for a regional peace forum, hosted by the Mennonite Church of Normal. The theme of the weekend was “Helpless to hopeful: Make a difference through faithful peacemaking.”
The weekend included a workshop on how to do advocacy, an evening reflection on “Living Faithfully in the Empire,” and the opportunity to speak with youth about military recruitment. Additionally, five of us visited Senator Durbin’s Springfield office (see photo above) to convey our desire for any deficit agreement to include significant cuts to Pentagon spending.
Thanks to the Peace & Justice Committee of the Mennonite Church of Normal for organizing the weekend, and to all those who came out for one or more of the sessions.
September 4, 2012
Patricia Kisare reflects on U.S. military presence in Africa for PeaceSigns:
U.S. military presence in Africa is harmful. For one, it sends the wrong message to the young African countries that military valor is the only way to achieve peace. This is especially damaging to the communities with high levels of armed violence, places in much need of peaceful conflict resolution.