Loose Talk of War
By Diane Randall on 03/09/2012 @ 12:49 PM
Earlier this week, President Obama called out those who want to attack Iran for their nuclear program with “too much loose talk of war.” My immediate response was our Quaker acknowledgment: “that Friend speaks my mind.” The willingness of both Democrats and Republicans in the United States Congress to sponsor resolutions that would press for a military action is unnerving. Fortunately, there are some in Congress willing to speak out for diplomacy. The fact is: words matter, particularly the words spoken about war by the President, leaders of other countries and the people elected to national office, such as our members of Congress.
So, it was a bit disappointing when the day after the President scolded others for “loose talk of war” he declared that the United States wouldn’t rule out military action as a way to prevent Iran from getting a bomb. (I understand that to mean that if U.S. intelligence knew that Iran was building a nuclear weapon --I’m guessing in the same way we knew that Iraq was building a weapon of mass destruction 10 years ago--we would initiate a military strike.) The current intelligence is that Iran is not building a nuclear weapon and that the religious leader of Iran has stated nuclear weapons are against Islam. The pundits have many opinions for the President’s stance, for the more aggressive posture of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for taking military action against Iran and for the trustworthiness of the Khameni’s statements about nuclear weapons.
What I take the President’s statement about “loose talk of war” to mean is this: war is not the answer. I don’t believe the President is a pacifist or even close, given his authorization of the use of drones to assassinate individuals and the escalation of combat troops in Afghanistan. But I believe that the President, along with millions of people across the globe, understand that war is not the solution to political threats and it’s not the solution to deadly conflict. The popular notion that military action can fix conflict is “loose talk of war.”
The reality of war is what we are seeing in the terror and killing in Syria with over 7,500 people dead and the lethal results of troops dying in combat and non-combat in Afghanistan, along with thousands of deaths of civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan from the guns of war and the deprivation of food and shelter. Sorting out the political solutions in these deadly conflicts is incredibly complex, seemingly impossible, but the alternative of not determining the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict is worse. Getting to solutions that don't require terror or acts of war requires political will on all sides; it requires leadership that listens and speaks carefully to promote non-violent solutions to violence and it takes consistent investment in civil society and investments in tools of peace, like diplomacy and smart economic and community development for poor people.