Women. Power. Peace.

Islam Is Not the Enemy And War is Not the Answer

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الاسلام ليس العدو و حرب ليس الاجابة
Islam laysa al ‘udu wa harb laysa al ijaba
Islam is not the enemy and war is not the answer

Georgia WAND has multiple deep-seeded concerns about President Obama’s September 8, 2014 announcement of renewed American fighting in Iraq and Syria. We urge the President instead to use policy to improve democracy abroad and at home, shifting resources from war to constructive purposes. We must understand that the resources of war, energy, and peace are interrelated, and pursue an ambitious social service plan in the US and internationally.

Just recently the President said, “The only lasting solution to Syria’s civil war is political – an inclusive political transition.” He also stated his commitment that, “we will demonstrate that the future belongs to those who build – not those who destroy.” So what then has caused the contradiction in US policy and escalation to war, based loosely on humanitarian interests?

The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) is a radical group formed within the last decade or so. According to most analysts, ISIL gathered strength in the chaos and extremism following America’s unjustified and criminal 2003 invasion of Iraq. American interest in the Middle East is largely energy-focused, and leads us toward constantly-shifting alliances with authoritarian and undemocratic regimes, whether independent and state-sanctioned.

We acknowledge that ISIL is a threat to life and human rights where they operate; however, the policy chosen is not equal to the task. This current approach of bombing and arming rebels is leading the United States down the road to endless war with unacceptably high costs of more blood and treasure lost.

There are additional domestic issues that are exacerbated by this activity. US energy interests propel war abroad but also challenge peace at home. In efforts to dominate energy resources, the US, through loan guarantees, Department of Energy missions, and potentially through the new EPA Carbon Rule, lauds nuclear energy as a safe and valid energy provider. Especially since nuclear energy is very closely tied to nuclear weapons and the machinations of war.

At the same time, US nuclear power disproportionately affects communities living near nuclear plants; in fact, living near reactors has been linked to an increased risk of cancer (see Georgia WAND’s quick points on EPA’s New Clean Power Plan). If all of that weren’t enough, wars are fought over scarce resources – and climate change is creating food and water shortages around the world. Right here in Georgia the Savannah River stands to take an additional 75 million gallons per day of water intake for cooling. Right now that water is used for drinking and farm irrigation.

War is a problem for so many reasons. It is a fiscal problem for the war-monger; the US cannot continue to be the global arm-er in chief and take care of people’s needs at the same time. Ensuring a clean, healthy environment in which to live and work is not the priority. Nor are social services - there are many people at home who are not accessing necessary services, like proper housing, education, health care, health care, and economic participation. So what would a progressive response look like?

Georgia WAND’s position on ISIL is shaped by our incorporation as a woman-led organization that seeks to direct women's voices into a powerful movement for peace and social change. We recommend several steps, many of which have been generated by others, (such as this great video geared toward the next-ten with some solutions), including:
1. Collectively heal from images of brutality and cycles of violence
2. Stop acting as the globe’s arm-er in chief
3. Withdraw funding from the Pentagon
4. End tools of state-sanctioned terror in the US, including policy brutality, ICE, and the death penalty
5. Pursue a Marshall Plan-style program of broad humanitarian assistance, including education and social
service provision across the Middle East
6. Involve women and marginalized people in local, national, and international coalitions to build peace and
real democracy
7. End racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination based on people’s human identities
8. Join Georgia WAND’s efforts to build intergenerational, multiracial, and sustainable movements against
war, militarism, violence, and exploitation
9. Stop building new commercial nuclear reactors
10. Stop irradiating Tritium for nuclear warheads at commercial nuclear reactors in the Southeast for
extraction at the Savannah River Site

For more information, contact Becky Rafter, Executive Director, at becky@georgiawand.org or (404) 524-5999

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