We’re Broke, World. We Can’t Afford War
Commentary by Mary Liston Liepold
As 2009 approaches, I have been entertaining a fantasy that is altogether too delicious to keep to myself. What if this is the year when the world’s heads of states decide they can no longer afford to fight wars? It seems so clear and logical that it just has to be more than a fantasy. Is it mine alone?
Scanning the internet, it’s easy to find lists of the lessons of 2008 in every area from energy policy to Indian electoral politics to soccer in South Africa. The lessons that seem blindingly obvious to me aren’t on any of them. Maybe they’re too obvious? Just in case anyone has missed them, this year’s events show two things quite clearly:
- The rich and powerful aren’t any smarter than the rest of us. They just make their mistakes on a larger scale.
- There are no borders of any real significance in the world of the 21st century.
With a global economic crisis making it harder for millions of the earth’s people to meet their basic needs, one pointless war is winding down in Iraq and another is heating up in the Gaza Strip. The Iraq war is such old news that the media have almost stopped covering it, but it’s still costing $500,000 a minute—enough every day to fund 35,000 four-year college scholarships, or Head Start for more than a million pre-schoolers. Those same pre-schoolers are going to lack lots of essential services if we keep this up—or we move the troops and dollars to Afghanistan—while also continuing to fund “bottomless bailouts” for multinational corporations with no accountability to any nation. And this is the world’s richest government. What about the rest? Isn’t it high time we all turn our attention to solving the environmental, educational, and health challenges that cross every border, and can only be solved by concerted global action?
I’m not the only one who’s choosing the start of the new year to visualize peace. Pope Paul VI declared January 1 the World Day of Peace in 1967, and his successors have proclaimed it again each year. New Years Day is also Global Family Day, set aside for recognizing our common humanity. Ironically, given this week’s news, Global Family Day was first celebrated by Palestinians and Israelis in Nablus in 2000, after an uncommonly peaceful 1999, as One Day of Peace and Sharing. It was taken up by the United Nations and given its new name in 2001. US ex-president Bill Clinton and President George Bush were among sponsors representing 20 nations.
So, how would YOU like to start the new year? Why make timid, personal resolutions like losing 10 pounds when we could resolve together to end the madness forever? We are half the human race, after all. Peace on earth will begin with us, the women.
Please share your 2009 resolutions on this blog. And watch the Peace X Peace website for the Peace Action of the Week, a new program that invites you to join a Super Circle of thousands of women, all taking action for peace together.
For today’s peace action, consider asking the Obama administration or your own government to create a cabinet position dedicated to ending violence against women. Or ask them to end one war without escalating another. Change.com has 34 pages of peace ideas already. My fantasy is gaining ground!