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Reflection from a friend in Iraq

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    CPTnet November 22, 2004 IRAQ: Violence or Nonviolence in Fallujah? by Cliff Kindy Practical questions about handling a complex security situation often
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 22, 2004
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      CPTnet
      November 22, 2004

      IRAQ: Violence or Nonviolence in Fallujah?

      by Cliff Kindy


      Practical questions about handling a complex security situation often
      confront peacemakers and warriors. Is violence more effective than
      nonviolence? The city of Fallujah has been a burr under the saddle
      of the
      US occupation. Players in that drama chose their tools of change.

      Some precedents place the options on the table. Najaf and the
      presence of
      Sadr militia groups guarding the shrine presented a complex problem
      for the
      U.S. occupation. The U.S. Military decided to take control
      militarily with
      major air support and tanks and soldiers on the streets. Ayatollah
      Sistani,
      instead, called on Muslims to go to Najaf. That massive nonviolent
      crowd
      enabled the militia groups to withdraw without losing face and the US
      military to concede their tactics honorably. The friction de-
      escalated and
      the situation has achieved some normalcy.

      In Sadr City, resistance to the U.S. occupation reached crisis
      proportions
      as U.S. patrols and Shia militia groups fought over the city with
      civilians
      bearing the cost. The Iraqi government creatively offered money for
      guns;
      calm came to Sadr City.

      U.S. forces invaded Fallujah in April 2004. The situation did not
      escalate
      because a former Iraqi general took responsibility for security in
      the city.
      As the violence escalated in recent weeks, a committee of religious,
      civilian, and military persons approached the United Nations to work
      out a
      nonviolent alternative to a U.S. invasion. The Iraq interim
      government and
      the U.S. occupation rejected this invitation as unworkable, so the
      invasion
      proceeded with accompanying deaths of civilians, resistance
      fighters, and
      U.S. soldiers. The city is in shambles and charges of human rights
      violations abound.

      What are the alternatives? First, a sustainable society at peace will
      require economic justice and personal rights such as life, health,
      education, freedom to participate in the political process, and
      employment.
      The focus for coalition forces in Iraq has been security. Seventy
      percent
      unemployment, a devastated infrastructure, and dismal prospects for a
      free
      election overwhelm the future. The basis for a sustainable peace is
      missing. Energies must be invested in rebuilding the society.

      Nonviolent options continue to be viable in all arenas. Those
      nonviolent
      options have the added bonus of NOT eliciting heavy casualties and NOT
      building communication barriers between conflicting parties.

      Nonviolence can transform conflicts as it reduces the power of armed
      actors
      and increases the power of nonviolent actors. Analysis can identify
      the key
      groups within the violent structures, and nonviolent actions can
      focus on
      changing the attitudes and activities of those groups. Coalitions of
      nonviolence can develop the direct actions that take the initiative
      from
      armed actors and empower those who nurture a society at peace. These
      coalitions must also take control of the decisions that affect their
      society.

      Nonviolence is viable and effective when based in the local community.
      Violence is often the choice of those who fear they don't have the
      popular
      support to act as they wish. "Choose life that you and your
      descendents can
      live" (Deuteronomy 30:19.)
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