Thursday, July 21, 2005

March 2003: An Open Letter to Avert Disaster

Twenty years ago, I spent some time at Cornell University amidst the gorgeous scenery of Ithaca, New York. Cornell students and faculty were very socially conscious and politically active, though I myself was neither at that time in my life. I still remember the words and actions of one Cornell professor, Robert Strichartz, who had a deep and lasting influence on me. This story is my modest tribute to his strong convictions and the good example he set for others. It illustrates how planting a tiny seed can yield fruit in the most unexpected ways, even long after the fact.

At that time, Professor Strichartz held faculty positions with both the Department of Mathematics and the Center for Applied Mathematics (CAM). While I was at Cornell, Professor Strichartz did a very noble thing: He wrote a public letter to protest that CAM received military funding and then resigned his position with CAM as a matter of conscience. This courageous political act made such a deep impression on me that it would inspire me to take political action of my own nearly two decades later.

Just two years ago, on the evening of March 17, 2003, American President George W. Bush gave an ultimatum to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein: Bush demanded that Hussein and his sons leave Iraq within 48 hours or face the dire consequences of an American-led military invasion. It was during these agonizing 48 hours that I composed the following open letter and sent it via email from Canada to my closest colleagues throughout the world:

Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 01:55:36 -0500 (EST)

Subject: A Dire Matter of Utmost Urgency

To My Dearly Valued Colleagues in Canada and Abroad:

Like many of you, I too have been watching with considerable concern as pivotal events unfold upon the world stage. Thanks to the integrity and courage of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, some information with deeply disturbing implications has recently come to my attention. Since then, I have read dozens of online newspaper articles to corroborate these alarming facts. Out of this great mass of information, there are two points which stand out—two points which must be immediately and widely publicized before the international community loses its most favorable opportunity to take decisive action. We must avert the impending crisis, which is far more serious than any of us could have anticipated.

I respectfully and urgently call your attention to the following two items. The first item, which reveals what is at stake for all of us as the United States threatens unilateral military action against Iraq, is truly cause for alarm. The second item, which describes a legal procedure under which the international community can unite in order to avert the impending crisis, is both a cause for hope and a call to action.

(1) The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the Pax Americana

I dearly wish that what I am about to tell you were the wild speculation of crazed conspiracy theorists. It is not. The information I am about to share with you is well-documented and freely available in the public record—and part of the reason it is so disturbing is that it has gone virtually unnoticed by so many for so long.

The Project for the New American Century is run by a small group of powerful and ambitious American neo-conservatives. Its members include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and others who now occupy key positions of power in the Bush administration. These men—not George Bush and not the United States Congress—are the true architects of American foreign policy, and their plans for the role of America in world affairs are absolutely chilling.

To put it bluntly—and with no exaggeration—PNAC is literally planning for American world domination by military force. Following PNAC's recommendation, Bush has already requested an increase in American defense spending. PNAC's stated goal is to suppress the rise of any rival military power and preserve American military dominance indefinitely. PNAC mandates that American world dominance be unfettered by international agreements on civilized warfare, by world opinion in general, and by the United Nations in particular. This explains why America has repeatedly defied world opinion in international affairs on issues such as protecting the environment, upholding anti-ballistic missile treaties, abolishing the use of land mines to protect postwar civilians, establishing a permanent International Criminal Court in the Hague to prosecute war criminals, and most recently, pursuing peaceful means to disarm Iraq.

Even more alarming is that PNAC fully intends for America to displace the United Nations so that America can become the world's sole force for global leadership. That is why Bush has sought to undermine the United Nations and criticized it as ineffective in the disarming of Iraq—when in fact chief weapons inspector Hans Blix has reported that inspections have become effective instruments in the destruction of Iraq's lethal arsenal. These recent events are part of a plan which was carefully crafted years ago, and which has seized upon the tragedy of September 11th as "a catastrophic and catalyzing event ... like a new Pearl Harbor" in order to secure access to the power necessary to realize PNAC's ambitions.

Under PNAC's vision of America as a "benevolent" empire, the often criticized role of America as the world's police force will no longer be a metaphor—it will become policy. PNAC intends to transform the American military into a global "constabulary"—the enforcers of the "Pax Americana," which means the American Peace (by Unilateral Exercise of Military Force). The essence of this irrational policy is that the road to world peace is paved with death and destruction—on multiple fronts simultaneously. PNAC takes the doctrine of Manifest Destiny to a new, grotesque, global level of expression. The irony of the Pax Americana is that it will fuel the fires of hatred, fanaticism, violence, and terrorism against American interests for decades to come, making the world a far more dangerous place than it is today.

There is much more, and it is just as disturbing as what I have told you here. For further information, I invite you to read at least one of the following two articles:

First Article [no longer available—try Google link below]
Second Article [no longer available—try Google link below]

You can find many similar articles by doing a search on "New American Century" or "Pax Americana."

(2) Uniting for Peace under United Nations Resolution 377

We are poised on the brink of a global disaster. PNAC's recommendations reveal America's true goals in invading Iraq: to secure an uninterrupted supply of oil to stabilize the American economy and fuel its military ambitions, and to establish a permanent military base in the region to exercise control over the Middle East. If America gets a foothold in Iraq, we are all in real trouble. The international community must unite immediately and take decisive action to put an end to America's aggressive military expansion, which threatens not only Iraq, but the whole world.

Fortunately, it is not too late for the international community to take effective action under a legal procedure known as "Uniting for Peace," established in 1950 under United Nations Resolution 377. The United Nations has used this resolution ten times since its inception to curb unacceptable military aggression around the world—with notable success. This resolution is our best hope for curbing American aggression now.

This is a time of severe crisis. I implore each of you to organize your family, friends, and colleagues, and to contact your representatives in government to urge the United Nations General Assembly to break the deadlock of the Security Council. Since this is the very purpose for which Resolution 377 was created, let us now put it to good use!

I invite you to read at least one of the following two articles:

Third Article [no longer available—try Google link below]
Fourth Article

You can find many similar articles by doing a search on "Uniting for Peace" or "Resolution 377."

*       *       *       *       *

In the remainder of this letter, I will briefly declare the principles by which I shall conduct my academic career until further notice. I am now completing my Ph.D. and about to embark on an academic career path. As an American citizen studying abroad, I have both a responsibility and a timely opportunity to respond to the growing global threat posed by the systematic realization of PNAC's ambitions. Since my government has abandoned its founding principles of integrity, justice, and the rule of law, I have decided that I will not accept employment in America until there is an American "regime change" and a pronounced return to government by the principles of the American Constitution.

As a matter of conscience, I plan to settle in Canada and invest my energies and talents in Canadian universities and conferences. I plan to seek Canadian citizenship as soon as possible. In the event that the United States persists in pursuing its unlawful policy of global expansion and rule by military force, I will renounce my American citizenship as a permanent protest. I will take every moral, ethical, and legal action in my power to both expose and oppose the unlawful actions of a handful of ambitious men. In concert with other citizens of the international community, I will seek to restore the country of my birth to the rule of law, to a policy of full accountability to the international community, and to a system of values which consistently places the best interests of the whole world above and beyond narrow national self-interest.

We have reached the moment of decision, and the consequences of the choices we make today will outlive each and every one of us. Our choice is both simple and clear: We must resolutely oppose a world governed by the unilateral actions of one nation through military force, and we must enthusiastically embrace a world governed by the rule of law in accord with international agreements between civilized nations. Unless the world unites now to slam the door in the face of the coming tyranny, the Pax Americana will surely build its "benevolent" empire on the broken bodies of the slaughtered of many nations—while the powerful and ambitious men behind the Project for the New American Century become the equally "benevolent" masters of us all.

After I wrote that letter, I finished my studies in Canada and obtained my doctorate. Since then, I have managed to extend my stay in Canada up to the present day by accepting a total of seven temporary teaching and research contracts at the university level; however, it has become quite clear that I will not be able to remain in Canada much longer. Unfortunately, the level of research funding currently available in Canada is insufficient even for some of my established Canadian colleagues. Moreover, as an American researcher in Canada, I am not eligible for postdoctoral funding from the government of either country. There is simply no funding available for me to continue my research in Canada at this time, which means that I have no choice but to return to the United States.

By October 2004, a number of things had lead me to this inescapable conclusion. It was thus with considerable concern that I watched the results of the US presidential election take shape on Tuesday evening, November 2, 2004. I had recently done my part to encourage a "regime change" by casting my absentee ballot for Democratic candidate John Kerry. Before midnight, it seemed like Kerry was actually going to win; however, by the wee hours of the morning, the tables had turned, and it was clear that Bush would be declared the winner. Here is the truly surprising part: Instead of being overcome with despair, I felt a sense of peace come over me—the peace that comes from knowing what must be done.

Since I sent my open letter in March 2003, I have learned that Bush does not sit in the Oval Office wringing his hands daily while thinking, "How will I ever get along without this citizen's support?" One person who replied to my open letter pointed out that renouncing my citizenship would silence my political voice in America, not strengthen it. There are far more effective ways for me to influence my government than to look on disapprovingly from a distance! During the pivotal Fall 2004 school term, a very socially conscious and politically savvy student of mine suggested that in a time of severe national crisis such as this, citizens living abroad as temporary residents have a duty to return to their home country and take action. I agree, and I know what must be done.

I must go home and work along side the hundreds of thousands and even millions of American who are already taking decisive action to rescue America's future from the treasonous legacy of George W. Bush. Let all true patriots now work together in unison to hasten his political decline and restore our democracy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Welcome to the Way of Peace

I warmly welcome you to the inaugural post in my weblog on the way of peace! My inspiration to start this blog came primarily from some of the Mennonites and other compassionate Christians I met while studying in Canada, and from the general experience of living in Canada for ten years. These people and experiences brought my thoughts into focus, deepened my convictions, and transformed me as a person. I have become a devout advocate of peace, and anyone who says otherwise is gonna get a fat lip!! <sigh> It's a process.

Disclaimer: No lips were harmed in the making of this blog.

In all seriousness, I have been deeply influenced by the Mennonite wisdom tradition of working towards peace through nonviolent conflict resolution. Similarly, living in Canada has instilled in me a deeply held belief that it is vital for civilized nations to conduct themselves according to the rule of international law and to rely upon instruments of diplomacy rather than military force to resolve conflicts in international affairs; for more on this belief, please read my follow-up post, March 2003: An Open Letter to Avert Disaster.

This blog explores applications of these principles to current affairs in the public arena and to events in my own private life. It offers a perspective based on my own particular wisdom tradition, the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. Peace is a natural application of Taoist principles since the pursuit of harmony is intrinsic to the Taoist way of life.

I invite you to participate: If something on my blog strikes a chord, you can forward it to others by clicking on the envelope icon at the bottom of the post. You can also reply to what you read here by posting comments directly on my blog. If you have an interesting idea for a new topic of discussion, please contact me so that I can consider it. I welcome civilized discourse from all interested parties, including those who offer points of view which differ from my own. "Civilized discourse" means that no matter how passionately you feel about your point of view, you will not use profanity, resort to abusive language, or engage in personal attacks. Such behavior will not be tolerated here. Your comments must show sincere respect towards the other participants of this blog.

Since I want this blog to be a haven for constructive dialogue, these ground rules will be strictly enforced. This brings us to our first lesson in peace: No one can keep the peace without two things—strength and restraint. One must have strength to exert influence, but it is the manner in which strength is applied which determines the outcome. Without restraint, strength destroys. With restraint, strength protects. The lesson, then, is strength tempered by restraint: Effective peacekeepers must command the power of the hawk with the gentleness of the dove. If this strikes you as contradictory, consider a saying of the legendary Taoist sage Lao Tzu: "True words seem paradoxical" (Tao Te Ching, Chapter 78).