January 24, 2003: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Journalism: Speaking Out: Peacemakers: Madison Capital Times: Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says Peace Activists Need Ammo

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cameroon: Special Reports: Camerooon RPCV and Political Columnist Margaret Krome: September 5, 2002: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Journalism: Speaking Out: Futurism: Agriculture: Madison Capital Times: Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says No Rosy Future in Sight : January 24, 2003: Headlines: COS - Cameroon: Journalism: Speaking Out: Peacemakers: Madison Capital Times: Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says Peace Activists Need Ammo

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Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says Peace Activists Need Ammo

Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says  Peace Activists Need Ammo

Cameroon RPCV Margaret Krome says Peace Activists Need Ammo

Peace Activists Need Ammo
by Margaret Krome

I'm proud that my daughter spent part of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday helping to organize children's participation in the Feb. 1 peace rally and march down State Street. My son asked to decorate a poster about the rally to distribute among his friends at school. Many of the children's messages are clear statements about why peace matters to them. War kills people. Children aren't safe. The environment gets wrecked.

Even applying a political analysis, it's not hard to say why peace is important. One Web site opposing war with Iraq offers 10 reasons. One is that a preemptive attack violates the U.N. charter. Another is that the estimated $60 billion to $100 billion cost of a war with Iraq would require major cuts in education, environmental causes and health care. Another is that war with Iraq would inflame anti-U.S. sentiments and increase our nation's vulnerability to terrorism at home and abroad. These and other arguments are important and well-stated.

If the arguments for peace are so compelling, why are peace activists so frequently on the defensive? Peace advocates are often dismissed as simplistic, unsophisticated or blind to the urgency of any given conflict. While no doubt occasionally true, this view sometimes results from the peace culture's poor self-education on the merits of its case. After all, it is equally valid to criticize arguments that equate support for national leaders' war aims with patriotism, but they go unchallenged all the time.

In part, the public has low expectations for peace. History books as well as current media coverage focus on pivotal, public moments, and war is lamentably visible. By its nature, diplomacy often depends on discretion, and peaceful solutions to conflicts rarely make headlines. Ask yourself how often you've heard about Denmark's successful nonviolent strategy of nonresistance to Nazi power, which rescued most of Denmark's Jews and undermined Nazi power in that country. How much do you know about the successful nonviolent movements in South Africa or Poland or Chile in the 1980s? The historical benchmarks that American children study are the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the two World Wars and other wars, with little attention to wars averted or conflicts resolved nonviolently.

Many assume that war in any conflict is inevitable and that humans will always resort to force in the end. It's hard for people to believe otherwise without studying the many peacemaking societies throughout human history.

The public in general lacks a of sense of effective options, absent war. Without knowledge of the proven power of economic pressure, world opinion, mediation, passive resistance, propaganda, and many other tools, it's easy to presume that nonviolence means passive yielding to dangerous power. In most war situations, not only do analysts ignore previous events that offered foregone opportunities for nonviolent recourse, they rarely adequately acknowledge the proven power of nonviolent options.

I was raised in Norfolk, Va., an international center of the military economy, and I know too well its political potency and intractability. We all have witnessed members of Congress pushed this year to support war resolutions for fear of being deemed unpatriotic. And most opponents to war with Iraq have had their concerns dismissed as poorly understood and alternatives challenged as dangerously inadequate.

At the peace rally on Feb. 1, my children will likely join in singing the refrain, "I ain't gonna study war no more." I wish the peace movement would take that phrase literally and help inform itself and the public about the potent nonviolent tools deployed in countless little-known examples of peaceful solutions to dangerous conflict.

Margaret Krome of Madison is a regular columnist for The Capital Times.

Copyright 2003 The Capital Times

When this story was posted in December 2004, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Madison Capital Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Cameroon; Journalism; Speaking Out; Peacemakers



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