A Vision of Peace
San Diego Union-Tribune, October 12, 2001, B7
In the days since the terrorist attack, I have found myself yearning for a vision of the future, a vision sufficiently strong and clear that can guide us through the perilous times that lie before us.
It is a vision of peace, a vision that allows for the possibility of specific and intense attacks against those responsible for the attacks against the United States and yet also a vision that is crafted with a commitment to peace at its center. Let me articulate its elements.
First, it is clear that those responsible for planning and assisting in the attacks against the WTC and the Pentagon must be brought to justice. No country can permit such an attack to go unanswered. Yet our military response should be as narrowly focused and precisely executed as possible. Large scale military operations against those on the periphery of the groups responsible will create more enemies than they eliminate. If we engage in large scale military operations, we will fail. For every “fanatic” we kill, we will create two converts.
Second, our principal response ought to be a concerted effort
to bring conditions of genuine economic and social justice to the
In the past, the
Third, we can take a major step toward the vision of peace by living up to our own ideals abroad. For too long, we have turned a blind eye to the human rights violations of our friends while condemning those same actions on the part of non-allies. We need to hold ourselves and our friends to the same high standards we set for our enemies. Similarly, we need to sign key treaties—such as the U.N. treaty on the rights of children, the landmine treaty, and various environmental accords—that are deeply consistent with our highest ideals even when they conflict with short-term and short-sighted economic and military goals.
Fourth, we need to take positive steps toward the establishment of a genuine world court of criminal justice. This is only feasible if we are willing to let justice be blind, to be applied even-handedly to our friends and ourselves as well as to our foes. There is wide opposition to terrorism at the moment, and this moment in history offers us a unique opportunity to build on this shared outrage and move toward a world court of criminal justice. The surest way to erode such support, however, is to play partisan politics, to want justice to apply to our enemies and mercy to our friends. The formation of an international coalition dedicated to establishing a truly international standard of justice will only flourish if we are committed to genuine justice, not partisan enforcement that meets narrow political ends.
Finally, we need to hold firmly to a vision of peace throughout
all this. Our goal is not to win, whatever that might mean. It is certainly
not to banish evil from the world. Rather, it is to create peace, to let the
guiding principle behind our decisions be an abiding concern with creating a
just and lasting peace throughout the