Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Ten Terrible Years of a War on Terror

The following is a condensation of material put together from a variety of sources by Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard, Peace Committee Co-chair of Virginia Mennonite Conference, posted here with his permission:

Friday, October 7, 2011, marked 10 years since the United States invaded Afghanistan in the name of the “War on Terror”—our response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks—the longest war in US history.

First, let me name a few sorrowful realities:

  • The human cost is vast, with seven Afghan civilians killed every day in 2010.
  • Tens of thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed since 2001, including women and children (Afghanistan is considered to be one of the worst places to be a child or a female).
  • 2,754 US and coalition troops have been killed since our invasion (, plus tens of thousands suffering from post-traumatic stress and other psychological disorders, with shocking numbers committing suicide.
  • One in three recent US military veterans believes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting (the disapproval is nearly fifty percent among wounded vets).
  • Americans have chosen  to respond in fear and xenophobia (especially of Muslims) instead of unity within our own country and neighborhoods.
  • The wars in Afghanistan & Iraq now cost more than $100 billion per year.
  • Over $1 trillion dollars have already been spent in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars together and will approach $4 trillion dollars when all costs are considered – such as interest on the debt incurred and the lifetime care of wounded veterans.
  • Almost no money went to addressing true human need and development or diplomacy approaches to human security in Afghanistan.
  • “[A]fter a decade, Afghanistan still remains the most uncivil, most corrupt, and most war torn country in the world. The consequences of the so-called war on terror has only been more bloodshed, crimes, barbarism, human rights, and women’s rights violations, which has doubled the miseries and sorrows of our people.” - Malalai Joya, former Afghan parliamentarian and female-rights activist
  • President Obama recently announced US military presence will continue in Afghanistan until 2014 (with talks of thousands of special troops and aircraft staying until 2024!), and Congress has agreed to follow his lead. Many analysts believe the American military is trying to retain a based-presence close to Pakistan, Iran and China.
So what are peaceful Jesus-followers to do after an anniversary like this where one in four (75%) of Americans no longer follow what’s happening in our wars (especially when we, too, are tired after 10 years and overwhelmed by the needs)?

(1) First, let us remember our primary calling to be Christian communities of God’s peace. Let us worship together with lamentation, confession and prayer. In the next Sundays, I encourage you to share from the sad realities above and offer prayers, confessions and song in your congregations:

Prayers  ( from Words for Worship 2, by Diane Zaerr Brenneman)
Disarm our hearts
God of mercy and grace:
We mourn the lives of those around the world
                who are daily affected by terrorism and violence
We acknowledge that violence is a web that traps us all.
We confess our own complicity
                when our government feeds terrorism and violence
                to protect our interests and lifestyles.
Forgive us our thoughts and acts
that dehumanize those we consider enemies
We look into our own hearts and confess our own desires
                for vengeance and retaliation against those who have harmed us
Forgives us our violence
                as we forgive those who commit violence against us.
Disarm our hearts as well as our hands
                through the transforming power of the Spirit of Jesus. Amen

Bless our enemies
God of all people and nations,
                we don’t know how to act when what we love is threatened
                when our beautiful, fragile, diverse world is endangered
by terrorism, by wars, by wars on terror
We want Justice! We want it now!
We wish you would forget mercy for awhile, God,
                until you help us get this mess cleaned up.
But then we realize that we too are complicit
in things that harm your hopes for us—
                and mercy suddenly looks better.
Help us realize that in your cosmic economy
there is no “other” at all, no “them,”
                there is only “us.”
Bless our enemies; 
                bless those who terrorize us and those terrorized in our name
in their genuine well-being we all find well-being.
In Jesus’ name may it be so. Amen

A sample worship service, sermon and children’s story ideas, and other seeds of inspiration are all available online at use MCC's resources

(2) Secondly, let us recommit to solidarity with those who suffer. We have much to learn from and about those in Afghanistan (not to mention our Muslim neighbors in our own towns). Start by getting to know the refugees, immigrants, or Islamic community in your neighborhood.
 "He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore."
  • Tune into PBS’s October series on Women, War & Peace: ( On five consecutive Tuesdays beginning October 11, PBS will air nationwide Women, War & Peace (WWP), a five-part investigation of the effects of war on women and the power of women to broker peace in areas in conflict. The series, produced by Abigail E. Disney, Pamela Hogan, and Gini Reticker, comprises five films about the experience of women in the war-torn countries of Afghanistan, Bosnia, Colombia, and Liberia, as well as an overview contextualizing the series as a whole. The award-winning film Pray the Devil Back to Hell, focusing on the extraordinary story of women activists in Liberia who brought an end to that nation's bloody civil war and the despotic presidency of Charles Taylor, will receive its U.S. broadcast premiere as the episode of Women, War & Peace devoted to Liberia.
(3) Continue to call on democratically elected representatives to craft a national budget prioritizing international and domestic human need over military business (see the attached 2012 budget pie chart)
  •  Call in to the Subercommittee on the budget: “The Friends Committee on National Legislation has set up a toll-free number for us to call Congress: 1-877-429-0678. A Congressional ‘Supercommittee’ is charged with coming up with $1.5 trillion in reduced debt over ten years, and the wars and the bloated Pentagon budget dangle before the Supercommittee like overripe fruit.”
  • Use some suggested legislative responses from American Friends Service Committee AFSC (
Just as peace is more than the absence of war, national security is more than planes and bombs; it includes jobs, schools, housing, and healthcare.
American Friends Service Committee is calling for:
·         Deep cuts in the Pentagon budget
·         Raising revenues through taxes on the wealthy and corporations
·         Continuing protection for programs that aid the most vulnerable
·         Short-run investments to stimulate job creation
Use this toolkit to help support our call and help keep these resources in your community.
This is an quick, incomplete list of responses, so I encourage you to pass along ideas for lamenting and seeking an end to the suffering in Afghanistan and the US.

Peace be with you,
Nicholas Detweiler-Stoddard
Peace Committee co-chair
in Virginia Mennonite Conference

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War Resisters 2012 money pie chart.pdfWar Resisters 2012 money pie chart.pdf
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Bombs and Budgets 2011.pdfBombs and Budgets 2011.pdf
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