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Proposed CSAI: Ending the War on Terror

Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs) are issues selected by Unitarian Universalist member congregations for four years of study, reflection and action. 

Issue

Since September 11, 2001, the United States has been engaged in a “war on terror,” with the doctrine that “the world is a battlefield.” Torture, extraordinary rendition, detention without trial, extrajudicial assassination by drone strike, dragnet surveillance of phone and internet communications, and military intervention have been conducted in the name of combating terrorism. The military consumes a vast share of the discretionary Federal budget. Yet because much of this war is conducted in secret and constitutes killing by remote control, it is often virtually invisible in Americans’ daily lives, despite our collective responsibility for it. Making the invisible visible as the basis for moral choice is central to the religious practice.

Grounding in Unitarian Universalism

Unitarian Universalist principles include “the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.” But how do we live by this goal in a chaotic world? Unitarian Universalists have classically been divided between pacifists and those who accept Just War. The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is still somewhat on the sidelines when there are peace initiatives (on Syria, for example); could a new Study/ Action Issue build upon yet move beyond the 2010 Statement of Conscience and bridge old divisions? By looking at the specifics of the post 9/11 world, can we reach consensus for engagement in issues of anti-imperialism and global peace and justice?

Topics for Congregational Study

  • What are the causes of terrorism?
     
  • How does terrorism relate to insurgencies?
     
  • Is the United States an empire? Are we “the indispensable nation”?
     
  • Do we accept American exceptionalism?
     
  • What would a strengthened international peacekeeping force under United Nations auspices entail?
     
  • How do wars and insurgencies end by political settlement?
     
  • What are the legal, political, and ethical issues in extrajudicial assassination by drone strike?
     
  • What are the legal, political, and ethical issues in the National Security Agency’s surveillance of phone and internet communications?
     
  • Should the United States develop and practice offensive cyberwar, as it is now doing?
     
  • How does American foreign and military policy relate to the economic interests of American and global corporations?
     
  • Have techniques developed to combat foreign terrorism been applied to domestic activist groups, as well as communities of color and religious confession?
     
  • Should the United States stop exempting itself from judgment by the International Criminal Court?
     
  • How are peace and justice related? How does our economy have to change, how do we have to change, if we are to live in peace?

Possible Congregational / District Actions

  • Form coalitions with other local groups and work toward a City Council resolutions on drones. Resolutions could state that Economic Development money may not be used toward such projects.
     
  • Work with immigrant rights groups to oppose the use of drones on the Mexican border.
     
  • Partner with mosques to offer solidarity to the Islamic community, which has been subject to hate in the "war on terror."
     
  • Form study groups, involve cyber specialists and Constitutional scholars in our congregations and communities to join us, and be in touch with elected officials on surveillance by the National Security Agency. Give leadership to younger congregants and community members with expertise in cyber issues.
     
  • Talk with elected officials about surveillance and work for legislation protecting citizens' privacy from government and corporations.
     
  • Educate ourselves via discussion / film / study groups.
     
  • Identify local links in the “war on terror”—drone contractors, for example.
     
  • Develop spiritual practices for peacemaking, including meditation, truth speaking, conciliation, and bridge-building.
     
  • Explore opportunities for nonviolent resistance and non-cooperation with war and surveillance.
     
  • Reach out to groups that have been marginalized or subjected to suspicion.
     
  • Forming alliances with those working for economic justice in a joint campaign for budget priorities.

Related Prior Social Witness Statements

  • “Creating Peace” Statement of Conscience, adopted June 2010. 

Attached Documentation

  • Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars.
     
  • Medea Benjamin, Drone Warfare.
     
  • James Bamford, The Shadow Factory
     
  • Akbar Ahmed, The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Islam
     
  • Richard Clarke and Rober Knake, Cyber War
     
  • Audrey Kurth Cronin, How Terrorism Ends Marc Ambinder, Deep State
     
  • David Keen, Useful Enemies
     
  • John Paul Lederach, Building Peace
     
  • Glen Greenwald
     
  • The National Security Agency (NSA) Files

Sampling of Organizations

  • Unitarian Universalist Peacemakers
     
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
     
  • Just Foreign Policy
     
  • Electronic Frontier Foundation
     
  • Foreign Policy in Focus
     
  • UU United Nations Office
     
  • Quaker Office at the United Nations
     
  • Mennonite Peacemakers
     
  • Peace Action

For more information contact socialwitness@uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, December 5, 2013.

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