God's Politics

After the tsunami devastated Southeast Asia two years ago, I wrote a commentary for Sojourners Jaunary 2005 issue, speculating on what aid for Muslim nations could accomplish:

With polls demonstrating the mutual enmity between the U.S. and the Muslim populations, perhaps administration pragmatists got religion (the good news kind) and decided that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount suggestion to “do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27) suddenly seemed applicable to the current dispensation. Aid given to civilians in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, could turn potential enemies in the war on terror into friends. Or at least swing them to neutral.

Well, now we have the facts to prove it. writes in today’s Christian Science Monitor:

In global public-opinion surveys, Terror Free Tomorrow, the nonprofit organization I lead, found that the US military’s humanitarian missions to the broader Muslim world have directly caused a dramatic drop in popular support of terrorism and extremism.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that relying on the military to deliver humanitarian aid is a mission laden with ethical and practical dilemmas – why not let the pros in the humanitarian NGOs handle it? But I’ll just repeat what I said in ’05:

Images of militaries engaging in rescue work may feel contrived, but they still offer a dim vision of what biblical prophets (and nonviolent activists) have long envisioned: The beating of swords into ploughshares, of spears into pruning hooks (Isaiah 2:4). It offers us a glimpse of what the best technology, supported by massive budgets, could do if put to its redeemed purpose: saving instead of destroying life.

Ryan Beiler is the Web Editor for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.

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