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Dialogue, not violence at home and abroad

letter by Duncan McFarland, published in Newton Tab, January 14, 2015

The new year is a time to renew our hopes for peace and justice and reflect on 2014 -- including the violence both at home and abroad in the last few months. Grand juries exonerated police in the terrible killings of young black men, generating shock, protests and recognition of persistent racism. Another young person's anger overcame his sanity, resulting in the cold-blooded shootings of two police in Brooklyn. Why are guns so readily used and available in a culture of violence?

One answer: the context of the ongoing US wars abroad, where bombing and military force is too often the first option. The policy of using force abroad mirrors a culture of violence at home. Many Americans are deeply skeptical about the new US war on ISIS in Syria and Iraq and with good reason. US bombing inevitably causes civilian deaths and destruction, ISIS adjusts its tactics and the conflict is extended, not resolved. Rather, diplomacy and international cooperation to isolate this extremist organization politically is the first step. The US should work with all countries in the region to achieve peace and stability on the basis of equality and self-determination; the single act of normalizing relations with Iran would be a great step forward.
The US needs to shift its national budget from war and the Pentagon to rebuilding America -- including a jobs program for inner city youth where high unemployment is a major source of problems and unrest. It's time to support community dialogue and authority in working with police rather than supplying weapons of war to local law enforcement. The new year is a time to change our priorities from maintaining US dominance abroad to working for justice at home.


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