Monday, October 29, 2007

nonviolence cheaper

One advantage of strategic non-violence over a world military is that it costs less.

Military forces require expensive weapons, body armor, armored vehicles, air support, etc. A recent report to the U.S. Senate estimated the Iraq war is costing about $400,000 per trooper.

A Satyagraha brigade would require only logistical support such as food, shelter, transportation, communication, etc. Presumably also in a United Nations unit each member would also be paid at some level. But surely the total cost would be less than $100,000 per person.

Friday, October 26, 2007

A plan for Iraq

I have a plan for bringing peace and stability to Iraq. I conceived this plan after reading Is There No Other Way? The Search for a Nonviolent Future. by Michael Nagler.

First, the United Nations trains maybe ten thousand or more volunteers in Satyagraha, Gandhi’s nonviolent “soul force” tactics of winning justice. This Soul Force Brigade moves in as the Coalition Forces leave for home.

Next the Soul Force volunteers start patrolling the streets. They will not need body armor, because the brave exposure of themselves to danger is key to their strategy. Soul force is a combination of courage, generosity, and justice.

Most Iraqis will understand that the Soul Force is there to help Iraq and its people. They will not fear the Soul Force. They will not suspect the Soul Force is there to rob them of their oil.

The Soul Force will recruit a sister force of Iraqi volunteers from all religious factions. After training, the Iraqi Soul Force will patrol in units with mixed religious and ethnic backgrounds, now trusted friends. They will not be involved in ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods, nor revenge killings. They will be welcomed in all neighborhoods.

The violence will not disappear overnight. There will be casualties. Al Qaida and other like groups will struggle to keep the violence boiling.

Victory for Satyagraha will not be certain. Violence and hatred are now so entrenched in Iraq that only a great effort by a well-led Soul Force can overcome them.

But this is certain. Even if a Satyagraha campaign falls short of its goal, some great good will result. In contrast, even if violence accomplishes its goal, some great harm will result.

Many will call this naïve. But how much good has violence accomplished in Iraq?

What is Strategic Nonviolence

I use the term strategic nonviolence for well-organized and planned non-violence that is used in a campaign as a replacement for warfare.

Gandhi's campaign to win independence for India is the prime example.

The question we are trying to answer here is whether strategic nonviolence can be adopted by national governments and multi-national alliances like NATO and United Nations.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nonviolent Communication

This is from Annika:

Thanks for the Peace Thinking link. Its so disheartening feeling disempowered from this monster we’ve created. I’ve felt some degree of satisfaction working with MoveOn- occasionally contributing another $25, or making a call, or attending a get together.. I really like how it supports local connections and people-meeting. I also like how they’re expanded their issues to counterpoint the children’s health care veto against a week in Iraq. I think that campaign is really going to rattle a lot of people to scratch their heads and ask why?

For me, an angle that has captured my interest and really challenged me, personally, is the ‘nonviolent communication’ practice, which really brings everything home to creating peace form within – within one’s relationship to self, and to immediate family and neighbors and people we encounter each day. The practice and study of non-violent communication clearly reveals the dominant culture of dominance within which we’ve all been raised and that has been used as a model. As a mother with small children I’m acutely aware of the way this culture has permeated all of our behavior, and how I model for my kids. Anyway, maybe you know about this. If you want to know more, here is a link.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Thich Nhat Hahn

This message is an excerpt of an email from Aileen:

I have practiced meditation and I think it has been very important for me, although I can see why it might not be for everyone. First of all, for me it is very connected with my faith, and I think that if I did not believe in a higher power, I might feel a little silly meditating. Unless, of course, I had some sort of a trippy thought that helped me to focus (like, say, "we are all waves on the same ocean" or something like that). But still, I think I might feel it was a little pointless. If I remember correctly, Nagler says some of the same effects can be achieved by reading a relaxing book. Is that correct?

I think someone who does not believe in a higher power would have to find some way to tap into some sort of source of inner life and energy, because working with violence really saps you. (People who have lived closely with violence for a long period of time always seem half-dead to me, sort of shadowy, and I feel a little the same way whenever I come into contact with an extremely violent situation. For me my energy comes from my faith, so I am curious about what an atheist non-violent activist could do to keep him/herself going). Maybe this energy could be found in nature, or art, or other kinds of beauty? I don't know, I imagine that humanists have already studied this sort of thing.

Do humanists believe that love is a sort of chemical reaction in the brain, or how do you explain it? I am curious.

I mentioned Thich Nhat Hahn because he is a Buddhist monk who writes about meditating as a form of non-violence. I feel like if I want to understand non-violence, and not be naive about it, I have to study the people who practice non-violence in the most violent situations. ( i.e. it is not very impressive to meet someone who practices non-violence if they have never been threatened. When I hear about someone who pratices non-violence when their friends and family are being murdered, then I am naturally more impressed). Thich Nhat Hanh is one such person, and then of course there is the Dalai Lama, and naturally Gandhi, and I have run across some inspiring Mennonites along the way as well.

How important is meditation?

Michael Nagler in his book on nonviolence emphasizes the importance of meditation in training for non-violent action.

I have no experience in formal meditation techniques. I do daydream while I'm driving.

Who has experience with meditation? Is meditation very useful to someone training for non-violence. Is is necessary?

How does meditation work? How does it help?

Nagler's Book

Aileen recommends:

Michael N. Nagler, 2001. Is There No Other Way? The Search for a Nonviolent Future.

Can we enforce peace with strategic nonviolence?

Many people say that using military forces to ban warfare is a contradiction. Can non-violent action replace war?

Gandhian satayagraha has always been a tactic for people's movements acting to change government behavior. Can satyagraha be developed for governments to use as an alternative to military action? Could the United Nations enforce peace with brigades of volunteers trained in strategic nonviolent action?

Can non-violence really work against brutal military dictatorships?

Who is already thinking about these issues? What websites and books should we look at? What organizations should we join?

This blog connects to the Peace Thinking website.

This blog is a medium for people to comment on issues presented on the Peace Thinking website.

Specifically, this blog is for the page Enforcing Peace With Strategic Non-Violence.