Friday, November 9, 2007

'Their War'?

"In a nation of more than 300 million people, less than 1 percent serve in all the armed forces combined, active duty and reserve.

Compare that to previous wartimes:
4 percent served during Vietnam,
12 percent during World War II,
11 percent during the Civil War."

This quote from the article by Kristin Henderson, Washington Post, July 2007, is only a quick piece for reflection when considering the military engagements we are currently in.

I highly recommend you to read this piece and reflect on how our interaction, or lack thereof, with military personnel informs our current way of proceeding.
*click on the title 'Their War?' and it will take you to the piece; the link is also below:

California Jesuit takes a stand against torture

A notice from John McGarry, S.J., the CAL Provincial, on an action taken by a Jesuit that corresponds with one of our international priorities, War and Violence:

"On Wednesday, October 17, Fathers Stephen Kelly, S.J., and Louis Vitale, O.F.M., were sentenced to five months in federal prison for their participation in a nonviolent act of civil disobedience at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, for which they were arrested on November 19, 2006. At the time of their arrest, Louie and Steve were trying to deliver a letter denouncing certain methods of “interrogation training” sanctioned by the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to then-commander Major General Barbara Fast. (The link to their letter can be found on the Province website:"

Another update on this situation is in the most recent Catholic Worker, October-November 2007 issue written by Bill Quigley, a human-rights lawyer and Loyola New Orleans professor who represented Frs. Kelly and Vitale in court.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

U.S. and Arms Sales to Developing World

In a recent article in the New York Times (01/10/2007), it highlights the mammoth role of the US in selling arms to developing countries. I include the link above for your review to see the full article and attach a graphic that accompanied this piece.

As I read this piece, several items for reflection occurred to me:
1. We are currently using our sales of arms to influence 'developing' states. Yet, ironically, the sale of weapons rarely helps in dialogue or negotiations so the type of development we are seeking is unclear.
2. We are selling to countries whose records on democracy and human rights is questionable, at best. Pakistan, recently in the news for Gen. Musharref's decision to suspend their constitution, is a major recipient of US arms sales.
3. For Jesuits and colleagues in the continent of Africa, small arms grossly affect their daily lives. Concerns over safety and building skills for real dialogue between conflicting parties are exacerbated by the prevalence of guns.

At the World Social Forum held in Nairobi, Kenya in January 2007, I attended several workshops on this issue and learned that African countries are the most active at the United Nations level in trying to limit weapons coming into their countries.

The 10 US Jesuit Provincials have prioritized the issue of 'War and Violence' as it relates to our international relationships so that we all might informs ourselves and advocate for responsible change. Future postings will address this reality as a start.

If you want more information, don't hesitate to contact me....