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Editorial Reflections

Beyond more violence, treaty scrutinizes arms trade

Enemy images again fill air waves, printed pages and online media.  Those “evil” terrorists use violence, and some believe they only understand violence.

What if they are savvy, and seek to bankrupt “coalition” nations that are now bombing them with weapons that bring profit to the military-industrial complex.  Who makes the terrorists’ weapons?

Can we afford to feed the insatiable war machine that eats up resources, and does not enhance our economy or people’s lives?

Is violence the only way to deal with “evil” people?  What will our violence bring?  Will it bring more pockets of hate that explode into more terrorist violence—abroad and maybe at home.

Does violence weaken or strengthen terrorists?  Does it justify them in their marketing appeals?

Do coalition bombs escalate terror?  Air strikes, like terrorists, kill innocent people.

These actions draw media attention.  They fit definitions of news, filling a habit of many media to cover such exciting things as violence and terror. 

What is going on behind the scenes to divert people from the violence-begets-violence-begets-more-violence cycle?  Is violence always the only solution?  Is it really a solution?

Extremists touting their faiths cower behind violence against anyone who does not fit their mold of faith.  All faiths come away used, diminished and discredited.  Is one faith “good” and justified to use violence against another purely “evil” faith?  That’s contrary to the tenets of our faiths. 

Meanwhile, not reaching headline news, is a report that eight more governments ratified the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) in late September meetings at the United Nations.  With 53 nations ratifying the treaty, it will go into effect by the end of 2014.

News of the armed conflicts reminds us that armed violence batters human life and dignity, said the Rev. Olav Fyske Tviet, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC).  He suggests that “controlling the arms trade is a requirement for stopping the terror and violence in the world today.”

The WCC has been among church and civil advocates for the Arms Trade Treaty for four years.  The focus has been on Africa, which suffers from the illicit arms trade.  By signing the ATT, states commit to regulate all transfers of conventional arms and components;  ban exports of arms when there is a substantial risk of war crimes, genocide or attacks against civilians;  assess risks related to human rights violations, terrorism, organized crime or gender-based violence, and avoid arms shipments being diverted from the authorized user.

A Conflict Armament Research report shows that in Iraq and Syria, weapons made in the U.S. and China are being used by ISIS.  There is increasing scrutiny of who is supplying the weapons fueling current armed conflicts.  Who is supplying U.S.-made weapons?  Why?  Is bottom line the only consideration?

As people of faith, we are called to sustain life.  The WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace calls us to join in a sacred journey to justice and peace, “a quest to renew our faiths through healing a world filled with conflict, injustice and pain.” Will we?

Mary Stamp - Editor



Copyright © October 2014 - The Fig Tree