Wednesday, 18 October 2006

Time for new approaches

A piece in the Independent highlights the dramatically changed tide of opinion that leaves Bush and Blair so isolated now.
"George Bush and Tony Blair were looking more isolated than ever last night as the ground shifted further under their strategy of remaining in Iraq "until the job is done".
The President and the Prime Minister were left clinging to the dream of establishing a lasting democracy in Iraq as their advisers urged them to look for a new, more realistic, exit strategy."

Even John Reid was yesterday quoted as recognising that UK and US foreign policy might in some way be contributing to unpeace in our land.

Jonathan Freedland, meanwhile, writing in The Guardian tries to understand what it must feel like to be a Muslim in Britain today, from his perspective as a Jew.
"Right now," he concludes "we're getting it badly wrong - bombarding Muslims with pressure and prejudice, laying one social problem after another at their door. I try to imagine how I would feel if this rainstorm of headlines substituted the word "Jew" for "Muslim": Jews creating apartheid, Jews whose strange customs and costume should be banned. I wouldn't just feel frightened. I would be looking for my passport."

Not sure whether our own government is remotely interested in the activities of Quaker peace organisations at the moment, but we do know that US Quakers are amongst those about whom data has been collected for their peace organising activities. The administration there won't be too impressed, I imagine, by the recent encounter by a representative of American Friends Service Committee with the Iranian president
Reflecting on the meeting, they write... "every dialogue is a chance to bear witness to what one believes and lives by as the truth, an opportunity to connect what we believe within our deepest selves with what we know experientially, and to risk hearing respectfully the deepest life-truths that animate others, even opponents and adversaries" .

Another US Quaker body, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, meanwhile urges diplomatic approaches to mend the non-proliferation regime rather than threatening and ratcheting up the confrontation.
Read, for instance: "Enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution1718 and the NPT, through punitive measures such as focused sanctions, is important, but only as a prelude to resuming multilateral talks and beginning direct bilateral talks between the U.S. and North Korea to achieve voluntary compliance. We do not know whether the talks will lead to a denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. However, talking offers the best hope for the people of the Korean peninsula and the region. The nuclear test explosion and possible future test explosions by North Korea constitutes a serious threat to peace, but it is not a crisis. Government leaders have ample time to talk, to negotiate, and to arrive at a deal. War is not the answer."