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Past Leaders’ Deeds Can Weave Peace in Middle East

by Dwayne Hunn

The threads of history and change run through people.  Smedley Butler, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Oliver Brown… Their deeds have woven the quilt that America is especially proud of in January 2009.

From their threads of knowledge, we should weave, with troubled parts of the world, another quilt that could erase warfare in the bloodied Holy Lands…

Smedley Butler was … A common man, a rank-and-file soldier, and Teddy Roosevelt loved him.  Teddy Roosevelt called him "the fighting Quaker,” as well as the “finest fighting man in America."  Straight talking Smedley Butler helped run the Marines for a generation, often carrying a pack into the trenches with his troops.  In four words, he summed up his decades of real-world experience:

"War is a racket…  "

Abe Lincoln was...  This common man was a farm boy who split rails for fences, kept store in new Salem, Illinois, served as a captain in the Black Hawk War, lost his mom at nine, and had a thirst for learning.  His law partner saw him and his ambition as “…a little engine that knew no rest."  Our President-elect has turned to him as a role model, partially because Abe seemed to live by the credo that:

        “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”

Our 16th president also said:

      “Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose—and you allow him to make war at pleasure.”

How did Mr. Lincoln know of today’s Doctrine of Preemption 150 years ago? 

      “"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the Country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed."

How did Lincoln know that KNBR, Halliburton, Carlyle, and Black Hawk would prosper with hundreds of billions in contracts and tens of billions stuffed in lost bags?  How did he know that corporate personhood would flower and that our middle class would go into a tailspin, as a few of the wealthiest Americans prospered?  How did Honest Abe know?

Did he know that we would blow away millions of lives and $500 billion in Vietnam, only to later learn that those scary Draculean Commie Dominoes turned out to be just little friendly brown people?  Did he know that our 43rd president, the brush cutter, would not read any of the warnings that Honest Abe’s lifetime of hard works, and tree cuttings, taught him and the nation?

War is a racket, especially in a resource-depleting world of 7 billion roiling with weapons of mass destruction.  If we don't soon start waging wars to build healthy hearts and minds, then a LOT more of us and our loved ones will be living uncomfortably and dangerously in the future.

Martin Luther King Jr. was a moralist, orator, and leader...  In August of 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. sang out…

      “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Oliver Brown was... a little-known man whose name became associated with the most profound example of the power of judicial review and change.  In 1951, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chose Oliver Brown as the namesake on behalf of nearly 200 plaintiffs from five states in filing Brown v. Board of Education.  Little known Oliver Brown’s name is attached to the nation changing process that gives us today a man of hue who ardently studies the man from the Land of Lincoln to help guide our nation through troubled times…

Many Americans hope Barack Obama turns out to be a Lincoln Reduex of our 16th president's keen vision and steadfast leadership.  He is President today because we have a more learned nation that voted wisely to elect the learned man that he is.  We are more learned nation because of Brown v.  Board of Education. 

Now if Obama would mesh and implement the learned words and insights of Smedley Butler, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, and Oliver Brown, he would have the foundational knowledge for peace in Israel and Palestine.  Here's why and how that could be done.

January 12th found me at Book Passages Bookstore listening to author Melissa Rossi talk about What Every American Should Know about the Middle East.  During the book-signing portion of the evening, I asked several American Israelis about People's Lobby's Israel Palestine peace building proposal, which centered on my statement.

      “We have a president of color today, because we had Brown v. Board of Education yesterday.”

When I asked if Palestinians went to school with Israelis, they responded that you could find a few schools and universities where that might happen. 

"Why don't you school together from elementary school on?”

One Israeli nodded affirmatively.  Another said, "We must go slowly on these things."

"Isn't 60 years slow enough?  Pouring $3+ billion a year in military aid into that region hasn't worked.  Should our broke nation keep doing that for another 60 years?  When you have a couple generations of kids going to school, playing soccer, camping, etc., together, you erase the likelihood that they will rain rockets on each other.”

Again, one nodded affirmatively, while another kept repeating, "We must go slow," and questioned the financial mechanics of People’s Lobby’s Israel Palestine Peace Proposal.

Israel, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan are the four largest recipients of US aid, which is primarily military aid, recycled back to us by purchasing from our armament producers.  Has that produced peace, security, enhanced friendships…, or rockets, destruction, more terrorists…?  Has that strengthened or weakened America's Middle Class?

We once had a country that was producing lynchings, burnings, and more Ku Klux Klaners.  Fair-handed federal law enforcement helped turn some of those evils doers.  But what enriched our country was sending our kids – of all colors and beliefs -- to school together.  Brown v. Board of Education erased the violence and stupidity that comes from myopic experiences that retard real world learning.

How can the US promote a Brown v. Board of Education peace in the Middle East? 

Begin gradually shifting our incendiary and deficit enhancing military aid dollars to that region to aid that plants carrots of peace.  And get the rich oil nations involved in this stability building investment.

Recently, the Bush administration supposedly pledged $85 million to help rebuild Palestine.  Here is the financial mechanics of a cheaper, longer-lasting way for the Obama-Biden team and the world to build peace.

  • Bring Israel, Palestine, regionally involved states, and the Arab Emirates, to an Israeli Palestinian Peace Conference.
  • Propose shifting in gradual increments US military aid to projects that integrate and build understanding and peaceful productivity.
  • Show with spreadsheet and graphs how that for each six months of continuous peace between Israel and Palestine, America will transfer $25 million (or more) from Israeli military aid into peaceful, productive projects that benefit both Israel and Palestine’s citizens.  These projects would require integration between Israelis and Palestinians, such as developing INTEGRATED: libraries, elementary schools, high schools, universities, camps, community service projects, business joint ventures, news stations, and service projects under the joint international service program of the American World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposals.
  • Request that the Arab Emirates and regional players commit to this process and to tripling (at least) the United States’ financial commitment with their investments.
  • Include all of those who contribute financially, as well as the United Nations and some well-regarded humanitarian agencies (Doctors without Borders, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Habitat, Peace Corps, etc. as listed in People's Lobby's AWSC Congressional Proposals) in an oversight board that insures that the money is used in a nonpartisan and fair manner.

Healthy life experiences that grow from schooling together work not just in America, they work everywhere. 

Why not mesh Brown v. Board of Education with increasing portions of our foreign aid to build understanding and brotherhood in Israel and Palestine?  Why not make that our policy in the Middle East?

Alleys filled with gangs and sticks produce more of the same. Replacing them with seeds and gardens produces carrots and crops that allow everyone to see and live better.

Dwayne Hunn is Executive Director of People’s Lobby Inc., whose American World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposals (to learn more, go to

Congresswoman Woolsey has offered to introduce this legislation in the 111th Congress.  If enacted as written, the AWSC Congressional Proposals will be among the most significant legislation passed in decades.  Fielding the robust AWSC will enlighten America's public policies and enhance our character.