The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Search Results

We scarcely do diplomacy

with one comment

Diplomacy is making a headline or two. American diplomats are —wonder of wonders— talking to Iran for the first time in what, forty years? I want to say, “Where have you been?

I’m learning that diplomacy’s near absence is not uncommon in US foreign relations. Nicholas Kristof, writing in the New York Times, illustrates:

The USA has more people in its military <i>bands</i> than in its diplomatic corps (U.S. Army Ceremonial Band)

The USA has more "musicians in its military bands than it has diplomats" (photo: U.S. Army Ceremonial Band)

The United States has more musicians in its military bands than it has diplomats. […] More than 1,000 American diplomatic positions are vacant, but a myopic Congress is refusing to finance even modest new hiring.In short, the United States is hugely overinvesting in military tools and underinvesting in diplomatic tools. The result is a lopsided foreign policy that antagonizes the rest of the world and is ineffective in tackling many modern problems.

Huh. Then this stunner:  One of the voices pleading for increased US diplomatic ability is none other than Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

“One of the most important lessons of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that military success is not sufficient to win,” Mr. Gates said. He noted that the entire American diplomatic corps — about 6,500 people — is less than the staffing of a single aircraft carrier group, yet Congress isn’t interested in paying for a larger Foreign Service. […] Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

August 10, 2008 at 5:29 pm

March 19: Five years since “Shock and Awe”

with one comment

Shock and AweFive years ago today, we gathered ’round our TV’s and watched bomb-flashes searing Baghdad’s night skies.

And today, veterans of that war gathered in Washington, D.C. Saying “We’re not radicals, we’re your military, and you need to hear our stories,” they came to tell the truth; to burn away the heartless haze of the view from a distance. Video captures of the stories they tell are available at their IVAW web site. Here are a few excerpts, quoted from In These Times:

Last Memorial Day, Sgt. Kristofer Goldsmith tried to kill himself. He had just been stop-lossed along with 80,000 other soldiers Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 19, 2008 at 6:11 pm

Posted in Iraq, Terrorism

White evangelical voters: poverty no. 1 moral issue

with 2 comments

The Great AwakeningI had always been a skeptic of the church of personal peace and prosperity … of righteous people standing in a holy huddle while the world rages outside the stained glass. But I’ve learned that there are many people of the cloth who are also in the world, and from debt cancellation to the fight against AIDS and for human rights, they are on the march. – Bono

Change is indeed in the air. As voters head to the polls (I write this on Super Tuesday, 2-5-08, in the USA), the main moral issue on the minds of white evangelicals is now poverty! That homecoming is nothing short of astonishing.

clipped from blog.beliefnet.com
[New York Times] columnist Nicholas Kristof quotes The Great Awakening, where Jim Wallis says, “Evangelicals are going to vote this year in part on climate change, on Darfur, on poverty.” Kristof then adds that, according to a CBS News poll, this year white evangelicals consider the fight against poverty to be the top moral issue, displacing abortion to a distant second.
Kristoff quotes CARE’s Helene Gayle about evangelicals’ work against global poverty: they “have made some incredible contributions … We don’t give them credit for the changes they’ve made.” Similarly, Environmental Defense president Fred Krupp said, “Many evangelical leaders have been key to taking the climate issue across the cultural divide.”
Kristof concludes, “In parts of Africa where bandits and warlords shoot or rape anything that moves, you often find that the only groups still operating are Doctors Without Borders and religious aid workers: crazy doctors and crazy Christians.”
  blog it
More of Rick Warren’s story:

I could see this shift in action a few weeks ago in Davos at the World Economic Forum. I got to see Rick Warren in action, motivating business and political leaders to put poverty, disease, and peace-making higher on their agenda. Kristof tells a story about Warren, who for many years didn’t pay much attention to these issues of social justice and compassion. Then, during a 2003 visit to Africa, Rick came into a ramshackle tent where a little church was caring for 25 AIDS orphans.

Rick said, “I realized they were doing more for the poor than my entire megachurch. … It was like a knife in the heart.” Kristof recounts how Rick turned this heartbreak into action: mobilizing his church to constructive action in 68 countries, recruiting 7,500 members to pay their own way to serve poor people around the world – experiencing a transformation in their own values and priorities in the process.

Mm-mm. That’s renewal: hearts moved toward the priorities of Jesus.

OK, God:  Show me my place in it!


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Written by Monte

February 5, 2008 at 2:19 pm

Muslims terrorize Europe!!! Well, um, . . . no.

leave a comment »

Fanonite quotes Kristoffer Larsson on Europol’s release of terrorism data for last year:

There were 498 incidents in eleven EU countries last year labelled as “terrorist attacks.” The Basque separatist group ETA did best (136 terrorist attacks) and was responsible for the only deadly attack, killing two in Madrid. The remaining 497 fortunately cost no human lives.

How about the Islamic terrorists then? Considering the perpetual warnings in our daily papers, the findings in the Europol report is, to say the least, surprising. The truth is that Islamists only carried out one out of the 498 terrorist attacks in the European Union in 2006. Don’t believe me? The entire report is available on Europol’s website. Had Islamic fundamentalists been behind a higher number of attacks-say 136-it would have been front page news at every big daily. One attack is simply too few–it won’t do if the image of an “Islamic threat” is to live on….

In plain English: Muslims are a group causing very little terrorism in Europe, while at the same time much more likely to be arrested on suspicion of it. …

One. Of four hundred ninety eight.

Remember that. Some want us to be frightened, to beef up the military, to drain the funds that care for the poor and heal the sick and feed the hungry in order to fight this supposed great clash of civilizations known as “The War On Terror.”

Let’s not.


Tags: , , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Written by Monte

April 22, 2007 at 5:13 pm