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Peace is something that mankind has strived for since our ancestors left the swamps and began to build civilizations. It is what prompted pilgrims to leave Europe in hopes for a new start and huddled masses to chance everything for something better. It is the creed of our United Nations and it is a value in the lives of every American. But the question is how do we find the road to peace? Is it the UN? Is it through our Government? Is it in academia, the Peace Corps, churches, special panels, or non-profits? The road to peace is simpler than we think; it is You and I, who believe that peace comes when individuals gather for a greater cause than themselves.  We believe that peace is something that is a right to all. You and I know (and do not merely believe) that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at chains of slavery to others. Peace is something that must be given and must be able to live on its own – and that is where we come in. Individuals are the key to the road to peace.

The road to peace is long and at times it seems difficult, but it is the drive of individuals pushing forward, that the cause is greater than their self.  There are American civilians in Afghanistan working at the International School of Kabul, www.iskafghan.org , working to help give a better education to the future of that country and through that education, build peace.  I have the honor of friendship with one of the people there who has shared with me the following:

“I enjoy my work well enough and God proves Himself faithful time and time again. Really to watch God love these people who have known nothing but war and death for generations is incredible and humbling. Some of our students lost families to assassination. The pain in their eyes is so terrible yet they come to school because there is peace and the freedom to find joy. It’s such a privilege to witness God’s unwavering love through pain and tears. The horribleness that we do seldom see seems insignificant to what we see every day….hope for Afghanistan.”

I have also had the privilege to know a friend that attends a church from Massachusetts who adopted a town in South America to build a school and a better future for its people.  It is here that the road to peace is built, through the work of individual people. Read the rest of this entry »

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This post continues the conversation in response to my post “Offshore Oil Drilling, Energy Independence, and America’s Security” from April 7th, 2010.

Now let’s set the record straight. While it may be true that Canada and Mexico are the top exporters of oil to the US (when it is broken down by nation), these nations are insignificant when it comes to regions and the greater oil market. Canada and Mexico together are insignificant to the oil market because they do not affect the price of the oil market. This market is what affects our own economy and threatens the security of our nation, creating unwanted entanglements that flow deeper than most realize.

The reality is that the oil market is like any other market in an economy – it fluctuates. But this market is controlled by an exclusive group of nations mainly in the Middle East – the ones who have the most oil – known as OPEC. Neither Canada nor Mexico are card-carrying members, by the way.

Now here is the important thing: in 1945 FDR makes an agreement with Saudi Arabia to secure energy reserves for future interests. From that point on, America has had a vested interest in the Middle East.

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by Jill Brown, student at GMU

On the twenty-sixth of March, I had the privilege of attending a lecture and dinner with Ambassador Ahmed Kamal, former U.N. Ambassador to Pakistan. Ambassador Kamal spoke on the promotion and maintenance of peace in the modern world. While I found him and his subject fascinating, I believe he made several generalized statements in his lecture that were erroneous and this concerned me greatly.

It was clear that several of the students gave his speech a great deal of credence, but I was not pleased with the sweeping conclusions he was drawing from his premises. For example, one of the statements he made that colored much of the rest of his speech (and even the dinner conversation) was that young people, those under thirty years of age, ought not pay heed to the counsel of those beyond thirty when making decisions regarding the future of our world. His premise, that young people between the ages of twenty and thirty are at their peak both physically and mentally, supported by examples like Joan of Arc, Chopin, and Keats, was fairly sound. It is true that young people are endowed with a great deal of energy and that the brain seems to function at its peak creativity within this decade; therefore, the younger generation of any age has a great deal of responsibility for making use of this incredible potential. However, his assertion that we, as young people, ought not listen to the counsel of our elders, was, in my opinion, incorrect.

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Last week, March 30th, I was given an opportunity to attend a conference on a World Without Nuclear Weapons at the US State Department with guest speakers from the government, academia, and NGO’s.  Ambassadors Bonnie Jenkins and Susan Burk discussed the administration’s views and history of the last few decades with the issue of proliferation. Students from Georgetown, GWU, and Missouri State University discussed with the audience how to strength the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) with strengthening the UN Security Council. Some suggested making the treaty tough on violators with more effective sanctions; and others suggested restructuring the makeup of the Security Council.  None of them suggested the idea of the General Assembly using the Resolution for Peace, which would require the Secretary General to deal directly with the issue.  Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares Fund gave the closing remarks suggesting that a world without nuclear weapons is possible.   The world saw the people of Europe free themselves of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The overall idea of the conference was to begin an active discussion on how do we rid ourselves of nuclear weapons  and why is it important to you?

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty).  The treaty is focused on three pillars; non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear technology. The idea of this treaty was to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons while allowing peaceful use of nuclear technology. Every 5 years it up for review by the party states; this year it will be held at the UN Head Quarters in New York City.  This year marks a real chance for our nation and the world to actively begin the process but we also must be realistic that it will take time.

Some important dates that are coming up:

April 12th and 13th leaders from 44 nations will gather with the President in Washington DC to discuss ways to prevent nuclear materials from falling in the wrong hands.

May 3rd -28th Member states to the NPT will meet in New York to review the treaty and suggest, to the UN, changes to the treaty if needed. http://www.un.org/en/conf/npt/2010/index.shtml

The State Department has established an online forum for people to discuss the issues that the American people want to see address. www.state.gov/opinionspace

Since the presidency of FDR, our nation has made agreements with foreign nations to secure vital interest for oil, mainly in the Middle East. Over the decades, it has become apparent that America is dependent on foreign oil and our economic life depends on it now; with that, our security both domestically and internationally is at risk.

The oil crisis in the 1970’s made it obvious that we are subject to the will of others. In the mid 2000’s, again our nation was hit with another oil crisis, followed by a recession that we are in today, which has put us deeper in debt with foreign nations. Brazil, on the other hand, began its trek toward energy independence in the 1970’s and now is energy independent.

Recently, President Obama announced that he would allow off shore drilling exploration, ending the ban that has existed for 20 years.  President Obama has said

“We need to move beyond the tired debates of the left and the right, between business leaders and environmentalists, between those who would claim drilling is a cure all and those who would claim it has no place. Because this issue is just too important to allow our progress to languish while we fight the same old battles over and over again.”

The President’s statement shows his understanding that in order for our nation to be free as it once was we must shake ourselves free of the foreign entanglements that endanger the security of our nation.

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Hi all, I’m Erick Ford, the AIDemocracy Southeast Regional Coordinator at George Mason University.  Last Friday – March 26th 2010 – over 100 members of the George Mason University community welcomed Former UN Ambassador Ahmad Kamal of Pakistan to the Fairfax campus for a discussion about building sustainable peace and security for future generations.

This was the second year in a row that Ambassador Kamal made the trip to George Mason. The forum was hosted by GMU’s Global Relations Organization, Americans for an Informed Democracy, the Public and International Affairs Department, Global Affairs Department, and the Office of the Provost, with support from the Student Government President Devraj Dasgupta.  The purpose of the forum was to bring the leaders of tomorrow an opportunity to ask and learn directly from today’s global leaders.

Ambassador Kamal spoke on various subjects including the Middle East peace process, Iran, nuclear proliferation, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Russia, US debt, the WTO, global concentration of wealth, welfare states, access to water, and the role of the US and the UN in maintaining global peace and security.

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