January 25 – January 25, 2018
A Pastoral Letter to the President of the United States
From the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
November 20, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
Dear President Obama:
In the tradition of the great prophet, Micah, we yearn for the day when among the nations,
"They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore" (Micah 4:3b-c)
We applaud and af firm the time you have taken this year to think, rethink and carefully consider America’s strategy in Afghanistan. We pray that the vision of Micah will illumine your deliberation. The long war that you acquired when you became the President of the United States is at a critical juncture. Many military authorities believe that this war cannot be won militarily. Afghanistan can likely only achieve a stable economy and government through a negotiated settlement that requires a spirit of compromise among all parties.
As the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, we urge you to follow a policy that pursues such a negotiated settlement and de-emphasizes a military victory. Further investment in a military solution seems destined to alienate and divide the people of Afghanistan who increasingly view our presence and that of our NATO allies as a "foreign occupation." We realize this was not our intent when we first initiated military action in Afghanistan, but after eight long and largely ineffective years, this has been the result.
We ask you to call upon the moderate voices within the Taliban, among the war-lords, and other Afghani leaders to join us in a conciliatory journey toward peace. It would be most unfortunate for any decision that we make to cause the Afghani society to further deteriorate into expanded violence that often targets innocent civilians. It would also be most unfortunate if the progress that has been made in women's rights and in the education of girls would be lost. The destabilizing impact and collateral damage in Pakistan is deeply concerning if we increase our military action in Afghanistan.
There are incredibly complex and difficult issues to be resolved. But we believe that our partner nations in Afghanistan are also weary of this extended conflict, and the U.S. American public is increasingly weary of it. The U.S. workforce could certainly use a reinvestment of war funds to bolster our own economy and seek new solutions to energy, infrastructure, and health care.
Our troops and those of other NATO allies have done the job they have been trained to do with courage and valor, but they are also tired and over-extended and they deserve our very best diplomatic efforts to reach a broad-based consensus within the fractured Afghanistan society. It is time to bring our combat troops home.
As followers of the Prince of Peace we join with Jesus who mourned over the holy city when he said, O Jerusalem, "if you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes" (Luke 19:42). We pray for you, Mr. President, that as you look with courage and clarity on the situation in Afghanistan that the ways of peace may not be hidden from your eyes.
In the name of peace, Mr. President, we prayerfully urge you to turn in a dramatic way toward a diplomatic resolution that would bring to the fractured Afghani society a light amidst their darkness. Such a bold move would invigorate the momentum of peace around the world.
You remain in our heart-felt prayers, Mr. President, as you make these important decisions regarding the war in Afghanistan.
Stephen D. Jones
for the Board and Staff of the
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America