PHILADELPHIA - March 26 - The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), internationally recognized for its humanitarian relief work in the wake of World Wars I and II, played an integral part organizing March 20 Iraq war anniversary protests. AFSC general secretary Mary Ellen McNish is one of 33 Nobel Peace Laureates and leading scholars who voice their concerns on the war in Iraq in the new book Iraq War and its Consequences: Thoughts of Nobel Peace Laureates and Eminent Scholars.
Presented not as a collective anti-war nor anti-Bush statement, the book also features the Dalai Lama of Tibet, Frederik Willem de Klerk (former President of South Africa), Jose Ramos-Horta (Foreign Minister of East Timor), Irene Khan (Sec-General, Amnesty International) and Mairead Corrigan Maguire, now a leader of the Catholic peace movement.
Scholars include Noam Chomsky (MIT Professor & prominent critic on US foreign policy), Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel laureate in Economics 2001), Sir John Daniel (UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education), John Dower (Pulitzer Prize winner) and Eric Stover (Director of Human Rights Center, UC Berkeley).
At this point in time, it is imperative for some forthrightly intellectually incisive analyses on the Iraq war, says Professor Irwin Abrams, leading authority world-wide on the Nobel Peace Prize and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Antioch University. We need to understand the war from a different perspective than what we read and hear from the news media. There are no better people to hear from, as leading experts and thinkers on world peace than Nobel Peace laureates and certain scholars.
This ambitious new book, published by World Scientific Publishing Co., is co-edited with Professor Wang Gungwu, Director of the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore.
Due to the diverse backgrounds of the laureates and scholars, the topics dealt with in the book range from the economic costs and burden of the war, US foreign policy, human rights issue in Iraq, role of the UN, rebuilding and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and the looting of archaeological artifacts from the Baghdad museum.
Abrams dispels the myths that have surrounded the award over the years such as the popular misconception that Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and later a wealthy munitions-maker, established the prize to assuage his guilt. In fact, the money Nobel made from dynamite came mostly from peacetime use in mining and in the building of great canals and tunnels. A sincere interest in the pacifist movement, not guilt, was what motivated the father of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Founded in 1917 to provide conscientious objectors with an opportunity to aid civilian victims during World War I, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization with offices in 22 countries of the world. During AFSCs first year, it sent young men and women to France where it fed and cared for refugee children, found a maternity hospital, repaired and rebuilt homes, and provided returning refugees with the necessities to restart their lives. After the war ended in 1918, the Service Committees work spread to Russia, where workers helped victims of famine and disease; to Poland and Serbia, where they established an orphanage and helped in agricultural rehabilitation; and to Germany and Austria, where they fed hungry children.
The 1930s brought new challenges. Quaker workers helped refugees escape from Adolf Hitlers Germany; provided relief for children on both sides of the Spanish Civil War; fed refugees in occupied France; and helped victims of the London blitz.
AFSC engaged in relief and reconstruction in many of the countries of Europe after World War II, as well as in India, China, Africa and Japan. In 1947, the AFSC and its European counterpart the British Friends Service Council, accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Quakers worldwide.
As head of the organization Mary Ellen McNish attended the annual summit of Nobel Laureates in Rome, Italy this fall.
Now after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, many Americans fear that these are only battles in a much larger war on terrorism, McNish said during her address to this gathering. They fear that other countriessome named in President Bushs 2001 Axis of Evil speech, and some not may soon be the next targets of Americas new global war.
On whether the views all oppose the war, Prof. Abrams says Those who have held political office, such as Ramos-Horta, Foreign Minister of Timor-Leste and David Trimble of Northern Ireland, tend to support the U.S. policy. On the other hand, those active in the organized peace movement, such as Maguire, Jody Williams, International Ambassador of the Campaign to Ban Landmines, and Cora Weiss, President of the International Peace Bureau (Prize Winner, 1910), are critical of the U.S. war policy. Of course, Noam Chomsky is highly critical of the U.S. William Hartung also speaks, in a hard-hitting factual account, of how the privatization of Iraq reconstruction means high profits for American corporations, such as Halliburton and Bechtel. However, others have more moderate views
On the contents of the book, he says Authors on nation-building in Iraq include Sir John Daniel of UNESCO with his writing on the education of Iraqis after the war, and Professor John E. Dower of M.I.T., a Pulitzer Prize Winner, comparing reconstruction in Iraq to that of Japan after World War II. The impact of the war on human rights is considered by Eric Stover, Director of Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley, Professor Rosemary Foot of Oxford University and Irene Khan (Secretary-General, Amnesty International, Prize Winner, 1977).
The impact of the war on international law is considered by Christian Dominice of Switzerland, Secretary-General of the Institute of International Law (Prize Winner, 1904), and by Professor Richard Falk of Princeton. Archeologists Lord Renfrew of Cambridge University and Professor Benjamin Foster of Yale tell of the unsuccessful efforts to urge Britain and the U.S. to protect the priceless artifacts held by Iraqi museums. Further essays deal with economic costs of the war, possible reform of the United Nations, lessons from the war and other subjects, he says. The volume represents an excellent introduction to the lessons of the war and the problems with which it has left us, as seen from different perspectives
One special feature are the sermons delivered by Bishop Gunnar Stalsett of Oslo, former deputy chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, one on the eve of the war, the other at the memorial service in Oslo one week after the barbaric bomb attack on the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, which killed the U.N, envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello and so many of his staff, added Professor Irwin Abrams.
For every copy of the book sold, funds will be donated to the American Friends Service Committee for its humanitarian relief efforts in Iraq. To help support the AFSC aid efforts in Iraq, copies can be purchased at the following website link http://www.wspc.com.sg/books/general/5381.html, promotional code Iraq/AFSC or from AFSCs web site at http://www.afsc.org/resources/default.htm.
The book,'Iraq War and its Consequences: Thoughts of Nobel Peace Laureates and Eminent Scholars', is published by World Scientific Publishing Co., one of the largest international scientific publishers in science, technology and medicine, with 7 offices worldwide and publication of more than 400 books and 80 journals a year. World Scientific is the exclusive publisher of the Nobel Lectures Series.