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On US Government's Violence and Revenge: An Open Letter to President Obama

June 22th, 2011

Dear Mr. President,

As you know, on May 1st, NATO forces tried unsuccessfully to assassinate the Libyan Head of State, Muammar Gadaffi. This attempt to assassinate the Libyan Head of State was a war crime under U.S. Army law, and punishable as an international crime in its own right. During the attack by NATO forces, one of President Gadaffi’s sons and three of Gadaffi’s grandchildren were killed by NATO forces.

The following day, May 2nd, the state terrorism of the U.S. government continued with the extra-judicial killing and assassination of Osama Bin Laden, and the woman and two men who were with him, by the U.S. Special Seals. After the assassination you, Mr. President, addressed the media and attempted to make acceptable the idea that such violence is just and acceptable.

Do you and your government and the allies who support you really believe that the vast majority of men and women around the world have lost all sense of what is right and what is wrong? Do you really believe that we have all abandoned all sense of decency and ethical values exchanging them in support of your illegal killing of unarmed civilians? Do you really believe we will all remain silent while under your warrior leadership the U.S. government and its allies dismantle basic human rights and international laws, so long fought for by brave, courageous men and women (including Americans), only to replace these with extrajudicial killings, torture and assassinations?

Three months into the French, English, Italian led NATO/U.S. campaign (never sanctioned by U.S. Law) and shamefully agreed to by the United Nations (who said the purpose of the operation was the protection of Libyan citizens!), people of conscience are horrified to hear that, yet again, on June l9th, NATO has carried out more air attacks on Libya, killing 15 unarmed civilians, including women and children.

After September 11, 2001, the whole world shared the grief of the American people. Many hoped that those who carried out such horrendous acts would be brought to justice through the courts. We were moved by many of the families who lost loved ones when they started September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows,” and called for justice not revenge.

However, violence and revenge is the chosen path of the U.S. government and its allies, who for ten years now have embarked on a path of violence and war. Over 6,000 U.S. soldiers have died needlessly and countless thousands have been injured physically and mentally. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in pursuit of vengeance have left over l million Iraqis killed and over 50,000 Afghanis killed. The U.S. led, so-called, “war on terrorism” has “terrorized” unarmed civilians by carrying out aerial bombardments, night raids, death squads, extra-judicial killings and drone attacks. Many unarmed civilians, including women and children, continue to suffer and die to this day.

In a world struggling to birth a new consciousness, it is incredulous that the best the U.S. government, NATO and their allies can offer to the world is the outdated example of violence, militarism, and war, which continue to kill people and destroy the environment.

I believe real change and leadership is coming from the people’s movements. The real force for change is happening around the world among the masses of extraordinary men and women rising up, mostly peacefully and nonviolently, in country after country, in a strong demand for human dignity, equality, freedom and democracy and against violence, oppression, injustice and war. We all take great hope and inspiration from the “Arab Spring” and join in solidarity with our courageous Arab brothers and sisters in this nonviolent work for change.

A new dawn, a new age of civilization is coming. It will be an age of solidarity, where each person is dedicated to “protective love” for each other and for our world. It will be an age of nonviolent evolution where we solve our problems by peaceful means not by violence, war or nuclear weapons.

The peoples of the world are sending a clear message to you, Mr. President, and to NATO, and to all governments and armed opposition groups--military solutions to ethnic/political/economic problems no longer work. We need to end all occupations (by the U.S. in Iraq/Afghanistan, by Israel in Palestine), declare ceasefires (in Libya and elsewhere), and enter into dialogue and negotiations with all parties to end our conflicts. Through these nonviolent means, we can begin to solve these problems, and get at the roots of all conflict, which are inequality and injustice.

Mr. President, you came into office promising change and you gave the world hope. You lit new passion in the hearts of many men and women longing for change, for dialogue and negotiation, for an end to destructive militarism and nuclear weapons. That passion remains in the heart of humanity as can be seen in the mass nonviolent movements for social and political change taking place around the world.

Will you, Mr. President, take this great opportunity in human history and help lead the world to a new beginning of peace? In the words of the late President John F. Kennedy, let’s “begin again the quest for peace.”

Yours in Peace,

Mairead Corrigan Maguire

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Mairead Maguire

Mairead Corrigan Maguire won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book, The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See:

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