"The consequences of doing nothing in the face of evil were demonstrated when the world did not stop the Rwandan genocide that killed almost a million people in 1994. Where were the peace protesters then? They were just as silent as they are today in the face of the barbaric behavior of religious fanatics."
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, writing in the Wall Street Journal,
May 13, 2004
A peace laureate acting as an advocate for war might seem odd. Odd, unless you understand that war is not the worst evil known to mankind. And odd, unless you understand that the absence of war is far from being the same thing as peace.
"Some may accuse me of being more of a warmonger than a Nobel laureate," Ramos-Horta wrote. "It is always easier to say no to war, even at the price of appeasement. But being politically correct means leaving the innocent to suffer the world over, from Phnom Penh to Baghdad."
I recalled Ramos-Horta's powerful essay while reading the piddling statement from Christian Peacemaker Teams after coalition forces stormed a house on the outskirts of Baghdad and freed three of the organization's members.
An insurgent group took hostage two Canadians and a Briton along with American Tom Fox on Nov. 26. The kidnappers, the Swords of Righteousness Brigades, murdered Fox in early March.
A break came last week when a man captured and interrogated by the U.S. military divulged information about the location of the three remaining hostages, whom coalition forces promptly rescued.
"Our hearts are filled with joy today as we heard that Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kembler have been freed safely in Baghdad," CPT said in a statement on March 23.
If you didn't know better, you could read the entire press release and draw the conclusion that the Christian Peacemakers had simply compelled a spiritual revelation in Fox's murderers, who then safely freed them.
That's certainly the impression one gets from the intentionally misleading headline Texans for Peace put on its Web site: "3 Peacemakers friends released" not rescued, released.
There are plenty of denunciations in the CPT statement about the illegal occupation of Iraq, the illegal detention of thousands of Iraqis and the pain British and American forces are inflicting on hundreds of thousands of others.
What you won't find in the original statement is a single word of gratitude to the individuals who risked their lives to save those of the Christian Peacemakers.
Later, CPT augmented the original statement with an addendum. "We have been so overwhelmed and overjoyed to have Jim, Harmeet and Norman freed that we have not adequately thanked the people involved with freeing them."
Not adequately? How about not at all?
This is par for the course for CPT. The Chicago-based organization's interest in peace tends only to be proportional with the involvement of the U.S. government.
Christian Peacemakers urgently made it to Iraq in time for the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. But they somehow missed out on his 25-year reign of terror, his gassings of the Kurds and his massacres of Shiites.
Similarly, Christian Peacemakers arrived in Afghanistan at the end of 2001, in time to document the devastation caused by U.S. bombing, but too late to peacefully mediate on behalf of the victims of the Taliban.
Just as the "human shields" were willing to protect the Baathist regime from American bombs but not Iraqi civilians from jihadist bombs, Christian Peacemakers seem committed to "waging peace" only against the United States and its allies. There are today, for instance, Christian Peacemaker Teams in Colombia and "Palestine," but none witnessing the genocide in Sudan.
To turn the other cheek one's own cheek is a principled demonstration of Christian pacificism. To avert one's gaze from evil, to divert the gaze of others and distort their perception of it, is neither principled nor does it advance the cause of real peace.