Associate for Global Advocacy and Education
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
President Obama says the U.S. “will do everything we can” to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons, and consequently would not rule out military action. However he said “[o]ur goal is to resolve this issue diplomatically, that would be preferable.” The President is right to favor the plowshare over the sword, but should be wary of sparks that could lead to the next conflagration in the Middle East.
The U.S. cannot afford another war. The American public is just coming to terms with the devastating cost, in lives and dollars, of two ill-considered wars. We will not casually accept another. There is little international support for a war. Europe is preoccupied with economic crisis, and global heavyweights Russia and China, who so far have agreed to economic sanctions against Iran, just vetoed UN actions against Syria to prevent military intervention there. While Arab states also want to keep Iran from getting the bomb, hearts and minds in the Middle East would not favor another U.S. war in the region, especially with the “Arab Spring” showing that democratic reforms are possible from within.
But even if diplomatic pressure grows, and Iran can “feel the pinch” of economic sanctions, there’s a risk a spark could ignite a war despite Washington’s preference for diplomacy. One spark might be Israel. Israel might act more precipitously than the U.S. to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. Israel took unilateral strikes against Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 to knock out their nuclear facilities. Israel may not wait for United Nations’ nuclear inspectors currently on the ground before deciding to handle the matter itself.
But even a limited Israeli airstrike risks enflaming the region. Not only would Iran retaliate, but its ally Hezb’allah could launch an attack from Lebanon. Syria’s regime, currently divided against its people, may regain support if it joins the fight. The U.S. would not stand by if Israel is attacked. Consequently, to avoid being drawn into a much wider conflict, the U.S. should do everything possible to restrain Israel from attacking.
A careless move by Iran could also ignite the region. Though not committed to confrontation itself, Iran has threatened actions that might provoke an armed response. Iran has boasted it might disrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. This waterway facilitates up to a quarter of the world’s oil, and a blockade would have a severe global impact. The U.S. and its allies would promptly force open the Strait, but the price of oil could double. A spike in fuel prices would be politically costly in this election year and a big hit on businesses in this fragile economy.
However much Obama wants to avoid war, the situation is highly volatile. Any spark could inadvertently enflame the region and entangle the U.S. in another war that would cost lives, dollars desperately needed at home, and America’s political capital around the world. However, if the U.S. is committed to vigorous and creative diplomacy with Iran, and successfully constrains Tehran’s nuclear ambitions through negotiation, then Washington will gain much-needed support for addressing more urgent situations in the region and around the world. Most importantly, though, President Obama will have avoided the “next” war in the Middle East just as the previous ones draw to an end.
The United Church of Christ has more than 5,277 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.
An estimated 925 million people globally will go hungry today. Seven billion people share the planet and by 2050 the world’s population is expected to increase to 9 billion people. This increase will put enormous pressure on global food capacity. Added to that, more people in Western-style and growing economies are adopting a high calorie, meat-based diet, and the price of staples - like corn used for cattle feed - continue to rise as a proportion of daily living expenses for the poor.
Environmental degradation and crop damage due to climate change, the rise of biofuels, and agricultural distortions due to export farming add to the instability of local food cultures, creating conditions of increased food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition.
Why are hunger and food security issues of faith?
In Matthew 25:35 and 25:40, Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me…..Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”
In this compelling scripture, Jesus includes even those we do not know as those with whom we must share our food, our water, and our welcome. He does not distinguish between the “deserving’ or undeserving” poor, nor does he make a distinction between those who live close to us and those who may live in other places. He calls all his followers to share what we have and to work towards a time when all people have enough food and water for their needs.
In 2009, the General Synod of the UCC passed a resolution on the Global Food Crisis, calling on the church “to advocate for strengthening sustainable agricultural and fishing practices.”
In 2011, the General Synod of the UCC passed a Resolution for Mindful and Healthy Eating, challenging our members and congregations to explore and discuss how food choices can accord with Christian values and beliefs.
Observe the Global Churches Week on Action on Food
We are called to work for a world where everyone has sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food! And where those who produce and prepare the food are fairly compensated, respected and celebrated!
The Global Food Week of Action (October 9-17) is an opportunity for Christians and others around the world to act together for food justice and food sovereignty. It is a special time to raise awareness about farming approaches that help individuals and communities develop resiliency and combat poverty. Beyond examining our food choices, we must also recognize the lingering roots of racism embedded in our food system, which was founded on slavery and plantation agriculture, and still exploits the environment and the workers in the food chain. We call for societal and policy changes that bring us closer to realizing the right to food for everyone.
The Food Week of Action includes World Food Day (October 16), International Day for Rural Women (October 15), International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17), and National Food Day (October 24).
- Download the *New* Food Week of Action and World Food Day Resource (September 2016) - Churches Week of Action on Food is an initiative of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance's Food For Life Campaign.
- Connect - Join the global Food Week event on Facebook
- Promote the Solidarity Actions for 2016:
The UCC Collegium of Officers invites and encourages all conferences, associations and congregations to participate and engage in dialogue and discussion using the Just Eating Curriculum.
This resource is especially relevant for UCC congregations in light of the General Synod 28 Resolution for Mindful and Faithful Eating. In it, General Synod notes that "Our dietary choices can have profound implications for the environment, human well-being, and animal welfare." It goes on to call on all Christians to "explore and discuss how food choices can accord with Christian values and beliefs."
This wonderful curriculum calls us to integrate the commitments and practices of our faith into the way we eat. We think it will be a great enhancement to your work around food justice and sustainability issues. Learn more.
Take the conversation further - Download the 'Just Eating?'curriculum!
- Bread for the World conducts research and policy advocacy on food and aid, and promotes other anti-hunger programs.
- Public-Private Partnerships: Working to Reduce Global Hunger - A faith community discussion paper produced by the Maryknoll Office on Global Concerns
- Ecumenical Advocacy Days – At God’s Table: Food Justice for a Healthy World | April 5-8, 2013
- One Great Hour of Sharing connects you with a variety of hunger assistance and development opportunities.
- Fairness for farm workers connects you with the people who make food security possible – both locally and on large farms.
- Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance – Food for People Campaign sponsors the Churches’ Week of Action on Food. The week in October goes from Monday to Monday and incorporates the International Day for Rural Women (October 15), World Food Day (October 16) and the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (October 17).
- The UCC Poverty Page is a site with resources and educational materials linking issues of poverty, economic justice, and hunger.
- Visit the ecumenical Faithful Budget campaign site for information on our nation’s budgetary priorities to learn more about protecting funding for foreign aid and domestic food programs.
- Church World Service provides resources, advocacy and partners with churches in development projects and emergency assistance. CWS Crop Walks are opportunities for local communities to raise awareness and money for hunger programs.