‘State Violence & Killing Is Not the Answer’


Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate – TRANSCEND Media Service

Open Letter to the President of the United States of America, Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

As you know, on 1st May, 20ll NATO forces tried unsuccessfully to assassinate the Libyan head of state Muammar Gaddafi.  This assassination attempt on the Libyan head of state was a war crime under the US Army law, and punishable as an international crime in its own right. During the attack by NATO forces one of President Gaddafi’s sons and three of his grandchildren were killed.

The following day, 2nd May 20ll, the extra-judicial killing and assassination of Osama bin Laden and of a woman and two men who were with him by the Navy SEALs, the United States Navy’s Sea, Air and Land Teams, continued the state terrorism by the US government. After the assassinations you, Mr. President, addressed the media attempting to make it acceptable, that the violence was just.

Do you, 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 abandoned our sense of decency and ethical values to support your illegal killings of unarmed civilians?  Do you really believe we will remain silent whilst under your warrior leadership the  US government and its allies dismantle  basic human rights and international laws, so long fought for by brave, courageous men and women (including Americans), replacing them with extrajudicial killings, torture and assassinations?

Three months into the French, English, Italian led NATO/US campaign, never sanctioned by the US Congress and shamefully agreed to by the UN, which identified the purpose of the operation to be the protection of citizens (!), people of conscience are horrified that yet again, on l9th June, NATO had carried out more air attacks on Libya, killing 15 unarmed civilians, including women and children.

After 9/11 the whole world shared the grief of the American people, and many hoped that those responsible for such horrendous actions would be brought to justice through the courts.  We were moved by the many families that lost loved ones when they started ‘Families for a Peaceful Tomorrow’ and called for justice, not revenge.   However, violence and revenge was the chosen course of action of the US government and its allies, which for ten years embarked on a path of violence, destruction and war.

As of now, over 6,000 American soldiers have needlessly died and countless thousand others injured physically and/or mentally.  Wars in Iraq (over l million Iraqis killed) and Afghanistan (over 50,000 Afghans killed) were carried out by the USA in their pursuit of vengeance. The US led so-called ‘war on terrorism’ in Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan has ‘terrorised’ unarmed civilians by carrying out aerial bombardments, night raids, death squads, extra-judicial killings and drone attacks killing many unarmed civilians, including women and children. Tragically this continues to this day.

In a world struggling to give rise to a new consciousness, is it not unbelievable that the best the US government, NATO and its allies can offer as a model to world citizens is the outdated example of violence, militarism and war, destroying humans and their environments?

I believe that real change and leadership is coming from the peoples’ movements. What is happening around the world amongst the masses, extraordinary men and women rising up, mostly peacefully and non-violently, in country after country, for human dignity, equality, freedom and democracy, and against violence, oppression, injustice and war, is the real force for change. We all take great hope and inspiration from the ‘Arab Spring’ and join in solidarity with our courageous Arab brothers and sisters in working for change.

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

The peoples of the world are sending a clear message to you Mr. President, to NATO and all governments and armed opposition groups, that there are no military solutions possible to these ethnic/political/economic problems, but only through ending occupations (USA -Iraq/Afghanistan, Israel-Palestine) declaring ceasefires (Libya, etc.,) and entering into dialogues and negotiations with all parties to the conflicts. Only then can we begin solving these problems, the roots of which are inequality and injustice.

Mr. President, you came into office promising change and gave the world hope. You lit the passion in the hearts of many men and women longing for change, for dialogue and negotiation, to move beyond destructive militarism, nuclear weapons and war.   That passion remains in the heart of humanity as can be seen in the nonviolent mass 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 so we can, in the words of the late President John F. Kennedy,  ‘Begin again the quest for peace?’

Yours in Peace,

Mairead Corrigan Maguire (Nobel Peace Laureate)

20th June, 20ll


Mairead Maguire won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her actions to end the violence in her native Northern Ireland. In the last 10 years, she has travelled to Israel and Palestine promoting human rights and nonviolent resistance.

Maguire is a founding member of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment.



This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Jun 2011.

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