Monday, January 01, 2007

3000 Dead, Candle Vigils and "Peacemaker Teams"

[See "Note" below for "UI President Search."]

Jan. 1: With now 3000 dead American military in Iraq, along with tens of thousands of Iraq citizens, citizens of Iowa City gathered downtown on a very cold winter's night on this first day of the New Year to pay our respects in silence, where we've gathered before, stretched out along Clinton Street, with Old Capitol in the background. It would be nice to provide electric lights on a regular basis to those in Iraq. A few candles in Iowa City don't provide much light over there. But it's "doing something," at least in the terms a silent candle vigil can, to recognize the carnage to which we've contributed 3000 of our own -- along with hundreds of billions of dollars in the additional debt we're leaving to our grandchildren, and the additional billions it will take to rebuild that land of great cultural tradition.

Standing next to me were my wife and son on one side, and on the other a woman I'd never met before who had only just arrived in Iowa City from three years in Iraq. It turned out that she and her friend both belonged to an organization called "Christian Peacemaker Teams." (If you're interested in learning more about this organization -- the mission of which is to "devote the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war" -- its Web site is

So we invited Maxine and Carol to join us for dinner afterwards at a local Indian restaurant (the Masala) where we had a fascinating conversation about the work of the CPT. It turns out that there are options for those who want to "do something" more than just hold candles. Theirs is quite a story.

[Note on UI President Search: If you're new to this blog, and interested in the whole UI President Search story, these blog entries begin with Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search I," November 18, 2006. For any given entry, links to the prior 10 will be found in the left-most column. Going directly to will take you to the latest. Each contains links to the full text of virtually all known media stories and commentary, including mine, since the last blog entry. Together they represent what The Chronicle of Higher Education has called "one of the most comprehensive analyses of the controversy." The last time there was an entry containing the summary of prior entries' commentary (with the heading "This Blog's Focus on Regents' Presidential Search") is Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search XIII -- Last Week," December 11, 2006. My early proposed solution to the conflict is provided in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search VII: The Answer," November 26, 2006. And the fullest collection of basic documents related to the search is contained in Nicholas Johnson, "UI President Search - Dec. 21-25," December 21, 2006 (and updated thereafter), at the bottom of that blog entry under "References".]

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