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What's the Alternative to Military Action Against Iraq?
Why Is Our Best Option Invisible?

by Glen Gersmehl

Despite the dangers outlined by Colin Powell in his presentation to the UN Security Council, the majority of Americans still feel uncomfortable with a US war against Iraq. As Christians, our difficulty with a violent response is rooted in the explicit and often repeated teachings of Jesus.

The tremendous risks of war -- to our soldiers, to the Iraqi people, to our economy, to the war on terrorism, to US relations with our allies and the Muslim world -- have received serious if sporadic media attention. But it is striking that in all these months, only a tiny handful of articles or editorials have offered more than a few sentences exploring a realistic alternative to military action that goes beyond diplomacy.

As important as diplomacy is, it represents just one dimension of that alternative, just one type of power aside from military power. Consider this: In just the past twenty years, a third of the world has experienced change brought about by nonviolent movements, successful beyond anyone's wildest expectations. They succeeded against some of the most ruthless regimes of the 20th Century: Marcos in the Philippines, apartheid in South Africa, Ceausescu in Romania. Most were completely nonviolent on the part of the participants.

If you stretch the time frame back 50 years to include the liberation of India, the anti-Nazi resistance in Denmark and Norway, and the U.S. civil rights movement, the number of people affected rises to two-thirds of the world's population! "All this in the teeth of the assertion, endlessly repeated, that nonviolence doesn't work in the 'real' world," as Walter Wink emphasizes in his path-breaking books such as The Powers That Be.

    Think about it: The most successful route to "regime change" in our time has been absent from the public debate about Iraq! Before we take another step toward war, we owe it to ourselves, the Iraqi people, the war on terrorism, and the world community to explore that option. A crucial place to start is to examine the misconceptions and distortions of nonviolence that get in the way of our grasping its true strength and potential. Here are a few:

1. Military power isn't the only kind of power. It is hard to respond to challenges like Iraq or terrorism if our principal concept of power is military power, dominating power, "power over." Nonviolence is not passivity or weakness but an entirely different form of power, reflected in such phrases "power with" or "moral power" or Gandhi's preferred term, satyagraha: "truth force." While the popular view of nonviolence centers on its morality and integrity, it is equally about power, about changing things. Nonviolence takes as much discipline, leadership, planning, and creativity as the use of lethal force. It also offers a much broader menu of tools and tactics than those available to military options.

2. When your only tool is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. If you have any doubts, just follow the money: The 2003 US federal budget again provides over 200 times as much money to the military as it does to all our nonviolent responses to conflict combined -- US contributions to peacekeeping operations, State Dept. conflict resolution efforts, and US Institute of Peace research and training programs. Even if you add all the money the US spends to address the root causes of violence in the world -- programs like the Peace Corps and development aid -- nonviolent methods don't receive even 2% of the money spent on military options! (Far from being extravagant, the US trails every industrialized nation in the world in per capita spending to address the root causes of violence: hunger and extreme poverty.)

3. The mythology that 'violence works' has been cultivated at every turn in our national life. The US gained its independence through the Revolutionary War, right? Maybe not: John Adams and other leaders understood that our freedom was mostly won by nonviolent means before the fighting began. The colonists used many nonviolent tactics such as organizing resistance to oppressive British measures like the Stamp Act); boycotting symbols of our economic dependency such as British cloth, and WTO-style guerrilla theatre like the Boston Tea Party. But the war gets all the credit and has been used ever since to justify military actions that would have been unthinkable to colonists -- remember, they even chose not to have a standing army!

4. Contrary to the popular view that military power may be crude but at least it works, US military action throughout history has been notably counterproductive. Think about countries in which the US has intervened directly or through others since World War II: Iran, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic and the French in Vietnam in the 1950s; Vietnam, Laos, and Indonesia in the 1960s; Chile, Cambodia, and Angola in the 1970s; Afghanistan, Nicaragua, and Iraq's war with Iran in the 1980s; Iraq and Colombia in the 1990s?. Such interventions have so often proved counterproductive that the CIA coined a term for it -- blowback. (The word became the title of a revealing book on the problem by Chalmers Johnson, a Reagan Republican.) Even wars considered "successful" have often caused serious future problems.

5. Military action is frequently portrayed as patriotic and the product of our highest democratic ideals when, in fact, it is profoundly undemocratic. . It is a truism that leadership in military units is not democratic, but we mean more than that. War and militarism invariably undermine progress toward democracy -- on both sides of a conflict. Moreover, spending on defense generally comes at the expense of social programs. For example, one cost of the enormous levels of US arms sales is that we have often contributed to instability and insecurity in conflict areas around the world.

6. War tends to foster and provide an excuse for authoritarianism; it is nonviolence that is democratic. While many Americans expected that the "war on terrorism" would lead to increased government surveillance, both citizens and civil liberties experts have been dismayed at the intrusive new powers now in the hands of the military and law enforcement. These effects of militarism -- reducing democracy and fostering authoritarianism -- also work to undermine what makes the alternative effective: the democratic social cohesion that takes nonviolence beyond the merely symbolic gesture to being, in Desmond Tutu's words, "A force more powerful."

7. There is an unconscious double standard in comparing military action and nonviolence. When a few people are injured or killed or there are complications in a nonviolent action or movement, it is quickly asserted that nonviolence doesn't work. Yet a war can kill tens of thousands of people and produce horrendous problems and no one says, "this proves violence doesn't work!"

8. Don't wait until most of the opportunities to use this alternative are already gone. When people ask: "How would nonviolence deal with Hitler?" they're usually thinking "in 1939 or 1940." The real question is "What should the world have done in 1931, 1925, and 1918?" When we address conflicts in their earlier stages, we also strengthen our ability to craft creative responses to the more difficult question of what to do when a Hitler has risen to power. Fortunately, despite the similarities between Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein, their relative power in the world and their region is vastly different.

The alternative of nonviolence alone offers the possibility of achieving our goals in Iraq without the terrible costs and uncertainties of war. We Christians have an additional reason in the explicit, often repeated teachings of Jesus, e.g. "You have heard it said, an eye for an eye, but I say, do not react violently against the one who does evil." (Matt. 5: 38-39a, Scholars Version.) Theologian Walter Wink offers an illuminating understanding of this passage as a call for Christians to follow 'Jesus' Third Way '— neither violence nor passivity, but disciplined resistance to evil as demonstrated by Jesus, and later Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Desmond Tutu, Dorothy Day and many others. As Christians, as citizens, and as a nation, we urgently need to explore the power and potential of that alternative.

Part II:

The "Invisible Option" in Action

There is an alternative in Iraq beyond the false choice of war versus passivity or appeasement. But that alternative has been all but invisible in the debate about Iraq because of misconceptions and distortions. In this part we'll examine over a dozen insights that nonviolence offers for a more effective response to Iraq. These can be grouped into three categories. The first includes examples that leaders and newspapers in every part of the world have been trying to convey to US political leaders with mixed success.

1. What can we learn from government activity? Shelves of books and reports have been written to assemble and pass on the lessons which the US and other countries can learn from recent history about how to deal with dictators like Saddam Hussein. Here's short list of such insights of particular relevance to Iraq: Use restraint; excessive force backfires. Work to discover the roots of conflict and to craft ways to interrupt, rather than feed, the "cycle of violence." Support the groups within Iraq that are working for justice and human rights. Don't create enemies; in particular, don't make it any easier for a dictator like Hussein to rally support from citizens whose real interest is in throwing off their shackles not defending their oppressor.

Seek broad international support. (It seems the US did so only to pave the way for military action.) Use and strengthen international institutions to give legitimacy to our response and to erode support for Hussein. Put at least as much resources and attention on preventive as on corrective measures; thus, a top priority should be programs to reduce hunger and extreme poverty and encourage sustainable development. In short, work to stop dangerous activity and support democracy and human rights, not force a war that creates more problems than it can ever solve. But government action can only take us so far. Here's the next step:

2. What we can learn from social movements in challenging situations? History books and political leaders, including our own, tend to emphasize the activity of presidents and generals rather than citizen action in shaping history. Yet in virtually every historical era and in every part of the world, nonviolent movements have succeeded in bringing about major change, including "regime change" of governments every bit as brutal as that of Saddam Hussein. They employed strategies and tactics that many governments seem to prefer not to be widely understood. They utilized forms of power that in effectiveness are comparable to military power but without its limitations. Here are a few examples:

¨The Danish and Norwegian resistance to Hitler implemented a variety of strategies that had this in common: withdrawal of support from the Nazis. Strategies included strikes by workers, public boycotts, defiance by teachers, and sabotage. By the end of the war, Nazi leaders were cabling Berlin to urge that the Germans withdraw -- the costs of staying outweighed the benefits! While thousands of protesters were imprisoned or killed, casualties were far fewer than armed resistance would have caused.

¨The 'People Power' movement in the Philippines successfully toppled the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986. This nonviolent "regime change" was made possible by extensive training in the theory and methods of nonviolence. There are many organizations that could share information and training on nonviolence among the majority that dislikes and is oppressed by the regime of Saddam Hussein (a task made easier by the internet and various mass media).

¨The opposition to the 1991 coup attempt in Russia faced ruthless generals commanding four million soldiers and tens of thousands of tanks, planes, and artillery. Yet a hundred thousand unarmed citizens were able to surround the Russian parliament building, protect Boris Yeltsin, and prevent the coup from succeeding. Resistance leaders had studied the Philippine and other examples.

¨The end of apartheid in South Africa was delayed for years by ANC violence but ultimately was achieved by what Desmond Tutu called "A Force More Powerful?" (later the name of an award-winning PBS film series and book). Outside groups and governments helped with media coverage, diplomacy, nonviolence training, and economic pressure -- all helpful in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's regime is even more dependent on the sale of oil for its survival than South Africa was on trade.

¨In the Americas we can examine the nonviolent strategies that all but won the American Revolution before the fighting began, or the successful overthrow of eleven Latin American presidents between 1931 and 1961. The US civil rights movement offers dozens of examples of nonviolent strategies and tactics, often in very hostile conditions. Additional tactics were refined by movements advocating for the environment, Central America, farmworkers, and economic equality. Yet few Americans have grasped the nature and power of such nonviolent strategies in our own country and hemisphere.

One could cite many more examples -- Gandhi in India and the East European revolutions of 1989 are two other well-known ones. (Our Path of Hope exhibit offers over 100 such inspiring stories throughout history.) In each case, success came not to the side with superior military power, but to the side with genuine popular support and the ability to grasp the power of organized, creative, committed nonviolent engagement. Such examples also illustrate this reality: political leaders, even dictators, derive their power from the people and there are more ways to withdraw that power than to command it. Can we get creative?

3. How about a global nonviolent peace army? Many organizations around the world (including at least a dozen in the US) are expanding third party intervention beyond peacekeeping to nonviolent intervention, "peacebuilding," and conflict transformation. They are gaining expertise in the specifics of training for, organizing, leading, and implementing nonviolent action. Reporters and scholars alike have applauded the effectiveness of groups like Peace Brigades International and the Christian Peacemaker Teams engaging conflicts in the West Bank, Colombia, Chiapas, and elsewhere. Their accompaniment is credited with saving the lives of local leaders, supporting indigenous organizing, providing mediation and conflict resolution services, and bringing international attention and pressure to end government abuses. (see the resource list for references to case studies, articles, and books on these and other models).

In addition, several groups in the US are working on full-fledged alternatives to military action along the lines of Gandhi's Shanti Sena, or Badshah Khan's Peace Army. The most ambitious is Nonviolent Peaceforce which is well along the way to fielding a force of several hundred people to be expanded to several thousand in a few years. They will be well trained in nonviolent intervention, with full logistic support, able to intervene in conflicts anywhere in the world. If such efforts received even a tiny fraction of the funds allocated for military options, they would demonstrate what we've seen in virtually every part of the globe and in every historical era: that nonviolent citizen movements can bring about lasting change, against even ruthless opposition, and not just add one more turn in the cycle of violence.

After World War II, top Nazi military leaders were interviewed systematically and at great length to assemble and record the lessons that could be learned. A striking outcome was that the Nazis reported having an easier time dealing with the violent resistance of the partisans in Yugoslavia or France than the nonviolent strategies in Denmark, Norway, or Romania. The first problem in consider this spectrum of alternatives to military action in Iraq is that Americans are wedded to stereotypes and misunderstandings that nonviolence is weakness or passivity. We need to make a conscious effort to set aside those myths in order to grasp its potential as "a force more powerful" than war. A force that has brought fundamental change in countless large-scale cases throughout history. A force that has brought tyrants to their knees.

There are a dozen good reasons to oppose a war with Iraq: The Iraqi people have suffered enough and would bear the brunt of military action. It is not in the US interest to start a war considered unjust by most religious leaders and opposed by the great majority of people in both allied and Arab countries. Preemptive use of force sets a dangerous precedent. US military action is likely to spark more terrorism, make us less safe, and encourage further ethnic and racial prejudice and hostility. War with Iraq diverts attention from addressing the root causes of conflict and terrorism like extreme poverty and hunger. It distracts and drains funds from other priorities like the economy, schools, health care, and the environment. To all these reasons we can add this: There is a practical, tested, creative alternative to war. And it's a more Christian option.

We owe it to ourselves, the people of Iraq, the stability of the Middle East, and our standing in the world to put the brakes on the US rush to war. Let's spend the coming weeks discussing and reading about the history, depth, and effectiveness of the nonviolent perspective on power and conflict. Let us urge our schools, libraries, churches, and community groups to show "A Force More Powerful," the award-winning video series (broadcast on PBS) that examines nonviolence around the world. And let us together, as a democratic people, insist on a more effective, more ethical alternative than war with Iraq.

4. Nonviolence at home. Over 30,000 Americans have signed the "Peace Pledge" promising to take action, including civil disobedience, if the US moves toward war with Iraq. Groups are forming across the country. In early December, the Seattle Times reported that 2000 Seattle-area citizens gathered for half a day to organize nonviolent resistance to this war. A few looked like 60s hippies; most looked like the nurses and teachers, students and office workers, parents and patriots they were. They reminded me of Henry David Thoreau who went to jail in 1846 for refusing to pay the tax levied to fund the US war with Mexico that he considered immoral. When a friend asked why he was in jail, he replied, "Why are you not here!"

Glen Gersmehl serves as national coordinator of Lutheran Peace Fellowship. For additional nonviolent success stories and an annotated list of sources, see The author may be reached at:

About the author: Glen Gersmehl serves as national coordinator of Lutheran Peace Fellowship. His peacemaking and security expertise led to his being selected as the US delegate to the meetings held in India to help plan the UN Decade for Peace. Mr. Gersmehl has worked as a consultant or presented testimony for twenty federal agencies, committees of Congress, and other govern-met bodies, as well as for major policy organizations such as the Federation of American Scientists. He earned a graduate degree in conflict and international security from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government following ten year's work in the highest crime areas of NY City and Oakland. He has taught in university programs in conflict and peace studies. Earlier versions of this essay appeared in the Peace Chronicle and the Journal of Lutheran Ethics. For an annotated list of sources and recommended reading on full range of issues raised here, see:
Earlier versions of this essay appeared in the Peace Chronicle and the Journal of Lutheran Ethics.

Sources and Further Directions: Recommended Reading
Why is Our Best Option Invisible?

 David Beckmann and Arthur Simon, Grace at the Table, (Paulist Press, 1999), stories and insights on ending hunger by Bread for the World leaders; see also BfW's annual volumes of analysis and case studies; Frances Moore Lappe, et al, World Hunger: Twelve Myths (Grove, 1998), a good overview of causes and solutions; Kevin Danaher and Roger Burbach, eds., Globalize This! (Common Courage Press, 2000), 26 brief essays on the challenge of globalization

Budget Game in PeaceNotes, Spring 2002 (LPF) and available on its web site,   Figures are from the US Budget, FY 2003, (US Government Printing Office), print and CD form, Office of Management and Budget and at See especially, "FY 2003 International Affairs Summary" and "DoD Account Tables."  For commentary and critiques see

Walter H. Conser, Jr., et al, eds., Resistance, Politics, and the American Struggle for Independence (Lynne Rienner, 1986), the source of the Adams view of nonviolence in the Rev. War. See also Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States (HarperCollins, '99), a celebrated effort to rediscover US history from the perspective of everyday people.

Chalmers Johnson, Blowback (Henry Holt, 2000) analyzes the costs of an overly-militarized foreign policy; follow-up article on 9-11 in The Nation, Oct. '01: Also Jonathan Kwitney's Endless Enemies (Congdon and Weed, 1984), a credible survey of US cold-war policy; as a Wall Street Journal reporter for a decade, Kwitney's credentials are unimpeachable.

Frances Moore Lappe, et al, World Hunger: Twelve Myths (Grove, 1998), a good overview of causes and solutions; see also the Bread for the World annual Hunger Report of analysis and data (; Kevin Danaher and Roger Burbach, eds., Globalize This! (Common Courage Press, 2000), 26 brief essays on the challenge of globalization

Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States (HarperCollins, 1980, 1995, 1999), a celebrated effort to rediscover our country's history from the point of view and experience of everyday people: "history from below." See also Walter H. Conser, Jr., et al, eds., Resistance, Politics, and the American Struggle for Independence (Lynne Rienner, 1986)

Wink's Engaging the Powers (Augsburg Fortress, 1992) is tremendously helpful in exploring the depth and insight of the biblical perspective on violence and nonviolence; a more concise version is The Powers that Be (Doubleday, 1998); see also John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (Eerdmans, 1994), and When War is Unjust (Orbis, 1996).

Stephen Zunes, Tinderbox: US Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2002), the best of the books on the current situation combining historical background, policy analysis, and alternative options 

The "Invisible Option" In Action

1. A sampling of articles relevant to the issues raised in this section (links to all of them are on the LPF web site):

Peter Ackerman and Jack DuVall, "With weapons of the will: How to topple Saddam Hussein, nonviolently,"

David Cortright and George Lopez, "Disarming Iraq: Nonmilitary Strategies" Arms Control Today, 9-02,

David Grant, "Large Scale Unarmed Peacekeeping,"

David C. Korten, "From Empire to Earth Community,"

Michael N. Nagler, "Building a New Force," YES!  magazine, fall 2002,

Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, "Armed conflict and nonviolent intervention,"

Jim Wallis, "Disarm Iraq without War," Sojourners,

"Facts for Action?" a list with web addresses of several dozen of the most useful articles on war with Iraq, underlying political, social, and moral issues, and alternatives:

2. Web sites of groups with significant programs of nonviolent intervention of various types include:

Nonviolent Peace Force:  Note especially "Frequently Asked Questions about the Nonviolent Peaceforce," Nonviolent Peaceforce Proposal, and the in depth Feasibility Study cited below

Christian Peacemaker Teams:   archive of:

Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel:

Global Exchange:

Peace Brigades International:  

Peaceful Ends, Peaceful Means (archive):


Witness for Peace:  

Other useful sites include:    

Especially useful sites on Iraq:

3. Especially useful book-length overviews and surveys:

William Ackerman and Jack DuVall, A Force More Powerful (St. Martin's, 2000), the companion volume to the celebrated video series narrated by Ben Kingsley, the PBS series examines six large-scale, successful nonviolent movements on five continents. The videos are $39.95 for all six parts from Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 800-257-5126. The book examines a number of additional case studies and provides useful background, extensive analysis, and photos

Elise Boulding, Cultures of Peace (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2000), wide-ranging essays by one of our best thinkers

Ken Butigan with Patricia Bruno, From Violence to Wholeness (Pace e Bene, 1999), outstanding manual on the spirit and practice of nonviolence geared for small group use -- distributed by PJRC and LPF with a 50-page supplement

Robert Cooney and Helen Michalowski, The Power of the People (New Society, 1987), an excellent illustrated history of nonviolence

Eknath Easwaran, Gandhi the Man (Nilgiri, 1972, 1978, 1997), a fine brief illustrated biography; Stanley Wolpert, Gandhi's Passion (Oxford, 2001), a wonderful new full-length biography; Especially useful collections include: Thomas Merton, ed., Gandhi on Nonviolence (New Directions, 1964) and Homer Jack, ed., The Gandhi Reader (Grove, 1994); among the best web sites: www.

Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream, James Washington, ed.,(HarperCollins, 1995), a fine brief anthology of King's writings; Richard Deats, Martin Luther King, Jr. (New City, 2000), a brief, well-written overview of King's work and thought

Pam McAllister, You Can't Kill the Spirit and This River of Courage (New Society, 1988, 1991), two collections of terrific stories on women and nonviolence from all over the world -- McAllister also edited Reweaving the Web of Life (New Society, 1982), a rich anthology of essays on women and nonviolence
Robert J. Burrowes, The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach (SUNY, 1996)

Michael Nagler, Is There No Other Way: The Search for a Nonviolent Future (Berkeley Hills, 2001), a stimulating new overview for the general reader
The Power of Nonviolence, introduction by Howard Zinn (Beacon, 2002) two dozen selections from early times to 2002

Glen Stassen, ed., Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War (Pilgrim Press, 1998), a very useful anthology covering a wide range of options from threat reduction and conflict resolution to direct action

William Ury, ed., Must We Fight? From the Battlefield to the Schoolyard -- A New Perspective on Violent Conflict and Its Prevention (Jossey-Bass, 2002) a thought-provoking, brief collection of essays

The Path of Hope, an exhibit of 120 nonviolent movements throughout history used at scores of schools and conferences. A free kit on how to develop a Path (Wall) includes the full text, tips, photos, and sources: (206) 349-2501

Walter Wink, editor, Peace Is the Way (Orbis, 2000), the best anthology on nonviolence we've seen: endlessly insightful;

4. Especially helpful regional analyses and case studies of specific campaigns, organizations, or aspects of :

Building Peace: 35 Inspiring Stories from Around the World (ECCP, IFOR, 1999, available at a discount from Fellowship of Reconciliation, a very well produced volume of case studies

Robert J. Burrowes, The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach (SUNY, 1996)

Howard Clark, Civil Resistance in Kosovo (Pluto Press, 2000) untold story of nonviolent action in the former Yugoslavia

Souad R. Dajani, Eyes Without Country: Searching for a Palestinian Strategy of Liberation (Temple Univ., 1995)

Eknath Easwaran, A Man to Match His Mountains (Nilgiri, 1986), on Badshah Khan, hero of nonviolence in Islam

John Paul Lederach, Building Peace: Sustainable Reconciliation in Divided Societies (USIP, 1997), a well-developed analysis, and Journey Toward Reconciliation (Herald Press, 1999), a personal account

Graeme MacQueen, ed., Unarmed Forces: Nonviolent Action in Central America and the Middle East (Toronto: Science for Peace, 1992) an early, brief and still useful survey

Liam Mahony and Luis Enrique Eguren, Unarmed Bodyguards (Kumarian, 1997), on human rights accompaniment

Ronald McCarthy and Gene Sharp, Nonviolent Action: A Research Guide (Garland, 1997), 700-pg annotated bibliography

Philip McManus and Gerald Schlabach, eds., Relentless Persistence: Nonviolent Action in Latin America (New Society, 1991), a superb anthology with examples from every part of the continent and a stimulating forward by Leonardo Boff

Yshua Moser-Puangsuwan and Thomas Webber, eds., Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders (Univ. of Hawaii, 2000) the best overview of options from accompaniment and humanitarian intervention to reconciliation and interposition

Bill Moyer, Doing Democracy (New Society, 2001), an outstanding exploration of social movements and social change

Roger Powers and William Vogele, eds., Protest, Power, and Change (Garland, 1997), encyclopedia of nonviolent action

Adam Roberts, Civil Resistance in the East European and Soviet Revolutions, and Roland Bleiker, Nonviolent Struggle and the Revolution in East Germany (2 of 7 monographs from the Albert Einstein Institution, 1999, 1993,

Christine Schweitzer, et al, Feasibility Study (Nonviolent Peaceforce, 2002, available at, an impressive 300-page USIP-funded analysis addressing strategy, tactics, activities, personnel, training, etc.

Gene Sharp, Politics of Nonviolent Action (3 volumes, Porter Sargent, 1973), volume 2 offers a detailed elaboration of 198 distinct tactics and strategies of nonviolence; volumes 1 and 3 include many accounts of nonviolence in action

Donald Shriver, An Ethic for Enemies: Forgiveness in Politics (Oxford, 1995), an exceptionally insightful, lucid, and unpretentious study that features five extended case studies

Daniel Smith-Christopher, Subverting Hatred (Orbis, 1998), nine essays on nonviolence perspective in the world's religions

Bill Sutherland and Matt Meyer, Guns and Gandhi in Africa (Africa World Press, 2000), a long overdue interpretation

Thomas Weber, Gandhi's Peace Army: The Shanti Sena and Unarmed Peacekeeping (Syracuse University Press, 1996), the little-known story of Gandhi's considerable efforts to address the issues raised in this article

Walter Wink, When the Powers Fall (Augsburg Fortress, 1998), a brief, stimulating exploration

Stephen Zunes, et al, Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell, 1999), an excellent survey of examples around the world

     As national coordinator of Lutheran Peace Fellowship, Glen Gersmehl directs LPF's Leadership Training in Peacemaking program. He serves on the ELCA Interunit Task Force on the Decade for Peace and on the NGO Steering Committee for the UN Decade for Peace in the US and Canada. His experience working on these issues in the Lutheran Church led to his being invited to serve as one of two dozen delegates from around the world meeting in India to plan nongovernmental organization activity in the UN Decade for Peace. Glen earned a graduate degree in conflict and international security from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government following ten year's work as an organizer and educator in the highest crime areas of NY City and Oakland. An earlier version of this essay appeared in the Journal of Lutheran Ethics. To share reactions with the author contact

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