Monday, October 27, 2014


It seems that Ebola virus has come suddenly out of the dark of Africa to terrorize the world.  There are many factors in disease, but the darkness of war, how it bludgeons a people until they are more vulnerable to an epidemic, is certainly a powerful one.   Sierra Leone, with its contiguous countries Liberia and Guinea, was plagued by terrible war, contributing to its being prominent in the current lethal Ebola outbreak.

The body of a man thought to have died of Ebola on a Monrovia, Liberia, street on Monday--Photo by Daniel Berehulak, NYT
The CIA Factbook states that the civil war there displaced 2 million people, a third of the population, and killed tens of thousands.  The Department of State’s Country Study adds, “Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war destroyed infrastructure and truncated political, social, and economic development. … Sierra Leone continues to grapple with entrenched corruption, poor health conditions, weak governmental institutions, high unemployment, slow economic growth, abject poverty, and inadequate social services.”  This was their summation in January of this year—the Ebola virus resurgence began in March 2014.   Though not directly causing the epidemic, West African wars made this region ripe for disease contagion.

Many of us remember the movie Blood Diamond.  That was Sierra Leone, with diamonds and dollars the profits from civil war, child soldiers, ritual amputations.  Charles Taylor dictator of Liberia, now finally sentenced to life in prison for war crimes which spilled over the whole region, was one of the area’s death dealers.  Many other outside interests made off with their loot unscathed.  Charles Taylor’s guns were not made in Liberia.

President and warlord, Charles Taylor, involved in civil war in Liberia {and adjacent countries} 1980 - 2003

I began to investigate the relationship between disease and war because of a graph published on the high tech review magazine, "Wired’s", website.  It shows war casualties making a minimal .05% contribution to “causes of untimely death” worldwide.    My oldest daughter Maura who cofounded a state-of-the-art startup company, Bluhomes, pointed this out to me.   Perhaps healthcare [heart disease and stroke are the graph’s major negative factors], which has been my profession, can make better impact than peacemaking-disarmament, which I’ve made my vocation.  So this will be a focus of further study.

Stepping back from this model, it should be apparent at the outset that war’s casualties go well beyond those directly damaged by bullets bomb or machetes.   From war's acute effects arise also the chronic conditions of disability, polluted water supplies, inadequate food and shelter, all the stressors of poverty—PTSD {post-traumatic stress disease} being one of many.  All contribute to a disease and injury favorable environment.  Every block in the graph is adversely affected.   It's interesting going to the model creators' site to examine all their info images country by country.
here is very little written on this, but I found a book reviewed on the physicians’ website, Medscape, which addresses war and infectious disease—“War Epidemics” [see below].   It’s a textbook on that aspect of the subject, giving much information on the 1918 influenza epidemic which had WWI as an incubator, but pre-dates the current Ebola virus, and doesn’t look at all the other ways, besides microbes, in which war can be an early death multiplier.

I hope that we as a people will not minimize {as Wired’s article does} the ongoing and potential grave effects of war on our society and the world.   We have been brought at least once in my lifetime to the brink of nuclear war, which could possibly end human life on earth.   Short of extinction, war’s poverty breeds disease {and social dysfunction}, whether TB, HIV, malaria, Ebola—even, it could be assumed, increased risk of heart attack and stroke.  More of these connections need to be examined.

Even preparations for war promote disease and injury risk factors.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” --    1953 “Cross of Iron” speech by President Dwight D. Eisenhower—last president a career military man.
“The armaments race is to be condemned unreservedly. It is an act of aggression which amounts to a crime, for even when they are not used, by their cost alone, armaments kill the poor by causing them to starve.” --Vatican statement to the U.N., 1976
Preparations for peace, instead, are the effective social justice preventative medicine.  Working and praying for God’s healing, saving mercy.

War Epidemics: An Historical Geography of Infectious Diseases in Military Conflict and Civil Strife, 1850-2000
“The National Academies' matrix of conditions contributing to disease emergence mentions over 2-dozen contributing factors, with "war" being one. War Epidemics goes much further in explaining exactly how war rapidly produces ecologic change, population displacement, and environmental disruption, fostering new, unnatural nidalities for rapid diffusion of these diseases.”
“The authors make comparisons between historical morbidity and mortality trends in peace time vs war. They follow with discussions of massive civilian dislocations.”

Illumination by Kathy Brahney


Monday, October 20, 2014


He was a well thought of African American kid, liked by all who knew him.  In one of the last tweets before his death, Douglas McCain, a Muslim convert who went to high school in Minnesota and was killed in Syria in August, wrote: "It takes a warrior to understand a warrior. Pray for ISIS."  Read more of his story, someone who wanted to be part of a higher cause, who had been previously a church going Christian.

When [his best friend Isaac] Chase joined the Air Force in 2007 and served in Iraq, McCain [who died fighting for the cause of an Islamic state] was impressed that his friend was making something of his life and wanted to do the same, Chase said.  But after learning that McCain died while fighting for ISIS, which is trying to establish an Islamic state across Iraq and Syria, his friend was bewildered.”  Up till then the warriors had been impressed with each other.

We should not be surprised at western Muslims going back to the Middle East battlefields, to fight, die, and be forever with Allah and many virgins.  We also train our Christian youth to fight, die, for God and country, as a highly honorable way to heavenly bliss.   We cover this with language of just doing a job for your country, “be all that you can be,” but the military’s basic training is the technology of lethal force.  Killing in God’s {or the state’s} name is required by most all peoples across the globe, to protect and promote their worldly kingdoms.

We need a new different hero from the one going over the barricades, in guns-blazing glory.  We have that in the person of Jesus, the Son of God, and the mercy and forgiveness He brought us.  Let us accept the grace to be true recruits in the nonviolent way of Jesus.   We should begin to teach our young people conflict resolution by drafting everyone into the Peace Corps and a faith-based AmeriCorps, at least as many as still might choose the military.  It would be two years national service for everyone, with emphasis on the nonviolent skills that have the hope of bringing real lasting peace.

And young people could hope to see faithful older adults rejecting violence and war, re-directing our world’s precious resources towards education, creative productive work opportunities, and the fights against famine and disease.

   “Make a Difference Years” to go beyond this week’s “Make a Difference Day”

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney 


Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful

Monday, October 13, 2014


Faith Perspective on War & Peace II

Second Biannual Request for Support Subscriptions

Working independently and without staff since inception on Faith Perspective on War & Peace these past five years leads me to adopt a new business model.  Writing and working for peace should have some hope of covering expenses and making a small profit in our society. Rather than monetizing the space with disruptive ads, this is a request for support subscriptions of $10 per year made by check sent to this address—Michael McCarthy, Faith Perspective on War & Peace II, 2714 Stone St., Port Huron, MI  48060.   Your check is your receipt.  Please send any suggestions with payments,  or to my email –

       [This information can always be accessed in the “profile” section.]

I’ll continue to try to write and illustrate informative articles that seek to unite on common ground the concerns of liberal, radical, conservative and devotional members of our churches and communities.

                               INNOCENTS DIE = UNJUST WAR
Ralph Peters talks to Sean Hannity: "This is war, dude!"
Sean Hannity with guest Ralph Peters

Fox Pundit: Civilians Die–Get Over It!  [from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting]

A commentator for Fox news recently hit war’s nail on the head, “But my contacts within the chain of command, people involved in this operation, are furious that Obama's put incredible targeting restrictions on them, doesn't want any civilian casualties! This is war, dude! Civilians die! They're going to die!”  Retired Lt. Col, Ralph Peters was criticizing the war policy of our recently begun bombing of targets in Syria.   This was on the Sean Hannity Show, and consistent with Peters views as we prepared to invade Iraq, when he wrote a WSJ article, "Civilian Casualties: No Apology Needed."

This may be a common attitude for some dudes of war, but for a Christian it is morally forbidden.   Although they do not appear in the Gospel, the only traditional way a Christian can participate in the killing of war, is by strict observance of the Just War Theory’s conditions—all of them.  The U.S. Catholic Bishops, in their 1983 Pastoral Letter, “The Challenge of Peace” specify one, among the many. “Moreover, the lives of innocent persons may never be taken directly, regardless of the purpose alleged for doing so.” [from Sec. 104]

The fact that this is impossible to do in modern warfare should be a radical caution to all Christians—Do not fight wars. “Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called the sons and daughters of God.” Mt 5:9


Monday, October 6, 2014


Syrian citizens check the damaged school entrance in Akrama neighborhood in Homs province, Syria, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014
“Twin bombings near an elementary school in Syria killed at least 32 people on Wednesday [Oct 1st], including at least 10 children, with the second blast going off as screaming parents frantically searched for their sons and daughters in a street littered with school bags and body parts.
Syrian children are frequently among the victims of attacks in the country’s civil war, but on Wednesday they appear to have been the target. …
The attack occurred outside the Ekremah al-Makhzoumi elementary school in a government-controlled area of the central city of Homs dominated by minority Alawites, the offshoot sect to which President Bashar Assad’s family belongs.”

This AP story of car & suicide bombs appears a few days after President Obama, at the behest of the armchair war strategists, authorized the aerial bombing of Syria.  Those bombs are directed against ISIS a Sunni militant sect, among at least 4 or 5 that battle against President Assad and his Alawites.  All these groups were at some point in the recent past supported by our CIA and the Saudis to depose Assad.  These militias, as witnessed above, kill children if it suits the cause.   We still back up all, but ISIS, whom we now attack.  None of them claims responsibility for this act—but it’s the way they work in their fight against Assad.   Our “smart” bombing in Syria is not surgical and kills children too.  Paradoxically we at this moment fight against ISIS, in virtual alliance with Assad's government an avowed enemy.
Al Nusra fighters - BBC
ISIS explained in 'The Economist' 1-20-14
Which side are we on when all sides are heavily invested in the technology of killing?

Continuing the above article -- 
“All sides [certainly including Assad’s government] have carried out horrific attacks on civilians during the conflict -- now in its fourth year -- but rarely have children appeared to be the direct target.”
Take time to read all of the tragic account and background—one of the millions of seldom told individual stories of our perpetual war in the Middle East, which began by proxy, rising from the ashes, hubris, and spent fuel of WWII.  In all wars children are certain victims.

There is no winning in this war.  Syria follows a similar pattern to Libya, which has been left in ruins—its government, and our embassy, in exile, a host of militant militias in turbulent struggle to see who might be momentarily in charge.   They were the ones we paid, armed, and to whom we provided air support, until they succeeded in executing strongman Qaddafi.  Then all hell broke loose, as ever it does when the dogs of war are unleashed.
I’ve been paying attention to modern military industrial conflict since 1966.  The peace and justice morality seeded by Sacred Heart Seminary and Vatican II began to take form in many of us, against the politics of the Vietnam war, all war.    We need to respond now to the mounting call to conversion, a plea for spiritual sanity, “When will people ever learn that war is madness and conflicts are only resolved by forgiveness? – Pope Francis, Sept 14th 2014, speaking 100 years after WWI.
Paul Cheng Image - Bad Tree Good Tree
It is not easy in our inwardly satisfied, outwardly militarized society to truly renounce war, cooperation with its evil—and seek the ways of peace.  Lord Jesus we believe, help our unbelief.  Suffer the children to come to you--where there is the courage of love, protection, and no more suffering.  We must stop building bullets and bombs.

Many of the ISIS bullets ripping apart men women and children of rival factions, Christians, and other religious minorities--are made in the USA.

Illumination by Kathy Brahney 


Syria blasts at school kill 32, including 10 kids

Children’s Art at Syria School, and Then a Bomb

U.N., Fearing a Polio Epidemic in Syria, Moves to Vaccinate Millions of Children

 Aid groups say Syria's war risks leaving entire generation of children scarred for life

Libyan armed faction takes over U.S. Embassy annex in Tripoli