When We Look at You, We Know Peace Is Possible

When We Look at You, We Know Peace Is Possible


Small girls carrying babies in their arms in southern Afghanistan. Photo credit: wikimedia
To the children of Afghanistan and the world:

We adults pledge to work hard to make your world safer, more peaceful. And you can help us. You can help us by being happy, by singing for peace, by dancing for peace, by creating peace, by believing in peace because some of the older ones are not so sure peace can happen. But when we look at you, we know peace is possible.

by Mairead Maguire

Below is the video and transcript of a speech I gave to Afghanistan volunteers for peace on December 11 in Kabul, Afghanistan. My message is — if you want peace, it is critical to believe that peace is possible. The transcript, for which I am deeply appreciative, is by Hakim.

Mairead Maguire's Speech in Afghanistan

When We Look at You, We Know Peace Is Possible


Mairead Maguire: I am happy to be with you today in Kabul Afghanistan.

I have come here to give my support to the campaign for 2 million friends of the Afghan people. You have chosen to run this campaign because you remember that 2 million people from Afghanistan have died in violence and in war, and in killing.

We're here today to remember every single one of those people who died needlessly and for this I am sorry, and I say, "Sorry to the Afghan people for what the governments of the US and NATO and other governments have done to the Afghan people, and I say — Not in my name!"

We're here on behalf of the Afghan Peace Volunteers to give a petition to the UN and that petition is to ask the UN to broker a cease fire for Afghanistan amongst all the warring factions here in Afghanistan.

Peace is possible. You have to believe that when you're working for peace.

The killing must stop in order for peace to develop and grow. But a passion for peace can come from the people. And that passion, working for peace, marching for peace, demanding your politicians make peace…

The people can do this when you believe that peace is possible. All the killing, all the war must stop.

I come from Northern Ireland and we had war and fighting among all the different ethnic groups, and it went on for a long time, a lot of people died.

My sister's three little children were killed in our war. People came out, and they said: "we want nonviolence, we want dialogue, we want negotiation from our politicians. We want to solve the problems through forgiveness, through love, through dialogue."

And it happened! It took time, but it happened. Today in Northern Ireland we have peace, and the people have security. They can go out and walk with freedom.

So peace is possible, and I have hope for Afghanistan because I believe in the people of Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. James L. Wiley believed the path to peace lay with the children of Afghanistan, his mother says. He collected clothing and candy to distribute to them.

You're good people. You don't want war. You never asked for all these years of war and division and occupation of your country, and that must cease.

You can do that through the methods of nonviolence. Your young people here — I'm so inspired by them. They're teaching Gandhi. And they're solving their problems without killing and this is a way that works.

To all the armed groups:

Please put up your guns, stop the killing and start talking.

To the Taliban and the armed groups I say to you:

You love your people. You want Afghanistan to be a better country. Do you want them to continue for a long time suffering, and dying, and living in poverty?

I know in your hearts, Taliban and armed groups, it's not what you wanted. You started your struggle to have a better way for the Afghan people. But you don't.

Because if you want a better Afghanistan, you must choose better means to bring about a good Afghanistan. Bad means cannot bring about good results. Your means must be consistent with your ends.

And if you really love the Afghan people and want a better future for them, put up your arms and enter into dialogue with the government.

I appeal to the Afghan government, that they enter into dialogue with the Taliban and the armed groups.

There cannot be a solution without the groups who are part of the problem of a way forward in Afghanistan. All inclusive unconditional talks around the table to solve this problem.

In Northern Ireland it was the only way that we could get a solution. We acknowledged, and the Afghan government and the Taliban will surely acknowledge… there will not be a military solution or a paramilitary armed solution to what our deep ethnic, political, economic, human problems… they can only be solved in a human, compassionate, loving way, not by militarism and war.

And most especially to the US to the UK and to NATO forces:

Withdraw from Afghanistan. You're doing more damage by being here and using military force.

Ed. note: Click here to play this video from BBC:

Nato to quit Afghan combat role in 2013

NATO-led forces combat mission to end in 2013: President Karzai

The use of drones on an innocent people is not acceptable in a civilized community. It is against international law and human rights to bomb innocent civilians. There have been over 400 drone bombs dropped by the allied forces on people in their villages. You've dropped them on weddings, you've dropped them on people working in the mountains collecting wood to warm their homes because they're cold and hungry. This is against all international law and human rights and are indeed crimes against humanity to be using these methods against a civilian population.

So we appeal to them. The allied forces, NATO, the US — they will say they are here to help the people.

How do you help a people? By giving them military aid worth billions, but then dividing it up? Sixty percent of the military aid that comes in here from the west is used to maintain the infrastructure of the military forces, to provide them with all their needs.

Ed. note: Abby Martin Breaks The Sets with Brookings Institute fellow and author of ‘Aspiration and Ambivalence’, Vanda Felbab-Brown,about the state of play in Afghanistan, discussing the current strategy, and what the solutions might be tenable at this point.

A great percent of it then goes to contractors who are then not fulfilling their obligations to make roads, hospitals and schools for the Afghan people.

What is left for the Afghan people? Nothing.

We have met women here who are living in absolute poverty, trying to rear their children, trying to feed them, hungry and cold. And they have received nothing in the way of aid coming into this country. So that is not working.

I invite them to revisit… when they send aid to the Afghan people that they monitor where it is going and how it is helping the people of Afghanistan. Most certainly help them but help them build their schools, build their roads. Help them get a hope for life.

One young Afghan woman described to me: Afghanistan is like living in a hospital where people are being killed, where people are dying, people are sick — they don't have the basics of life.

I invite the international community and the forces to turn their military aid towards helping people get the very basics of life in order that they may live free, human and dignified lives in Afghanistan.

And to the women here, I know you're suffering tremendously and I feel for your pain and your suffering. But I encourage you to move beyond your suffering to work for peace and nonviolence, because peace and nonviolence — you have to work for it.

I know you pray, "Praise Allah" because you are a people of prayer. The Muslim people are a people of faith, a people of prayer. We also need to go out and work very hard for peace.

In Northern Ireland, when we had our war, women didn't normally go out to work for peace, onto the streets and work and build a peace movement. But we knew for the sake of our children and their future, we had to act as well. So, I encourage you to act and work for your human rights, your dignity. The Afghan people have a right to rights and I encourage you to be more vocal in your demand to stop all killing, and to work for peace in Afghanistan.

To my friend President Obama:

President Obama, your foreign policies are killing many people in the world. You're destroying our civil human rights. You're destroying in the world people's hope for a peaceful, united, fair world.

Your policies are not working, for us all, for the American people, for the Afghan people, for the Palestinian people, for the Israeli people, for the people of the world! Change your policies!

We want peace. We're tired of war. We're sick of militarism, war and killing. We don't want to stay on this road anymore. We want a new way. We want a way of friendship, of reconciliation, of working together, of feeding the poor, taking care of each other as a human family.

President Obama, we need you. We need you and the American people to move on to a different foreign policy.

To the children of Afghanistan and the world:

We adults pledge to work hard to make your world safer, more peaceful. And you can help us. You can help us by being happy, by singing for peace, by dancing for peace, by creating peace, by believing in peace because some of the older ones are not so sure peace can happen. But when we look at you, we know peace is possible.

Salam 'aleikum. God bless you all.

Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize winner for her efforts to end violence in Northern Ireland.



  1. Wonderful! Now if America only had a Peace President and a Peace Congress, what a Wonderful World it Would Be!