Witless for Peace

By Alyssa A. Lappen
FrontPageMagazine.com | March 3, 2005

Did you know that the U.S. (not Castro) has impoverished Cuba through its 40-year embargo, has waged war with Colombia, and has perpetuated an “epidemic” of unfair trade practices via the North American Free Trade Agreement, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (which put the Western Hemisphere up “for sale“)? Thanks to the Witness for Peace program, students at Ohio’s Miami University do.

Miami University — a public state-funded college located in Oxford, Ohio, near Cincinnati — doesn’t have a “Peace Studies” program, but it compensates for that by giving students academic credit to take anti-American trips sponsored by WFP. Think of WFP as a university version of Global Exchange, taking college students to see the “horrors” of American foreign policy and the supposed glories of socialism firsthand. From Wellesley College, to the University of Minnesota, to Harvard University, student groups nationwide send dozens of WFP “delegations” to South America and the Caribbean annually. Regional WFP chapters and campus-based programs draw hundreds of students who travel for $600 to $1,200 a head on programs where they are indoctrinated in Hate America rhetoric.
Last March, Miami University senior Ross Meyer won widespread acclaim for leading 13 students to Mexico as part of Witness for Peace (WFP), a national group that claims to support “peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas — through publications, work-and-travel “opportunities” and “action tools.” A WFP brochure explains that the group was founded in 1983 “by people of faith and conscience [in] response to U.S. funding of the Contra War.” But neither WFP nor Meyer are simple peace-loving activists or students; they indoctrinate students that America is an international aggressor, systematically impoverishing other nations for political and economic advantage.

Ross Meyer greatly encouraged the influence and appeal of WFP and its anti-American propaganda. By his senior year at Miami University of Ohio, Meyer was a national WFP board member, and his devotion made its influence a fixture at the school. His March 2004 trip to Mexico represented his fourth for-academic-credit “alternative spring break.” He’d gone to Guatemala as a freshman and coordinated national WFP trips to Cuba and Nicaragua during his sophomore and junior years, leading 15 students on each leftist “academic” excursion.

Now Miami’s office of service learning and civic leadership encourages faculty members to seek grants and honoraria to employ such programs in their courses. In fact, this office forces students to finance WFP by funding its leftist excursions. With few exceptions, the indoctrination trips involve Miami faculty members and can be arranged for credit (also see this link). Students are recruited both through the office and through its key affiliates. The center’s Students for Peace and Justice also heavily touts Witness for Peace programs for alternative spring breaks. This year, as for the past four years, Miami students will travel with WFP to Nicaragua.

The WFP curricula focus most heavily on Cuba, where the student group plans no fewer than seven trips this year alone. WFP portrays Castro’s communist gulag as a poverty-stricken victim of U.S. imperialism that that supplies universal health care, housing and nutrition for all, unlike the big, bad USA. College students learn of the economic joys of Cuban tyranny before they turn to the “beauties” of the nation’s strictly censored culture and arts. Next, they attend sessions to “uncover the realities behind historic U.S. propaganda against Cuba.”

“The revolution is well over four decades old,” rhapsodizes one WFP publication on Cuba. “Universal education and health care are guaranteed for all. A full course of antibiotics costs U.S. $0.30 and a hospital visit is free. A farmer’s child can study medicine, engineering or theology without paying a cent. Women make up 62% of university graduates. Cuba’s AIDS rate is the lowest in the Americas and one of the lowest in the world. The literacy rate is 96.8%. Men in the Central Park are still arguing about baseball.”

Nothing is said of the brutal totalitarianism under which Cubans have suffered and continue to suffer (or die). WFP also says nothing of the Cubans who risked their lives on rickety boats or literally jumped into the sea to escape life on that island hell.

Besides its Cuban utopia theme, the WFP stable holds that America is literally waging war on the region’s downtrodden. The group’s extreme anti-Americanism vis-à-vis U.S. policy in Colombia serves as a good example. “The U.S. is at war in Columbia,” screams In Our Name, a 48-page screed published in 2002 and available “temporarily” on the WFP website. “On any given day there are up to 500 U.S. Military advisers in Columbia, presiding over three U.S.-created battalions, and hundreds of military contractors.” Does 500 military advisers, as compared to 150,000 active soldiers in Iraq, truly constitute a war? And exactly when has assisting governments in their war against narcoterrorists meant we were attacking a sovereign nation?

Travelers this July will “learn” that 800 U.S. Special forces have displaced 3 million Afro-Colombians, supposedly the biggest number of refugees outside the Sudan. A “riveting educational video” on Columbia highlights the “plight” of these displaced persons, “the courage of Colombians who work for peace and human rights,” and the “harm done by U.S. military aid.” The war on drugs, it tells students, is “really a war on farmers.” The WFP’s outrageous conclusion: U.S. assistance in Colombia somehow equals Islamist perpetration of genocide in Sudan, where more than 2 million have been murdered and hundreds of thousands forced into slavery.

Iraq is technically outside WFP’s bailiwick, but never mind: duplicating other “peace” programs and radical groups like Not in Our Name, this one ironically considers the war of liberation more unjust than decades of genocide conducted by Saddam Hussein. After visiting Baghdad 25 days after the 1991 ceasefire in Operation Desert Storm, a Witness for Peace delegation reported:

The ultimate cost of any war is measured in human and spiritual loss. In war, buildings turn to rubble, craters form and bridges sink. All of these can be replaced in time. But you cannot rebuild a life that has been lost or disguise injustice behind parades and patriotic celebrations. The end product of war is always pain, often accompanied by spiritual fatigue that can last beyond a lifetime.

In February 2003, WFP called its own words “prescient” and compared the U.S. with Nazi Germany. “What are the unintended consequences the United States will face this time?” the group asked, demanding “in the name of justice and peace, that the Bush Administration step back from this irresponsible, immoral and highly precarious brinkmanship with Iraq.” WFP inquired further:

“Will another 100,000 die, or will that figure be higher? Will an embargo —  designed originally as an alternative to the first Gulf War, but used instead as a cruel and punishing disguise of the U.S.’ command failure — continue to starve and deprive the Iraqi people for another decade? Or will another, perhaps more savage form of economic warfare victimize the Iraqi people?”

WFP likewise had nothing positive to say about the recent Iraqi elections, where more than 60 percent of Iraqis rejected threats of terrorism and chose liberty over tyranny.

Not content to confine its leftist views to outside trips, WFP has also sent a speaker to denounce the Bush administration at Miami University as part of its “Collateral Damage” tour.

In addition to the despot-coddling activism of WFP, the organization prides itself on opposing the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. According to WFP, NAFTA implemented “injustices,” which are likely to be broadened if the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) passes. All this regional free trade destroys workers, according to WFP, not least because it eliminates “collective ownership” (read: socialism). The list of countries that have enjoyed economic prosperity through collective ownership, of course, is not mentioned.

At least one of these approved, for-credit excusions included a trip to protest the U.S. Army School of the Americas, rewarding students for becoming fodder for left-wing, anti-American protests. Several universities rewarded student protestors; some 45 people were arrested at the rally for climbing the fence at Ft. Benning, GA, trying to sabotage the base during wartime. Despite the fact that SOA officially closed its doors on December 15, 2000, this remains a pet cause of the Left, “proving” America’s involvement in massive “human rights abuses.” What actually provokes the leftists’ wrath is that fact that during its heyday, SOA successfully trained anti-Communist forces in Central America to ward off Marxist aggression.

Miami’s Witness for Peace Program talks of peace but, in reality, wages an ideological war on America. Encouraging students to hate their own country — and glorifying those who have ruined their own nations and oppressed their own people through Marxist tyranny — is a recipe for worldwide despotism.

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Alyssa A. Lappen is a U.S.-based investigative journalist. She is the former Managing Editor at the Leeb Group (2012-2017); a former Senior Fellow of the American Center for Democracy (2005-2008); and a former Senior Editor of Institutional Investor (1993-1999), Working Woman (1991-1993) and Corporate Finance (1991). She served six of her 12 years at Forbes (1978-1990) as an Associate Editor. Ms. Lappen was also a staff reporter at The New Haven Register (1975-1977). During a decade as a freelance, her work appeared in Big Peace, Pajamas Media, Front Page Magazine, American Thinker, Right Side News, Family Security Matters, the Washington Times and many other Internet and print journals. Ms. Lappen also contributed to the Terror Finance Blog, among others. She supports the right of journalists worldwide to write without fear or restriction on politics, governments, international affairs, terrorism, terror financing and religious support for terrorism, among other subjects. Ms. Lappen is also an accomplished poet. Her first full-length collection, The Minstrel's Song, was published by Cross-Cultural Communications in April 2015. Her poems have been published in the 2nd 2007 edition of Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust and both 2007 issues of Wales' award-winning Seventh Quarry: Swansea Poetry Magazine. Dozens of her poems have appeared in print and online literary journals and books. She won the 2000 annual Ruah: A Journal of Spiritual Poetry chapbook award and has received a Harvard Summer Poetry Prize and several honorable mentions.

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