On August 24 and 28 tens of thousands of people marched the streets of Washington D.C. to remember the Civil Rights Movement and a man who was militantly non-violent. The dual prongs of King’s unfinished agenda were the fights against war and poverty. It is the former commitment, to a world without wars, that has been invoked this past week as President Obama goes to Congress to request approval for a limited military action in response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians.
These actions and impending actions raise many fundamental questions about justice. Is there such a thing as a “just war?” Will U.S. intervention make things better or worse? How do issues of gender fit into this scenario? How has the framing of the debate been useful or problematic? What does it mean to be a ‘world citizen’ when heads of the state go to war? Does this crisis resemble Iraq, Rwanda or Kosovo and what are the implications? And finally, (historians’ cringe at this questions) – what might Dr. King say if he were here today?