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Rotary Peace Scholar Asserts: 'Peace is a Necessity'

Alpena's Rebecca Milligan Studying to be Diplomat in World Hotspots

February 26, 2003       Leave a Comment
By: Dave Rogers

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Rebecca Milligan, Rotary International Peace Scholar, captivates local audience with world views

"Peace is a necessity, not a luxury."

With that statement, Rotary Peace Scholar Rebecca Milligan defined her life's focus and offered all of us well thought out advice for judging national initiatives on the world scene as well as societal relationships locally.

In an empassioned, stirring address to the Bay City Rotary Club recently, Ms. Milligan demonstrated her diplomatic skills and an uncommon wisdom about world affairs.

"Our district is fortunate to have one of the 70 Rotary Peace scholars selected from throughout the world," said District Governor Don Newport of Alpena. In response to questions, he affirmed that the program is sponsored by the RI Foundation. Locally, the Foundation is headed by Harry Farris, retired veterinarian.

A native of Casper, Wyoming, Ms. Milligan moved with her family to Alpena in 1979. She was graduated from the University of Michigan and won a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Russia. She earned a master's degree in Conflict Resolution from St. Petersburg University.

She is now working on a doctorate at the University of Queensland, Australia, and works with the international organization Human Rights Watch. She has worked with Afghan refugees in Uzbekistan and Chechnyan refugees in Russia and has studied in Jordan.

She praised Rotary International for sponsoring programs to train scholars to be effective advocates for peace.

"After 9-11, the level of violence (in the world) rose and so did the need for peaceful solutions to conflicts," said Ms. Milligan. "I am convinced of the need for peace; repression causes more violence and religious extremism grows. Hopelessness pervades the people and drives them into the hands of religious extremists."

She described war as "a futile attempt to achieve peace through violence," commenting: "Once a certain threshold of violence is reached hopelessness becomes greater. Peace cannot be achieved through violence."

Ms. Milligan plans to use her education, training and experience to influence policy decisions by working for a "think tank", or be involved in Mideast negotiations as a U.S. diplomat.

World problems are "overwhelming, but we have to have faith," she said, noting: "People in some parts of the world are very angry at the United States for what they see as lopsided foreign policy."

About Iraq, she said she is "forced to think about it every day." The U.S. should take many factors into consideration before becoming involved in a war in Iraq, she said. "We could be in for a lot more terrorism by waging a war against Iraq."

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Dave Rogers

Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at

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