Suffer Little Children: Health, Harm, & U.S. Foreign Policy

“Suffer Little Children: Health, Harm, & U.S. Foreign Policy examines how U.S. foreign policies that harmed children spurred a sense of responsibility among people – both religious and secular – to provide aid to those children, to educate the U.S. public about those harms, to raise moral and ethical debates about U.S. foreign policy, and to lobby to change those policies. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Theresa Keeley University of Louisville Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

My second book project, "Suffer Little Children: Health, Harm, & U.S. Foreign Policy," asks,

how have faith-inspired activists used medical aid to children to challenge U.S. foreign policy on moral and religious grounds?

In 1967, before most Americans had turned against the war, the Committee of Responsibility to Save War-Burned and War-Injured Vietnamese Children (COR) began highlighting napalm’s effects and raising funds to bring injured children to the United States for medical treatment. Nearly thirty years later, Voices in the Wilderness (Voices) risked twelve years in jail and a $1 million fine for delivering medical supplies to Iraq. While proponents said UN Security Council sanctions prevented Iraq from developing weapons of mass destruction, Voices called them “silent warfare.”

"Suffer Little Children" examines activists who blended the categories of humanitarianism (providing aid) and human rights (challenging policies that necessitate aid) that historians typically distinguish between when analyzing foreign affairs. The project also complicates whom scholars label as “religious activists.” Neither COR nor Voices described itself as a religious organization. Both, however, spoke in moral terms and made religious references, reflecting how liberal-leaning Catholics, Jews, and Protestants redefined social justice as religion during the late twentieth century.