By Dr. Bob Hanson*
There is a conference coming up in September** that I would have liked to attend, but unfortunately, I have a conflict. The sponsor is a relatively new group called World Beyond War. Many of the world’s leading anti-war leaders will be in attendance. The purpose of the conference is to develop a plan for putting an end to the scourge of war.
More and more people are realizing that if war ever made sense, it no longer does. If ever there was a cause worth supporting, it is ending violent conflict. I had hoped that I might live long enough to witness permanent peace happen, but that is looking more and more problematic.
Life is a wonderful miracle. But, until humans learn to co-exist peacefully, there is a strong chance that life as we have known it will come to an end one of these days. One screw-up by someone with his finger on the nuclear button and game over. Have you noticed? The cold war is gradually coming back? NATO is pushing on the borders of Russia and Putin is pushing back.
Fortunately, ideas about war seem to be evolving. Once seen as an inevitable feature of human life, this ancient practice is increasingly seen as outdated and avoidable. A year ago, the Congressional hawks would have had us bombing Iran on the chance that it might be planning on developing nuclear weapons. Fortunately, President Obama went for diplomacy and a majority of Congress supported him. War was averted.
David Swanson, one of the founders of World Beyond War and author of “War Is A Lie” maintains that wars are always avoidable. War is never the only choice and always the worst choice.
It is an often over-looked fact that even if you think a particular war is moral and good, war is illegal according to the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which was signed by our U.S. Senate in 1928. That treaty and the U.N. Charter both make exceptions, allowing nations being attacked to defend themselves. Obviously, the U.S. violated world law when it invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.
Participants at the WBW conference in September will need to develop a workable plan for ending war. This, of course, will not be easy. Half way steps such as eliminating land mines, chemical weapons and cluster bombs have had some success leading one to believe that a way can be found. One of my friends, John O’Connell, has devised a plan called the World Peace Campaign. Briefly, it calls for mobilizing the citizens of the world to demand world peace. With modern communication, this could happen. The plan calls for all nations to reduce their military spending by 5% each year, thus preserving each country’s relative power position. 20% of the savings would be devoted toward development projects in the third world. A mutual defense/non-aggression agreement would offer national protection. Obviously, there is much more to it than I can present in 600-800 words. My point being, that if an ordinary citizen like O’Connell can come up with a workable plan, surely the collective genius of our world affairs academicians can come up with an even better plan.
My personal opinion is that a successful plan will necessitate strengthening and democratizing the United Nations. A UN charter review is badly needed. Our country has self-assumed the role of world policeman and that cannot continue indefinitely. A world parliament is on the horizon. The International Court of Justice needs to be given enforcement power and the Security Council veto needs to be taken away from the “big five.”
President John F. Kennedy wrote in a letter to a friend something he would have never put in a speech: “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige as the warrior does today.” Let’s hope that day isn’t too far distant.
*First published in Rossmoor News, 7-13-16
**World Beyond War conference: “No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism” Sept. 23-25 in Washington, DC, followed by a demonstration at the Pentagon on Sept. 26, 2016.
NOTE: The Democratic World Federalists are committed to expressing a wide range of views on the vision of creating a peaceful, just, and sustainable world through a democratic World Federation. The views expressed in this article represents that commitment and not necessarily our official position.