PEACE IN OUR TIME ?
Maj. Gen. K. S. Pendse (Retd.)
1. Peace has eluded mankind for millennia, not because it is unattainable but because it has seldom been sought seriously. The Mahabharata, an Indian epic, devotes a complete chapter to ‘peace’, but only after detailing the gory death of a whole generation of warriors on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. In the 20th Century too, President Wilson as also Wendel Wilkie of the United States had envisaged a cooperative and a peaceful future for all on earth after the First World War. But what followed was a cataclysmic global conflict which spawned nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Their stockpiling during the subsequent Cold war was enough to exterminate life on earth many times over. With the demise of Soviet empire in 1991, history in the Hegelian sense may have ended for Fukuyama (1), but those stockpiles remain as grim and forbidding as before. Is human history waiting for the enactment of the final chapter through a clash of civilisations a la Huntington (2), or through wars of redistribution of peoples and resources as posited by Paul Kennedy (3) ? Or, will it witness the dawn of peace in the new millennium? The United Nations Millennium Conference did reiterate the value of peace in this age of global terrorism, in the presence of the largest ever gathering of the heads of state. However, failure of the US initiative thus far to resolve the West Asian crisis is a telling comment on the early prospects of such peace being ushered in, despite all the lip service paid to its role in human survival.
2. A review of the chances of a just peace being preferred over wars of all hues is presented in three parts as follows :-
(a) Part I – War and Peace
(b) Part II – Major Peace Initiatives in the 20th Century
(c) Part III – Peace on Earth
3. Human beings seem to prefer waging wars to promoting peace. As a result, man has looked at peace mainly as an interval between two wars. Such wars and conflicts generally stem from a pre-occupation of the warring opponents with defending, maintaining and extending their power to defend and secure their interest. In the days of monarchies, war was the sport of kings. Machiavelli dealt with what such monarchs ought to do in order to preserve and extend their inherited power. The French Revolution of 1789 not only overthrew monarchy but also changed the nature of war from a limited to an unlimited one, thanks to conscription. War progressively became total, as epitomised by the use of nuclear weapons against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Even though the advanced nations have not gone to war with each other since then, more than one hundred and fifty conflicts have erupted in the Third World after the end of the Second World War. In fact, the 20th Century has been the most violent and destructive in all human history, with armed conflicts taking the lives of over 100 million people, and political violence responsible for 170 million more deaths (4). While its two world wars were used by willful leaders as instruments of politics, post-1945 conflicts have arisen mostly as a result of suppression of ethnic, cultural and religious differences, leading to enormous bloodshed.
4. Today, the Western nations view nuclear weapons not as weapons of war but as weapons of coercive diplomacy. But North Korea and Pakistan have attempted nuclear blackmail by playing on the fear of their adversary, thereby provoking a prompt response from the US, which is acutely aware of its vulnerability as a “Global Policeman”. Simultaneously the US is busy developing its national missile defence, which, once deployed successfully, can give it an edge over other nations by making a US first strike very credible. That may help the US retain its place as the only military super power in the world, well into 21st Century. But it will also destabilise the world order and induce a nuclear arms race, which currently seems to have been held in check. According to some analysts (5), many Asian states who are aware of this future scenario, are developing biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction as a cheaper route to military clout, even though international convention prohibits such a course of action.
5. Is there to be no end to this display of human irrationality in an age of scientific and technological revolution that has shrunk space and compressed time to make the world a ‘global village’? If anything, such a revolution seems to have made present-day conflicts deadlier than ever, because of the sophistication of global weapon systems to acquire and destroy targets accurately from afar. Of course, their very high costs make such systems unaffordable for the majority of nations. But dual use technology makes it possible for less developed nations as well as terrorist organisations to develop variants that can wreak havoc when deployed against soft targets, such as embassies and even warships that may be refueling in friendly harbours. Wars and conflicts in the 21st Century are likely to take such bizzare forms as to defy all efforts at an accurate prediction.
6. Philosophers, historians and social scientists have offered various explanations for this recurrence of war through the ages. Fear seems to be the key. And physical fear is, after all, an animal response of the human brain whose structure owes a great deal to the animal ancestors. The Russian definition of security is actually ‘freedom from fear’! An even stronger influence is that of social conditioning as a result of growing up in a particular culture. Hypnotised from infancy by the cultural milieu in which a child is immersed, it grows up to see the world the way it is ‘en-cultured’ to see it. A prime task of adult life ought to be to get ‘de-hypnotised’ and to see reality as it is actually. But that is a demanding task normally shunned by most people.
7. Should such a de-hynotisation prevail all round, a holistic vision of a common future for all mankind would guide human effort and ingenuity away from violence. But a ‘conditioned’ man’s overriding concern with his security- enlarged to take in his family, tribe and nation – has made him invent ever-deadlier weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, an extremely uneven global distribution of food, income and wealth is being made worse by demographic and economic forces. The rich North partakes of a feast that the earth’s finite resources cannot sustain for long, while the exploding populations of the poor South remain trapped in a remorseless cycle of deprivation revolving around poverty, illiteracy and high birth rates. Small wonder then, that a clash of civilisations should appear to be inevitable, especially in the face of a white race superiority syndrome implicit in Fukuyama’s end of history thesis.
8. Fukuyama agrees that liberal democracy based on twin principles of liberty and equality, may constitute “ the end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution”, as it has conquered rival ideologies like hereditary monarchy, fascism and communism. This all inclusive Hegelian concept of history as a single, coherent, evolutionary process that has taken into account the experience of all people in all times, had been discounted by Spengler (6) and by Toynbee (7). Both of them perceived, albeit in their individual way, a cycle in the rise and fall of various known civilisations. After all, history as a record of human endeavour on earth does show certain features occurring again and again, in widely separated periods and places that give credence to the saying that history repeats itself for all those who fail to learn from it.
9. If one were to view history’s progress as neither linear nor cyclical but more as that of a spiral, it would probably satisfy both the Hegelian and the Spenglerian schools of its interpretation. However, Fukuyama’s contribution to an understanding of the ‘games that nations play’ lies in the place accorded by him to a human desire for recognition, or, ‘thymos’, as mentioned in Plato’s Republic. Fukuyama classifies thymos further as a ‘megalothymia’ or a passion to be recognised as a superior being, or, a desire for glory. It is this passion that gives rise to Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ so characteristic of the Western world. And he identifies its opposite as “isothymia’, that is the desire to be recognised as the other person’s equal. Out of these two urges, he argues, arose the master-slave equation implied in Hitler’s conviction about the superiority of the Aryan race, and, by extension, the current white race superiority syndrome. And what better way can there be to earn such glory than to fight in defence of ‘ the ashes of one’s fathers and the temples of one’s gods’, a sentiment that prevailed during the First World War?
10. Fukuyama contends that, ‘ if the historical process rests on the twin pillars of rational desire and rational recognition, and if the modern liberal democracy is the political system that best satisfies the two in some kind of balance’, the chief threat to democracy would be man’s own confusion about what is really at stake. While modern societies have evolved towards democracy, modern thought is unable to come to a consensus on what constitutes man and his specific dignity and thus unable to define the rights of man. Hence the demand for equal rights by the deprived majority of the world on one hand, and for recognition as a superior race, nation or individual by the affluent minority on the other. Until this dichotomy is resolved, peace will continue to elude mankind, the deprived will continue to place their faith in arming themselves at the cost of their own economic well being, and the military-industrial complexes of the advanced nations will continue to prosper at the cost of human happiness. It is this legitimacy accorded to war as the final arbiter of who should rule the roost that needs to be questioned. Such legitimacy comes from the perceptions of people (8). They give legitimacy, and they can take it away. A challenge to legitimacy has been the most powerful force for change throughout history. Many attempts to do so have been made in the 20th Century; some major ones are discussed hereafter.
MAJOR PEACE INITIATIVES
11. The 20th Century saw the deadliest of human conflicts, during which the Western civilizations recorded no fewer than three victories: against Wilhemine Germany, against Nazi Germany and against the USSR. Commenting on this fact, Colin S Gray (9) observes that ‘world politics seems to remain locked into a recurring interwar- war-interwar cycle’, the 20th Century witnessing four such inter-war periods. Wondering whether projects for ‘peace with security’ can be planned only when the most powerful state is prepared to defend the existing world – order, he quotes Donald Kagan’s observation that what seems to work best is the possession of the preponderant power and the will to accept the burdens and responsibilities required to preserve peace by those states who wish to do so. Obviously, the perpetuation of the existing world-order being the aim of such ‘peace-persevering’ wars, their conduct has scarcely been touched by matters of conscience. The horror of war has been known to mankind forever, and yet the social institution of war has not been banished. All that the warring nations have done under Western leadership during the 20th Century is to attempt a measure of arms control and some selective disarmament, so as to preserve peace on their terms.
12. This century began sanely enough with the Hague Conferences of 1899 and 1907 being convened at the initiative of the Russian Emperor. The declared aim was to ensure universal peace and bring about a reduction in excessive armaments (10). It was noted that the armed peace of that era had become a burden for the people of Europe because intellectual and physical forces, as well as labour and capital were to a large extent diverted from their natural application to unproductive ends. Curiously that is a condition obtaining globally at the end of the 20th Century as well. Apart from codifying the laws of war and establishing an International Court of Arbitration, further Hague conferences had to be abandoned in view of the intensified inter-state antagonism that led to World War I.
13. After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 drafted a peace settlement, which called for a substantial disarmament of a defeated Germany that was later circumvented and openly violated by the Germans under Hitler. It also included the Covenant of the League of Nations, whose first meeting was held in Geneva in 1920. The Covenant stressed the reduction of armaments of all nations to the lowest point consistent with national safety and the enforcement by common action of international obligations. That the League failed in its purpose, initially because the USA refused to join it, and later because its members at many stages balked at preventing other member nations like Japan and Italy from violating the Covenant through their aggression against Manchuria and Ethiopia respectively is well known. It became progressively dormant with the withdrawal of Japan and Germany by 1931, of Italy by 1937, and the expulsion of Russia for its invasion of Finland in 1939, when the Second World War followed soon thereafter.
14. But the League of Nations did challenge the legitimacy of war in various ways during its short existence of two decades in the inter-war period. To its credit still stands the Geneva Protocol of 1925 against gas and germ warfare, which remains in force. And its 1924 Geneva Protocol followed by the Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928 is a landmark in man’s effort to banish war from his midst, in pursuit of global peace. It was a pact for the renunciation of war, and parties to it gave up recourse to aggressive war, so as to seek a settlement of all disputes by peaceful means. With the participation of Germany, Japan and the US, this pact achieved greater universality than the Covenant of the League, but it did not establish a permanent supervisory organization, nor did it envisage sanctions against cases of its breach. In depriving war of its legitimacy, this pact provided an impetus for the 1932 Disarmament Conference, attended by 60 states, the only one of its type held before the Second World War to discuss a universal reduction and limitation of all types of armament. It was comprehensive in its treatment of the modalities for ensuring compliance. But Germany’s withdrawal from the conference as also from the League brought these efforts to a stand still. As a result, the League suspended the Disarmament Conference in 1936.
15. In many ways a successor to the defunct League of Nations, the United Nations (UN) formed in April 1945 drew its inspiration from the Anglo-US Atlantic Charter of 1941, which aimed at establishment of a permanent system of general security that would afford all nations a guarantee against aggression. The stress on security rather than on peace was suggestive. Its charter, comprising 111 articles, provided for a security council with the US, Britain, France, Russia and China as its five veto-wielding permanent members, to maintain peace and security in a world that had been thrust into the nuclear age by the US nuclear attack on Japan in August 1945. Its general body which started with 51 members grew to 184 member states by 1993,thanks to a rapid de-colonisation of European empires after the Second World War. However the Cold War rivalry between the US led capitalist nations and the Soviet led communist countries resulted in an arms race involving nuclear tipped missiles with global consequences. Out of fear about the possible end of all life on earth, the UN adopted in 1959 a resolution for general and complete disarmament and in 1961 it approved the principles for negotiation on universal disarmament which it considered to be the most important question facing the world.
16. However, after fifty five years of its existence, the UN appears to have been abandoned by its Western founder-members, as the non-white nations gained preponderance in its General Assembly and in its other bodies, except of course the financial ones. The UN Security Council may denounce aggression and violence, but its members are reluctant to put a stop to it through a common effort involving investment of men and resources. The exception of the Gulf War of 1991 shows how self-interest of the affluent nations takes precedence over general peace and security not impinging directly on their own interest, as in Rwanda and Somalia Again, an out of theatre responsibility assumed by the NATO at the end of the Cold War, has fueled speculation about a de facto relegation of the UN to the side-lines, as seen especially during the Balkans crisis in the 1990s.
17. Luckily, the UN has had a succession of dedicated Secretaries General and other functionaries who have made a brave effort to live upto its charter in many ways. The UN Development Programme’s annual report has been judging the relative state of human development among the nations of the world. Criteria such as life expectancy at birth, access to health and education services, nutrition and other indices of the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of various nations have been adopted so as to arrange these nations in a descending order of development. The Third World countries, by and large, appear at the bottom of the list, though they score high on the list of arms-importing nations, thanks to the thriving military-industrial complexes of the affluent nations offering arms along with soft loans.
18. World peace through universal disarmament may have remained a distant dream thus far, but the spectre of a nuclear winter caused by an all-out nuclear war did persuade the US and the USSR to enter into many meaningful treaties such as the 1972 and 1979 agreements reached as a result of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, and Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties of 1991 and 99 to cut down their respective stockpiles of nuclear weapons and delivery systems appreciably. Other results achieved by direct or indirect involvement of the UN have been Hot Line Agreements, Nuclear Risk Reduction and Conflict Prevention Centres, Denuclearised and Demilitarised Zones, Confidence Building Measures and Reduction of Forces, Verification Mechanisms, the UN Register of Arms, besides treaties such as Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty not yet ratified even by the US, and the proposed Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty under discussion in the Conference on Disarmament at Geneva.
19. In a brief overview of peace initiatives taken during the 20th Century, mention must be made of the World Trade Organisation that replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1994 as also the Earth Summit held first in 1992 (and again in 1997), the former to give a regulated direction to world trade and the latter to combat degradation of the environment. While these steps may have an honest purpose, there is much to be said against the attitude of the few affluent nations whose response to a demand for a new international economic order has been tardy. Such a change would help the majority of the deprived nations to reach a reasonable level of prosperity, without harming the interest of the already-affluent nations. Otherwise what may ultimately be achieved through total disarmament may be lost by an ecological suicide caused by a world-wide emulation of a quick-profit oriented Western economic model. Such a model by its very nature is promoting a rapid exhaustion of the earth’s finite resources including oil, as well as causing massive deforestation,and ecological degradation, thus denying the unborn their right to enjoy their rightful heritage on earth.
20. Peace seems to have been relegated to a secondary status in man’s unceasing search for non-existent security. How far can human ingenuity in crisis management postpone a nuclear winter as also an ecological suicide needs to be analysed in the light of his track record and the trends set in motion by him during his brief stay on earth.
21. Peace, like security, is a state of one’s mind, and, therefore, it can be gained when there is freedom from fear. Evidently, such freedom has to obtain at all levels, from the individual through societal, national, regional to the international level, if the resultant peace is to be universal. So, there have to be attempts at removal of fear at each of these levels, if the sum of the parts is to be greater than the whole. It is this holistic approach to peace which is wanting in the current interpretation of international relations, sharply divided into the power-oriented realist school and world–peace seeking idealist one. As a result of these extreme positions, the proponents of these schools at one end of the spectrum stress an ever-ready military preparedness, connoting a state of constant fear, and world government based on total mutual trust and an equally total absence of fear, at the other. Peace is held to be divisible by the realists who propose its promotion through security for the affluent nations. It is treated as indivisible by the idealists who foresee a global catastrophe like a nuclear winter, or an ecological suicide as inevitable, should some form of global governance not replace the existing anarchy in political affairs. After all, a complete autonomy of personal desire in a rapidly spreading global culture did make an astute politician like Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher admit in her time, ‘There is no longer any society, only individuals!’
22. One must accept, therefore, that peace can dawn on earth only when it dawns in every individual’s heart and mind. And obviously there are as many alternatives to arouse such peace as there are individuals. Can satisfaction of economic needs alone suffice for this purpose ? Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs (11) does not stop at that stage but goes on to include ‘self-actualisation’ as a prime condition for an individual to experience a sense of fulfillment at the pinnacle of this pyramid. Where Western democracies scored over Soviet Russia in the run-up to the latter’s breakdown, was in promising their citizens that they could satisfy a whole hierarchy of their wants, including their self-actualisation needs. Whether such freedom obtained actually in a capitalist state might have been contestable, but its promise was visible enough to the East Europeans to bring down the Berlin Wall and to break up the Soviet empire. The events of 1989-91 did raise expectations of a ‘ peace dividend’ in a new world order envisioned by President Bush (Senior). And simultaneously, this victory of the ‘Realist” school did inspire Fukuyama to announce his ‘end of history’ thesis.
23. His conviction about the end of history stems from his faith in the power of liberal democracies to produce peace in the long run, because they would abolish the distinction between masters and slaves by making men masters of themselves. Peace will arise out of this specific nature of genuine democracy and not out of its outward trappings like periodic elections as feared by Robert D. Kaplan (12) who has warned against mistaking structure for democracy. The need for democratic states to work together to promote democracy and international peace is an idea as old as liberalism itself. Immanuel Kant , in his essay, ‘Perpetual Peace’ , laid out a case for an international league of democracies governed by a rule of law which later inspired American attempts to establish first the League of Nations , and then the UN.
24. Post Second World War “realism” presented an antidote to such liberal internationalism by suggesting that the real remedy for international security was less international law than the balance of power. The phenomenal power of destruction inherent in the nuclear weapons turned this into a balance of terror, as their stockpiles kept growing during the Cold War. However, the manifest failure of these two institutions, the League and the UN, to ensure collective security has discredited Kantian internationalism and international law in general. But Kant was not to blame if his preconditions were ignored while founding both these institutions. These were, first, that the participating states must be liberal democracies, and, secondly, the law of nations should be founded on a federation of free states. He believed that self-governing peoples would be more reluctant to accept the costs of war than despotisms, while an international federation to work, must share common liberal principles of what is right.
25. That these Kantian conditions are unlikely to obtain in a post Cold War world that is undergoing a rapid transformation because of the impetus given by a scientific and technological revolution in the rich North along-side a population explosion in the poor South is self-evident. The current search for peace and security continues to use a ‘realistic’ logic of ever-expanding arenas of strategic checkmates and military escalation , even as the developed economies fight a fierce trade war for an ever larger share of the global market. The G 8 nations depend upon formation of trade blocs and use a rhetoric of global free market, while the World Trade Organisation ensures that its skewed policies (13) would benefit these advanced economies at the cost of the developing ones. The veto-wielding five permanent members of the UN Security Council, who are also the self-appointed nuclear weapon monopolists, are busy improving the accuracy and effectiveness of their nuclear arsenals. These could be used even against non-nuclear nations by these nuclear-haves in defence of their perceived ‘supreme national interest’, as declared by some of them before the International Court of Justice. This prevailing mind-set of the rich nations, with a fast-ageing population of less than 1.5 billion, that is bent upon controlling 85 per cent of the world income, shows little sign of adopting a holistic view of the problem of world peace. Witness the US attempt to deploy a national missile defence, which, if successful, would give its first strike a hundred per cent credibility, thus destroying an already fragile nuclear deterrence regime. The Club of Rome (14) rightly foresees the affluent nations retreating behind the walls of a ghetto, bristling with weapons of mass destruction, so as to check the flood of fortune-seeking poor immigrants wanting to scale those walls in order to escape from the evils of an iniquitous global economic order.
26. To achieve this ghetto-like ‘collective security’, Fukuyama advocates the formation of a new league of ‘liberal democracies’ based on Kantian preconditions, that would have to look more like NATO than the UN so as to protect themselves from threats emanating from the non-democratic parts of the world. He is candid enough to admit ‘this distinction corresponds to the old one between North and South, or, between the developed and the undeveloped worlds.’ It is interesting to note that Fukuyama`s ‘end of history’ scenario of a future world is but one among four possible scenarios used in a Rand Corporation study undertaken in 1997 for the US Air Force to identify the ‘ Source of Conflict in 21st Century’ (15). It uses a model to depict the demands of these four alternatives on the US military`s state of preparedness for intervention anywhere in the world at any time. The terms used to describe these alternatives are ‘clash of civilisations’, ‘great game’, and ‘anarchy’ besides ‘end of history’, the last being the most optimistic one. In Fukuyama`s view, such a liberal international order has come into being already under the protective umbrellas of the NATO, the European Union, the Group of Eight, the OECD, GATT (now the WTO) and others that make liberalism a precondition of membership, making the use of force to settle disputes among themselves totally unthinkable. Their world is the one in which the desire to risk one`s life in a battle for pure prestige has been replaced by the desire for comfortable self-preservation, and in which universal and rational recognition has replaced the struggle for domination, according to Fukuyama. However, relationship between democracies and non-democracies would still be characterised by mutual distrust and fear, and despite a growing degree of economic interdependence, force, according to Fukuyama, will be the ultima ratio in their mutual relations. So, the stark reality at the end of the 2Oth Century is that ‘liberal democracies’ of the rich North, powerful enough to use force, will impose a peace of their choice on earth, in order to perpetuate a world order that benefits them, regardless of the aspirations of the poor South. And a politician`s penchant for placing power-politics before people may create mock-democracies in the poor South that may prove to be as illiberal as any despotism. Notwithstanding Fukuyama`s argument in its favour, democracy cannot be sold as ‘ a pill for all ills’ that stand in the way of a lasting peace on earth.
27. Alvin Toffler (16) suggests that such a struggle for supremacy is inevitable in a world that is witnessing the simultaneous existence of a ten thousand years old agricultural, a three hundred years old industrial and a burgeoning informational mode of creating wealth. Each mode has its own work-culture, its own tempo, and its own survival needs, all of which result in a conflict of interest, at the very least. According to Toffler,the world enjoyed just three weeks out of a total of 234O weeks between 1945 and 199O, that were truly war-free. His thesis may vindicate Colin S. Gray`s comment that those states which are powerful enough to establish ‘peace with security’ will tend to perpetuate the existing world-order, without any qualms of conscience about how they do it.
28. But human conscience does impinge on human behaviour , howsoever much it may be denied by the Realists whose doctrine rests on the twin pillars of Darwin`s struggle for existence and Spencer`s survival of the fittest. Ethical considerations did influence conduct of war in the 19th Century to set off a Red Cross movement that was formally incorporated under the Geneva Convention of 1864. It was revised in 1929 to cover the prisoners of war and again in 1949 to cover civilians as well. The Hague Conferences at the beginning of the 2Oth Century contributed to the codification of the laws of war which banned the use of certain weapons like dum-dum bullets. War crimes commissions such as the one set up in Nuremberg at the end of the Second World War imposed punishments on the guilty; similar treatment awaits those who were responsible for ‘ethnic cleansing’ in the Balkans in the 199Os.A ‘Ban the Bomb’ movement in the UK drew talented stalwarts like Bertrand Russell to its folds in the 195Os, and a Green Peace movement continues to be active since then in its efforts to oppose nuclear tests anywhere in the world. Pugwash conferences have tried to appeal to everyone`s conscience in order to put a stop to human madness that allows proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in pursuit of national security. Unfortunately, peace movements have floundered over the question of ‘just wars ‘ so much so that there were proponents of a ‘ just nuclear arms race’ during the Cold War. Peace activists around the globe have failed to unite so far, in order to force the nuclear weapon states to accept, first, a de-alert of their nuclear weapons, and then a time-bound programme of de-nuclearisation as a first step towards global disarmament.
29. Peace movements may have floundered for want of a model of global governance that would be effective in a totally disarmed world, because of the hold enjoyed by a warring instinct on the human psyche thus far. But aware of the current combination of threats to human survival on earth, such as that of a sudden nuclear extinction and that of a slow ecological suicide set in motion by a global adherence to a Western economic model that is ruining the environment through its avaricious exploitation of the earth`s finite resources, many rational minds around the world view peace differently. It is considered essential to a global attempt to transform the world order and make it more just and equitable than its current state. The logic of national security in a global village is seen by them to lead irresistibly in the direction of international security. Peace, therefore, is not mere absence of war but a development process that involves new strategies to eliminate fear born out of political and social violence at all levels.
30. Many studies, some sponsored by the UN and others blessed by it, have delved into the fundamental problem of peace through development and disarmament. Eminent personalities like Willy Brandt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Julius Nyere, Ramphal and Cyrus R. Vance have headed studies dealing with issues like the arms race, disarmament and development, disarmament and security, North-South dialogue, environment and development, the challenge to the South, global governance and prevention of deadly conflict. Each study report recommends concrete steps that can be taken here and now to stop mankind from committing suicide. But lack of a political will to practise what these reports have suggested, has stalled human progress towards a just peace. The Dalai Lama has warned that if peace does not become a reality in the world and if the destruction of the environment continues at its present pace, there is no doubt that future generations will inherit a dead world.
31. Cyrus R. Vance is more forthright when he states that war or mass violence usually results from deliberate political calculations, and that deadly conflict is not inevitable. It is implausible for major governments of powerful and wealthy states to claim that nothing can be done to avert crises as in Rwanda or Bosnia, because violent conflict can usually be foreseen. He adds significantly that there will be no peace among nations without peace among the religions. It may be more useful to think of prevention of conflict not simply as the avoidance of undesirable outcomes, but as the creation of preferred circumstances. At the dawn of the 21st Century, there is a need for a broader conception of national interest, one which encompasses both enlightened self-interest and a realistic appraisal of the contemporary world. Such an approach to security will show that where peace and cooperation prevail, so do security and prosperity. Barry Buzan rightly claims that security is a companion to power and not its derivative. Therefore, it should be more usefully viewed as a prior condition of peace rather than its consequence. `Peace through security for all’ should be the mantra of the new millennium.
32. To achieve such peace through security for all requires a re-education of all people and especially their decision-makers. An ability to think globally and act locally is one aspect of it. That itself needs a global mind-change. But such decision-makers in any field who stand to gain by the status quo are unlikely to change their spots until it is too late to save mankind from its self-created fate. When thinkers like Toffler and Fukuyama propose obliquely a continuation of the white race domination of the global order, others with illiberal mind-sets are bound to fight tooth and nail to secure the interest of the few at the cost of the many. As a quip once observed, when the world is destroyed, it will be destroyed not by its madmen but by the sanity of its experts and the superior ignorance of its bureaucrats, who will be busy deciding how much of mankind should they exterminate to preserve mankind! While playing the game of brinkmanship under the garb of balance of power diplomacy, the modern-day Metternichs of the Western world may at best keep the white race alive through a technology ‘ fix’, while decimating the rest of mankind. But with few buyers left to purchase their arms and consumer goods, how will they earn their mega-profits so very necessary for them to enjoy a feast which the earth`s finite resources may sustain only for a few decades more? That exuberant Western attitude that all of nature is here to be exploited by man for his ends may have to be replaced by a far more humble stance, if man is to learn from the universe what it can teach him.
33. In sum, sheer self-interest ought to educate the present-day rulers of human destiny to save mankind from going down the course they have charted for it thus far, if only for their own short term gain. Should they do so before it is too late, the world will, at best, continue to totter from one crisis to another in much the same way as it has done to date. Peace will continue to elude mankind for want of a requisite global mind-change, even though some privileged segments of it may enjoy a superior life-style for some more time, while the majority may remain mired in relative deprivation. Attempts to introduce a culture of peace by enlightened individuals may prove futile because of a long-established culture of violence that has a firm grip over the human psyche. A ‘just peace on earth’ may remain a distant dream. However, in a fast changing global scene, Lewis Mumford may enjoy the last word. Writing about the transformation of man in 1956, he hoped,” We stand on the brink of a new age: the age of an open world and of a self capable of playing its part in that larger sphere. Every goal that humanity reaches provides a new starting point, and the sum of all humanity`s days is just a beginning.”Amen!
1. Fukuyama Francis, ‘The End of History & the Last Man’, Penguin Books, London, 1992.
2. Huntington Samuel P. , ‘The Clash of Civilisations & the Remaking of World Order’, New York, 1996.
3. Kennedy Paul, ‘Preparing for the Twentyfirst Century’, Harper Collins, 1993.
4. Vance Cyrus R. , ‘Preventing Deadly Conflict’, Carnegie Corporation, New York, USA, 1997.
5. Bracken Paul C., “Fire in the East’, Harper Collins Publishers, India, 1999.
6. Spengler, Oswald, ‘The Decline of the West’, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1954.
7. Toynbee A J, “A Study of History’, Portland House, New York, 1988.
8. Harman Willis, ‘Global Mind Change’, Knowledge System Inc. USA, 1988.
9. Gray Colin S., ‘Modern Strategy’, Oxford University Press, London, 1998.
10. Goldblat Joseph, ‘Arms Control’, Sage Publications, London, 1994.
11. Maslow Abraham H., ‘Motivation & Personality’, Harper & Row Publishers, New York, 1954.
12. Kaplan Robert D., ‘The Coming Anarchy’, Random House, 2000.
13. Vandana Shiva, ‘A Bitter Harvest’, an article in Times of India, December 15, 2000.
14. King A. & Schneider B., ‘The First Global Revolution, Orient Longman, India, 1993.
15. Zalmay Khalizad (ed), ‘Sources of Conflict in the 21st Century’, Rand Corporation, USA, 1998.
16. Toffler, Alvin & Heidi, ‘War and Antiwar’, Warner Books, USA, 1993.
17. Buzan Barry, ‘People States & Fear’, Transasia Publishers, New Delhi, 1987.