Major General K S Pendse (Retd.)
A DEADLY DILEMMA
Events of have proved that it is possible to hurt the
An indefinite extension of the NPT has merely attempted to perpetuate the nuclear
apartheid, though the
SOME PERTINENT QUESTIONS
In a world hypnotised by the
rapid spread of global ( read
That is why, even after witnessing 100 million deaths in battle and another 170 million butchered in violent political conflicts during the 20th century, no one has questioned –
In short, why has the common man stopped thinking?
Edward D Bono, author and teacher of ‘Lateral Thinking’ has put his finger on what is wrong with human thought process. He says, ‘ May be thinking is uncomfortable; may be biologically we are programmed to want to ‘complete’ our thinking as soon as possible.’ This hurry to arrive at a conclusion in a modern environment that bombards the human mind with a new stimuli and challenges at an ever increasing pace, promotes hasty decision-making on inadequate data-inputs. And the management Gurus rationalise it as ‘decision making under uncertainty’. While dithering is not a virtue jumping to a conclusion in haste can be disastrous in a world bristling with weapons of mass destruction. So, possibly as a result of finding this thinking exercise rather taxing, the common man, even in a democracy, finds it easy to focus on survival in a day –to-day world of competition, by letting his elected leaders choose his future for him.
Such thoughtless abdication of one’s individual freedom of choice, except for a periodic exercise of voting rights in a sham democratic structure that is mistaken for democracy, has created vested interests, power lobbies and politics of patronage in the developed as well as developing countries of the world.
Theoretically, in a democracy the emphasis is on the individual human being, his hopes and fears, his liberty, dignity and equality with other human beings. A citizen has a right to social, economic and poetical opportunity, to health, welfare, education and a decent standard of living, and above all to hope for and dream of a better world. In search of this dream, a citizen surrenders many of his rights to the state, in order to enjoy a degree of security as would ensure his survival and allow him to shape his world nearer to his heart’s desire. But the modern state has subsumed such aspirations of its citizens under the concept of national interest and elevated the pursuit of its defence above any considerations of all life on earth. Nothing else can explain the stockpiling of over 11000 mega tonnes of nuclear weapons, of which a release of just 500 mega tonnes would trigger a nuclear winter as would extinguish most life on earth. The cold war may have ended, but there is no evidence that the nuclear-haves promoting a total de-nuclearisation programme as prelude to saner life on the earth. On the contrary, a vertical proliferation of more advanced nuclear weapons and creation of national/theatre missile defence development programme indicates a prevailing mood of capitalising on an existing technological superiority enjoyed by the advanced countries of the world, which remains as far away from the nuclear-weapon-free state as ever before. Is that the model of better world that these cradles of democracy hold close to their heart?
WHEN CORPORATIONS RULE THE WORLD
Of course it is naïve to expect that the
political front-men of various mega-corporations that rule these affluent
Western nations would
do anything to smudge their quarterly bottom lines. That is why
there is such a skewed distribution of wealth between as well as within the
nations. The UNDP reports have highlighted over the
years that 1.3 billion people of a world total of over 6 billion, live on income of less that 1 $ a
day; almost half of them live in South Asia. In 1960, the 20% of the world’s
people residing in the richest countries had 30 times the income of poorest 20%;
by 1995 they became 82 times richer than these poorest 20%. Wealth is
concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. The wealth of 32 richest individuals
exceeds the GDP of South Asia. Growing income disparity is evident within
nations as well. In
This great disparity in global
distribution of wealth is sought to be perpetuated by the affluent West through
many mechanisms like the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO so as to favour the G-8 nations in their trade and
commerce. And this fierce trade war does metamorphose into shooting wear as in
Such a persistent pursuit of
narrow national interest by the oil hungry US was justified by its
representative at the Rio earth summit
where he turned down the demand that the US pay for the pollution caused by it.
And he added arrogantly that he is neither going to raise the tax burden of the
PRESIDENT CLINTON’S PLAINSPEAK.
Events of 9/11 did shock the US
but it did not want to face another disturbing fact that the rest of the world,
especially in the Middle East, perceived its high handed, pro Israel behaviour
as an unmistakable facet of its ‘Ugly American ‘ persona. In his article titled
‘World Without Walls’, President Clinton urged the Americans to acknowledge
that they had not always been blameless and to realise that a lot of people
were angry with them for perpetuating an iniquitous world order, in which these
deprived people did not know how to be part of tomorrow, as they could not find
the door. ‘You cannot have a global trading system or a global market governing
y9ur lives,’ he wrote, ‘without a global economic policy, a global
environmental policy and a global security policy. That means creating more
opportunity for those unfortunate people left behind by progress, so that the
pool of potential terrorists is reduced by increasing the potential partners,
THIS IS THE SOUL OF STRUGGLE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY.’ (emphasis added) This statesman like appeal was carried by
the Times of India on
A GLOBAL MIND CHANGE
Security of nations is more a companion to world -peace rather than consequence thereof; as such, both signify state of mind that is free from fear. Peace is not interval between two wars, but a social dynamics or a developmental process that encourages a flowering of human values because of an experimental conviction that all life is one. But to experience that one ness, man has to overcome his animal instincts which make him react violently to a challenge, most of the time. This inner transformation can take place only through education, which requires a supportive milieu that is seldom available in a war torn world.
Be it race, religion, economic disparity, ideological differences or any other issue that causes such strife, a common feature is the exploitation by the few privileged ones of the many at their mercy, at all levels of society. Today, mankind faces extinction if not through sudden nuclear winter then through a slow ecological suicide. What needs to be done for human survival is to bring about a global mind change which would accept a holistic outlook on life. Call it interdependence or interconnectedness, it demands immediate cessation of such exploitation of the deprived majority as well as nature’s non-renewable resources, its species, forests, all done to generate mega profits for a few corporations, without thought for the right of the unborn. Any approach to security among nations that are all partners in globalising economy has to be based on universally accepted global security policy, for which mankind has to shed the age old ‘we versus they’ syndrome and learn to live as one family.
CONTOURS OF GLOBAL SECURITY.
Ofcourse it would be utopian to expect all of mankind to imbibe this pragmatic ethos, so very essential for human survival, immediately and simultaneously, all over the world. The first step in this direction therefore would be to get all the heads of the state to meet at the UN and accept a form of global governance as would ensure security of all nations.
Today, the UN is the only international organisation with a membership of 192 nations that can become capable of overseeing such a global governance, provided that the world powers at the core of global order empower it to do so. The UN needs to be rejuvenated and given executive powers, with a global intelligence agency and a standing military force, to nip in the bud any impending crisis anywhere in the world.
Historically this function was
carried out by an imperial authority. Current US efforts to consolidate and
impose a Pax Americana is of the piece with
Aristotle’s views expressed in 3rd century B.C. ‘The world is not
intended to be disposed of in an evil order; in a multitude of of rulers there is evil, therefore , let there be one
Prince.’ One cannot expect a sudden reversal of the empire-building tendency of
Only then would it be possible to set goals to be reached in a phased and time bound manner, at the regional and global levels, in the following major areas:-
There will arise many other issues after further and detailed deliberations at national, regional and global levels, which will need to be incorporated in the above suggestions.
But as forecast by the Club of Rome in the 70s, and later as well, there are limits to economic growth, which would force mankind to accept slowing down of the total human economic activity, as the earth’s finite resources get consumed due to human greed. Keeping this in view, the common man has to fight and re-establish his right to lead a sane life, free from all conditioned responses that are implanted in him in the course of his en-culturation in this age of consumerism.
The UN standing force should ‘make’ peace, instead of restoring it or keeping it, because pre-emption rather than reaction has become the flavour of the day. The world was awaiting a peace dividend after the end of the Cold War. Instead it has entered, in Mary Kaldor’s words, an ‘ era of long term, low level, informal violence laced with ethnic cleansing as in Balkans, planned genocide as in Rawanda and terrorist attacks against the enemies of medieval Islam all over the globe. Quelling such violence would need global leadership capable of appreciating changing nature of conflict in which the opponent presents no fixed target. Fighting such a war with 20th century war machine and Second World War tactics would be like ‘eating soup with knife’ as Lawrence of Arabia had observed in his time. Hence the UN peace-making force would have to adapt itself to meet every new challenge in a creative manner. Prior reliable intelligence, gathered in a timely manner on the basis of prescient anticipation, would be critical for its success.
When viewed optimistically, even as the nation- state withers away, wars like those of the 19th and 20th centuries may have become out of date and their armed forces may have become relics of a bygone era. And by adopting a pragmatic stance implicit in the ‘mantra’ of ‘peace through security for all’, the world of the rich and the poor may actualise Kant’s dream of perpetual peace in the 21st century. Paraphrasing and old adage, if there is will, the world will find a way.