MAP Member Opinion "Peace"  
 

Alternatives to War
Shapira/ Bernard/ Schwarzberg

2-12-03

Will Shapira wrote:
As the voice of the peace movement grows louder and is heard with increasing frequency, opponents seem to be asking with increasing frequency: what are our specific alternatives to war/"regime change" in Iraq?

Dick Bernard responded:
Don't consider this a well thought out answer but...the danger the peace movement faces is its tacit agreement to stay on the defensive. I HATE sports metaphors (though I loved athletics as a kid), but there's that old saying that rattles through my brain a lot these days "the best defense is a good offense". I don't think we need to explain or justify or rationalize the value of PEACE. Perhaps we need to put the other side much more often on the defensive a bit more often: for instance, what proof is there that WAR ever solved anything, other than short term. How does investment in weapons of mass destruction improve people's lives, even in our own country? At the risk of offending someone, to me WAR is like a crime of passion - take your pick off the menu. For the perpetrator, it feels good at the time; but the violent abusive act catches up on (usually) him in the long run. Just a random thought....

Joe Schwartzberg responded:
Dear Friends,
Let me endorse Dick Bernard's eloquent statement and add a few thoughts of my own, putting forward my perspective as a World Federalist.

First, we must work to replace the present global "law of force" (the idea that might makes right), with the global "force of law." Nobody wishes to live in a city without a police force or a country without appropriate law enforcement mechanisms; yet, at the world level, we accept trans-national anarchy. It simply does not make sense. We must now support the creation of institutions with the power to make and enforce world law. Those institutions must be in conformity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many subsequent covenants and conventions that build on that seminal document. This means, like it or not, world government. Global problems require global solutions.

But the only world government worth creating would have to be reasonably democratic and federal in nature. That means that it would have to have a basis for representation and decision-making that is more realistic than the present one nation - one vote method used in the UN General Assembly (where, understandably, no decision is binding in nature) and that it would have to have a more representative Security Council in which no nation possessed the power of the veto. Such a government would be empowered to deal only with those issues that individual nations can no longer handle adequately on their own (e.g., the prevention of aggression or genocide, supervision of the elimination of weapons of mass destruction wherever they may exist, and protection of the global environment), leaving control of all other matters in the hands of the member nations. This is, I recognize, a tall order, but it is not utopian. The half-hearted alternatives that diplomats presently endorse are no more than stop-gap palliatives, with little long-term utility. Blueprints for enduring workable alternatives do exist.

Finally, it is important not merely to be against the things that frighten us: war, the USA Patriot Act, Bush, Saddam Hussein, whatever. Ultimately,we are judged by what we are FOR, not by what we are against. And what we must be FOR is "global justice," without which there is no long-term hope for peace. Vigorous promotion of justice will be our best defense against terrorism. While it will not be cheap, it will be much less costly and far more effective than our misguided attempt to create "Fortress America," with "Big Brother" calling the shots.

MAP can pride itself on its consistent support not only for peace, but for justice as well. But we must find ways to do our job even better than we do at present.

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