The Path to a World Beyond War
by Kevin Ryan
Everyone says that they hate war, and most people really do, yet war has always been a part of human life. Nearly all societies throughout history have engaged in some form of warfare. And for as long as there has been war there have been good people trying to end it. Unfortunately, despite minor successes lasting peace has been a dream that has been impossible to realize. That dream has not died, however, and people continue the fight to end all war. A recent example is the new campaign called World Beyond War (WBW).
At the WBW website, the organizers call for new ideas and ask for feedback on the strategies outlined there. The group’s approach to ending war calls for “defeating the propaganda of war promoters and countering the economic interests of war promoters with alternative economic possibilities.” Furthermore, WBW stresses the need for “a combination of disarmament and investment alternatives.” This means that nations must disarm, stop selling arms, and negotiate disarmament agreements.
How to accomplish such things is the problem. The disarmament ideas would require governments to dramatically change course but the governments are often led by the war promoters. Changing the governments in any substantial way would necessitate a dramatic change in the mindset of most citizens. Similarly, although there are theoretical ways to counter the economic interests of war promoters, such as coordinating the purchasing and tax-paying decisions of citizens en masse, organizing for it would require unprecedented changes in public opinion. The arguments of the past won’t make that happen.
Like many others, I believe that unprecedented changes in public opinion can be achieved by taking a more courageous and committed approach to one of WBW’s key objectives. That objective is to “communicate the facts about war and discard the myths.” It takes courage to really examine the facts and myths about how wars begin and how they are maintained because most of us—even people who see themselves as peace activists—play a part in that process.
How do wars start, for what reasons, and by what mechanisms? To answer these important questions it might help to begin by dispelling several powerful myths about the origins of war.
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