(Une version française suit en dessous)

The loss of the war of the war launched by the Americans in Afghanistan is the latest in a long list beginning with the loss of Germany and Japan in World War II and extending through the failure of the American wars in Korea and Vietnam. It is no longer profitable to launch a war.

Times have changed since the middle of the 20th Century. Before then, with the exception of World War I, war was a profitable business. It provided the colonies that enriched the European countries and ensured the neo-colonial domination of the United States over Latin America. The violence by which the colonial powers subjugated their colonies was so one-sided that they were not even recognized as wars.

In my previous blog, entiled Update on the Culture of War, I pointed out that the culture of war is now on the defensive. The progress of democracy and the rejection of war by the citizenry has forced countries, especially the American Empire, to avoid open warfare and to attack other countries by secret means or after invented and false provocations.

But Afghanistan is not the end. the culture of war continues to dominate human history. The great powers continue to increase their military spending, establish foreign military bases and prepare for nuclear war that risks the total destruction of the planet.

Can this be sustained?

It certainly cannot be sustained if there is a nuclear war: As Albert Einstein warned us in 1946, The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophe.

But even if there is not a nuclear war, it cannot be sustained forever. As Karl Marx put it, spending money on the military is like throwing money into the sea. It produces nothing of value. And eventually an economy that produces nothing of value will crash from its own internal contradiction. This is the contradiction that produced the crash of the Soviet Empire in 1989. And this is one of the contradictions that led Johan Galtung to predict the end of the American Empire in the year 2020.

The crash of the global system in World War I set the stage for the first attempt at a new system of governance in the League of Nations.`

The crash of World War II set the stage for another attempt in the United Nations.

A crash of nuclear war would produced “unparalleled catastrophe.”

But a global economic crash would prepare a window of opportunity to produce a new system of global governance capable of promoting a culture of peace.

The window of opportunity may be very brief, so we must prepare now to take advantage of it.

The Declaration for the Transition to a Culture of Peace in the XXI Century is a first step in the preparation that is needed. It is being disseminated widely in Latin America and we need to extend this to the rest of the world.

Go here for more information and to add your signature.

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La perte de la guerre lancées par les Américains en Afghanistan est la dernière d’une longue à commençer par celles à l’initiative de l’Allemagne et du Japon, lors de la Seconde Guerre mondiale et se prolongeant par l’échec américain en Corée et au Vietnam. Il n’est plus rentable de financer une guerre !

Les temps ont changé depuis le milieu du 20e siècle. Avant cela, à l’exception de la Première Guerre mondiale, la guerre était une entreprise rentable. Elle a fourni les colonies qui ont enrichi les pays européens et assuré la domination néo-coloniale des États-Unis sur l’Amérique latine. La violence par laquelle les puissances coloniales ont soumis leurs colonies était si unilatérale qu’elles n’étaient même pas reconnues comme des guerres !

Dans mon précédent blog, intitulé Mise à jour sur la culture de la guerre, j’ai souligné que la culture de la guerre est désormais sur la défensive. Les progrès de la démocratie et le rejet de la guerre par les citoyens ont contraint des pays, en particulier l’Empire américain, à éviter la guerre ouverte et à attaquer d’autres pays par des moyens secrets ou après de fausses provocations inventées.

Mais l’Afghanistan n’est pas la fin. la culture de la guerre continue de dominer l’histoire humaine. Les grandes puissances continuent d’augmenter leurs dépenses militaires, d’établir des bases militaires étrangères et à se préparer à une guerre nucléaire qui risque la destruction totale de la planète.

Cela peut-il continuer ?

Certainement pas s’il y a une guerre nucléaire !! Comme nous l’avait prévenu Albert Einstein en 1946, la puissance déchaînée de l’atome a tout changé, sauf nos modes de pensée et nous dérivons ainsi vers une catastrophe sans précédent.

Mais même s’il n’y a pas de guerre nucléaire, elle ne peut pas continuer indéfiniment. Comme l’a dit Karl Marx, dépenser de l’argent pour l’armée, c’est comme jeter de l’argent à la mer. Il ne produit pas de valeur. Et finalement, une économie qui ne produit pas de valeur s’effondrera à cause de sa propre contradiction interne. C’est la contradiction qui a produit le krach de l’empire soviétique en 1989. Et c’est l’une des contradictions qui ont conduit Johan Galtung à prédire la fin de l’empire américain en 2020.

L’effondrement du système mondial pendant la Première Guerre mondiale a ouvert la voie à la première tentative d’un nouveau système de gouvernance au sein de la Société des Nations.

Le crash de la Seconde Guerre mondiale a ouvert la voie à une autre tentative aux Nations Unies.

Un effondrement de la guerre nucléaire produirait une “catastrophe sans précédent”.

Mais un krach économique mondial préparerait une fenêtre d’opportunité pour produire un nouveau système de gouvernance mondiale capable de promouvoir une culture de la paix.

La fenêtre d’opportunité peut être très brève, nous devons donc nous préparer dès maintenant à en profiter.

La Déclaration pour la transition vers une culture de la paix au XXIe siècle est un premier pas dans la préparation qui s’impose. Il est largement diffusé en Amérique latine et nous devons l’étendre au reste du monde.

Allez ici pour plus d’informations et pour ajouter votre signature.

Invasion of Venezuela: Is it Operation Just Cause, Bay of Pigs or Wag the Dog?


(Une version française suit en dessous)

On April 1 (April Fools Day) President Trump announced that the United States will send a military force to Venezuela, claiming that it was needed to stop drug trafficking by their President Maduro. He was followed by US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who said the task force included Navy destroyers and littoral combat ships, Coast Guard Cutters, P.A. patrol aircraft, and elements of an Army security force assistance brigade. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, added that there are “thousands of sailors, Coast Guardsman, soldiers, airmen, Marines involved in this operation.”

What are the historical precedents for this?

Operation Just Cause. In 1989, the United States invaded Panama and arrested its President Noriega on drug charges, as described in detail by Wikipedia. According to a video by Telesur, over 2,000 people were killed and 20,000 displaced in the extensive military operation. Apparently there was little resistance by the Panamanian military. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution stating that the U.S. invasion was a “flagrant violation of international law.

Bay of Pigs. In 1961, over 1400 paramilitaries invaded Cuba at a point called the Bay of Pigs. The operation, covertly financed and directed by the U.S. government, was a failure. The invading force were defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces.

Wag the Dog In 1997, the film “Wag the Dog” portrays a “war” that is fabricated inside Hollywood sets to distract voters from a presidential sex scandal and  covered by the mass media as if true. In the film the trick works and the President is re-elected as a result.

Which of these precedents most resembles the present situation?

For the moment, it would seem most similar to Wag the Dog. One month after Trump’s announcement, Venezuela captured a small gang of mercenaries led by an American that tried to invade Venezuela. It seems that the invasion attempt was not a very serious attempt in the sense that it had no chance to succeed. However, it captured the attention of the mass media as if Trump was actually attacking Venezuela. And certainly the political problems of President Donald Trump are as great or greater than those of Bill Clinton that inspired the 1997 film. Trump has even more reason to stage a fake war in order to divert attention from his failures.

If there is going to be an invasion of Venezuela like that of Operation Just Cause, we should expect the approach of the US Navy’s warships in the region, especially the Aircraft Carrier Strike Group Truman and the Amphibious Assault Ship Iwo Jima. As of this moment (end of May), according to the internet fleet tracker, they have not moved towards Venezuela, and in fact they are hampered by the potential for an epidemic of coronavirus in their crew, according to the head of the Southern Command.

But there is a long time between now and the elections scheduled for November. And the threats continue. In addition to the invasion by mercenaries mentioned above, consider the following. If you search the internet for “Vigo cocaine”, you will find many articles dating from the beginning of May about the interception of a boat off the coast of Vigo, Portugal, that was loaded with cocaine said by some sources to be coming from Venezuela. But look carefully at the sources. The articles saying that the cocaine came from Venezuela quote unnamed US sources, or, in some cases, they quote James Story, director of the Venezuela Affairs Unit at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia. This information (misinformation?) seems designed to support the Trump administration’s claim that Venezuela is heavily involved in the drug trade which is their excuse for threatening military action, despite the fact that independent studies contradict Trump’s claim.

Finally, if Trump does order an invasion of Venezuela, it may resemble the Bay of Pigs more than Operation Just Cause. The Veneuzuelan military, aided by Russian equipment and advisors, and backed, at least verbally, by China, is a force more similar to the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces in 1961 than the Panamanian forces in 1989.

The Bay of Pigs preceded by a year the Cuban Missile Crisis which threatened a nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union. As for an invasion of Venezuela at this time, could it not also threaten escalation into a nuclear war even more dangerous that a nuclear war would have been in 1962!

At CPNN, following the April 1 announcement by Trump we sent an email to our mailing list saying the following in part: “The threat of Trump to make war against Venezuela demands a special and unique response from all of us. . . . If you are in a country that is in NATO or the UN Security Council, I suggest you contact your government with a message similar to the following: Please use your influence in the [UN Security Council] [direction of NATO] to prevent Trump from starting a war with Venezuela which could lead to World War III because of the support to Venezuela from Russia and China. Trump is trying to divert attention from the medical and economic crisis but he is producing a crisis that is even more dangerous.”

We don’t yet know if this is a case of Wag the Dog, or an April Fool’s joke, but the danger still exists that this could be a repeat of Operation Just Cause or the Bay of Pigs, which demands that we do all we can to prevent it.

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Invasion du Venezuela: est-ce l’”Opération Just Cause”, la baie des Cochons ou “Wag the Dog”?

Le 1er avril (poissons d’avril), le président Trump a annoncé que les États-Unis enverraient une force militaire au Venezuela, faisant l’accusation qu’il était nécessaire parce que le trafic de drogue est organisé par leur président Maduro. Il a été suivi par le secrétaire américain à la Défense Mark Esper, qui a déclaré que le Groupe d’attaque comprenait des destroyers de la Marine et des navires de combat littoraux, Coast Guard Cutters, des avions de patrouille et des éléments d’une brigade d’assistance des forces de sécurité de l’armée. Le général Mark Milley, président des chefs d’état-major interarmées, a ajouté que «des milliers de marins, de gardes-côtes, de soldats, d’aviateurs et de marines sont impliqués dans cette opération».

Quels sont les précédents historiques à ce sujet?

Opération Just Cause. En 1989, les États-Unis ont envahi le Panama et arrêté son président Noriega sur des accusations de drogue, comme il l’est écrit dans Wikipedia. Selon une vidéo de Telesur, plus de 2 000 personnes ont été tuées et 20 000 déplacées dans le cadre de cette vaste opération militaire. Apparemment, il y avait peu de résistance de la part des militaires panaméens. L’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies a adopté une résolution déclarant que l’invasion américaine était une “violation flagrante du droit international”.

Baie des Cochons. En 1961, plus de 1400 paramilitaires ont envahi Cuba à un endroit appelé la baie des Cochons. L’opération, secrètement financée et dirigée par le gouvernement américain, a été un échec. La force d’invasion a été vaincue en trois jours par les Forces armées révolutionnaires cubaines.

Wag the Dog. En 1997, le film “Wag the Dog” dépeint une “guerre” qui est fabriquée à l’intérieur des décors hollywoodiens pour distraire les électeurs d’un scandale sexuel présidentiel et couverte par les médias comme si elle était vraie. Dans le film, l’astuce fonctionne et le président est réélu en conséquence.

Lequel de ces précédents ressemble le plus à la situation actuelle?

Pour le moment, cela semble plus similaire à “Wag the Dog”. Un mois après l’annonce de Trump, le Venezuela a capturé une petite bande de mercenaires dirigée par un Américain qui a tenté d’envahir le Venezuela. Il semble que la tentative d’invasion n’ait pas été une tentative très sérieuse dans le sens où elle n’avait aucune chance de réussir. Cependant, cela a attiré l’attention des médias de masse comme si Trump attaquait réellement le Venezuela. Et certainement les problèmes politiques du président Donald Trump sont aussi grands ou plus grands que ceux de Bill Clinton qui a inspiré le film de 1997. Trump a encore plus de raisons de déclencher une fausse guerre afin de détourner l’attention de ses échecs.

S’il doit y avoir une invasion du Venezuela comme celle de l’Opération Just Cause, nous devons nous attendre à l’approche des navires de guerre de la marine américaine dans la région, en particulier du groupe aéronaval Truman et du navire d’assaut amphibie Iwo Jima. Selon le chef du Southern Command, ils ne se sont pas déplacés vers le Venezuela et ils sont en fait gênés par le potentiel d’une épidémie de coronavirus dans leur équipage (fin mai). .

Mais il y a beaucoup de temps entre maintenant et les élections prévues pour novembre. Et les menaces continuent. En plus de l’invasion de mercenaires mentionnée ci-dessus, considérez ce qui suit. Si vous recherchez sur Internet “Vigo cocaïne”, vous trouverez de nombreux articles datant de début mai sur l’interception d’un bateau au large de Vigo, au Portugal, qui était chargé de cocaïne qui, selon certaines sources, proviendrait du Venezuela . Mais regardez attentivement les sources. Les articles disant que la cocaïne provenait du Venezuela citent des sources américaines anonymes ou, dans certains cas, citent James Story, directeur de l’Unité des affaires du Venezuela à l’ambassade des États-Unis en Colombie. Ces informations (désinformation?) semblent conçues pour soutenir l’affirmation de l’administration Trump selon laquelle le Venezuela est fortement impliqué dans le trafic de drogue, ce qui est leur excuse pour menacer une action militaire, malgré le fait que des études indépendantes contredisent l’affirmation de Trump.

Enfin, si Trump ordonne une invasion du Venezuela, cela pourrait ressembler davantage à la baie des Cochons qu’à l’Opération Just Cause. L’armée vénézuelienne, aidée par du matériel et des conseillers russes et appuyée, au moins verbalement, par la Chine, est une force plus similaire aux Forces armées révolutionnaires cubaines en 1961 qu’aux forces panaméennes en 1989.

La baie des Cochons a précédé d’un an la crise des missiles cubains qui menaçait une guerre nucléaire entre les États-Unis et l’Union soviétique. Quant à une invasion du Venezuela en ce moment, ne pourrait-elle pas aussi menacer l’escalade vers une guerre nucléaire encore plus dangereuse qu’une guerre nucléaire l’aurait été en 1962!

À CPNN, à la suite de l’annonce faite le 1er avril par Trump, nous avons envoyé un e-mail à notre liste de diffusion disant en partie : “La menace de Trump de faire la guerre au Venezuela exige une réponse spéciale et unique de nous tous … Si vous êtes dans un pays membre de l’OTAN ou du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies, je vous suggère de contacter votre gouvernement avec un message semblable au suivant: Veuillez utiliser votre influence au [Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies] [direction de l’OTAN] pour empêcher Trump de commencer un guerre contre le Venezuela qui pourrait conduire à la troisième guerre mondiale en raison du soutien au Venezuela de la Russie et de la Chine. Trump essaie de détourner l’attention de la crise médicale et économique, mais il produit une crise encore plus dangereuse. ”

Nous ne savons pas encore s’il s’agit d’un cas de Wag the Dog ou d’un poisson d’avril, mais le danger existe toujours que ce soit une répétition de l’Opération Just Cause ou de la baie des Cochons, qui exige que nous fassions tout ce que nous pouvons pour l’empêcher.



(Une version française suit en dessous)

A proliferation of city and mayoral organizations are filling the void left by the failure of the nation-states. As stated by one of the most recent, the Strong Cities Network: “Nation states have dominated the global political arena for centuries, but with more than half of the world’s population today residing in cities, it may be time to rethink who should be at the table when it comes to decisions on how we can reduce violence.”

The latest issue of the CPNN bulletin lists recent actions by the following organizations and forums of cities and mayors contibuting to nuclear disarmament, sustainable development, reduction of international tensions and reduction of urban violence :

Mayors for Peace
Cities Appeal of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
World Urban Forum
ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability)
Global Parliament of Mayors
International Cities of Peace
Strong Cities Network (SCN)
World Forum on Cities and Territories of Peace
United Cities and Local Governments

We may suppose that this proliferation of initiatives reflects a growing realization that the system of nation states is failing as we have documented over the past couple of years in CPNN.

Sustainable development. The CPNN bulletin of January 1 this year is devoted to the Global Climate Change Conference in Madrid which failed just as the previous Conferences failed.

Nuclear disarmament. The CPNN bulletin of June 1, 2018 was devoted to the United Nationsl Disarmament Conference that never took place because of the opposition of the nuclear states.

Around the world we see the beginning of failed states, consumed by violence: Libya, Yemen, and a case can be made for Mexico. Johan Galtung has gone so far as to imagine that the United States will split into two countries as the American Empire crumbles.

The situation is so serious that UN Secretary-General Guterrres devoted his annual press conference on February 4 to the “wind of madness” sweeping the globe. ” From Libya to Yemen to Syria and beyond — escalation is back. Arms are flowing. Offensives are increasing.” And the “doomsday clock” of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has been moved to the closest to midnight of an apocalypse since the lock was first started in 1947 to warn of the dangers of nuclear war.

We may point our finger at the United Nations Security Council as the key element of the failure. The Council was established after World War II to ensure peace and stability in the post-war world. For the first half of its existence it was hobbled by the Cold War, and there were hopes that after the falll of the Soviet Empire it would be able to fulfill its function. But now, it is now evident that the nation-states are not capable of this.

The time has come to begin a process of transferring the decision-making of the UN Secuity Council from the nation-state to the city.

Cities have no interest in nuclear weapons. They are not invested in the arms race or in the polluting industries that cause global warming. They have no frontiers to defend or tarrifs to impose.

The process can be started now with a Mayors’ Security Council (MSC) similar to the Virtual Parliament recently begun by the Global Parliament of Mayors. The MSC would regularly issue press releases stating how they would vote on issues facing the UN Security Council. Immediately they would begin the process of nuclear disarmament. And they would be more serious in addressing the global climate crisis. They would raise the hope that “another world is possible.”

To survive at this point in human history, we need a new vision and a new approach. The MSC could begin this process.

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Une prolifération d’organisations de villes et de maires comble le vide laissé par l’échec des États-nations. Comme l’a déclaré l’un des plus récents, le Strong Cities Network: «Les États-nations dominent l’arène politique mondiale depuis des siècles, mais avec plus de la moitié de la population mondiale résidant aujourd’hui dans les villes, il est peut-être temps de repenser qui devrait être autour de la table quand il s’agit de décisions sur la façon dont nous pouvons réduire la violence. “

Le dernier numéro du bulletin du CPNN liste les actions récentes des organisations et forums de villes et maires suivants, contribuant au désarmement nucléaire, au développement durable, à la réduction des tensions internationales et à la réduction de la violence urbaine:

Maires pour la paix,

L’appel des villes par la Campagne internationale pour l’abolition des armes nucléaires
Forum urbain mondial,

ICLEI (Gouvernements locaux pour la developpement durable),
Parlement mondial des maires,
Villes internationales de paix,
Réseau des villes fortes (SCN),
Forum mondial des villes et territoires de paix,
Cités et Gouvernements Unis

Nous pouvons supposer que cette prolifération d’initiatives reflète une prise de conscience croissante de l’échec du système des États-nations comme nous l’avons documenté au cours des deux dernières années dans CPNN.

Le développement durable. Le bulletin de CPNN du 1er janvier de cette année est consacré à la Conférence mondiale sur le changement climatique à Madrid qui a échoué tout comme les conférences précédentes ont échoué.

Le désarmement nucléaire. Le bulletin du CPNN du 1er juin 2018 était consacré à la Conférence des Nations Unies sur le désarmement qui n’a jamais eu lieu en raison de l’opposition des États nucléaires.

Partout dans le monde, nous voyons le début d’États en déroute, dévorés par la violence: la Libye, le Yémen, et peut-être le Mexique. Johan Galtung est allé jusqu’à imaginer que les États-Unis se diviseraient en deux pays lors que l’Empire américain s’effondrera.

La situation est si grave que le Secrétaire général de l’ONU, M. Guterrres, a consacré sa conférence de presse annuelle du 4 février au “vent de folie” qui balaie le monde. “De la Libye au Yémen en passant par la Syrie et au-delà – l’escalade est de retour. Les armes crachent. Les offensives augmentent.”

Et l’horloge apocalyptique du Bulletin of Atomic Scientists a été déplacée au plus près de minuit depuis son début en 1947 pour avertir des dangers de la guerre nucléaire.

Nous pouvons pointer du doigt le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies comme l’élément clé de l’échec. Le Conseil a été créé après la Seconde Guerre mondiale pour assurer la paix et la stabilité dans le monde d’après-guerre. Pendant la première moitié de son existence, il a été entravé par la guerre froide, et il y avait l’espoir qu’après la chute de l’empire soviétique, il serait en mesure de remplir sa fonction. Mais maintenant, il semble évident que les États-nations n’en sont pas capables.

Le moment est venu d’entamer un processus de transfert de la décision du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies de l’État-nation à la ville.

Les villes n’ont aucun intérêt pour les armes nucléaires. Elles ne sont pas investies dans la course aux armements ou dans les industries polluantes qui provoquent le réchauffement climatique. Elles n’ont pas de frontières à défendre, ni de tarifs à imposer.

Le processus peut commencer dès maintenant avec un Conseil de sécurité des maires (MSC) similaire au Parlement virtuel récemment initié par le Parlement mondial des maires. Le MSC publiera régulièrement des communiqués de presse indiquant comment il votera sur les questions auxquelles le Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies est confronté. Ils entameraient immédiatement le processus de désarmement nucléaire. Et ils seraient plus sérieux dans la lutte contre la crise climatique mondiale. Ils susciteraient l’espoir qu’un “autre monde est possible”.

Pour survivre à cette période dangereuse de l’histoire humaine, nous avons besoin d’une nouvelle vision et d’une nouvelle approche. Le MSC pourrait commencer ce processus.

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The Pope, Religion and the Culture of Peace


(Une version française suit en dessous)

In this month’s bulletin of CPNN I have written about the initiative of Pope Francis for nuclear disarmament, and, along with and the bishops and churches of the Amazon, for sustainable development and the rights of indigenous peoples, key components of the culture of peace.

One of the initial reactions to the bulletin was to object that the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church do not support the culture of peace insofar as they continue to call homosexuality a disease and and to oppose abortion. This point of view considers that a person’s sexual orientation and a woman’s control over reproduction are fundamental human rights and hence components of the culture of peace.

Of course the Pope’s remarks about homosexuality and abortion reflect a long-standing dogma of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as many other religious institutions.

This debate reminds me of the excellent discussion about religion and culture of peace published in 2000 by Elise Boulding in her book Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History:

“Every religion then contains two cultures: the culture of violence and war and the culture of peaceableness. The holy war culture calls for mobilization against evil and is easily politicized. The culture of the peaceable garden relies on a sense of the oneness of humankind, often taking the form of intentional communities based on peaceful and cooperative lifeways, sanctuaries for the nonviolent….”. .

In my opinion, the Pope’s initiatives go beyond the usual “two cultures” of religion. I see them as an important contribution to the agenda of history. Hence, at the conclusion of the bulletin I write that they “may be seen as a major step in the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace.”

It is the general theme of this blog that there is an agenda of history in the sense that certain problems/challenges are more urgent than others. This theme is present in the remarks quoted in the bulletin by Cardinal Czerny at the final press briefing of the Amazon Synod, that the ecological and human crisis is so deep that without a sense of urgency “we’re not going to make it.”

Nuclear disarmament is such a problem/challenge. Unless we can achieve it, the other components of the culture of peace, including human rights, will never be achieved.

As for the ecological crisis and the necessity of sustainable development, there is a sense in which they are less urgent than nuclear disarmament. The ecological threat is real but while a nuclear war could completely destroy our world in a matter of hours and days, the ecological threat is a matter of decades and centuries.

Unlike the perspective that I am presenting, it seems that people, and especially the young generation, are more conscious of the ecological threat than the nuclear threat. For them the evidence of global warming is visible every day, while the nuclear threat remains abstract and hidden. Therefore, it is tactically and strategically effective that nuclear disarmament be linked as much as possible to the movements for sustainable development.

Of course, the two issues are profoundly related in the sense that both concern preservation of our planet, and like all components of the culture of war and culture of peace they are part of a cultural continuum. This was expressed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres: “Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihoods, and our lives. That is why it is the focus of this year’s International Day of Peace.” And it was emphasized in the effective mobilizations for the International Day of Peace in France by Mouvement de la Paix and by the analysis for the occasion by their spokesman Roland Nivet: “Climate and peace are the same fight. The struggles for peace and climate, social justice and human rights, nuclear disarmament are linked. They unite us today and must be the cement of our unity of action for tomorrow.”

The initiatives of the Pope are especially timely because they support this linkage of nuclear disarmament and sustainable development and they send out this message to the Catholic churches around the world and their more than a billion religious followers.

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Le pape, la religion et la culture de la paix

Dans le bulletin de CPNN de ce mois-ci, j’ai évoqué l’initiative du pape François en faveur du désarmement nucléaire et en faveur du développement durable et des droits des peuples autochtones, comme faisant partie des éléments essentiels de la culture de la paix.  Ces derniers ont été faits avec les évêques et avec les églises de l’Amazonie.

L’une des premières réactions au bulletin a été de faire remarquer que le Pape et l’Église catholique romaine ne soutiennent pas complètement la culture de la paix dans la mesure où ils continuent de qualifier l’homosexualité de maladie et de s’opposer à l’avortement. Ces points de vue considèrent que l’orientation sexuelle d’une personne et le contrôle de la procréation par une femme sont des droits de l’Homme fondamentaux et donc des éléments essentiels de la culture de la paix.

Bien sûr, le points de vue du pape sur l’homosexualité et l’avortement reflètent une prise de position de longue date de l’Église catholique romaine, ainsi que de nombreuses autres institutions religieuses.

Ce débat me rappelle l’excellente discussion sur la religion et la culture de la paix publiée en 2000 par Elise Boulding dans son livre Cultures of Peace: The Hidden Side of History:

“Chaque religion contient alors deux cultures: la culture de la violence et de la guerre et la culture de la paix. La culture de la guerre sainte appelle à la mobilisation contre le mal et est facilement politisée. La culture du jardin pacifique repose sur le sentiment de l’unité de l’humanité, prenant souvent la forme de communautés intentionnelles basées sur des chemins de vie pacifiques et coopératifs, des sanctuaires pour les non-violents…. “. .

À mon avis, les initiatives du pape vont au-delà des “deux cultures” habituelles de la religion. Je les considère comme une contribution importante à l’ordre du jour de l’histoire. Par conséquent, à la fin du bulletin, j’écris qu’ils “pourraient être considérés comme une étape majeure dans la transition d’une culture de la guerre à une culture de la paix”.

Le thème général de ce blog est qu’il existe un agenda de l’histoire en ce sens que certains problèmes – défis sont plus urgents que d’autres. Ce thème est présent dans les remarques citées dans le bulletin du cardinal Czerny lors de sa conférence de presse finale du Synode d’Amazonie, selon lesquelles la crise écologique et humaine est si profonde que, sans sentiment d’urgence, nous n’allons pas survivre.

Le désarmement nucléaire est un tel problème – défi !  À moins d’atteindre cet objectif, les autres éléments de la culture de la paix, y compris les droits de l’Homme, ne seront jamais atteints.

En ce qui concerne la crise écologique et la nécessité d’un développement durable, il est en quelque sorte moins urgent que le désarmement nucléaire. La menace écologique est réelle, mais son rhythme est plus lent. Une guerre nucléaire pourrait complètement détruire notre monde en quelques heures et quelques jours alors que la menace écologique est une affaire de décennies et de siècles.

Contrairement à la perspective que je présente, il semble que les gens, et en particulier la jeune génération, soient plus conscients de la menace écologique que de la menace nucléaire. Pour eux, les preuves du réchauffement climatique sont visibles chaque jour, tandis que la menace nucléaire reste abstraite et cachée. Par conséquent, il est tactiquement et stratégiquement efficace de lier autant que possible le désarmement nucléaire aux mouvements en faveur du développement durable.

Bien entendu, les deux problèmes sont profondément liés en ce sens qu’ils concernent à la fois la préservation de notre planète et que, comme toutes les composantes de la culture de la guerre et de la culture de la paix, ils font partie d’un continuum culturel. Dans ce sens, le Secrétaire général de l’ONU, Antonio Guterres, a déclaré: “Aujourd’hui, la paix fait face à un nouveau danger : l’urgence climatique, qui menace notre sécurité, nos moyens de subsistance, notre vie. C’est pourquoi cette année la Journée internationale de la paix sera placée sous le thème de l’action climatique.” Et il a été souligné dans les mobilisations effectives pour la Journée internationale de la paix en France par le Mouvement de la paix et par l’analyse effectuée pour l’occasion par son porte-parole Roland Nivet: “Climat et paix même combat. Les luttes pour la paix et le climat, la justice sociale et les droits humains, le désarmement nucléaire sont liées. Elles nous unissent aujourd’hui et doivent être le ciment de notre unité d’action pour demain.” “

Les initiatives du pape sont particulièrement opportunes, car elles soutiennent ce lien entre le désarmement nucléaire et le développement durable et envoient ce message aux églises catholiques du monde entier et à leurs fidèles qui sont plus d’un milliard.

The Doomsday Clock


(Une version française suit en dessous)

Looking back at 2018, we see progress in all of the areas of a culture of peace except one: disarmament, and in particular nuclear disarmament.
Symbolic of this, last year the “doomsday clock” of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists was reset to only two minutes before midnight, the shortest it has been since 1953!

An accompanying article recalls a 1982 television film depicting the effects of a nuclear war on a Kansas town which was viewed by 100 million people and which helped inspire President Ronald Reagan to reach a disarmament agreement with Russian President Gorbachev a few years later. The author of the article concludes:

“There are striking parallels between the security situations today and 35 years ago, with one major discordance: Today, nuclear weapons are seldom a front-burner concern, largely being forgotten, underestimated, or ignored by the American public. The United States desperately needs a fresh national conversation about the born-again nuclear arms race—a conversation loud enough to catch the attention of the White House and the Kremlin and lead to resumed dialogue.”

This reminds me of a novel that I wrote back in 1965 called simply “PEACE.” Like many of my generation I was greatly troubled by the Cuban missile crisis a few years before which served as a wake-up call that we could destroy our entire civilization with a nuclear war. So I wrote a novel imagining that a series of accidental nuclear explosions and the threat of nuclear blackmail, combined with a peace movement centered around “Peace News” (much like CPNN), led eventually to a World Peace Treaty and nuclear disarmament.

More recently, in 2011, I came back to this theme in a two-act theatre play called “Freud’s Last Death” which takes place in the 1986 in a bunker buried deep below ground in what was then the Soviet Union. We meet Colonel Stanislav Petrov, retired from the Soviet Air Defense Forces, who refused to launch a nuclear attack against the West despite the fact that the radar showed missiles on the way to destroy the Soviet Union. That part of the play reflects an actual event that occurred in 1983. We carried two articles about this in CPNN, in 2004 and again in 2012, and a film about it was released in 2014. Petrov died in 2017 in poverty, and his story remains relatively unknown. Symbolically, it seems, even the links in the CPNN articles are no longer valid.

In the play we also meet Sigmund Freud, whose brain has been kept alive by a scientific “miracle,” and we question him about his belief that humanity is condemned because of a “death instinct.” At the time of the play, Gorbachev and Reagan are meeting in Iceland where they will reach agreement for the most important nuclear disarmament initiative in history. The danger of a nuclear war was reduced, but not eliminated,.

The play concludes:

The “initial disarmament agreements have been overcome by a new arms race. There are now over 30,000 nuclear weapons under the control of nine states, with other states planning to manufacture them. A global nuclear war would still risk the destruction of all life on the planet. And as for the death instinct, scientists still do not know if it exists or not.”

Here we are, entering 2019, without progress towards nuclear disarmament.

Will humanity survive until 2020? Or will the nightmare of nuclear war intervene?

It’s time to wake up!


L’horloge Doomsday

En regardant l’ensemble de l’année ècoulée, nous constatons des progrès dans tous les domaines d’une culture de la paix, à l’exception du désarmement, et en particulier le désarmement nucléaire.

Symbole de cela, l’année dernière, le “Doomsday Clock” du Bulletin of Atomic Scienists a été réinitialisé à seulement deux minutes avant minuit, son minimum depuis 1953 !

Un article d’accompagnement rappelle un film télévisé en 1982 décrivant les effets d’une guerre des armes nucléaires sur une ville du Kansas, vue par 100 millions de personnes et qui a incité le président Ronald Reagan à conclure un accord de désarmement avec le président russe Gorbatchev quelques années plus tard. L’auteur de l’article conclut:

“Il existe des parallèles frappants entre la situation sécuritaire actuelle et celle d’il y a 35 ans, et une discordance majeure: aujourd’hui, les armes nucléaires sont rarement une préoccupation majeure, elles sont en grande partie oubliées, sous-estimées ou ignorées par le public américain. Les États-Unis ont désespérément besoin d’une nouvelle consultation nationale sur la course aux armements nucléaires qui est relancée, mais une consultation suffisamment forte pour attirer l’attention de la Maison-Blanche et du Kremlin et pour amener à la reprise du dialogue. ”

Cela me rappelle un roman que j’avais écrit en 1965 et qui s’appelait simplement “PEACE.” Comme beaucoup de membres de ma génération, la crise des missiles cubains qui a eu lieu il y a quelques décennies m’a profondément troublée et a servi de signal d’alarme pour que nous puissions détruire toute notre civlilsation par une guerre nucléaire. J’ai donc écrit un roman en imaginant qu’une série d’explosions nucléaires accidentelles et la menace de chantage nucléaire, combinées à un mouvement pour la paix centré sur “Peace News” (un peu comme le CPNN) aboutissaient à un traité de paix mondial et au désarmement nucléaire.

Plus récemment, en 2011, je suis revenu sur ce thème dans une pièce de théâtre en deux actes intitulée “La dernière mort de Freud” qui se déroule en 1986 dans un bunker enfoui sous le sol dans ce qui était à l’époque l’Union soviétique. Nous y rencontrions le colonel Stanislav Petrov, retraité des Forces de défense antiaériennes soviétiques, qui a refusé de lancer une attaque nucléaire contre l’Occident alors que le radar montrait des missiles sur le chemin de la destruction de l’Union soviétique. Cette partie de la pièce reflète un événement réel arrivé en 1983. Nous avons publié deux articles à ce sujet dans CPNN, en 2004 et à nouveau en 2012, et un film à ce sujet a été publié en 2014. Petrov est décédé en 2017 dans la misère, et son histoire reste relativement inconnue et oublié. Les liens des articles de CPNN n’existent plus. Le film n’a pas reçu grand attention.

Dans la pièce, nous rencontrons également Sigmund Freud, dont le cerveau a été maintenu en vie par un “miracle” scientifique, et nous le questionnons sur sa conviction que l’humanité est condamnée en raison d’un “instinct de mort”. Au moment de la pièce, Gorbatchev et Reagan se rencontrent en Islande où ils parviendront à un accord sur la plus importante initiative de désarmement nucléaire de l’histoire. Le danger de guerre nucléaire a été réduit, mais pas éliminé.

 La pièce se termine: “Les accords de désarmement initiaux ont été dépassés par une nouvelle course aux armements. Plus de 30 000 armes nucléaires sont actuellement sous le contrôle de neuf États, d’autres pays envisageant de les fabriquer. Une guerre nucléaire mondiale risquerait encore de détruire la planète. Et quant à l’instinct de mort, les scientifiques ne savent toujours pas s’il existe ou non. ”

Nous sommes entrés en 2019 sans progresser dans le désarmement nucléaire.

L’humanité survivra-t-elle jusqu’en 2020? Ou le cauchemar de la guerre nucléaire va-t-il intervenir?

If faut se réveiller!

The answer is blowing in the wind


(Une version française suit en dessous)

During the week (actually it took two weeks) during which I was seeking out the information about the observation of the International Day of Peace, I came across the article published by Unfold Zero about two meetings at the United Nations on the same day concerning nuclear weapons. The major nuclear states (USA, France, UK, China and Russia) all went to a meeting for non-proliferation and boycotted the meeting for nuclear disarmament. As the article correctly concludes, the nuclear states “place very little priority on their obligations to eliminate their own weapons of mass destruction, focusing instead on preventing others from acquiring such weapons.”

The contrast could not be stronger between the actions of these national governments and the great numbers of schools, cities and towns, civil society organizations and individuals everywhere in the world who took part in the International Day of Peace.

Having used more or less the same methodology this year as last year, we can see that the involvement in the International Day of Peace is increasing in most of the world. In fact, this is probably the best measure we have of the increasing anti-war consciousness of the peoples of the world.

Not only does this mean that new people, localities and organizations enter the celebration of Peace each year, but we can imagine as well that for those who have been involved before, there is an accumulation and strengthening of their anti-war consciousness.

And most important of all, the greatest part of the celebrations took place in schools with schoolchildren taking part in the International Day of Peace. This gives us great hope for the future. We are raising a new generation who, hopefully, can finally undertake the abolition of war.

The schoolchildren took part in a wide variety of actions for the Day, but for me the most symbolic was their release of balloons and doves into the sky, and their watching them disperse with the wind, as if they were going around the world. After all, the sky is something we share with everyone else in the world. Symbolically, “the answer is blowing in the wind,” as in the anti-war song written by Bob Dylan in my generation opposed to the Vietnam War.

The continuing growth of anti-war consciousness, as expressed by “the answer blowing in the wind,” is absolutely essential to our hopes for peace, including nuclear disarmament and the abolition of war. Perhaps it is not enough, as I have often emphasized in this blog, since we also need to develop an institutional framework for peace. But even if it is not enough, it still essential and indispensable.

Let us be like the children and launch our balloons and doves and desires for peace onto all the winds and involving all the peopes of our planet ! And knowing that the days are numbered for the national governments that hold onto nuclear weapons as instruments of power, let us look forward to the day when their power has crashed and they are replaced at the United Nations by true representatives of the people conscious of the need for a culture of peace.

* * * * *
La solution souffle dans le vent

Au cours de la semaine (en fait, cela a pris deux semaines) au cours de laquelle j’ai cherché des informations sur l’observation de la Journée internationale de la paix, je suis tombé sur l’article publié par Unfold Zero à propos de deux réunions le même jour aux Nations Unies sur les armes nucléaires. Les principaux États nucléaires (États-Unis, France, Royaume-Uni, Chine et Russie) se sont tous rendus à la réunion sur la non-prolifération et ils ont boycotté ainsi la réunion sur le désarmement! Comme l’article le conclut à juste titre, les États nucléaires “n’accordent pas de priorité à leur obligation d’éliminer leurs propres armes de destruction massive, mais se concentrent plutôt sur l’empêchement des autres d’acquérir de telles armes”.

Le contraste ne pouvait pas être plus fort entre les actions de ces gouvernements nationaux et le grand nombre d’écoles, de villes et villages, d’organisations de la société civile et d’individus du monde entier qui ont participé à la Journée internationale de la paix.

Après avoir utilisé plus ou moins la même méthodologie cette année que l’année dernière, nous pouvons constater que la participation à cette Journée s’intensifie dans la plupart du monde. En fait, ces chifres sont probablement la meilleure mesure que nous ayons de la conscience croissante des peuples du monde entier contre la guerre.

Cela signifie non seulement que de nouvelles personnes, localités et organisations y participent chaque année, mais nous pouvons également imaginer que, pour ceux qui ont été impliqués auparavant, leur conscience anti-guerre s’accumule et se renforce.

Et le plus important de tout, la plus grande partie des célébrations de la Journée a eu lieu dans les écoles avec des écoliers. Cela nous donne un grand espoir pour l’avenir. Nous élevons une nouvelle génération qui, espérons-le, pourra enfin entreprendre l’abolition de la guerre.

Les écoliers ont pris part à de nombreuses actions pour la Journée, mais pour moi, le plus symbolique a été de lâcher de ballons et de colombes dans le ciel et de les regarder se disperser avec le vent, comme s’ils partaient faire un tour du monde. Après tout, le ciel est quelque chose que nous partageons avec tous les autres peuples du monde. Symboliquement, “la solution souffle dans le vent”, comme dans le chanson anti-guerre écrit par Bob Dylan de ma génération opposée à la guerre du Vietnam.

La croissance de la conscience anti-guerre, exprimée par “la solution qui souffle dans le vent”, est absolument essentielle à nos espoirs de paix, y compris le désarmement nucléaire et l’abolition de la guerre. Comme je l’ai souvent souligné dans ce blog, cela n’est peut-être pas suffisant, car nous devons également mettre en place un cadre institutionnel pour la paix. Mais même si cela ne suffit pas, cela reste essentiel et indispensable.

Soyons comme les enfants et lançons nos ballons, nos colombes et nos désirs de paix dans le vent pour arriver dans tous les coins de notre planète! Et sachant que les jours sont déjà compté avant que les pouvoirs nucleaires tombent dans un crash économique, attendons avec impatience ce jour quand leur pouvoir se sera écrasé et quand ils seront remplacés aux Nations Unies par de véritables représentants des peuples conscient de ce qui soufle dans le vent !

The Paradox of the United Nations: Peace vs. Culture of Peace


If we consider the purpose for which the United Nations was formed: “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,” it is failing badly. This spring, when we hoped that the United Nations would convene a High-Level Conference on Nuclear Disarmament, the meeting was cancelled due to pressure from the United States and its allies. And most recently, we see that the proposal for a peacekeeping force to protect the Palestinian people cannot be implemented because of the American veto.

This month in the CPNN bulletin, we look at recent moves towards peace in the Philippines, Colombia, Korea and Etheopia/Eritrea. What is remarkable is the absence of the United Nations from these initiatives. Only in Colombia did the United Nations play an important role by supervising the disarmament of the FARC guerilla army.

This impotence of the UN is not new. We saw it two decades ago when our work for peace in El Salvador and Mozambique was not supported by the US and its allies.

On the other hand, if we look at the culture of peace, the 90% of the iceberg of peace which is not visible on the surface, we see that the UN is continually developing a culture of peace at the local level.

Education for peace: the ‘Back to Learning’ education campaign of UNICEF will benefit half a million children in South Sudan.

Democratic participation: UN Women contributed to the historic leap in Tunisia where women now make up 47 per cent of local government.

Sustainable development: UNESCO and UNWTO are encouraging cultural tourism as a means of fostering sustainable development.

Women’s equality: As described in their annual report, UN Women is supporting women politicians, electoral officials, voters, lawmakers, civil society activists and many others to claim their equal right to lead and be heard.

Human rights: Although the task is often frustrating, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights works for implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights which is the keystone of work in this area.

Tolerance and solidarity: The United Nations continues to support youth projects for tolerance and solidarity through the Youth Solidarity Fund.

Free flow of information: In Africa UNESCO supports the development of local radio initiatives against gender violence.

Disarmament: Although the UN is failing at the highest level for disarmament, it is quite capable of action when the member states support it, as described above in the case of Colombia.

And on a more general level, the United Nations continues to hold annual high level forums dedicated to the development of a culture of peace and UNESCO continues to support the development of a culture of peace in Africa.

Imagine how effective the UN could be if the stranglehold of the member states as expressed by the veto of the United States were to be replaced by a radical revision of the UN management with direction by representatives of cities or parliaments, as I have repeatedly proposed!

Catalunya: Culture of war or culture of peace?


It seems that the people of Catalunya will vote in December whether to declare independence from Spain, i.e. to form a separate state.

If someone were to ask my advice about this election, I would say that it risks becoming a decision to move Catalunya towards the culture of war.

Here’s why I say this.

Over the course of history, the state has come to monopolize the culture of war. Those who seek to take over the state (revolutionaries) and those who seek to declare independence (separatists, nationalists) may have the best intentions for a culture of peace, but inevitably, once they arrive at state power, they take on the qualities of the state which include the culture of war.

Perhaps the most spectacular example is the Russian Revolution exactly one century ago. The revolution was carried out with the slogan of bread, peace and land, but once power was in the hands of the Bolsheviks, they were forced to make it a culture of war in order to defend against the invasions from the Europeans and Americans.

So, today, the people of Catalunya, if they declare independence, will be forced to form an army to defend against being invaded by Spain and its NATO allies, who, of course, are characterized by a culture of war.

Let us look at other examples of independence movements in our time. The independence of Bosnia/Herzogovina was marked by a bloody war with Serbia over the control of Sarajevo. For the first few years after the independence of the Ukraine from Russia, there was no war, but in the past few years, the secession of eastern provinces from the Ukraine has been marked by warfare, and each side remains armed and at the risk of further conflict, exacerbated by alliances with other states.

On the other hand, the independence movement of Quebec did not get to the point of establishing a separate country, and so the Quebecois and the rest of Canada never got to the point of military confrontation.

And coming to the present time, there are those who foresee the secession of California, Oregon and Washington State from Trump America, and a recent poll by Foreign Policy magazine foresees a real possibility of civil war in the United States. But we should not forget that the American Civil War caused by the secession of the South in 1860 was the bloodiest war ever fought by Americans.

There are good alternatives for Catalunya, apart from secession.

Granted that Spain is not in good shape, neither economically nor politically. But instead of bailing out, Catalunya could help in its reform. Wouldn’t it be great if the people of Catalunya could persuade all of Spain to renounce its culture of war and seek through dialogue to establish a culture of peace with all of its citizens and its neighboring countries! A good start would be to withdraw from NATO!

Mayors and Media for Peace


Imagine what the world would be like if the United Nations was managed by mayors instead of states! And imagine how it would be if the mass media was dedicated to a culture of peace!

We have some hint of how this might be in the recent events covered by CPNN.

While all of the nuclear-armed states and their allies are boycotting the UN conference to draft a treaty against nuclear weapons, we see that mayors have a different point of view.

At their annual meeting the United States Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution that “welcomes the historic negotiations currently underway in the United Nations, involving most of the world’s countries, on a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading to their total elimination” and they demanded that the US government join the negotiations in good faith. Their resolution concludes with the following remarkable paragraph:

“BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges all U.S. mayors to join Mayors for Peace in order to help reach the goal of 10,000 member cities by 2020, and encourages U.S. member cities to get actively involved by establishing sister city relationships with cities in other nuclear-armed nations, and by taking action at the municipal level to raise public awareness of the humanitarian and financial costs of nuclear weapons, the growing dangers of wars among nuclear-armed states, and the urgent need for good faith U.S. participation in negotiating the global elimination of nuclear weapons.”

Mayors for Peace already includes the mayors from more than 7,300 cities around the world!

If the mayors of the world were running the UN instead of the states, we could achieve nuclear disarmament! And much more! Once again we come back to the need for a radical reform of the United Nations!

As for the media, some indication of the positive role that they could play can be seen in the role of community radios in the peace process in Colombia. They are supported by funds from the European Union in order to send messages on peace to the territories and to promote reconciliation between the Colombians. The EU initiative not only opens microphones to the people, but also includes workshops in which 200 community radio journalists have been trained in the elaboration of educational content on peacebuilding, as well as 50 broadcasters receiving technical assistance and donations of recording equipment.

Similarly, in Uganda, community radio stations continue to work for peace. Back in 2004, they played a major role in convincing over 22,000 child soldiers and commanders to abandon the armed rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army: “In short, the LRA conflict could only be ended after the intervention of peace journalism.” Today they continue to work for peace, especially to give a voice to the massive number of refugees in Uganda.

As The Senegalese writer Aissatou Cissé said at the recent meeting of the Writers’ Union of Africa, Asia and Latin America, which took place in Senegal: What we need are “readings of peace in this world context of turbulence, verbal and physical violence”. “Every morning, when we get up, we read on the Internet, or through a newspaper or a book, and what we read does not promote the culture of peace, it disrupts even more and creates zizanie [discord].”

“Children, adolescents and adults who read us need to read positive things that can boost their creativity, and it is in peace that we can create,” said the Special Advisor to the President of the Republic, Macky Sall.

Thank you, mayors, and thank you, writers and journalists! You remind us that “A better world is possible!” Imagine it!

To quote George Bernard Shaw: “Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.”

Who are the biggest terrorists?


Readers of this blog know that I believe that in order to move from the culture of war to a culture of peace, we must develop a new order of world governance in which the United Nations is based on cities or regional parliaments rather than the present system of Member States. This is because the nation state is inextricably tied to the culture of war. More evidence for this comes from the recent United Nations vote on a resolution concerning a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons.

All the rich and powerful countries are against the resolution, including all the countries that possess nuclear weapons and their allies, including most of Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

What this tells us is that nuclear weapons are considered essential to the power of the state

This is state terrorism.

Let me explain.

The definition of terrorism is the achievement of political goals through violence or threat of violence against innocent populations.

What can better describe the possession of nuclear weapons than to call it terrorism.

The only times they have been used, they slaughtered the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 for political goals. Some think it was to end the war earlier. Others, having examined the evidence, say that it made no difference in ending the war, but was rather meant as a threat against the Russians which evolved into the Cold War. In any case, the populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were mostly civilians, not military.

Since 1945, nuclear weapons are used as a threat against whatever enemy a state happens to have. During the Cold War it was the American against the Russians, and it seems now that a new Cold War is being developed, especially by the American “deep state” that supported the Hillary Clinton candidacy. The weapons of France and the UK are jusitified by their membership in NATO which is on the American side of the Cold War. Then there is the antagonism between India and Pakistan which is used to justify their weapons. And between Israel and North Korea and their enemies which seems to be much of the world.

Nuclear weapons do not distinguish their victims. That means that in all these cases, the threat is against the populations of the enemy country, without regard for the fact that most are not engaged militarily. This is terrorism. State terrorism.

Why do I say that this is essential to the state?

After considering the history of the culture of war in my book by that name, I come to the conclusion that over the course of history, the state has come to monopolize the culture of war. No one else is allowed to make or prepare for war except the state. Not cities, as was the case in the Middle ages. Not indigenous peoples, as was the case before they were conquered and subjugated around the world. Not private armies or armies of religious sects (although sometimes states with a state religion are allowed to have nuclear weapons as in the case of Israel, but not Iran).

In the same way, the state monopolizes nuclear weapons. No other institution is allowed to develop or possess them.

In fact, the culture of war, if we include the defense and limitation of trade and travel at its borders and the raising of taxes (mostly to pay for the culture of war), is one of the few functions that can only be performed by the nation-state. Other vital functions, such as healthcare, education, housing, transportation and communication services, etc. can (and often are) regulated at a higher and lower level. For example, aviation and maritime shipping are regulated at the level of the United Nations. As for healthcare and education, the United Nations has specialized agencies that are capable of regulating them (WHO and UNESCO). At the same time, many of these functions can be effectively regulated at lower levels, as is done for education in the United States.

The culture of war is the defining characteristic of the state. As stated clearly by the great sociologist Max Weber the state is defined as the organization that has a “monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”

The next time you see reference in the commercial media to “terrorists,” ask the question, “who are the biggest terrorists?” And join the ranks of those who are struggling to abolish nuclear weapons. In the short run, the struggle is being carried out with states from the Global South at the United Nations. But in the long run, we need a new United Nations run instead by cities or regional parliaments.

Proposal for a Radical Reform of the United Nations


As it is structured now, the United Nations is controlled by national governments, with their military institutions and military budgets. Over the course of history, national governments have come to monopolize war. As a result, if we are to make the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace, we need a radical reform of the United Nations. Instead of being controlled by the Member States, it should be controlled by “We the Peoples,” the words that begin its Charter.

Before making a proposal for such a radical reform, we need to consider the following:

1) The national governments of the world increasingly ignore the United Nations when faced with global problems. Just this last month the major countries failed to send heads of state to the United Nations Humanitarian Summit. We first saw this trend with the global economic crisis of 2007-2008; the powerful states, meeting as the G-7, ignored the relevant financial institutions of the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and responded to the crisis with meetings of their finance ministers. Then in 2010, the powerful countries ignored the United Nations Non-proliferation conference and met in Washington in a parallel conference called by President Obama. Only Iran sent a head of state to the United Nations conference. Finally, even when the national governments attend a United Nations summit, the results are not adequate, as illustrated by the conferences to confront global warming in 2012 in Rio and 2015 in Paris.

2) The global system of national governments periodically fails, leaving a void where other institutions can take their place. During the 20th Century this occurred twice with World Wars I and II, as well as during the global economic crisis beginning in 1929, and (for half of the world) with the economic, then political collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. There is a growing awareness that the world is due for another economic (and political?) collapse, including a collapse of the American Empire, which may leave a temporary void in international decision-making. It may provide a “window of opportunity” for radical change.

With this in mind, let us consider what a radical reform of the United Nations could look like.

Let us begin with the proposal of the Pan-African Parliament, as reprinted in this month’s CPNN bulletin, for a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly. This would have the advantage that parliamentarians have less vested interest in the culture of war than do the representatives of national governments. Parliaments do not have military forces, although they may vote on military budgets. As the Parliament’s President explained, “It is long overdue that ‘We, the Peoples,’ as the UN Charter begins, have more say in global affairs.

But the real problem is the Security Council. As the bulletin describes, there are many proposals to reform it, but they all continue to assume that it should be controlled by representatives of the Member States. Instead, we need a global organization where the decisions are made by “We, the peoples”. I can imagine two possibilities: a Security Council controlled by the mayors of the world, or one controlled by the parliaments of the world.

Since such a reform cannot be achieved under the present system of national governments, it must await the “window of opportunity” of their next crash. In the meantime, I propose the establishment of an “Alternative Security Council” (ASC) composed of mayors or parliamentary representatives from all the regions of the world. This ASC would regularly consider the issues faced by the actual UN Security Council and publicize its “decisions” in order to provide an alternative vision of how the issues of war and peace could be managed at a global level. One can imagine that their decisions would be radically different concerning, for example, nuclear disarmament, approaches to the disasters in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, etc.  This would be a powerful force for consciousness-raising in the general public, and it could provide a model for an eventual radical reform of the UN.

There are several ways that mayors and parliaments are organized globally, any of which could be represented in an Alternative Security Council:

1) Regional organizations of parliaments such as the European Parliament, the Latin American Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament or of cities such as the Council of European Municipalities and Regions and the Arab Towns Organization.

2) Global organizations of parliamentarians for peace such as Parliamentarians for Global Action or of mayors and cities for peace, as described in a recent CPNN bulletin.

3) Global organizations of parliamentarians in general such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union or of cities in general such as the UCLG: Global Network of Cities, Local and Regional Governments.

All that is needed in order to establish an Alternative Security Council at the present time is;

a) an institutional host for the ASC, preferable a recognized international body that promotes a culture of peace;

b) an agreement for membership of the ASC, which could be established with any one of the organizaions of mayors or parliaments mentioned above;

c) a small secretariat to manage the Council by email (rather than actual meetings which would not be convenient, both because of the cost and because the members would not be free from their other tasks)

d) a means to disseminate widely the decisions of the council, i.e. a network of partners for publicizing these decisions.

e) a small budget which would be minimal if the sponsoring organization were receptive and if the secretariat and ASC members were volunteers.

The time is now to prepare a new system that will be ready to install during the next window of opportunity. If we wait for the crash of the present system, it will be too late. The time is now for radical action. And here is an action we can do now: an alternative security council.

The paradox of disarmament


The latest CPNN bulletin illustrates clearly the paradox of disarmament. On the one hand, there seems to be no progress at all, and then we see what seems like a “breakthrough” in the agreement to inspect and destroy the chemical arms of Syria. Immediately, a Nobel Peace Prize is awarded!

But is it really a breakthrough? I don’t think so. Look at the other articles this month. There is no progress in nuclear disarmament. Even the Arms Trade Treaty that was drafted by the UN this spring with apparent support from the major countries, now seems useless, as senators in the US refuse to allow it to be ratified.

How can we explain this?

The explanation is simple. Over the centuries the nation-state has come to monopolize war. Only the state has the “right” to make war. Hence, the state does whatever is needed to ensure that weapons do not fall into the hands of non-state actors. That’s why the urgent agreement on the chemical arms in Syria; with the disintegration of the state during the civil war, it seemed likely that the chemical weapons would fall into the hands of terrorist groups, and it was urgent to prevent this from happening.

The state’s monopoly on war is its fundamental power, its “sovereign prerogative.” This was clearly expressed by the researcher for the International Peace Bureau in the CPNN article this month: “It is counter intuitive that a state would educate its own population to question its sovereign prerogatives, and the author was not optimistic of finding a genuine disarmament education program run by a state.”

Although military force is usually justified by the state as being needed to defend itself against foreign powers, its ultimate value for the state is to suppress internal opposition to its power.   It is for this reason, rather than external defense, that the culture of war is an essential aspect of the nation-state.  I have described this in detail for the case of the United States in the article I wrote for the Journal of Peace Research, Internal military intervention in the United States.

The effort by states to prevent “terrorist groups” from obtaining weapons of mass destruction is ironic. We must ask “what was the greatest example of terrorism in our time?” How can we avoid the fact that the greatest terrorist attack in world history was the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What are nuclear weapons except terrorist weapons? They are not useful in ordinary warfare. Instead, they are the “ultimate terrorist weapon.” They hold the entire enemy country hostage, threatening to wipe out its civilian population. That’s why they are not an effective counter to terrorist groups, because the terrorists have no civilian population that can be destroyed.

All terrorist acts committed since Hiroshema and Nagasaki are pale by comparison, including the destruction of the World Trade Towers in 2001. And all terrorist threats pale by comparison to the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) policies of the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War, each threatening to destroy the civilian population of the other.

Since the culture of war is essential to the state, we need to seek another system of governance.  This is why, in my books such as World Peace through the Town Hall, I advocate a new world system with the United Nations based on regional representation of city governments (See my blog of August 2013). City governments, unlike the nation-state, have no militaries, no military contracts, no borders to defend, hence no interest in the culture of war or its terrorist manifestations.

Disarmament: Two steps forward, one step back


If we take only a short-term view of history, I think that we have only taken one step forward and one step back with the adoption last month of the Arms Trade Treaty by the United Nations. By this, I mean that we should not expect any real control of the arms trade to be possible as long as the world (and the UN) is run by nation-states. As I have shown elsewhere in detail, military power has become essential to nation-states, and they consider that to give it up is to commit suicide. Once again this week, this was stated explicitly by the British government when it warned that if it were to lose its nuclear force in Scotland it would lose its power on the world stage.

Even the limited disarmament successes, including the present treaty as well as those on anti-personnel land mines and cluster bombs, have been achieved through sustained efforts by the civil society, and against opposition by the nation-states.

Meanwhile armaments continue to proliferate, whether nuclear arms or small arms, despite the treaties. Hence, in the short-term, we may say there is one step back that cancels the one step forward.

If we take a long-term view of history, we can see that the Arms Trade Treaty provides a second step forward. The Treaty joins other declarations by the United Nations, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, as documents that can someday be the basis of a universal culture of peace. This will be possible if and when the United Nations (or its successor) is no longer dominated by nation-states, but by the peoples of the world through another form of representation such as leagues of cities and regions.

With a long-term view, we can see how the efforts of the civil society, working in the context of the United Nations, flawed as it may seem, are laying the basis for a new world. The documents are only the visible portion of the much greater “iceberg” of consciousness of the people of the world that, in the words of the World Social Forum, “a better world is possible.”