Are we entering an era of relative peace?


Johan Galtung, the guru of peace research, predicts that as we get closer to the crash of the American empire, the United States will increasingly realize that wars and preparation for wars are destroying its economy and it will be forced to limit its military adventures.

Already last year the top military official in the US wrote to President Obama to oppose military intervention in Syria in part because it would cost billions of dollars a year. The US interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been so costly that they have accelerated the pace towards a failure of the American economy.

The recent peace accord in the Philippines and the progress towards an accord in Colombia described in this month’s CPNN bulletin: are they signs that Galtung’s prediction applies to nation states in general and that we may be entering an era of relative peace? In both cases, the accords concern violent conflicts that have paralyzed those countries for many decades. In the words of the chief negotiator for the Philippines agreement, “The sealing of the comprehensive agreement is important for . . . all Filipino citizens who have all to gain as one country pursuing its unfinished task of nation-building.”

Will the civil society initiatives for Syria and Venezuela described in this month’s bulletin also lead to peace accords in those conflicts? Let us hope so.

Perhaps the most intractable of all violent conflicts is the one between Israel and Palestine. Galtung predicts that support for Israel will be seen increasingly as a burden in the United States, in which case it will be difficult for Israel to continue avoiding a just resolution of their conflict with the Palestinian people. Already, just recently, the US Secretary of State John Kerry, warned that Israel could become seen as an apartheid state, similar to South Africa in previous decades. This echoes the analysis of Nobel Peace Laureate Desmond Tutu over 10 years ago.

Does this mean that we have begun a transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace? Unfortunately, I don’t think so. Even if the smaller states resolve their internal wars, and the great powers reduce their foreign military interventions, I see no sign that they will reduce their culture of war which maintains internal control by the threat of military force and the control of information. This is why Julian Assange and Edward Snowden are considered as major enemies by the state.

I do not expect that the transition to a culture of peace can be achieved before the present state system collapses. Unfortunately, at the present rate, it seems that the collapse is likely to come long before we have made sufficient progress in developing the institutions of a culture of peace that can replace those of the culture of war.