This year’s Nobel Peace Prize selection of the group dedicated to eliminating nuclear weapons represents yet another failure of the committee to fully understand what is actually needed to achieve a solid foundation for sustainable world peace.
Conservatives believe peace is a function of armaments. Liberals believe peace is a function of disarmament. Both miss the fundamental age old self-evident truth that real peace is a function of justice. Any so called ‘peace’ without justice will be just a temporary ceasefire that allows all sides to rearm and develop new capacities for waging war and mass murder.
“No justice, No Peace” is a frequent rallying poster for the peace movement but rarely do they advocate for an enforceable global justice system -- a system that puts the rights of “we the people” above the rights of nations to do as they please. The unenforceable ‘feel-good’ concept/system of treaties and international law has allowed injustices, often mass murder and those who start wars, to go virtually unpunished. This lack of global accountability has given humanity the accelerating chaos and growing list of seeming insurmountable problems we all face today.
Both ancient and modern scribes have always insisted that injustices are the primary driver of war and other forms of mass violence.
"Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens" : Plato : Ancient Greek philosopher (428/427-348/347 B.C.)
True peace is not merely the absence of war, it is the presence of justice. Jane Addams (First American woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize).
Now with new kinds of WMD far easier and cheaper to develop than nuclear weapons, and increasingly anonymous delivery systems, it’s time to look beyond the failed concepts of both disarmament, and increasing armaments, as a means of maximizing both the freedoms and security that we all cherish.
After the horrors of World War II there was a global consensus that the protection of fundamental human rights was essential to preventing future wars and other threats to our freedom and security. The world unanimously approved of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately, the war’s victors created a UN that failed to give it the powers needed to protect these list of inalienable human rights.
This post war error mirrored the same fatal error that our founding fathers made in writing the U.S. Constitution. A ‘Bill of Rights’ ensured our nation’s creation, but it did so codifying the injustice of slavery -- putting States Rights over human rights. This led to a war that cost more US lives than all the wars Americans fought in since then - combined. One should never doubt that the degree to which people in this nation are denied their fundamental rights is the degree to which risk future domestic violence and potentially another civil war (imagine the bloodshed if the Second Amendment were abolished). Now imagine an effort to abolish nuclear weapons in a world filled with nation states that insist on putting their national economic or survival interest above the rights of ‘we the world’s people’.
So why reward the potentially catastrophic effort of ‘banning’ nuclear weapons (see Iraq War 2003, growing tensions with both North Korea or Iran) without first eliminating the injustices that fuel the tensions.
Understanding the origin of the Nobel Peace prize offers some insight. Alfred Nobel’s invention of dynamite was intended to make war so destructive it would be ‘unthinkable”. It made sense at the time. Today, given the evolution of varying sources of WMD it makes even more sense. But banning WMD technology will do nothing to reduce its availability and increasing affordability, when there is so much demand for it.
If one clearly understands the current and future accelerating evolution of biological weapons, cyber threats, robotics, nano technology, and eventually drone delivery of almost any form of mass murder conceivable, then the need for another path to security becomes self-evident. Unfortunately, most disarmament (or armament) advocates are trapped in their deep-rooted mental bubble that effectively blinds them from this obvious modern technological dilemma. Seeing the dilemma clearly one can see that banning injustices will be infinitely easier than trying to ban the means of mass destruction.
In the late 1990s a panel at the Brookings Institute confirmed the wisdom of investing limited time and resources in protecting human rights and the environment verses the growing difficulty of trying to track both the movements of weapons and financial resources. The panel’s study of four basic types of treaties and the impact that advances in technology were having on each of them was extremely important and increasingly relevant today. They basically concluded, advances in technology were making it easier and easier to monitor and verify violations in human rights and environmental treaties, yet the same advances in technology were making it harder and harder to monitor and verify the movement of weapons and financial resources. Some consider our Government’s debt and budget deficits a more inevitable threat to national security threat than nuclear war.
And, we are now in a perpetual global war against terrorism…a tactic of the weak for which there will be no victory without banning the conditions that drive the weak to choose such a violent tactics. Banning their capacity to acquire weapons of any kind will not only bankrupt any nation that tries. It will also require that nation to violate the privacy rights of every person in the world. And even a Gestapo like inspection force will not be capable of finding and stopping every attempt at mass murder.
Global justice won’t stop them all either. But it will dramatically reduce the number of injustices that drive increasing numbers of people to seek the means for mass murder.
And, when (not if) biological weapons are used the resulting refugee flows, poverty, spread of infectious diseases, halt of trade, environmental degradation, and more WMD proliferation will only exacerbate risks to our freedoms and domestic security.
The bottom line is that the global elimination of nuclear weapons is possible -- it just isn’t going to happen in a world of growing and glairing injustices. Even if by magic all nuclear weapons disappeared overnight, we would be no safer from those who can more easily and affordably acquire other forms of WMD, some with anonymous delivery capability, and some with even greater capacity for mass murder than a limited nuclear exchange or a non-nuclear World War III.
The highest peace priority must be lessening the drivers of any kind of war or desire for mass murder. If nations, peace activists, and the Nobel Prize committee were truly interested in creating a world where the possibility of war would be greatly diminished….they would abandon their fantasies of increased security through either disarmament or increased armaments – and put the protection of human rights on the top of their agenda.
The most direct means of achieving this has already been agreed upon by all the world’s nations. It’s achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the year 2030. This is as close as we can now get, short of a world federation that puts the protection of human rights above the rights of nation states, to laying the foundation for sustainable world peace and security from other ominous and likely threats.
Anything short of this only postpones the day of reckoning, yielding the evolution of weaponry an even greater capacity for mass murder and the likelihood they will be used.
"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever." - Thomas Jefferson