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No More War

By Ed O’Rourke

08 December, 2006

The terrorists are an insignificant challenge to mankind’s survival. Without nuclear weapons, they may be able to kill a few thousand people at a time. On the other hand, nuclear war, global warming or environmental degradation will wipe out civilization. Environmentalists have proposed changes of behavior in living habits, conservation and product design, leaving out the most destructive activity of all. Mankind must abolish war or war will abolish mankind. It is not just hippies, Quakers, left wing intellectuals or their equivalents have been advocating this for a long time. It is time for the environmental community to become a peace community as well.

Many religious leaders have called for an end to war. One statement by Pope John Paul II is common, “War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations resolving their differences. I say this as I think of those who still place their trust in nuclear weapons and of all-too-numerous conflicts which continue to hold hostage our brothers and sisters in humanity.”

Some of the visionaries have been distinguished warriors. Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin were determined that there would be no World War Three. The establishment of the United Nations was part of a dream to limit war. In Churchill’s most famous speech, “Their Finest Hour,” on June 18, 1940 conveyed a better world after Allied victory:

“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.”

Perhaps the most eloquent plea for peace came from General Douglas MacArthur in his 1951 speech to the US Congress:

“I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes.”….

"Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence, an improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh."

Harry L. Stimson (US Secretary of State from 1929-1933, Secretary of War from 1911-1913 and 1940-1945) mirrored this assessment when he wrote “The Nuremberg Trial: Landmark in Law” for Foreign Affairs in 1947:

“We must never forget, that under modern conditions of life, science, and technology. All war has been greatly brutalized, and that no one who joins in it, even in self-defense, can escape becoming also in a measure brutalized. Modern war cannot be limited in its destructive method and the inevitable debasement of all participants… A fair scrutiny of the last two World Wars makes clear the steady intensification of the weapons and methods employed by both, the aggressors and the victors. In order to defeat the Japanese aggression, we were forced, as Admiral Nimitz has stated, to employ a technique of unrestricted warfare, not unlike that which 25 years ago was the proximate cause of our entry into World War I. In the use of strategic air power the Allies took the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Germany and Japan…. We as well as our enemies have contributed to the proof that the central moral problem is war and not its methods, and that a continuance of war will in all probability end with the destruction of our civilization.”

Albert Speer, Armaments Minister for the Third Reich, in his memoirs Inside the Third Reich, reflected Stimson’s feelings by citing this quote in his advocacy to end war.

The road to peace can begin by:

1) starting a world wide anti-poverty program,

2) taxing international arms sales,

3) beginning a moratorium on weapons research,

4) reducing the bloated US military budget by 50%,

5) training our armed forces for disaster relief,

6) establishing a cabinet level Department of Peace,

7) reducing nuclear weapons to zero or nearly zero, and,

8) negotiating for all the world’s nuclear weapons to go off hair trigger alert.

Humankind is witnessing the Sixth Great Extinction of plant and animal life, which will not end until we stop extinguishing each other.

Ed O’Rourke, CPA, is treasurer of two environmental groups in Houston. He is active in efforts to abolish war.

[email protected] (For reader’s response)


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