It is ironic and hypocritical that many persons in the United States have no qualms about blowing the hell out of Iraqi citizens, or conducting a full-fledged military operation to "arrest" a leader of Panama, or condone the torture, murder, and thefts of property of Palestinians, or make threatening statements against the Chinese for "human rights" violations or for receiving technological information--but these same persons don’t want to stop white, European Serbians from raping women, taking children from their families, and executing the men solely because they are Albanian and Muslim.
This essay deals with the strong cultural influences which have caused wars and suggests that mankind has the capacity to avoid wars if he only tries to understand his spiritual side.
THE CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND AT COLLEGE PARK
COLLEGE PARK, MARYLAND (U.S.A.)
Research and Discussion Paper Submitted For
The Fourth International Dialogue on the
Transition to a Global Society:
DIVISIVE BARBARITY OR GLOBAL CIVILIZATION?
The Ethical Dimensions of Science, Art, Religion, and Politics
Mankind has a violent side to his nature. Over the millennia, he has lived with the animals, hunted them to eat and for sport; and he has engaged in tribal, ethnic, religious, nation-state and guerrilla warfare; terrorism; and he has used his own domestic law enforcement forces to commit violence against his fellow man under the guise of "fighting crime".
Mankind also has a spiritual aspect to his being. From the dawn of his existence, through recorded history, to the present, man has attempted to understand from whence he came, why he was here, and where was he going. He has worshiped nature, his gods, and God, as he perceived them; and he has learned to influence nature to such an extent that mankind's very existence has been threatened.
Mankind has the technology and the power to destroy the world if he were so inclined, or he can accomplish a unity of purpose for peoples to live harmoniously around the globe, if he were so inclined.
Part of the quest for a global civilization is the recognition that there must be "collective security" against divisive barbarity to identify and suppress the "barbarians" who would threaten the human harmony.
John Keegan, who for many years was the senior lecturer in military history at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, has concluded that there is no simple definition of war and that man is not doomed to make war. (11:386)
Keegan notes that primitive warfare differed greatly from modern warfare with its "extreme" form. (11:387) Primitive warfare was ritualistic and did not often involve the loss of many lives of the participants. Modern warfare is devastating.
During the Tet Offensive of 1968, I was a combat platoon leader in what was then South Vietnam. I witnessed, firsthand, the destruction of buildings and villages; I saw the agony of the wounded and the despair of displaced mothers and daughters and old men; I saw human brains and the charred, maggot-infested corpses of dead combatants; I smelled the sweet stench of napalmed enemy soldiers lying in the brush; I saw the terror in the eyes of young men who were made soldiers by the politics and cultural values of their society -- I experienced war. It is hell!
Keegan's main point in his brilliant work, A History of Warfare, is that culture is the prime determinant of the nature of warfare. Horse warfare, fixed defense warfare, use of the bow and chariot, Greek and Roman infantry warfare, holy warfare, and technological warfare -- all are determined by the cultures of the time. (11: 387 - 391)
Western warfare (to be distinguished from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Huns, and Mamelukes) is technologically sophisticated and terrifyingly destructive. Modern weapons of war include automatic weapons (machine guns of all kinds); tanks with computerized firing capabilities (which means first round hits of targets almost all the time); aircraft that can fly at night or in bad weather and drop bombs or missiles which are laser guided and can kill with pinpoint accuracy; submarines which carry nuclear missiles which can destroy cities; satellites which can locate a person's position on the ground (all the more so opposing armies); cruise missiles that once launched are programmed to seek a target and destroy it with a nuclear warhead if necessary; computerized firing of artillery with various types of ammunition designed to kill enemy infantry or armor; and numerous other toys of devastation.
Greenpeace, the environmental protection organization conducted interviews with international relief workers, reporters, U.S. Officials, and news reporters about the overall effect of the U.S. air raids in the Persian Gulf War. Greenpeace's report said that over 150,000 people died as a result of the war with Iraq, and at least 5 million lost their homes or jobs. (8:A10)
The majority of the bombing casualties were caused by "dumb" bombs and by the 12 million to 16 million bomblets released by an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 cluster bombs dropped by allied planes. (8:A10)
As much as the U.S. media (which was fed its information by the military) portrayed the "smart bombs" striking targets, the truth is that the majority of the munitions hurled on Iraq and Kuwait were "dumb" bombs. Allied jets dropped 88,500 tons of bombs on Iraq and Kuwait, but about 70% of them missed their targets. The precision-guided bombs, the icon of Pentagon briefings and the military's preferred image of the war, made up barely 7 percent of the U.S. tonnage dropped on Iraqi targets, said General McPeak, Air Force Chief of Staff. (4:A2)
The media led us to believe that we were getting on-the-the-spot, accurate reporting of the Gulf War. CNN bombarded the world with news coverage instantly; we saw the briefers tell us of the trucks, personnel carriers, and tanks killed, but no "body count" was mentioned. This made the war more humane, more antiseptic; but the truth is that the Iraqi people (not Saddam Hussein) were severely punished, devastated, and decimated by the Coalition Forces in Operation Dessert Storm. The United States tried out all of its new war toys, and they worked splendidly. And the media fed us what the military wanted us to hear. Hurrah for freedom of the press! Hurrah for man's humanity toward Iraq. And the media misled us.
When one considers that much of the air campaign was conducted against one populated city, Baghdad, it is not difficult to visualize the awesome destruction which befell that city and its populace. Our political, military, and value systems condoned this.
American culture determined that America and its allies would go to war with Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people, and American culture determined how that war was fought -- if one is to accept Keegan's view of warfare; but he also says that man is not doomed to make war.
Scholars and skeptics may argue that human nature cannot be changed -- that mankind is greedy, arrogant, competitive, selfish, ambitious, violent, destructive, and any other negative adjective one may conceive.
Others believe that mankind has a spiritual aspect.
J. Tyson, a Baha'i, has written:
"The Baha'i teachings state that man has a higher, or spiritual, nature that can and should dominate his lower, or animal nature. But lack of a spiritual education has often caused this good nature to remain hidden." (14:30)
Tyson believed that past societies have overcome negative institutions which were supposedly a "part of man's nature", and he cited slavery as an example. (14:30)
He concluded that:
" ... affirming and demonstrating that man's true nature is spiritual, and that he has the capacity to overcome the tendencies of his lower nature, is an essential part of the effort to establish world peace and a new world order ... " (14:31)
Mankind does have a spirit, but the secret is to recognize that fact and to cause that spiritual side of man to take precedence over his materialistic side.
Suheil Bushrui, in his Inaugural Lecture, "Retrieving Our Spiritual Heritage, A Challenge Of Our Time", said:
" ... Ours is a culture that gives to the humanities only a fraction of the attention it bestows on technological innovations. And yet, every human civilization since the dawn of time has been based upon a profound awareness that the basis of reality is spirit. The cultural heritage of the whole world is a living testimony to the truth of this premise. We human beings are too ineffable in our innermost reality, too transcendent in the highest aspirations of our spirit and too mysterious in the deepest workings of our soul, to be confined by the suffocatingly materialistic view of life which would deny to these immaterial, other worldly, and supernal elements in our nature their legitimate and necessary cultural expression." (3:30)
Accepting the fact that mankind has this spiritual side, why should we care? In other words, what can the spiritual side of man do to solve the everyday practical, real-world problems confronting the human race around the globe?
An answer to these questions may be found in "The Promise of World Peace", A Statement by The Universal House of Justice:
"There are spiritual principles, or what some call human values, by which solutions can be found for every social problem. Any well-intentioned group can in a general sense devise practical solutions to its problems, but good intentions and practical knowledge are usually not enough. The essential merit of spiritual principle is that it not only presents a perspective which harmonizes with that which is immanent in human nature, it also induces an attitude, a dynamic, a will, an aspiration, which facilitate the discovery and implementation of practical measures. Leaders of government and all in authority would be well served in their efforts to solve problems if they would first seek to identify the principles involved and then be guided by them." (12:13)
We are human, and we are humane. Our essence of humanity must take presence over our aggressive tendencies. Human values have been expressed and codified throughout history: "Thou shall not kill"; "Thou shall not steal": "The Right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", etc.; but man still wages wars (in varying forms and degrees) against his fellow man. The spiritual side of man has not yet well defined and implemented those values which lead toward a global harmony, a global ethic, a global peace; but mankind is working on it because he knows he must.
Mankind has been engaged in "collective security" since he and others first banded together to ward off ferocious beasts or defend against other marauding clans or tribes. His intelligence prompted him to do so.
Consider "collective security" to relate to nation-states, or other internationally politically recognized groups, agreeing to provide for the common defense of each other against a "threat" as prescribed by some body of law which is definable and enforceable.
John Huddleston, in his book, The Search For A Just Society, noted that in the West after the decline of the Holy Roman Empire and the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation there were many thinkers who mediated in various ways about how institutions might be created to encourage the establishment of peace and universal order. (10:273) Many philosophical works discussed world peace.
Huddleston concluded that from the background of those thinkers and their works the modern age has seen efforts to organize international cooperation on a regular basis in the context of a world federation. (10:273) Nations came together in the spirit of cooperation to establish an organization to promote world peace as a result of World War II.
The Charter of the United Nations was presented to a gathering of the representatives of all the Allied nations of World War II assembled in San Francisco in April 1945. It was signed by representative of 51 nations on June 26 and became effective on October 24, 1945. (10:330)
One of the purposes of the United Nations as spelled out in Article 1 of the Charter is:
" ... to maintain international peace and security; and to that end to take effective collective measures for the preservation and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace, and to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace ... " (10:330)
It was clearly understood that each member nation had the right to individual or collective security or self defense against
an aggressor, and the United Nations was a vehicle for that purpose.
The United Nations Charter specifies taking " ... effective collective measures for the preservation and removal of threats to the peace ..." In other words -- collective security.
The Security Council of the United Nations has five permanent members who were the great powers on the Allied side in World War II (USA, USSR, UK, France, and China). There are also seats for temporary members who are elected by the General Assembly giving due regard to equitable geographical distribution. (10:331)
Each member of the Council has one vote and decisions on procedural matters are made by an affirmative vote of nine members, but the nine must also include the concurring vote of the permanent members. In effect, this procedure gives veto power to each of the permanent members. (10:333)
The Council's job is to maintain peace and security throughout the world. It has the power to investigate any dispute between nations to see if there is a danger to international peace and security, and to make recommendations for provisional arrangements to prevent the situation from being further aggravated. If the parties involved fail to respond, the Security Council may call on all member States of the United Nations to apply sanctions, including: complete or partial interruptions of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio and other means of communication and the severance of diplomatic relations. Military action could be taken, if necessary, including: demonstrations, blockades, and other operations by air, sea, and land. (10:333).
To conduct military operations, the Security Council planned to make agreements with member countries as to the types, quantities, locations, etc., of the armed forces to be provided. The Security Council would be advised on military affairs by a Military Staff Committee consisting of the Chiefs of Staff of the permanent members of the Council. The Council can vote on elections and expulsions of members of the United Nations and on the appointment of the Secretary-General. (10:333)
One might inquire how effective has the Security Council been?
Since 1945, there have been over sixty major wars and main incidents involving the use of large-scale armed force by one country in another state. This does not include the smaller urban and rural guerrilla campaigns or the vast majority of military coups which have been common all over the globe. (1:302)
If the United Nations' goal to maintain international peace and security is clear, and if the operational procedures of the Security Council to do their job to maintain peace and security around the world are clear, why all the armed conflicts? More importantly, how do we stop the armed conflicts? How do we stop the barbarians from destroying civilization?
THE GOAL: WORLD PEACE THROUGH ENFORCEABLE LAW
The United Nations goal to maintain peace and security is thwarted by the fact that it takes generations to create binding "customary law", and it usually takes many years to negotiate treaties or international conventions related to peace and still many more years until they are ratified by member nations. Prior to ratification, the terms of the treaties or conventions may be drastically watered down; and after ratification, the treaties or conventions may be repudiated whenever nation-states believe their own vital interests require so.
Benjamin Ferencz, in his book, New Legal Foundations for Global Survival: Security Through the Security Council, describes part of the problem:
"Traditional diplomacy required fifty years to reach a consensus definition of aggression - which was largely ignored and surely did not deter or diminish aggression. Terrorism and crimes that threaten the peace are yet to be defined by the international legal community. Surely, the worn-out, plodding, confusing, inefficient and ineffective methods of protecting international security - which has been the rule - must be changed if peace is to be preserved. New procedures for clarifying and enforcing binding legal obligations for peace must be quicker, clearer and more effective than present practices. Contemporary international law does not offer any sense of real security to anyone." (6:243-244)
Ferencz recognizes that it is futile to try to discard or replace the entire present UN system, and he proposes that:
"Law must be judged by the extent to which it meets the moral standards and practical needs of society. If the moral standards and practical needs of international society are to be met, the following action now seems called for: (1) International law must be interpreted so that it becomes possible to achieve, rather than to defeat, the most fundamental Charter goals. (2) New procedures must be adopted and new organs of management created that make it possible to meet the practical needs for world peace and security. (3) The new proposals must be so structured that the present members of the international community recognize that their own vital interests are best protected by the new system." (Emphasis original). (6:244)
Ferencz believes that it is unnecessary to depend on new treaties or conventions to enhance the effectiveness of the United Nations as an enforcement arm of the world community, and he points out that the Security Council has, by resolution, articulated the law and then mandated the Secretary-General to create a number of new organs to help secure the peace in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Somalia, and elsewhere. (6:245)
Ferencz proposes that the Security Council adopt twelve new resolutions to reinforce the laws, courts, and enforcement mechanisms on which world security depends to strengthen its ability to maintain peace and security:
The Council, in order to discharge its security obligations, must reinforce its inadequate legal system by new clarifying resolutions having the force of law. Five proposed resolutions are -- (1) to mandate peaceful settlement and non-use of force; (2) to redefine aggression without loopholes; (3) to define and prohibit crimes against humanity; (4) to end the arms race while enhancing national security; (5) to draft a Charter for enhancing Social Justice so that human beings everywhere may live in peace and dignity. (6:245-246)
The Council must reinforce the present, inadequate, international judicial system. Proposed resolutions to achieve this goal are: (1) The International Court of Justice must be strengthened; (2) an International Criminal Court must be created; (3) a World Tribunal for Social Justice must be started. (6:246)
The Council must create new structures or procedures to implement the new resolutions for peace. Four new organs of enforcement are proposed by Ferencz: (1) a UN disarmament Enforcement Agency; (2) a UN Sanctions Agency; (3) a UN Police Agency; and (4) a UN Social Justice Agency. (6: 246)
Ferencz believes that by combining the five Security Council resolutions which better define the international law of peace, adding three resolutions to bolster the judicial system, and then supplementing these resolutions with four more to create structures (or organs) for enforcement, " ... a comprehensive new regime can be created to curtail the current international anarchy ... " (6:246) He also believes that if an omnibus resolution encompassing all twelve new resolutions were adopted by the United Nations, a new path to peace may be found. He proposes to have the Security Council, not the General Assembly, act on the matter to facilitate the process.
I believe that the Security Council has been inept in preventing the numerous wars and armed conflicts since World War II primarily because the two superpowers, the US and USSR, each had their own ideological agendas which often involved guerrilla warfare, insurgency, counterinsurgency, coups, communist expansion, communist prevention, and puppet regime building. Hence, regions of armed conflict frequently involved surrogates of the two super powers acting as agents to promote the superpowers' goals.
Other nations who exported terrorism as a tactic to accomplish their goals have also thwarted the efforts of the Security Council since there has been no universal definition of "terrorism".
Although Ferencz' views and proposals are probably not the panacea to the ravages of warfare, they have much merit and should be wisely considered.
SPIRITUALITY AND PRAGMATISM
It serves no valid purpose to merely philosophize about world peace and man's lofty spiritual values unless we define those values, codify them, educate people about them, and enforce them.
Ferencz' proposed resolutions to mandate peaceful settlement of disputes without use of force, to redefine aggression and crimes against humanity, to end the arms race, and to draft a Charter for Enhancing Social Justice -- all relate to defining and codifying man's spiritual values (e g., freedom, human rights, justice, tolerance, respect for the dignity of all mankind, etc.).
We have had summits or conferences on human rights, the environment, the rights of women, etc., and we have seen alliances of nation-states for security or economic reasons; but until we internationally codify those values which all mankind cherishes, and until we enforce those values, discussions about world peace are tantamount to speculation about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
One of man's values is to stop aggression. We saw the United States take the initiative, rally other nations in the world, and lead a coalition of forces to suppress Iraqi armed forces. The United Nations Security Council authorized the use of force to expel Iraq from Kuwait. (13:A12)
We now see the United Nations taking a more active role in the war among the Bosnians, Croatians, and Serbians. Although peace talks have been in process, the war still continues.
The world was shocked to see some of the atrocities the Serbs committed on the Bosnians -- murders, rapes, tortures, concentration camps with inhumane treatment.
But out of a "holocaust" in Bosnia may come the "trial of the century" -- the war crimes trial of Dusko Tadic, a Bosnian Serb. He is accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity relating to 13 deaths, a rape, and several torture incidents in Bosnia and Herzegovina in May through August 1992. Among his gruesome alleged exploits - he forced one prisoner to bite off the testicle of another, who subsequently died. Most of his alleged crimes stem from actions at the Omarska concentration camp where he was a camp visitor to participate in or direct sadistic treatment of the prisoners. (9:4)
Also indicted are Bosnia Serb leader Radovan Karadzic and his army commander, General Ratko Mladic for genocide and crimes against humanity.
We learned from World War II how vile the Nazis were, yet Hitler was not the most despicable character in modern history. Although he has received the most media and historical attention as a demonic figure for his killing of Jews and others, the Khimer Rogue killed as many or more in the "killing fields" of Cambodia. The Japanese and Chinese have been ruthless in the senseless murders of their people, and Joseph Stalin killed tens of millions of his own innocent people. Stalin simply did not receive the "bad press" Hitler did because Russia was our ally in World War II.
We also learned from the Nuremberg War Crimes trials that international villains can be held accountable under established principles of international law for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The war crimes trials of the Serbs will show the world that atrocities against humanity will not be tolerated by the civilized world.
Tadic's trial is significant because it gives the world a chance to redeem and assert the international rule of law. (9:4)
Thus, Ferencz' goal to have an international criminal court established to try war crimes is in process.
Regarding Ferencz' "UN Police Agency" -- both in the Persian Gulf War and in the present Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian war -- there has been a "collective security" force of nations dedicated to stop the barbarism. Although there is no formalized "police force" of the UN, when they choose to take military action, the participating nations become an ad hoc "UN Police Agency".
Ferencz advocates more, but Desert Storm and Bosnia are a step toward that "UN Police Agency".
The Army Times has reported that troops from a dozen former Soviet Bloc nations joined British, Canadian, and American soldiers at Fort Polk, Louisiana in late August 1995 to train for humanitarian missions and peacekeeping chores. The exercise was intended to improve the ability of NATO troops and soldiers in the former Soviet nations to work with other nations in NATO, which they hope to join. (5:29)
This illustrates the world's armies (some are old enemies) working together to train for "humanitarian missions". It was man's ability to use his intelligence and to engage in cooperative efforts with other men which allowed him to ward off the beasts and to fight aggressing clans or tribes. Mankind should continue to work cooperatively toward worthwhile goals such as peace.
The U.S. Army has recognized that its military operations must include operations other than war. OOTW (operations other than war) include: nation assistance, support to counterdrug operations, combatting terrorism, peacekeeping operations, peace enforcement, show of force, support for insurgencies and counterinsurgencies, and attacks and raids. (7:13-6 to 13-8)
In the future, warmaking, or peacekeeping, will be even more challenging to the UN soldier.
In an article for the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, "Peace Keeping And The New International Environment", the authors state:
"With the changing nature of peacekeeping, Blue Helmet forces are operating under increasingly demanding conditions. Peacekeeping forces are now called upon to operate in environments that are often far from peaceful, and, in many cases, operate in an open war or civil war environment. The new peacekeeping soldier is expected to perform tasks which might range from combat actions to social work. All of this implies a new burden on member states in terms of personnel, material and finance, at a time when most seek to reduce defense expenditures. This is a major readjustment for Western armed forces, which for years had trained for a massive land battle in Central Europe. They must now reorient military forces to assume new roles and missions that lie in the gray area between peace and all-out war ... " (2:41)
Thus, war making, now frequently called peace keeping, has acquired a humanitarian aspect in its operational procedures. Perhaps this is an omen.
There must be candid, hard hitting, no-holds barred discussions about the causes of conflict: power grabbing, territorial acquisition, greed, familial feuds, revenge, ethnic hatreds, religious differences, racism, police brutality, etc.
All the issues must be put on the table, and the values of man must be further articulated and placed into an international body of law enforceable by an international tribunal and an international police entity.
Man has a spiritual side to his essence, but he has a demon side, also. Warfare has been a part of man's culture since his inception. Only through honest dialogue about the problems of man can he begin to address them peacefully. Once he identifies his threats or problems, and agrees with others how to solve them without violence, he is then on the path to world peace. There needs to be a summit on collective security. America can be a leader in this cause as it has been in so many other difficult matters (e.g., World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Bosnia, Palestine and Israel).
But America must look honestly at its own difficult issues of racism, police brutality and corruption, poverty, and injustice and try to deal with them so it can have credibility when it talks to the other nation-states about their concerns and how to solve them.
There should be a summit on collective security each year to work toward identifying and defining the values and concerns of mankind and of the member nations. Strong media attention on this summit can help to promote the dialogue. The power of the media is awesome. It educated the public about the horrors of combat during the Vietnam War. It educated the public about the racial polarization of views of the criminal justice system during the O.J. Simpson trial. It awakened the public about police brutality and corruption through the Mark Furman tapes. If the media wants to put a "spin" on a summit for collective security and how "peace is good", the public will care. We should work toward on-going summits for collective security with high media exposure because without dialogue and cooperation, there will be future wars, armed conflicts, police actions, and terrorism.
There are those who do not like the United Nations or the "New World Order", but the alternative to man's unity as a global civilization is divisiveness, destruction, and death. Summits at least promote dialogue; and if one is engaged in dialogue, he is less apt to be engaged in combat. The choices are ours. If we fail to promote discussions, seminars, conventions, conferences, summits, or other educational methods to advocate peace, then we allow for man's darker side to prevail. We then give credence to that famous line of the renowned comic strip philosopher, Pogo:
"We have met the enemy, and he is us"
1. Beckett, Ian, War In Peace, Harmony Book, 1981.
2. Bilbray, James H., and Henk Vos, "Peacekeeping And The New International Environment", The Officer, June 1995, p. 41.
3. Bushrui, Suheil, "Retrieving Our Spiritual Heritage, A Challenge Of Our Time", Center For International Development And Conflict Management, University of Maryland at College Park, 1994.
4. "88,500 Tons of Bombs -- 70% Missed", Arizona Republic, March 16, 1991, p. A2.
5. "Fast Track, Odds and Ends", Army Times, September 11, 1995, p. 29.
6. Ferencz, Benjamin B., New Legal Foundations for Global Survival: Security Through the Security Council, Oceana Publications, Inc., 1994.
7. FM 100-5, Operations, Department of the Army, Washington, GPO, June 1993.
8. "Gulf War Resulted In 150,000 Deaths, Greenpeace Says", Arizona Republic, May 29, 1991, p. A10.
9. Horne, William W., "The Real Trial of the Century", The American Lawyer, September 1995, p. 4.
10. Huddleston, John, The Search For A Just Society, George Ronald, 1989.
11. Keegan, John, A History of Warfare, Vintage Books, 1994.
12. "The Promise of World Peace", A Statement by The Universal House of Justice, Baha'i World Centre, Haifa, 1985.
13. "The U.N. Resolutions Against Iraq," Washington Times, February 22, 1991, p. A 12.
14. Tyson, J., World Peace and World Government, George Ronald, 1986.