Culture of War and Militaristic Culture of Peace


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D. – TRANSCEND Media Service

A careful study of history reveals that while people in general always opted for peace through dialogues on a mutually beneficial basis, their public officials often tended to resort to struggles and wars to get what they want. As a result people suffered immensely. Their houses were destroyed and several of their family members and friends lost their lives or got maimed for life. Every era of history revealed conflicts between the culture of war and that of peace. Each time the culture of war proved disastrous while that of peace was beneficial.

Culture of War

Unfortunately, the culture of war has proved always to be dominant in the world at large. This is revealed in the fact that there are very few nations which had the courage to abolish the military. Such nations have managed to live in peace for very long periods in spite of the turmoil that might have surrounded their boarders. One clear example is Costa Rica, which had a long history of civil wars where some 80% of the population were homeless and lived in poverty. Many years ago the leader of this nation abolished the military for good.

The United States did not like this move and soon tried to persuade the government of Costa Rica of the imminent danger it faced since the surrounding countries were all equipped with strong military forces. Costa Rica’s military general who abolished the military forces from his nation said calmly and firmly to the USA: “We firmly believe that if we prove to be not a threat to any of the surrounding nations, not one of them will dream to attack us.” And he proved to be right. For the several decades that followed Costa Rica remains peaceful.

When Costa Rica was preoccupied with having a strong military, the vast majority of the people were illiterate. This country for many years had the largest infant mortality rate among all the nations of both North and South America. In addition, the vast majority of the people were illiterate. They could not read and write. Within a matter of a few years, all the homeless were fully provided with adequate home facilities. Besides, Costa Rica became the nation in this part of the world with lowest infant mortality, less than that of the USA.

When the government of Costa Rica was asked: Where did you get the money to provide so many people with adequate home facilities and to give them all free education not only at the elementary and secondary school level but also at the college and university level as well? The answer was quick and simple: You see, when we had the military we spent millions of dollars on weapons and the promotion of struggles and wars; now that the military is gone all of that money is being used constructively for the welfare of the people. That would include free education and free health care for everyone.

Militaristic Culture of Peace

This furnishes us with clear evidence that the real source of all our earthly tragedies lies with the promotion of wars. The question to be raised is this: How come that all governments which resort to wars for the solution of problems cannot learn from a recorded history of 6,000 years of civilization that violence breeds violence and more violence breeds more violence? The situation is very serious and government officials that proceed to wage wars need to be properly examined due to the fact that there must be something very wrong with them.

The reason often quoted by government officials for their justification of war is expressed by the words: national defense and security, which is absolutely not true. A nation is viewed to be strong and healthy when its people are fully educated to the maximum of their abilities, in addition to being in good health. Since wars have become to be highly expensive, all money put in them is taken away from the vital needs of the population. An example of this is the USA which engaged itself in more than 30 wars since World War II was over in 1945.

Billions of dollars were spent uselessly on the Vietnam War, the war in Iraq and the Afghanistan War. While the American people suffered immensely because their government took a vast amount of money from the health care and education of its people, the civilians of the nations that the USA invaded had their homes destroyed, along with their schools, hospitals and places of worship. This has proved, as Pope Pius XII expressed on the eve of World War II that in a war everyone is a loser and no one is a winner.

          The waging of wars is a very complex problem because behind the scenes we always seem to have a mafia-type of organization whose job is to exploit several government officials by putting them in a state of paranoia. This way they could appeal to their “responsibility” to exercise machismo as to show that when it comes to struggles and wars they are fully fearless. To make things worse, this mafia-type of organization portrays the instigation and promotion of war as a sign of strength, courage and fearlessness.

No matter how much time it may take us, we must proceed to bring a new set of people in the government who are determined to work for the welfare of all people without exception. This way, by the process of time, we may start replacing war-minded political figures with peace-oriented politicians. The whole world should be viewed as one global community that may work harmoniously for peace on a permanent basis. In this case everyone will be a winner and no one a loser. Since children of all nations are the adults of our future communities, they should be familiarized with each other by all means.

Genuine Approach to True Peace

This way when they become adults they will start viewing the grown up children of other nations as their friends and partners, like they were all real members of the same global family. For quite a long time now, malicious politicians have been creating a new vocabulary that they use with people as to confuse them to a virtual point of no return. In Italian there is a proverb: Chiama pane pane e vino vino – Call bread bread and wine wine. In just plain English we simply say: Call it as it is.

If we examine all the wars the USA waged on some 30 nations since World War II ended in 1945, we often hear the reason given to justify such illegal actions with the name “national defense and security” by way of justification. While the USA refers to Americans killed by foreigners as “victims of terrorism,” they refer to innocent people they kill in conflicts as “collateral damage!” And the list goes on. Of course, other nations have created their own vocabulary as well to soften the injustices they commit against many innocent people.

It looks like that the culture of war has gone so deeply into the minds of many government officials that when the military speaks of the culture of peace, it sounds more to be some sort of a joke within the context. By its very nature, the military in general has always existed to instigate and promote wars almost without ending. As observed in the early part of this presentation, the constant state of war in Costa Rica ended only after the military was abolished. If the set-up of a military unit is needed, it should be merely for national emergences.

A military unit that exists to disseminate wars should be abolished because its presence makes it very difficult for the world to have eventually a genuine peace among people on both the national and global scale. The Master Teacher of Nazareth was very clear on this topic. He exhorted us all to do to others what we would like others do to us. We do not want others to hurt us and kill us. Likewise we should never take the initiative to solve conflicts of any kind through struggles and wars but only through diplomacy and healthy dialogues.


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.:
– President, International Association of Educators for World Peace, Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education, Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament.
-Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University.
-Hon President & Professor, SBS Swiss Business School, Zurich.
-Member, TRANSCEND-A Network for Peace, Development and Environment.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 2 Dec 2013.

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