My Thoughts on Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire’s Speech on 6th June, 2014 in Sarajevo


Alberto Portugheis – TRANSCEND Media Service

Ref. — Peace Movements’ Common Vision: The Abolition of Militarism, by Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire Keynote address at Sarajevo Peace Event, 6 June 2014

Dear Mairead Maguire,

First of all, I think that to say “the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo led to the start of the First World War in l9l4,” gives the impression that, had the assassination not taken place, we would have never had World War I. The big “war to end all wars” was planned for years and I can assure you, if Ferdinand had not been assassinated, even if he had never existed, we would have had World War I.

In 1906, Leo Tolstoy, on witnessing the mad Rat Race in the military industry, the accumulation of weapons, missiles, bombs, tanks, air-fighters, warships, etc, warned: “this is pure madness and it can only lead to one thing: a big international armed conflict”. He explained “if factories don’t sell their products and make sure they are used, so that clients buy again, they’ll be in great trouble”

Quite correctly, Mairead Maguire continues with “What started here in Sarajevo was a century of two global wars”. Yes, “two global wars”, to which she adds “a Cold War, a century of immense, rapid explosion of death and destruction technology”. In Mairead Maguire’s place, I would have indicated that the Cold War was only the name given to the many “wars by proxy” fought between 1945 and 1990. Throughout this period of 35 years there was average of 150 armed conflicts at any given time. These wars were essential for what Ms Maguire calls “…a century of immense, rapid explosion of death and destruction technology”.

Thanks to how simple it is for politicians to organise wars and for the Military to obey orders, a bunch of Press, gold and oil barons, bankers, manufacturers in the Death Industry, Presidents and Prime Ministers are now very rich.

Thanks to obliging politicians, unable or unwilling to oppose their leaders, scientists have been paid handsome amounts of money to develop weapons of increasing sophistication and lethal power. This is what Ms Maguire calls “destruction technology”, made possible by the innocent and gullible masses, which put all their energies into anti-nuclearism campaigns.

Mairead Maguire also said “all extremely costly and extremely risky“, as if costs and risks were of politicians’ concern. Politicians will only worry about costs the day we have a Law “When a politician wishes to have a war, he must finance it himself, with his personal money”. Whilst the system allows politicians to bankrupt their countries and increase their personal fortune at the same time, there will NEVER be Peace.

Same with “risks”. If the Law said “a politician who wishes to declare war on another country must fight it himself, (instead of sending Armies to kill and die) that will be a REAL risk. I’m sure we wouldn’t have many wars.

As it is, politicians are only favoured by wars. Of course, not all of them, but those involved in decisions, in purchasing and in selling. Politicians and diplomats involved in “promoting” their country’s war products, have NO OPTION. They must recommend bomb makers, introduce them to new clients. With wars they can never lose.

Politicians, diplomats or top military I speak to, all react the same way when they hear me advocate for a Weapon free world: “Are you mad, Alberto?” are their first words. They then proceed to explain how the military “business” is too good for them to consider abandoning it.

Ms Maguire talked about “the peace movement in the last three decades before the break-out of WWl.”, telling us politicians, writers, Kings, Emperors, etc, were all for Peace. It seems to me, she believes Governments listen to what people want and….do it. In fact, the same happened before World War II and is happening now. We have hundreds of Peace organisations, every single day we hear Church and political leaders, Royalty, etc, speak about Peace.

Ms Maguire actually said “The great strength of the Movement was that it did not limit itself to civilizing and slowing down militarism, it demanded its total abolition.” Why then, didn’t Governments abolish militarism? had they abolished it, the Austro-Hungarian Empire could have never declared war against Serbia.

Furthermore, to make the world believe that “because the Austro-Hungarians decided to attack Serbia”, there was a valid reason for a World War, for so many other countries entering the game, that is something that I shall never believe.

Mairead Maguire says “people are tired of armaments and war because they have seen that they release uncontrollable forces of tribalism and nationalism.” This statement is very misleading. Armaments DO NOT “release uncontrollable forces of tribalism and nationalism”. Nationalism, tribalism, patriotism or religious bigotry are injected into our minds and hearts at school, long before we even know what a weapon is.

Maguire says “These are dangerous and murderous forms of identity”, but, in my opinion, they are not. 95% of soldiers going to war have no “murderous form of identity”. They are simply obeying orders.

Among the steps to be taken for a better world, Maguire suggests “we need to acknowledge that our common humanity and human dignity is more important than our different traditions.” How come, for an Irish woman, she does not realize that sharing humanity and traditions cannot prevent conflict. Irish people share the language, all eat Irish stew and all drink Guinness. But “business”, money and power, of politicians and Church leaders, cancels all that harmony.

Look at the Spanish Civil War. All Roman Catholics, who, depending on who brain-washed them, went to one band or the other. Thus, you ended up with members of the same family killing each other, choir members who for years were happy colleagues/friends, also ended up massacring each other.

Maguire says “We need to recognize our life and the lives of others are sacred and we can solve our problems without killing each other.” as if politicians didn’t know that. “We need to accept and celebrate diversity and otherness”. But this we do already. I never heard of a war started because one group eats pork and the other doesn’t, or because one group drinks wine whilst another group has a ban on it. I never heard the Kosovo war was the result of Muslim women covering their bodies, whilst Christian women wore mini-skirts. Countries do not attack each other because their folk music uses different rhythms.

Maguire says “we need to heal the ‘old’ divisions and misunderstandings,” without saying “how”. Is she proposing one religion only? Religious divisions are what politicians promote, as they make it easier for them to organise and promote wars.

Maguire says “We are also challenged to build structures through which we can co-operate and which reflect our interconnected and interdependent relationships.” But this is EXACTLY what leading politicians and diplomats do. They are extremely well “interconnected”. Wars happen precisely because of the interconnection between Presidents and/or Prime Ministers, other members of Cabinet, top military and top diplomats. Wars happen because of agreements between Governments and Banks.

Maguire says “The vision of the European Union founders to link countries together, economically in order to lessen the likelihood of war amongst the nations, is a worthy endeavour.” This is another misleading piece of information. Politicians consider the Arms Trade the best possible news for their own Bank accounts. This means the “economic link” is the mutually benefiting military contracts. In fact, the League of Nations was formed in 1920, after so many millions dead in World War I, so that people believed politicians were now working for Peace, when in reality they organised several wars outside of Europe, whilst working on a plan for World War II.

Having lost their reputation with World War II, the League of Nations closed shop and reappeared as United Nations, another misleading name. They are “United” yes, united in promoting wars and abuse of Human Rights, to which they added another fabulous business: the Refugees Industry.

Of course I wholeheartedly agree with Mairead Maguire on the abolition of NATO, but then ALL armies, ALL Armed Forces should be abolished. Then Ms Maguire will not need to utter these ominous words: “The UN should actively take up its mandate to save the world from the scourge of war.” because the UN wouldn’t exist. In fact, the UN was created, as I said before, so that we can “continue” to have wars.

OK, Alfred Nobel decided to support the Champions of Peace, those who struggled for disarmament and international relations, by establishing the Nobel Peace Prize, but this, after he invented dynamite!! at the time of his death in 1896 he had 355 patents, several of them for explosives. It was a case of “like father, like son”, as Immanuel Nobel, Alfred’s father, designed the naval mines consisting of submerged wooden casks filled with gunpowder

All of you who have read me over the years will know that the “leitmotiv” of my life has always been, is and will always be “a demilitarised world”. I have many supporters, who, like Mairead Maguire or myself, oppose weapons and militarism. However, this is far from enough. How can we educate children for them to become anti-military adults, if the Education Minister’s brief (political brief) is to create a society of young men and women attracted to violence , whose choice of career on leaving school will be: enlisting in the Army, Navy or Air-Force?

Why do Governments promote the outdoor game “Paint-Ball? why do so many businesses go bankrupt, but never a bomb manufacturer?

Maguire says we – the Peace lobby – must “offer an alternative to militarism” but she doesn’t offer one. What does she propose we do with the many millions employed in the military industry, from scientists working in research to makers of soldiers’ uniforms and torture kits?

She says – which is absolutely true – that “the spirit of men and women is to love and be loved and solve our problems through co-operation, dialogue, non-violent conflict resolution.”. But Bush and Blair and all politicians in the world know this !!!!! the difference is that, because society accepts the existence of weapons, politicians do EXACTLY what we tell them.

I explain. “solve our problems through co-operation”. Politicians co-operate on solving their problems all the time. Trouble is, their problems are not the same as ours. Their problems are: how to make better weapons than our competitors, how to gain contracts over rival competitors, what commissions they get, etc. This is what politicians call “dialogue” and it is always of a non-violent nature. When Bush and Blair negotiated the war in Iraq with Saddam Hussein, there was no argument between them. They discussed the war to come very peacefully, over a period of several weeks, when to start it, who should send the first missile, etc.

I don’t like the sound of the following words uttered by Mairead Maguire’s: “we shall be inspired and energized to pursue our different projects, be it arms trade, nuclear, non-violence, culture of peace, drone warfare, etc.,” How can we be working for Peace and the Arms Trade at the same time?

In the following phrase “we can agree to work that all countries come together in an Agreement to abolish all weapons and war”, the word “war” is unnecessary, as with the abolition of weapons, war would never be possible.

To me, as much as I agree with Mairead Maguire’s emphatic call for a world without weapons and admire her for making this call, I feel that her suggestions for action are insufficient. It is not enough to shout in all directions “I don’t want a militarized world”! whilst the games we buy for our children and grandchildren, the films they watch on television, the teaching at schools of Nationalism, Patriotism, Religious superiority, etc, etc., are all promoting violence and a militarized world.

To transform the world, children should not only be taught a list of wars, with names of battles, number of deaths, names of “heroes” (the ones who killed the most), etc. Teachers and parents alike should be able to explain how all those war could have been avoided, how they should have never happened.


Alberto Portugheis is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. By profession a concert pianist and pedagogue, he is an active peace campaigner, whose anti-military stance  earned him a nomination  for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. As a result, Portugheis wrote, “Dear Ahed…..The Game of War and a Path to Peace” – a book that has received critical acclaim He contributes regularly to Twitter and has many followers. Some of his thoughts, ideas and reflections, which express only the desire “to make people think” and not take for granted what they read, “no matter where”, can be found in his blog


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Jul 2014.

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