Security versus Peace Discourse (after Johan Galtung)


Dietrich Fischer – TRANSCEND Media Service

The prevailing discourse used by governments today is the security discourse, which briefly is the following: “We have a problem, our enemies. Through military superiority we can deter or prevent their evil designs and achieve security–and through this peace.”

The peace discourse, largely ignored today, can be summarized as follows: “We have a problem, an unresolved conflict. By transforming it with peaceful means, i.e., by exploring all the participants’ goals through dialogues with empathy, dividing the goals into legitimate and illegitimate, and then bridging the legitimate goals in creative, nonviolent ways, we can achieve peace–and through this mutual security.”

There are situations where the security discourse is applicable. For example, it may be a good idea to buy a secure and well locked door in an area where burglaries are frequent. But today it is vastly overvalued. It applies in perhaps 10 percent of all cases, while the peace discourse is applicable in 90 percent of all cases, yet today their use is just the reverse.

A typical example of how the peace discourse has been used effectively is the creation of the European Union (emerging from the first step in the form of the European Coal and Steel Community), which has brought peace to Europe, where centuries of competitive arms races only produced one war after another.


Dietrich Fischer, born in 1941 in Münsingen, Switzerland, got a Licentiate in Mathematics from the University of Bern 1968 and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from New York University 1976. 1986-88 he was a MacArthur Fellow in International Peace and Security at Princeton University. He has taught mathematics, computer science, economics and peace studies at various universities and been a consultant to the United Nations.

Excerpted from Dietrich Fischer’s Stories to Inspire You – TRANSCEND University Press-TUP.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 13 Apr 2015.

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