Humanity Needs a Completely Different Peace and Security System in the Future
EDITORIAL, 7 Aug 2023
A major peace publishing event across cultures. The cover story of the influential China Investment Magazine’s July 2023 edition.
Can you imagine a leading economics, finance and investment magazine in the Western world publishing a 30 A4-page (10 000 words) article about the future peace and security world order – a think-piece consisting merely of concepts, theories, visions and philosophical aspects of the theme?
I can’t. They would not see it as meaningful to include perspectives on peace, nonviolence, security and related matters. But they’d probably gladly publish articles about military corporations, profits and the like.
But in China, they see the value of such holistic thinking between interrelated dimensions of society – and of the world – as it really is. Economics is not only about economic things; it takes place in a framework that influences it – past, present and future.
In contrast, the main problem in Western economic thinking is that it’s mostly about market aspects, corporate/private actors and maximizing utilities and profits as if economics could be isolated from society and culture. Furthermore, in the academic field called ‘national economics,’ Western economy students spend years learning about something that has not existed for decades in the real world.
I’m honored to have been asked by China Investment to write about the theme indicated in the headline. And I am grateful for the opportunity to express my thinking based on four decades of scholarly work, quite some thinking and on-the-ground experiences. See the original edition here.
Before you read my future-oriented analysis, let me quote this from its homepage so you get an impression of the status of this magazine:
“China Investment, founded in 1985, is a monthly under the supervision of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s macro-economic management agency, It’s jointly operated by Investment Research Institute under NDRC, China International Engineering Consulting Corporation. Enjoying an exclusive position under the central government, China Investment is the core journal which started the earliest among similar magazines to focus on the investment trend. Over the past 30-plus years, China Investment has been in line with the global market as its fundamental coordinate with a strategic focus on specific countries and regional markets and those major international propensities. China Investment is a key dialogue platform for officials from different countries, investment agencies, experts and scholars, business people and journalists.”
And now, my article below. It has been changed and re-edited in a few places and I have added some thoughts on non-military defense.
On August 1, 2023, the very important Global Times published my summary, requested by them, of the longer analysis below.
30 Jul 2023 – The world’s taxpayers give US$ 2,240 billion annually to their national military defenses. That is the highest ever, more than 600 times the regular budget of the United Nations, and three times the total trade between China and the US. Such are the perverse priorities of our governments; the five largest spenders are the US 39% of the total, China 13%, Russia 3,9%, India 3,6% and Saudi Arabia 3,1%.
Worldwide, governments maintain that they need that much to secure their people’s survival, national defense, security and stability – and that global peace will come.
With the exception of the elites of the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complexes (MIMAC), we all know this is a huge fallacy. Today’s world is at a higher risk of war–including nuclear–, more unstable and militaristic than at any time since 1945.
At the end of the West’s Cold War a good 30 years ago, peace became a manifest possibility, NATO could have been dismantled since its raison d’être, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, fell apart. A new transatlantic common security and peace system could have replaced NATO.
Tragically, ’defensive’ NATO did everything not only to cheat Russia with its promise to not expand ‘one inch,’ but also to expand up to the border of Russia, “not one inch off limit for the alliance,” to quote Marie Sarotte’s brilliant 550-page book, Not One Inch.
The NATO world now postulates that both Russia and China are threats to be met with even higher, de facto limitless, military expenditures.
But wait! How would you think and act if you witnessed a team of doctors do one surgery after the other on a patient who, for each, came closer to death?
You’d probably say that they are quack doctors. Their diagnosis and treatment lead to a devastating prognosis. Instead of health, they produce more of the problem they claim to solve!
Given that the highest investment on peace and security in history has caused the highest risk to humanity’s survival, why don’t we have a vibrant global debate? What is fundamentally wrong with the entire paradigm of security through arms? Where are the critical analyses of the world’s most enigmatic and dangerous logical short circuit?
The dominant security paradigm builds on factors like these:
- deterrence – we shall harm them if they do something we won’t accept or don’t do as we say;
- offensiveness – our defense is directed at them even thousands of kilometers away, not on our own territory;
- military means are all-dominant;
- civil means – like minimizing society’s vulnerability; civil defense, nonviolent people’s defense, cooperation refusal, boycott – are hardly discussed;
- our intentions are noble and peaceful, but theirs are not;
- our defense is not a threat to them, but they threaten us with theirs;
- ignoring the underlying conflicts that cause violence and war, the keys to conflict-resolution, and prepare instead for war to achieve peace.
This is, by and large, how everybody ’thinks’ and then they blame others for the fact that this type of thinking can not produce disarmament or peace.
Even worse, when that peace doesn’t come, everybody concludes that they need more and better weapons. In reality, this system is the perpetual mobile of the world’s tragic militarism and squandering of resources desperately needed to solve humanity’s problems.
There must be better ways to think. But there is far too little research and debate and the MIMAC elites thrive on war. Thus, decision-makers lack political will.
What would be the criteria for good peace and security?
Conflicts are to be addressed and solved intelligently by mediation, international law, and creative visions that address the parties’ fears and wishes. Violent means should be absolutely the last resort as is stated by the UN. Peace is about reducing all kinds of violence (there are many kinds) and creating security for all at the lowest military level, like the doctor who shall never incur more pain than necessary to heal a patient.
Here some alternative ideas and thinking to promote discussion:
instead of deterrence, seek cooperation and common security; the latter means that we feel secure when they do;
- go for being invincible in defense but unable to attack anybody else; have weapons with limited destruction capacity and range;
- make control/occupation impossible by our country’s non-cooperation with any occupier;
- balance defensive military and civilian means;
- prevent violence but not conflicts;
- never do tit-for-tat escalation; do something creative to de-escalate;
- show that your intentions are non-threatening and take small steps to invite Graduated Reduction in Tension (GRIT) without risking your own security;
- handle conflicts early; build peace first and then secure it;
- address underlying conflicts, traumas, fears and interests;
- educate and use professionals in civilian conflict-resolution and mediation, not only military expertise;
- develop and nurture a peace culture through education at all levels, ministries for peace, emphasis on conflict transformation instead of confrontation and rearmament;
- replace outdated neighborhood ethics with a global ethics of care.
The possibilities are limitless. Conflict and peace illiteracy have brought us to where we are today. It is not whether human beings are evil, good, or both. It is a systemic paradigmatic malfunctioning that must change in name of civilization.
We can learn to peace.
Masters of war are hated worldwide. Countries that take concrete leadership in developing new principles and policies for true global peace and human security will save humanity and will be loved forever.
Let a thousand peace ideas bloom!
Prof. Jan Oberg, Ph.D. is director of the independent Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research-TFF in Sweden and a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment. CV: https://transnational.live/jan-oberg
Tags: Military Supremacy, Peace
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Aug 2023.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Humanity Needs a Completely Different Peace and Security System in the Future, is included. Thank you.
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