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PEACE in Action

Dialogue: Peace and Security


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Policies for International Peace
Dialogue: Peace and Security

Peace and security decisions in the United States affect the whole world — both immediately and in the long term; thus, they impact on US peace and security for generations. Therefore, it is important that US citizens become acquainted with the conditions and problems around the world, and that they participate in the making of US foreign policy. We urge all who are eligible to vote. We offer in this article and others in this issue a lot of relevant information.

As the campaigns (Presidential and Congressional) go forward, ask the candidates for their long-term vision for the US, including the US relationship to the rest of the world. What are the actions that the candidates propose to achieve their visions?

"I'll make (or keep) America No. 1" is not what you should want to hear. Too often when this expression has been used it has meant being a bully and engendering fear of our weaponry and our intentions. Candidates should be told that you want the US striving t be No. 1 in working for peace and justice around the world, to be No. 1 in supporting and strengthening the United Nations, including the signing of the international treaties for preserving the earth and its resources, human rights, nuclear disarmament, etc.. Paying our dues at the beginning of the UN's fiscal year could help improve its efficiency.

Frank Blechman, a worker in the field of conflict resolution for many years, recently laid out a dilema. He said that in the 1980s people were supporters of the Nuclear Weapons FREEZE Campaign; yet, US policy did not follow. His conclusion: "We convinced the American public that we could not live with nuclear weapons, but we failed to convince them that we could live without them. In other words, we failed to provide a credible alternative security policy."

A Security Policy for the New Millennium

It is time for a total re-look at foreign policy objectives. We could start with a new look at "National Security" and think about using "Peace" as the organizing principle for policy (see Louise Diamond's article in this issue).

In the first issue of PEACE in Action (November 1985), Dr. Willis Harman suggested a modest goal to guide our foreig policy toward a peaceful world: the denuclearization of security, the delegitimation of war, and the universal adoption of nonviolent means for resolving conflict between nations.

A first step to work toward this goal would be to seek consensus on the goal among all countries. An approach to start the process would be to encourage a World Conference on Peace and Security under the auspices of the United Nations. Preceded by national and multi-nation regional meetings, the conference would develop a vision of the world at peace, examine the causes of national and international tension, and prepare programs for reducing tension and building a foundation for peace. These programs would include national, regional, and global plans of action and procedures for reviewing the progress and implementation of these plans.

Dr. David Krieger's article elsewhere in this issue provides appropriate recommendations for some nuclear objectives. The article in this issue from the Friends Committee on National Legislation lays out a new security strategy for the successful prevention of deadly conflict. We can also replace our reference to a "war on terrorism" (negative) to "buliding/promoting peace" (positive). A new energy policy could also promote peace — see Hank Stone's article herein, Renewable Energy Revolution

How we disengage from Iraq will be especially important in demonstrating a policy for peace. For some ideas, see Professor Rubenstein's article elsewhere in this issue. Those who would bring peace to Iraq (Iraqis and those who would help them) would do well to read Ambassador McDonald's article in this issue about dealing with ethnic conflict. In addition, the experience of the Republic of Cameroon after it's independence would be beneficial for Iraqi peacebuilders (see special article inside the back cover).

Building peace also begins with each of us. Our thoughts and beliefs shape our experiences and behaviors. Thoughts and beliefs determine what we look for, what we recognize, and how we interpret what we recognize. These processes tend to be self-prophetic. If we assume that a certain group of people (whites, blacks, Hispanics, refugees, bureaucrats) is angry and hostile, we will tend to be particularly sensitive to any anger they display and may even act in ways that will elicit it from them. We need to recognize and discard our biases and prejudices. We must all work for inner peace and local harmony if our nation is to help lead the world to peace.

Dr. Harman sets forth our personal work for peace in his PEACE in Action article cited above. Dr. Harman states that: "one of the beliefs we have to be on guard against is the belief that if the goal (denuclearization, delegitimation of war, and the adoption of nonviolent means for resolving international conflict) is going to be achieved, someone else will have to do it -- we don't have the qualifications or the official positions to be effective. Wrong. Fundamental change in societies has always come from vast numbers of people changing their minds just a little. We, the people, give legitimacy to institutions and institutional behaviors. When we change our minds about what is legitimate, then institutions change their behavior."

"Let us then explore together a three part strategy for achieving sustainable global peace within a generation:

  1. Spend a little time each day at inner work aimed at three things:
    1. understanding the ways in which your own beliefs may be contributing to personal fear, anxiety, conflict, hostility;
    2. understanding the ways in which collective beliefs that you have unquestioningly accepted may be contributing to the problems of the planet; and
    3. working on the discovery of and identification with the innermost core of your own being.
    Get (or remain) involved with some kind of outer work related to bringing about global peace.
  2. Recognize the power of repeatedly and persistently affirming and imaging a positive goal of sustainable peace and commit to doing that regularly. To achieve anything, we must first envision the goal."

Your commitment to some of the recommendations above would help foster the belief that peace is possible. This, in turn, would encourage people to support the above three-part strategy. You can do a lot for the cause of peace by participating in this election campaign and continuing to be engaged with the policymaking process. May you rise to the challenge! May a more peaceful and peace-promoting America be the result of your collective efforts! Peace be with you!

The Editor


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