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November 15, 2007

Islands of Peace:     Hope of World Stability

by 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

Sooner or later, the world is bound to experience a lasting peace. Needless to say, we must continue to practice patience and perseverance in our positive and constructive efforts to this end. In doing so, we should always keep in mind that violence begets violence and more violence begets more violence.

History of Military Violence

The reality and consequences of such violence may be brought clearly into perspective if we were to give a glance over the last 6,000 years of recorded history. Each time the military was involved we always witnessed the destruction of entire cities, the infliction of crucial pain on many people along with the brutal massacre of innocent people amounting to millions.

In view of this, the time seems now ripe when we need to reform drastically the institution of the military by changing it from an element of destruction into one of construction. In other words, we need to find healthy means to enable the military change its negative image into a positive one. For example, the weapons industry may manufacture tractors for farmers instead of tanks for soldiers. It may build merchandize ships instead of warships.

As conscientious and responsible human beings, we should all work to help turn as many nations as possible into islands of peace. The creation of such nations would generate among millions of people positive and constructive energy that is bound to influence the rest of the world at a time least expected.

Of course, we need to establish good criteria to make this providential peace event on a global scale meaningful. Here are some of the criteria for a nation to qualify to become declared as an Island of Peace:

1.     Allowing no foreign military bases. We learn from a continuous recorded history of 6,000 years of civilization that the purpose of the military everywhere has been primarily to wage wars and not to promote peace.

2.     Avoiding military bases of its own in other countries. If a nation wants to assist another nation, that should be revealed in providing medical equipment, educational material, housing facilities and other necessities of life.

3.     Safeguarding human rights. This may be revealed in procuring the nation’s population with free health care, freedom of movement, and adequate education for all citizens.

4.     Using only diplomacy with other nations. A genuine peaceful nation seeks to solve problems of national and international concern merely through healthy dialogues and hardly ever through war.

5.     Protecting the environment from pollution. The most sacred element we have in planet earth is definitely human life. To this end, we are obligated to provide an environment that is free from air and water pollution.

6.     Supporting the abolition of nuclear weapons. A nation that has already nuclear weapons should feel obligated to eliminate them. At this same time, a nation that does not have nuclear weapons should not seek to have any.

7.     Standing for disarmament and arms control. One of the goals of the United Nations has been to develop an international program of disarmament and arms control. Every nation has the obligation to help achieve this goal.

We may here perhaps bring to our mind the words of US President Dwight Eisenhower that he used in his farewell to the US Congress. He said to the entire US government: “Remember that all people of all nations want peace, only their government wants war.” For those who may not know, this US President served as military general of the US military forces in Europe in World War II. In fact, since World War II was over in 1945 many retired top military officials from the United States and from around the world as a matter of fact, have condemned the waging of wars as a means to solve political problems especially.

From the beginning of recorded civilization we notice that the element that every government tended to fear mostly was its own people. When people stick together for a desired cause, they tend to generate a tremendous amount of positive and constructive energy. As a result, they tend to become courageous and fearless to say anything that needs to be said and to do anything that needs to be done in the best interest of all people without exception. This explains why so many governments tended to become brutal and oppressive with their own people whom, deep inside, they view as their number one enemy. It also explains heavy government censorship to hide the eventual truth from their people.

As indicated earlier, the presence of foreign military bases constitutes a serious threat to world peace. Their presence is there primarily not to “defend” a nation in case of being “attacked” but to plan the promotion of struggles and wars. We need to keep in mind that the military industrial complex, which is thoroughly controlled by the weapons industry, has turned itself into the most lucrative business that ever existed in history. Money is made fast at the expense of so much pain, suffering and death of tens of millions of innocent people.

People’s Welfare as Top Priority

Any nation that relies on having military bases overseas may be viewed as a very dangerous one, and every nation that allows such foreign military bases on its soil may view its responsible government as a very weak one. It is also a sign that top government officials of such nations with foreign military bases might have been bribed in a way that one can hardly imagine in quite a number of times. The people of every nation with foreign military bases must protest periodically to their respective government to close down such bases.

Ironically, nations that have military bases in other countries tend to control such countries through fear. Not only so, but these nations tend also to violate the human rights of their own people periodically. This may be revealed in preventing their people from traveling freely around the world. Americans, for example, are prohibited by their government to visit a number of countries including Cuba, their peaceful neighbor, which is only 90 miles away.

Americans are also prevented from electing democratically their US president, that is, by a simple majority vote. For those that may not know, the US president is really elected by the so called “electoral college” that consists of approximately 500 people. This explains why in the year 2000 George W. Bush became US president in spite of getting half million votes from the American people less than his opponent Al Gore. Ironically, here we have a nation that has more military bases in foreign lands than all the nations of the world combined. This is often done as a guarantee to preserve democracy and freedom when in its own territory it does have neither genuine democracy nor real freedom.

Many psychologists tell us that when human beings do not get what they want, they often resort to violence regardless of the consequences. This is has been observed perfectly well in the behavior of politicians around the world for many centuries. When they do not get what they want by all means they resort to war caring less of how many millions of people suffer and die in the process. In every government we need to replace politicians by statesmen who always resort to sound diplomacy and healthy dialogues to solve problems of every kind.

When Pope John Paul II visited Mexico during the decade of the eighties he was asked as to whether or not he thought world peace was possible. Without hesitation he answered in the affirmative but he added: “World peace will eventually come but only after two of the greatest evils of the 20th century are gone. These are communism and capitalism because both try to achieve their objectives through the exploitation of people.” In the latter part of that same decade, communism collapsed and the world took a sigh of great relief.

True Face of Capitalism Exposed

Following the fall of communism, capitalism emerged to show its true face which, until then, always posed as the champion of democracy and freedom. Capitalistic nations, headed by the United States, embarked on the endless expansion of their military ventures. To this end, they devised subtle plans to promote struggles and wars to justify the further manufacture and sales of weapons. Their real intent was not the defense and security of the nation, as they always said and they are still proclaiming, but the defense and security of their own personal pockets that made many government officials become multi-millionaires almost overnight.

In view of this, we may safely conclude that the statement of Pope John Paul II has been fully vindicated. We need now to pray hard to witness the eventual fulfillment of the prophecy of this holy and much revered pope. Genuine world peace will finally emerge only after the collapse of capitalism, a 20th century great evil that is still roaming among us. This is proven by the fact that all those nations that have nuclear weapons do not want to do anything to dismantle them. And to turn an insult into injury, such nations while they retain the right to have such nuclear weapons, they do not want to see other nations acquiring them.

A vivid example of this was witnessed by the entire world in recent times when the United States, which have thousands of nuclear weapons, raised a pandemonium at the thought that North Korea and Iran may end up having even one of such nuclear weapons! If the capitalistic nations, in particular, do not want to see other countries with nuclear weapons, they should set an example to the whole world by abolishing all of their nuclear weapons in the first place.

In spite of the fact that the Charter of the United Nations was signed by all nations as agreeable to them and in spite of the fact that such a charter advocates the initiation of a program of international disarmament and arms control, we still are witnessing the proliferation of weapons and the endless continuation of struggles and wars. There must be something wrong within the elements or structure of this world body of nations that should be brought into perspective. Hence, a remedy may be provided to make eventually the United Nations a genuine instrument of universal peace. This would be the best legacy we could procure to posterity.

When communism was at its peak, capitalism justified fully its endless manufacture and sales of weapons as a means to protect the so called free world from the “tyranny” of communism. If that were true then, after the collapse of communism, there was no justification for capitalism to keep on manufacturing and selling weapons, along with the promotion of struggles and wars. Those governments that have nuclear weapons and that continue to promote struggles and wars to get what they want by all means, should be ashamed. With tears in their eyes, they should ask God and the entire world for forgiveness for the endless suffering they have been inflicting on millions of innocent people.

Planet Earth as Paradise

If all the billions of dollars the nations of the world spent on weapons and wars since World War II ended in 1945, were spent for positive and constructive purposes, today the world would have literally have been changed into an earthly paradise. The problem of hunger would have been completely eradicated from the surface of the earth. All homeless people would have been provided with adequate home facilities. Free health care would have been provided to citizens of all nations without exception. Our planet would have been literally turned into an earthly paradise.

Besides, free education at all levels from the cradle to the grave would have been given to every single human being without exception. All nations would have been provided with adequate medical facilities. In addition, cures to cancer of various kinds, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, AIDS, and multiple sclerosis, in addition to others, might have been procured. This is something not to be taken lightly as we should all feel obligated to become a part of a constructive society. Apparently, Jesus of Nazareth knew fully well what he was saying when he described the human being as “homo hominis lupus – man is wolf of man,” which means “man is his own worst enemy.”

When we consider the enormous benefits that the people of the world would have gained today had the governments of the previous sixty years, as a whole, sought to promote peace instead of instigating struggles and promoting wars, we cannot simply remain silent any longer. The whole world would love to see every nation existing as an island of peace. To this end, the International Association of Educators for World Peace has now taken a step in this direction.

This organization plans to honor the various heads of state the Island of Peace Award in recognition of a genuine peaceful nation that is observing the seven criteria mentioned earlier. We request anyone who is aware of nations that qualify to receive the Island of Peace Award to let us know by kindly sending a message to which would be greatly appreciated. It may serve as a good contribution to a lasting peace in the long range.

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