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Question: Can the culture of peace be established at the level of the state? CPNN article: The Fifth Summit of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments
CPNN Administrator
Posted: Dec. 31 1999,17:00

This discussion question applies to the following articles:

The Fifth Summit of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments
Plantea PRI crear Comisión Nacional para la Cultura de la Paz
The PRI to propose a National Commission for the Culture of Peace in Mexico
Lema de Cumbre ASPA: Una cultura de paz, inclusión y desarrollo
Slogan of the ASPA Summit: A culture of peace, inclusion and development
Outgoing Rep. Dennis Kucinich: With 2 Parties Failing U.S., It’s on Us to Build a
Suisse 2013: Un Nid pour la Paix - Sixième Sommet de l’Alliance Globale pour les Ministères et Infrastructures pour la Paix
Switzerland 2013: Nesting Peace - Sixth Summit of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace
Consolidarse como una zona de paz es el objetivo de Venezuela
Consolidation as a zone of peace is the aim of Venezuela
Survey of national measures and unilateral efforts toward disarmament
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David Adams
Posted: July 09 2013,14:08

It seems that people around the world are growing increasingly skeptical of national governments.

The latest poll, taken by Transparency International, finds that in 88% of the countries polled, a majority of people consider that their government is ineffective in the fight against corruption.  Their skepticism has risen considerably since the previous poll that was taken two years ago.

In response to the question, "To what extent is this country's government run by a few big interests looking out for themselves?", 81% considered this to be true to some extent, and 55% considered it to be true to a large extent or entirely.

The various services associated with government were considered to be the most corrupt institutions, while NGOs and religious institutions were considered the least corrupt.
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Janet Hudgins
Posted: Jan. 05 2014,15:08

"Stuffing the ears of men with false reports. I speak of peace, while covert enmity under the smile of safety wounds the world." - William Shakespeare

History Repeating?
Steve Saideman | January 3, 2014

This article was originally published by OpenCanada.org.



As it is exactly 100 years since the start of the First World War, we are going to see a lot of stories this year saying something about how 1914 speaks to today… as if World War III may break out soon.  Of course, anytime somebody says it ain’t gonna happen, folks mention the various experts who said in 1914 that war was not going happen that year.  Still, if Vegas set an over/under line on world wars in 2014 at one, I would bet on the under – that there will not be a world war this year.

Of course, this depends on what one means by a world war.  Would a conflict that involves multiple hemispheres (north and south or east and west – I am not picky) count?  How about one that involves at least two great powers on either side? Or just two superpowers, like if the cold war got hot – but there is only one superpower still, right?

Of course, then we would have to figure out which countries count as great powers, and that is not always easy.  My list would include the U.S., China, Russia, and maybe Japan, Germany, France, and the U.K. And if we really want to stretch the definition, perhaps Brazil, India, Indonesia, and a few other places.  Great powers are countries that can project power around the world, so everyone with nukes and the ability to deliver them beyond their neighbouring countries stand up (the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, India – if you have a space program, you can drop nukes far away).  We can come up with other lists, but the question of WW or not WW basically entails whether some combo of the U.S., China, and Russia (with European countries to be named later) will start fighting.

So, what is the likelihood that the U.S. will engage in a war with China and/or Russia?  Pretty close to zero.  Why?  Those aforementioned nuclear weapons have a great deal to do with it – MAD and all that.  The difference between 1914 and 2014 is a complete reversal in preemption temptation.  In 1914, there was a sense that striking first had great advantages and most countries had war plans built on that assumption.  Now, attacking first just means you make more rubble bounce, but that won’t save your own country from total annihilation.  MAD ain’t perfect (there is the ye olde Stability-Instability Paradox), but I’m pretty sure the preemption temptation is not relevant 100 years after the First World War.

There is, however, one thing to be concerned about – the First World War became a world war because the need to maintain alliances and credibility caused a small war between Serbia and the Austro-Hungarian Empire to expand to the rest of Europe and beyond.  A valid question in 2014 is whether alliances might cause a small dispute to escalate into something larger. Tensions between China and Japan are suggestive, as the U.S. would be pulled in on the side of Japan.  The problem with this line of argument is that, again, folks might be applying 1914 analogies to the initial escalation process.

The good news, in terms of alliance politics, is that the potential adversaries of the U.S. are not nearly as tied to their allies as the various actors were in the lead up to First World War.  Who is Russia committed to?  Yes, Russia has supported Assad in a variety of ways, but Syria is more of a client than an ally.  Russia’s security does not depend on Syria, nor has Russia made a clear alliance commitment to Syria.  Who else is Russia allied with?  The same goes for China. China is far less committed to supporting whatever North Korea is up to these days.  Sure, North Korea would probably love to drag China into a war, but, again, China’s security does not hinge on the credibility of that alliance.

Really, only the U.S. and its allies are in danger of being dragged into a war in order to protect the credibility of an alliance.  Libya might have been one such war.  This is why Georgia should not be allowed into NATO, as it would be the most likely ally to see an alliance commitment as a green light to provoke a conflict with Russia.

The positive news here is that the U.S. is exhausted.  Its military is tired, its economy is frayed, and its people are sick of war. Recent surveys have shown that even the “good war” is no longer popular.  So the U.S. is unlikely to allow itself to get sucked into any new war anytime soon.

One last important difference between 1914 and 2014: in a nuclear world, allies are convenient but are not ultimately necessary.  No nuclear power with a second strike capability has to go to war to protect an ally – it would be a choice, not a compulsion.  The only existential threats such countries face are the arsenals of the other states with nuclear weapons.

So, again, there would be far less pressure to enter a war one does not want to protect a commitment one does not really need.  As the co-author of a new book on alliance behaviour, I don’t want to say that alliances are irrelevant, but as a scholar of international relations, I have to say that alliances in 2014 are not the same as alliances in 1914.

Sure, anniversaries are swell. And we should be thinking about how the past still matters today, because it does.  Just don’t buy into what the fear mongers are mongering.
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CPNN Administrator
Posted: April 29 2014,00:00

Note: The following discussion piece, first published in Online Opinion by James Page, was sent to CPNN by the author:

Re-claiming the Kellogg-Briand Pact

The Kellogg-Briand Pact, otherwise known as the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War, or simply the Pact of Paris, is one of the most interesting of all modern treaties.  This was a treaty signed in 1928 by most of the nations of the world, including Australia, and by which the signatory nations pledged to renounce war as an official instrument of national policy and to use peaceful means to resolve disputes. One of the interesting facts about this Treaty is that it is still current.  There are a number of reasons why I would suggest it is now appropriate to reclaim this Treaty in the popular imagination.

The first reason is that the Treaty coincides with other international commitments.  For instance, the 1999 United Nations Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, commits the signatories to promoting non-violence and a culture of non-violence.  The Preamble to the UN Charter indicates that the basis for the organization is to prevent succeeding generations from experiencing the “scourge of war”, and the constitutional mandate for UNESCO commits that organization to encouraging a culture of peace.  The value of the Kellogg-Briand Pact is that this commitment to peace is made a little more concrete and a little more explicit.

The second reason is that the Kellogg-Briand Pact is more relevant than ever, given current international politics. It is arguable that we live in a world where there has been a relative absence of inter-state armed conflict in recent years.  However the paradox is that the potential for inter-state violence is more apparent than ever, with growing major power rivalries now evident in the Western Pacific and in Eastern Europe.  It is instructive to remember that in 1914 the world had experienced a time of relative peace, but that peace soon came to an end.  I contend the ideals of the Kellogg-Briand Pact are now more important than ever.

The third reason is that aspirational goals are important. Goethe once wrote that the potential we identify is the potential we will tend to fulfil.  It is true that the Kellogg-Briand Pact did not stop fascist aggression in the 1930s, leading to global war.  Yet I would suggest that this only underscores the importance of educating and publicizing why such a Pact is important, that is, why it is important for nations to renounce war as an official instrument of policy, and why it is important for nations to commit to pacific and diplomatic means for the resolving of disputes. Ideals are worth working on.

The fourth reason is practical.  The Kellogg-Briand Pact is often criticized as being overly idealist, and yet it was on the basis of the Pact that the Nuremburg Tribunal and the Tokyo Trials prosecuted those who had led the world into yet another world war.  It is timely to remind ourselves that using war as an instrument of national policy is contrary to international law, and that those who do so are war criminals.  Many would argue that there are many such contemporary war criminals yet to be prosecuted, although this in itself is yet another reason why the Kellogg-Briand Pact needs to be publicized.

The final reason is cultural. We live in strange times, with a wide recognition of the destructiveness and futility of war, and yet we witness a popular culture which increasingly celebrates participation in violent conflict as the defining mark of courage and identity.  Any statement which explicitly rejects the value of war, and in particular which rejects war as an instrument of national policy, is useful in these circumstances.  Such statements help undergird a rejection of the culture of violence, which is so pervasive.  The Kellogg-Briand Pact is one such public statement.

How do we go about re-claiming the Kellogg-Briand Pact within the popular imagination, or, to put the question another way, how do we obey the law against war?  I would suggest what needs to happen is that national and international leaders of opinion ought to be encouraged to speak out on the importance of the Kellogg-Briand Pact and its relevance today.  For the United Nations, one practical innovation would be the establishment of an International Day for the Renunciation of War, as a means for raising consciousness.  Whatever the means, it is difficult to gainsay the relevance of the Pact, and the need for this to be reclaimed as a pressing one for our times.
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David Adams
Posted: July 15 2014,06:00

The state has come, over the centuries, to monopolize the culture of war.  It would require a radical change in its very nature for it to abandon the culture of war and adopt a culture of peace.

For details on how the state has come to monopolize the culture of war, see The History of the Culture of War
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