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A common vision: The abolition of militarism
an article by Mairead Maguire speaking at the Sarajevo Peace Event, reprinted by Open Democracy

We are all aware that this is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of  Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo which led to the start of the First World War in l9l4. What started here in Sarajevo was a century of two global wars, a Cold War, a century of immense, rapid explosion of death and destruction technology, all extremely costly, and extremely risky.


Mairead Maguire

click on photo to enlarge

A huge step in the history of war, but also a decisive turning point in the history of peace. The peace movement has never been as strong politically as in the last three decades before the break-out of WWl.  It was a factor in political life, literature, organization, and planning, the Hague Peace Conferences, the Hague Peace Palace and the International Court of Arbitration, the bestseller of Bertha von Suttner, ‘Lay Down your Arms’. The optimism was high as to what this ‘new science’ of peace could mean to humankind.  Parliaments, Kings, and Emperors, great cultural and business personalities involved themselves. The great strength of the movement was that it did not limit itself to civilizing and slowing down militarism, it demanded its total abolition.

People were presented with an alternative, and they saw common interest in this alternative road forward for humankind.  What happened in Sarajevo a hundred years ago was a devastating blow to these ideas, and we never really recovered.  Now, a hundred years later, must be the time for a thorough reappraisal of what we had with this vision of disarmament, and what we have done without it, and the need for a recommitment, and a new ambitious start offering new hope to a humanity suffering under the scourge of militarism and wars.

People are tired of armaments and war. They have seen that they release uncontrollable forces of tribalism and nationalism.  These are dangerous and murderous forms of identity and above which we need to take steps to transcend, lest we unleash further dreadful violence upon the world. To do this, we need to acknowledge that our common humanity and human dignity is more important than our different traditions. We need to recognize our life and the lives of others are sacred and we can solve our problems without killing each other. We need to accept and celebrate diversity and otherness. We need to work to heal the ‘old’ divisions and misunderstandings, give and accept forgiveness, and choose nonkilling and nonviolence as ways to solve our problems.  So too as we disarm our hearts and minds, we can also disarm our countries and our world.

We are also challenged to build structures through which we can co-operate and which reflect our interconnected and interdependent relationships. The vision of the European Union founders to link countries together economically, in order to lessen the likelihood of war amongst the nations, is a worthy endeavour. 

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Can NATO be abolished?

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Unfortunately, instead of putting more  energy into providing help for EU citizens, we are witnessing the growing militarization of Europe, its role as a driving force for armaments, and its dangerous path, under the leadership of the USA/NATO, towards a new ‘cold’ war and military aggression. The European Union and many of its countries, who used to take initiatives in the UN for peaceful settlements of conflicts, particularly allegedly peaceful countries, like Norway and Sweden, are now one of the US/NATO most important war assets. The EU is a threat to the survival of neutrality. Many nations have been drawn into being complicit in breaking international law through US/UK/NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, etc.

I believe NATO should be abolished. The United Nations should be reformed and strengthened, and we should get rid of the veto in the Security Council so that it is a fair vote and we don’t have one power ruling over us. The UN should actively take up its mandate to save the world from the scourge of war. 
 
But there is hope. People are mobilizing and resisting non-violently. They are saying no to militarism and war and insisting on disarmament. . ...more.


This report was posted on June 11, 2014.