While peace and environment protection have always been important, now these have acquired the greatest urgency in the form of survival issues as basic life nurturing conditions are threatened now as never before by the most dangerous weapons and wars on the one hand and a range of very serious environmental problems led by climate change on the other hand. The challenge of saving our planet must be met within a framework of justice, equality and democracy as only then it can involve most people in sustained ways while creating transparent, highly creative and self-correcting processes.
Keeping this in view all nations must make significant changes based on a well-integrated agenda of peace, environment protection, justice, democracy, equality and compassion towards all forms of life.
While all nations need to make such changes, these are needed most of all in the USA, which is the biggest economic and military power of the world. Instead of harnessing its great potential and power for the cause of peace and environment protection, the USA has become the biggest obstacle for reshaping a world based on peace, disarmament, protection of environment (including checking climate change), justice, equality and democracy.
As the top military power with by far the biggest military and weapons budget, the USA has an enormous weapons-industry and military-industrial complex which exercises a highly corrupting influence on policy makers to go on increasing allocations to benefit them and this itself becomes a stimulant for wars and military interventions. This is also related to the objective of dominance of world, pushed by the more aggressive policy makers, which results in maintaining military bases all over the world, pre-emptive targeting of potential rivals and toppling/harming those democratically elected governments of various countries which do not follow US directives. The USA uses other countries as proxies to bleed and weaken its main rivals. All this cannot co-exist with the objective of world peace and leads to enormous suffering and loss of precious human lives.
Fossil fuel, agricultural/food, pharmaceutical and chemical big business interests similarly influence US policy makers in ways that are harmful for people all over the world. To give just one example, USA big business interests have been the leading influence for the spread of highly hazardous GM crops, foods and related agro-chemicals which are inflicting very serious irreversible harm on world food and farming systems.
In pursuit of such objectives, the USA also increasingly misuses the highly privileged position of the US dollar as the currency accepted worldwide. This privilege has been used very arbitrarily, increasingly so, to threaten rival countries.
At the same time as being engaged in highly and increasingly aggressive ways to dominate the world, the USA has pursued policies which greatly increase internal inequality and lead to surprisingly high levels of denial of basic needs within the USA. At the same time there is very distressing internal injustice ad violence at various levels of US society, social disintegration, extremely high levels of mental health problems, self-harm and substance abuse. The resulting social distress is enormous.
This internal distress and the distress inflicted on people of other countries are related in numerous ways which need better understanding (one aspect being that both can be traced to similar forces and tendencies).
What peace activists desire most of all is that US policy must change in such ways that the USA is at peace with itself and at peace with the rest of the world. This means that US policy has to change in very important ways. It must be integrated with the reduction of distress at home and abroad instead of being in the grip of highly corrupting influences of big business interests. If the US seeks world leadership, it must do so on the path of peace, environment protection, justice and genuine democracy, and then it will be able to get true and enthusiastic support of a very large number of people worldwide. The USA democracy has been distorted in such terrible ways that it is a democracy more in name than in substance. This must change and this is possible only on the basis of sustained movements of people base on a carefully prepared, integrated agenda of peace, environment protection, justice, equality, real democracy and compassion for all forms of life.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders and a Day in 2071.