Role of Peace Movement in a Divided World


Disturbing events in recent months have led to a deepening divide of the world between two fast consolidating power blocks, one led by the US and the NATO and the other by China and Russia. Nothing could be more disturbing for a world already faced by life-threatening problems—instead of getting together for united world action to resolve the most serious environmental issues, the world is getting more divided and the danger of a catastrophic war is increasing.

The difference between what is needed and what is actually happening in the world could not have been greater at any other point in history (including the two world wars as the environmental crisis was not so acute then and the weapons of mass destruction were in their very early stage).

It is not easy just now to predict exactly how many and which countries will consolidate into the two power blocks, but an important aspect of the deepening divide needs to be noted. The fact that a country gets sucked into one of the two blocks does not and should not mean that the people of this country, or even several of the leaders including ruling party or coalition leaders, are happy about this. Are several NATO member countries happy about this, are their leaders and people happy about this? Are most people of China, Russia and the USA happy about this? Are even the majority of their soldiers happy about this? No, they are not. They would like to have a much more peaceful future. Yet the logic of a badly organized world with very aggressive elements in a lead role inevitably drives them towards becoming part of war-mongering and actual wars.

In the present case let us start with the US position of seeking dominance of world and preventing the emergence of rivals and potential rivals. This is non-rational but gets pushed all the time by the representatives of the powerful arms industry (unfortunately there are no matching representatives of any ‘peace industry’). While all rational beings look for friends, the arms industry ( in fact the entire military-industrial complex minus ordinary soldiers) is the only entity  which searches all the time for real or imagined, more often the latter, enemies—even if there are no enemies these can be invented and there are enough hacks available to collaborate in this.

Once US foreign policy goals are linked closely to seeking world dominance then the USA inevitably offers incentives to its allies to join its pursuit of dominance as junior partners. (There are disincentives also for those who raise too many questions). Weighing all the short-term considerations, all or most allies join in. The countries most directly threatened by this build-up of the biggest military force, finding themselves increasingly targeted and encircled, inevitably enter into closer strategic cooperation with each other. Hence the consolidation of the divide progresses, getting further strengthened by certain events with the passage of time.

The fact is that the highly aggressive and pre-emptive actions related to seeking dominance constitute the most non-rational course to be adopted in the middle of the present day serious problems relating to environment and accumulation of weapons of mass destruction. These are ultimately also likely to consume even the main instigators in the fires of their own making, but nevertheless in the present badly organized world these actions once initiated can quickly acquire a momentum of their own, while forces of peace which can check them are weak and have become weaker in recent years.

As the divide between the two major power blocks consolidates further, those who support one block entirely would most probably wish for destruction and harm to be caused to the other power block and vice-versa.

In such a MAD (mutually aided destruction) situation, the role of ordinary peace-loving people and peace activists can still hope to create some sanity. While peace activists recognize the need to oppose firmly the US quest for dominance as a very leading problem, they affirm at the same time their deep commitment to the welfare of people of the USA and try to show how by giving up the entirely non-rational quest for dominance of world, the USA can not only help greatly the cause of world peace but also increase immensely the possibilities of enhancing the welfare of the people of the USA in numerous ways.  Peace activists should explain clearly that they will be equally opposed to dominance efforts by any other country as well, now and in future. What peace activists need to emphasize above all is that there should be no quest for world dominance by any country and only that future can save earth from numerous threats to its life-nurturing conditions which is free from war and weapons of mass destruction. They should also emphasize the numerous benefits of durable peace, disarmament, and justice-based non-violence in all aspects of life on continuing basis, helping to rebuild the world on a foundation of peace.

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.


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