‘A Better Way than War’ a Booklet by Geoffrey Carnell

Preface

The Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre is committed to the quest for alternatives to war, a quest that is vital to the creation of a sustainable world order. It has long been apparent that a war fought with nuclear weapons would be a catastrophe from which the human race, and its environment, could hardly recover. But even preparations for ‘conventional’ warfare devour resources that are badly needed to meet the many challenges that confront the human race today.

In theory this is widely recognised, but the military mode is so well established, is so deeply rooted in our assumptions about the world, that it is difficult to pay attention to experience which might actually indicate the practical steps needed to enable nations to stop investing scarce resources in armaments.  This booklet is an attempt to explain the kind of attention that needs to be paid.

 

 

Chapter 1  Kosovo

One of the main obstacles to creating a sustainable world order is the almost universal assumption that military force is effective and that other ways aren’t. In part this reflects the fact that there is a huge investment in military methods and a very meagre investment in the alternatives. It also reflects the human desire to get quick and obvious results, to have a story with a beginning, a middle and – above all – an end. It is natural to want to feel able to say, as President Bush famously and fatuously said in 2003, ‘Mission accomplished’. The trouble with this desire is that real life has no beginning and no end: it is all middle – and usually a muddle as well. Overwhelming force against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq may have looked the most efficient way to fulfil President Bush’s ambitions for a new order in the Middle East, democratic and friendly to the West. He was evidently perplexed and disappointed that the massive military resources at his disposal proved unfit for purpose, but on the contrary led to an appalling bloody chaos which was hardly helpful to American interests.

 

It will be helpful to examine situations which illustrate ways in which alternatives to the military mode can operate. One striking example is an episode which is often presented as an effective use of military force for a humanitarian objective, the 1999 intervention in Kosovo by NATO air strikes. A closer look at what happened indicates that, on the contrary, the air strikes were ineffective, while earlier essentially civilian methods had had a significant measure of success.

 

Kosovo was a part of Yugoslavia mainly inhabited by Albanians, and to some extent autonomous, With the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s Serbia ended this autonomy, a development which was resisted by the Albanian majority. This resistance was nonviolent at first, but eventually a guerrilla organisation emerged, the Kosovo Liberation Army, or KLA. The Serbian authorities dealt with their attacks on government targets with considerable severity, including the expulsion of the inhabitants of villages suspected of supporting the KLA. This ‘ethnic cleansing’ was widely condemned outside Serbia, and pressure was brought to bear on the Serbian Government to respect the basic human rights of Kosovars. This resulted in an agreement, signed on 16th October 1998, to establish a cease-fire to be monitored by a team of observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). There were to be 2,000 of these unarmed observers, deployed as the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). They were to have complete freedom of access to anywhere in Kosovo.

 

There seems to be only one detailed account available of the way the observers worked, and that is in the Canadian Military Journal for spring 2000. The article was written by General Michel Maisonneuve, head of the Canadian contingent seconded to the KVM. Their initial task was to investigate reports of any breaches of the cease-fire, and the country was divided into areas to each of which a contingent of verifiers was assigned. Each contingent set about getting to know its territory, patrolling the roads and introducing themselves to key people in the towns and villages. The task would have been easier if the KVM had been able to recruit the 2,000 people it was allowed, but there were never more than 1,350 available. Even so, Maisonneuve reckons that they did a fairly effective job. When an incident was reported, a group of verifiers would quickly get to the place, find out what had happened, and if judged necessary establish a permanent field office there. This restored enough confidence in the local population to enable people who had fled to return, and thus obstruct any ‘ethnic cleansing’ that might have resulted from the incident.

 

Sometimes the verifiers found themselves in the role of negotiators between the local population and the Serbian military and police. The police wanted to investigate KLA activity in the village of Randubrava. They were fired on by members of the KLA, and the Serbs returned the fire. The KVM arrived and managed to broker a ceasefire. The following night a Serb shepherd blundered into the KLA position and was held prisoner. The Serbs prepared armoured vehicles to effect a rescue, but the KVM verifiers on the spot negotiated the release of the shepherd without further violence.

 

The worst breach of the ceasefire occurred at the village of Racak, when the Serbs killed 45 people. The KVM set about investigating the incident, and established a permanent presence there to restore confidence and enable the local people to remain in their homes. It was this incident that was invoked to justify the air strikes against Serbia at the end of March. The air strikes precipitated a campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ by the Serbs, and there was nothing to stop them, the KVM having had to leave on the instructions of the Head of Mission, General Walker.

 

One can see that many people might condemn the KVM as feeble and ineffective, dashing to the scene of incidents after they had happened, and working on the assumption that the Serbs were engaged in what they saw as enforcing law and order, not ethnic cleansing. But the fact remains that the verifiers did actually constrain the excesses of both sides (the KLA being far from innocent victimhood), and their departure unleashed violence on a large scale. It is a strange example to cite as a justification for military intervention.

 

 

Chapter 2   Bengal  1950

The previous chapter considered the neglect of alternatives to violence in Kosovo in 1999. The present chapter considers a war crisis where alternatives to violence were a genuine priority. This was in Bengal in the spring of 1950.  I was working at the time with a Quaker organisation based in Calcutta, the Friends Service Unit. The Unit was mainly concerned with relief and rehabilitation projects, but I managed the Quaker Centre’s cultural programme, edited the newsletter and developed contacts with students.

 

In January 1950 newspapers began publishing stories of attacks on Hindu communities in East Bengal, at that time, being a Muslim-majority area, a part of Pakistan. Then Hindu refugees began to cross the border and come to Calcutta with stories of murder, rape and arson. Early in February there were retaliatory attacks on Muslims in Calcutta, and one of our own Bengali members told me that this was justificable because it would have a good effect on the Pakistanis. What he actually said was ‘It will cool them down’. My thought was ‘No, it will heat them up’, but I didn’t venture to express my thought because I knew it would cause an explosion. There were people who deplored such violence, but there was a general consensus that the situation in East Bengal was intolerable and must be dealt with.

 

Prime Minister Nehru gave expression to this feeling in a speech in which he condemned the violence in East Bengal, called upon the government of Pakistan to restore order, and added that, if this did not happen, India would have to resort to ‘other methods’. The speech won great applause, and the press ran headlines calling for ‘other methods’ without delay. But days went by, and nothing seemed to happen except that the flow of refugees in either direction kept on increasing. ‘Seemed’ is the operative word, however. Nehru sent Mridula Sarabhai to take charge of the United Council for Relief and Welfare (the UCRW), and the West Bengal government was soon wondering what had hit it. Mridula had been an exceptionally dynamic relief worker in the Punjab upheavals in 1947, and had been specially successful in the recovery of abducted women. In Calcutta her main task was to organise effective care for refugees from East Bengal, and to find out as much as she could about the ordeal suffered by refugees on their way to India. This was important, because bad as conditions were, rumour made them out to be even worse. Also, with exact information it was possible to bring pressure to bear on the Pakistan authorities to deal with abuses.

 

Members of the Friends Service Unit were recruited to do Mridula;s bidding. She organised me into reporting on conditions at one of the border crossing points, where the railway from Khulna entered West Bengal. I spent some 24 hours across the border at the last station in East Bengal, and saw that customs officials did indeed seize most of the refugees’ possessions and their money, and that refugees arriving on a night train were more harshly treated than was the case in the day. At night the train crew would not venture across the border, fearing (with some justification) that they would be attacked. So the refugees had to walk some six or seven miles into West Bengal, and of course there were stories of violent abuse inflicted on them in their vulnerable state.

 

I sent in a report immediately on my return, and suggested that an Indian army escort should be offered to the night train crew to spare the refugees the final ordeal of crossing the border on foot. Mridula got this done in a couple of days, and I gathered that my report, and the reports of colleagues, were used to convince the central government of Pakistan that there were indeed abuses that it was their business to curb. Any complacency on the Indian side was challenged when the President of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce was killed by a crowd as he was trying to protect his Muslim driver. The fact that this happened to a prominent Calcutta citizen made it impossible to ignore how far law and order had broken down.

 

Nehru managed to persuade his Pakistani opposite number, Liaquat Ali Khan, to negotiate an agreement to suppress murderous attacks on their respective minority communities, and to undertake various confidence-building measures like stationing groups of observers at border crossing points. This so-called Delhi Agreement was signed on April 8th 1950, and it just about managed to be effective. But in Calcutta it was hardly a popular measure. The more bellicose newspapers wrote about another Munich, and Nehru was condemned as a disciple of Neville Chamberlain. A senior central government minister, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, a former Vice-Chancellor of calcutta University, resigned in protest against this policy of appeasement. What press and public wanted was to send in the Indian army to enforce law and order in East Bengal. Nehru’s policy created frustration and anger.

 

To outside observers it was obvious that military intervention would have hugely endangered the Hindus still remaining in Pakistan and Muslims remaining in India. The effects would have been catastrophic in a way that would have gravely weakened both nations. But it was difficult or impossible to make this argument to people like Dr Mookerjee, still less to the crowds who sought out Muslims to kill them. But as time passed and stories of atrocities in East Bengal petered out, the bellicose mood subsided. If Nehru had not had second thoughts about the ‘other methods’ he had initially contemplated, India and Pakistan would have been in a far less able to embark on their development as independent nations. Even as it was their relationship has remained one of mutual suspicion and hostility. But an actual catastrophe has been avoided.

 

One other point needs to be made. If there had been war in 1950, it would have featured prominently in the history of the subcontinent, yet another bloody episode in the dissolution of the British Empire. Because war was avoided, the episode has been forgotten.  Wars are memorable, peacemaking is invisible. There are psychological reasons for this, but it means that experience that needs attention if the human race is to survive is almost entirely neglected. Most arguments for warlike intervention strike me as unconvincing as the argument for sending the Indian army into East Bengal. Fantasies of ‘shock and awe’ to annihilate wicked dictators like Saddam Hussein entail consequences which are only acceptable if we are kept in ignorance of them. This is not to deny that there is a place for a potential use of force if that is deployed within distinct constraints. I was glad that the Indian army could provide an escort for the Pakistani train crew. They were certainly more useful in this role than they would have been in conquering East Bengal.

 

Nation-states are accustomed to make themselves ready to wage war. Peacemaking requires readiness too. Nehru was able to pursue his non-war policy because he had some crucial resources. There was an effective relief organisation under the dynamic direction of Mridula Sarabhai. There were British nationals who were able at that time to move freely across the border and serve as neutral observers. The Indian army took its orders from the central government, not from local politicians. If alternatives to war are to be a real option, they require investment. If resources are poured into military hardware and there is only a meagre expenditure on a civilian peace service, then war will inevitably look like the only possible option – even if, as in Kosovo, it makes the situation worse.

 

We urgently need to explore alternatives to war. When I hear arguments that such a quest is unrealistic and ineffective, I think of Mridula Sarabhai, and laugh.

 

 

Chapter 3   World War II

The Second World War is commonly regarded as a ‘good war’, the one that eventually rid the world of Hitler and his horrible regime and, after a time, inaugurated a Europe in which war between its nations became almost inconceivable. For this reason the immense destructiveness and inhumanity that were taken for granted as the war expanded and intensified are recalled in a way that is far from matching the reality.  The mass killings of Jews and others in Nazi concentration camps are indeed remembered, but not so much the roasting of many thousands of people in the fire storms that resulted from heavy bombing of cities. The reckless disregard of any limits on war-making that led to the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was just the culmination of an inhumanity that had become ingrained.

 

No one with any awareness of what the Nazi regime was like will dispute that its elimination was a Good Thing. But was a world war the only way of achieving this? It is notoriously difficult to play the ‘What if?’ game convincingly: Napoleon might well have won the Battle of Waterloo, but what would have followed if he had? There might well have been a successful German invasion of Britain in 1940, but would this have led to the establishment of Hitler’s Thousand-Year Reich? What can be said with confidence is that there were opportunities for subverting the Nazi regime which were slighted and disregarded.

 

The fact that there was a substantial opposition to Hitler in Germany itself only became the subject of serious study in Britain and the US in the 1960s Harold C, Deutsch’s Conspiracy against Hitler in the Twilight War only appeared in 1968, and the first hint I ever had of it was a few years’ earlier. This was when a Polish colleague drew my attention to a speech in1940 by Hans Frank (the Nazi governor of occupied Poland) in which he deplored the way people in the German army had in the early months of the war constantly tried to frustrate his efforts to keep the Poles in subjection. There is now a good deal available to read on the subject, perhaps most conveniently in Klemens von Klemperer’s German Resistance against Hitler: the Search for Allies Abroad (Oxford, 1994). The search had little success for reasons which become clear when one looks through Foreign Office papers and Cabinet minutes in the winter of 1939-40. Because attempts to deal with Hitler had been discredited by the failure of the Munich Agreement of 1938 to stop Hitler’s plans to dominate Europe, the British Government decided that only war would stop him, and the successful prosecution of the war entailed rejection of any ‘peace feelers’ from the German side.

 

So when Pope Pius XII passed on a message from a group of German army officers – including General Franz Halder – that they were prepared to carry out a coup against Hitler and set up a government with which the Allies could sensibly negotiate, the offer was barely considered. The main German condition was that the Allies should not take military advantage of the turmoil that would accompany the coup.  It was also clear that the conspirators saw nothing wrong in the union with Austria and the takeover of the Sudetenland – what Foreign Office officials called ‘the Hitler loot’.

 

The ‘no military advantage’ may have been felt to be unenforceable, as the British would have found it almost impossible to hold the French back. But it is painfully clear from the Cabinet minutes (17th January 1940) that the Pope’s message caused enormous embarrassment. Since anything from the Pope had to be treated with courtesy, the message had to be on the agenda, but the Cabinet readily agreed that the message did not guarantee anything useful, and nothing needed to be done with it. The war had to be fought, and Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, had a splendid plan for invading Norway and Sweden, thus denying the Germans access to their main source of iron ore. (Unfortunately the Germans got in first.)

 

It isn’t surprising that senior officers in the German army were willing to contemplate a coup against Hitler. Many regarded him as a reckless and vulgar upstart who would do no good to Germany in the long run. Moreover, the message transmitted through the Pope was part of a remarkably widespread though concealed effort to prevent the war developing as in the event it did. The Scandinavian monarchies were involved in secret mediation efforts, and the Bishop of Oslo, Eivind Berggrav, engaged in a remarkable round of shuttle diplomacy between Goering and Lord Halifax on behalf of the embryonic World Council of Churches. He tells the story in a riveting book, Forgjeves for Fred – ‘For Peace – In Vain’. It was published in 1960 and has never been translated from the Norwegian. Here is yet another example of the invisibility of peacemaking. There is no profit in it for publishers. The historian Peter Ludlow wrote a number of research papers in the 1970s on efforts to stop the Second World War. They are a good read, but you have to read them in the learned journals where they first appeared. It is clear infer that no publisher would risk good money on the book Professor Ludlow made of them.

 

One may well doubt whether the war could have been prevented by these efforts. The mentality of the belligerents of 1939 presented an obstacle too great to be surmounted. But it was the mentality that prevented success. The ingredients for a permanent peace were present, and among the ordinary people of both Britain and Germany there was an immense revulsion against the idea of a protracted war. When Lloyd George made a speech in the House of Commons urging the Chamberlain government not to turn down peace offers without consideration, he received what must have been the biggest postbag ever received by a British politician – literally thousands of letters supporting his plea. But war it was to be, and the unspeakable horrors associated with it.

 

The outcome, however, was better than it might have been, as will be shown in the next chapter.

 

 

Chapter 4  France and Germany 1945

  The previous chapter was concerned with the unsuccessful attempts to stop the Second World War before it spiralled beyond the power of anyone to control it. That is the most appalling risk involved in resort to war.  There may be an intention to achieve a specific and well-defined objective. But the confrontation can acquire a momentum of its own, and in that terrible war people were drawn into acceptance of incomprehensibly murderous measures. To criticse the reckless bombing of German cities was seen as unpatriotic and defeatist. Many Germans were callously indifferent to the ill-treatment of ‘inferior races’.

 

Fighting a major war means that the enemy must be totally rejected. Germans like Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Adam von Trott tried to win support for their opposition to Hitler by way of contacts through George Bell, Bishop of Chichester. Anthony Eden, the then Foreign Secretary, had no patience with the Bishop’s efforts, dismissing him as a ‘pestilent priest’. There is little doubt that Eden’s attitude was widely shared. But it probably lengthened the war.

 

These attitudes lasted well after the end of the war in 1945. I well remember the scorn with which concerns about the miserable state of Germany and Austria were commonly received. One might argue that this was justified indignation at the wickedness of the Nazi regime, but the scorn was mainly a continuation of belligerent emotions, dehumanising the enemy.

 

These belligerent emotions were particularly dominant in France, which had been humiliated by its German conquerors, and suffered a ruthless occupation.. These feelings were intensified by the centuries of antagonism between France and Germany – sometimes one victorious, sometimes the other.  It is commonly assumed that the two countries learned to forget their mutual enmity under the stresses of the Cold War, when West Germany was necessarily accepted as an ally against the Communist threat. While it is true that this new configuration of enmities helped to sustain an unprecedented partnership between France and Germany, that is far from being the whole story. The partnership was rooted in initiatives that were utterly at odds with the war ethos.

 

In 1945 there were several organisations that were ready to defy majority sentiment and begin the process of reconciliation and peace-building. Pax Christi and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation had their contacts in Germany: Andre Trocme, the travelling secretary of the IFOR – himself a French protestant pastor – visited congregations in the French zone of occupation in south Germany in the autumn of 1945. The World Council of Churches was not formally established until 1947, but for years before that there was a group, including people like Bishop Berggrav, making preparations for it. This group organised a strong international delegation to Germany, also in the autumn of 1945. But the most interesting initiatives were those made by the Moral Rearmament movement, the followers of Frank Buchman. There is an account of them by Edward Luttwak in a book edited by Douglas Johnston and Cynthia Sampson, Religion: the missing dimension of statecraft (1994). A much briefer summary of their work is one of the case studies in the Oxford Research Group’s War Prevention Works (2001).

 

Frank Buchman had managed to keep in touch with the German opposition groups that survived secretly during the Hitler period, and after the war these were the German nucleus of an international effort to achieve reconciliation.  Swiss disciples of Buchman bought a hotel in Caux, near Montreux, and it was in Caux that a remarkable series of conferences brought influential Germans and French people together. It should be said at once that Buchman has a bad reputation in British and American trade union circles as a champion of employers and an antagonist of the just claims of the workers. In his ideology there is no real conflict of interest between rich and poor. This is all very deplorable, and explains why he never seems to have had difficulty in funding his enterprises. But his achievement in getting members of the French and German establishments to accept each other is astonishing.  A French resistance leader like Irene Laure came to Caux in no amiable state of mind. The Gestapo had tortured her son, and would have done the same for her if they could have caught her. But in the tranquil surroundings of Caux, and immersed in an atmosphere of determined good will, she was moved to apologise for her hatred, which rather stunned the Germans present, and made possible a new beginning in their relationship.

 

The fact that some of MRA’s motives in peacemaking were questionable is a point that needs particular emphasis. Questionable, yes, but we are not here considering anything utopian or impossibly virtuous. It was, simply, rational.  There may well be very mixed motives in seeking to facilitate personal relations between antagonists, but the absence of personal relations makes possible the demonising that feeds war. And war seldom makes sense. It seems to do so only if one ignores most of its consequences, the immeasurable destruction and immensity of suffering that inevitably accompany a resort to armed conflict.

 

 

Chapter 5   The Bankruptcy of ‘Shock and Awe’

War only makes sense if one ignores most of its consequences. Did anyone really take in the meaning of ‘civilian casualties’ in the 2003 Iraq attack? A boy who wanted to be a doctor but who lost his arms, as well as most of his family, because he was in the way of a bomb, attracted the interest of thousands of readers of the Metro newspaper, and so he was able to come to Britain for the best possible treatment. But his plight was repeated countless times, and it would have been impossible for even the most benevolent newspaper readers to begin to cope with the problem. When one comes to the human suffering caused by the Second World War it is impossible even to begin to comprehend its scale.

 

Military methods present themselves as the only option because that is where the human race collectively has invested its resources. It has been doing this throughout recorded history, as has most recently been illustrated by Azar Gat in the eight hundred or so pages of his War in Human Civilization (Oxford, 2006). But it is important to bear in mind that this is a matter of custom and choice, not of biological programming: a point authoritatively made by the 1986 UNESCO conference in Seville. The social obstacles to finding alternatives to the hugely destructive war habit are indeed formidable, but they are not doomed to failure by our human nature.

 

Unfortunately the war mode remains intensely seductive in its promise of quick solutions to intractable problems. The US/UK attack on Iraq was based on the strategy of ‘Shock and Awe’: paralysing ‘the adversary by deploying overwhelming force to achieve rapid dominance. It is instructive to conjure up on the internet the expectations of the Bush administration in March 2003 – confident and determined. How feeble, by way of contrast, were the alternative proposals set out at the same time by Scilla Elworthy of the Oxford Research Group. These are described in an article in The Guardian by Jonathan Freedland, 19th February 2003. She proposed that the sanctions imposed on Iraq should be lifted on condition that part of the oil revenues received by Iraq should go into a UN administered fund. This money would go to Iraq if it permitted the return of the many Iraqi exiles whose safety would be guaranteed by international inspectors. Underlying her approach was the awareness that the ending of the communist regimes in eastern Europe, like the ending of the fascist regimes in Spain and Portugal, came through a multitude of contacts with the outside world. In 2011 also it was such uncontrollable contacts that in 2011made possible the subversive uprisings n the Arab world.

 

Scilla Elworthy’s ideas lacked glamour and so far as Iraq was concerned implied months of tortuous negotiation with no clear result guaranteed. Hans Blix, indeed, would have had time to complete his inspections and demonstrate that Saddam’s nuclear arsenal was an illusion, which would have removed one obstacle to an acceptable settlement. Such a settlement might well have been elusive, but how much better the prospects for the people of Iraq would have been if Elworthy had been advising the President instead of Dick Cheney and Donald Runsfeld. The really dreadful thing is that the Bush administration seemed to have learned so little from the bankruptcy of the Shock and Awe policy that the same approach was in contemplation with Iran. One unintended consequence of eliminating Saddam Hussein was to increase Iran’s influence in the region. One reason for Saddam’s oppressive methods was that he belonged to a minority community holding down the majority Shia population. The Shias are now dominant, and on that account natural allies for Shia Iran. The Bush administration seemed to think that this unwelcome influence could be countered only by mobilising the international community against the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, with an intention to repeat Shock and Awe as an ultimate sanction.

 

A nuclear-armed Iran?  It’s true that many Iranians would like to see Iran possess nuclear weapons – to deter an American or Israeli attack. This view has been put forcibly by an Iranian journalist exiled in Canada, Hossein Derakhshan, but clearly his is not a lone voice. The interesting thing is that the Supreme Leader of Iran, the ultimate boss, Ayatollah Khamenei, regards nuclear weapons as un-Islamic and unaffordable. There will be no Iranian nukes while he is around. An innocent disarmament campaigner might imagine that this encouraging fact would be seized on as a step towards strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but no such thing. The fact itself has been successfully deleted from the public consciousness: even such seasoned peaceniks as Scilla Elwiorthy and Bruce Kent didn’t seem to know about the Ayatollah’s virtual membership of CND until I drew their attention to it. Church leaders in Scotland judge it imprudent to risk associating themselves with an Ayatollah, even if he is sound on this one issue. Meanwhile American pundits fantasised about Iran’s leaders welcoming a nuclear holocaust that will transport them to paradise and the pundits (and the rest of us) to the other place.

 

A persisting if ill-founded faith in the effectiveness of high-tech weapons has been further illustrated by the NATO intervention in the insurgency against the Gaddafi regime in Libya. Frustratingly for the interveners, superior air power has failed to dislodge the tyrant, and has prolonged a conflict that might have been resolved, however untidily, by the mediation of the African Union or the government of Turkey. Once again there is a demand for a clear narrative with a well-defined termination, a demand that cannot be satisfied.

 

It is hard not to be depressed by the world’s addiction to the war method. But an addiction it is, and one can only hope that when its incompatibility with human survival sinks in sufficiently we will stop taking the drug. Alas, the withdrawal symptoms may seem too severe to be bearable. Some alcoholics prefer risking cirrhosis of the liver to adopting a healthy lifestyle.

 

But that is too negative a thought to be acceptable. The task admittedly is huge. Nations seem stuck in the need to reassure themselves by their military pretensions. On the day that India became independent Gandhi was asked what scientists should do ‘if they were now asked by the free Indian Government to engage in researches in furtherance of war and the atom bomb.’  ‘Scientists’, said the Mahatma, ‘to be worth the name, should resist such a State to the death.’[1] Half a century later India asserts its place in the world by nuclear weapons and all the apparatus of advanced military technology.  There is no reason to be surprised. War is reinforced by ingrained habits of thinking, and by a yearning to feel in control of one’s environment. But it has become a deadly threat to a world menaced by environmental disasters, a monstrous distraction from efforts to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. Relinquishment of the war mode has become an urgent priority. That means that we have to learn to pay attention to peace processes that may look messy and elusive, and which all too often are simply ignored and forgotten. We cannot afford to let this neglect continue.


[1] Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, vol.89, Ahmedabad 1983, p.52.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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