Review: Peace–A History of Movements and Ideas

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5.0 out of 5 stars An Utterly Superb Intellectual Contribution–a Major New Reference

January 10, 2010

David Cortright

This book is a gift to humanity, a foundational reference of such extraorindary value that I earnestly believe it should be required reading for every single liberal arts program in the world, and used as a core book in all graduate international relations programs.

Part I reviews the history of peace movements; Part II reviews core themes of peace within religions, populism, democracy, social justice, responsibility to protect and wraps up with three cahpters on a moral equivalent, realizing disarmament, and realistic pacifism.

The footnotes, the bibliography, and the index are world-class. The paper is glossy and annoyingly unreceptive to ink, but as a library volume or one that does not allow notes, this is an absolute top-notch production at a phenomenally reasonable price. I have the note mid-way: utterly brilliant blending of works of others within own architecture–superior scholarship.

The book does not touch on the evolutionary activism, conscious evolution, integral consciousness literature, and this is not a criticsm as much as a roadsign: the following five books complement this work in a distinct fashion.
Reflections on Evolutionary Activism: Essays, poems and prayers from an emerging field of sacred social change
Conscious Evolution: Awakening Our Social Potential
Integral Consciousness and the Future of Evolution
The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness

HUGE EYE-OPENER; Pashtun Peace Army in Pakistan-Afghanistan, the Servants of God, discussed on pages 193 and 313. I’ve been working Information Operations (IO) and used to do Covert Action and I am pretty sure neither CIA nor DIA have a clue that this is a major historical movement that could be reactivated.

The author has provided a meticulous review, ably documented, that is easy to read, a non-trivial accomplishment. I learn for the first time of the Journal for Peace Research as well as three commissions (Blix, Responsibility to Protect, and Canberra) and one report (Barcelona) that I will link to from Phi Beta Iota, where I have more creative control and you can access all of my reviews in any of 98 categories (e.g. Peace).

QUOTE Mary Caldor, author of New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era, Second Edition: Violations of humanitarian and human rights law are not a side effect (of armed violence) but the central methodology of new wars. The strategy of violence in the new paradigm uses terror and destabilization to displace populations and gain control of territory and sources of income.

Some key terms and phrases:
Liberal political, free trade, and religious foundations
Kantian triad includes mutual democracy, economic interdependence, international cooperation
Modern peace activists classify terrorism as a tactic
Alternatives to war include multilateral action, cooperative law enforcement, and amelioration of political and economic grievances
Peace is more than the absence of war

QUOTE from Jonathan Schell, one of my most respected sources and author of The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People: Violence is a method by which the ruthless few can subdue the passive many. Nonviolence is a means by which the active many can overcome the ruthless few.

Absolute anti-war pacifists roughly 20%; practical committed pacifists and peace advocates roughly 80%
Africa Ubuntu community & social justice merits more attention
Police power better than war power because more focused
Assertive non-violence a core path to the future (plenty of Gandhi, Neubauer, Kant in here)

Feminism added strength to social justice movement. See my review of Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women’s Thinking to Psychological Theory and Education.

Author cites two authors I have really appreciated:
The Invention of Peace: Reflections on War and International Order
Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny

Secession is not included, see my various reviews in that domain.
Self-determination is the recurring theme, the absolute foundation for peace

Natural law is alw above nations and foundation for the human security initiatives, see my review of Human Security and the UN: A Critical History (United Nations Intellectual History Project Series)

Arbitration was a naive and elitist sidebar

Disarmament is a distinct track from human security, hugely successful in the Reagon-Gorbechev era

Communism tarred and therefore impeded peace movements by association during the Cold War

I learn of aan out of print book, Speaking Truth to Power: The Quaker Search for an Alternative to Violence (1955) and am reminded of a number of titles in the same genre, the best for me being Speaking Truth to Power.

It’s at this point that I make a note to recommend The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State. The author has covered everything else including Monty Marshall and Paul Collier’s important contributions.

CORE POINT: Practice and scholarship establishing that unilateral initiatives can reduce tensions and spur arms reductions. From where I sit, Derek Leebaert has it right–we have wasted 50 years of blood, treasure and spirit, see The Fifty-Year Wound: How America’s Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World.

Conscious objectors outnumbered conscripts in the last year of the Viet-Nam war.

Iraq crystallized anti-US foreign opinion and created the meme of the “other superpower” that Howard Zinn and others have been counting on, but as the author explores in the second half of the book, the psychology of the masses, including democratic masses, just is not there yet. However, the author makes a point of the potential of the UN and other international associations with such public opinion and power.

Pacifism and non-violence are not the same thing.

Righteous means are important, help ensure righteous ends (citing Gandhi).

Concept of ahimsa or non-harm, is amply covered and most worthy of deep reflection (page 214. Truly the heart of the book in my own view. I am also absorbed by the author’s review of Gandhi’s recognition of the relatively of truth–as my own mantra is “the truth at any cost reduces all other costs” I have to pause, but I definitely buy in to the 360 all stakeholders Open Space Technology (e.g. Harrison Owen’s works including Wave Rider: Leadership for High Performance in a Self-Organizing World.

Martin Luther King adopted the four steps:
1) Collect the facts
2) Negotiate and dialog
3) Prepare for sacrifice
4) Take direct action

QUOTE: The pioneering peace practitioner John Paul Lederach has emphasized that effective mediation requires cultural sensitivity, language skills, and trust between mediators and affective communities. These often involve long-term commitment and a willingness to enter into situations fraught with peril.

So much for the Department of State, the Central Intelligence Agency, and our Armed Forces–they fail all of the above pre-qualifications.

The author discusses peace in the context of democracy and then–more me mostly new information–in the context of social justice which is where the West has been totally off-base with centuries of colonialism, predatory immoral capitalism and its counterpart unilateral militarism. See for instance The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project); The Global Class War: How America’s Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future – and What It Will Take to Win It Back and the many other books I review at Phi Beta Iota in the categories of Capitalism (Good and Bad) and Empire.

It is quite clear to me from both this book (which does not advocate specific paths) and my other reading that we have to accept, nurture, and restore the New International Economic Order (NIEO) that was attempted by the developing world and then subverted. Now that we have all seen the crash of phantom wealth and predatory finance capitalism, it makes sense to move actively toward natural sustainable capitalism that is firmly focused on social justice and the consent and well-being of those at the bottom of the pyramid.

The entire section on Responsibility to Protect is essential reading for any course having to do with international relations and particularly peacekeeping. I learn of and will link to from Phi Beta Iota:
Peace Brigades International
Witness for Peace
Christian Peacemaker Teams
International Solidarity Movement

I recommend Faith- Based Diplomacy Trumping Realpolitik and Religion, The Missing Dimension of Statecraft.

Everything about this book confirms and deepens my appreciation for the importance of what I call 360 degree holistic analysis that gives voice to ALL stakeholders

The author concludes that a science of peace building is emerging, and earlier addressed the various proposals for national service able to instill non-military patriotism. My own suggestion since 9-11 has been to restore national service for all, with a shared boot camp and then three choices, the first two voluntary selections: Armed Forces, Peace Corps, Homeland Service.

QUOTE: The prevalence of war can be reduced by promoting democracy, economic interdependence, gender equality, equitable economic development, and the resolution of political grievances.

QUOTE JOHN XXIII: The most fundamental human right is the right to life, the right to personal integrity and the development of life.

That’s how I have understood the true meaning of the US Founding Fathers with respect to the “pursuit of happiness” not as frivolous divertissment, but as fulfillment. The human brain is the one infinite resource we have — imagine harnessing the giving of the one billion rich to give free cell phones to each of the five billion poor, connecting them and then educating them “one cell call at a time” as Earth Intelligence Network has conceptualized.

We can, I believe, leverage our collective intelligence to create a prosperous world at peace (see the book by that title), but first we have to create a virtual world brain and global game that connects all human minds to all information in all languages one call at a time.

I cannot do this book justice in one reading. It is a righteous mighty effort meriting adoption by all possible parties, and certainly translation into as many languages as possible starting with French and Chinese.

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