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How to End War?

Surely we've reached a point by now where we - humanity as a whole - really need to wise up. Regardless of the death, destruction and immeasurable suffering that is armed conflict's gift to us, the stupendous waste of resources that maintaining a military infrastructure requires cannot possibly be considered, by anyone, as anything short of high treason against life on earth itself. The Dark Ages weren't a period in medieval Europe - we're living them now; the times where humanity is facing the biggest problems it has ever faced and still won't bury the hatchet.

So how do we change this? How do we finally put an end to all the madness? How do we get all that steel and food and power and plastic and medicines and transportation and storage and all those other resources out of this Machine of Futility and use them to maybe make sure that this planet will still be capable of supporting a significant human population in a hundred years?

How do we go about finally end war?

  • May 2 2012: Bob,
    It does seem we are in "Dark Ages". To people of any country who desire good human relationships, it seems awful to observe bad behavior. Perhaps we could attribute part of the human problem thus: The faster we live our lives and the faster material sciences discover and utilize technology, the greater spin we place on people to catch up. We are in a dizzy spin of confusion about planetary and local situations when there is greater threat to peace, civility, seeming destruction or depletion of planetary care and management, inequitable power, inadequate food and nourishment, unfair treatment and relationships, and a feeling of helplessness. Your tone in this question suggests maybe you feel some degree of desperation. This seems very understandable! Again, you would not be alone!

    I noticed a large percentage of topics, questions and debates on TED involve human relationships. At the base of each there looms this concern or desire for something better! To me, this suggests great interest. I concur with your concern.

    We finally end war when people of all nations discover we need each other for planetary economy. Why go to war with a partner on which you depend heavily? We finally end war when we have one world language; we must efficiently understand each other as we communicate. Other contributing factors are hugely important: love, respect, realizing we all are sons of the same God parent, we feed each other equally, we desire to play down violence as a settlement option, we share dependency with all persons and an epitome-----we love our planet and realize balance is good and necessary for all to survive. Balance for all things involved is satisfying for all involved. That alone could be a topic.

    Others, please weigh in on this marvelous and much needed topic. How can we broadly, on a world scale, address Bob's question with great power? Loving power.

    I concur with Kareem. His is sound thinking!
    • May 4 2012: Mark : you are suggesting that war could be controlled by all of us "making nice". I would suggest a more practical method, tried and true: we are talking about political disputes of one kind or another. these problems have been solved on many levels already , by having a" Rule of Law, not of Men". In cities of millions , war is avoided just BECAUSE of civilized laws, which enable disputes to be settled without killiing anyone.; it makes war unnecessary. The same scheme would naturally work on a national level as well: can you imagine any president of any country having the courage to have some one killed if he himself might be put on trial for it?!
      • May 7 2012: Shawn, throughout this discussion you fall back upon various notions anchored around some concept of "law". I'd appreciate it if you'd care to elaborate on how exactly it is you propose such law be made manifest. How are the laws decided? How are they upheld? What are they based on?
        • May 7 2012: History, especially in Europe, if full of examples of how "Laws" are made. Recent reasearch in animals even indicates that "fairness" is something that even animals understand.. The principles of it are widely understood, and widely appllied, just not at the international level so far. Real "Laws" are based on universal principles; this all goes back thousands of years. They must apply to everyone, even Kings. They must incorporate the values of the society, which luckily , basically do not vary much. It is just too complex to NOT have laws apply to everyone. They are usually established finally by some political leader or Monarch, but he does not invent them;, merely expresses the obvious and at the same time sets up institutons, Police, courts, etc. to carry this out. Impartially, in the ideal case. Our own history indicates a modern sequence of this. Because of the political crises around our cololnnial status, the "US" was formed, but at first it was more of a vigilante gang of sovereign States than a "Nation" . So internationally, the process would have to be the same: either a voluntary binding agreement between Nations that Yes, murder is illlegal everywhere and by everyone, etc etc. Or alternatively, we can just drift from crisis to crisis until one Nation conquers, or absorbs, all the others. Or in our time, econoomics being what it is today, the International "Industrial " class might evolve themselves into a world political movement, which they show signs of doing right now. In any case, if hummans are to survive, it will have to happen , because Nationalism is simply too unstable to last long.
    • May 7 2012: Mark, I must confess that I did not understand your first paragraph at all nor did I understand what you wanted to communicate with the second one. A failure on my part, I'm sure.

      You make some fair points although there are two I must object to. Firstly, the notion of a global language and the necessity of such: this is utter nonsense. It is impractical, unimplementable, presents more problems than it solves and is generally undesirable on all manner of intellectual, spiritual, social, cultural, artistic and philosophical levels. And then there's that stuff about god. All right, yes - all people adhering to any religion or other kind of spiritual dogma need to accept that other people are going to see things differently and they all need to find a way of rationalizing, for themselves, a way in which this is okay. But (and I'm phrasing this as diplomatically as the level of frustration this whole thread has caused me will allow) it's fairly clear that no god is going to help us on this one; we're on our own. Let's just say that god helps those who help themselves. And humanity, right now, is in dire need of some self-help.

      With that out of the way, let's talk practicalities! How do we achieve a sustainable global economy? How do we implement love and respect for all humans in a global scheme?
  • May 7 2012: Wow. Ladies and gentlemen, I am shocked and appalled. Not only by the blatant disregard for the content of my original post and the intended purpose of this debate but also by the harrowing narrow-mindedness most of you have displayed. I have no particular interest in offending anybody but, please understand, I came to the TED discussion boards because I expected a community of people who are at least somewhat aware of how the world around them works and where it is headed. Forget that, half of you didn't even bother addressing the topic as anything other than a segue to whatever half-formed opinions the word "war" happens to trigger in you.

    I would, however, like to thank the notable exceptions: Andrea Grazzini Walstrom, Roy Bourque, Kent Spencer, Optimus Prime and Kareem UZ. Thanks, guys; you're beacons of hope and I want you to know that, time down the line, when the TED administrators start asking "Who the hell IS this self-righteous, elitist, prick Bob Jones?", I'll be pointing my finger at you saying "They made me want to stick around!"

    I will come back to this and share some thoughts I have around the issue when I'm not quite as emotionally drained as going through this entire thread has left me. For now, I'm going to read Andrea's essay and hope against hope that it's not yet too late for humanity to come to its senses.
    • May 7 2012: You're asking people to be completely uniform and absolutely consistent on a topic that is widely argued over and has an endless branch of sub-topics that surround and concern it. Difficult questions will have difficult responses.
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    May 2 2012: I don't believe that there is any ONE cause for war. Some say war is good for the economy. Some say war is inevitable to keep the masses in check. Some say war is the product of social tensions getting out of control. Many politicians ask the same question, what causes war? Our inability to answer that question makes it hard to solve.

    We go to war when we feel there is a threat to our survival. We are seeking to diminish the threat. Often the threat is imagined. When Orson Welles broadcasted "War of the Worlds" on CBS radio on October 30, 1938, there was no real threat. Yet masses of people took to defensive action against the perceived threat of a Martian invasion. I use that as an example because it is so blatantly obvious that the threat didn't exist at all except in people's minds.
    Other times the threat is real. When a people's survival is compromised, they will do what it takes to survive. The United States was ready to go to war with Cuba during the missile crisis.

    During the cold war, the United States engaged in war in Korea and Vietnam to defend against the threat of communism. Why was communism such a threat? It seems to be based on the imbalance of power.

    War will exist so long as people are willing to participate in it. I don't know that we will ever see a time when there won't be willing participants. All we can do is diminish the will to fight and the willingness to love.

    I like Dr. Wayne Dyer's views. I like science and technology opening up so many opportunities for exploration. I think a healthy vision for the future will give people diversion from all their negativity.

    I am reading a book called "The New Primal Scream" by Dr. Arthur Janov. The author presents evidence of the sub-conscious effects of birth trauma and childhood abuse and neglect. It's an unseen plague that we need to address. Love starts at home. If we can teach our children to love, we will be on the road to recovery.
    • May 4 2012: It might be appropriate to say that there IS one cause for all wars, and that is that "there is no alternative", the motto of most nations which go to war. It's not that no one has thought of alternatives, it's merely that the problem solving machinery has not been approved at the national level. There are a great many cities in the world at present with populations of many millions, each one larger than many "Soverieign Nations". But the Mayor of these cities would not dream of solving political disputes by sending his Police Force to kill the "Bad Guys", whereas in "Nations", any tinpot dictator is allowed , even applauded , in having his opponents murdered , for "National Security". This situation is simply dumb, and unstable to boot. We might live to see war outlawed, but it will take a hopefully limited., world government to do it.
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        May 4 2012: This is an interesting viewpoint. Militant groups are conditioned to see violence as the only way to solve conflict. Not that there is no other way, but they find violence gets immediate results. It is counter-productive to any better solution. In war torn countries such as Somalia, the violence sabotages any effort to build an infrastructure that could get them past the current condition. So until you can change the mindset, war becomes the norm.

        I would also like to point out that breeding irresponsibly creates conflict. It is all part of herd mentality. When you have mouths to feed and can't feed them, you go into survival mode. Combine this with the above scenario, and it just gets worse. How to win this battle is a tough one.
    • May 7 2012: I would like to expand on something you said, Roy, in your first paragraph. Firstly, as things currently are, the three explanations you suggest are all true. War is good business and it keeps a lot of very powerful entities well supplied with a lot of money and power. In a social order specifically engineered to propagate economic disparity and blatantly disregard all notions of sustainability, the only practical means of mass control is terror. Terror requires a threat and what better threat than that of monumental violence? But what I'm getting at is what you said about our inability to answer the question of what causes war. I'd like to hear your thoughts on what you think causes this inability. In fact, I would put it to you that we are more than capable of fully explaining both the idea of war as social, cultural, economic and political phenomena as well as most actual, tangible conflicts that the world has and is experiencing.
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        May 7 2012: Bob,
        We have an animal passion within us. In psychology it is called "the quest for top male". Throughout history, this quest has been driving conquest wars. Conquest wars lead to repression, and repression leads to war to regain personal freedom. It's a tug-of-war between those who want to control and those who refuse to be controlled.

        During the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy, prodded by his military advisors, was ready to go to war if that's what it took to get rid of the Cuban missiles. He was willing to engage in diplomatic relations to end the crisis peacefully, but was also ready to use military power to force the issue if necessary. No one knew how far the violence would escalate. Could it lead to an all out nuclear exchange? That is where the question arises, what causes war. How far will people go to defend their own position? No one knows if your actions will lead to an immediate solution, or if people will rise up in revolt on a massive scale. What seems to you as a reasonable request may seem to someone else as an aggressive outburst in need of suppression. How will people respond to your actions? No one can say for sure.

        So let's back up. Why did Russia decide to put the missiles there to begin with? They saw the United States as a competitive military superpower and were trying to configure the odds in their favor. Would they have used them? Probably had no intentions in the beginning. But United States realized that they could be used as leverage to persuade the U.S. to see things as Russia would want us to. It would give them a diplomatic edge that our government didn't feel comfortable with. So they had to go regardless of what it would take.

        Presently we are in state of abundance. We are in a position to talk about peace. Take that abundance away and people will go into survival mode. The road to peace is to see far enough ahead so that you can maintain that abundance.
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    May 7 2012: First you say you do not know what I am looking at and then you address the very things I was looking at. If I can resolve the issues that are leading you and I to war then guess what we no longer need to fight. There are some things I do not see as resolvable. To make a Muslim a Christian or a Christian a Muslim is not a doable thing. The very document of one is to kill those who do not believe. What I stated above was to take small victories and work on winning the battles and then maybe the war.

    You and I are far apart on this. You advocate the removal of all standing militaries which will do nothing to stop wars. Most of what is going on today is regional conflicts not declared wars. Good luck. Bob.
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      May 7 2012: Mr. Winner,

      You are incorrect and correct.

      As for where you're incorrect: Neither the Qu'ran nor the Bible calls for the killing of non-believers. Both call for peace. I have no interest in debating religious texts or doctrines with you as it would disrespect the intent of Bob's dialogue.

      And, as for correct, I'd say you're correct to find hope in small victories that can lead larger peace.

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        May 7 2012: You are possibally correct. However, my research and google search of the Quran states the passage to "kill non-believers" is 4.89.

        Thanks for your reply. All the best. Bob.
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          May 7 2012: The Quran includes Christians and Jews as believers as they believe in the one God, Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah etc
  • May 4 2012: The answer is simple, but not easy. Looking at history, there has been a consistent pattern much older than recorded history, of gradual, if erratic, agglomeration of larger and larger sociial groups, in which war was made illegal. We have now reached the level of sovereign "Nations", between which war or murders, are NOT illegal , but considered even laudable , if done for the sake of "National Security". That's all nonsense, of course; the wars do not make anyone more secure, but decidedly less so. But since so far there has never existed a world state, in which war would of course be outlawed, we are still in the barbaric habit of falling back on war as a "solution" of poliitical problems. In other words, we're too lazy or ignorant to admit that our "opponents" are quite human, so there is little thought of treating them humanely, as we would with even the worst enemies within our group. This system is inherentlly unstable, as it leads to confrontations whihch are both inevitable, and not subject to solutions by war . (The losers , and their ralatives and friends, merely wait for revenge, if they survive.) One alternaive would be to voluntarily form a representative world government (which the UN is decidedly NOT) on the pattern of the original US, which would have to represent EVERYONE, not just "Nations", many of which are Failed States. Some say that international corporations might perhaps do this more or less accidently, in a sort of Fascist way. In any case, eventually one "nation" will conquer all the others. "War" would automatically be "outlawed".. However unpopular this Empire would be, and however shortlived, people would remember how great it was to not worry about uselss wars,and many other benefits, and proceed to civilize the "Emprire",( most likely of barbarians , since they like to fight but aren't much use in peactime.) This whole scenario was played out in Ancient China in the "Period of Warring States".
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    May 2 2012: Frankly, this reminds me of a poem by an obscure poet from the 80s, I think, called HG Chatham, or something like that. But basically it was called How to Stop the War, and said

    Enemy of mine, only I can stop this war,
    By eating your bullet,
    And bleeding on your shoes with a smile,
    Smiling because only I know
    That I can only be full
    Knowing that you are fed,
    That I could only know calm
    Seeing that you are comforted,
    That I will only know joy
    When you are at peace.

    Heh. There were some Reaganites I knew who hated that poet.
    I rather thought ahe was crazy-brave.
    • May 7 2012: That's funny, I've responded in that manner to a lot of people who've been quite keen on causing me grievous bodily harm. It got my ass kicked a couple of times but few things compare to seeing the face on the guy who just punched you when you stand right up and roar out bloody laughter at him.
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        May 8 2012: I think we should have that same attitude toward everything that smacks the tar out of us.

        "Roar out bloody laughter" Very well said, sir!
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    May 2 2012: I think as long as one nation covets another's natural resources to such an extent that a particular lifestyle would suffer extremely badly without it, then there will always be war.
    • May 7 2012: I think you're right. How do we make it so that no nation covets any other's resources to such an extent that a particular lifestyle would suffer extremely badly without it?
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        May 7 2012: The problems as I see them, are:

        - Human nature is such that once it has experienced opulence as 'reality' within a period of several generations, it is unwilling to embrace the prospect of true sustainability - it is seen as 'poverty'.

        - It is political suicide to legislate for sustainability. It is not a vote-winner. To win votes, it is better to go to war to preserve the status quo, rather than to realistically exist on what that nation has available to it as a self-sustaining, autonomous entity.

        The possible solutions are going to have to be very harsh. The transition from oil addiction to sustainability is likely to be be a bloodbath of war, as nations become ever more desperate to get their hands on the remaining fossil fuels.

        If we cannot - or will not - use our science, knowledge and intelligence to devise technology to cover the deficit left behind by depleted resources, then the harsh reality is that we will live and die according to the will of nature. The population of 9bn by that time simply cannot be accommodated any other way.

        When sustainablity becomes the norm (or our reality), is is the point when the positive trajectory for human existence will begin. I think it will have to start with radical political changes which might include decentralisation, with a movement towards localised economies and local accountability.

        The will of the people who vote is more likely to be represented in scaled-down localised government. And perhaps, in the absence of globalisation, there will be fewer wars and less unrest - and more satisfaction in the knowledge that people and ecosystems actually matter, rather than materialism and the global economy.
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    May 31 2012: It might be to firmly and effeciently vote out any politician who advocates it becuse if they realize won't keep their job. War is of course an action that is too viicious and too ineffectual to be a viable option

    The other thing that might stop it in its tracks is if we required everyone who votes for it to go into battle first, ahead of the faceless troops who bleed and die for the politicin's mood disorder.
  • May 7 2012: We can't. So long as there are dissenting opinions, religious and political crossfire, and powerful individuals with a lust for power - all these things which are inevitable for humans on a global scale - war will always make its mark on history.
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    May 6 2012: Perhaps we are looking at a limited defination that restricts our answers. Not all wars are about shooting. In this very blog Mary and Ed are at odds over words. Is that a wars of words. Could be. We are in a war against obesity. Does that mean we will Kill all those who do not meet our standard of proper weight. We encourage many terms of "WAR", Battle of the sexes, North VS South Football classic, West side story, all the pirate movies, etc ... People pay big money to watch gladiator sports. War has become an accepted mindset and will remain with us as long as there is difference, greed, lust for property/land/etc ... and yes religious differences.

    To "end war" is most likely impossible ... to eliminate some of the root evils that "cause" wars is possible and should become the focus. Any reduction is armed hostilities is a win.

    To blame all military men and women for war is silly. I served and obeyed orders. Some I liked and some not so much. But I will not shoot all lions because Danial was thrown in the lions den.

    This part is personal I make no apoligies.

    I will not abide a coward that runs to Canada to avoid the war and later asks for respect as Commander in Chief or an actress that provides aide and comfort to the enemy of her country. War is hell as Sherman said, but to live under the blanket of security that the soldier has provided and then curse his profession is not tolerable. I fought for the right of people to disagree but I will never respect or befriend traitors to our country. I have been there and have earned this right ... freedom ain't cheap. God Bless America.

    All the best. Bob.
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      May 6 2012: If I have the right to disagree, then don't I have the right to not fight in a war that I think shouldn't be happening. Don't get me wrong I have the greatest respect for our armed forces, but I see a contradiction in your final paragraph. If my country is involved in a pointless conflict that is costing lives and money that could be better spent elsewhere shouldn't I do everything I can to end that conflict?
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        May 7 2012: There is no draft. You join, you take an oath, you know the consequences. There is no contradiction. You don't agree to be part of the team then don't join. This ain't Burger King.
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          May 7 2012: I thought your reference to running to Canada was in relation to draft dodging re Vietnam. If I was mistaken then mea culpa
    • May 7 2012: I don't know what you're looking at, Robert, but I started this debate in hopes of addressing that kind of war in which countless people are lied to and exploited, where humans are educated and organized into huge bands of murderers, in which we waste half this planet's resources for the purpose of blowing shit up and maintaining a global state of conflict, despair, injustice, suffering, animosity and vengeance.

      I'm curious to hear your thoughts on what these "root evils" are and how you propose that we might go about ending them. Also, I'd much like to hear why you think not fighting wars anymore to be an impossibility.
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    Josh S

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    May 6 2012: Roy,
    I understand where you are coming from in saying that we change situations and mindsets and what-not, and you think that will stop war. I do not debate this, il even give an example: 50 years ago there was much strife between blacks and whites, but mindsets have changed, and so has the rates of incidence.

    However, all war is not because of survival. In the vast majority of wars, the cause is economic. They are not fighting for vital or neccesray-for-life goods but are fighting simply to increase their own wealth. This is a part of humans, it is a part of all life, to be the best. It is social darwinism in its rawest. The craving to be better then others. There is unfortunately, no getting around this simply because it is in us all to some extent. Some more then others, will act on this innate quality, and wars are started because of it.

    The only way to stop all war is to stop being human; to stop having emotions and opinions. There is no feasible way of doing this, and i dont think anybody would want to do this if they had the option, so that is why i believe there will always be war.
    • May 7 2012: If what you propose was correct there would be no wars. Your argument is moot because humans fight wars in spite of their emotions.
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        Josh S

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        May 7 2012: I do not understand how you are saying my argument is moot, i said people fight wars because of emotions, economic reason, and opinion differences. These are the main causes of war and there are few wars, if any, that are based on any other reason
  • May 6 2012: Hi Mitch, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by practising empathy; of course I like to suppose that I do. Would you consider Gandhi's Non-Violence as an example? Or would that be too political. One a personal level, I have never cultivated the habit of having enemies. It is hard to do if you take Buddhism seriously. As for other actions, I once participated in a "Sit-In" 50 years ago . That action was a short range "success", but I came to think that it was not empathetic at all, but only political, and not on the level at that.
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    • May 7 2012: Those obvious means being?
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    Josh S

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    May 4 2012: We could end war by eradicating all emotions and opinions, sort of like what is seen in the novel 1984, and other dystopias, but then i don't think you would necessarily want that answer.
    Essentially, as long as their is opinions there will be war. Pacifists will want to talk it out but when it comes down to it, we can look to history to see what comes of 'talking it out'. We talked it out with Germany in the later 1930s and essentially gave them countries hoping they would stop. At the heart of the matter, it took steel, blood, and bullets to ultimately put an end to Nazi Germany and no amount of talking would stop it.
    Hitler took his position without a single person being killed, and would not be stopped unless a war happened.

    This same story has been seen throughout history, and proves that pacifism is impossible. This may be hard to swallow by many, but it is unfortunately the case when you are dealing with humans
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      May 6 2012: Josh,
      I don't believe that war is about opinions, I believe it is about survival. When needs are not being met, someone seeks for a way to meet those needs. Often it comes down to finding someone or something to place the blame on, and then you demonize that cause to will people to fight it.
      What you haven't said is what makes a Hitler? How can someone come to that frame of mind? Are they born that way, or does something lead them in that direction?

      Pacifism may not stop war, but it may lead one to alternate possibilities. In war torn countries like Somalia, there is so much sabotage going on that you can't build an infrastructure to get beyond the condition that exists. How do you change that mindset? It is easy to say that you can't. We have to get beyond "you can't" and figure out how you can.
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    May 4 2012: I think the way to end war is if we relieve ourselves of this pride, and lust for power. Not exactly us the citizens, but our leaders. They make the decisions. They make the decisions to go to war. War is also not the solution to our political problems as well.
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        May 5 2012: What if George Washington had gotten the reply, "YOU go fight the British!"? What if FDR had been told, "YOU go face down the Japanese aggression, and stop Hitler's evil plan!"? Good, courageous people are forced into war, they do not choose war. As a combat veteran I am proud to have fought for the cause of freedom and I would do it again. I would, however, much prefer that the need for war be eliminated. The solution is easily said, "Make the hearts of all Mankind good hearts." The doing is more difficult. God help us.
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        May 6 2012: Your comment seemed (clearly to me) to be directed at anyone who answered the call to go into harm's way in response to the Commander-in-Chief's call to duty. Nearly all of America's great warriors hated war. We cannot end war by letting evil aggressors have their way with us. You are not saying that the way to end war is for all military people to refuse to go to war? Because it sounds like that is what you are saying Mary.
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        May 6 2012: Mary, you are evading my question. I am not asking about future contingincies or possibilities. I am not asking you about smoking, or tobacco fields. Here is my question to you: Do you agree that anyone who goes, or has gone, to war is partly responsible for the continuation of war? (I'm hoping for a one-word answer).
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        May 6 2012: Mary, please forgive my failure to focus my question(s) sufficiently. Allow me to reduce all my questions to one, simple question: Do you agree that ANYONE who goes, or has gone, to war is partly responsible for the continuation of war? Thanks for the selfless love which characterizes your life and allows you to practice what you call Christian neutrality. I do hope you do not think it would be a sin to answer my question. I look forward to your honest, candid answer (if you find my question sufficiently unambiguous). Otherwise I will beg your indulgence while I try a fourth time.
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        May 6 2012: Thanks for serving Mary. I hope your service is not a source of guilt for you. I can only guess from your remarks herein that it is. Very sad.
        • May 7 2012: Since I cannot see any of this Mary's comments (apparently they have been deleted) I'd like to respond to the one operative question of yours, Edward. I personally do believe that anyone who goes, has gone or would be willing to go to war is very much responsible for the continuation of wars. I also believe that if I lift a stone off the ground and subsequently let go of it, it will fall back to the ground. I believe in these things because they are facts. Now, I do understand that there are always extenuating circumstances and I'm fully aware that most people who have ever done, intended or been prepared to do harm to anybody else in the context of war have done so based on a genuine conviction that they were doing so for a just cause. Make no mistake, I would never be so naive as to blame a war on its soldiers. That having been said, you cannot deny that if we all agreed to the simple motto "I will not take another human being's life" there would be no need for this whole discussion.
    • May 7 2012: And how do you propose we do this on a mass-scale?
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        May 7 2012: 100% agreement Bob. . . . . IF WE ALL AGREED. Peace loving people, by definition, would never go to war if they could avoid it and be true to their convictions regarding God, country, family, freedom, tyranny, etc. The problem is that the possibility that we all would agree to not start a war is so remote as to be impossible. There are greedy, evil people, there always have been, and there always will be. These are the people who start wars. How to end war? Eradicate greed and evil.
        Until then, someone has to refuse to cower and give in to the aggressors. To call those who choose to stand against tyranny, evil, and greed "responsible for the continuation of wars" is like calling firefighters responsible for the continuation of structure fires, or blaming police for crime. Rediculous, Bob, rediculous. Do you have a proposal for ridding the planet of evil, greedy people?
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    May 3 2012: Believe it or not I think economic globalisation wil stop war on the large scale at least. All the major powers are becoming so economically interdependant that they can't afford to declare war. For example if the Chinese declared war on the US they would be dropping bombs on factories that they own. Also what we are doing right now stops wars. Most wars are produced by some one in power convincing the population of one country that some one else is evil. This is hard to do now as information is getting harder and harder to control. North Korea is probably the last bastion of information control and they only maintain it by cutting themselves off from the world which has also crippled their economy.
    • May 5 2012: Unfortunately, the exact same argument was made in 1914, just before WW1. It was just a true, and just as uselss.. The fact is, there was no MECHANISM in place to deal with the legitimate poliitical disputes that, as usual , arise between nations. They went to war in 1914, regardless of whether it was economic or not, with no idea of what they were letting themselves in for , and the reason was , truly, "they had no alternative". That's right, they didn't . Not then, not now. Oh, they had "conferences," just like Mafia chiefs do, but that is not based on Law, Priniciiples , or anything predictable. Very much a poliitical scene every minute, and anyone can walk away, anytime, and "fight". All the wars I know of were announced to be the correction of "Injustices", but injustices can best be corrected in Courts, based on agreed to Laws, and procedures to make it work. Can anyone even think of a war which solved any problems?! People might say WW2: the Nazis were wiped out. But actuallly, all that did was enable an even worse dictatorship, the Soviet Union. Then finally the Soviet Union was wiped out without any war at all. So what did WW2 accomplish: Well it wiped out the British Empire (one of the "winners") What kind of solution is that?!
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        May 6 2012: Yes within Europe there was a high level of economic interdependance in1914 but there was a much greater ability to keep secrets. Today if any major power started to prepare for military action everyone would know about it in advance.
    • May 7 2012: Shawn, once again, I beseech you to elaborate on your thoughts around this notion global law.
  • May 3 2012: This is going to be a very unpopular concept but would ending war really be a good thing?

    If you have two people living in a house and they have arguments, your natural intuition might be to find a way to end the arguments but some conflict is necessary for a relationship to work. If you found a way to keep them from arguing at all, I think it could ultimately be detrimental to their relationship.

    To say that there is a huge difference between my example and a war would be an understatement but I can't help thinking that war itself can resolve issues that could in the long run be more detrimental than the war if left unresolved.

    Should the objective really be to end war?
    • May 4 2012: Luke: Yes, it should, but only by providing a substitute dispute-handling method, based on "Law".. The idea that wars actually resolve disputes is nonsense; all it does is prevent people from expressing their case. Unless you're recommending "Roman Peace" (i.e killing everyone) If you look closely at the wars which supposedly solved something, you see that it doesn't. WW!1did not make the world safer for anyone at all. Our Civil War did not solve the problem of empire building power freaks; rather it stimulated the Northerners to carry their empire building to the rest of the world. Right now the issues of 1860 are still with us, in slightly different form. Bombing Serbia didin't solve any problems in the Balkans, it just created more. etc, etc.
      • May 4 2012: How about the invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks? The purpose was to disband the Taliban to lessen the probability of future terrorist attacks.

        The death toll of the war itself was much greater than that of 9/11 but assuming there was no war and the Taliban was allowed to plan further and presumably worsening attacks, could the toll have eventually been worse than that of the invasion?

        Even if you reject this specific argument based on some situation specific semantics, surely you can see how the complete elimination of war could prove to be detrimental at least sometimes.
        • May 5 2012: Luke: The Taliban were not the ones carrying out the 9/11 attack, so destroying them (which we have so far failed to do) is clearly not going to accomplish anything for security.l this is in no way "Semantics", just reality.l Our trashing various places in the world , however has certaqinly made us less safe, by increasing vastlly the number of our enemies, and reducing the number of friends.
          As to your other point: I think it was Sherman who said something like "it is well that War is so terrible, otherwise we should get too fond of it.". True. Good reason to get rid of it. But I don't mean by Pacifism: what Imean is that rather than War is we understand it, what the world needs is a Police Force. Not self-appointed Vigilantes who have some ulterior motives, like the gang in Afghanistan and Iraq, but a professional, neutral force that can intervene in these cases of massacring civilians, like Syria, or Ruanda,, etc. These shoud be like the British Police, impartial, only there to keep the peace, according to Law. (which we would have to provide them with, since there is no such thing as International Law at present, only the sham of Treaties., larded over with "National Interests")
    • May 7 2012: Luke, I can understand your sentiment insomuch as it is a jerk-knee, gut-feeling. But think it through, for a second. Imagine the bigger picture. Contemplate what exactly war is - from perspectives social, emotional, philosophical, political but, most importantly, economical. What is being discussed here is not some nebulous, philosophical anecdote. Everyone's opinion does not hold equal merit; there are right and wrong answers. Wars will end. This is not something that's up for debate, no matter how much you'd like it to be. This isn't ideology and it's not vain hope. This is a fact just like gravity is a fact. Pure and simple. It doesn't take more than a 9th grader's comprehension of basic chemistry to grasp this. Conservation of matter, my friend: this planet ain't big enough for both humans and war.
      • May 7 2012: Interesting proposal...

        The shift from single celled organisms to multi-celled organisms could be seen as an analogy to the end to war on the micro scale.

        Single celled organisms never actually have organised wars as we know them as far as I know but for my point that's not overly important.

        The cells of multi-cellular organism are completely harmonious but also completely bound to their role in the system, freedom is detrimental.

        I think we are in the very very early stages of undergoing a similar shift where we've come from small tribes to cities to nations to a global organism.

        We have a criminal justice system which takes individuals which are detrimental to the system out of the system and over time as the system becomes more sophisticated and reliant on the correct functioning of it's cells (people) the laws will becomes more and more restrictive.

        If I'm right about this being the direction that we are unwittingly shifting in then, you're right, we will doubtlessly see the end of war itself in the process but I wouldn't be surprised to also see the end of personal freedom as well.
        • May 7 2012: Or just completely ignore me and go off about something completely different. All right, that's fine, I'll just address this instead. Again, you're missing the big picture: the criminal justice system does is not sustainable. The questions we should be focusing on are how and why individuals become "detrimental to the system" and how the system can be changed so that people can't become detrimental to it any more.
      • May 7 2012: I'm sorry you feel like I have ignored the point of your post. If I have, it is because I did not really understand what it was.

        All I really got from your post was that everything points to the inescapable conclusion that war will end.

        I suppose I could have choose one of the subjects (social, emotional, philosophical, political but, most importantly, economical) you listed and started a debate about whether it specifically did point to your conclusion but I didn't see much point in that since you seemed pretty convinced.

        Instead I took your conclusion as a given and looked for a way to analyse it. The single celled to multi celled analogy seemed like a good place to start.

        I have to say I like your idea of the system accommodating it's cells rather than the other way around. It's an approach which should be obvious but i hadn't really considered it.
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    May 2 2012: HI Bob,

    I think Steve Pinker's talk on violence has a clue.

    He Indicates empathy as the operating factor that has systematically reduced violence in the world over time.

    So, from his analysis, the end of war is inevitable.

    The true question is - "How do we achieve peace in time?"

    To which the answer must be - "By accellerating empathy."

    How do you do that? Well, here's one Idea:
    Every time you are reminded of another human being, by thought, by seeing, by getting or sending emails/texts/phonecalls :
    Before doing anything - just send a silent thought of well-being to that person. It only takes a fraction of a second.
    And, when you get an opportunity, spread this idea to others so that they do the same.
    If this is done, the motive for mutual well being will flood the globe exponentially. IT may not end war, but it will accellerate empathy.

    Why would this work?
    It would work because humans are natural empathetic pairs - it is how we evolved. It defines us.
    • May 5 2012: I'm sympathetic with your goals (or should I say Empathetic), but the Christians have been talking like this for thousands of years, and counting. In the meantime, a short term fiix, such as is used in large cities, would be more effectiive: I mean making murdering people illegal, period. No excuses. In cases of self defense, (i.e. not a murder) a jury could decide , just like in a usual case. That would rule out assassinations by Presidents and Dictiators., etc. The reason for the no exception rule is, that people are too quick to take advantage of confusion by saying thiings like "welll , it was for Naitonal Security,etc etc." Too confusing. Just make it illegal, everywhere. I am really surprised that people cannot briing themselves to accept this idea. So attractive is the ancient concept of "killing the Bad Guys who are causing all the trouble". Yet we have done it itn cities: No mayor anythere would dream of ordering the Police to assassinate someone; if he did , he 'd be referred to the Shrinks immediately. Not so with Presidents. Why?!
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        May 5 2012: Nice point about presidents and mayors!
        Mind you, there might be a distinction between assasinating someone else's citizens and assasinating your own ;)

        It is not only the Christians who promote the practice of positive regard for others - it's a fairly universal aspect of nearly all religions. So there might be something in it.

        I am merely freeing the practice from any particular denomination - and even from the domain of religion - atheists can pracatice it as well.

        Have you given it a try?
        • May 5 2012: Mitch: about the diistinction between assassinating foreigners , or "your own":: would that that were true, but our President has already made the point moot by having an American citizen assassinated without ceremony. See Salon, Glemm Greenwald, for details,
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        May 5 2012: Hi Sean,

        There is no doubt that western leadership is in deep crisis.

        In my opinion, the "top down" solution no longer operates in the interest of humanity, and probably never did.

        So it is up to humanity to move forward bottom-up.

        Have you given my suggested method a try?

        It is the base model of the power of empathy without any rules except - do it, and spread it.

        Without practicing these things, there will be no solutions to the challenges we face.
    • May 7 2012: I think your suggestion is very nice, Mitch, and I can even see how it could have a real and noticeable effect on the world. I'm convinced that if everybody did this, we'd all soon notice that the people around us, in our local communities, were suddenly much more pleasant to be around. I'm equally as convinced that this is all that would come out of it. The facts of the matter are unfortunately that wars are largely independent of the whims and convictions of the masses but rather are generally started and maintained as political and economical tools. And if somebody wants a war, it's not all that difficult to make it happen; all you need to do is identify some grievance or desire that enough people share, blame it on some external force and claim that it is the only thing standing between the people and what they rightly should have. That's the template, the technicalities are trivial and irrelevant.

      If you travel around the world for a bit, it soon becomes apparent that, by and large, human beings are very much not lacking in the department of empathy. Wherever you go in the world, the average person will want to meet and share with you. You seem to be implying that empathy is somehow not a fundamental characteristic of humanity when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The natural, unadulterated human reaction to seeing another human is one of hope, of curiosity, of excitement and of kinship. Animosity is manufactured. It is bred and it is taught and it is implanted and imposed. Humans don't hate without a reason - we simply don't. It is well to remember that.
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        May 7 2012: Hi Bob,
        My experience is the same as you - people are empathetic by default.
        But as you have observe, animosity is being bred, taught, implanted and imposed.
        My small exercise in suggesting the "atheists' prayer" was to offset some ot this dark doctrine of competition that is being peddled by our politicians and media.

        Yesterday I did a snap poll in the street asking strangers the question "Are you better at love or hate?".
        I got 80% Love, 10% Both and 10% Hate. It would be interesting to broaden the poll to get a statistically significant sample with age and gender correlations.

        People are not all love and light, for instance the deadly "sins". But these are all offset by empathy.
        The big problem is that it takes time for resonant empathy to cause convergence, and the human brain seems only capable of retaining about 200 fully converged empathetic sets.
        We have also the capacity to retain generic "other" classifications to account for those we cannot converge with. By default, the benefit of the doubt is not granted to "them". It is these generic classifications that are manipulated to produce the us/them division by attributing false negatives to "them" and turn the "no benefit of the doubt" into fear and hostility.

        If "they" are also practiving the "atheists' prayer" then the process of villification would be more difficult, as there wil already be a sense of unity.
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    May 2 2012: Governments makes the decisions on whether to engage in war or not. I don't believe the majority of these citizens who are guided to support and volunteer for their country's war efforts usually believe in the cause.

    Patriotism gets the best of people at times. I'm from the U.S and have friends that support our government war efforts, even though they have little knowledge of its foreign affairs. This gives off a "monkey see, monkey do" effect. Maybe if citizens of countries facing war would become more informed, the smartness of the majority to work things out in a civil way will prevail....maybe a citizens can muster up enough great opinions and solutions to solve their country's war efforts without violence.

    I believe the citizens of the feuding countries should communicate more for understanding. A little understanding never hurt anyone.
    • May 7 2012: I think you hit on a key point with raising public awareness of the state of affairs in the world at large. How do you propose we go about this? Quality controlled media? More social sciences taught in schools? History? How do we raise such awareness in developing countries and nations which heavily subscribe to information control? Do you think we have any chance at all of achieving this, what with the terrifying global trend of pursuing information control and censorship?
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    May 2 2012: spreading peace where its much needed!!!
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    May 2 2012: Hi Bob,
    My opinion on ending war is simpy by understanding the root cause behind it .
    And spreading love and peace by spiritual means to be very generic.

    • May 7 2012: How do we understand the root causes behind war? What do we do once we've understood them? How do we go about "spreading love and peace by spiritual means"?
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    May 2 2012: Reasons: In my (humble/ignorant) opinion the main reason of war is greed.
    It agonizes me deeply to type this, but we human beings have tendency to want more and more...
    Moreover, our society also encourages avarice.
    I believe we have adapted ourselves to violence which is shown to us via our 'free' media. [Maybe some lobbies want to alter human mindset to change their opinion(?)]

    Possible solution to the madness: We need to educate new generations. So maybe we should start by teaching new generations about peace. Teach them to be patient and righteous. Just imagine all the budget/research, which is spent on weapons and wars, being spent on positive aspects- I think there won't (ever)be any food crisis if we REALLY wanted a solution to sustainability.

    • May 7 2012: Indeed the resources necessary to maintain all the military infrastructures of the world could go a very long way towards improving the living conditions for a lot of people. A nigh unimaginably long way. But it's a bit of a catch 22 situation, isn't it? If we use all the resources being wasted on the military we could balance out the living conditions for the global population, thus negating the desire for war but we can't do that until people don't want to go to war anymore and that's not going to happen until we balance out the living conditions for the global population. It's a tough nut to crack.

      I (like most people, I'd venture) like the idea of bettering education throughout the world but I'm having troubles seeing how this will work towards ending wars. One tends to throw education around as the universal solution to most calamities but when you consider the practicalities involved, I find that most of it is just a lot of hot air.
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        May 7 2012: Think it this way: wars of the future will be fought by kids of today.

        If we give these kids a better education and mindset then we might create opportunities (for future generations) to prevent useless wars. I mean by these wars only 0.00000000000001% or less population is benefited if you think about it.
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    May 1 2012: Bob,

    Eager to see what answers your important question elicits.

    • May 7 2012: As was I. And 41 comments later, I find myself somewhat lost for words. I mean, it's certainly interesting from an anthropological perspective but... yeah, I'm just kinda shocked here.
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        May 7 2012: Bob,


        Since you're at a loss for words, I'll offer some of mine.

        First via an essay I did that considers the possibilities of peace, if Hawks and Doves were to marry moral codes:

        I'd add: when global movements that transcend economic and emotional reactivity the prospects of peace can be conceived.

        Non-violent action by significant majorities can make it happen. including social enterprise economic sectors that can influence economic outcomes combined with citizen engagement that influences human empathy. Together they can lead global government and religious policy leaders to follow.

        Now, it would be utterly naive to assert that institutions don't have tremendous power. But, real people catalyzing and engaging in cross-culture collaboration have far more power than they often know.

        Citizen-led culture change is the most effective way to induce institutional change. Which is the way to end war.

        The challenge, of course, is sustaining the culture change. Useful to remember is that it's been done before, albeit in smaller scales. In fact, much until recently, without the benefit of global communications between citizens that the internet offers. This vehicle has the power to -- and indeed does -- significantly accelerate change.

        My point? There is hope.

        If common-people Hawks and Doves marry in large-scale movements to change the war culture.