Saturday, May 21, 2011

World Peace in a Nutshell

Recently Obama made a very courageous statement (for an American President) that Palestinians had a right to their pre-1967 borders, with some land swapping to be negotiated with Israel. Once again, the domestic right wing criticism of Obama's statement highlights that Obama is more in tune with international community than he is with the political factions inside the USA. And I mean that in a positive way about Obama, as many political factions in the USA tend to be somewhat warmongering.

I recently viewed a blog by someone who put into words this warmongering character I mentioned. A warmonger is someone who believes that war is justified and inevitable, and more particularly, whoever is stronger has the right to take land from anyone who is weaker.

Here is the link to this blog, and the argument presented on the Israeli border issue.

What is interesting to me is the complete disconnect between Paul Brown's view of world peace, and all the work that has been done in the last hundred years to avoid another world war. I am going to assume Paul Brown is just putting into words what a lot of other right wing Americans are feeling. (And right wing Canadians too - lets not forget my family and friends!)

So as a public service, I will post here the shortest possible condensed version of world history over at least the last 100 years, which explains partly why we have the United Nations and may help to explain why we have not had a third world war (even though it has been pretty close at times).

From the beginning of recorded history, and probably all through human evolution, groups of men have tried to acquire territory or resources by aggression or warfare. But as the world gets ever more crowded, and as the weapons of war become ever more deadly, we have reached (or are reaching) a point in human evolution where war must be regulated, or contained, or damped down. Otherwise, the entire habitable world could be destroyed.

The realization that mankind needed world peace actually grew long before the atomic bomb was discovered. Even by 1899, many people realized that human weaponry would soon become so powerful that entire civilizations could be wiped out by flying machines dropping massive bombs.

Attempts to regulate wars were made before World War 1, then with even more urgency after World War 1 actually happened, and proved more devastating than even the peaceniks predicted. ("The War to End All Wars"). But even then, the efforts were not enough, WW2 took place, leading to more efforts toward world peace.

After the horrors of World War 2, it seemed that the number one problem leading to war was that of countries trying to invade each other for territory or resources. So the United Nations was set up, with the participation of almost every country on Earth, with the main goal of avoiding another world war. It was decided that as a basic principle, that the UN should recognize and document international boundaries, and that no country had the right to invade another across those international boundaries, without the consent of the United Nations. The United Nations had a voting process and a charter that determined how this consent should be achieved.

No matter how flawed this process might be, it was our best hope for world peace, and for many years the principle of not invading neighbours without the permission of the UN was more or less followed. But this required the leadership of the most influential democracies after WW2, namely the USA, France, Germany, Japan, and Great Britain. The USSR and China were influential, but not being democracies, it was expected that they would also be natural warmongers.

Lately, it seems that this system is breaking down, and not because of rogue warmongering dictatorships like Nazi Germany or Stalin's USSR, but because of "democracies" like the United States of America, Britain, and Israel. Until now it was believed by many that a democracy was inherently peaceful. It was thought that most educated, democratic people would not vote for offensive wars. Now, however, that principle has been challenged by Israel (occupying and carving up the U.N. sanctioned territory of Palestine) and the USA and Britain, which invaded Iraq under false or mistaken (depending on who you believe) pretenses, without the approval of the U.N. Although to be fair, the USA and the UK (and a few other countries including Australia did claim they had the approval of the U.N., while Canada, France, Germany, Russia, China and most other countries said they did not have that approval.

So where does world peace stand today? Are we back to the world where the strongest invade and occupy the weakest and steal their land and resources, or are we still trying to find a framework where all countries can live in peace?

That is the essence of Obama's statement on Israel's boundaries.

1 comment:

  1. The Palestinian Problem is an bottomless quagmire, but anyone who refuses to acknowledge that both the Israelis and the Palestinians have a moral claim to the disputed territories fails to do justice to the complexity of the situation.

    The indisputable facts remain: Israel gained 50% more territory than mandated by the U.N. partition plan as a result of the April 1949 armistice which ended the Arab-Israeli War.

    Not content with those territorial gains, Israel then established a pattern of aggression (notably in 1956 and 1967) and expansionism (through settlement building) to which the Arab States and Palestinians have since (with some justification) reacted. It is those even further expanded 1967 lines are which are being proposed as a basis by Obama.

    One need only compare the borders of the original UN mandate with those which remain under Palestinian control.