Current United States policy promotes a belief so flawed that it rises to the level of a fatal error. The belief that military power confers safety upon a nation is dead wrong and, unless corrected, will inevitably destroy the economy, the infrastructure and the moral code of any nation that holds it.
The belief in military power is wrong because war creates enemies bent on revenge. The desire for revenge is one of humanity’s most powerful and long lasting drives.
Military power did create long-term change when a super power was willing to engage in total war, e.g., as in World War II. Even the military now works to avoid total war. Limited war gets limited results that are of limited value.
Military power destroys trust and cooperation among people and nations.
Superpowers using war as a plausible extension of foreign policy spend obscene amounts of money. That massive expenditure deprives ordinary citizens of an economic quality of life that they could otherwise achieve.
It is encouraging that currently there are large numbers of voices supporting fair diplomacy, compromise and dispute resolution. They need a peaceful infrastructure to support their dreams.
Yet the United States continues to make dangerous enemies faster than those enemies can be killed by military power. Isn’t it far better to stop making enemies than to try to kill them, especially if total war is no longer an acceptable option?
If the United States is to return to sanity, masses of people must remember that the quality of their lives has always depended upon their willingness to cooperate with each other. Then they must find ways to work together to take control of a government that they have allowed to betray them in so many vital respects.
It has become all too frequent that if something appears to have no chance of being voted into law, legislators put it on a back burner. Part of the job of being in Congress is to lead and to educate the public. In some ways the American people are ahead of Congress and would welcome being joined by their representatives in a democratic and cooperative effort.
The most effective route by which to accomplish change in politics is through the ballot box. Self-education, communication, organization, conflict resolution and, above all, cooperation, are the primary tools of creating change. That change creates environments in which people’s governments can thrive.
The most interesting idea for promoting change has been reintroduced into the House of Representatives. It is a most logical, necessary and exhilarating idea for counteracting dependence upon military power to promote safety.
The proposed law calls for the study of peace on a par with the eternal study of war. It calls for a cabinet level Department of Peace with a cabinet post of secretary of peace on the same level as the Department of Defense and its secretary. The proposed law calls for the establishment of a Peace College as there is a War College.
The Peace College would train experts in developing and maintaining peaceful strategies, just as the Academy at West Point has trained experts in conducting war.
With a Department of Peace, it is possible to learn how to conduct negotiations from a position of equality. What passes for diplomacy and negotiation at the present time is an exercise in arrogance, e.g. “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
United States’ policy calls for negotiation from a position of power. True negotiation should strive openly for win-win resolutions.
With a Department of Peace, it is possible to promote peaceful means of dispute resolution. It would help to reduce the violence currently increasing among the people of the United States.
Passage of a Department of Peace would tell the world that the United States is serious about finding ways to make the world a peaceful place.
The time for collective, peaceful action is now. The time to stop electing people to office who are immoral, or become immoral in office, is now. The time for the creation of a new way of living is now. It is time for people of goodwill to cooperate in the formation of a just society.
How? They must join and support the multitude of peace groups that have worked for years to move the world toward peace. Help those groups work with those congresspeople who believe in peace to form a coherent platform. Cooperative candidates for office can run on that platform and be elected to the House and Senate.
With sustainable cooperative majorities, change will be unstoppable.
Hubert Kauffman, Ph.D., is a retired clinical psychologist. He lives in Oxford.