Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
November 10, 2003
Peace is practised, not enforced
Peace and justice cannot be built with the point of a gun. Violence begets violence. Small-scale coercion may be useful in some circumstances, but as the main method for nation building it is futile.
Surely this is one lesson from the war on Iraq. Six months after the war ended, violence is increasing in the country, not abating. On the first day of Ramadan, suicide bombers killed 35 people and injured 224 others in four separate attacks. Six days later, insurgents using a shoulder-fired missile shot down an American military helicopter, killing 16 and injuring 21.
After the first spate of attacks, U.S President George W. Bush said the violence was the result of militants jealous of the success the U.S.-led coalition is having in rebuilding the country. The Iraqis have more freedom, more jobs, more electricity and more children are attending school, he said.
Bush's defence rings hollow. A poll taken in October by Iraq's Centre for Research and Strategic Studies found that 67 per cent of Iraqis see the U.S. coalition as "occupying powers" - a figure 20 per cent higher than a similar poll taken shortly after the fall of Saddam Hussein's government. The percentage that sees the coalition as a liberating force has dropped from 43 to 15. The vast majority of people would prefer to see Iraq develop an Islamic government rather than a Western-style democracy.
Meanwhile, the American and British governments are coming under attack at home for the rationalizations they provided for getting into the war in the first place. No evidence has been found linking Iraq to the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. And no signs of Iraq's reputed weapons of mass destruction have been found - let alone evidence that Iraq was planning to use those weapons.
The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate is now saying that the United Nations weapons inspectors provided better intelligence than did the CIA. CIA agents, however, have said that the agency was browbeaten into providing "worst case scenarios" before the war.
In short, this was a war that there was no good reason for fighting, but which is having and may well have negative repercussions for years to come. If the coalition was truly interested in rebuilding Iraq, it could have started by dropping the 12-year-old sanctions that left millions of ordinary people either dead or in dire straits, but did little to affect the ruling elite.
The world has changed with the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the development of advanced weaponry accessible both to governments and terrorists. The basic dictum of the United Nations that no country should interfere in the internal governance of another is no longer satisfactory. Global security requires that every nation be run by the rule of law at home and respect human rights outside its borders.
Yet this cannot be achieved by military force. It needs to be achieved by the elusive methods of cooperation and the development of a global common purpose. Cooperation, by its very nature, cannot be dictated by the West. It requires a much stronger commitment to peace and development by all the world's nations.
Nations must be committed to achieving sustainable development, economic equity, human rights, respect for life and abolition of all weapons of mass destruction. They must achieve these goals within their own borders and they must help other nations to achieve them.
To some, this will sound dangerously naïve. But the real dangerous naïvetè comes from those who want to fight their way to peace. Following such a route may please their friends in the arms industry, but it will sow nothing but resentment. And the final fruit of that resentment is likely to be mass destruction on a scale beyond our imagining.
God gave us free will for a reason. That reason is that we should strive to do good to others and encourage others to walk the paths of peace and righteousness as well. Ultimately, that is the only hope for humanity.
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