Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 10, 2003
Peace is your right, says Senator Roche
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
The culture of war is dominant in our society and has recently been re-stimulated by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. War seems to be a perpetual feature in our daily lives.
Despite this, Senator Douglas Roche still has hope. In his recently released, The Human Right to Peace, Roche, the founding editor of the WCR, challenges the notion that war is a perpetual reality and argues that peace is an attainable human right.
"War is not in the human genes," he argues. "We are not predestined to violence. Rather, war comes out of our culture, the way we are socialized to interact with each other."
The central idea of Roche's book is that the culture of war must and can be changed into a culture of peace.
Culture of war
"And the reason that the culture of war must be overcome is that the war culture, now with weapons of mass destruction, will overcome humanity if we do not overcome it," he said in a Oct. 29 interview from the Senate Chambers in Ottawa.
"That's why I wrote the book, to broaden the basis of public understanding. The book is not written for specialists but for the layperson to help them cope with the madness that we see continually cycled and presented in a new cover of fighting terrorism."
In the interview, Roche described what the Bush administration is doing as result of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, as "a terrible affront to human understanding of how we can truly build peace. That's why I wrote the book."
Roche and his colleagues at the United Nations have been working for many years to animate the right to peace so that it can finally take its place among the other recognized human rights that breathe life into the international system. He believes that when understood, this right will transform the world in as vibrant a way as the end of slavery, the end of colonialism, the end of apartheid.
But is this attainable when we see the forces of war dominating every aspect of American society? "It is true that the military industrial complex is driving the Bush administration and that the far right ideology of the administration combined with the opportunism of the military industrial complex does make for a very potent force for war and we've seen that," Roche said in the interview.
"But look at what's happening now with the resistance to the American occupation and the recognition by the United States that it needed to go back to the UN to get help from other nations. I mean, this is late and it's little, to be sure, but it is a recognition that there are many forces in the world that recognize that we have to have an international cooperation to build peace and not to impose war."
Added Roche, who will retire from the Senate in June at age 75: "I don't think we should take an overly pessimistic attitude that we cannot do anything against war. Look at the millions of people who marched against the war (in Iraq) in February and March of this year in many countries around the world. So that is an expression of deep concern among the people, an aberration to war.
"It's true the mainline media do not present the culture of peace with the same drive and determination that they do the culture of war but nonetheless there is a rising level of concern in the world and it is that concern that I'm plugging into."
People should draw hope from the fact the UN did not sanction the Iraq War and the fact the Bush administration will change. "Whether it changes in 2004 remains to be seen," he said.
"And so we must not fall into a sort of a despair that nothing can be done because the forces within the U.S. are going to block all our good moves. That's not so."
The Human Right to Peace takes readers through a discussion of the culture of war, what it is, its effects, and its real and potential consequences. Then it moves on to discuss the culture of peace and the possible results that could come from instituting peace as a fundamental human right. Roche brings to light the work that has already gone into this initiative, shows readers what else needs to be done and points out simple ways in which each person can contribute to make peace a reality.
The Human Right to Peace is published by Novalis and can be purchased at major bookstores.