Abolish War?

abolish war, network for peace

Can war be abolished?  What would it take?

This is what has been on my mind since attending meetings connected to the recent session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women.   The theme this year was violence against women.  Women from around the world brought their stories to New York, and I was assaulted by accounts of women being raped and killed before their children’s eyes (Congo, Georgia), women murdered at the rate of one every 15 hours (Honduras), brothels serving as recreation sites for over 1,000 U.S. bases around the world (Okinawa, everywhere), UN Peacekeepers consorting with internationally trafficked women held in sex slavery (wherever the Peacekeepers are sent).
A lot of this information surfaced at a meeting called “Economics, Resources and War.”  The pursuit of valuable minerals in Georgia (an oil pipeline passes through that country), in Congo (especially tantalum, needed for electronics like cell phones), and in Honduras (gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, iron) has been accompanied by warfare and wholesale violence against women.  All of these minerals are essential to the economies of rich, industrialized nations – like mine – whose corporations are determined to get whatever resources they think they need.  Often, their depredations are backed up by U.S. military power.
Toward the end of this meeting, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Betty Reardon declared that the only solution to such atrocities is to abolish war entirely.   After hearing the women’s stories and in tears at that point, I could only think “right on!”   But how would this come about?
Betty Reardon had two particular recommendations:  1) nations must implement UN Resolution 1325 which requires that women be included in all levels of policy making, especially those involving decisions to use military interventions.  2) Impunity for the horrendous crimes committed against women and against the earth by corporations and states must end.   The criminals inside them must be held accountable.
I try to imagine either of those things happening in the U.S.   It seems to me that our whole way of life would have to change.   First of all, UN Resolution 1325 is a challenge to male domination, the system in which a small number of males (in this country mostly white) get to make important economic and military decisions for the rest of us, both women and men.  And if impunity ended, those would be the very people who would have to go to jail.
Male domination is based on the ideology that it is right and natural for men to be tough, aggressive, competitive and in charge.  I think of a gun as the primary symbol of power underlying this system.  A gun is a tube that spits out lots of speedy little projectiles that penetrate a target.   The more bullets the better.  Guns can be used to terrify victims into submission even when not used to immobilize or kill them.  In war, occasionally guns are even inserted directly into a woman’s vagina.   Given that it is proving impossible in this country to get even a modicum of control over the manufacture and use of guns, we can see how difficult it will be to challenge male domination in total.
Besides a challenge to male domination, in order to end war over natural resources, we will have to re-design our whole economy and learn to do more with less.  Alluding to the situation in the Congo, Betty Reardon summed the problem up this way, “We are so tied to our technologies, we carry war in our pockets.”  To abolish war we will not only have to empty our pockets, we’ll have to change our minds.

Written by Peggy Ray

This entry was posted in Dialogue, Peace, Social Justice/Non-Violent Protest. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Abolish War?

  1. ace says:

    War is the ultimate competition, and the ultimate way humans, both men and women have come to resolve differences. Remember Margaret “Iron Lady” Thatcher? I don’t believe the abolition of war is a feasible goal for humanity, we are inherently carnivores, however it is important that war not be the first option to resolve conflict. It is also important to allow varying opinions and backgrounds to contribute to policy, as you suggest through UN Resolution 1325. We have women presidents or prime ministers throughout the world, including in Germany, Argentina, Liberia, Argentina, Brazil and other places. If Hillary Clinton becomes the next US President,it will be interesting to see if we truly can change our minds and our habits.

  2. I agree with everything that Peggy says. I would only add that in addition to thinking about abolishing war, we should think in terms of developing an alternative form of national defense. That is what I address in my book Transition to Peace, A Defense Engineer’s Search for an Alternative to War.

  3. grace higgs says:

    Dear Kathleen,

    It is wonderful seeing your smiling face on these blogs. Yes, and it would be wonderful if I could be there for the Spring Fling! l love the colorful flower invitation and can feel the warmth and joy radiating from it. It has been a very long, cold winter even here in the South. Today was gorgeous, so we are all basking in it! New life everywhere!

    This blog on war.what would it take, indeed?! And will we ever see justice for women in our lifetime? You can take satisfaction in knowing that you are among the women who are speaking out on these hopes for a better world and taking positive actions. Your educational packet on trafficking sounds fantastic. I will have to check into how I can get one.

    These are transitional times I think, and hope, even in the Church. I am delighted to experience a pope like Francis I . It is Time. It won’t be an easy road for him, but it wasn’t for Jesus either; sometimes that seems to be forgotten.

    Unfortunately, as long as there is Sin, there will be War, I feel, especially the sins of fear, greed, and lust for power, of pride and deceit, the need to be the strongest, the greatest, the best, and having the most. The threat of nuclear war is unspeakable, yet real, and every generation has to know this… everywhereor we won’t even have a chance to work together, much less to love each other…

    Need I tell YOU that learning how to dialogue is one of the most important ways to have hope for peace ?! 🙂 That is your Mission and I believe it too, and have believed it before I knew you were involved in just that! We must learn to respect each other and value each other with all of our differences and beliefs, or as Eleanor R said, “We will die together.”

    I was interested to read the comments from your blog, especially the idea of developing an alternative form of national defense in the book Transition to Peace, A Defense Engineer’s Search for an Alternative to War. Now more of that kind of dialogue would be a good thing!

    Much love to you, Kathleen,


    Sorry I’ve been so silent lately. i don’t know where my days go, but I relish anything from you or Network and hope I can continue to support it, even in my modest way.

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