Whatever purpose the war system might once have served, it has now become dysfunctional to future human survival, yet it has not been abolished.
Patricia M. Mische (Peace Educator)
In On Violence, Hannah Arendt wrote that the reason warfare is still with us is not a death wish of our species nor some instinct of aggression, “. . . but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.”1 The Alternative Global Security System we describe here is the substitute.
The goal of this document is to gather into one place, in the briefest form possible, everything one needs to know to work toward an end to war by replacing it with an Alternative Global Security System in contrast to the failed system of national security.
What is called national security is a chimerical state of things in which one would keep for oneself alone the power to make war while all countries would be unable to do so. . . . War is therefore made in order to keep or increase the power of making war.
Thomas Merton (Catholic Writer)
For nearly all of recorded history we have studied war and how to win it, but war has become ever more destructive and now threatens whole populations and planetary ecosystems with annihilation in a nuclear holocaust. Short of that, it brings “conventional” destruction unimaginable only a generation ago, while looming global economic and environmental crises go unattended. Unwilling to give in to such a negative end to our human story, we have begun to react in positive ways. We have begun to study war with a new purpose: to end it by replacing it with a system of conflict management that will result, at the very least, in a minimal peace. This document is a blueprint for ending war. It is not a plan for an ideal utopia. It is a summary of the work of many, based on many years of experience and analysis by people striving to understand why, when almost everyone wants peace, we still have wars; and on the work of countless people who have real-world political experience in nonviolent struggle as a substitute for war2. Many of these people have come together to work on World Beyond War.
1. Arendt, Hannah. 1970. On Violence. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
2. There now exists a large body of scholarship and a wealth of practical experience with creating institutions and techniques to manage conflict and practical experience with successful nonviolent movements, much of which is referenced in the resources section at the end of the A Global Security System: An Alternative to War document and on the World Beyond War website at www.worldbeyondwar.org.
The Work of World Beyond War
World Beyond War is helping build a global nonviolent movement to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace. We believe the time is right for a large-scale cooperation among existing peace and anti-war organizations and organizations seeking justice, human rights, sustainability and other benefits to humanity. We believe that the overwhelming majority of the world’s people are sick of war and ready to back a global movement to replace it with a system of conflict management that does not kill masses of people, exhaust resources, and degrade the planet.
World Beyond War believes that conflict between nations and within nations will always exist and that it is all too frequently militarized with disastrous results for all sides. We believe that humanity can create – and already is in the process of creating – a non-militarized alternative global security system that will resolve and transform conflicts without resort to violence. We also believe that such a system will need to be phased in while militarized security is phased out; hence we advocate such measures as non-provocative defense and international peacekeeping in the early stages of the changeover.
We are confident that viable alternatives to war can and will be constructed. We do not believe we have described a perfect system. This is a work in progress which we invite others to improve. Nor do we believe that such an alternative system might not fail in limited ways. However, we are confident that such a system will not fail people in the massive ways that the current war system does, and we also provide means of reconciliation and a return to peace should such limited failures occur.
You will see here the elements of an Alternative Global Security System that does not rely on war or the threat of war. These elements include many for which people have long been working, sometimes for generations: the abolition of nuclear weapons, reform of the United Nations, ending the use of drones, changing national priorities from wars and preparations for war to meeting human and environmental needs, and many others. World Beyond War intends to cooperate fully with these efforts while mobilizing a mass movement to end war and replace it with an alternative global security system.
To get to a world beyond war, the war system needs to be dismantled and replaced with an Alternative Global Security System. This is our main challenge.
We recognize that the current version of the document has been written primarily by Americans from a U.S. point of view. We recognize that that we are missing a full integration of cultural and gendered understandings and experiences. We hope that over time this booklet will have those added perspectives with our continued effort to seek and integrate feedback. Already with the 2016 edition we are partway there.
Many of the points made relate directly to the U.S. military and foreign policy. American militarism is felt throughout the world through military, economic, cultural and political domination. As peace scholar and activist David Cortright suggests, the most important thing we can do as Americans to prevent war and violence, is to shift American foreign policy away from militaristic approaches toward inclusive approaches of peacebuilding. The United States is a big part of the problem, not the solution. Therefore we see a special responsibility for Americans to keep their own government from causing much war and violence in the world.
At the same time, Americans need help from the global community to address U.S. militarism from the outside. It will require a true global movement to succeed. You are invited to help build this movement.
Back to Table of Contents of 2016 A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.