EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A Global Security System: An Alternative to War

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Resting on a convincing body of evidence that violence is not a necessary component of conflict among states and between states and non-state actors, World Beyond War asserts that war itself can be ended. We humans have lived without war for most of our existence and most people live without war most of the time. Warfare arose about 6,000 years ago (less than .5% of our existence as Homo sapiens) and spawned a vicious cycle of warfare as peoples, fearing attack by militarized states found it necessary to imitate them and so began the cycle of violence that has culminated in the last 100 years in a condition of permawar. War now threatens to destroy civilization as weapons have become ever more destructive. However, in the last 150 years, revolutionary new knowledge and methods of nonviolent conflict management have been developing that lead us to assert that it is time to end warfare and that we can do so by mobilizing millions around a global effort.

Here you will find the pillars of war which must be taken down so that the whole edifice of the War System can collapse, and here are the foundations of peace, already being laid, on which we will build a world where everyone will be safe. This report presents a comprehensive blueprint for peace as the basis of an action plan to finally end war.

It begins with a provocative “Vision of Peace” which may seem to some to be utopian until one reads the rest of the report which comprises the means for achieving it. The first two parts of the report present an analysis of how the current war system works, the desirability and necessity of replacing it, and an analysis of why doing this is possible. The next part outlines the Alternative Global Security System, rejecting the failed system of national security and replacing it with the concept of common security (no one is safe until all are safe). This relies on three broad strategies for humanity to end war, including thirteen strategies for 1) demilitarizing security and twenty-one strategies for 2) managing conflicts without violence and 3) creating a culture of peace. The first two are the steps to dismantling the war machine and replacing it with a peace system that will provide a more assured common security. These two comprise the “hardware” of creating a peace system. The next section, eleven strategies for accelerating the already developing Culture of Peace, provides the “software,” that is, the values and concepts necessary to operate a peace system and the means to spread these globally. The remainder of the report addresses reasons for optimism and what the individual can do, and ends with a resource guide for further study.

While this report is based on the work of many experts in international relations and peace studies and on the experience of many activists, it is intended to be an evolving plan as we gain more and more experience. The historic end of war is now possible if we muster the will to act and so save ourselves and the planet from ever greater catastrophe. World Beyond War firmly believes that we can do this.

See full table of contents for A Global Security System: An Alternative to War

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41 Comments

  1. Charles A. Ochs says:

    Although I intend to “keep reading”, I have trouble with your basic premise.
    I do not believe that human’s tendency toward war can be eliminated, although it MAY be controlled to some degree.
    I totally disagree that war has been with us a mere 6000 years. I believe that the type of conflict which leads to war lies deep within the human psyche,and can NOT be eliminated.
    It is rooted in FEAR, the most basic of human emotions, as it directly relates to survival–our most basic instinct.
    War is supported and nurtured by RELIGION, our largest artifact from our mentally primitive state, and in order to have any hope of eliminating WAR, RELIGION has to go first, and good luck with that!
    People will die for their religion before all else. Witness what is happening on the planet today!

    • Charles, I suspect you’re going to have some excellent insights and critiques for us after reading the paper. There are also places for comments below each section.

      There’s a confusion in the idea of a human tendency toward war. There are human tendencies toward anger, hatred, rage, violence. But war is an institution that requires extensive planning and organization. It’s like saying there’s a human tendency toward parliamentary legislatures or symphony orchestras.

      Those dangerous human tendencies (anger, violence) will never, of course, be eliminated. I’m not sure they should be, but I’m pretty sure you won’t find any claim quite that dumb in this paper 🙂 What’s needed is for such tendencies to be resolved without major violence armed with mass-murdering weaponry.

      As to how old war is, if you equate war with anger it’s safe to guess it’s 20 times older than war, but there’s no evidence either way. War leaves evidence, and that evidence is sporadic back for 6,000 years and very rare back to 12,000 years ago, and nonexistent prior — that is, nonexistent for most of human existence.

      For better or worse, the fastest growing group when it comes to religions in the U.S. right now: atheism.

      • Charles,

        Your are right, fear is the root cause. Question – Do you commit to overcoming fear and violence and refuse to pick up a weapon to hurt or harm another? If yes, then so can others they need to be educated and made aware, if no, then start work on yourself.

        John

  2. i have just read the x-summary and table of contents so these are in the nature of preliminary comments. Thanks for all the good work you do, and please know i support this initiative in spirit and in other ways as i am able.

    I entered college in 1968 and participated in most of the big Vietnam anti-war protests as well as May Day 1971, the largest direct action in U.S. history – over 100,000 people shut D.C. down, with more than 12,000 arrested. More recently, i was arrested outside the White House in a protest against the Afghanistan war. i have been active in the U.S. anti-war movement for over 40 years of perpetual war and will probably continue to be active on some level.

    But, i no longer have any confidence that protests, direct action, education or organizing are going to be sufficient to end the current wars – Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine to name a few. Some say that the U.S. anti-war movement ended the Vietnam War but i think it was the armed-resistance of the Vietnamese people.

    The thing about the War of State Terrorism and Empire, is that it is so diffuse and multi-dimensional. Like the Hydra, you cut off one head and two new ones appear. Stopping a war is one thing, addressing an American culture of militarism, war and empire are another. i for one no longer believe that there is a political solution within the framework of representative democracy to this fundamentally cultural problem.

    i’m not saying that it is hopeless, but that we need more than education, protests, direct action and organizing to make the kind of transformational change necessary. We can have all the left and progressive writers educating about war and empire but if most of the population continues to get most of their disinformation from the mainstream media – to what purpose is that education? Continuing to preach to the choir is not going to do it.

    Since 1942, the U.S. has existed primarily as a war economy. American prosperity has largely been built on empire, militarism and war. Our so-called political leaders know this and unfortunately most working Americans do too. Our “educated” middle class knows more than willing to engage in a devil’s bargain of conformity in exchange for relative privilege and bigger piece of the economic pie.

    A radically new approach to ending war is necessary, somehow we must figure out how to make a break with the past, both the wars and empire, but also the ways we resist violence and war. Part of figuring out this radical new approach is recognizing that the roots of war, empire and militarism are cultural and structural, i.e. how society is hierarchically (patriarchally) organized. Hierarchically structured societies are based on “taking power.” Those on top take from those below. Violence, war and militarism are fundamental to societies that are hierarchically structured – most especially patriarchal societies like we have in the world today.

    Cultural organizing seeks to change the economy – the way we make a living – and to create alternative ways to structure society, i.e horizontally rather than hierarchically. Cultural organizing seeks to fundamentally change the social – not power – relationships of society. Where political organizing seeks to address the destruction from above, cultural organizing seeks to rebuild from below. Perhaps what we need is a radical shift of focus away from stopping war and empire to building peaceful, egalitarian and just societies. Maybe what we need is to stop concentrating on stopping the politics of destruction and put most of our energy into creating a culture based on the power of doing rather than taking.

    • As it’s-all-hopeless comments go, that’s a pretty constructive one. Thank you. We are pretty well aware of the problem, as you’ll see in the paper. And we in fact agree with you on the need to change culturally as well as politically, on the need to live differently. While our organic gardens will perish too if we don’t prevent a nuclear war breaking out, we won’t stop the forces that keep causing wars to “break out” (a poor term, as the paper explains, since a great deal of slow preparation is needed to bring a war into being) unless we shift away from the habits of destruction and consumption that are so ingrained in us. The beauty of moving away from war and toward an altered relationship with the natural environment and humanity is that when you shift away from war MASSIVE resources become available to help the transition.

      • Ed Lytwak says:

        Far from hopeless, i’m very encouraged by what is happening in the cultural revolution all around the world. In many respects, the U.S. is one of the most culturally backward of countries, primarily because so much of U.S. culture has been commodified and controlled by the corporate media. If there is a take away from my rather long comment it is that we should not underestimate how violence and war are inherent to the social structure of the U.S. and most other nations. Nation states are the problem not the solution. What i’m questioning is the efficacy of reforming these hierarchical structures rather building new institutions from below. For me its about changing the world without taking power. i look to places like Chiapas (Zapatismo) and Rojava where its all about autonomy not the nation state for inspiration.

    • Kevin John says:

      I’m with you, Ed. I’ve lost hope that top-down hierarchy can be retrofitted for peace. What we need is to build alternative communities based on sideways compatibility that allow us to break free from the geographical ties that bind us to those whose livelihoods and esteem stem from violence and war.

      • Ed Lytwak says:

        My only real problem with this alternative to war, is that people are not being told exactly what it will take. To be perfectly clear, I think that stopping war will require the abolition of nation states – the primary means of waging war – as well as an end to the capitalist economic system and redistribution of wealth beginning at the top.

      • Kevin and Ed, What would a chapter on this look like that you think would add to this book?

        • I’m not sure that another chapter along these lines is needed. The above, abolishing nation states, ending capitalism and redistributing wealth would be things that happen “naturally” once a counter culture and economy were functioning for most people. I believe, like you, that if people are given a viable alternative many if not most would take it. My comment is more about people having a clear understanding about the obstacles to transformational change – which your book seems to provide. We currently have lots of analysis of what is wrong with capitalism, why inequality is bad but not so much about nationalism and the nation state. If you added a chapter that would be it, something like moving beyond nationalism and the nation state.

  3. Blake MacLeod says:

    The international World Federalists Movement supports the German organization (KDUN) leading a campaign to establish a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly (UNPA) http://www.unpacampaign.org.

    The idea, was most ably expressed in a book ‘The Case for a UN Parliamentary Assembly’ by a Canadian, World Federalist member Dieter Heinrich. In it Heinrich argues the need to address the democratic deficit at the UN and lays out the various proposals for establishing a directly elected body of world parliamentarians.

    The idea of ‘world government’ is one that worries many, and with good cause. However, as with the Canadian and World Federalist Movement created International Criminal Court (ICC), the proposed system would be ‘complimentary’ to the sovereign governance of affairs within nation states. Indeed it is only when the actions of nations and associated human driven ambitions affect the global commons or the have negative impacts on the sovereignty of other nations that the potential for conflict arises.

    And that’s where the potential begins, which I feel could over time be adequately addressed through a treaty mechanism which would both reward and punish member states and their institutions of economic interest. Such a treaty, while not officially endorsed by the UNPA campaign, would model itself in structure on the treaty founding the ICC. The Rome Statute which may be signed by a nation state, requires ratification within its legislative bodies (if such exists) before taking effect and becoming binding.

    Even now 13 years on the ICC is till proving itself, and many self interested detractor states and critics from civil society show us that there are significant challenges ahead. It is clear nonetheless, that we are on the path, and so I applaud this World Beyond War initiative. I also urge its creators to fully consider the potential within the UN for reform through the General Assembly, without amendments to the UN Charter, to address the democratic deficit at the global level.

    The problem of ‘adoption’ arises with the natural fear that national security would be affected, and a loss of market share and market instability would lead to vulnerability without protection or adequate recourse. The treaty among member states would necessarily include an effective judiciary & robust mechanisms for arbitration, as well as a multinational, rapid reaction emergency peace force to assure the protection of states from aggressors.

    Add to that, early adopters should logically be rewarded by incentives such as increased access to markets, gradient scale tariff relaxations and so on. Such a treaty would reward the adoption of sustainability and progressive policy measures such as cradle to cradle resource cycling, green technologies, fair trade practices, and gender equity.

    It cannot be denied that while disaster capitalism and wars of aggression over resources may bring riches to the few, and that these activities also play a part in the decline human security. Most important though is the false notion that these behaviours can be sustainable.

    If we continue on this path of war making and hegemony, the destruction of our natural world will continue unabated to the point where there will no longer be a civilization capable of generating profit, and the last factory to produce the last bullet will fall silent for want of payment, while the owner gazes at the balance sheet and weeps.

    Yes there is a better way forward for humanity, and once we figure out how to take the profit from war waging and put it into peace making the way will become clear.

    • Well said
      It’s a topic that has to be addressed with some seriousness and subtlety
      Here’s another take http://davidswanson.org/node/4542

    • So, hang onto capitalism and set up an adjunct at the UN staffed with bickering power hungry types climbing all over each other to get attention and control of the process, and expect a different outcome from what already doom and gloomily obtains? Good luck with all that. we aren’t going to solve the problem of war with even more bureaucracy.

      • Too much bureaucracy isn’t the key problem. More or less bureaucracy isn’t the game changer. Building political will for change is key, with or without bureaucracy. Maybe you weren’t, but usually when I see people complain about bureaucracy, they stop focusing on the direct problem and get caught up with size (of government) issues. Big or small government isn’t the key. Good governance over greedy, bad governance is what we must keep asserting.

    • Jacob Rempel says:

      Thank you again, Blake MacLeod. Your world federalism thinking is essential to focus the United Nation actions for peace and world well-being. And the World Federalist proposals has some safeguards against hegemonic takeover by national and corporate centres of power and wealth. It seems to me that there are several very good analyses like on this website, with ideas about what is necessary. We are all thinking clearly but talking mostly only to each other. What is necessary NOW is that all these organizations, all of us campaigning for peaceful culture and political cooperation, NOW join to meet with the ACTUAL active POWER BROKERS and confront them very forcefully as persons with the facts of life and death. The present world meeting deal only with short term circumstances and competing interests like who will shoot whom and who will get the next oil wells. Winners in that competition will not deal with the real issues facing humankind, which are peace, the natural environment, climate, and the end of poverty. Such are the real issues, and we campaigner somehow need to meet with the actual persons who can change directions, lead real changes in all policies. And this is urgent.

    • For example–world has only one climate system with only one atmosphere, so climate and atmosphere should be part of the commons. Global Thermostat (contraption and firm making it) captures CO2 from ambient air, which should help if CO2 is fed to microbe that photosynthesizes.

  4. Sounds like another Socialist diatribe. And one commentor seeks to “end nation states”, “abolish capitalism” and “redistribute wealth”?

    If it wasn’t so naive I’d be laughing my ass off.

    • This is always the big hurdle with any book: the people convinced it makes no sense won’t read it but will announce that it makes no sense. How do you get them to read it?

  5. Jerome Skyrud says:

    Dennis Kucinich, when in Congress, advocated the establishment of a Department of Peace: the subject of your program. Is Dennis involved with you in your work?

    • We know and like him and that bill continues to be introduced each session. Of course a name is not the whole game. The U.S. Institute for Peace doesn’t oppose U.S. wars and neither would a U.S. Dept of Peace unless whole culture and government change dramatically.

      • I suspect US tax on greenhouse gas emissions with all revenue devoted to buying fossil fuel reserves as mineral rights might be acceptable to too big to fail fossil fuel firms and maybe even do enough to slow down current trend to hotter climate to help US agriculture. Do you know Rep. Kucinich well enough to put a bug in his ear on something like that? I also suspect prosperity contributes to peace at least as much as peace contributes to prosperity. And a more stable climate might contribute to prosperity.

      • Grace Adams says:

        DEMAND FOR ENERGY IN GENERAL IS FAIRLY INELASTIC, AT -0.37, MAKING IT A GOOD TARGET FOR TAX. mAYBE CAN SPEND HALF OF REVENUE TO BUY FOSSIL FUEL AS MINERAL RIGHTS, OTHER HALF FOR MEANS TO HARVEST RENEWABLE ENERGY WITH HALF OF PROFIT ON RENEWABLE ENERGY TO GO TO FOSSIL FUEL FIRMS TO BUY EVEN MORE FOSSIL FUEL AS MINERAL RIGHTS.

  6. Heinrich Buecker, Coop Anti-War Cafe Berlin says:

    World Beyond War is developing into a hub for the peace-movement to foment and consolidate existing peace initiatives world-wide.

    There have been very important initiatives in the last century calling for the international prohibition of war as a means of conflict resolution.

    The report “A Global Security System: An Alternative to War!” by World Beyond War is reviving past initiatives – but now in the age of the internet – at a very critical point in history – and on a global scale.

    more
    http://wp.me/p1dtrb-3Qe

  7. Incredibly good book. Many, many good ideas and references. Essentially it reminds me of the opposite of President Wilson’s Creel Commission. The entire society needs to be soaked in peace the way it has been soaked in militarism. One thing it does not focus on enough in my opinion is completely re-writing history and all the text books.

    Congratulations on a fantastic seminal book.

    • Yes, anti-war propaganda.

      • I suspect it will be very difficult to take those fat juicy federal contracts away from Military Industrial Complex firms. It might be easier to find more constructive products for them to make and persuade them to settle for contracts to make those more constructive products. What do you think?

  8. Abolishing nation states will be resisted as fiercely as depriving people of their homes and identities. What would work better is a confederation, like the 50 states of American consenting to form a union.

    Regional unions, like EU, perhaps by continents, would allow each nation to retain its sovereignty under the umbrella of a friendly association with their neighboring countries.

    The regional unions could then be parts of a global association.

    Think of how nature does it. When an embryo is formed and growing, certain cells specialize and become independent organs and body parts. They need to be differentiated for their respective functions, yet collaborate for the health of all.

    Furthermore, any group is only the voluntary conglomeration of its separate individuals. Unless you start with the individual, you cannot build a coalition without forming masters and slaves.

    Protect the rights of the individual, and all the rest will follow. Obliterate the individual, and you will get only gang warfare and mob rule. And they will not achieve a fairer distribution of wealth, because they will revert to the gang mentality of robbing the subdued. All that will change is which gang is on top. Forced redistribution is a crime.

    As for doing away with capitalism, think about that some more. What we don’t want is what is called “crony capitalism”, or our gang vs. theirs. That is not capitalism in the classic sense, where people work and invest, and where everyone is a shareholder. For example, Kickstarter. It’s voluntary and on a human scale.

    Yet, returning to the organic sample, a body has only one brain, one heart, one liver, etc., though pairs of lungs and kidneys.

    Those parts do not compete against each other in a healthy body; their resources are not removed and redistributed to other parts; and their very own survival and wellbeing depend on collaboration, each doing its part without coercing or exploiting the others. Resources (food intake) are used efficiently to keep all parts functioning properly, no fighting over who should get more. The protocol for that is hardwired, like a Constitution or well-written code.

    Moreover, they do not make war on each other. The global body can learn from that.

    Mutual destruction within the species is a glitch in the program. But it is also learned behavior. Murdering one’s own kind is not foreordained nor an indelible part of human nature. The template can be repaired, and World Beyond War is taking the first steps in that direction. Thank you for that.

    • Not all groups are voluntary associations; some groups do consist of masters and slaves.
      Sometimes a person’s immune system gets confused enough to attack other parts of body; this autoimmune disease.

  9. Imagine the superpower setting a good example for a change. The possibilities are endless and there is much more important work to do. We are one people!

    • Joe Scarry says:

      Thanks Kathryn. There is no question that we can’t achieve a World Beyond War without massive changes in the way the U.S. conducts itself. We need a spiritual awakening by the U.S. public, and we need to take control of our government.

  10. If a plan for world peace was voted on in a global referendum, do you think it would be approved? The idea is presented at ratificationthroughreferendum.org

  11. Deborah Andrew says:

    I would offer the following for consideration: (1) The manner in which decisions are made affects the outcome. Sociocracy offers as set of tools & protocols based on consent (and the absence of any paramount objection). This is an alternative to majority rule (and the tyranny of the majority). Like any tool, it may be elegant and of a magnificent design, yet only functions as intended depending upon the underlying intent and capacities of the person(s) using it.

    It is my sense that ‘democracy’ as we practice it is deeply flawed, yet continues to be upheld by people and politicians from the U.S. as the epitome of good governance. I believe that unless and until the flaws are acknowledged widely within the U.S., there will be a continued effort to replicate our model in one form or another.

    There is also this prevasive sense of exceptionalism, bolstered and strengthened by continued mythologizing of our actions, foreign policies, domestic policies.

    I mention these, not to discourage your good and worthy efforts, but rather to alert all of us who share your concerns to some of the historic and current cultural predilections that we would be wise to acknowledge and replace with an honest accounting of the harm caused both within and outside of our borders.

    None among us will likely have ‘the’ answer, ‘the’ design … it will more likely be in the process of true collaboration, shared deep concern for the well being of all, complete integrity and openness, equivalency of voice, deep listening and consideration that we may arrive at proposals worthy of implementation … and re-examination once in place. It is not only the quality of the process, but the inclusion of intended and rigorous periodic re-examination coupled with the willingness the adjust and change and the understanding that change will likely be both wise and needed that we may continue to come closer to a world of peace, the absence of arms, the absence of intended harm, the presence of prudence, the abiding practice and application of the Precautionary Principle and the Principle of Do No Harm.

    It will be a journey, not a destination.

    • What you call Sociocracy has been tried by the Religious Society of Friends. They still exist and still manage to function; it can take a long time for them to reach any agreement.

  12. I suspect that patriarchal societies are much inclined to war. Matriarchal societies are more inclined toward peace, and non-violent conflict resolution, and the newest approach to police work, community policing–to train police to calm troubled situations by friendly engagement with community.

  13. Charles A. Ochs comments insisting that “religion must go first” displays an ignorance and denial of the spiritual aspect of the human condition. Peace will not be achieved by denial, prejudice, intolerance or the imposition of an atheistic belief system. Intolerance is used to justify war (e.g. Sunni v Shia in the Middle East) but is rarely, if ever, the actual motive for war. It is important to distinguish between faith and religion; the latter being the rules to live by. Changing hearts and minds demands identification and acceptance of differences; not the banning of something that is not in the gift of anyone other than the individual to change. Sadly, anti-faith attitudes, born almost exclusively out of ignorance are increasingly common. Denial that the spiritual aspect of human life exists and informs how individual morality develops can never be taken seriously as part of a resolution to end war. It may be a truism to say that if you change the heart, the mind will follow however; spirituality is seated in the “heart” and atheists, because of their denial of a force greater than mankind, will never acquire the necessary competence to communicate with it. Of the major faiths, it is only certain interpretations/distortions/perversions of Islam (exclusively made by men) that is being used to control the minds of others, inflicting harm, creating fear and terror in the world today. Presuming that all faiths and religions are as intolerant as each other is a denial of truth.
    The greatest threats to mankind’s existence today are the budgets and power of the Pentagon and CIA, geoengineering, the breakdown of the current capitalist system and debt. The latter can only be dealt with effectively by declaring a Jubilee of debt forgiveness; wiping the slate clean and starting again.
    A couple of relevant quotes: –
    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” – Winston Churchill
    “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise, indeed; it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government — except all the others that have been tried.” – Winston Churchill

  14. Lynne Knudsen says:

    Firstly, I must tell you about my community, which was designed 10 yrs ago by a visionary, to be an intergenerational community which takes foster children & usually adopts them & the elders help the children in after school progrms and the younger people help the elders. Everyone here is welcome, needed & feels useful.
    A society can be run like this but only in small communities. Large corporations are at fault much of the time, but we still know of horrendous conflicts in countries that are not controlled by corporations. The large majority of people the world over are raised to be fearful, aggressive, and unable to clearly reason the means to peace in their communities and homes, not to think of the world.

    I think that the small pockets of peace minded people the world over, are affectiing more change than can ever come about by big (or small) gov’ts.
    We can continue to build these new communities. We can never affect heads of gov’t from North Korea to the U.S. to forsake their dangerous methods.

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