All individuals and organizations, all over the world, are invited to sign a statement in support of ending all war, and to join in the planning of a new movement to be launched on September 21, 2014. This is the statement:
I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.
The Tide Is Turning:
Public opinion is moving against particular wars and the world’s spending of $2 trillion every year on war and preparations for war. We plan to announce the launching of a broad movement capable of ending war preparations and transitioning to a peaceful world. We are creating the tools necessary to communicate the facts about war and discard the myths. We are creating ways to assist organizations around the world that are working on partial steps in the direction of a war-free world — including developing peaceful means of achieving security and resolving conflict — and to increase widespread understanding of such steps as progress toward war’s complete elimination.
If unnecessary suffering on an enormous scale is to be avoided, we must abolish war. Some 180 million people died in wars in the 20th century and, while we have not yet repeated a war on the scale of World War II, wars are not going away. Their devastation continues, measured in terms of deaths, injuries, trauma, millions of people having to flee their homes, financial cost, environmental destruction, economic drain, and erosion of civil and political rights.
Unless we want to risk catastrophic loss or even extinction, we must abolish war. Every war brings with it both massive destruction and the risk of uncontrolled escalation. We are facing a world of greater weapons proliferation, resource shortages, environmental pressures, and the largest human population the earth has seen. In such a turbulent world, we must abolish sustained and coordinated militarized combat between groups (primarily governments) known as war, because its continuation puts all life on the planet at risk.
If we abolish war, humanity can not only survive and better address the climate crisis and other dangers, but will be able to create a better life for everyone. The reallocation of resources away from war promises a world whose advantages are beyond easy imagination. Some $2 trillion a year, roughly half from the United States and half from the rest of the world, is devoted to war and war preparation. Those funds could transform global efforts to create sustainable energy, agricultural, economic, health, and education systems. Redirection of war funding could save many times the lives that are taken by spending it on war.
While abolition is a larger demand than partial disarmament, which will be a necessary step along the way, if the case for abolition is made convincingly it has the potential to create support for serious and even total disarmament among people who would otherwise favor the maintenance of a large military for defense — something that we’ve learned generates pressure for offensive warmaking. The first step in such a campaign must be persuading people of the possibility of, and the urgent need for, abolishing war. Awareness of the effectiveness of nonviolent action, nonviolent movements, and peaceful resolution of conflicts is growing rapidly, creating the increased possibility of persuading people that there are effective alternatives to war to resolve conflicts and achieve security.
The reduction and eventual elimination of war and the repurposing of the military-industrial complex could be of great benefit to sectors of the world economy and of public services to which that investment could be transferred. We are creating a broad coalition encompassing civilian industries and advocates for green energy, education, housing, healthcare, and other fields, including civil liberties, environmental protections, children’s rights, and the governments of cities, counties, states, provinces, and nations that have had to make major cuts in social programs for their people. By demonstrating that war is not inevitable and that it is actually possible to eliminate war, this movement will develop the allies needed to make it a reality.
It Won’t Be Easy:
Resistance, including by those profiting financially from wars, will be intense. Such interests are, of course, not invincible. Raytheon’s stock was soaring in the summer of 2013 as the White House planned to send missiles into Syria — missiles that were not sent after dramatic public opposition arose. But ending all war will require defeating the propaganda of war promoters and countering the economic interests of war promoters with alternative economic possibilities. A wide variety of support for “humanitarian” and other particular varieties, or imagined varieties, of war will be countered with persuasive arguments and alternatives. We are creating a resource center that will put the best arguments against various types of war support at everyone’s fingertips.
By organizing internationally, we will use progress made in one nation to encourage other nations to match or surpass it without fear. By educating people whose governments make war at a distance about the human costs of war (largely one-sided, civilian, and on a scale not widely understood) we will build a broad-based moral demand for an end to war. By presenting the case that militarism and wars make us all less safe and decrease our quality of life, we will strip war of much of its power. By creating awareness of the economic trade-offs, we will revive support for a peace dividend. By explaining the illegality, immorality, and terrible costs of war and the availability of legal, nonviolent and more effective means of defense and conflict resolution, we will build acceptance for what has only relatively recently been made into a radical proposal and ought to be viewed as a common sense initiative: the abolition of war.
While a global movement is needed, this movement cannot ignore or reverse the reality of where the greatest support for war originates. The United States builds, sells, buys, stockpiles, and uses the most weapons, engages in the most conflicts, stations the most troops in the most countries, and carries out the most deadly and destructive wars. By these and other measures, the U.S. government is the world’s leading war-maker, and — in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. — the greatest purveyor of violence in the world. Ending U.S. militarism would eliminate the pressure that is driving many other nations to increase their military spending. It would deprive NATO of its leading advocate for and greatest participant in wars. It would cut off the largest supply of weapons to the Middle East and other regions.
But war is not a U.S. or Western problem alone. This movement will focus on wars and militarism around the globe, helping to create examples of effective alternatives to violence and war, and examples of demilitarization as a path to greater, not lesser, security. Short-term goals may include economic conversion commissions, partial disarmament, elimination of offensive but not defensive weapons, base closures, bans on particular weapons or tactics, promotion of diplomacy and international law, expansion of peace teams and human shields, promotion of nonmilitary foreign aid and crisis prevention, placing restrictions on military recruitment and providing potential soldiers with alternatives, drafting legislation to redirect war taxes into peace work, encouraging cultural exchange, discouraging racism, developing less destructive and exploitative lifestyles, the creation of a peace conversion taskforce to help communities make the transition from war making to meeting human and environmental needs, and expanding the global nonviolent peaceforce of civilian, trained, international, nonviolent peacekeepers and peacemakers who will be available to protect civilians and local peace and human rights workers endangered by conflicts in all parts of the world and to help build peace where there is or has been violent conflict.