World Peace - Beyond Visualizing Itby Dan Morgan
World peace, we are all for it - but how can the nations of the world achieve it? Many people are passionate in their answers to this. After all, what is more important than world peace? Unfortunately, much of what is often said to be of great importance to achieving world peace is in reality background noise to what really matters. The truth that is essential to achieving peace is often obscured by the wrong-headed rhetoric of outspoken peace activists and their sympathetic allies in the political establishments and media around the world.
Amazingly, peace among nations can be achieved by following a proven path. This has to be the greatest unappreciated discovery of the modern world. That the world has discovered the keys to preventing wars between nations should have been shouted from the rooftops at some point in human history, but I don’t recall many people doing this.
The fundamental truth of how a nation achieves lasting peace with other nations is that they must develop and nurture democratic institutions. This may sound naïve when dealing with a complex world. Yet the simple truth of it is apparent if one stops to ponder this.
If you wanted to write a history of the world for the last 3000 years, one way to do this would be to describe the human events unfolding during each of the hundreds and hundreds of wars. It is reasonable to depict history in this way since these wars have had such a far-reaching and often devastating impact on people’s lives, their loved ones, their property, and their culture. The awful truth of human history is that wars have raged non-stop. The history of the human race drips in blood. Wars have occurred decade after decade, century after century. It has been a world gone mad, a world where logic seems to be regularly suspended. Why would people in organized groups go off to kill, rob, and rape those in other nations?
Wherever tyrants have reigned, wars have accompanied them. Authoritarian regimes, by their nature, rule their countries by illegitimate means. They do not rule with the consent of the governed. They do not have to worry about being voted out of office. Thus, authoritarian governments are intrinsically corrupt. And no corruption is more complete than ruling over masses of people who have no say in the policies of their nation.
Tyrants can take their nations to war, for whatever personal reasons, and there are no checks within their political systems to stop them. The reasons that tyrants press their subjects into attacking others are varied. They may be after wealth or land, or they may be revenge-seeking for past grievances. Wars are often prompted by grandiose visions of empire and glory resulting from a tyrant’s self-aggrandizing personality. Hitler attacked other nations to pursue his vision of an empire. The same is true of tyrants from Genghis Khan, to Ivan the Terrible, to Napoleon, to Saddam Hussein.
The ability of mature democracies to bring peace between neighboring nations is so startling - yet so often taken for granted. Can anyone imagine say Sweden and Norway going to war? How about Australia and New Zealand? Or Canada and the U.S.? Or France and Germany? Even newer democracies quickly acquire the trait of no longer being threats to their neighbors. Will South Korea attack Japan any time soon? Or will Poland invade Slovokia? Does Spain have its eyes on Portugal?
But putting unchecked political power into the hands of a single person, or a small group of unaccountable elites, is the surest way to not achieve peace.
Where democracy becomes well established, tensions are so relieved between neighboring countries that war becomes a non-concern. History is full of authoritarian states conquering and plundering their weaker neighbors. A beauty of the power of democracy to establish peace is that it doesn’t matter how big the imbalance of military power is between neighboring nations. The more powerful democratic nation simply won’t attack the weaker one. In fact, military power becomes irrelevant to peace in their relationship - contrary to the rhetoric of peace activists. No discussions of disarmament are needed. The level of armaments has no bearing on peace between them. Thus Canadians are not too worried about the U.S. invading. Luxembourg is not too worried about France attacking. Monaco is safe from Italy.
No democracy has ever attacked another democracy. Modern free nations have established an oasis of peace among them, a lasting mutual peace.
Looking around the world today, it is easy to spot the authoritarian states that are a threat to world peace. It is unfree and undemocratic countries like North Korea, Sudan, Libya, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, and China that supply the potential flash points for future wars.
Anyone skeptical that democracy is the great enabler of world peace need ask themselves this question: If not democracy - then what? The alternative is to believe that world peace will be achieved through peace consciousness, more reliance on international laws, disarmament, socialism, abolishing multinational corporations, and a vigorously empowered UN. Democracy brings the peace and freedom that allows peace activists to yap on about such nonsense.
The day that every country in the world reaches an enabling threshold of democracy, world peace will finally be at hand. It is not unrealistic to believe that this could happen in the 21st century. In the next century, peace on earth among nations could be an ordinary assumption in daily life. At this achievement, people should be shouting from the rooftops. In remembrance of the millions upon millions of lives that were lost or shattered by war, let’s hope that at least a few pause to do so.
For some excellent research on democracy and peace, see the work of Rudolph J. Rummel.