There is no viable peace movement presently, thanks to a thirty-year rise of military-industrial interests. America sells more arms around the world than any other country. We are in the forefront of inventing new means of mechanized death, including futuristic robot armies. We betray tenuous alliances, like the one with Russia, by proposing new missile defense systems that directly threaten them.
Yet the prospects for peace have grown steadily, not by frontal maneuvers but through the back door. Arrogance has been peace’s best friend. This month the Israeli prime minister barely held on to his job after a scathing criticism of last year’s war against Lebanon. That was an exercise in pure arrogance, a devastating assault on a defenseless neighbor, with the pretext being the capture of two Israeli soldiers. Instead of defeating Hezbollah, the Israeli invasion greatly strengthened them, so that now even sizable Christian groups in Lebanon are praising Hezbollah.
Arrogance has played a prime part in the Iraq war, too. It was meant to be a free war that a rich country could mount overnight against a defenseless one. But arrogance is famously blind, and with no plans for a post-invasion war, the Bush administration finds itself saddled with a military disaster of historic proportions. It’s not great news that peace must depend on arrogance as a friend, but both of these wars have deflated Israel and the U.S., and there is little doubt that the future will hold much less aggression, particularly of the unilateral kind, from either country.
Therefore, two cheers for peace the hard way. Globalization may help bring peace, along with the Internet, cell phones, worldwide emigration, and other factors too complicated to neatly formulate. Keeping in mind last year’s UN report that deaths from major wars are down by 80% over the past twenty years, there is room for cautious optimism.
Unfortunately, the Republicans and the US mass media (and, I might add, the churches) are churning out hate and fear messages as fast as they can, to prevent the world from ever being afflicted by the dreaded peace.