03. All states shall reduce their militaries and not plan war for “national security.”.

Rapporteur: Metta Spencer

This is the key plank in the whole platform. It is also the hardest. We may not succeed with this one, friends, but if we do, the other 24 planks will come more easily, for militarism is the linchpin of the system —the problem that holds the five other threats in place. War and weapons not only kill people directly, but by exacerbating global warming, famine, pandemics, radiation exposure, and (probably next) cyberattacks.

War is hard to eliminate, though — not because anyone actually likes it but because people don’t know how to do without it. A few wars are fought over trivial matters, but most of them occur because a conflict is immensely important and neither side can think of other ways to settle it. So, we must propose some other ways to handle conflicts.

But first let’s consider the meaning of this plank. Notice that it calls upon “states” to reduce their militaries – but what about non-state militaries? ISIS, Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, the Taliban, Boko Haram, ETA and FARC, for examples, are not owned by states, and elsewhere there are still a few warlords and oligarchs with their own armies.

And United Nations Peacekeepers are also military. To get rid of war and weapons, we must probably eliminate (or anyway vastly reduce) all kinds of militaries except peacekeepers, who are supposed to be like a global constabulary. We will need more, not fewer, peacekeepers, as substitutes for the armed forces of national governments and rebels.

The value of an organization depends on its mission, so the question is whether military units are mandated to defend and protect people or to attack and destroy them. Nowadays, most armed forces are for war-fighting, but every city has a police force to protect its citizens. Our ancestor, the caveguy, stood guard at the cave entrance with a spear, lest a saber-tooth tiger arrive unexpectedly. That was for security. But even then, caveguy perhaps also belonged to a warrior gang that raided other settlements for booty. That was not for security. Lives were short in those days, partly because the police force and peacekeepers hadn’t been invented yet to protect citizens.

Basic civility requires us to honor “those brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our country,” though in fact many wars are not defensive in nature. And logically, for every military action that is truly defensive, there must be at least one — the opponent’s — that is offensive. Too often, it is impossible to know which side deserves the glory and which side the shame. Triumphant warriors can now all claim to be heroes, for if ever there was a clear distinction between protective military actions and aggressive attacks, that clarity has long been blurred.

This indistinctness has arisen from the increasing acceptability of two principles. The first is preventive war—military action against an adversary while he is presumably preparing to attack. If self-defence is justifiable, then it is not irrational to consider a pre-emptive strike moral too. But we know where that idea leads.

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