Overview: Enabling Measures

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Five Enabling Measures: Outline of Contributions

Enabling Measures (EM) are broad indirect measures that are required to activate the proposed twenty Platform for Survival policies. In this sense they are unlike the twenty planks that are designed to directly address five existential threats. The EM are, therefore, more complex and less precise in their formulation. They may describe clear policy change, but they are also inevitably about large-scale framework adjustments and structural shifts.

For example, whereas plank #9 calls on all states to “adopt norms and procedures for the production, recovery, and recycling of materials”, the related enabling measures could include #21, financial institutional support for a recycling transition, #22, civil society involvement in stimulating and monitoring governments, #23, cities and provincial/state level articulation and implementation of policy, and #24, activist shareholders pressing for changes to corporate standards. There are even broader security implications that relate through EM#25, including a durable global survival ethic.

Not every policy proposal among the core twenty (#1-#20) contemplates collective transformation at the “enabling” level (#21-#25), but the latter are integrally linked with each other and all the existential threats. Global change will require both a practical and philosophical shift in governance and public attitudes. Similarly, publics will affect and be impacted by governments.

The five enabling measures cover wide swaths of categories and were developed to collect and integrate dozens of individual proposed “measures” into coherent groups. This effort was not without some controversy, but the logic of the resulting “five” is worth thinking deeply about. They are, paraphrased, covering these constituencies: Sustainable finance; civil society influence; sub-national governance; investment decision-making; and security. All have bottom up and top down relevance and implications, but citizens must encourage (by voting, through activism and advocacy) and governments must act (on their own, by leading, and in cooperation with others at the local, regional and global levels.)
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We Must Do More To Prevent Nuclear War
Author: Polanyi, John
Publication(s): Times Higher Education
Date: 9 December 2019
Link: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/features/we-must-do-more-prevent-nuclear-war
Notes: This article shares some similarities with the “What Can Canada Do To Prevent Nuclear War?” talk that Dr. Polanyi gave at the University of Toronto in October 2019.

This is a very interesting article by Dr. John Polanyi. (I have cross-posted this to the Overview: War and Weapons comment section).

This is an interesting partial transcript of a 2010-2011 interview with Mikhail Gorbachev. It certainly holds relevance to the current situation as of 2020.

Title: “We Need a New Economic Model, the Planet is Overburdened” – Mikhail Gorbachev
Author: Reprint of Interview with Mikhail Gorbachev.
Publication(s): Creative by Nature
Date: 28 January 2015
Link: https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com/2015/01/28/we-need-a-new-economic-model-the-planet-is-overburdened-mikhail-gorbachev

Article Excerpt(s):

“We badly need a new economic model… We cannot continue living by ignoring environmental problems. The planet is overburdened… We do not have enough fresh water for the people.. Billions of people are subject to hunger today. So the new model must consider all these needs. This model must be more human and more nature oriented… We are all interconnected but we keep acting as though we are completely autonomous.” ~Mikhail Gorbachev

The following is a partial transcript for a recent video interview with former Soviet president and Nobel Prize winner Mikhail Gorbachev on “The urgent need to save the planet,” presented by his non-profit organization Green Cross.

“The most important point is to ensure that our complex, quickly changing and developing world lives in peace. Otherwise we won’t be able to deal with any other problem. We must block any revival of the arms race, new militarization… Without peace there will be nothing.

In terms of the international community, we have gone through a very difficult period, with the financial crisis that struck the world in 2008-2009, and I feel we have not yet come out of this global crisis.

It has been described as a financial crisis, but in my [view] its been a comprehensive global crisis, and it demonstrates that the economic model that has been underlying all systems in practically every nation, but specifically the biggest countries like the United States… has failed.

This model has essentially brought us to the current crisis, so therefore, we need to change this economic model. We badly need a new economic model… that is not based on hyper profits and hyper consumption, but a model that takes into account the depletion of natural resources. It should not ignore the problems of social development, poverty and the social contradictions that exist in the world…

The main point is this model will fail if it does not consider the demands of the environment. This is not a requirement for tomorrow. It is a must for today. We cannot continue living by ignoring environmental problems. The planet is overburdened.

In 2011 the global population [reached] 7 billion. At the beginning of the 20th Century we were just 1.9 billion people on the planet, and now we are 7 billion and by 2050 there will be 9 billion. The planet’s capacity is already over extended.

We do not have enough fresh water for the people. Water shortages will give rise to various military conflicts, which I am sure will happen if we do not resolve the water problems. Same for energy and other challenges, including food security.

Billions of people are subject to hunger today. So the new model must consider all these needs. This model must be more human and more nature oriented, so the relationship between man and nature can respond to the challenges of the modern world.

Last but not least, we have not learned how to live with globalization. We are all interconnected but we keep acting as though we are completely autonomous… We need this new model. We must consolidate all our resources to create such a new model. And we need to finance research into all these problems. We must consolidate all the resources that human kind has to answer these questions.”

~ Mikhail Gorbachev ~”

Full interview is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1xOtxwIaKc

Over the last 2 weeks, I have collected a number of COVID-19 related articles. Many of these articles offer intersectional perspectives on COVID-19. I am sharing these here as these may be of interest to Project Save the World readers. I am additionally cross-posting this to the Overview: Pandemics section.

These articles are arranged alphabetical by author surname.

Title: Pyongyang Might Be Ready for a Helping Hand From Seoul
Author: Abrahamian, Andray
Publication(s): Foreign Policy
Date: 24 April 2020
Link: https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/04/24/kim-virus-korea-pyongyang-might-ready-helping-hand-seoul/
Notes: This article discusses the impacts of COVID-19 on the Korean peninsula and inter-Korean relations. The notion of donor fatigue and sanctions – due to the ongoing nuclear issue – straining potential aid for COVID-19 victims in North Korea is an alarming situation to learn about. The hypothetical possibility of joint, inter-Korean work to produce products needed globally and regionally – such as masks -or joint scientific research on the virus is an interesting venue to consider. The author additionally does acknowledge it may be difficult to gain accurate statistics around the full impact of COVID-19 in North Korea.

Title: Coronavirus could kill 190,000 in Africa, WHO warns: Live updates
Author: Rasheed, Zaheena; Gadzo; Mersiha; and Stepansky, Joseph
Publication(s): Al Jazeera
Date: 8 May 2020
Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/brazil-minister-floats-idea-coronavirus-lockdown-live-updates-200506233629569.html
Notes: This article provides daily updates on the global COVID-19 scenario and additionally provides an estimate for the impact of COVID-19 in Africa.

Title: ‘We’re facing a double pandemic’: UN body warns of ‘mega-famines’
Author: Al Jazeera
Publication(s): Al Jazeera
Date: 7 May 2020
Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/facing-double-pandemic-body-warns-mega-famines-200507174314330.html
Notes: This article discusses a statement by the United Nations’ World Food Programme on double-pandemics – which pertain to the notion of mega-famines originating as a result of COVID-19.

Title: Coronavirus: Asian Vets Head To Australia To Prepare For Next Pandemic
Author: Bloomberg
Publication(s): South China Morning Post: The Coronavirus Pandemic
Date: 6 May 2020
Link: https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/australasia/article/3083070/coronavirus-southeast-asia-pacific-veterinary-detective-squad
Notes: This timely article by Bloomberg and the South China Morning Post discusses a new proactive approach to monitoring pandemics in the Indo-Pacific region. This approach will also see the training of medical professionals (veterinarian surgeons) in the Pacific and Southeast Asia – including how to detect infectious diseases before they jump to humans, how to collect samples, and how to safely care for sick animals. This additionally has connections to Project Save the World’s Plank 15 and 16 and the notion of strengthening inter-regional and international disease management and surveillance systems, as well as integrating environmental, human, and veterinarian health models (via One Health).

Title: Pandemic Modelling Will Play an Essential Role in Rebooting the Economy
Author: Ciuriak, Dan and Fay, Robert
Publication(s): Centre for International Governance Innovation
Date: 29 April 2020
Link: https://www.cigionline.org/articles/pandemic-modelling-will-play-essential-role-rebooting-economy
Notes: This article discusses the interconnected nature of COVID-19, economic systems, and governance systems – and challenges in rebooting/restarting economies (regional and global) as COVID-19 public health and quarantine measures begin to lift.

Title: Five Reasons To Cut Pentagon Spending In the Era of COVID-19
Author: Hartung, William
Publication(s): Forbes
Date: 16 April 2020
Link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/williamhartung/2020/04/16/five-reasons-to-cut-pentagon-spending-in-the-era-of-covid-19/#70ec364e1fec
Notes: This article explores the possibilities of reducing national security and Pentagon related spending during COVID-19 – and the possibility of reforming these budgets in the long-term. Hartung (2020) identifies that “One of the core weaknesses of the current national security strategy is that it relies disproportionately on the Department of Defense to address all threats. It fails to recognize that the major national security challenges the United States faces are not predominantly military. Climate change, economic inequality, and global health challenges clearly pose serious risks to U.S. security. Cyber defense, espionage, and influence operations are also serious challenges. The military is ill-suited to address these challenges.”

This collection of 3 articles from the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists offers an interesting perspective on the interconnections between COVID-19 and nuclear-related industries. I am additionally cross-posting this list to Overview: (Mass) Radiation Exposure and Overview: Pandemics due to its relevance.

Title: How nuclear forces worldwide are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic
Author: Krzyzaniak, John
Publication(s): Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
Date: 14 April 2020
Link: https://thebulletin.org/2020/04/how-nuclear-forces-worldwide-are-dealing-with-the-coronavirus-pandemic

Title: COVID-19 and the Doomsday Clock: Observations on managing global risk
Author: Bulletin Science and Security Board
Publication(s): Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Date: 15 April 2020
Link: https://thebulletin.org/2020/04/covid-19-and-the-doomsday-clock-observations-on-managing-global-risk/

Title: Another victim of the pandemic: trust in the government
Author: Macfarlane, Allison
Publication(s): Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Date: 13 April 2020
Link: https://thebulletin.org/2020/04/another-victim-of-the-pandemic-trust-in-the-government/

This article (an opinion piece) by Dr. Earl Turcotte – the Chair of the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (CNANW) – offers a critical examination of the links between nuclear disarmament and other global crises, such as pandemics.

Title: Public Health Crisis Offers New Lens Towards Nuclear Disarmament
Author: Earl Turcotte
Publication(s): The Hill Times
Date: 15 April 2020
Link: https://www.hilltimes.com/2020/04/15/public-health-crisis-offers-new-lens-to-denuclearization/243749

If The Hill Times version is behind a paywall, the article is additionally available on CNANW’s website here: https://www.cnanw.ca/2020/04/

[I will cross-post this article / comment to the Overview: Pandemics and Overview: War and Weapons section of Project Save the World as well – as it is quite relevant to those sections too.]

Article Excerpt(s):

“That COVID-19 has created a new global reality is clear. If there is any positive aspect to this unfolding situation, it could be a deeper understanding of the fact that the well-being of people throughout the world is inextricably linked. The COVID crisis might also serve as a cautionary tale, helping us to appreciate the fragility of life and avoid threats to humanity that are within our control. In 2019, a team of researchers at Princeton University simulated a limited exchange of low-yield “tactical” nuclear weapons to depict “a plausible escalating war between the United States and Russia, using realistic nuclear force postures, targets, and fatality estimates.” They concluded that more than 90 million people would be killed or injured within a few hours and many more would die in the years following. This is far from the worst-case scenario. In 1982, the Ronald Reagan administration conducted a war game dubbed “Proud Prophet” that concluded that even a limited nuclear attack on the then-Soviet Union would almost certainly elicit a massive response, resulting in a half-billion people killed in the initial exchanges and many more from radiation and starvation over following decades. To be sure, the nuclear threat has been around for a while. Why worry about it now more than usual, when we have so much else to worry about? Because developments of late have made the “unthinkable”—nuclear Armageddon—more probable than ever; factors that led the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists on Jan. 23 of this year to move the hands of the Doomsday Clock up to 100 seconds to midnight, closer than ever before. Over the past few years, nuclear-armed states have embarked on a new nuclear arms race, precipitated by the U.S. under the banner of “modernization.” Russia and the U.S. have produced missiles that can travel up to 27 times the speed of sound and are considered to be unstoppable. There has been steady deterioration of the nuclear arms control regime with U.S. withdrawal and subsequent unravelling of the nuclear deal with Iran; U.S., then Russian withdrawal from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; and U.S. refusal to renew the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia that is set to expire in 2021, to name just a few. Add to the mix rising tension among nuclear-armed states, ongoing testing by North Korea, signs that Iran, Saudi Arabia, and South Korea might also pursue nuclear weapons capability, the possibility that one or more terrorist groups will acquire nuclear weapons and the ever-present potential for human miscalculation or accident. Canada is to be congratulated for recently joining 15 other non-nuclear armed nations in the Stockholm Initiative—led by Sweden—that calls upon nuclear-armed states to “advance nuclear disarmament and ensure in the interest of humanity, nuclear weapons will never be used again.” Does this represent a more forceful posture on nuclear disarmament more generally? We pray it does. Our lives and indeed the future of our planet could depend upon it.”

This article offers an interesting discussion and perspective on the future importance and/or role(s) of NATO.

Title: Is NATO Still Necessary?
Author: Tennison, Sharon; Speedie, David; Mehta, Krishen
Publication(s): The National Interest
Date: 18 April 2020
Link: https://nationalinterest.org/feature/nato-still-necessary-145917?

Article Excerpt(s):

“The coronavirus pandemic that is ravaging the world brings a prolonged public health crisis into sharp focus—along with the bleak prospect of a long-term economic crisis that can destroy the social fabric across nations.

World leaders need to reassess expenditures of resources based on real and present threats to national security—to reconsider how they may be tackled. A continuing commitment to NATO, whose global ambitions are largely driven and funded by the United States, must be questioned.

In 1949, the first Secretary-General of NATO, described NATO’s mission as “to keep Russia out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Seventy years on, the security landscape has totally changed. The Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact are no more. The Berlin Wall has fallen, and Germany has no territorial ambitions on its neighbors. Yet, America is still in Europe with a NATO alliance of twenty-nine countries.

In 1993, one of the co-authors, David Speedie, interviewed Mikhail Gorbachev and asked him about the assurances he claimed to have received on NATO’s non-expansion eastwards. His response was blunt: “Mr. Speedie, we were screwed.” He was very clear in his judgment that the trust that the Soviet Union had placed in the West, with the reunification of Germany and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, was not reciprocated.

This raises a fundamental question: whether NATO today enhances global security or in fact diminishes it.

We believe that there are ten main reasons that NATO is no longer needed:

One: NATO was created in 1949 for the three main reasons outlined above. These reasons are no longer valid. The security landscape in Europe is totally different today than seventy years ago. Russian president Vladimir Putin actually proposed a new continental security arrangement “from Dublin to Vladivostok,” which was rejected out of hand by the West. If accepted, then it would have included Russia in a cooperative security architecture that would have been safer for the global community.

Two: It is argued by some that the threat of present-day Russia is why America needs to stay in Europe. But consider this: The economy of the EU was $18.8 trillion before Brexit, and it is $16.6 Trillion after Brexit. In comparison, the economy of Russia is only $1.6 trillion today. With an EU economy more than ten times the economy of Russia, do we believe that Europe cannot afford its own defense against Russia? It is important to note that the UK will surely stay in a Euro defense alliance and will very likely continue to contribute to that defense.

Three: Cold War I was one of extreme global risk—with two superpower adversaries each armed with thirty-thousand-plus nuclear warheads. The current environment presents an even greater danger, that of extreme instability arising from non-state actors, such as terrorist groups, acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Russia and the NATO principals are uniquely capable of addressing these threats—if they act in concert.

Four: The only time a NATO member has invoked Article 5 (the “attack on one is attack on all” clause) was the United States after the terrorist attack of Sept 11, 2001. The real enemy was not another nation but the common threat of terrorism. Russia has consistently advanced this reason for cooperation—indeed Russia provided invaluable logistical intelligence and base support for the post–9/11 Afghan engagement. Coronavirus has dramatized another grave concern: that of terrorists possessing and using biological weapons. This cannot be underestimated in the climate in which we now live.

Five: When Russia has a potential enemy on its border, as with 2020 NATO military exercises, Russia will be more compelled to veer toward autocracy and the weakening of democracy. When citizens feel threatened, they want leadership that is strong and affords them protection.

Six: The military actions of NATO in Serbia under President Clinton and in Libya under President Barack Obama, along with almost twenty years of war in Afghanistan—the longest in our history—were substantially U.S. driven. There is no “Russia factor” here, yet these conflicts are used to argue a raison d’etre chiefly to confront Russia.

Seven: Along with climate change, the greatest existential threat is that of a nuclear holocaust—this sword of Damocles still hangs over all of us. With NATO having bases in twenty-nine countries, many along Russia’s borders, some within artillery range of St. Petersburg, we run the risk of a nuclear war that could destroy humankind. The risk of accidental or “false alarm” was documented on several occasions during the Cold War and is even more frightful now, given the Mach 5 speed of today’s missiles.

Eight: As long as the United States continues to spend close to 70 percent of its discretionary budget on the military, there will always be a need for enemies, whether real or perceived. Americans have the right to ask why such exorbitant “spending” is necessary and whom does it really benefit? NATO expenditures come at the expense of other national priorities. We are discovering this in the midst of the coronavirus when the health-care systems in the west are woefully underfinanced and disorganized. Diminishing the cost and needless expense of NATO will make room for other national priorities of greater good to the American public.

Nine: We have used NATO to act unilaterally, without congressional or international legal approval. America’s conflict with Russia is essentially political, not military. It cries out for creative diplomacy. The truth is that America needs more robust diplomacy in international relations, not the blunt military instrument of NATO.

Ten: Lastly, exotic war games in Russia’s neighborhood—coupled with a tearing up of arms control treaties—provides a growing threat that can destroy everyone, particularly when international attention is focused on a more elusive “enemy.” The coronavirus has joined the list of global threats that demand cooperation rather than confrontation even more urgently than before.

There will inevitably be other global challenges that countries will face together over time. However, NATO at seventy is not the instrument to address them. It is time to move on from this curtain of confrontation and craft a global security approach, one that addresses the threats of today and tomorrow. “

These 2 articles are quite interesting and discuss the evolving and ongoing geopolitical situation in the Arctic.

In your opinion, what are the most important geopolitical and other elements of emerging and future Arctic policies?

Title: Why Russia’s Arctic Strategy Requires A Realistic Response From Canada
Author: Braun, Aurel and Blank, Stephen J.
Publication(s): Macdonald-Laurier Institute
Date: 9 April 2020
Link: https://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/russias-arctic-strategy-requires-realistic-response-canada-new-mli-report-aurel-braun-stephen-j-blank

Title: U.S. Says Arctic No Longer Immune from Geopolitics As It Invests $12m in Greenland
Author: Humpert, Malte
Publication(s): High North News
Date: 29 April 2020
Link: https://www.highnorthnews.com/en/us-says-arctic-no-longer-immune-geopolitics-it-invests-12m-greenland

It is particularly alarming to hear – via statements in Humpert’s article – that the United States of America. did not mention climate change in many of the documents outlining their Arctic and regional policies.

This is an interesting article discussing the links between militarism (specifically in the US context) and climate change. For those of you interested in this subject, a similar article – by Tamara Lorincz – was published in the April to June 2020 Edition of Peace magazine.

Title: ‘No Warming, No War’: Report Details How US Militarism and Climate Crisis Are Deeply Interwoven
Author: Corbett, Jessica
Publication(s): Common Dreams
Date: 23 April 2020
Link: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/04/23/no-warming-no-war-report-details-how-us-militarism-and-climate-crisis-are-deeply

Lorincz’s (2020) article – on a similar topic to Corbett’s (2020) – is available here:

Title: Burning and Bombing: Military Expenditures, Military Emissions and the Climate Emergency
Author: Lorincz, Tamara
Publication(s): Peace Magazine
Date: April to June 2020
Link: http://peacemagazine.org/archive/index.php?id=2706

This article – written by Retired Senator Douglas Roche – discusses the interconnection of conflicts / wars and COVID-19. The article is very interesting, relevant, and encourages a broader examination of conflicts/wars and how these shape common and international security. Retired Senator Roche’s article (2020) additionally offers broader lessons on the interconnected nature and risks of conflicts/wars and other global crises.

Retired Senator Roche is also a panelist in Project Save the World’s podcast and talk show – featured in Episode 2 (Abolition of Nuclear Weapons) and Episode 47 (After the INF Treaty?).

Please note this link is for an edition of the article published on Pugwash Canada’s website. The original article was published in The Hill Times – a news publication based in Ottawa and focused on the Parliament of Canada.

Title: Warring Parties Must Lay Down Weapons To Fight Bigger Battle Against COVID-19
Author: Roche, Retired Senator Douglas
Publication(s): Pugwash Canada (originally The Hill Times)
Date: 6 April 2020
Link: https://pugwashgroup.ca/warring-parties-must-lay-down-weapons-to-fight-bigger-battle-against-covid-19/

A .pdf of the article is additionally available on Retired Senator Roche’s personal website: http://roche.apirg.org/public_html/writings/documents/nuclear/040620_htRoche.pdf

Article Excerpt(s):

“UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s plea to ‘silence the guns’ would create corridors for lifesaving aid and open windows for diplomacy in the war-torn zones in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the central areas of Africa.”

“The Hill Times, 6 April 2020

EDMONTON—”The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.” In one short sentence, UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the door to a new understanding of what constitutes human security. Will governments seize the opportunity provided by the immense crisis of COVID-19 to finally adopt a global agenda for peace?

In an extraordinary move on March 23, Guterres urged warring parties around the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19 the common enemy now threatening all of humanity. He called for an immediate global ceasefire everywhere: “It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”

His plea to “silence the guns” would create corridors for life-saving aid and open windows for diplomacy in the war-torn zones in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and the central areas of Africa.

But the full meaning of Guterres’s appeal is much bigger than only suspending existing wars. It is a wakeup call to governments everywhere that war does not solve existing problems, that the huge expenditures going into armaments divert money desperately needed for health supplies, that a bloated militarism is impotent against the new killers in a globalized world.

All the armies in the world can’t stop COVTD-19. It’s a dark and scary moment when a bunch of microbes brings humanity to its knees. We’ve come to a turning point in world history. The old ways of building security—bigger and better weapons—are completely irrelevant now.

So what do we do when a virus blatantly crosses borders and ignores strategic weapons systems? More of the same thinking that deceived people into believing that as long as we had big guns we would be safe won’t do. We have to overhaul our thinking.

“Big thinking” is not just a bromide. It’s now essential for survival. We have to build a system to provide common security. In the midst of the Cold War four decades ago, an all-star international panel led by Swedish prime minister Olof Palme established the principle that, in the age of weapons of mass destruction, no nation by itself can find security. Nations can only find security in cooperation and not at one another’s expense. Common security, Palme argued, requires an end to arms competitions, national restraint, and a spirit of collective responsibility and mutual confidence.

Over the following years, the idea of common security broadened out beyond military measures to include new streams of cooperation in economic and social development and protection of the environment.

Suddenly, in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union imploded.The Cold War ended. In 1992, the UN secretary-general at the time, Boutros Boutros-Ghali wrote a stunning document, Agenda for Peace, incorporating the ideas of common security into practical programs for peacebuilding, preventive diplomacy and peacekeeping.

But instead of overhauling the global security system to provide common security for everyone, governments lumbered on and threw the peace dividend they had in their hands out the window. The Western countries expanded NATO up to Russia’s borders. Russia invaded Crimea. Arms expenditures shot up. Governments squandered a magnificent opportunity to build a world of peace.The culture of war was too strong and the moment was lost.

Three decades ago, the great historian Barbara Tuchman and author of The March of Folly was right when she wrote: “Wooden-headedness, the source of self-deception, is a factor that plays a remarkably large role in government. It consists in assessing a situation in terms of pre-conceived notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs.”

Now, in the current crisis, Guterres is telling us that continuation of the “folly” of war is jeopardizing the security for all—the rich as well as the marginalized.The Trump administration’s call for $46-billion more for nuclear weapons when the country can’t even provide enough masks for health workers in treating COVID-19 is obscene beyond words.

And what about Canada? The government plans to increase defence spending to $32-billion by 2027. Why? To appease U.S. Donald President Trump’s gargantuan military appetite driving NATO states to spend two percent of their GDP on weaponry and all that goes with it. We can beat COVID-19 by spending money on health and development measures, not arms.

Far better to cut Canada’s planned defence spending by 10 per cent and put an extra $2-billion to $3-billion into the UN’S Sustainable Development Goals, the 17-point program centring around huge improvements in maternal health, water systems and sustainable agriculture. But we can’t get there with a continuation of “ordinary” planning. We need truly bold thinking to beat back the threat posed to common security by COVID-19.

The Canadian government wants to show what it could do on the Security Council. Switching political thinking from the culture of war to a culture of peace would be worthy of the greatest health challenge Canada has faced in the past hundred years.”