Category Archives: Militarism

Book Review: Global Security System-An Alternative to War

                                                BOOK REVIEW

Title: A Global Security System-An Alternative to War Authors: The Staff of World Beyond War and Members of its Coordinating Committee

Reviewed by: Randy Converse, member of Chapter 25, Veterans for Peace

This book describes the “nuts and bolts of a concrete alternative to war as a means of conflict resolution and the mechanisms to create a culture of peace to support such an alternative system. The sections that I feel are the most intriguing are:

Demilitarizing Security

Managing International and Civil Conflicts

Creating a Culture of Peace

Managing international and civil conflicts

In the Demilitarizing Security section, the authors suggest the ultimate form of national defense would be a nonviolent civilian defense force. This force would deter attacks by engaging in a variety of nonviolent tactics to make our country more resistant to rule by aggressors. A first step toward such a force would be to have a truly non-provocative defensive military posture. Such a posture would eliminate long-range weapons such as intercontinental ballistic missiles and militarized drones and phase out overseas military bases.

The section titled Managing International and Civil Conflicts includes ideas on creating nonviolent peacekeeping forces, reforming the UN, strengthening the International Court of Justice, and working toward a stable, fair, and sustainable global economy.

In Creating a Culture of Peace, suggestions are given on how to debunk war myths (i.e. war is inevitable and World War II was a “good war”). The importance of funding peace education projects is stressed. An example of a successful education project of the Chapter 25 Veteran’s for Peace is a scholarship program for high school youth that is based on an essay “Why war is not the answer”.

A Global Security System: An Alternative to War is a concise and quite readable section. It gives a detailed blueprint to present in outreach efforts when people say, ”War is horrible, but what’s the alternative?”

Read A Global Security System: An Alternative to War Free Online here.

View or download full PDF version.

First Edition from 2015 is here in multiple formats.

 

2015 Madison College Scholarship Application

A $1,200 scholarship will be offered for the upcoming 2015-2016 academic year to a Madison High School student who writes the best original essay on the peace topic “Why I Believe War and Violence Are Not the Answer”.     (See scholarship application for more details.)

This scholarship is open to any senior student at a Madison public high school who will graduate in 2015.  Applicants must plan to enroll at Madison Area Technical College (Madison College)–full-time or part-time–beginning the fall semester 2015, to be eligible to receive this award.

Applications must be postmarked no later than Saturday May 2, 2015.

Veterans for Peace College Scholarship

Is the Ferguson (MO) Issue Embraced by Our Statement of Purpose?

(Editorial note: Following the Ferguson, Missouri shooting in November 2014 and subsequent public outcry and demonstrations, there was wide debate within the VFP community about whether it was germane to take a stand on the those issues raised given our normal organizational focus on international peace. Madison Chapter25, which begins its meetings with a reading and reaffirmation of the national “Statement of Purpose,” discussed and approved the following statement. It was authored by member Lincoln Grahlfs, a veteran of WW II.)

A terse answer to this question is simply to note that one should not make a distinction between international peace and domestic peace. Certainly, any hostility along ethnic, racial or religious lines is inimical to domestic peace.

It should be noted, further, that at one time in this country policemen were frequently referred to as “peace officers.” Americans have consistently had a negative response when police in other nations assume the role of “enforcers.”

Certainly, it can be argued today that some of the most serious breaches of the peace results from exacerbation of racial, ethnic or religious differences. To ignore them is to turn ones back on any efforts for peace.

Finally, let it be noted that every one of us, as American veterans, took an oath to support and defend the Constitution; the thirteenth amendment to that constitution contains the statement: “nor shall any state deny any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction, the equal protection of the laws.”

Militarism’s impact on health is focus of fine article

November 11, 2014 7:00 am  • 

Public health professionals have generally failed to work for the prevention of war, even though — like disease —war has negative impacts on health for both civilians and military personnel as well as detrimental impacts on infrastructure and the environment.

In a recent article, nine U.S. and Canadian public health scholars and thinkers directly confront “The Role of Public Health in the Prevention of War” — a role that has been tragically absent. Published in the June 2014 American Journal of Public Health, the writers pinpoint “militarism” as a root cause of the public health industry’s failure to take up the cause of preventing wars. Public health, they write, “has been more focused on the effects of war than on working toward the prevention of the fundamental causes of war.” The authors also define “militarism” in terms that are both familiar and chilling.

Worries roiling around the anti-Ebola virus effort, when compared with the prevention of war, might offer some insight into the way in which many Americans, including public health professionals, ignore the obvious when a new war is proposed, or an existing war is accepted, or a former war is discussed. As the outstanding, and overdue, AJPH article describes: “The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Don’t the 190 million deaths “directly and indirectly related to war” during the 20th century represent a public health epidemic? Doesn’t the record-breaking war carnage of the past century qualify as a menace to public health?

If further proof is needed, consider this from the article: “Civilian war deaths constitute 85 percent to 90 percent of casualties caused by war, with about 10 civilians dying for every combatant killed in battle.”

Consider: “Ten percent to 20 percent of U.S. soldiers (of 1.8 million deployed since 2001) in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have experienced a concussive event with long-term health implications.”

Consider: “Thirty percent of active duty women experience rape, and 5 percent multiple or gang rape. Female soldiers are more likely to be raped by a colleague than to be killed in combat.”

Consider: “More U.S. troops committed suicide last year than died in combat.”

The compilation and concise presentation of these staggering statistics by the article’s authors is exhaustively supported by 223 carefully researched references, by title, website, date and page.

To their credit, among other important breakthroughs the authors present a case for the prevention of war in fewer than 8,000 words. Details about authorship, led by W.H. Wiist of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, and references take up several more pages of this valid scholarly work, which is also very readable.

The writers follow a trail blazed when the American Public Health Association approved an official policy on the cessation of military recruiting in public schools. The APHA policy followed the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act, which gave military recruiters free access to public high schools along with the threat of funding cuts for noncompliance. According to the APHA policy: “Across the United States, recruiters from all branches of the military regularly enter every public high school to approach adolescents aged 14 through 18 years to persuade them to enlist in military service branches.” The vulnerability of minor-age children, and the disproportionate health consequences they face, compared to older soldiers, if they are recruited and sent to war is well documented. Action recommendations in the APHA policy include congressional repeal of public school collaboration with recruiters.

George Bush’s NCLB has been under justifiable scrutiny for its testing standards, while its enticement of adolescent children as potential combatants goes largely unnoticed. If parents, educators, churches, public health professionals, caregivers, and many other righteous people fail to intervene against the recruitment of minors in public schools, they embody the very definition of systemic militarism.

In three powerful paragraphs, the article dissects and defines militarism as extending a military mindset “into shaping the culture, politics, and economics of civilian life so that war and the preparation for war is normalized.”

Militarism “glorifies warriors, gives strong allegiance to the military as the ultimate guarantor of freedom and safety, and reveres military morals and ethics as being above criticism.” As a war-like, violence-seeking condition, the authors continue, “militarism has been called a ‘psychosocial disease,’ making it amenable to population-wide interventions.

“Thus, militarism warrants a priority focus for public health’s efforts to prevent war, including emphasis in public health curricula, research, and advocacy.”

Militarism’s profound effects on the economy, politics and corporate profits are noted, as are the military’s shadow cast across research and development, education, civilian law enforcement, justice systems, the media, outer space, and other important segments of 21st-century life. The writers wisely selected the pervasive presence of militarism as offering “critical insight for the analysis of the causes of war, the effects of war on health, and the influence of a culture of war on society and on the prospects for peace.”

They conclude: “Public health practitioners and academics have an obligation to take a lead role in the prevention of war by addressing the fundamental causes in society that lead to war.”

With clear thinking and focused writing, the American Journal of Public Health article explains precisely why “war is not healthy for children and other living things,” as the Another Mother for Peace anti-war slogan pointed out nearly 50 years ago.

David Giffey, of Arena, is the editor of “Long Shadows: Veterans’ Paths to Peace.”