In my many terms as a member of the U.S. delegation at the 40-nation Conference on Disarmament (CD), held annually in Geneva, we grew accustomed to a favorite accusation on the failure to achieve a lasting peace. If a resolution failed to achieve a majority, the sponsors would invariably decry the incapacity of “some member-states” to acquire “the requisite political will.” This slogan became so common among the membership that it grew into a symbolic reference to the very nature and essence of world politics. A lack of willpower is what interfered with the work of peace.
That interpretation, on its face, says little more than “we disagree,” but it became so pervasive that it represented the heart of every issue that came before the Conference. Rather than address the causes of disagreement and come to a result, the membership of the CD, professional diplomats, simply dismissed each other as lacking in mental capacity.
The result, year after dreary year, was a set of resolutions so compromised that they meant practically nothing and had little relevance to world realities. The package was then sent to the United Nations for approval, after which the CD adjourned to prepare for its next annual session.
Today, years afterward, the CD has expanded to 65 countries who debate the same issues with, presumably, the same context and nature and the same effect on the world, i.e., “nothing.”
Peace as the Result of a Wish
Yet the CD continues and represents something that keeps it alive and, simultaneously, continues to reflect an emotion that has become commonplace throughout the “peace” community, namely that “peace” is a dividend that can arrive through wish, thought, and resolve. The fact that this notion contradicts all history and reality apparently does not offer resistance to fervent (and well-paid) professionals who have full-time employment in the “peace business.”
But they should be understood (and forgiven), as they only represent the same emotional assertions of a humanity that, from the beginning, has used wish, music, and sentiment in the illusion that the result, sometime, somewhere, will be a “lasting peace on earth.”
That goal is humanity’s hope, and, thus far, little reality has blocked its appeal. The global expression “give peace a chance,” like the above CD quotation, implies that the problem is a certain stubborn mental trait that, arbitrarily and deliberately, refuses obvious and universal desires.
The same set of illusions pervades both the intellectual and theatrical world. This mindset is invariably underpinned by a quasi-Marxist ideology that humanity is essentially equal (“one”) and that “diversity” is an arbitrary condition to be adjusted by sentiment, legislation, and “political will” (“requisite”). If the Equal Rights Amendment cannot do it, then “#MeToo” will. Pass bills and protest (again and again).
Both the slogan “politically correct” and the musical expression “We Are The World” exemplify a similar worldview that has dominated the Conference on Disarmament for generations. This is also an “elitist” outpouring. Like the “Climate Change” delegates who travel to conventions on luxury liners and private jets, hypocrisy is a virtue when we work for humanity.
For the global convention that produced “We Are The World” in 1985, peace is defined as a theatrical production engineered by a talented and sentimental elite. The fact that they are tiny in numbers and wealthy only enhances the message. Like diplomats in the CD, global leadership goes to the gifted and needs no intrusions from the “common man” or historic reality.
The anthem itself, like others before and since, betrays this illusion. Its hopeless references to pious and cherished wishes at the same time tragically dismisses the realities that mankind has faced from time immemorial: “the world must come together as one,” “love is all we need,” “we are the ones who make a brighter day,” “we’re all God’s great big family.”
These are all equally believed and noble … and equally irrelevant.
Reality about Peace and War
To understand anything, one must first study it. This is universally true and universally applicable. “Why is there war” is a question for the ages and remains unanswered. “Why is there peace” is somewhat easier. Study it.
For example: neighbors throughout history have invaded each other, but why has the American-Canadian border remained free and open from the beginning (minus a disaster led by Benedict Arnold)? Why hasn’t Switzerland fought a war since the fourteenth century? Why hasn’t England been invaded since 1066? Why have Germany and Japan been essentially pacifist after years of aggressive militarism? Why was Europe essentially peaceful throughout the nineteenth century (minus a few quick local wars) then exploded into horrible, globe-shattering wars in the twentieth? Why does Islam declare war on most everything while Quakers are pacifists?
This is not to answer these questions but to pose them. They, at least, are far more realistic and relevant than chanting a few lyrics and passing a few senseless and repetitive UN resolutions.
Peace is obtainable but, like most worthwhile endeavors, it takes study, attention, diligence, and, above all, realism.
Which begs the question, what is “reality”?
It might just be the study of warfare within a pattern of history, circumstance, geography, and culture. But at least one thing is certain: it is neither songs nor slogans.