By Atiqa Tariq
From bows and arrows to weapons of massive destruction, from two world wars to war of words, we have been playing with world’s peace for centuries, through different means but for same objectives. International system is in a miserable condition, states are more focused on projecting power whereas peace and stability is gradually fading away. The actual definition of war is clouded as we are not aware of it in all forms.
What comes first in your mind when you think about war? Violence, bloodshed, weapons, destruction etc. but this is not enough to define war, beyond all this interest, ruthless revenge, and some crazy political goals, compelling people to engage themselves in deadly conflicts … this is War. But what if we want to get rid of it… can we really get rid of conflicts and disagreements??? As war is becoming an ugly reality of our society, and peace… a myth.
People believe that war is not inevitable and could be abolished. Well if yes, can we really compel people to forgo their interests, just for the sake of peace!!! As for human beings the profitable things are more attractive and yes, war is attractive, the option for Peace is valid only when states are willing to consider it or when peace favors their respective interest.
Absolute peace is impossible for this huge Planet, till then, we are living in an apparent peace situation, where apparent peace is the gap between two wars, time required by states to prepare for next one. Not a negative view, but this is a real and more clear face of society, needs, interests and misconceptions of human beings had compelled them to choose the false path.
Most common view about peace and stability is that, it is possible through combine efforts, maybe it is but why it is still missing even when there are international organizations for peacemaking, in 1920 after World War I, Leagues of Nations was established, an effort, a hope that with this, international disputes could be resolved and no state would go for war. Leagues of nation collapsed with World War II and in 1945 international community comes up with “United Nations” (UN), with goal; Make this world a stable and peaceful place to live. UN is active, but still world is in a state of war; proxy, civil, cyber, guerrilla, asymmetric, psychological, informational warfare or briefly Indirect Warfare.
The reason behind the failure of UN or other organizations is their efforts, which are not fair enough, the international organizations are dominated by big powers where small and weak states are worthless. These organizations had failed this world, the human rights violations by Israel in Palestine and in Kashmir by India are internationally neglected with only narrow discussions, with no solutions. UN only gives some warnings but never take serious actions against them and when freedom fighters fights for their rights they are considered as extremists and later are killed.
These organizations are nothing but are burden on society; they can put sanctions on Iran for their nuclear program, can also criticize Pakistan and North Korean nuclear program but could not punish US for dropping nuclear bomb on Japan, exploitation in Middle East and Africa or Indian human right violation in Kashmir. So with this biased behavior how can we believe, that war can abolished.
Nuclear weapons are also playing some role in both peace and war, but a bit controversial and tangled!!! On one side NW’s had swell fear of war, and on other side the escalation threat prevents from show off unwanted power projection weather conventionally or non-conventionally. Well before 1999, international community made peace with this idea of averting all kind of wars with nuclear weapons but after Indo-Pak kargil war in 1999 (a limited war under the shadow of nuclear weapons), all claims proved false.
Russia-US-China are big nuclear powers and are always ready to fight, they are fighting proxy war in Syria, cyber war, psychological and informational warfare etc. So this idea of averting war is not valid for all situations but limited to some extreme ones.
Where fear fails to conquer, the interest is involved whether economic or political. Globalization or economic independence is considered as a key to peace and unity but not always, especially when it comes to asymmetric relation between states, the powerful always try to dominate the weaker one even if these states are providing them economic and political comforts. American exploitation in Middle East and Africa could be a perfect example where powerful is taking full advantages from their resources , manpower, oil and gas but still had drag them in to civil and proxy wars.
States with equal potential and capabilities had also experienced wars even with strong economic interest from both sides; China-US, despite of their economic interest had a strong disagreement on South-East China Sea ownership not only this US is providing japan weapons and moral support against China, both states are violating law of seas and are militarizing sea which could drag not only China and US but other regional states in major war.
We always blame human aggressive nature for violence and instability; the leaders who choose to go for war and ruin millions of innocent lives. This is not a fair justification for war as war is not a natural phenomenon or caused by human nature, it is social conditioning, a man-made idea to promote one’s interests; where, driving force is survival, defense, nationalism, and political interest. So human nature is not evil, to promote violence and destruction but defensive and insecure, to ensure survival and security. Psychological and informational operations are most effective tools to provoke these ideas and armed the general population to fight for false reasons (so-called defense) creating social damages, civil wars are best outcome of these operations.
The best way to avert war or reduce destruction and violence at all levels, is to spread awareness among general population about the destruction of war, not only about nuclear weapons but all type of wars and the damage they may cause, whether physical or mental. Public especially youth participation is really important in this aspect. We mostly avoid the soft tools to provoke war and emphasis on the hard tools, most of us defines war as military confrontation which is wrong.
There should be campaigns to aware people about the psychological and information operation which could manipulate people’s mind and turn them against the government or against each other. Not only this, but social interaction had also a huge impact on state’s policies toward opponent states. International Sports events, exchange programs for students and internship and job opportunities for youth are also very useful in this purpose where people from different backgrounds work together, this reduce the element of hatred and misconception among people the dependence of individuals upon each other also establish a strong bond between them.
So yes… what we can conclude is that one’s interest can drag him in a war and can compel him to avoid it as well. States are more biased toward war as it is less time consuming and more effective tool for achieving respective target peace on the other hand is something which needs time, efforts and sacrifices as well, which is not profitable for states especially with offensive approaches . Yes… when one state wages a war against its opponent, retaliation and defense is obvious and sort of lawful too. War is our reality and we cannot avoid it we all are in state of war no matter in what form you can avert it in one form but not in all above mentioned ways to abolish war are not completely useless but you cannot apply same treatment to cure all type of diseases.
Atiqa Tariq is a student & researcher at National Defence University in Islamabad, Pakistan