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Making peace.

Winston Churchill, Britain's leader during World War II, summed it up: "Jaw, jaw, jaw," he said, "is better than war, war, war." Call it what you will -- diplomacy, negotiations -- but, in the end, the only workable alternative to fighting is talking. All wars end at the negotiating table; that's also the place where they can be kept from starting in the first place.

The biggest negotiating table of them all is at the United Nations. The central purpose of that vast organization is to prevent war and promote peace. Within its structure, groups with differences can sit down to discuss them and strike bargains. Sometimes, such discussion lead to peaceful solutions. However, the world hears when these talks break down and the bullets start flying. Unhappily, this happens all too often.

The current LTN Secretary-General is Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and he's worked hard to change the record on peace. In 1992, Mr. Boutros-Ghali released a report called An Agenda for Peace. In it he set out his plan for an alternative to war; a five-stage process of conflict resolution:

1. Preventive diplomacy -- stopping disputes before they start.

2. Peacemaking -- taking diplomatic action to halt conflicts that have started.

3. Peacekeeping -- putting people in the field to keep warring parties apart.

4. Peace building -- putting structures in place to help keep the peace and stop wars from restarting.

5. Peace enforcement -- enforcing the peace through military action if necessary.

The Secretary-General's plan has been praised widely, but it remains mostly just a plan. The UN is desperately short of the money needed to put the plan into action. And, the Security Council, which is where issues of peace and security are supposed to be dealt with, is in need of reform.

The Security Council's ineffectiveness was highlighted in the spring of 1994. When ethnic massacres took place in Rwanda, the Security Council dithered. Most experts agree that firm action by the Council early on could have saved many of the 500,000 to one million Rwandans who were butchered in the following weeks.

And the Somalia action more than satisfied the developed world's appetite for getting involved in local disputes. The goal was to protect emergency food supplies and the people delivering the aid. However, the Somalia action cost $2 billion to protect less than $50 million of effective emergency relief. The operation took the lives of 83 UN peacekeepers and 6,000 Somalis. And, after the UN troops left in the winter of 1995 it was back to business as usual for the warlords and clan leaders. The failure in Somalia explains, to some extent, the world's lack of action over Rwanda.

To a large extent, the United Nations does come to grips with wars between nations. It doesn't do too well in dealing with civil wars among groups within a nation state. Unfortunately, it's the latter type of war that is more common today.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY:

Pentti Linkola, a leading intellectual in Finland, believes that war is a good thing. Mr. Linkola says the world's population is 2.5 times greater than the Earth can support and a major war is needed to bring the numbers back into balance with Nature. He says: "My object is to save mankind, to continue life on this planet." After the ranks have been thinned by war, Mr. Linkola advises that: "Everything we have developed over the last 100 years should be destroyed." Discuss Mr. Linkola's ideas.

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"There has never been a good or easy answer to the question of how to deal with aggression. There isn't one new [in 1994] because all the influences that give reason for hope, that have already destroyed tyranny in so many places, -- phenomena such as education, global mass media, the globalization of economics -- take effect on a timescale of decades.

"That is much too slowly to change the course of a government committed to aggression and enjoying even a modicum of support.

"Sanctions are a useful first step, but without the use of massive military force to reverse the aggression, Iraq would still control Kuwait, Serbia does and will continue to control most of Bosnia.

"Take small comfort in the fact that we are now at least debate whether the great powers should intervene, in defence of justice, in an area where their own national interests are not directly at stake. We even deplore their failure to do so."
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Title Annotation:War - Alternatives
Author:Sherwood, Jane
Publication:Canada and the World Backgrounder
Date:Apr 1, 1995
Words:734
Previous Article:At the personal level.
Next Article:War games.
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