April 28, 2010 by cgsstlouischapter

By Ronald J. Glossop

What happens if Iran gets nuclear weapons?  What if other countries get nuclear weapons?  These questions are the focus of attention of the media and political leaders.
But nuclear weapons as well as large-scale weapons are an effect caused by something else.  Whether the issue is a medical disease like avian flu or a social disease like war and weapons, we don’t get the problem solved by focusing on the effects.  We need to focus on the causes.
What causes war and the desire for large-scale weapons?  That is a different question than what causes conflicts?  Most conflicts within society do not result in wars.  Within our country there are many conflicts and opposing viewpoints, but there has been no war within the country since 1861.  The same is true within other democratic countries.  Wars occur within countries when there are no trustworthy political and judicial institutions (that is, when there is no democratic government) to resolve the conflicts non-violently. The same thing is true at the international level. Wars occur between countries when there are no trustworthy political and judicial institutions (that is, when there is no democratic world government) to resolve the conflicts nonviolently.  Unlimited national sovereignty means that the final arbitrator in disputes between nations is international war, and the winner is the nation with the strongest military and biggest weapons, including nukes.  In such an situation, why won’t all countries want nukes it they can get them?
War and nukes are effects, not causes.  In order to deal with the problem of war and nuclear weapons our media and our political leaders need to focus on the causes rather than the effects.  They might not like to address the issue of the implications of unlimited national sovereignty, but unless they do, we will have more and more weapons of mass destruction, biological as well as nuclear–and these weapons won’t be limited to the larger countries.
At the international level we still lack the trustworthy political and judicial institutions needed to resolve conflicts nonviolently.  The United Nations and the International Criminal Court are moves in the right direction, but we  still lack a democratic world federation with the trustworthy political and judicial institutions which can resolve international conflicts nonviolently.
It would be a wonderful change if our media and political leaders would focus on the causes of our current dangerous social situation rather than just the effects.  As Albert Einstein noted, “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our ways of thinking.”  We are still fixated on particular weapons and particular wars, that is on the effects, rather than on the causes of why we have wars and nukes.


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