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The Continuity of Wars in World History

By Charles Mercieca

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 9, 2013

            Over the past 6,000 years of recorded history we often read about wars and their devastating consequences. In the Bible, which is viewed by the world at large as a holy and sacred book, we read about many wars that took place from time to time almost without ending. We need to raise quite a few questions since, as the scholastic philosophers tell us: Nihil ex nihilo fit – Nothing comes out of nothing. Another well-known statement runs as follows: Quidquid contigens est causam habet – Whatever exists must have a cause.
Belligerent Governmental Policies
            When we analyze carefully the sources of each war we generally discover that it was waged by those in the government. The vast majority of people across every continent always yearned to live at peace on a permanent basis. When Jesus came to this world some 2,000 years ago he made it a point to improve as many negative biblical expression as possible. He was driven by the fact that he was a deeply peaceful person. Besides, he knew countless thousands of innocent people on a global scale that have and still suffer brutally unnecessarily.
            Jesus did not hesitate to describe to us the true nature of God, which is purely based on love and mercy. In fact, he reminded the people of his time saying: The God I know is not the God you know. Your God functions on the eye-for-an-eye and a tooth-for-a-tooth. The God I know functions on love and mercy. When someone strikes you on the cheek you do not strike back but rather you should turn the other cheek. This means it is far better for us to practice humility and respect than resorting to retaliation and revenge.
            We also remember what Jesus said to Peter when he drew out the sword to defend his Master. He told him clearly: Put the sword away for he who kills by the sword will die by the sword. Periodically, Jesus exhorted his disciples saying: Do to others what you would like others to do to you. This means if we do not want to be hurt and killed let us not take the initiative to hurt others, far less to terminate their lives. If we continue to ignore these peaceful instructions of Jesus, we are likely to continue waging wars till the end of time.
            We are all familiar with the expression history repeats itself. Since over the centuries we have experienced both good and evil that means we may look forward to experience the repetition of these two elements for sure. Our job in life should be to create situations, nationally and globally, that are good and beneficial. This way we may create people that are trained to do constructive things as to be prepared to pass such vital elements to others. If people were to be trained from early childhood to provide to others love and compassion, then the probability of future wars may start becoming highly remote.
War as an Enemy of True Peace
            The Romans had a saying which went as follows: Si vis pacem, para pacem and si vis bellum para bellum –- If you want peace prepare for peace and if you want war prepare for war. US President Richard Nixon did not seem to believe in this important dictum. So he turned it around and said: Si vis pacem para bellum – If you want peace prepare for war. This was essentially the revealed US foreign policy since World War II was over in 1945. It explains why the USA since then was very heavily involved in more than 30 wars.
            Three of these latest wars were Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. These last two wars alone brought the American nation some $2 trillion dollars debt, which has become a phenomenal financial burden to the American people. As a result, the people’s sources of indispensable revenue just to survive became seriously threatened. It is very sad to consider that while the bulk of the three hundred million Americans were against the involvement of such wars, the few hundreds in the government proceeded to wage such immoral and illegal wars.
            Going back to the earliest days of recorded history, we always witnessed that a leading power was viewed to be a nation with a devastating military. In practice, a leading power happens to be a nation that has been blessed with healthy people who have the opportunity to develop their God-given talents to the maximum. In view of this, we need to start doing something that is highly essential. We must make it a point that the only nations that we may respect and trust are among those who do not rely on any military power.
            As a matter of fact, every nation in the world should not allow to have in its territory the presence of any foreign military bases by all means. Such bases always existed not to create peace but, on the contrary, to plan and promote as many devastating wars as possible. That would result in the destruction of many buildings as to make tens of thousands of people homeless. Besides, that would bring about the eventual killing and maiming of tens of thousands of innocent people, including women, children, the elderly and the sick.
            The question that needs to be seriously raised here is this: Why is it that while the seven billion people in the world at large want to live at peace, a mere handful of people in their government continue to set up scenarios as to justify the promotion of never-ending wars? There may be many reasons that could be outlined. However, the dominant one lies in the fact that the weapons industry and the military industrial complex in the world have emerged to become a lucrative business. Their only one goal is to make money without limit, even at the cost of the lives of countless millions of innocent people.
Planning for a Peaceful Future
            We are all familiar with the proverb: When there is a will there is a way. Responsible individuals should get periodically together to figure out steps that would bring the weapons industry and the military industrial complex under control. The Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C., which was formed by retired US military officials, made a lot of videos that bring the causes of war, as presented here, into full perspective. One of these videos was meant to provide us with steps that may bring the major causes of war under control.
            Among other things stated, it was advocated that all those working for both the weapons industry and the military industrial complex should quite their job without further delay. Instead, they should seek for jobs that are fully beneficial for all human beings. The weapons industry and the military industrial complex should not panic when faced with this constructive philosophy that they may end up going out of business. They can keep fully well their business but simply change their product.
            Instead of making weapons of destructions, they could make computers and many educational items that are viewed to be fully useful. Instead of making tanks for soldiers they could make tractors for farmers and the list goes on and on. Moreover, in nations where people have the opportunity to elect their own government officials, they should make sure in the next elections they put out of office determinedly all those who supported the elements of war without any hesitation. Good results may not be achieved overnight.
            Even if the prospect and real achievement of a permanent peace may take several decades or even a couple of centuries, our task is to take the first steps that may serve as our foundation or legacy for a future permanent peace. By way of encouragement, let us keep in mind that we cannot teach old dogs new tricks. The best way to deal with old war-minded government officials is to find a good and practical way to have them removed from office. We need to change the sources that always led to wars with sources that will always lead to peace.


Culture of War and Militaristic Culture of Peace
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.

            A careful study of history reveals that while people in general always opted for peace through dialogues on a mutually beneficial basis, their public officials often tended to resort to struggles and wars to get what they want. As a result people suffered immensely. Their houses were destroyed and several of their family members and friends lost their lives or got maimed for life. Every era of history revealed conflicts between the culture of war and that of peace. Each time the culture of war proved disastrous while that of peace was beneficial.
Culture of War
            Unfortunately, the culture of war has proved always to be dominant in the world at large. This is revealed in the fact that there are very few nations which had the courage to abolish the military. Such nations have managed to live in peace for very long periods in spite of the turmoil that might have surrounded their boarders. One clear example is Costa Rica, which had a long history of civil wars where some 80% of the population were homeless and lived in poverty. Many years ago the leader of this nation abolished the military for good.
            The United States did not like this move and soon tried to persuade the government of Costa Rica of the imminent danger it faced since the surrounding countries were all equipped with strong military forces. Costa Rica’s military general who abolished the military forces from his nation said calmly and firmly to the USA: “We firmly believe that if we prove to be not a threat to any of the surrounding nations, not one of them will dream to attack us.” And he proved to be right. For the several decades that followed Costa Rica remains peaceful.
            When Costa Rica was preoccupied with having a strong military, the vast majority of the people were illiterate. This country for many years had the largest infant mortality rate among all the nations of both North and South America. In addition, the vast majority of the people were illiterate. They could not read and write. Within a matter of a few years, all the homeless were fully provided with adequate home facilities. Besides, Costa Rica became the nation in this part of the world with lowest infant mortality, less than that of the USA.
            When the government of Costa Rica was asked: Where did you get the money to provide so many people with adequate home facilities and to give them all free education not only at the elementary and secondary school level but also at the college and university level as well? The answer was quick and simple: You see, when we had the military we spent millions of dollars on weapons and the promotion of struggles and wars; now that the military is gone all of that money is being used constructively for the welfare of the people. That would include free education and free health care for everyone.
Militaristic Culture of Peace
            This furnishes us with clear evidence that the real source of all our earthly tragedies lies with the promotion of wars. The question to be raised is this: How come that all governments which resort to wars for the solution of problems cannot learn from a recorded history of 6,000 years of civilization that violence breeds violence and more violence breeds more violence? The situation is very serious and government officials that proceed to wage wars need to be properly examined due to the fact that there must be something very wrong with them.
            The reason often quoted by government officials for their justification of war is expressed by the words: national defense and security, which is absolutely not true. A nation is viewed to be strong and healthy when its people are fully educated to the maximum of their abilities, in addition to being in good health. Since wars have become to be highly expensive, all money put in them is taken away from the vital needs of the population. An example of this is the USA which engaged itself in more than 30 wars since World War II was over in 1945.
            Billions of dollars were spent uselessly on the Vietnam War, the war in Iraq and the Afghanistan War. While the American people suffered immensely because their government took a vast amount of money from the health care and education of its people, the civilians of the nations that the USA invaded had their homes destroyed, along with their schools, hospitals and places of worship. This has proved, as Pope Pius XII expressed on the eve of World War II that in a war everyone is a loser and no one is a winner.
            The waging of wars is a very complex problem because behind the scenes we always seem to have a mafia-type of organization whose job is to exploit several government officials by putting them in a state of paranoia. This way they could appeal to their “responsibility” to exercise machismo as to show that when it comes to struggles and wars they are fully fearless. To make things worse, this mafia-type of organization portrays the instigation and promotion of war as a sign of strength, courage and fearlessness.
            No matter how much time it may take us, we must proceed to bring a new set of people in the government who are determined to work for the welfare of all people without exception. This way, by the process of time, we may start replacing war-minded political figures with peace-oriented politicians. The whole world should be viewed as one global community that may work harmoniously for peace on a permanent basis. In this case everyone will be a winner and no one a loser. Since children of all nations are the adults of our future communities, they should be familiarized with each other by all means.
Genuine Approach to True Peace
            This way when they become adults they will start viewing the grown up children of other nations as their friends and partners, like they were all real members of the same global family. For quite a long time now, malicious politicians have been creating a new vocabulary that they use with people as to confuse them to a virtual point of no return. In Italian there is a proverb: Chiama pane pane e vino vino – Call bread bread and wine wine. In just plain English we simply say: Call it as it is.
            If we examine all the wars the USA waged on some 30 nations since World War II ended in 1945, we often hear the reason given to justify such illegal actions with the name “national defense and security” by way of justification. While the USA refers to Americans killed by foreigners as “victims of terrorism,” they refer to innocent people they kill in conflicts as “collateral damage!” And the list goes on. Of course, other nations have created their own vocabulary as well to soften the injustices they commit against many innocent people.
            It looks like that the culture of war has gone so deeply into the minds of many government officials that when the military speaks of the culture of peace, it sounds more to be some sort of a joke within the context. By its very nature, the military in general has always existed to instigate and promote wars almost without ending. As observed in the early part of this presentation, the constant state of war in Costa Rica ended only after the military was abolished. If the set-up of a military unit is needed, it should be merely for national emergences.
            A military unit that exists to disseminate wars should be abolished because its presence makes it very difficult for the world to have eventually a genuine peace among people on both the national and global scale. The Master Teacher of Nazareth was very clear on this topic. He exhorted us all to do to others what we would like others do to us. We do not want others to hurt us and kill us. Likewise we should never take the initiative to solve conflicts of any kind through struggles and wars but only through diplomacy and healthy dialogues. 


Peace as a Break Between Wars and Preparation for New Wars
Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
            Over the past recorded history of 6,000 years we notice that many nations tended to solve their differences through the waging of one war after another. Needless to say, in-between wars we also observe a period of peace. As far as the people were concerned they enjoyed such periods and often hoped they would continue forever. However, as far as government officials were concerned that always proved to be a different story. As the Italians say, tra il dire e il fare c’e’ in mezzo il mare – between saying and doing there is an ocean, that is, an abyss.
Eventual Purpose of Wars
            Of course, there should be a reason why wars continue to take place, especially when the population as a whole never wants to experience the tragedies of such events by all means. Scholastic philosophers tell us, quidquid contingens est causam habet -- whatever exists there must be a cause, that is, a source. And another famous dictum runs as follows, ex nihilo nihilo fit, -- nothing happens out of nothing.
            Hence, wars do not pop up from the midst of nowhere. There must be a plan of some sort that would make it easier to instigate and promote wars. What is curious in our study of the nature of wars lies here. Such devices were never used to promote peace and harmony, love and compassion. On the contrary, wars often tended to stem out of jealousy and hatred and they always inflicted pain revealed mostly in the destruction of the infrastructure of cities.
            Moreover, such pain is also seen in the killing and maiming of tens of thousands of innocent people, in particular women, children, the elderly and the sick. In every era of history, every government, regardless of its nature, always claimed the responsibility to look after the welfare of the people, which is revealed in providing them with a good health care system, adequate housing facilities and good education. But as long as government officials in general continue to be addicted with wars, such goals cannot be easily reached.
            If we were to study the military powers that emerged in this world over the last two to three hundred years alone, we will soon find out something which is fully in common. The governments that attached priority in piling up weapons and in promoting more and more wars, ended up neglecting their people who suffered immensely as a result. Just a study of the Portuguese, Spanish, British and American empires makes us realize that the more they concentrated on the invasion of other countries and the promotion of wars, the more their respective native population suffered all kinds of deprivation.
Sources of Destruction
            Nowadays, we all know that the manufacture of weapons and the military industrial complex have emerged into becoming a very lucrative business. To turn an insult into injury, the United States’ big corporations take the initiative to finance the elections of various politicians. They want to make sure that after election such politicians would do anything to boost their products, regardless of how lethal and detrimental they may prove to be to society. In the USA all the major news media are now being controlled by big corporations.
            The corruption that emerged in the US government as a result has become virtually out of control. It explains why millions of people do not have enough food to eat, are deprived of adequate home facilities, and do not have easy access to vital medical needs. From a careful study of history we learn that a nation could be termed to be strong when its people are healthy and highly educated, in addition to having adequate home facilities. When this takes place then such a nation is fully self-sufficient since all the vital needs are fully there.
            However, since the US government as a whole views the strength of the nation merely in military capabilities, it explains why such a nation puts top priority on the continued manufacture of weapons and military equipment. It explains why the United States, in spite of the fact that it was advised otherwise, chose to become involved in more than 30 wars following World War II. The most recent ones, all of which proved to be a disaster may be enlisted as Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
            In each of such wars, thousands of young Americans lost their lives or became maimed for life, not to mention those that committed suicide. All these tragedies occurred literally needlessly. Besides, the United States was responsible for the destruction of the infrastructure of many cities which included not only the destruction of people’s homes but also the annihilation of many schools, churches and other vital sources. Besides, we may add the millions that became refugees and who led very miserable lives afterwards.
            Every nation that views its strength in military terms and not in people’s health and education always ends up punishing itself severely. The US economy today is in a state of collapse because of its continued wars. The Iraqi war alone cost the USA $2 trillion dollars in debt, money that could have been used to give Americans adequate home facilities, good health care, and excellent education. A substantial number of government officials, mostly republicans, had the guts to propose the solution of the debt problem by cutting money from the vital needs of the American people, like health care, education and social security.
Deception at Work
            Ironically, a number of these same government officials when they talk on radio or television, they sound like they are concerned with the welfare of the American people in general. But, as the Italians say, parole si, fatti no – words year, facts no. This means their apparent concern for the welfare of the American people as a whole is merely bla, bla, bla. The US government officials must follow the example of President Truman when he set the US President’s office for two terms of four years each.
            The US Senators’ term must also be set for two terms of five years each, while the US Congressmen’s terms should also be limited for five terms of two years each. We have many young brilliant people in the USA but their chances of serving the nation in a governmental office is not that easy as long as the big corporations continued to finance their governmental buddies to remain in office for ever. Moreover, all news media must give a substantial percentage of time to cover all those running for office free-of-charge.
            As the preamble of UNESCO states: Since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed. As we may all know, this acronym stands for United Nations, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. The eventual implementation of this preamble is of paramount importance. It enables us to understand the wisdom of having periodical changes of individuals in the government. This way we may take care of the traditional saying: You cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
            When individuals serve a long time in a governmental position, their mind-set about anything becomes so deeply trenched that it may need a miracle like that of raising Lazarus from the dead to make them see things better and into a truer perspective. In view of what has been stated, we still have hope of not having to spend another 6,000 years of recorded history going through one war after another. The human nature is subject to corruption at one time or another. Our job is to take the first steps toward providing a better future for posterity.


Charles Mercieca, Ph.D.
International Association of Educators for World Peace
Dedicated to United Nations Goals of Peace Education,
Environmental Protection, Human Rights & Disarmament
Professor Emeritus, Alabama A&M University




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