War it is such a vast word in our society today and seems to be everywhere. What is war? How do we define it in a technologically advanced society? Traditionally war involved armies fighting one another in a battle to overtake or annihilate the enemy. The concept is still the same although war is no longer contained to battlefields or between countries.
These days we have civil wars within countries; economic war, race wars, religious wars, political wars and even class wars. Furthermore, the invention of nuclear weapons greatly increases tension and instability on a global level. Despite the current state of the world, most people would indicate the desire for world peace although, we have been unable to stop wars or obtain global peace. With the vast majority in favor of global peace, it should be easy to achieve although the turbulence in the world today demonstrates the opposite.
Most scholars would agree that war regardless of the kind; is ultimately a struggle for power. This positions man in a perpetual state of war maybe that is what Mark Twain thought when he wrote, “Peace by persuasion has a pleasant sound, but I think we should not be able to work it. We should have to tame the human race first, and history seems to show that that cannot be done.” This begs the question is peace possible in this chaotic world full of wars and rumors of wars that threaten the very existence of mankind?
By examining the causes of war, the lack of a workable international system and the obstacles that prevent a viable international system to promote peace will show that despite the desire for global peace it is unattainable. The major reasons that nations and men go to war alone shows the improbability of obtaining global peace. Scholars have debated and published works on the reasons for war; considering the writing of Hobbes, Mead, Bremer,Kaufman and Clausewitz I found similar views and themes that are inductive to war.
Take for example the Israel and Palestinian conflict and war that has raged from the beginning of the establishment of the Nation of Israel. Reason relating to this conflict is recognizable in the writings of the above-mentioned authors. Thomas Hobbes believes one causes of war is competition (Hobbes, 1996). The competition for control of the land of the West Banks the Gaza and several other areas does seem to be a major factor in the conflict that is prevalent to this day.
The war over this area started and continues to intensify as Mead points out due impart to societal development (Mead, 1996). One form of advancement is securing a country including boarders and a legitimate government. Palestine is not a recognized country and has no boarders. The people of Palestine are trying to carve out a nation for themselves unfortunately; it includes part of the nation of Israel. Another instigator of war according to Dangerous Dyads by Stuart A. Bremer is “militarization or defense that makes people expect war” (Bremer, 1996).
The increased military in the conflicting areas of Israel like the West Bank where many Palestinians live may appear as aggressive rather than defensive. This also brings up the current conflict of Iran and Israel. The development of nuclear weapons by Iran threatens not only Israel but also major players in the international system. The potential threat of an attack by Iran is real. Support of terrorist groups by the Iranian government is not an isolated incident. In fact, Iran has clearly stated it would wipe Israel of the map if given the chance.
Iran is also no friend to the United States who supports the existence of Israel and is engaged in an Alliance. In Kaufmann’s Possible and Impossible Solutions to Ethnic Civil War, he sites Ethnic conflicts as another reason for war. This again rings true in the case of Israel and Palestinians. Kaufmann states, “fixed loyalties are rigid and transparent and that ethnic conflicts are primarily military struggles in which victory depends on the physical control over the disputed territory” (Kaufmann, 2011). Another conflict that supports his assessment is the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
Kashmir is within the boundaries of India but the majority of those residing in Kashmir are Muslims unlike the majority of India that is Hindu. Palestine believes that this territory should be theirs and that the people should decide. Although physical fighting in recent years is relatively non-existent, the conflict remains. As Hobbes points out “fighting is not necessary to be at war” and it is like a pending storm, that could erupt at anytime” (Hobbes, 1996).
War as stated earlier is not always between two states and civil war is increasing as groups competing for control of government. The uprising in Syria is one example, as is the Arab Spring revolt. Both conflicts have caught the attention of the international players and have the potential to erupt into a world war. How is this possible? Clausewitz definitions war as “War is therefore is an act of violence intended to compel our opponents to fulfill our will” (Clausewitz, 1996).
Is will stronger than constraint of self? Another reason is noticeable in the international system itself, major players like United States, China, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and France hold differing opinions on how to handle the erupting civil wars. The United Nations was designed to promote peace but each Nation is independent and not always in agreement. The United States has not moved to stop the civil war in Syria because China and Russia are against doing so.
They have in fact warned against intervention. If the United States does intervene, this could disrupt the delicate relationships with both China and Russia. Mead suggests that classes cause war and Bremer’s research confirms this (Bremer, 1996). These are just some of the causes for war and it is by no means inclusive. Despite the formations of the United Nations to promote peace, the world is still in a perpetual state of war. This renders the question, why has the program to promote peace has been unsuccessful?
In the quest for global peace, a collation of 51 countries formed the United Nations to date there are 193 member states. The vast number of states involved would lead one to believe peace is obtainable. Using the previous authors and incorporating Rosecrance, Claude Jr., Keohane, Clark and Kant to the mix, I will show why it is not a successful program and cannot secure world peace. To begin with according to Hobbes “Laws must be agreed on and who should make the laws” (Hobbes, 1996).
Clark agrees and stats “It is futile to expect genuine peace until there is an effective system of enforceable law is put in place” (Grenvillle, 1996). With this said the United Nations is not a government with the same rights and responsibilities as governments have. The United States operates under a constitution that gives them the power to enforce laws were as the United Nations is a guideline with no power to enforce law. The UN can engage in peacekeeping missions but it must get approval of the Security Council.
Another reason why the UN is unsuccessful is that no one is bound to this entity. Rosecrance makes a great point when he addresses the” Absence of America from the still-born League of Nations” he asserts that America bowed out in 1924 due to its isolation and then neutrality policies” (Rosecrance, 1996). Much like alliances that are temporary and can be broken so is participation in the UN. This means little security or stability in the international system.
Furthermore, the coalition is weak in part because of different beliefs. As Claude Jr. points out that collective, security in the system is limited partly because the means of warfare has changed (Claude, 1996). The aggressor is not as identifiable as it once was for instance the recent launch of a test missal by North Korea. The missal was not aimed at anyone but was considered an act of aggression by many yet North Korea see it as their right because they are a sovereign nation.
Fortunately, most condemned the launch. Looking at the Syria uprising major players are not on the same page and therefore will not act together to solve the problem. Studies by Organski have shown that shared power does not promote peace but rather war. The study looked at the times of peace verses the times of war and found that when one country stood atop the pyramid as the only super power than the world was at peace (Organski, 1996).
The author looked at 19th century after the Napoleonic Wars and the years between the two World Wars. When a power emerges with different ideologies or forms of government war is more likely. Hobbes noted this when he said wars are also fought for glory (Hobbes, 1996). Mead argued that until the class system is abolished peace will not be obtained (Mead, 1996). Bremer claims defense makes people expect war (Bremer, 1996).
Kaufman explains that Ethnics wars only end if suppressed by military and it only last as long as enforcement last (Kaufmann, 2011). Looking at the causes of war it makes sense that Clarks incorporates all the issues when he writes about obtaining peace. The only way to secure global peace according to Clark is an “enforceable world law, a world constitution, world court, world police force, complete disbarment, equal economics and it must be universal” (Grenvillle, 1996).
It is clear that the UN does not fit the criteria necessary to secure world peace. The likely hood of this happening is near zero. There are major obstacles’ that prevent this world government from forming and when consideration is given to, why wars are fought in the first place and who fights them. I will combine both the discussions on why wars happen and why wars prevent the criteria needed to create a world government. Clausewitz definitions war as “War is therefore is an act of violence intended to compel our opponents to fulfill our will” (Clausewitz, 1996). Most scholars agree war is a struggle for power this backs up Clausewitz definition of war.
What kind of power is desired? It could be many things such as economic or military supremacy, it could also have to do with ideological or ethnic power, perhaps it is governmental power, or territorial power. Some examples would include the nuclear power Iran desires, the right to launch missals that North Korea wants. The war between Palestine and Israel is the desire to control a territory. The United States goes to war in the desire to combat terrorism. C
ivil war is a result of desire for governmental change, radical Islam is at war with Christianity over religious Ideologies. This is perhaps the most concerning to me. This fixed loyalty will not change. Islam believes that any religion other than theirs is grounds for war. They also seek to impose their beliefs on the World. They do not fight fair or follow international guidelines for warfare no target is off limits. Most people in power do not give up power without a fight and this would apply to the United States as well as China or Russia.
Most democracies are built on the power of people and being from the United States I see it unlikely that this nation would give up its rights to a centralized world government without a fight. We have been a super power to long and will use force to maintain that statues. I also see that it is unlikely that a dictator would turn power over to a central government. Disarming would call for total disbarment of all nations including those who reside in them. Most Americans like myself, see this as a gateway to tyranny and would not peacefully comply.
Trusting a coalition of nations to protect the national security of all nations is almost nil because people value independence. Turning freedoms over to a world government is in direct opposition to the founding principles of America. Granted the central government would only be able to enforce peace but it is hard enough to contain a small government let alone trying to contain a world government. I also have concerns about maintaining peace because more nations are becoming bigger players in the economical field and these players have different values than the United States.
China stands accused of violating human rights, so trusting them to protect my rights or the rights of the people is unrealistic. The very different forms of government is another reason I believe that a world government is not feasible. All nations would be controlled by one form of government in regards to maintaining peace. What form would this government be a democratic, republican, and how would it work? When power is given, it is very hard to take it away.
I think Americans would stand in the way of the formation of a world government that would be necessary in creating and maintaining peace. Economic equality is another reason that a world government will not happen. The haves are not going to distribute their money because that is also a form of power. Without economic power, the United States would not have risen as the super power that it is. More of the Arab Nations are siding with our enemies and this leaves the United States in a vulnerable position.
Having been the sole super power for so long, it is hard to imagine what the future looks like as other nations continue to grow and assert power. War seems like Hobbes said a pending storm. The vast differences in the world today in the area of moral superiority, economical, humanitarian rights, not to mention religion leave little hope or chance for a universal agreement on a one-world government. In conclusion, although people want peace I find it to be unattainable because man is in a constant state of war with one another, each seeking to force it’s will upon another.
Many problems that other countries face are playing out in America today. Economically we are failing as a Nation, income disparity is greater than I have ever witnessed. The ethnic problems are starting again with the increase of immigration. When our own government is failing the people, I find it hard to believe that they could fix the problems in the world that is required to have global peace. The fear of the unknown and distrust of fellow man only confirms this further.
Today we are withholding what we know we should do to protect the people of Syria because it could cause conflict with China an up and coming power in the world. We are watching Iran but have failed prevent the further development of nuclear weapons by them. When nations give up sole discretion to act on security matters and instead turn them over to international coalition unfavorable things could happen.
For instance, all the sanctions and treaties with North Korea failed to make them comply with the will of the international system. The Israel and Palestinian conflict is still active even despite the agreements that have been made. We are a world full of different ideas between right and wrong. This alone would make the creation of a world government unattainable.