WHERE ARE THE PEACEMAKERS?
As the result of the carnage and devastation caused by World War I, in which some ten million soldiers died and another twenty-one million were injured, the League of Nations was established as a means of resolving international disputes and ending world conflict. This well-meaning venture never received the full support of the United States and after Germany and Japan withdrew from the organization in 1933 its effectiveness as a deterrent to war was nonexistent.
World War II resulted in an estimated 61 million miliary and civilian deaths throughout the globe. The introduction of nuclear weaponry by the United States and the Soviet Union threatened world destruction in a manner never before contemplated. It was evident to all that there would be no winners if the major powers were to engage in a nuclear battle. Motivated perhaps by reasoned fear more than anything else, in 1945 the concept of a supranational peacekeeping organization was revived in the form of the United Nations. This body has been widely criticized in the United States, principally by short-sighted constituencies that distrust foreign influences and believe that our nation should adopt an aggressive world leadership role. It is a dangerous fallacy to believe that because the League of Nations and the United Nations have not met all of the aspirations of their founders, the concept of an international body dedicated to peace should be abandoned. Despite its inadequacies, the peacekeeping efforts of the U.N. have played an important role in deterring a number of military conflicts involving smaller nations and have in a significant way helped to keep the world from another nuclear conflagration.
Now we are faced with even greater threats to the safety of our country and to the world. Nations such as North Korea and Iran now have or will in the near future possess the capability of attacking us with nuclear weapons. Other countries will follow on their heels. Rapidly changing technologies will permit the creation of small nuclear �smart bombs� capable of being secreted by terrorists into our major cities.
What this means is that, while preserving military superiority,we can no longer afford to foolishly make enemies, whether such enemies be Muslims or any other ethnic, religious or national group. Enemies sap our economic strength and diminish our ability to play a leadership role in world affairs. The invasion of Iraq was a terrible miscalculation. It served to turn the Arab world against us and highlighted the limits to our country�s power. This has emboldened others who based upon real or imagined grievances, would do us harm.
There were many important but politically sensitive issues that were never discussed in the recent Presidential campaign. Neither candidate provided a short or long-range plan for world peace. Neither discussed in any meaningful and understandable fashion how he felt about the future of the United Nations. Can this organization be restructured and refinanced so as to transform it into an effective deterrent to another world war? Ignored as well in the campaign debates was there any dialogue about how the Palestine question might be resolved. While defending the security of Israel, will we continue to ignore the need of Palestinians to establish their own financially viable sovereign state?
It is easy to start a war. It is much more difficult to create a just and lasting peace. More than ever the world needs peacemakers. Will they please step forward?