Archive for the ‘No wars!’ Category

November 4, 2017

TED Talk I just did on “Why End War”

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TED Talk I just did on “Why End War”

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November 4, 5: Los Angeles

November 7: Hyattsville, Busboys & Poets

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Debunking the Myths of War

October 20, 2017

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World Beyond War via via
2:03 PM (6 hours ago)

Debunking the Myths of War

What are the assumptions we hold about the nature of violence and the practices of war?

>>Click here to join the discussion on Debunking the Myths of War.

Join World Beyond War in this timely discussion on “Debunking the Myths of War” by participating in discussion 3 of our online study guide STUDY WAR NO MORE. This discussion features an introductory video by Study and Action Partner Paul K. Chappell, the Peace Leadership Director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

The goals and objectives of this discussion are to identify, reflect and analyze assumptions of war, violence and conflict. This would be a great introductory lesson for the U.S. Commander in Chief!

About STUDY WAR NO MORE – A Concerned Citizens Study & Action Guide for “A Global Security System: An Alternative to War”

STUDY WAR NO MORE is a learning and action tool developed and produced by World Beyond War in partnership with the Global Campaign for Peace Education. It is a companion guide to World Beyond War’s publication: “A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.”

Study War No More provides guided inquiries and suggests practical actions for students and citizens to understand the nature of “the war system” and the possibilities for its transformation to an authentic “global security system” pursued via peaceful means.

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World Beyond War Needs Your Support

September 28, 2017

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10:00 AM (5 hours ago)

World Beyond War has just held an extremely successful conference, forming new alliances between peace and environmental movements. See video.

We’ve just published a new book, and an online video study guide.

We’ve just added new chapters in new parts of the world.

And we have big plans. We’re taking the lead on a big new coalition on closing foreign bases, with a large conference planned for January. We’re about to announce a campaign to organize anti-war events of all kinds everywhere on November 11th (Armistice Day 99). We’re ramping up our divestment campaign, and our efforts to pass local resolutions.

We’re moving a lot of new people to understand the need to end war, but we can’t go forward without your help.


Thank you!

Please send this to anyone who might help out!

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Video of #NoWar2017

September 26, 2017


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1:02 PM (21 hours ago)

Video of No War 2017: War and the Environment

If you didn’t attend #NoWar2017 this past weekend, you can watch videos of the whole conference below. If you appreciate what you see and want World Beyond War to be able to continue this kind of work, please donate what you can here.

Sept 22

7:00-7:55 p.m. Conference Opening Plenary: David Swanson, Jill Stein, Tim DeChristopher. VIDEO 1, VIDEO 2.

7:55 p.m. music by Bryan Cahall. VIDEO 2, VIDEO 3.

8:10-10 p.m. Begining with Edward Snowden (by video) introduced by Elizabeth Murray, our friends from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence presented an event with Elizabeth Murray, Annie Machon, Daniel Ellsberg (by video), Thomas Drake, Ray McGovern, Ann Wright, John Kiriakou. (Note: Chelsea Manning sent regrets that she could not attend as we had hoped, as did Seymour Hersh.) VIDEO 3, VIDEO 4, VIDEO 5.

Sept 23

9-10:15 a.m. Understanding the intersection of pro-environment and anti-war activism, with Richard Tucker, Gar Smith, and Dale Dewar. Moderator: Leah Bolger. VIDEO 6, VIDEO 7.

10:30-11:45 a.m. Preventing domestic environmental damage of militarism, with Mike Stagg, Pat Elder, James Marc Leas. Moderator: Pat Elder. VIDEO 8, VIDEO 9.

12:45 p.m. – 1 p.m. music by The Irthlingz Duo: Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz. VIDEO 10.

1-2:15 p.m. Combining movements globally, with Robin Taubenfeld, Rev Lukata Mjumbe, Emily Wurth. Moderator: Mary Dean. VIDEO 10, VIDEO 11, VIDEO 12.

2:30-3:45 p.m. Financial tradeoffs, budgets, and conversion, with Lindsay Koshgarian and Bruce Gagnon. Moderator: Jean Athey. VIDEO 13, VIDEO 14.

4:00-4:05 Presentation of World Beyond War’s new online Study Guide with Tony Jenkins. VIDEO 15.

4:05-5:15 p.m. Divestment from fossil fuels and weapons with Jonathan King, Susi Snyder, Terry Crawford-Browne. Moderator: Tony Jenkins VIDEO 15, VIDEO 16, VIDEO 17.

6:45-7:30 Music by Emma’s Revolution. VIDEO 18, VIDEO 19.

7:30-9:00 Screening of episode 7 of Untold History of the United States, followed by discussion with Ray McGovern, David Swanson, and Dan Ellsberg (by video). VIDEO 20, VIDEO 21.

Sept 24

9-10:15 a.m. Creative activism for the earth and peace, with Nadine Bloch, Bill Moyer, Brian Trautman. Moderator: Alice Slater. VIDEO 22, VIDEO 23, VIDEO 24.

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Breakout workshop strategic planning sessions in Recital Hall, and in Rooms 112, 115, 123, and 128, and possibly outdoors.

Workshop 1: How the Internet Changes Activism with Donnal Walter. ROOM 128

Workshop 2: Creative activismwith Nadine Bloch and Bill Moyer. ROOM 115

Workshop 3: Educational Approaches to Foster Political Engagement for Peace and Planet, with Tony Jenkins and Tiffany Jenkins. ROOM 123

Workshop 4: Don’t Bank on the Bomb: Divestment Campaign from Corporations Involved in the Manufacture and Maintenance of Nuclear Weapons, with Jonathan King, Alice Slater, Susi Snyder. ROOM 112. VIDEO.

Workshop 5: Closing Military Bases with Ann Wright, Will Griffin. RECITAL HALL. VIDEOS: 1, 2, 3.

1-2 p.m. Reporting back and discussion in Recital Hall. Moderator: Leah Bolger, VIDEO 25, VIDEO 26.

2:15-3:30 p.m. Halting the environmental damage of distant U.S. wars, with Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Max Blumenthal. Moderator: Bob Fantina. VIDEO 27, VIDEO 28, VIDEO 29.

3:45-5:00 p.m. Building a Joint Peacenvironmentalist / Envirantiwar Movement, with Anthony Rogers-Wright and Medea Benjamin. Moderator: Donnal Walter. VIDEO 30, VIDEO 31, VIDEO 32.

6:30-7:15 Music by The Irthlingz Duo: Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz. VIDEO 33, VIDEO 34, VIDEO 35, VIDEO 36.

7:15-9:00 p.m. Film screening and discussion: Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives: The Environmental Footprint of War, with Alice Day and Lincoln Day. VIDEO COMING SOON.


Videos by Barry Student. Divestment workshop video by Ellen Thomas.

In 1 week: Treaty to Ban Nukes Opens, as does #NoWar2017

September 15, 2017

World Beyond War via via
8:01 AM (2 hours ago)

Tell U.S. to join treaty banning nuclear weapons possession

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No War 2017: War and the Environment

September 22-24 Conference in Washington, D.C.

Just following the International Day of Peace, and in the tradition of No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism, and the best speech any U.S. president ever gave, this year’s conference will focus on activism, including activist planning workshops, addressing how the antiwar and environmental movements can work together.

WHO: Speakers will include: Medea Benjamin, Nadine Bloch, Max Blumenthal, Natalia Cardona, Suzanne Cole, Alice Day, Lincoln Day, Tim DeChristopher, Dale Dewar, Pat Elder, Bruce Gagnon, Will Griffin, Seymour Hersh, Tony Jenkins, Larry Johnson, Kathy Kelly, Jonathan King, Lindsay Koshgarian, Peter Kuznick, James Marc Leas, Annie Machon, Ray McGovern, Rev Lukata Mjumbe, Bill Moyer, Elizabeth Murray, Anthony Rogers-Wright, Alice Slater, Gar Smith, Susi Snyder, Mike Stagg, Jill Stein, David Swanson, Robin Taubenfeld, Eric Teller, Brian Terrell, Brian Trautman, Richard Tucker, Donnal Walter, Larry Wilkerson, Ann Wright, Emily Wurth, Kevin Zeese. Read speakers’ bios.

And special guest: Chelsea Manning.

Music by The Irthlingz Duo: Sharon Abreu and Michael Hurwicz, and by Emma’s Revolution, and by Bryan Cahall.

WHERE: American University Katzen Art Center4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20016
All events in the Recital Hall. Workshops on Sunday in the Recital Hall, and in Rooms 112, 115, 123, and 128. How to get there.

Lodging and rides board.

Friday, Sept 22: 7-10 p.m.
Saturday, Sept 23: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday, Sept 24: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Click here to register (includes 2 catered vegan meals and a copy of the new 2017 edition of A Global Security System: An Alternative to War).

Click here to become a sponsor (includes a literature table and free registrations if desired).

Sponsors include:

Steve Shafarman

We will use Facebook Live to stream this conference. To watch the livestream simply visit at the time of the conference. If you miss it you can watch it anytime later at the same page. Numerous groups around the world are organizing events to watch the livestream. You can do the same and let us know to help promote your event.

Use this flyer to spread the word about this conference: PDF.

Share on Facebook as a graphic or as a Facebook event and on Twitter.
Or share this video.

You might also like to join the flotilla for the environment and peace in front of the Pentagon on the Potomac on September 17, 2017.

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The Gathering to Abolish War

September 13, 2017

OpEdNews Op Eds 9/12/2017 at 20:10:45

By David Swanson             Permalink

Related Topic(s): Activism; Militarization; Peace; Peace; Wars, Add Tags Add to My Group(s)
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Have you about had enough yet? I have!

Sixteen years of endless wars, endless spending, endless killing, endless dying, endless environmental destruction, endless erosion of our rights, endless suppression of activism, endless militarization of police, endless promotion of bigotry and hatred, endless generation of hatred and terrorism, endless threats of nuclear apocalypse.

Can we make it end now?

If I were to get some people together to work on, at long last, abolishing war, I would want whistleblowers like Chelsea Manning to be there. (She will be.)

I’d want these people to be there too. (They will be, along with many others.)
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Medea Benjamin is a cofounder of both CODEPINK and the international human rights organization Global Exchange. Benjamin is the author of eight books. Her latest book is Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, and she has been campaigning to stop the use of killer drones.
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Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author whose articles and video documentaries have appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, The Nation, The Guardian, The Independent Film Channel, The Huffington Post,, Al Jazeera English and many other publications. His new book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, is in stores now.
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Pat Elder is the author of Military Recruiting in the United States, and the Director of the National Coalition to Protect Student Privacy, an organization that works to counter the alarming militarization of America’s high schools. Elder was a co-founder of the DC Antiwar Network and a long-time member of the Steering Committee of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth.
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Bruce Gagnon is the Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He was a co-founder of the Global Network when it was created in 1992. Between 1983–1998 Bruce was the State Coordinator of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice and has worked on space issues for 30 years.
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Will Griffin is a member of the board of Veterans For Peace. He studied in the California State University San Marcos, Global Studies program with an emphasis on U.S. Foreign Policy and International Conflict and Cooperation (2014).
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Seymour Myron “Sy” Hersh is an investigative journalist and political writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine on national security matters and has also written for the London Review of Books since 2013.
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The Reverend Lukata Agyei Mjumbe is a life long political activist, 25 year veteran grassroots community organizer and anti-violence advocate centered in Black and Brown communities. He is a Member of the Coordinating Committee of the Black Alliance for Peace (BAP).
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Tony Jenkins, PhD, has 15+ years of experience directing and designing peacebuilding and international educational programs and projects and leadership in the international development of peace studies and peace education. He is World Beyond War’s Education Coordinator.
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Kathy Kelly, during each of 20 trips to Afghanistan as an invited guest of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, has lived alongside ordinary Afghan people in a working class neighborhood in Kabul. She and her companions in Voices for Creative Nonviolence believe that “where you stand determines what you see.”
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Lindsay Koshgarian is research director of the National Priorities Project. Her research interests include education and workforce spending, social insurance and entitlement spending, debt and deficits, and tax policy and revenue generation.
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Peter Kuznick is professor of History and Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University. He is author of Beyond the Laboratory: Scientists As Political Activists in 1930s America, co-author with Akira Kimura of Rethinking the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: Japanese and American Perspectives, co-author with Yuki Tanaka of Genpatsu to Hiroshima — genshiryoku heiwa riyo no shinso (Nuclear Power and Hiroshima: The Truth Behind the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Power).
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James Marc Leas is a Vermont attorney and is a past co-chair of the National Lawyers Guild Free Palestine Subcommittee. He has been a leader of a campaign to block the stationing of F-35 jets in Burlington, Vermont, and of the formation of a Vermont chapter of World Beyond War.
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Ray McGovern served as a CIA analyst for 27 years, from the administration of John F. Kennedy to that of George H. W. Bush. Ray’s duties included chairing National Intelligence Estimates and preparing the President’s Daily Brief, which he briefed one-on-one to President Ronald Reagan’s five most senior national security advisers from 1981 to 1985. In January 2003, Ray co-created Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
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Elizabeth Murray is a former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council (NIC) and was a CIA political analyst for 27 years. A member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence, she currently serves as Member-in-Residence at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action in Poulsbo, WA.
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Alice Slater serves on the Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War and is the UN NGO Representative of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. She is on the Global Council of Abolition 2000 working for a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons, serves on its International Coordinating Committee and directs its Sustainable Energy Working Group.
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Jill Stein is a physician, activist, and politician. She was the Green Party’s nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 and 2016 elections. She was a candidate for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 and 2010. In July 2017 she helped lead a peace delegation to Korea.
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Brian Terrell is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He lives on a Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa, and has been a peace activist since 1975, participating in communities of resistance around the US and the world. On September 21st, Brian is returning to the United States from his fifth visit to Afghanistan.
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Brian Trautman is the treasurer of Veterans For Peace and a lifetime member of the organization. He is a U.S. Army veteran, having served on active duty as a cannon crewmember from 1993-1997.
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Kevin Zeese is an organizer with Popular Resistance. Its Our Economy, Creative Resistance, and a radio show are all projects of Popular Resistance. Zeese is also an attorney who has been a political activist since graduating from George Washington Law School in 1980.
Sign up now to reserve a spot at the conference.

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David Swanson is the author of “When the World Outlawed War,” “War Is A Lie” and “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.” He blogs at and and works for the online (more…)


Compared to the Benefits of Peace, Spending Money on War Is Insane

September 13, 2017

OpEdNews Op Eds 9/12/2017 at 20:38:11

By Robert Anschuetz Message Robert Anschuetz Permalink
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While war is perceived by many as an inherent institution of the nation state, few people fail to recognize and regret the horror, death, destruction, suffering, and misery it inflicts. Another consequence of war, however, is less often considered, though it is in the long run even more damaging to the cause of human well-being. That is the waste of resources in preparing for, and waging, war that could otherwise be used to help meet the physical, economic, social, and cultural needs of ordinary people.
According to a reliable online information source , the U.S. accounted for 37 percent, or about $592 billion, of the more than $1.6 trillion in world military spending in 2015. (See That outlay amounts to roughly the size of the next seven largest military budgets combined. (On September 11, 2017, a new defense spending authorization bill calling for a budget of $692 billion in fiscal year 2018 was introduced into the U.S. Senate.) Moreover, it has been estimated that overall annual U.S. military spending is actually about $1 trillion, when funding is counted not only for the Pentagon but for Homeland Security and other related government departments and agencies. In addition, the U.S. has spent approximately $2 trillion in direct costs for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. That figure is itself raised to an estimated $6 trillion when indirect expenditures are added–such as future care of veterans and lost domestic investment opportunities.

If those dollars were made available instead for investments to meet the direct needs of people, a substantial portion could be used in our own country to help adequately fund two important projects: the long-neglected rebuilding of our crumbling physical infrastructure, and systematic progress toward a more cost-effective and environmentally-healthy green economy. Besides making life better for everyone, both investments would generate millions of new, good-paying jobs. Other diverted defense dollars could be used to fund projects abroad that help meet the basic needs of underdeveloped countries–such as food, clean water, medicine, agriculture, sustainable energy, and education. Those initiatives could greatly enhance the American image with the people of those countries, and, by providing young males a basis of hope for the future, reduce the allure of political extremism and help ease the threats to our own country posed by international terrorism.

The diversion of defense funds to meet human needs would also eliminate two deleterious characteristics of the war industry:

— It is economically unfair. It shuttles public funds into increasingly privatized industries, which are subject to little public accounting and tend to place huge profits in the hands of corporate owners and directors.

— It endangers both the environment and human survival. The U.S., with only 5% of the world’s population, consumes a quarter to a third of the world’s oil and other natural resources–much of it needed for war-making. This rate of consumption will ruin the earth’s climate and ecosystems long before its supply of fossil fuels and other natural resources are exhausted. Moreover, we can’t in any case continue to make use of the weapons produced by the war industry to further our exploitation of the natural resources of foreign lands. If we accept the scientific consensus that global warming is real and produced by human activity, our survival depends on a shift to renewable energy, or on the use of less energy. And that depends in turn on investing public funds now wasted on the preparation for war in efforts to find clean-energy solutions.

A Decline in War Spending Is Also a First Step Toward Peace and the End of War

Another potential benefit of U.S. demilitarization is suggested by the results of a global survey conducted by WIN/Gallup International and released in 2014. In a poll of residents in 68 countries, 24 percent of the countries ranked the U.S. as the greatest threat to world peace. The U.S. ranking was followed by Pakistan at 8 percent, China at 6 percent, and four countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, and North Korea) tied at 5 percent. (See

Given this highly disproportionate fear of U.S. aggression, a demonstrated U.S. commitment to demilitarization might well trigger a reverse arms race by nations throughout the world. This is the more likely, because no other countries (and that includes Russia!) are aggressively seeking to maintain a global empire, and therefore probably maintain a military establishment only for reasons of defense and/or national pride. In the absence of an American threat, such nations might be only too happy to divert funds now spent on defense to investments that develop their own economic strength and meet other needs of their population. To make that possible, they could then seek to negotiate legally-binding bilateral or multilateral agreements for gradual disarmament.

If such a course were pursued, it is highly probable that, among nuclear states, including the U.S., nuclear weapons–the most dangerous, costly, and least likely to be used of all weapons–would be the first to go. That result would not only finally put an end to a now seven-decades-old nuclear nightmare, but encourage consideration of further benefits that can be obtained by the elimination of all weapons of war.

From the standpoint of physical security, the most important benefit of disarmament would be a massive reduction in the use of climate-damaging fossil fuels. To recap three points made earlier: 1) The development, testing, and use of military weapons consume vast amounts of fossil fuels. 2) Gaining or maintaining access to oil resources from which the fossil fuels derive can be a significant factor in instigating war. And 3) The U.S. Department of Defense is the biggest single consumer of fossil fuels in the world. In light of these realities, Americans need to ask themselves two questions: Why should we continue an institution of mass killing in order to maintain access to natural resources that will ruin the earth if war doesn’t destroy it first? And, if we are going to adequately counter climate change and environmental collapse, aren’t we going to need the nearly $2 trillion a year the world now spends on preparing for war?

A shift in public spending from war to peace could also promote unprecedented international cooperation in helping to meet the real needs of people around the world. Here are some ideas I’ve picked up in my research:

By diverting $500 billion of the roughly $1 trillion we now spend annually on war to meet the real needs of Americans, we could end college debt, provide housing for everyone, rebuild our physical infrastructure, and fund sustainable green energy and agricultural practices.
With the other $500 billion, we could provide the world with food and water, green energy, infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, cultural exchange programs, and the study of peace and non-violent conflict resolution.
Even much smaller investments to help poor or underdeveloped countries around the world could pay huge dividends:

— Today, the U.S. spends just $23 billion a year on non-war-related foreign aid. It would cost just $7 billion more–about $30 billion a year–to end starvation and hunger around the world, and $11 billion a year to provide clean water to all populations in the world that don’t now have it.

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— By raising this spending to $100 billion, we could save many lives, greatly reduce suffering, and make ourselves the most beloved nation on earth–perhaps even removing ourselves thereby as a target of terrorist attacks. For fairness, however, even such a modest investment aimed at global rescue and well-being should also include the struggling millions in our own country.

As suggested by the global poll that picked the U.S. as by far the greatest danger to world peace, it seems evident that at least much of the world wants nothing to do with America’s current role as the world’s policeman. What it does undoubtedly want is what most Americans want for themselves: to live in peace, to enjoy a decent standard of living, and to have opportunities to develop and apply their own creative talents. It is perhaps an interesting irony that by diverting our defense dollars from policing the world to helping our fellow humans live a better life, we can best ensure our own security.

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A Choice We Have To Make

War seems to me an obvious product of the nation we live in. America consists fundamentally of interlinked centers of economic, social, cultural, media, military, and political power that operate within an overarching national system dedicated to controlling the world in its own interest. Each of these centers is characterized by a prevailing group-think that is reinforced by competitive careerism. You have to go along not only to get along–but to get ahead. This mindset ensures that each center of power toes the system line, leaving its functionaries little capacity to empathize with those outside the power system or to walk a mile in their moccasins. As expressed in international relations, that same mindset leads all of the power centers–including the mass media, who should be America’s conscience!–to demonize adversaries, stand averse to conciliation with them, and to consider war a natural option for advancing the nation’s interests.

I had an experience the other day, however, that renewed my hope that things can change. I watched a short video that offered a glimpse into an elementary-school classroom in Russia. The focus of that glimpse was a young chap who asked an American visitor in halting, but understandable, English how American kids at age ten celebrate Halloween. He wanted to know especially about the trick-or-treat aspect, revealing that, when he had made that a part of his own Halloween practice in Russia, people didn’t open their door.

In watching the video, I was struck by how completely the innocence, friendliness, and eagerness to please of the Russian school children resembled that of the children in American elementary-school classrooms I have visited as a father and grandfather. That perception of the common humanity of our species behind its cultural differences reminded me again of why war, or even the threat of war, is an abomination. I find it difficult to accept that the friendly outreach of the little boy in the Russian classroom, and by children throughout the world, should ever give way to an acceptance of war as a natural part of human outlook and behavior. As those of us who hate war pursue the challenging, though we believe not unattainable, goal of its worldwide abolition, we too, like the civil rights marchers of the 1960s, have to keep our eyes on the prize. It can be found every day in the eyes of all the cute children of the world who reach out to it with curiosity and expectation.

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In retirement, Bob Anschuetz has applied his long career experience as an industrial writer and copy editor to helping authors meet publishing standards for both online articles and full-length books. In work as a volunteer editor for OpEdNews, (more…)

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How Outlawing War Changed the World in 1928

September 12, 2017

How Outlawing War Changed the World in 1928

By David Swanson

When I wrote a book about the Kellogg-Briand Pact my goals were to draw lessons from the movement that created it, and to call attention to its existence as a still-current law being routinely violated — in hopes of encouraging compliance. After all, it is a law that bans nations from engaging in war — the primary thing my nation’s government does, with a half-dozen U.S. wars going at any time now.

Now Oona Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro have published The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World. Their goals seems to be to show us how different and worse the world was in certain ways before the Pact, and to claim for the pact enormous success and general compliance.

I have learned a great deal from this phenomenal book, easily the best book I’ve read in years. I could write an essay about each of its over 400 pages. While I agree with a great deal of it and strongly disagree with certain parts, the two are easily separable. The brilliant sections are no less valuable because of those sections that fall short.

This book constitutes the ultimate refutation of the childishly simplistic notion that because World War II followed the outlawing of war in 1928 that outlawing was a failure — a standard that as far as I know has never been applied to any other law. (Has no one driven drunk since the banning of drunk driving?) In fact, the very first prosecutions for violation of the law, at Nuremberg and Tokyo, have been followed by a reduction in wars that has most notably included the absence of any further wars waged directly between wealthy well-armed nations — at least so far.

As Hathaway and Shapiro show, the Peace Pact of Paris has so transformed the world that it is hard to recall what preceded it. War was legal in 1927. Both sides of a war were legal. Atrocities committed during wars were almost always legal. The conquest of territory was legal. Burning and looting and pillaging were legal.

War was, in fact, not just legal; it was itself understood to be law enforcement. War could be used to attempt to right any perceived injustice. The seizing of other nations as colonies was legal. The motivation for colonies to try to free themselves was weak because they were likely to be seized by some other nation if they broke free from their current oppressor.

Economic sanctions by neutral nations were not legal, though joining in a war could be. And making trade agreements under the threat of war was perfectly legal and acceptable, as was starting another war if such a coerced agreement was violated. Raping a woman in war could be illegal, but killing her could be in perfect compliance with the law. Killing was, in fact, legal whenever deemed part of a war, and illegal otherwise.

Some of this may sound familiar. You may have heard Rosa Brooks tell Congress that drone murders are acceptable if part of a war and crimes otherwise, whereas torture is a crime either way. But the extent to which the label of “war” is understood to permit killing today is limited greatly in theory and significantly even in reality. And today war is understood to license mass murder alone, whereas it used to give free rein for participants to murder, trespass, break and enter, steal, assault, maim, kidnap, extort, destroy property, or commit arson. Today a soldier can return from a mass killing spree and be prosecuted for cheating on his taxes. He or she has been given a license to kill and only to kill, nothing more.

Demanding today that the U.S. Congress repeal the Authorization for the Use of Military Force of 2001 and revert to its old practice of declaring wars, rather than simply funding (and whining about) any wars a president wages, may or may not be an effective means of curtailing warmaking, but it does amount to demanding a return to a barbaric antiquity, a practice that when it was used constituted an announcement that all would henceforth be permitted as long as it victimized whichever people war was being declared against.

To the very limited extent that the pre-1928 world had laws against wars, they were only laws against particular atrocities. In other words, the world in which Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch try to live today, in which war is perfectly acceptable, but each inevitable atrocious component of the wars is a crime: that was the best the West had to offer from ancient times through 1928.

The world after 1928 was different. The outlawing of war reduced the need for large nations, and smaller nations began to form by the dozens, exercising their right to self-determination. Colonies, likewise, sought their freedom. Conquests of territory after 1928 were undone. The year 1928 became the dividing line for determining which conquests were legal and which not. And the Pact of course was central to the prosecution of (the losers) of World War II for the crime of war. International trade has flourished in the absence of legal conquest. While it is not even true, much less a statement of causation, that nations with McDonalds do not attack each other, it may be true that a world with a reduced risk of attack, for better or worse, generates more McDonalds.

All of these positive changes have indeed come about as a result of a treaty generally mocked when not ignored. But they don’t add up to the positive view of the world pushed by people like Steven Pinker as well as Hathaway and Shapiro. That positive view of a world ridding itself of war comes about through selective statistics, also known as lies, damn lies, and U.S. exceptionalism. In Pinker, deaths are radically undercounted, then compared to the entire population of the world rather than the relevant nation, or erased by re-categorizing them as “civil war” and therefore not war deaths at all.

Hathaway and Shapiro recognize one U.S. coup (Iran) and war (Iraq) as if none of the others have happened or are happening. The Nakba seems not to exist. That is, the crime and the suffering it entailed do not get mentioned, though the “Arab-Israeli conflict” does.

The authors refer to Iraq 2003-present as a war that in 2015 had “greater than ten thousand” people killed in “battle-related” killing. (I’m unclear which killings are excluded by “battle-related.”) Never do they mention that “greater than one million” have been killed in that war.

Since World War II, during what the authors call a “period of unprecedented peace,” the United States military has killed some 20 million people, overthrown at least 36 governments, interfered in at least 82 foreign elections, attempted to assassinate over 50 foreign leaders, and dropped bombs on people in over 30 countries. This extravaganza of criminal killing is documented here.

The United States killed some 5 million people in Southeast Asia in a war that Hathaway and Shapiro mention only as an act of conquest by the North of the South when the invaders finally fled. I arrive at that number using the Harvard study from 2008 on Vietnam (3.8 million) plus Nick Turse’s case in Kill Anything That Moves that this is a significant under-counting. Using 4 million for Vietnam, I add 1 million for the combined hundreds of thousands killed by the U.S. bombing campaigns in each of the two countries of Laos and Cambodia (both rough estimates). I do not add in the 1 to 2 million killed by the Khmer Rouge, though blame can be given to the United States (without taking it away from anyone else) for that horror. While the United States military did not kill all of the 4 million killed in Vietnam, there would not have been a war, or certainly not a war resembling what the Vietnamese call the American War without the United States.

For the past almost 16 years, the United States has been systematically destroying a region of the globe, bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and Syria, not to mention the Philippines. The United States has “special forces” operating in two-thirds of the world’s countries and non-special forces stationed in three-quarters of them. This is the “period of unprecedented peace” that Hathaway and Shapiro describe as threatened by Russia, China, and ISIS. (“Even as [the Pact’s] bright promises have been fulfilled, other darker threats have rushed into the void.” Guess who those are!)

Quite obviously one cannot fit everything tangentially related to the topic of a book into a book. But to write about the problem of war without mentioning the U.S. dominance of the field is a bias. There is a reason that most countries polled in December 2013 by Gallup called the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world. But it is a reason that eludes that strain of U.S. academia that first defines war as something that nations and groups other than the United States do, and then concludes that war has nearly vanished from the earth, or is on its way out, and that the greatest threats of war come from China, Russia, and ISIS.

Ironically, a brilliant analysis giving the Kellogg-Briand Pact its due could probably only have been written by Americans — the rest of the world viewing U.S. actions on war and peace with too much cynicism and resentment. But anything written by Americans comes with American baggage.

The Lusitania was attacked by Germany without warning, we’re told, despite Germany literally having published warnings in New York newspapers and newspapers around the United States. These warnings were printed right next to ads for sailing on the Lusitania and were signed by the German embassy. Newspapers wrote articles about the warnings. The Cunard company was asked about the warnings. The former captain of the Lusitania had already quit — reportedly due to the stress of sailing through what Germany had publicly declared a war zone. Meanwhile Winston Churchill is quoted as having said “It is most important to attract neutral shipping to our shores in the hope especially of embroiling the United States with Germany.” It was under his command that the usual British military protection was not provided to the Lusitania, despite Cunard having stated that it was counting on that protection. Much of Hathaway and Shapiro’s book is devoted to the pre-1928 responsibilities of neutral nations to remain neutral. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned over the U.S. failure to remain neutral. That the Lusitania was carrying weapons and troops to aid the British in the war against Germany was asserted by Germany and by other observers, and was true. Of course sinking the Lusitania was a horrible act of mass-murder, as was loading it up with weapons and troops to ship to a war. Behavior on all sides was reprehensible. But the authors only provide one side, only slightly mitigated by a footnote.

Occupations are meant to be temporary we’re told, despite the unlikelihood that the authors would dare make such an assertion in Kabul. The U.S. military now has approximately 8,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, plus 6,000 other NATO troops, 1,000 mercenaries, and another 26,000 contractors (of whom about 8,000 are from the United States). That’s 41,000 people engaged in a foreign occupation of a country over 15 years after the accomplishment of their stated mission to overthrow the Taliban government. The Department of so-called Defense has informed the U.S. Congress that it will soon produce yet another new plan for “winning” in Afghanistan. No plans for ending the occupation have been forthcoming or even requested. When the U.S. occupation of Iraq “ended,” troops and mercenaries remained. That they were invited back by the Iraqi government hardly excuses their actions, including the destruction of Mosul this past summer.

The single biggest threat to the peace on earth that was established in 1928 turns out to have been, according to Hathaway and Shapiro, the 2014 vote by the people of Crimea to re-join Russia — an action that of course involved zero casualties and has never been repeated because poll after poll shows the people happy with their vote. The authors produce no written or oral statement from Russia threatening war or violence. If the threat was implicit, there remains the problem of being unable to find Crimeans who say they felt threatened. (Although I have seen reports of discrimination against Tartars during the past 3 years.) If the vote was influenced by the implicit threat, there remains the problem that polls consistently get the same result. Of course one of the many U.S.-backed coups unnoticed by this book had just occurred in Kiev, meaning that Crimea was voting to secede from a coup government. The United States had supported the secession of Kosovo from Serbia in the 1990s despite Serbian opposition. When Slovakia seceded from Czechoslovakia, the U.S. did not urge any opposition. The U.S. (and Hathaway and Shapiro) support the right of South Sudan to have seceded from Sudan, although violence and chaos reigned. U.S. politicians like Joe Biden and Jane Harman even proposed breaking Iraq up into pieces, as others have proposed for Syria. But let’s grant for the sake of argument that the Crimean vote was problematic, even horrendous, even criminal. Its depiction in this book as the single biggest threat to peace on earth would still be ludicrous. Compare it to a trillion dollars a year in U.S. military spending, new missiles in Romania and Poland, massive bombing of Iraq and Syria, the destruction of Iraq and Libya, the endless war on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the U.S.-Saudi devastation of Yemen and the creation of famine and disease epidemics, or the explicit threats to attack Iran. I’m sure your average American would rather visit “liberated Mosul” than “annexed Crimea,” but should we deal with facts or slogans?

Hathaway and Shapiro give S. O. Levinson and the outlawrists of the 1920s their due for what they accomplished, but the authors view the world as 2017 CNN consumers. They favor “defensive” wars. They fault Trump for suggesting that NATO be scrapped. They maintain silence on NATO’s aggressive expansion, as well as on U.S. military bases ringing the globe. In fact they make this blatantly false statement: “The United States, United Kingdom, and France . . . took no new territory after the war.”

During World War II the U.S. Navy seized the small Hawaiian island of Koho’alawe for a weapons testing range and ordered its inhabitants to leave. The island has been devastated. In 1942, the U.S. Navy displaced Aleutian Islanders. Those practices did not end in 1928 or in 1945. President Harry Truman made up his mind that the 170 native inhabitants of Bikini Atoll had no right to their island in 1946. He had them evicted in February and March of 1946, and dumped as refugees on other islands without means of support or a social structure in place. In the coming years, the United States would remove 147 people from Enewetak Atoll and all the people on Lib Island. U.S. atomic and hydrogen bomb testing rendered various depopulated and still-populated islands uninhabitable, leading to further displacements. Up through the 1960s, the U.S. military displaced hundreds of people from Kwajalein Atoll. A super-densely populated ghetto was created on Ebeye.

On Vieques, off Puerto Rico, the U.S. Navy displaced thousands of inhabitants between 1941 and 1947, announced plans to evict the remaining 8,000 in 1961, but was forced to back off and — in 2003 — to stop bombing the island. On nearby Culebra, the Navy displaced thousands between 1948 and 1950 and attempted to remove those remaining up through the 1970s. The Navy is right now looking at the island of Pagan as a possible replacement for Vieques, the population already having been removed by a volcanic eruption. Of course, any possibility of return would be greatly diminished.

Beginning during World War II but continuing right through the 1950s, the U.S. military displaced a quarter million Okinawans, or half the population, from their land, forcing people into refugee camps and shipping thousands of them off to Bolivia — where land and money were promised but not delivered.

In 1953, the United States made a deal with Denmark to remove 150 Inughuit people from Thule, Greenland, giving them four days to get out or face bulldozers. They are being denied the right to return.

Between 1968 and 1973, the United States and Great Britain exiled all 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants of Diego Garcia, rounding people up and forcing them onto boats while killing their dogs in a gas chamber and seizing possession of their entire homeland for the use of the U.S. military.

The South Korean government, which evicted people for U.S. base expansion on the mainland in 2006, has, at the behest of the U.S. Navy, in recent years been devastating a village, its coast, and 130 acres of farmland on Jeju Island in order to provide the United States with another massive military base.

None of this is mentioned in Hathaway and Shapiro’s book, or of course in the database called Correlates of War that they drew data from. The U.S. role as dominant military force on earth is simply missing. The arms trade in which the U.S. leads the way and a half dozen nations dominate the arming of the globe makes no appearance. But China’s efforts to claim islands in the South China Sea are as threatening to the authors as to Hillary Clinton at a Goldman Sachs event, if not more so.

Shapiro and Hathaway might argue that “forced expulsions” are a product of hard borders, which are a product of outlawing war. Tony Judt wrote: “At the conclusion of the first world war it was borders that were invented and adjusted, while people were on the whole left in place. After 1945 what happened was rather the opposite: with one major exception, boundaries stay broadly intact and people were moved instead.” But niether this nor anything else I’ve seen constitutes a serious claim or evidence that forced expulsions were fewer or nonexistent prior to 1928. What of the forced expulsion of so many Native Americans? But, increased or decreased or continuing at a steady pace, these crimes, these acts of war, these conquerings of territory, do not make it into the book. Instead we’re falsely told that the United States takes no new territory. Tell that to the residents of Vicenza, Italy, or any of dozens of towns around the world where U.S. military bases are forcibly expanded against the will of the people living there.

As a result of the authors’ exceptionalist view of the world, and perhaps a focus on written law, Hathaway and Shapiro find shortcomings in the Kellogg-Briand Pact by looking at its words rather than looking at our failure to comply with them. They believe the Pact leaves open (does not provide permission but simply fails to address) the option to wage war over territorial disputes, as well as the option for non-state actors to wage war. The former depends on the idea that the Pact only banned aggressive war, rather than all war — decidedly not what the Outlawrists intended. They — the originators of outlawry — intended to ban war entirely, with no exception for the common excuse of territorial disputes. The latter, the ability of non-state actors to wage war, depends on irrational fear mongering around enemies, such as ISIS, generated by the counterproductive, blowback-producing, routine violation of the Pact by S.O. Levinson’s own nation, the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.

In Hathaway and Shapiro’s view, I am simply wrong about what the Outlawrists meant, and defensive wars were not being renounced. But my point is not to comment on how some senators interpreted what they were ratifying, but rather to recall the better-developed thinking of the originators of and promoters of the idea of outlawing war. I quoted Levinson in When the World Outlawed War:

“Suppose this same distinction had been urged when the institution of duelling [sic] was outlawed. . . . Suppose it had then been urged that only ‘aggressive duelling’ should be outlawed and that ‘defensive duelling’ be left intact. . . . Such a suggestion relative to duelling would have been silly, but the analogy is perfectly sound. What we did was to outlaw the institution of duelling, a method theretofore recognized by law for the settlement of disputes of so-called honor.”

By failing to focus on what the Outlawrists wanted, rather than on what governments made of their creation, the authors conclude that in 1928 nobody had really considered what to replace war with, how to resolve disputes without wars. They also conclude that the U.N. Charter made the Pact a “reality,” rather than weakening it. But many knew full well the need for new types of nonviolent sanction, for global courts, for moral and economic tools, for disarmament, and for cultural changes still eluding us. Levinson drafted implementing legislation to make advocacy for war a felony. The U.N. Charter’s loopholes for “defensive” and “authorized” wars have made the U.N. — which has the second-largest imperial army now deployed on earth — a tool of warmaking, rather than peacemaking.

The authors fault the Pact for protecting weak states from invasion, allowing them to become failed states, creating warfare. But it takes more than protection from attack to damage a country. It often requires weapons dealing, the propping up of dictators, and the foreign exploitation of people and resources. Surely eliminating these further evils would be preferable to reinstating the evil of conquest.

Where Hathaway and Shapiro’s book shines, despite all the red, white, and bluism, is in its analysis of the replacement of war with alternative systems of security, something I’ve also looked into. They propose, in particular, recognition of and expansion of what they call outcasting. The name is derived from the ancient practice on Iceland of punishing a law violator by making them an outcast from society. “The law was effective,” Hathaway and Shapiro write, “even though there were no public institutions of law enforcement, because outlawry turned all Icelanders into law enforcers.” Based on this model, the authors describe the manner in which institutions like those handling international mail or trade create compliance with standards through the threat of banishment.

Of course extending the powers of corporate trade organizations to allow their lawyers to rewrite nations’ domestic laws is not desirable or necessary. And outcasting is only one tool in the tool chest of a non-war system. But what if the United Nations were replaced with or evolved into a democratized nonviolent club of peacemakers, using unarmed peaceworkers, and maintaining the threat of banishment from its ranks? What if the world had an independent court in place of the ICC, which the authors say can prosecute “aggression,” but which in reality cannot do so without the approval of the U.N. Security Council?

More importantly, what if we had a global culture that allowed us to confront the evil of war without nationalized biases? What if we took the accomplishments of the Kellogg-Briand Pact as motivation to see the vision of its creators through to the end: the abolition of all wars and militaries?

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Preview YouTube video Five Things You Should Know About the Paris Peace Pact

Five Things You Should Know About the Paris Peace Pact
Preview YouTube video Law vs War


What Happens When War Is Outlawed

September 12, 2017

A Critic at Large
September 18, 2017 Issue
What Happens When War Is Outlawed
Did a largely forgotten peace pact transform the world we live in?

By Louis Menand

Two legal scholars argue that the Paris Peace Pact of 1928—widely disparaged or ignored—led to a new international order.Illustration by Javier Jaén

On August 27, 1928, in Paris, with due pomp and circumstance, representatives of fifteen nations signed an agreement outlawing war. The agreement was the unanticipated fruit of an attempt by the French Foreign Minister, Aristide Briand, to negotiate a bilateral treaty with the United States in which each nation would renounce the use of war as an instrument of policy toward the other. The American Secretary of State, Frank Kellogg, had been unenthusiastic about Briand’s idea. He saw no prospect of going to war with France and therefore no point in promising not to, and he suspected that the proposal was a gimmick designed to commit the United States to intervening on France’s behalf if Germany attacked it (as Germany did in 1914). After some delay and in response to public pressure, Kellogg told Briand that his idea sounded great. Who wouldn’t want to renounce war? But why not make the treaty multilateral, and have it signed by “all the principal powers of the world”? Everyone would renounce the use of war as an instrument of policy.
Kellogg figured that he had Briand outfoxed. France had mutual defense treaties with many European states, and it could hardly honor those treaties if it agreed to renounce war altogether. But the agreement was eventually worded in a way that left sufficient interpretive latitude for Briand and other statesmen to see their way clear to signing it, and the result was the General Treaty for the Renunciation of War, also known as the Paris Peace Pact or the Kellogg-Briand Pact. By 1934, sixty-three countries had joined the Pact—virtually every established nation on earth at the time.
The Treaty of Versailles, signed in 1919, gets bad press. It imposed punitive conditions on Germany after the First World War and is often blamed for the rise of Hitler. The Kellogg-Briand Pact does not get bad press. It gets no press. That’s because the treaty went into effect on July 24, 1929, after which the following occurred: Japan invaded Manchuria (1931); Italy invaded Ethiopia (1935); Japan invaded China (1937); Germany invaded Poland (1939); the Soviet Union invaded Finland (1939); Germany invaded Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and France and attacked Great Britain (1940); and Japan attacked the United States (1941), culminating in a global war that produced the atomic bomb and more than sixty million deaths. A piece of paper signed in Paris does not seem to have presented an obstacle to citizens of one country engaging in the organized slaughter of the citizens of other countries.
In modern political history, therefore, the Paris Peace Pact, if it is mentioned at all, usually gets a condescending tip of the hat or is dutifully registered in footnote. Even in books on the law of war, little is made of it. There is not a single reference to it in the political philosopher Michael Walzer’s “Just and Unjust Wars,” a classic work published in 1977. The summary on the U.S. State Department’s Web site is typical: “In the end, the Kellogg-Briand Pact did little to prevent World War II or any of the conflicts that followed. Its legacy remains as a statement of the idealism expressed by advocates for peace in the interwar period.”
The key term in that sentence is “idealism.” In international relations, an idealist is someone who believes that foreign policy should be based on universal principles, and that nations will agree to things like the outlawry of war because they perceive themselves as sharing a harmony of interests. War is bad for every nation; therefore, it is in the interests of all nations to renounce it.
An alternative theory is (no surprise) realism. A realist thinks that a nation’s foreign policy should be guided by a cold consideration of its own interests. To a realist, the essential condition of international politics is anarchy. There is no supreme law governing relations among sovereign states. When Germany invades France, France cannot take Germany to court. There are just a lot of nations out there, each trying to secure and, if possible, extend its own power. We don’t need to judge the morality of other nations’ behavior. We only need to ask whether the interests of our nation are affected by it. We should be concerned not with some platonic harmony of interests but with the very real balance of power.
A standard way to write the history of twentieth-century international relations is to cast as idealists figures like Woodrow Wilson, who, in 1917, entered the United States into a European war to make the world “safe for democracy,” and the other liberal internationalists who came up with the League of Nations and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. The Second World War proved these people spectacularly wrong about how nations behave, and they were superseded by the realists.
To the realists, such Wilsonian ideas as world government and the outlawry of war were quixotic. Nations should recognize that conflict is endemic to the international arena, and they should not expend blood and treasure in the name of an abstraction. Containment, the American Cold War policy of preventing the Soviet Union from expanding without otherwise intervening in its affairs, was a realist policy. Communists could run their own territories however they liked as long as they stayed inside their boxes. If our system was better, theirs would eventually implode; if theirs was better, ours would. The author of that policy, the diplomat George Kennan, called the Kellogg-Briand Pact “childish, just childish.”
And yet since 1945 nations have gone to war against other nations very few times. When they have, most of the rest of the world has regarded the war as illegitimate and, frequently, has organized to sanction or otherwise punish the aggressor. In only a handful of mostly minor cases since 1945—the Russian seizure of Crimea in 2014 being a flagrant exception—has a nation been able to hold on to territory it acquired by conquest.
Historians have suggested several reasons for this drop in the incidence of interstate war. The twenty years after the Second World War was a Pax Americana. By virtue of the tremendous damage suffered in the war by all the other powers, the United States became a global hegemon. America kept the peace (on American terms, of course) because no other country had the military or economic capacity to challenge it. This is the “great” America that some seventy-five million American voters in the last Presidential election were born in, and that many of them have been convinced can be resurrected by shutting the rest of the world out—which would be a complete reversal of the policy mind-set that made the United States a dominant power back when those voters were children.
By the nineteen-seventies, the rest of the world had caught up, and students of international affairs began to predict that, in the absence of a credible global policeman, there would be a surge in the number of armed conflicts around the world. When this didn’t happen, various explanations were ventured. One was that the existence of nuclear weapons had changed the calculus that nations used to judge their chances in a war. Nuclear weapons now operated as a general deterrence to aggression.

“O.K., maybe I need to change my life, or maybe you could just tweak my medication.”
Other scholars proposed that the spread of democracy—including, in the nineteen-eighties, the Velvet Revolution in Eastern Europe and the dismembering of the Soviet Union—made the world a more peaceable place. Historically, democracies have not gone to war with other democracies. It was also argued that globalization, the interconnectedness of international trade, had rendered war less attractive. When goods are the end products of a worldwide chain of manufacture and distribution, a nation that goes to war risks cutting itself off from vital resources.
In “The Internationalists” (Simon & Schuster), two professors at Yale Law School, Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro, present another explanation for the decline in interstate wars since 1945. They think that nations rarely go to war anymore because war is illegal, and has been since 1928. In their view, the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact was not a Dr. Seuss parable with funny characters in striped trousers and top hats. The treaty did what its framers intended it to do: it effectively ended the use of war as an instrument of national policy.
Then what about the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, and so on, down to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor? Those actions were carried out by nations that were among the Pact’s original signatories, and they clearly violated its terms. According to Hathaway and Shapiro, the invasions actually turned out to be proof of the Pact’s effectiveness, because the Second World War was fought to punish aggression. The Allied victory was the triumph of Kellogg-Briand.
O.K., so what about the deterrent effect of nuclear weapons? The spread of democracy? Free trade and globalization? Isn’t the Kellogg-Briand Pact just a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc—an exercise in feel-good diplomacy that happened to find confirmation many years later in a state of global affairs made possible by other means? On the contrary, Hathaway and Shapiro argue. If war had not been outlawed, none of those other things—deterrence, democracy, trade—would have been possible. The Kellogg-Briand Pact is the explanation that explains all other explanations.
Genuine originality is unusual in political history. “The Internationalists” is an original book. There is something sweet about the fact that it is also a book written by two law professors in which most of the heroes are law professors. Sweet but significant, because one of the points of “The Internationalists” is that ideas matter.
This is something that can be under-recognized in political histories, where the emphasis tends to be on material conditions and relations of power. Hathaway and Shapiro further believe that ideas are produced by human beings, something that can be under-recognized in intellectual histories, which often take the form of books talking to books. “The Internationalists” is a story about individuals who used ideas to change the world.
The cast is appropriately international. Many of the characters are barely known outside scholarly circles, and they are all sketched in as personalities, beginning with the seventeenth-century Dutch polymath Hugo Grotius, who is said to have been the most insufferable pedant of his day. They include the nineteenth-century Japanese philosopher and government official Nishi Amane; the brilliant academic rivals Hans Kelsen, an Austrian Jew, and Carl Schmitt, a book-burning Nazi; the American lawyer Salmon Levinson, who began the outlawry movement in the nineteen-twenties and then got written out of its history by men with bigger egos; and the Czech émigré Bohuslav Ečer and the Galician émigré Hersch Lauterpacht, who helped formulate the arguments that made possible the prosecution of Nazi leaders at Nuremberg and laid the groundwork for the United Nations.
The book covers an enormous stretch of historical ground, from 1603, when a Dutch trader attacked and looted a Portuguese ship in the waters outside Singapore, to the emergence of the Islamic State. The general argument is that it made sense to outlaw war in 1928 because war had previously been deemed a legitimate instrument of national policy.
The key figure in the early part of the story is Grotius, who, in contriving a legal justification for an obviously brigandly Dutch seizure of Portuguese goods off Singapore, eventually produced a volume, “On the Laws of War and Peace,” published in 1625, that Hathaway and Shapiro say became “the textbook on the laws of war.” Grotius argued that wars of aggression are legal as long as states provide justification for them, but that even when the justifications prove to be shams the winners have a right to keep whatever they have managed to seize. In Grotius’s system, to use Hathaway and Shapiro’s formulations, might makes right and possession is ten-tenths of the law.
That doesn’t sound like much of a legal order, but it placed some constraints on what nations could do. For one thing, it prohibited nations from going to war to recapture lost territory or other goods, since those were now in the lawful possession of the victor. For another, it required states that were not party to a war to remain neutral. This meant not just that nations couldn’t intervene militarily in someone else’s war; they could not change, for example, the terms on which they traded with the belligerents. They were, in effect, obliged to look the other way. Individuals were given a license to kill under the old system, but only if they were already at war. Otherwise, killing was still just killing.
Hathaway and Shapiro argue that Grotius’s law of war explains why actions that look like simple landgrabs, such as the Mexican-American War, which began in 1846, were perfectly legal undertakings. They explain that the United States had a valid justification for attacking Mexico—among other things, they say, there was a matter of unpaid debts—and that it also had a right to whatever territory it could lay claim to as a result, which, in that case, included all or part of what would become California, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. The Mexican-American War was not an extralegal military adventure. It was how nations behaved in what Hathaway and Shapiro call the Old World Order.
The Old World Order obviously set a low bar for going to war, which was convenient during a period of imperial expansion but dangerous when the imperial powers turned on one another. In 1914, Grotius’s chickens came home to roost. The First World War was a regional brush fire that turned into an out-of-control inferno almost overnight. The system was not working, and the outlawry movement was a response to the emergency.
The outlawers reasoned that, since the old system had rested on the legality of war, the way to replace it was to make war illegal. Hathaway and Shapiro tell us that Salmon Levinson used the analogy of duelling. There had been many efforts to change the codes of duelling and make it more humane, but people still duelled. Finally, duelling was banned, meaning that killing someone in a duel was murder, and duelling stopped. The way to stop war was, likewise, to remove its legal immunity.
Hathaway and Shapiro acknowledge that one reason the Kellogg-Briand Pact is regarded as historically insignificant is that it provided no enforcement mechanism. The language of the Pact reads as merely aspirational, not much more than a promise to be good. The ineffectuality of the League of Nations, created in the wake of the First World War, was part of the problem. When Japan invaded Manchuria and eastern Mongolia, in 1931, creating the puppet state of Manchukuo, the League, which the United States never joined, judged Japan’s actions to be illegitimate. Japan responded by resigning from the League. Members of the League were in a bind: they could condemn aggression, but, as signatories to the Paris Peace Pact, they were prevented from going to war to stop it. The world needed not only a New World Order but also a way to make it stick.
This was provided by Nuremberg. From a realist point of view, the Nuremberg trials, which were conducted in 1945 and 1946 and resulted in death sentences for twelve Nazis, were an application of victor’s justice. Kennan called the trials a “horror.” The man who would become the leading international-relations theorist in postwar American academia, Hans Morgenthau, himself a Jew who had fled Hitler, considered the trials “a symptom of the moral confusion of our times.” “German aggression and lawlessness were not morally obnoxious to France and Great Britain as long as they were directed against Russia,” he pointed out. But the defendants were charged in three categories: crimes against the peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Winston Churchill was against holding trials at all. He thought the leading Nazis should be shot on sight. Joseph Stalin favored the trials. His country had been invaded and nearly conquered, and he wanted a precedent that made wars of aggression a crime. By the time the trials began, in October, 1945, the world knew of the death camps, and to many people it seemed unconscionable not to hold the surviving Nazi leaders accountable.
The chief U.S. prosecutor, Robert Jackson, characterized German aggression in his celebrated opening statement as “a crime against international society which brings into international cognizance crimes in its aid and preparation which otherwise might be only internal concerns. It was aggressive war, which the nations of the world had renounced.” In other words, Germany’s violation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact opened the door to the prosecution of crimes against humanity. (This also explains why Soviet atrocities committed during the war were not subject to prosecution. The Soviets had been engaged in a war of self-defense, and thus, in principle, had immunity for acts performed in its pursuance.)
But the legal basis for charging individual Nazis was flimsy. Technically, the Kellogg-Briand Pact had not made war a crime; it had simply removed the legal immunity that had been extended to it under Grotius’s system. And, according to international law, states, rather than individuals, were responsible for war crimes. In order to prosecute the defendants at Nuremberg, the Allies and their lawyers basically had to convert the Pact into a criminal code that made individuals liable for illegal acts of war. They did, and that is the most important legacy of Nuremberg today. It is what has allowed the prosecution, in an international court in The Hague, of more than a hundred and fifty individuals for war crimes committed during the fighting that took place in the former Yugoslavia in the nineteen-nineties.
Hathaway and Shapiro concede that, in its final judgment, the Nuremberg court reverted to a form of reasoning that Allied lawyers had warned against: it argued that, since the defendants should have known that their actions were wrong, the court was justified in punishing them—effectively an exercise in ex-post-facto legislation. But the trial marked the inauguration of a new international era, because it showed how the new order’s rules could be enforced.
It also signalled the advent of a new international understanding of the laws of war. From then on, territory seized by conquest in a war of aggression wasn’t exempt from reparations. Hathaway and Shapiro say that virtually all the conquered territory that had been unrecognized by the international community since 1928 was restored after 1948.

As Hathaway and Shapiro see it, the success in establishing this New World Order has brought “seven decades of unprecedented peace and prosperity.” That success has come at a price, however. When the United Nations was founded, in 1945, there were fifty-one member states, and the architects of the U.N. buildings left room for twenty more. Today, there are a hundred and ninety-three U.N. members. This is, in part, because the ban on conquest has allowed small states to maintain their sovereignty. But it has also produced a number of internally weak states, and a great deal of the carnage around the world today is the result of intrastate conflicts or the emergence of militant groups in states whose governments lack the power to suppress them. The Islamic State is an example of the kind of insurgency that thrives in weakened regimes. Atrocities seem endemic to such intrastate conflicts.
Hathaway and Shapiro are lawyers, and, in making their case for the supreme explanatory power of Kellogg-Briand, they litigate themselves around some tricky historical corners. The claim about the return of conquered territories turns out to require some definitional parsing. They mean what they call “unrecognized transfers,” a category that does not include, for example, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania, and East Germany, which became puppet states of the Soviet Union. Nor does their definition include the Baltic states, which were taken over by the Soviets in consequence of an agreement that Stalin made with Hitler. Hathaway and Shapiro argue that the United States refused to recognize this seizure, but this is not the reason those states were awarded independence in 1991. That happened because the Soviet Empire collapsed.
Hathaway and Shapiro acknowledge the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem after the Six-Day War, in 1967, but say almost nothing about the West Bank. They scarcely mention America’s two Iraq wars, and they ignore the eight-year Iran-Iraq War that preceded them, which they presumably regard as a border dispute. (In the end, no territory changed hands, but almost half a million people were killed.) Part of the interest of their deeply interesting book, though, is seeing how far and in which cases you are willing to go along with them.
“The Internationalists” has some lessons for today. One is a warning against the temptation nations have to construe threats of war as equivalent to acts of war. The New World Order would seem to rule preëmptive strikes out of bounds, but not self-defense, and it’s easy to see how the latter might be made a justification for the former. The claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was such a case, and the current standoff with North Korea might become another one.
Hathaway and Shapiro also argue that, to the extent that there is peace among nations, it is secured by the networks of international organizations and treaties that have proliferated since the Second World War. The authors count two hundred thousand international agreements now in force. These allow for a method of punishing international lawbreakers and outlaw regimes by what they call “outcasting.” Since there is no rule requiring neutrality, countries can now band together to impose sanctions on aggressors, casting truant nations out of the international system. This is how the world is responding, for example, to the forced annexation of Crimea. (It is not, on the other hand, how it responded to Iraq’s seizure of Kuwait, in 1990. Within six months, an international coalition of thirty-two nations, led by the United States, had attacked Iraqi forces and driven them out. The punishment chosen for violations of the new law of war depends a little on the size of the truant.)
Today, we are living through a backlash against globalization, and Hathaway and Shapiro see this as itself a serious danger to peace. “Trade plays an essential role not only as a source of beneficial collaboration,” they say, “but also as a collective tool for constraining illegal behavior.” Economic interdependency creates a harmony of interests.
“The Internationalists” doesn’t use the terms “realism” and “idealism,” but if it did, its point would be that policies once disparaged as idealistic turned out to have significant tangible consequences. Still, great powers do not give up something for nothing. A central phenomenon in modern world history is Western imperialism and its aftermath, decolonization. Western world conquest began in the fifteenth century and peaked in 1939, when seven European nations had jurisdiction over almost a third of the world’s population. After 1945, those empires began breaking up; by 1970, apart from a few, mostly short-lived holdouts, they had vanished.
These historical developments underlie many of the changes in the legal status of military conflict that Hathaway and Shapiro bring to our attention. So, for example, when they assert that “the likelihood that a state will suffer a conquest has fallen from once in a lifetime to once or twice in a millennium,” and support the claim with data comparing the amount of territory conquered annually between 1816 and 1928 with the amount conquered annually after 1948—it was many times greater in the earlier period—they are only recording the difference between a period of intensive empire-building and a period of imperial divestment.
“It is likely no coincidence that Grotius’s new theory favored sovereigns and their trading companies,” Hathaway and Shapiro note. Well, yes. International law is the superstructure for the system of geopolitical relations. In writing his law of war, Grotius claimed to be deducing from the principles of natural law the proper rights of states. But he was clearly inducing from the actual actions and ambitions of powers like the Netherlands a set of rules that legalized their behavior. Ideas like Grotius’s mattered because they provided a coherent rationale for what was happening in the world willy-nilly. Grotius made the world safe for imperialists.
Similarly, today, as Hathaway and Shapiro acknowledge, “the New World Order is not divorced from global power dynamics.” The Allied powers that went to war against Germany and Japan in the name of self-determination—which is the main principle of the Atlantic Charter, signed by Roosevelt and Churchill in 1941—all had imperial possessions. After the Second World War, the European powers could no longer afford those empires; in places where they tried to hold on to them—Algeria, Vietnam, Kenya—they paid a heavy price (to say nothing of the toll paid by the colonized peoples) and lost them anyway. Decolonization, assuming that the ex-imperial powers could maintain favorable trade relations, eliminated administrative costs and the associated ideological contradictions.
It is not surprising that the great powers, in a world in which their influence and their share of global product were likely to shrink, were willing to exchange the right of conquest for globalization, with its system of international trade agreements. “The Pact appealed to the West because it promised to secure and protect previous conquests, thus securing Western Nations’ place at the head of the international legal order indefinitely,” as Hathaway and Shapiro rightly say. Like most international treaties, it didn’t redistribute political capital; it locked in existing power differentials. Defining “conquest” as a violation of international law today means that it is much harder for smaller states to become big ones, and making smaller countries dependent on their trade with bigger ones keeps them in line. That there will be better off and worse off is always implicit in the concept of order. ♦
This article appears in other versions of the September 18, 2017, issue, with the headline “Drop Your Weapons.”

Louis Menand has contributed to The New Yorker since 1991, and has been a staff writer since 2001.Read more »

Sign up now for the War and Environment conference and flotilla

July 20, 2017

No War 2017: War and the Environment

We’re slowly adding the best speakers and workshop leaders, including representatives from Friends of the Earth,, Greenpeace, and other environmental organizations as well as peace ones. This is an opportunity to build a unified movement.
September 22-24 Conference in Washington, D.C.

Click here to register (includes 2 catered vegan meals and a copy of the new 2017 edition of A Global Security System: An Alternative to War). The venue seats 211, and we will close registrations when we need to.

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Just following the International Day of Peace, and in the tradition of No War 2016: Real Security Without Terrorism, and the best speech any U.S. president ever gave, this year’s conference will focus on activism, including activist planning workshops, addressing how the antiwar and environmental movements can work together.

We encourage and can help you to hold similar events in other locations, and this event will be livestreamed so that other events can watch it.

WHERE: American University Katzen Art Center
4400 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, DC 20016
All events in the Recital Hall. Workshops on Sunday in the Recital Hall, and in Rooms 112, 115, 123, and 128.
How to get there.

Lodging and rides board.

Friday, Sept 22: 7-10 p.m.
Saturday, Sept 23: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday, Sept 24: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

WHO: Terrific speakers are being lined up, including by reaching out to environmental organizations that have worked against militarism or are willing to do so. If you can recommend any such organizations, local, national, or global, please contact us. We’d like to get in touch with them and possibly invite them to participate.

Speakers will include: Gar Smith whose forthcoming book is The War and Environment Reader, and Max Blumenthal, Kevin Zeese, Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Bruce Gagnon, Leah Bolger, Peter Kuznick, Ray McGovern, David Swanson, Dale Dewar, Nadine Bloch, Richard Tucker, Pat Elder, Mike Stagg, Natalia Cardona, Lindsay Koshgarian, Suzanne Cole, Eric Teller, a representative of Greenpeace, Robin Taubenfeld, Alice Day, Lincoln Day, Brian Trautman, a representative of Black Alliance for Peace.


[This agenda is a work in progress.]

Sept 22

7-8 p.m. Conference Opening Plenary: David Swanson, ________, _________.

8-10 p.m. our friends from the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence will present their annual award. Past recipients have included Coleen Rowley, Katharine Gun, Sibel Edmonds, Craig Murray, Sam Provance, Frank Grevil, Larry Wilkerson, Julian Assange, Thomas Drake, Jesselyn Radack, Thomas Fingar, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, William Binney, and John Kiriakou.

Sept 23

9-10:15 a.m. Understanding the intersection of pro-environment and anti-war activism, with Richard Tucker, Gar Smith, and Dale Dewar.

10:30-11:45 a.m. Preventing domestic environmental damage of militarism, with Mike Stagg, Pat Elder, _________.

11:45 a.m. – 1 p.m. catered lunch by D.C. Vegan

1-2:15 p.m. Combining movements globally, with a Greenpeace representative, Robin Taubenfeld, and a representative of Black Alliance for Peace.

2:30-3:45 p.m. Financial tradeoffs, budgets, and conversion, with Lindsay Koshgarian, Natalia Cardona, and Bruce Gagnon.

4-5:15 p.m. Divestment from fossil fuels and weapons with Suzanne Cole, Eric Teller, __________.

5:15-6:45 dinner on your own
Here is a map showing restaurants and coffee shops (PDF).

6:45-7:30 Music by __________.

7:30-9:00 Screening of episode 7 of Untold History of the United States, followed by discussion with Peter Kuznick, Ray McGovern, and David Swanson.

Sept 24

9-10:15 a.m. Creative activism for the earth and peace, with Nadine Bloch, Bill Moyer, Brian Trautman.

10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Breakout workshop strategic planning sessions in Recital Hall, and in Rooms 112, 115, 123, and 128, and possibly outdoors.

12-1 p.m. catered lunch by D.C. Vegan

1-2 p.m. Reporting back and discussion in Recital Hall

2:15-3:30 p.m. Halting the environmental damage of distant U.S. wars, with Kathy Kelly, Brian Terrell, Max Blumenthal.

3:45-5:00 p.m. Building a Joint Peacenvironmentalist / Envirantiwar Movement, with Kevin Zeese, ______, _________.

5:00-6:30 p.m. dinner on your own
Here is a map showing restaurants and coffee shops (PDF).

6:30-7:15 Music by __________.

7:15-9:00 p.m. Film screening and discussion: Scarred Lands and Wounded Lives: The Environmental Footprint of War, with Alice Day and Lincoln Day.

Click here to register (includes 2 catered vegan meals and a copy of the new 2017 edition of A Global Security System: An Alternative to War). The venue seats 211, and we will close registrations when we need to.

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