What I Saw of Peace on Earth in a Twenty-Five Year Period: Who'd Have Thunk It ?

by Howard Fienberg

March 24, 1994 (PO220)

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1961

I look back with bewilderment at the events that unfolded over those fateful twenty-five years, from 1994 to 2019. The course of change was astounding, and its global benefits were unprecedented. Then, I feared a nuclear holocaust that could be triggered at any moment, for any reason; global events that affected my life were far beyond the reach of my personal power. Invasion, although never a serious possibility for my own country, the United States, was always a possibility for others, and I sympathized with them. Now, they have little left to fear. Then, we all scoffed at the notion of a New International Economic Order to aid the Southern countries in development. Now we see its enactment on a day-to-day basis. We have come a long way, and now I wish to put to word processor a summary of the both tragic and uplifting story which I have witnessed, before I pass away. I hope that others may share the story with our future generations, so that they may understand why they live in a world of peace.

Early Movements: Collective Security

As another of the innumerable peace conferences for the Yugoslav conflict dissolved on March 24, 1994, the European Union's leaders were meeting in a secluded villa in Southern France to debate their policy in a more relaxed, informal environment. No sooner had the conference ended, than Serbian planes started a night-long rampage of napalm bombing throughout Bosnia-Herczegovnia. US Secretary of State Warren Christopher made frantic diplomatic initiatives to the Serbian forces to cease fire. Before the night was over, about two hundred blue helmets were dead, and many more were wounded.

When the Union leaders emerged from their three day retreat, they issued a proclamation to the warring parties that they would commit massive amounts of ground forces to Bosnia within the next month, and would disarm all parties there. It appeared that all it took to bring them to action was watching their own soldiers being killed as indiscriminately as everyone else. Flashing photos of Muslim children charred beyond recognition, and bleeding UN troops to the television cameras, Prime Minister John Major appealed to the United States to support and participate in the operation to disarm Bosnia:

"The people of Bosnia are not strangers to us; they are not simply Muslim, Croat, and Serb. They are global citizens, members of the human race to which we all belong. It is time that we take a stand in the name of the global populace..."

Several days passed, with the US President avoiding any exposure to the media, and a blitzkrieg of activity and infighting within his administration. Secretary of State Warren Christopher made numerous speeches in public in favor of the invasion, with his principal public opponent being the National Security Adviser; both were hoping to increase their own bureaucracy's power. Public opinion polls, a favorite determinant in foreign policy decision-making, showed a majority of Americans supported the move. On March 31, Clinton faced the cameras, and broadcast his approval of the move, and the States' plan to coordinate with the Union forces in their efforts. Serbian and Croat forces, meanwhile, made a last ditch effort to conquer as much territory as possible before the scheduled deployment date of May 25; the West had proclaimed that all borders would be maintained as they were at the time of disarmament, and their moves were approved by the UN Security Council two days after Clinton's speech. All nations were solicited to participate in the operation, and a coalition of forces was finally negotiated by the time of deployment that closely resembled Desert Shield.

Some nations among the South rejoiced in the opportunity to help. The operation was seen as a weakening of European domination of the rest of the world, as the rest of the world got the chance to intervene in Europe. But most saw it as a stepping stone to further global integration and cooperation. "What we have here is a chance to remake the world, and to do it properly; the NIEO project may have failed, but this must succeed" proclaimed the newly elected President of Cameroon.

Momentum grew in the UN for peace-making, as efforts at disarmament in Bosnia raced ahead. The US negotiated a coalition of African nations to help complete the reconstruction of Somalia in the fall of 1994, stifling most charges from the radical school that it was racist in its dealings with Africa. By December, Somalia was preparing for elections to be held the following summer, and the portions of Bosnia not controlled by Croatia and Serbia were turned into a demilitarized zone, where only the UN had authority. To the further boost of international faith in the UN, the Cambodian government coaxed the Khmer Rouge to participate in full elections, strengthening that states' legitimacy and convincing most of the rebels to lay down their arms. But our grand hopes had yet to face their most serious challenge.

The Fourth Indian-Pakistani War

Curiously quiet on the international scene in that period were India and Pakistan, deep in secret negotiations that had been going on for several months over the fate of the disputed territory of Kashmir. As extremists clashed in the area on January 12, 1995, tensions rose, and Prime Minister Narasimha Rao of India stomped out of the negotiations in a fit of rage. An observer later confided that a member of the Pakistani delegation had spit in Rao's eye after insulting his ancestors.

The Pakistani and Indian militaries cajoled their respective leaders that they were ready to fight; this time, they said, they could win it all. Many of the members of the Pakistani cabinet believed they could seize Kashmir and Punjab before a UN cease-fire would take effect, and they would be able to retain much of it in the negotiations to follow. Fearful of a domino effect along India's tenuous ethnic lines, India's Congress party rallied behind Rao's hard-line stance against Pakistan. Pakistan had just recently purchased a new line of American aircraft, and French tanks, and India had bought up much of the ex-Soviet states' military hardware in the preceding two years. Neither nation's military had seen a war in quite a while, and both were being faced with massive budget cuts in the next year; their toys were sure to be cut back across the board. The temptation was too great.

The military of Pakistan had varying degrees of influence over their government at various times in history, including several coups d'état that they sponsored. Their Prime Minister allowed himself little hesitation, as he felt the generals breathing down his neck. Two days later, Pakistani armor and infantry stormed across India's borders in Punjab and Kashmir, seizing territory, while it's air force bombarded towns across the northwest of India. India, slow to mobilize, was not able to stop the advance until the third day, when the Indian forces finally turned the tide, and slowly began rolling the Pakistani troops back, at tremendous cost. UN attempts to bring the parties to a cease-fire were to no avail, as both sides had already committed themselves to a view of the situation as a prisoner's dilemma, and neither was willing to concede, out of fear that the other would double-cross. On the evening of February 9, Indian ground forces broke onto Pakistani soil and began charging towards several major cities.

In 1983, Harold Freeman wrote that

Here is a nation desperately in need of but unable to pay for such basics as farm machinery and fertilizer. Yet within a year Pakistan will likely explode a home-built nuclear bomb.... The people will remain hungry but Pakistani prestige in the Muslim world will rise, Pakistan will now prepare, with greater confidence, for its fourth war with India [etc.] ... (Freeman 33-4)

On the morning of February 10, Pakistan dropped nuclear death across the face of India with its bombers. This escalation was ill-planned; India had possessed the bomb since 1974, and Pakistani intelligence failed to emphasize the power of India's recently installed missile capability, which almost immediately rained down on Pakistan in return. Dr. Jerome Frank wrote that "humans are more anxious to kill their enemies than to stay alive themselves." (Freeman 40) In this fashion did the fourth and last war between two bitter enemies end in the decimation of both.

Global Mobilization

The global community was slow to react to the war, due to its shock at such an occurrence during what was thought to be a movement toward global peace. The Secretary General's best attempts at mediation were ignored, and even threats of US intervention to halt the conflict were dismissed, the US still being seen as a predominantly isolationist power. Journalists flocked to the region and the war zone, and were subsequently killed. Few had expected a nuclear war and almost none had realized that Pakistan had nuclear arms at all.

CNN reran its last segment of war footage every half an hour for several days. Their correspondent was in the middle of reporting from the top of her hotel in Islamabad when the missiles arrived. Multiple warheads soared through the skies and the last sight and sound was the woman screaming a prayer to God, and horrible flames that engulfed the screen and incinerated the woman. No other network was broadcasting live at that moment, but CNN reached most of the globe, and a good portion of humanity had seen the footage within a week. The horror of nuclear war was known, on a global scale, for the first time in history.

The UN was quick to mobilize, for once, and masses of emergency forces were recruited from as many nations as possible to be dispatched to the Indian sub-continent. But for most, it was far too late.

India lost nearly 200 million people in the actual blasts of fire, heat, and radiation, while Pakistan lost 100 million. In the week that followed, another 550 million died painfully from radiation sickness and burns in India, dropping its population to about 150 million, and close to another 100 million died in Pakistan, eliminating most of its population. Radiation clouds began moving across the region. The water supply of Bangladesh was infected by excess radiation from a bomb dropped on Calcutta, and people started dying by the thousands the week following.

Refugees flooded into China, creating great civil unrest in its western provinces, which prompted a reformist coup in Beijing. As well, refugees moved up the Khyber pass and into Afghanistan, smack right into that nation's continuing civil war, where they did not last long.

The spill of refugees into Iran was the downfall of its Islamic theocracy. The refusal to admit the refugees, mostly Muslim, was an outrage to the general populace, and caused a nationwide revolt that brought the Movement for Democratic Islam party to power in Teheran.

The deployment of UN troops was disorganized and disorderly. It took two weeks before a plan could be reached to deal with the situation in any effectiveness. It was decided that the borders of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh would be sealed permanently. Checkpoints and fortifications along all borders with surrounding countries were constructed, and medical facilities constructed nearby in order to serve any refugees that it was deemed were possible to save. Utilizing satellite photography, all points of water flow from within the region were either dammed, or quickly given filtration facilities, in hopes of stopping the spread of the effects of the radiation. Doctors worldwide went to task immediately in the hopes of finding cures or immunizations against the new diseases unleashed in the wake of the war.

The methods finally agreed upon were not easy for the world's populace to handle. Leaving most of the survivors to walk the wasteland of the Indian subcontinent until they died was condemned by many as callous, but was the only realistic response that could possibly have been made. The medical prowess of the whole world combined would not have been enough to save most of the survivors; perhaps that made the horror sink in all the more deeper. Nothing can be done to clean up the effects of nuclear war.

The Hacker's Alliance

The infamous grouping known as the Hacker's Alliance first made their presence known to the general populace near the end of the US Congressional hearings on the implementation of the Clipper Chip, a new encryption computer chip proposed by the government as the industry standard. It caused a grand uproar among the business community, and particularly the regular users of the Internet, due to the fact that it was created with a backdoor entrance for the government. Set to be used only in cases of national security, the provisions were sufficiently loose that it was viewed as a general threat to privacy.

On one morning of the hearings, when the representative of the National Security Agency, the major proponent of the chip, accessed the NSA's network on his laptop computer, he discovered a message, which he read aloud in anger. It said that the Hacker's Alliance had broken the encryption on the NSA's network, which had already implemented the Clipper, and had direct access to their network. They warned that the breaking of a standardized encryption was not overly hard, and that the further usage of the chip would jeopardize everyone's security. From that point, the hearings dissolved into anarchy. The NSA attempted to use it as an example of techno-terrorism which need to be fought, but was mostly ignored. The Clipper initiative was buried within a week.

Modern technology provided a way for the freaks and rejects of society to gather together, not in physical space, but in the new domain of cyberspace. Most of them never interacted with one another beyond their computer terminals; nonetheless, they became an effective force in the late 1990's. The Alliance developed in the 1980's, as hackers, crypto-smashers, net-surfers, and techno-terrorists, from across the globe, all linked together on the ever-expanding Internet. Secretly supported by such libertarian Internet agencies as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, they gathered together and developed a system of democracy to elect representatives to a Net-council, which met once a month in cyberspace. Internet users of all political shades were a part of the Alliance. Although it was under continual threat of dissolution due to infighting, their basic goals remained the same: protection and expansion of cyberspace and the Internet, and the uplifting of humanity. They engaged in much propaganda and terrorism on the Internet, but did not make a lasting impression until May of 1995.

Utilizing various tools over the Internet and other computing operations, the Alliance began pursuing evidence of US collusion in the Pakistani nuclear project. What they found was far more stunning. Continual pressure through papers freed using the American Freedom of Information Act spurred the investigation deeper and deeper, until the Hacker's Alliance decided to perform a blitzkrieg of publicity of the results of their findings on the fifteenth of May. The report was electronically posted all over the Internet, on nearly every network, and then electronic copies were sent to all major television networks, newspapers, and magazines.

The report showed that the US military had sponsored Pakistan's nuclear project, and even that they had tied aid to the development of the bomb. Ever since India exploded its bomb in 1974, the US military had been attempting to push Pakistan to explode its own in order to maintain the balance of power. But the Pentagon had not been the only agent; American industry had funneled huge amounts of uranium to Pakistan, from stockpiles of so-called lost or misplaced rods. Evidence was also included that implicated the US congress in purposefully overlooking evidence in their investigations into lost uranium and sales of weapons technology to Pakistan. As well, it was shown that US officials had granted an extension of Most Favored Nation trade status to China in 1990 in exchange for the sale of vital rocket technology from China to Pakistan.

What had been uncovered was conclusive proof that implicated key members of Congress, the US military, and US businesses. It was an example of what was called the Iron Triangle, or what President Dwight D. Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. In its usual usage the term referred to the unspoken agreement between Congress, the Pentagon, and American businesses toward the purchase and research of military technology. The Pentagon would buy weaponry from American businesses in order to build-up their 'empire' and the Congress would fund these purchases in order to bring jobs to their districts, to placate their voters so that they could be reelected. Such a glaring example of cooperation between the three groups spelled the end of the military-industrial complex in the US, as business executives resigned, and government and military officials were brought up on various charges.

Technology guides and unites...

The technology itself embodies sufficient power to overcome the resistance of social institutions.... the processing power of the computer and the distributional capacity of the communications satellite or optical fiber cable make it impossible to keep information within the boundaries of one country.... information technology inherently promotes globalization. (Mosco 21)

This view, dubbed technological determinism, was not a very prevalent view in the past, being relegated to fruitless idealists. But its validity was proven in those momentous twenty-five years. Technology eliminated differences, and misunderstandings between people, and united them in common values. The alarmists, who decried the global television networks as creating ideological hegemony on a global scale were drowned out by the cries among the oppressed citizens of the world for the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. It became ideological homogeneity, which, on a global scale, was what was necessary for a peaceful world society. Values had to be agreed upon, and the fluidity of communication provided by new and better technologies bolstered efforts at building consensus. When the developed nations began to invest heavily in communications infrastructure for the south, they saw a return, of sorts, on their investments as more and more nations joined them in prosperity, and freedom.

For example, the Chinese government, following the reformist coup in 1995, collapsed into anarchy not a year after access was allowed for ordinary Chinese to global television, radio, and computer networks. Democracy was demanded, and received. The nation of over a billion had succumbed to the international flow of information.

What was Peace?

The conception of peace has always been different for everyone concerned. In our case, I have defined it in rather limited terms; this is not to say that it is merely the realist conception of peace, where a lack of war is the equivalent of peace, but that it is relatively idealist without being all-encompassing.

Certainly, a requirement of this peace is that there be no war, but that is not enough. War is only one example of conflict between people, and while we have eliminated war, we do not claim to have eradicated conflict; such a utopian vision would have far more support from romantic tyrants of the radical Marxist school of thought. This lack of war was concluded by the agreement of all states to put their militaries under the control of the United Nations. Our idea for collective security could not have been realized had nations retained their own militaries, for the greatest problem in the former international system, was the lack of enforcement for international law.

Many had always questioned the "legalistic-moralistic approach to international problems" that was embodied in such international legal documents as the UN Charter. (Henkin 37) There was continual doubt

... as to the efficacy of law in deterring, preventing, or terminating the use of force, as to whether its prescriptions... [were] relevant and material to the policies of nations. In the United States, some ... asked why their country should attend to the law since others... [did] not. ( 37)

I do not wish to argue whether or not international law in the preceding period was law or not, but that it was not effective overall because it was not authoritative and had no enforcement. What brought it into effect in our era was the uniting of the globe in the belief that the law needed to be respected on a much grander scale than was then possible. It was not necessarily a problem with the international system, but that every nation needed to yield power to international institutions that would have the capability to enforce international law.

Since the focus of an idealist peace is on actors and sub-actors, rather than the system of their interaction, we had to deal with the problems within states. Ethnic conflicts such as those in the former Yugoslavia, after they were defused on a violent level, required the re-negotiation of traditional boundaries in order to accommodate differing groups. Teaching them to get along with each other was a long term process which would have to wait. Class conflicts were usually never as big a problem as radical Marxists would have had us believe; what they drew as a pattern of global capitalist conspiracy was normally coincidence or deliberate misrepresentation. The feminist perspective was given its share of attention as well, and the acknowledgment of women's rights as human rights, and the pursuit of that goal along with other human rights, became of paramount importance to the world community.

The UN became far more stringent on municipal law conforming to international law. The international double standard, where nations signed toothless conventions devoting themselves to human rights and then returned home to violate them, was no longer allowed. The conception of a "world society" in international law, as it was referred to by Burton and Falk, was adopted. (Neufeld)

Following the cession of military power to the UN in 1998, nuclear disarmament was begun worldwide. The obstacle to this in the past was

the widespread inability of leaders and peoples to grasp at an emotional level the magnitude and immediacy of the threat posed by nuclear weapons... Only events that have been actually experienced have a significant emotional impact. (Freeman 40)

Certainly the Indian-Pakistani war cured that problem, leaving few obstacles, as people clamored worldwide for an end to nuclear arms. The winning of the case by Canadian Peace Alliance at the International Court of Justice in August of 1995 further strengthened the movement to eliminate nuclear arms, from a legalistic standpoint.

The ceding of militaries to UN domination was not an easy task, but it was fueled by citizens, disobeying and wrenching apart their governments. Civil disobedience became the international norm as millions took to the streets worldwide to pressure their governments to join the UN military. Citizens worldwide realized that the balance of power games of international politics would eventually hurt them all, and that a centralized policing force would better protect them. It may have not been enough to satisfy the World Federalists, but it was enough to develop a peaceful global society.

So, in conclusion, we have found our peace, in the idealist notions of the word. We have put an end to the military-industrial complexes that dominated our nations' policies, and to the wars between states. We have aided the south so that it may develop, and have united the world under the banner of a United Nations. In the future, I hope that all humanity will owe all their allegiance to the UN; one day it will be a central governing body with no contenders for power on the international scene.

Works Cited

Freeman, Harold. This is the Way the World Will End, This is the Way You Will End, Unless.... Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers Ltd., 1983.
Henkin, Louis. "Use of Force: Law and US Policy." Right v. Might: International Law and the Use of Force . New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press, 1991. 37-70.
Mosco, Vincent. The Pay-per Society . Norwood, New Jersey: Ablex Publishing Company, 1989.
Neufeld, Marc. "Introduction to International Law." Politics 320 lecture. January 12, 1994.


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