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If the Defense Department's not defensive, what would be?

By David Swanson

Militarism has made us less safe, and continues to do so. It is not a useful tool for protection. So, what is?

Studies over the past century have found that nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression and resolving conflicts and achieving security than violence is.

Wealthy militarist nations like the United States think of their militaries as global police, protecting the world. The world disagrees. By a large margin people all over the world consider the United States the greatest threat to peace.

The United States could easily make itself the most beloved nation on earth with much less expense and effort, by ceasing its "military aid" and providing a bit of non-military aid instead.

The momentum of the military-industrial complex works through the hammer-nail effect (if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail). What’s needed is a combination of disarmament and investment in alternatives -- alternatives like diplomacy, arbitration, international law enforcement, cultural exchange, and cooperation with other countries and people.

The most heavily armed nations can help disarmament in three ways. First, disarm — partially or fully. Second, stop selling weapons to so many other countries that don’t manufacture them themselves. During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, at least 50 corporations supplied weapons, at least 20 of them to both sides. Third, negotiate disarmament agreements with other countries and arrange for inspections that will verify disarmament by all parties.

The first step in handling crises is to stop creating them in the first place. Threats and sanctions and false accusations over a period of years can build momentum for war that is triggered by a relatively small act, even an accident. By taking steps to avoid provoking crises, much effort can be saved.

When conflicts inevitably do arise, they can be better addressed if investments have been made in diplomacy and arbitration.

A fair and democratic international system of law is needed. The United Nations needs to be reformed or replaced with an international body that forbids war and allows equal representation to every nation. The same goes for the International Criminal Court. The idea behind it is exactly right. But if it only prosecutes tactics, not the launching, of wars. And if it only prosecutes Africans, and only Africans not cooperating with the United States, then it weakens the rule of law rather than expanding it.

Pakistani victims and family members who have charged the CIA with murder in their courts, and whose courts have declared U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan illegal, are charging the U.K., Germany, and Australia through the ICC with the crime of assisting in U.S. drone murders. But if the U.S. cannot be charged because it's not an ICC member, and if U.S. allies will end up walking free because the U.S. has a U.N. veto, justice is not being done -- the alternative of the rule of law to the rule of force is not really being tried. Reform or replacement of our international bodies, not abandonment, is needed.

Here's a list of approaches that could move us in the right direction, from a movement working to advance them.

And here are a few specific projects:

Set up conversion commissions.

Get free money for transition.

Participate in the Global Day of Action on Military Spending.

Spring Days of Drone Action.

Support peace in Syria.

Oppose push for war on Iran.

I recently had the opportunity to speak about this movementat an event in Portland, Maine, where people turned out in the middle of a snow storm to discuss ending all war forever.

You might find the next video more interesting, as it includes both me and Shenna Bellows answering questions about militarism and peace making. Bellows is the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate challenging Republican incumbent Susan Collins.


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