Sun Tzu

The Path to a World Beyond War

By recognizing what is happening we can understand how to eliminate war. The first and most important step is the same as for solving any other challenge. It is to realize the problem. As Sun Tzu said in The Art of War, “All warfare is based on deception.” Therefore war can only be ended by realizing and managing the mechanisms by which we are deceived. How do we realize when mass-deception has occurred? We can understand it academically or by rationalizing but it is only a gut-wrenching here-and-now realization that can move us to do anything about it. Emotions are what drive people to do something.

Everyone says that they hate war, and most people really do, yet war has always been a part of human life. Nearly all societies throughout history have engaged in some form of warfare. And for as long as there has been war there have been good people trying to end it. Unfortunately, despite minor successes lasting peace has been a dream that has been impossible to realize. That dream has not died, however, and people continue the fight to end all war. A recent example is the new campaign called World Beyond War (WBW).

At the WBW website, the organizers call for new ideas and ask for feedback on the strategies outlined there. The group’s approach to ending war calls for “defeating the propaganda of war promoters and countering the economic interests of war promoters with alternative economic possibilities.” Furthermore, WBW stresses the need for “a combination of disarmament and investment alternatives.” This means that nations must disarm, stop selling arms, and negotiate disarmament agreements.

How to accomplish such things is the problem. The disarmament ideas would require governments to dramatically change course but the governments are often led by the war promoters. Changing the governments in any substantial way would necessitate a dramatic change in the mindset of most citizens. Similarly, although there are theoretical ways to counter the economic interests of war promoters, such as coordinating the purchasing and tax-paying decisions of citizens en masse, organizing for it would require unprecedented changes in public opinion. The arguments of the past won’t make that happen.