TOWARD PROACTIVE PEACE: A Science of Terrorism Prevention

Article excerpt

The September 11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing war on terrorism have been teaching us a lesson which the military has long acknowledged. That lesson is that peace must be proactive. During peace, society needs to do those cultural things which would prevent war.

Cultural or social efforts preventing war include two points. One is to have a strong defense structure. Such military strength has global and local limits, but even Osama bin Laden knows and Saddam Hussein and al-Zawaqiri knew what our military could do. This is the reason bin Laden is still in hiding. The second is to be culturally involved, helping encourage people here and abroad to do good, and nonviolently correcting their misdeeds, where possible.

I shall examine four views of peace and war. These include naïve peace and hot war, peace as cold war, transitional peace and transitional war, and proactive peace. Taking the holistic historical perspective, I see an evolution. The world seems to be evolving from the first theme and toward the fourth one. Our current war on terrorism, including the conflict in Iraq, appear to be the third situation of peace and war, changing toward the fourth view.

Naïve Peace and Hot War

Naïve peace and hot war appear to comprise human history. One nation deploys uniformed soldiers to attack another country. The attacked country may be able to militarily respond. This ongoing process or peace-war cycle has included nonmilitary activities.

Spies, recruitment of civilian sympathizers from the "enemy" side, cutting off supply lines to the "enemy" military, and using various forms of psychological warfare comprise nonviolent or nonmilitary endeavors. No war throughout history has been completely a sudden, violent, military affair.

Naïve peace means that nations have taken pre-war situations for granted. The attacked nations have generally ignored situations in the countries which have attacked them. Enemy leaders, rulers to call for war against another nation, do not suddenly drop from the sky. They grow up learning and deciding that one day they must hit another nation. Their intentions and actions would not have been possible had the attacked countries been proactive instead of naïve. Had spies and overt social relations been in place in foreign countries, an enemy might not have evolved.

A peace which ignores potential enemies leads to hot war. One nation attacks another. The defending country seeks to militarily respond. Such response involves soldiers from the attacked nation to kill the uniformed military of the attackers. Once the killing and destroying are over, the defending nation feels the enemy is eliminated, and it returns to another naïve peace. This means the peace-war cycle is simply awaiting the next war.

What we see in naïve peace and hot war is akin to ignoring daily maintenance, and then responding or reacting to a crisis. But society tells us to do the opposite in many instances. We hear of preventive medicine, crime prevention, fire prevention, preventive maintenance. One day, hopefully the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq can help us see the need for terrorism prevention.

Peace as Cold War

The peace-war cycle (naïve peace and hot war) has been with us through World Wars I and II, and Korea. With conventional weapons, societies have had little difficulty imagining attacking, responding, and hopefully defeating the enemy. Killing the enemy has been seen as possible and necessary as a means of preserving the defending nation's existence and future. Every invention including guns, dynamite, machine guns, aviation, radar, ships, and so on, changed the face of war.

Taking life and destroying property had historically been relatively easier. Technology helped the attacker become more powerful, and the defender more hopeful in surviving. Ironically, Just War Theory showed us that even conventional war would be unethical and required justification. …