The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

By Richard A. Falk; Saul H. Mendlovitz | Go to book overview
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SAUL H. MENDLOVITZ


The Study of War Prevention: Toward a Disciplined View

Should we ever be in a position to write a history of the successful world peace movement that is taking place in the second half of the twentieth century, there is little doubt that the academic community of the United States will emerge as a significant contributor. From the scientists' moment of stark comprehension that the bomb they helped assemble might actually be used, the concern and participation of academicians from all disciplines--as individuals, in groups, in official and unofficial capacities--have increased steadily, so that today the proportion of the academic community actively engaged in the peace movement probably exceeds that of any other vocational group. All this activity is misunderstood if it is seen only as the scholar acting as an ordinary citizen. For it represents the academic community carrying out one of its most important functions, that of expressing the conscience of the community in a manner that permits reasoned discussion, deepened understanding, and the invention of alternative courses of action.

Many situated in the academic community at once recognized that the new weapons of the nuclear age had radically altered the consequences of international violence in such a fashion that only the persistent and courageous mobilization of all the intellectual resources at the disposal of man would be able to contrive the means for transforming the existent warprone system into a war prevention system without the experience of an intervening catastrophe. Members of the academic community have been moderately successful in awakening concern throughout the world with this range of problems.

To be sure, this concern has not always resulted in sensible behavior. Serious misunderstanding of Sino-Soviet intentions and capacities, research to bolster an already swollen defense establishment, and naive political action are familiar criticisms of the intellectual role of the academy. A further deficiency might, if corrected, affect the validity of these criticisms: the relatively small amount of time which scholars and educators give to the problems of world order and war prevention in their research and teaching.

There are some outstanding centers for peace research, but it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the amount of peace research is miniscule, by any standard of reasonable comparison with the research going on in

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