The Strategy of World Order - Vol. 1

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

4 The Shimoda Case: Challenge and Response

Prior chapters have appraised the capacity of the internantional system to maintain minimum world public order by avoiding a major war. In addition, the Clark-Sohn plan has been used as a model to study the control of violence in an alternative international system. And finally, the prospects for transition from one to the other have been assayed in a variety of institutional and substantive settings. For purposes of transition the central questions are. What is acceptable? How can we act to enlarge the domain of what is acceptable?

These transition questions lead to the reality of political inertia that makes it difficult even to envisage a system change that is introduced in a period of peace by a drastic alteration in the constitutional basis of world order. On the other hand, in the event of a catastrophe in the form of a nuclear war, one can much more easily envisage an acceptance of a new basis for world order such as the one projected by Clark and Sohn. In the nuclear age this dependence upon the processes of traumatic transition may prove fatal. There seems to exist a flaw in human imagination that requires mankind to undergo the experience of tragedy so as to take steps to avoid it. And so the action taken under the sway of the tragic experience always seeks to avoid the repetition of a prior tragedy.

Perhaps, a way to begin to confront the dilemma is to reexperience the prior tragedy in such a way that it creates the social and political momentum needed for a solution of the transition problem, so that we use the events in the past to create enough anxiety about the future to dissipate the resistance of all sorts to drastic change in the ordering of the world. The limits of reason are quickly reached. One must engage the conscience as well as the mind to make convincing the demonstration of feasibility that has occupied our attention in the prior chapters. It is for this reason that we publish an extract from the Shimoda case dealing with the use of atomic bombs by the United States against Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the closing days of World War II. For this case is rooted in the tragic circumstance of these victims of the bombings that has lingered on so long after the events. To set a context for the

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