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The Peace Tax Seven

Peace is Strength

A report by Simon Heywood - continued

2 Long-term peacebuilding: eight possibilities

While crisis management is necessary, the way to prevent wars is to deal with their deep causes, which are usually embedded in long-term political, social, economic and cultural processes. Peacebuilding engages with these processes.

2.1 Value and support at all levels for the human instinct for peace
Successes: normal everyday life
many hunter-gatherer cultures
Western Europe after 1945
Northern Somalia 1991-1993
How to promote: education, training, political action and personal example; awareness of the strengths of other cultures
Uses of peace tax: peace education in schools, colleges, youth and community groups; face-to-face, nonviolent conflict transformation programmes in schools, prisons, communities;funding for multilateral institutions

War in western Europe is unthinkable now, largely because people have decided that it is. Political institutions can achieve such basic shifts if there is a groundswell of opinion which translates into political will. At the moment peace does not have such support, but this is an issue of cultural expectations, not practicalities. War is impractical.

Most settled civilisations have had war in some form, and war is often assumed to be intrinsic to human nature. However, basic human instincts, although affected by war, do not cause it. Soldiers do not charge out of anger; usually they are terrified. Mass rape is not the result of spontaneous arousal. To say that war is horrible is, precisely, to say that it is unnatural to us. Human beings recoil from inflicting or suffering violence and are instinctively more peacable than other similar animals. This allows them to establish complex relationships of trust and consensus with strangers and non-relatives. Other primates do not do this: gorillas are intelligent beings capable of complex social relations, but they cannot live in towns, or even form an orderly queue.

In order to go to war, people therefore require substantial training, extensive prior experience, and/or overpowering institutional control by commanders who are themselves remote from (and often repulsed by) the realities of war. Societies which have wars usually recognise that wars are in some sense a failure, and have established ways of partially avoiding them, and war is wholly unknown to a number of surviving, mostly hunter-gatherer cultures. Examples are the Inuit of the Candian Arctic, and some tropical cultures. Such cultures are a marginal minority today, but they are the most stable societies which have ever existed, preserving ways of life which were familiar to the majority of people throughout the whole of human existence.

2.2 Reduction, working towards eradication, of poverty, including redress of economic grievance
Successes: Western Europe after 1945
Japan after 1945
internal politics in the United States after 1865
Guatemala after 1996
Failures: European colonialism, 16th - 20th centuries
post-colonial Africa, late 20th century
central and south America, 1870 - present
the former Yugoslavia after 1991
the 'war on terror' after 2001
A modern cash crop - coffee in Thailand>
How to promote: trade and sustainable economic growth; political action at multilateral levels, supported by civil society and consumer pressure in rich countries; dismantling economic colonialism; reform of international finance institutions in accordance with their founders' goals; fair trade and debt cancellation; reform of rich-country technologies to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and other 'war booty;' international development aid; technical support for developing countries
Uses of peace tax: international development programmes and aid for developing countries; research and environmental protection by governmental and non-governmental agencies; research and development of sustainable, low-impact and intermediate technologies, and renewable energy sources, in both rich and poor countries
An earlier cash crop: former cotton slaves, North Carolina>

Most if not all wars are resource wars, arising in conditions of poor economic performance and hardship. Even in 'ethnic' wars and genocides, hatred is often ultimately the result, not the cause, of conflict. Economic hardship and grievance is often ignored in treaties and peace processes, seemingly because this works against vested interests. However, when prosperity and equality are taken into account, lasting peace often results.

Germany and Japan after 1945 are examples of this, and of positive results of US global hegemony. It is more common for poorer or weaker countries to suffer destabilising exploitation by rich countries, often abetted by an indigenous economic élite (compare, for example, the histories of Iraq and Saudi Arabia after 1914). This is currently happening on a global scale, in a system sometimes referred to as global apartheid. Global apartheid is what the 'anti-globalisation' movement is protesting against, although protesters make it clear that they address problems which are rather distinct from globalisation simply as such, which they predate.

These problems add up to a specific system whereby rich countries control poor ones. A poor country is forced, by political and military means, to concentrate production on raw materials (including timber, minerals and cash crops), for a rich country to buy cheap, and then sell back as finished goods. Thus, let us imagine that Richland invades Poorland, and turns production over from corn to cotton. Richland imports the raw cotton, paying Poorland in cash, which Poorland has to use to buy corn, possibly from Richland. Richland then produces shirts which are exported back to Poorland, along with the corn. Economic integration on Richland's terms is great news for the farmers and shirt-makers of Richland, and, possibly, Richlander colonists who set up business extracting Poorland's natural resources. This destroys Poorland's self-sufficient prosperity - prosperity of exactly the kind which gave Richland enough start-up capital to exert political and military pressure in the first place. It gives Richland political and economic control of Poorland, as Richland can do such things as set any price it likes either on corn or raw cotton, or slap on punitive import taxes if Poorland voters elect the wrong government. And finally, it creates among the voters of Richland the sense that unusual wealth and power is somehow a natural and proper part of their lives, perhaps owing to some vaguely-conceived racial or cultural superiority, or even just luck.

Despite political decolonisation after World War 2, this simple model still describes much of the economic relationship between the west and the rest of the world, and even some economists (who are apparently brought up strictly not to mention such things) argue that, economically, the colonial era has never ended. This system is not the only source of western economic success. We in the west have produced a lot of material goods ourselves, by hard work, efficiency, thrift, and similarly systemic abuse of poor people and the natural environment within our own borders. Also, the category material goods includes schools, hospitals, sewers, books, handbags, cigarettes, slave cotton and cruise missiles. Our characteristic habits of mind clearly have both positive and negative applications. But, as a system, global apartheid is massively, perhaps pivotally significant in creating a situation where 1 billion people (1 person in every 5) currently live in life-threatening poverty, on less than 1 US dollar a day; where a child dies every two seconds from inadequate sanitation; and where the world spends 800 billion dollars a year on weapons - nearly half on US arms purchases, including more than 10,000 nuclear missiles at about $1 million apiece.

1 dollar a day: one of the world's billion severely malnourished people 1 million dollars apiece: one of the world's 20,000+ ballistic missiles

Moreover, the gap between the rich and the poor is growing. As the efficiencies of globalisation lead to higher profits, the rich are pocketing these, and the poor are getting, at best, slightly less poor. As a factor impacting on poverty and living standards, and limiting the amount of goods that humanity can physically produce, the environment, particularly global warming, is also significant.

On current projections, it would take fifteen planet earths to support universal western living standards.

Something is therefore going to give. To an extent, humanity can choose what gives, but we cannot choose whether or not the current system will continue. It won't. There are two broad visions of the future. Right-wingers argue that the solution lies in more technological and economic efficiency. Good machinery, easy credit, low wages and politically weak workforces will enable the rich to make increased profits, some of which will trickle down to the poor, without affecting the basic unequal structures of capital ownership or disadvantaging the rich - and also without the need to find fourteen more planets. Any overall long-term improvement in prosperity can only be the result, firstly, of massive suffering in the short- and medium terms, and secondly, of effectively permanent inequality. However, if the process is allowed to play itself out, economic growth will offset the suffering, and even the poorest will be so much better off that the whole process will have been worth it. To tackle poverty any other way would undermine the wealth incentives which motivate the rich to do all that good in the first place. Arguably, the rich are asking the world to trust them to exploit the poor up to a slightly richer level, citing the industrial revolution as an example of previous success.

There is clearly cogency and truth in the basic core idea that nothing can be done if humanity doesn't actually produce material necessities; that people with tjhe relevant expertise have a unique and positive contribution to make, managing resources and getting the necessities produced; and that for most people, material rewards are effective incentives. However, the self-interest of right-wing arguments is self-evidently suspect, as is the fact that they contain tacit omissions and rather tenuous-seeming assumptions. The industrial revolution was certainly an age of capitalist exploitation, but it is by no means clear that this was the only way in which a general, long-term rise in prosperity could have been achieved. The right-wing view also assumes that the combined potential of natural resources and technical innovation is so vast that even the poorest will one day prosper under the current system - and that they are prepared to wait for this to happen. Comcomitantly, the right-wing view arguably involves tolerance of what most people (and arguably most societies) would regard as unacceptably massive levels of structural violence - whether or not compensated by more or less personally sincere lip-service to the idea of the common human good.

Our fault, their problem? Someone else's problem?

These considerations prompt a range of left-wing (including green) critiques of right-wing solutions. Greens and left-wingers broadly agree on the principles of efficient technology and increased globalisation (in the forms of sustainable development and renewable energy), but they argue that the rich are effectively profiting from the work of the poor, and that the chief solution is fairer and more equal distribution of resources and rewards. Easy credit (for the rich), along with legal privilege, deregulated capital markets, and low-waged, weak, unpropertied workforces helped cause the problem to start with. Moreover, in the past, untrammelled capitalism was neither sufficient nor necessary, and perhaps not even relevant, to the general long-term increases in general prosperity. State intervention was, and still is, crucial, in the forms of more or less corrupt political influence, aggressive military support, and colonial exploitation. These things are not simply intrinsically unjust: also, they contribute to the causes of uprisings, wars, revolutions and environmental degradation. At the same time, they erode the grassroots family and community spirit which has always been a chief guarantor of the social cohesion on which prosperity and quality of life depends. These outcomes offset most or all of the benevolent accompaniments of capitalism. More equal economic, social and political arrangements are not only intrinsically fairer; they also spread incentives, empower more people, release human potential more widely, and are thus more genuinely efficient. In the present case, under the apparent risk of ecological catastrophe, the specific global implication is that levels of western global control and material consumption need to drop somewhat.

This is a difficult idea. Limits on absolute national self-interest (such as the UN charter) remain weak and controversial. At the same time, the suspicion that growth and personal income, in an already immensely prosperous society, are capable of exceeding an ideal maximum level, is practically inconceivable to the western political consciousness. But this idea - the idea that you can have too much, that it might be wise to seek to want less rather than to have more - may be necessary for human survival. Also, as we have seen, it is exactly this idea that has produced societies which, of all the human societies that have ever existed, are certainly the most stable, and arguably among the best equipped to meet the deep human need to live a good and meaningful life. It is also noteworthy that the same idea is a central message of the majority of the religious leaders, visionaries, philosophers and thinkers in whose lives, example, and work, the world (including the west) discerns its highest cultural achievement, and the core of its human identity. It is central to the vision of Jesus and of many Christians, of Gotama Siddartha and many Buddhists, of the authors of the Hindu scriptures and the Greek philosophers, of Gandhi in India and Basho in Japan, and the Canadian Inuit and the forest-dwellers of Africa and the Amazon. It is also often surprisingly congruent with, and often central to, the work of economists such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx and J.M. Keynes. It is also worth stating that, as an idea, it is intrinsically beautiful. The widespread western assumption that greed is good is therefore a dangerous and debased caricature, even in purely economic terms. Nevertheless, it is a caricature of a good idea: the idea that prosperity is a worthy and indispensible aspect of peace.

Hi-tech, low impact ecohousing: Findhorn Low-tech, low impact ecohousing:
Tinker's Bubble, Somerset

The next sobering consideration is the very thing that makes this debate relevant to peace tax protesters. This is that the global economy, including the environment, is now a peace and security issue. That is to say: owing to globalisation, poorer communities are now more fully aware of the grotesque inequalities between their own incomes and those in the west. They are also mindful of an essential fact which optimistic right-wing economists (that is to say, economists) rarely discuss. This is that state military force has always been central means of establishing and maintaining levels of western prosperity. Massive, mutually reinforcing inequalities of wealth and power are currently perpetuated by (or through) international finance institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, dominated by the great powers. This dominance is still finally backed, and enforced, by weapons the like of which the world has never before seen.

By contrast, military attack and threat against the west, is necessarily a relatively low-budget operation. It consists mainly of terrorist insurgency by paramilitary 'non-state actors', and relatively small-scale attempts by states to develop their own cheap WMD. The ideological core of global terrorist insurgence is political, variously with religious or economic priorities. Wider public support accruing to hardcore activists is driven by economic grievance.

A non-state actor: Subcomandante Marcos of the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico
Another non-state actor: Mohammed Atta on the morning of September 11th 2001
A state actor: Israeli nuclear site

Paramilitary aggression can be difficult to counter strategically, but the really crucial issue is the groundswell of public support. If this exists, terrorism, like other political action for change, becomes effectively unstoppable, if unpredictable in its outcomes. Rich countries are vulnerable, increasingly so as they overspend in the attempt to hold a hard line. Non-violent conflict transformation is therefore a matter of strategic survival, as well as humanity and justice.

Another state actor:
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams participates in a democratic process

For this reason, some hard-headed military strategists are now lining up alongside the left-wingers and greens. According to strategic thinking by UK SAS officers, insurgencies such as the global Islamist one (the 'enemy' in the west's 'war on terror') are a 1% military problem and a 99% political, economic and social problem.

The opportunities for peace tax expenditure on all these issues are vast, and the benefits so obvious that it is futile to describe them.

2.3 Maintenance and support of peaceful social cohesion
Successes: pre-colonial Somalia
Western Europe after 1945
Japan after 1945
internal politics in the United States after 1865
South Africa after 1991
Guatemala after 1996
Croatia 1999 - 2000
Failures: colonial and post-colonial Africa
post-communist Russia
South Africa after apartheid, 1995
How to promote: trade, prosperity and sustainable economic growth; economic and political decolonisation; international development aid; humanitarian and NGO support for community building; work with conflict groups - child soldiers, former belligerents, refugees etc.; respect local and culturally specific ways of doing things
Uses of peace tax: international development programmes and aid for developing countries; research and environmental protection by governmental and non-governmental agencies; research and development of sustainable, low-impact, and intermediate technologies; support for humanitarian organisations working with conflict groups

Communities escape mass violence when their members maintain cohesion and a largely shared vision of what it is to lead a good life. Disruption, dislocation, and rapid change often involves, or leads to, more wholesale disintegration and violence. Many societies (such as Somalia) were much less violent before the social disruption and economic exploitation of European colonialism. Once violence is ingrained, however, this begets further cycles of violence, for which the community may itself be blamed, even when collapse has actually resulted at least partly from insupportable external pressures.

Once destroyed in this way, a community may take generations to put itself back together. However, when communities begin to heal themselves, this work can be externally supported and facilitated. The success of the peace treaty in Guatemala was dependent not only on mediation by the Lutheran church, but on negotiators who established personal, social and emotional bonds which allowed them to address divisions resulting from appalling exploitation and suffering. In South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions offered immunity from prosecution in return for an open account of atrocities.

Humanitarian NGOs work with particular groups in recent conflict areas: the current (Autumn 2004) issue of the UK Quaker News headlines a Quaker-run seminar, Dealing with the Past, bringing together young people from different communities in the former Yugoslavia. These small initiatives, requiring, and demonstrating, extraordinary courage and vision of participants, are the basis for progress. They are another very obvious candidate for peace tax funding.

2.4 Respect for human rights
Successes: Western Europe after 1945
South Africa after 1990
Northern Ireland after 1994
Colombia 1995-1999
How to promote: political action at multilateral levels, supported by civil society pressure; “name and shame” abusive governments and rich-country governments which support them; political support for developing countries; respect for local cultures, norms and social structures; reduction in western dependency on resources extracted from developing countries (leading to support for abusive governments)
Uses of peace tax: government contributions to UN; governmental and grant-supported non-governmental agencies, researching, advising, campaigning and monitoring human rights at the international level; governmental contributions to international aid and sustainable development; renewable domestic energy

General freedom from torture, disappearance, detention without trial and other human rights abuses will lessen the likelihood of insurgency, war and violence. Conversely, fear of such abuses will increase any propensity to conflict. Here, again, the interests of western powers are important. Many tyrants and dictators enjoy western backing - a fact which weakens the authority, credibility and effectiveness of western governments taking a stand (or going to war) over human rights.

2.5 Respect for international law and its institutions
Successes: the United Nations after 1945 (partial success)
peacekeeping and peace support
How to promote: reform, strengthen and democratise the UN and other multilateral institutions
voter / civil society pressure on governments to fulfil responsibilities to UN
Uses of peace tax: government contributions to UN
government funding for civil, humanitarian and NGO sections of peace support missions
contribution to permanent UN peace cadre
Under imminent threat of attack:
Colin Powell at the United Nations

Currently, with one exception, the UN Charter permits war only by authorisation of the UN Security Council. The exception is that a state may go to war in self-defence, if it is under conditions of actual or imminent attack, and there is no time to apply to the Security Council for authorisation. This exception explains the importance of WMD to the pretext for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, since WMD was the best case the US could present to show that it was under such an urgent, imminent threat - as US officials explained at length, in the course of several months’ leisurely-paced representations to the UN Security Council.

International law is based on two rather contradictory ideals: national sovereignty, and universal human rights. These ideals can, and often do, come into conflict when one government abuses human rights, and other governments consider intervention. International law has ambiguous standing with governments and no enforcement mechanisms. In simple power terms, nothing stops rich governments flouting international law with impunity. When it is then enforced against poorer governments, international law effectively becomes a useful stick with which great powers beat defeated enemies, including former clients and collaborators. However, international law is still currently the best available basis for progress. It is the only thing staving off complete global anarchy, in which all states are effectively “rogue.” Even in its present imperfect form, it is a psychologically powerful source of legitimacy, and unilateral-minded governments prefer to be seen to act within it if possible - hence the furious activity at the UN over Iraq in 2002-3.

2.6 Democracy
Successes: Western Europe after 1945
United States after 1865
Guatemala after 1996
South Africa after 1990
Northern Ireland after 1994
Mozambique after 1992
Cambodia after 1992
How to promote: political action at multilateral levels, supported by civil society;
political support for developing countries
Democracies not fighting each other
Uses of peace tax: government contributions to UN; governmental and grant-supported non-governmental agencies, researching, advising, campaigning and monitoring human rights at the international level; governmental contributions to international aid and development

Even if other grievances are not redressed, violence may be avoided if there is general faith in a political process which is capable of expressing and managing conflict without it. Like international law, such processes are currently imperfect. Some proponents of the so-called “liberal peace” thesis note that (in William Clinton’s words) “democracies don’t fight each other,” and have concluded that democracy prevents war. In fact, democracies have gone to war with each other (Spain vs. the US in 1898). The argument depends on what you call democracy, what you call war, and also, arguably, who you are, and why you might want to use those words in that particular way: some have seen it, plausibly, as a charter for western ambitions for continued global intervention, but, as with international law, this is arguably an objection to the application, not the underlying principle.

2.7 Control, limitation and ultimate closure of the supply of weapons
Examples: the Roman Empire
normal life in the present-day UK
superpower disarmament, 1963 - 2002
El Salvador 1995 - 1999
How to promote: political action at multilateral levels, supported by civil society pressure; comprehensive disarmament treaties; credible verification; across-the-board focus, from nuclear and space weapons to small arms and torture equipment; expose and dismantle the close relationship between rich governments and the arms trade; delegitimise the arms trade
Uses of peace tax: government expenditure on disarmament and ongoing verification; government grants for arms producers to “demilitarise,” replace capital / plant, retrain / relocate workforces, etc.

Deterrence” is a fallacy. The presence of weapons in a crisis is a temptation to their possessors and a threat or provocation to others, and always increases the likelihood of violence. Enduring and substantially peaceful situations can therefore be created simply by removing access to weapons, usually by law. In the Roman Empire, as in the present-day UK, the state enforced an effective monopoly of violence, whereby it was normally illegal for civilians to hold weapons.

In all situations where weapons are widely available, consensual measures are required for general disarmament. These can work at an individual level, as in the gun amnesties in El Salvador in the late 1990s, and on the very large scale, as in the partially successful Cold War disarmament processes.

In situations where weapons are not yet as available as they might become, it is necessary to control or limit the suppliers - the arms trade. The rich countries, especially the US and Europe, are at the heart of the problem, being the main producers and exporters of weapons. Governments and companies rarely monitor the human rights records of their customers: the arms trade incorporates the market in torture equipment. Rich governments have a historically close and secret relationship with the arms industry, well beyond the point of corruption, partly because of their own huge demand for weapons. The positive economic contribution of the industry is small, if it exists at all, and government patronage and subsidy is out of all proportion to it.

Publicly expressed anxiety about weapons is pervasively conditioned by the tacit silences and self-interested spin of rich governments. Despite proliferation and the end of the Cold War, the world’s biggest weapons problem is still rich states with very large stocks of nuclear missiles. These are effectively genocidal and therefore illegal in international law. However, generally expressed anxiety about WMD includes much less destructive “weapons of mass destruction” - biological and chemical weapons - which are cheaper, and thus the weapon of choice for less wealthy governments. Misleadingly equating these weaker weapons with the massive nuclear stockpiles serves a manifest political purpose.

Similarly, the generally expressed concentration on the issue of proliferation, rather than disarmament, translates as established nuclear powers seeking to deny other countries small amounts of nuclear weaponry, while reserving huge stockpiles for use at their own discretion. The disarmament process has stalled, and is arguably now unravelling, owing to unilateral rearmament by the US, which no longer maintains even a pretence of defensive deterrence in its nuclear strategy. Most smaller countries are accordingly seeking their own nuclear weapons, with a probable view to aggressive use, and proliferation is a genuine problem. Lesser nuclear powers are the UK, France, China, India, Pakistan and Israel. Other governments such as North Korea are certainly interested in acquiring a nuclear deterrent.

Public appreciation of the continuing, post-Cold War nuclear problem is regarded as unduly small by experts. Nuclear weapons are actually easier to deploy than conventional forces. Once you have a missile, it is easier and more effective to fire it than to maintain, equip and deploy an infantry regiment. Therefore, contrary to the general perception, the weakening of the Russian state has actually increased its preference for, and willingness to use, nuclear weapons, since its conventional forces are unravelling. Other relatively poor states apply the same logic. Some smaller potential nuclear powers, such as South Africa and Argentina, have unilaterally abandoned their ambitions for nuclear stockpiles.

The US has rejected the offer by another main player, China, to limit space weapons by mutual agreement, so an arms race in space may be imminent. As formerly with nuclear weapons, the US claims that satellite weapons are defensive. As with nuclear weapons generally, the claim is absurd, and there is not the remotest conceivable possibility that it might be true, or even honest error. It is a lie.

Huge stockpiles of conventional weapons remain problematic. Also problematic is the flood of small arms on the world market, which are stoking smaller wars and insurgencies in poorer countries. Durable and easy to make, transport, hide, and sell second or third hand, small arms remain in circulation for years. They are used in a vast number of killings and abuses and they are certainly a big problem. Again, for rich governments, preoccupation with small arms, including landmines, cluster bombs and similar, has the attractive feature of diverting attention from “large arms.”

2.8(a) Appropriate state boundaries ...
Successes: Western Europe and the EU
Failures: colonial Africa
central Asia and the Caucasus
South America
the Middle East
How: political action at multilateral levels on applied conflict transformation; recognition of, and respect for, global cultures; willingness to “think outside the box” regarding the political partition of territory into nation-states
Uses of peace tax: government grants to conflict transformation agencies such as TRANSCEND, Saferworld, etc. for consultancy in conflict resolution

One circumstance under which ethnicity is likely to constitute a problem is when it conflicts with the political boundaries of states. Much of Africa’s ethnic trouble results from the fact that Europeans carved Africa up in ways which entirely ignored cultural realities on the ground. Russia imposed similar problems on central Asia. Traditional geopolitics favours states with clear linear borders, as in Bosnia by the Dayton agreement of 1995. However, the Dayton borders within Bosnia are those which were created by ethnic cleansing, which creates obvious problems for any hope of a deep or lasting settlement. Addressing problems such as these, conflict transformation experts such as Johan Galtung of TRANSCEND have proposed more radical and imaginative solutions, based around ideas of shared or neutral territory, with governments exerting complementary authority on various issues within a specific territory. These ideas progress somewhat beyond the traditional idea of the state as a clearly bounded, politically and ethnically self-contained territorial unit. The new thinking corresponds more closely to reality: according to Galtung, there are 2,000 “nations” (ethnic groups attached to particular territories), but only 200 states, of which no more than 20 are self-contained “nation-states” in the sense that France (almost) is.

2.8(b) ... but caution otherwise regarding the issue of ethnicity
Tribal hatreds: the future British fascist leader in 1926

Unlikely by itself to cause a war, ethnicity is often an easy way to identify a misleading scapegoat - or even (as “ancient tribal hatreds”) a way for outsiders to cultivate a sense of cultural superiority to, or distance from, communities participating in particular conflicts. But ethnic difference alone seems not to lead directly to violence. Some “ethnic hatreds” are between groups so similar that outsiders sometimes struggle to discern ethnic difference, such as the Serbs, Croats, Bosnians and Bosniaks of the former Yugoslavia. Even these clear, mutually exclusive identities were arguably created by the war; early on in hostilities, many individuals had to research family history to find out, or decide, which “ethnic” group they “belonged” to (or to which they had been assigned). At the same time, groups clearly showing great ethnic variety often co-exist peacefully: Beirut may once have collapsed along ethnic lines, but New York never has. Western Europe’s own years of resurgent “ancient tribal hatreds” are still within living memory, but a confident prosperity, freedom from external domination, and a political life focused on the need to avoid repeating the errors of a violent past, have taken the heat out of them. Violence may define and flow between ethnic divisions and existing prejudices, but war and violence themselves seem to be triggered by political, economic, social and other problems. War and peace are matters of resources, expertise and sustained political will, not inexorable tribal destiny.

2.9 As a last resort, peace support
peace support

Peace support operations are undertaken by military and civilian personnel working together in a particular conflict area as an impartial body, usually under the auspices of the UN or another multilateral institution. Peace support involve integrating a range of options, from enforcing ceasefires on warring parties, and policework, to observing and monitoring existing ceasefire agreements, in tandem with nonviolent, political, diplomatic, civilian and humanitarian peacebuilding work of the kinds described above. As peace support involves the deployment of armed forces and (potentially) the use of force (“peace enforcement”), peace support is not, strictly speaking, an alternative to violence, and arguably it would not be an appropriate recipient of funding from a peace tax pool. However, if properly mandated and resourced, and not used as a pretext for ideological or self-interested intervention by great powers, peace support certainly constitutes a preferable alternative to war. As such it would be a more positive use of military taxation than conventional war preparation, and a more coherent and appropriate complement to a nonviolent peace tax pool. At the moment its potential in all these respects remains unfulfilled.

Page 1 - Crisis Management
War is Weakness - why war doesn't work
Further reading and research