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Why World Peace Is A Norm While War Is An Aberration

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There are two opposite views whether world peace, narrowly defined as absence of warfare, is a norm while war is an aberration. Dr Margaret MacMillan, Professor of International History at Oxford University and author of The War That Ended Peace, does not believe that war is an aberration and peace is the norm.

Rather, she iterates that war is deeply woven into our history as empires rise by defeating lesser powers and then decline, leaving others to pick on the carcass. Fear is a motivator for war, as is the distinction between honour and shame passed down from generation to generation. And the part played by individuals should never be discounted: wars break out as a result of countless human judgements and misjudgements.

On the other hand, Steven Pinker believes that it is completely conceivable that wars between countries might go the way of slave auctions, debtors’ prisons and other barbaric customs. Not only is war at an all-time low, rates of homicide are far lower than they were in the Middle Ages, and issues like domestic violence are no longer seen as being acceptable.

I tend to agree with the latter view; to me world peace is a default function of the global political system politics while warfare is its occasional malfunctioning for the following reasons.

Firstly, declining warfare is a historical trend. If we look at world history, the frequency and duration of warfare is decreasing. Compare 100 Years War or Thirty Years War with First and Second World War or even Afghanistan war. Steven Pinker rightly argues that while there is plenty of violence around the world and more ways of killing each other, we have witnessed fewer and fewer wars between countries since 1945.

War and Peace section of the website Our World in Data contains an in depth analysis of the wars conducted among the great powers during the last 500 years. Their conclusion supports the assertion made above.

Secondly, related to the above, the inexorable march of history from villages to towns and city-states to nation-states has been slow but we’re steadily moving towards bigger units of administration eliminating warfare within that entity. The formation of World Government is the end point of this march of history.

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Within the next two centuries, all the current state borders would be abolished and nation-states would be replaced by continent-size units of governance, with maximum decentralisation for provision of basic services to the people. While the United Nations (UN) would act as the world parliament to formulate global policies, its constituent units such as UNICEF, WHO etc would be acting like global ministries with the World Bank as the central bank and English would be recognised as the universal language with inputs from different languages in terms of vocabulary.

Thirdly, feminisation of policy formulation is another important step. With the gradual entry of females in the higher echelons of power all over the world, the world is becoming more humane and peace loving.

Even a country like Pakistan has 20 per cent female representation in its legislatures, while it is more than 50 per cent in more than 20 countries, including many African countries.

Over the next few decades, there would be a large number of women heads of states/governments, not only in Europe and North America, but also in other parts of the world. With few exceptions (i.e Margaret Thatcher), women tend to be more peace loving than their male counterparts.

Fourthly, the decline of the United States of America (USA) as a superpower would set the world in a new direction. In the modern era, the USA is the worst offender of human rights and is responsible for causing more than 20 million deaths through its overt and covert operations since the end of the Second World War.

With the decline of USA, China would witness a “peaceful rise” to power. China as a super power would be more concerned with economic development as it could act as a catalyst for global peace. It would be a better and more peaceful world.

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Settling a number of border disputes, strengthening ties with regional organisations and expanding global trade and investment relationships through its multi-billion dollar One Belt and One Road (OBOR) initiative would be some tasks that China would fulfil.

Fifthly, economic globalisation would take its final form. Globalisation has completely altered the way nations govern, communicate, negotiate and interact with each other.

Globalisation has improved and expanded global commerce, brought more foreign direct investment to develop countries, build infrastructure, advance literacy, inspire democratic movements via social networks and create emerging middle classes all over world. These middle classes are by tradition anti-war and pro-peace and would support the expansion of trade, investment and greater prosperity.

Sixthly, social globalisation would also change our world. Alongside economic globalisation, there would be multiplication of social networks and activities that increasingly overcome traditional political, economic, cultural and geographical boundaries.

Expansion and enhancing of social activities and interdependencies are resulting in intensification and acceleration of social exchanges and activities through information technology. The world is literally becoming a global village with chances of warfare diminishing altogether.

Seventhly, balance of power would be ensured. Throughout history, balance of power between the contenders of global hegemony has been the most effective way to ensure peace with only occasional outbreaks of wars.

This balance has been augmented with the development of nuclear weapons; no one is interested in starting a war which may result in Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). Full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two opposing sides would effectively result in the destruction of both belligerents, which no longer offers the possibility of a net gain for either side, thereby making wars pointless.

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Naya Daur