That seems to be the question of the century. War in Iraq, terrorist attacks worldwide, nuclear weapons development and missile testing by questionable nations run by despots & dictators are just the tip of the iceberg. So what’s really going on? Why can’t we all get along and have some peace in the world?

I don’t profess to be a professional in psychiatry, nor am I an anthropologist. But there are observations that I have made over the years, and classes taken in psychology & human behavior which seem to explain some of the reasons why the world seems to be going to Hell on the express train. Then there is the history of the human race that overshadows it all.

Ah, history!! Constantly repeated, and the human race never learns from it’s mistakes. Throughout the entire recorded history of the human race, there has been conflict and war. Causes of this bloodshed are many as they are varied. But these conflicts seem to boil down to three causes: Power, wealth, and to a lesser extent,(dare I write it) sex. Hmm….sounds like the typical human, doesn’t it?

Should you care to look back at ancient history, you would find many wars fought over land (power & wealth), trade (ditto), and women. Think of the Trojan War, and you’ll get the idea. However, power craved by various rulers throughout history has made and destroyed countless nations. Let’s fast forward to the current world situation.

Let’s start with Islamic terrorists. Should they die killing the infidel, i.e., become a martyr, their religious leaders state that they will sit on the right hand of Allah (a position of power), be fed dates and other delicacies (wealth), and receive 72 virgins to pleasure them throughout eternity (sex). Considering that most of the suicide bombers that are blowing themselves up are poor, illiterate, and desperate, this seems like the triple play to paradise.

How about Iran’s leader? He’s looking for favor from Allah if he manages to wipe Israel off the map. Huge bonus points for killing all of the Jews. If he succeeds and dies in the attempt, he gets to sit even closer to Allah, and gets more delicious food to eat. Sorry, your limit is still 72 unless Allah decides to supersize your order…

In another part of the world, how about Kim Jong Il? He wants and needs power like a drug. Power is what keeps him the leader of North Korea and its people. He learned this from his father, and fully intends to keep it as long as he is alive. What does he gain from it? Everything that he desires and more. And if he can get more, he will.

What about all of the other dictators & despots? Being in those powerful positions means that they control a country and its people. It also brings great wealth, so if something goes wrong, they can then flee to a friendly country to live out the rest of their lives (or at least as long as the gold lasts). This last is what happened to Idi Amin. He fled Uganda and ended up in (are you ready for this?) Saudi Arabia! He stayed in exile for over 20 years before dying in Saudi Arabia. And I doubt that he was lonely for female company.

Last, let’s travel back to the Middle East to the late Saddam Hussien. Take the chapter of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. As stated in a previous post, Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait was motivated by money. To quote from the post:

Kuwait heavily financed Iraq in the war with Iran in the amount of a $14 Billion loan. Iraq was not in a position to repay the loan, and Kuwait was not going to forgive the debt.

There is an old saying that’s very true – “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” And in the case of many of the countries worldwide, there are no limits to what these rulers can and will do.

So how do we get along with these countries & rulers that just don’t want to get along with other countries? Diplomacy can only go so far, especially if one of the countries is not intending to honor any agreements or treaties. The dreaded Useless Nations can pass ridiculous resolutions, silly sanctions, and corny condemnations. All of these really don’t mean much – there are plenty of countries that will help the target country get by (Saddam sure did with a little help from his friends). So what’s next?

One of the solutions to this was put forth in the comments section of the same post. The “Just Peacemaking” theory is one solution put forth by the Friends Committee on National Legislation, which is a Quaker-based organization, and was described by Dan as:

… one point behind Just Peacemaking theory is that peace need not be something desired by both sides. For instance, in Nicaragua, the Contras were terrorists trying to overthrow the Ortega presidency. They didn’t care about peace, they went around killing, raping and “disappearing” those who stood in their way.

But while they didn’t care about peace, they DID have their own interests at stake. THAT’s the primary idea behind Just Peacemaking theory. Every entity has their own interests at stake. The idea is, find their interests and make them see that it is not in their own best interests to continue down the paths of violence.

In Nicaragua, the Contras were receiving funding from the US. So, peacemakers realized that if US and world citizens were in the villages being attacked by the contras, the contras would not be likely to attack. Not because they cared a thing about American peacemakers, but because they were aware of political realities enough to know that if they killed Americans, their funding (already tenuous) would certainly go away.

It’s actually fairly cool. Even if you’re not a pacifist, this approach makes a great deal of sense if you want to avoid the expense of war (it was a whole lot cheaper to have the Witnesses for Peace go to Nicaragua than it would have been to fund an army to fight the Contras – and more effective).

While this approach sounds appealing, and probably more cost-effective than a war, but this will not work in all situations. The particular situation that I’m referring to is the suicide bombers listed above – they are driven by religious fervor and the promise of an eternity in Paradise. They do not have the self-preservation motivation as the Contras listed above. The same statement could also be applied to the current leadership in Iran should they continue on the course they have set out for themselves.

So what is the answer for one country (or people) getting along with another? That depends on the country and situation.

If a country is reasonable in negotiations through diplomacy & compromise, great! Agreements can be worked out to the mutual advantage of each, and peace can be enjoyed by both countries. Otherwise…

A final note: I do not believe that the human condition will ever experience peace throughout the world at the same time. At least not in this life…