Waging Peace

By Senator Douglas Roche, O.C.
For the Alberta Catholic School Trustee Association,
Submitted August 11, 1999

The air war in Kosovo was yet another example of failed diplomaticefforts that were clouded by the spectre of militarism at every turn. Asviolence and distrust continue unabated in the region, it is increasinglyobvious that it was a short-term militaristic solution to an entrenchedpolitical problem. Believing that militarism buys peace is intellectuallymisguided and only ensures future discord.

The total influence of militarism is felt in all facets of ourlife --economic, political, and even spiritual. Our toil, resources, andlivelihoods are all involved; so is the structure of our very society. Wemust not fail to comprehend its grave implications. We fight wars thatshould not be fought. We spend exorbitant funds on militarism at theexpense of the poor. We produce, maintain, and export weapons thatconstantly endanger humanity. In so doing, we spurn the values ofreconciliation, justice, and peace in favour of violence.

We have a responsibility to do our utmost to protect fellow humanbeings when they are in great danger of human rights violations or of beingcaught in the path of warring parties. But we must reassess our means. Themoral issue for those committed to peace is finding the means that willensure, and not undermine, the conditions that under-gird peace and securityfor people and respect for their human rights. As Pope John Paul IIemphasized before European parliamentarians on March 29, answering violencewith violence is never the way to end a crisis. What is needed is tosilence arms and to stop acts of vengeance in order to undertakenegotiations, with the aim of arriving at a peace that respects differentpeoples and their cultures.

NATO's recent diminishment for the U.N. and international law hasfurther eroded the possibility of engendering trust and reciprocity betweennations. What an inauspicious bookend to a century that was so severelymarred by the clash of evermore-potent arms. It is once again increasinglyclear to ruling regimes the world-over that a nation's standing on theinternational stage is determined by its military capabilities. Thisominous situation is only exacerbated by the possession of weapons of massdestruction.

The retention and proliferation of nuclear weapons is the singlegreatest challenge to world security - let us answer this challenge tohumanity and all of civilization. It should be held to be an extraordinaryaffront to humanity for nuclear weapons states and their allies to persistin claiming these weapons are required for their security. The worldcontinues to be held hostage by the willingness, indeed the very intent, tolaunch such an attack. We must make a commitment to what are the mostprofound spiritual challenges of our era - the challenge to rid the world ofthe intent and the means to nuclear annihilation. To strive for anythingless would be unworthy of those who truly seek to keep the peace, to fosterprogress in human achievement, and enhance justice, dignity, and integrityamong peoples and nations.