FACT SHEET 4
A NEW GOAL – PREPARING FOR PEACE
President Eisenhower pointed out that
the very existence of the military, and the industry that supported it,
increased the probability of war. This “military-industrial-scientific complex
which he identified is supported by both external and internal
- Externally, citizens see the complex as
necessary for their security. Politicians allow their reputations to be
associated with the country’s military strength. The public sees the arms
industry as essential to the economy and employment.
- Internally, there are forces keeping the whole
structure going, such as the career ambitions of individuals. Patriotism and
loyalty are ingrained by tradition and adopted by scientists and
industrialists to defend their activities.
- Self-deception. While many members of the three
arms of the complex genuinely believe that what they are doing is for the
good of mankind, or at least of their country, others conceal what
they are doing from others, even from themselves. Thus an arms dealer called
what he was doing “Intercontinental Technology” and claimed that he was
satisfying “consumer needs”. He admitted that he avoided thinking about the
human consequences of his trade.
- Moreover, the three elements of the complex support
each other. Each nation seeks to deploy weapons superior to those of its
rivals. Scientists are employed to devise better weapons. The military
request more and better weapons and have to approve the products scientists
come up with. Development is long, costly and risky, so governments offer
special terms to the arms industry. These are partly covered by selling arms
to other countries. Secrecy is involved at every stage, and so the
accountability of governments is hard to establish.
people relinquish the willingness to go to war?
Two factors are necessary for
war to take place:
arms to fight with,
individuals willing to use them.
Every war is the result of a network of
inter-acting causes. One way of reducing the frequency of war would be to
identify the causes common to many wars, and to eliminate them. The fact that
this is a very difficult task does not mean that it should not be pursued: a
reduction in just one of the causal factors would reduce the probability of
- At the individual level. Education, first of
parents, so that children grow up with pro-social values, low
aggressiveness, and an ability to evaluate government propaganda. But
parents cannot be expected to bring up children as pro-social and
co-operative individuals unless they are themselves living in a reasonably
secure environment. This means that a major effort to reduce world poverty
is needed. This in turn requires a reduction in wealth differentials and a
fairer distribution of the earth’s resources. This would remove some of the
factors that pre-dispose individuals to violence and which trigger and
justify its use.
- At the group level. Attachment to one’s group
is an essential part of society and arises from a fundamental aspect of
human nature. But loyalty to one’s group can be de-coupled from a readiness
to demonise others.
Three issues could profitably be considered here:
Education can foster understanding and tolerance of
the beliefs and customs of others.
Efforts must be made to reduce differences between
groups with potential rivalries. An obvious example here is
Competition between groups could be reduced by a more
equitable distribution of resources.
At the international level.
Efforts must be made to discourage nationalism without diminishing
- The power of the military-industrial-scientific
complex must be diminished. This does not necessarily mean immediate
and total disarmament – the need for defence will remain for many years
to come. Peace education could help here. So could education to
encourage independence of thought in order to lessen the power of
- Industrial conversion to peaceful purposes
has proved difficult but still should not be impossible. Efforts are
being made already by the Pugwash Organisation to discourage
young scientists from taking jobs in the arms industry.
- The Arms trade. This is the Achilles heel
of the whole complex. As noted above, armaments industries depend on
foreign sales to reduce their development costs, and these sales make
wars possible between their customers. Stricter and international
control over the arms trade would be an enormous step.
Discouraging people from going to war
requires action of many kinds. But the underlying theme that unites all these
actions has seldom been better expressed than in the Russell-Einstein manifesto
which led to the formation of the Pugwash movement:
Remember your humanity
and forget the rest.