Confronting War: An Examination of Humanity's Most Pressing Problem

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Confronting War: An Examination of Humanity's Most Pressing Problem

Author:
Ronald J.
Glossop
Publisher:
McFarland & Co Inc (324 pages)
,
2001
Reviewed By:
Benjamin
Urmston, SJ

Clear, compelling, thorough, closely argued, Confronting War can be used as a textbook, a reference book, or a starting point for reflection and discussion on "humanity's most pressing problem."

Ideas about the alleged positive value of war (control of human population, promotion of technological progress, stimulation of the economy, giving individuals meaning in their lives, promoting internal social cohesion, advancing justice) are shown to be mistaken. It is noted that Kenneth Boulding suggests that in the future, warfare may be viewed as merely a bleak, passing "interlude in humankind's long-term development," an interlude that will not be missed.

Historical background is balanced by a detailed discussion of several aspects of the contemporary situation (ideological, national-historical, military, institutional, and legal). The causes of war are thoroughly discussed along with proposals for alternatives for resolving conflict among individuals and nations.

Confronting War concludes with the value of transforming the existing international structures and systems. We can't send e-mails if we don't own a computer. Nations and individuals cannot confront war adequately without transforming the international system. Only an international structure that puts limits on the sovereignty of nations offers hope of eliminating war.  In the current international system, whose job description includes advancing the common good of our planet?  

The global neighborhood of the future must be characterized by law and the reality that all, including the weakest, are equal under the law, and none, including the strongest, is above it.

Moving from a confederation of governments to a federation of global citizens is an advance toward genuine security and prosperity. Steps in the direction of a world federation are the International Criminal Court, the Law of the Sea Treaty, successful interventions by the international community to protect human rights, and soon a UN rapid response force able to react more quickly. 

Protests against secret proceedings of unelected representatives of world decision-makers like the World Trade Organization indicate global citizens will only tolerate democratic structures that will be strong enough to protect workers, the environment, and consumers.

The way forward to a democratic federation is thoroughly discussed and analyzed. Instead of viewing other countries as potential enemies, the real enemies of humankind are poverty, unemployment, inequality, violence, and pollution.

The functionalist approach argues that even powerful nations would find it difficult to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union. Global functional agencies need to be strengthened and multiplied.

The populist approach emphasizes action independent of national governments. World citizens have created their own official documents. In Japan, 306 cities have adopted resolutions declaring themselves to be world-cities. In 1951 French philosopher Jacques Maritain proposed a council of persons deemed to be especially prudent to speak out as the conscience of humanity on social issues. Such persons might be nominated by religious organizations and elected by people from all nations.

The federalist approach insists that a better informed citizenry eventually needs to persuade national governments to form a new global political order.

The author of this hopeful and comprehensive book, Dr. Ron Glossop, has dedicated his life to teaching, writing, and acting toward a more peaceful and just world. Confronting War deserves our attention and reflection.