In the last 5,000 years of human history more than two hundred million people have been killed in wars. During that time nearly every year a war has been going on somewhere on Earth. Ethnic groups had different languages and customs including religions that separated them and made resolving conflicts difficult. These wars continued in every major civilization and reached a climax in the two world wars in the first half of the twentieth century in which about 97 million humans were killed.
After the invention of nuclear bombs, which were used by the Americans at the end of its war against the aggressive Japanese empire, the victorious alliance called the United Nations formed an international organization with the same name to prevent wars and resolve international problems. After the war the United Nations (UN) developed a Charter but was still dominated by that alliance of five nations (United States, Soviet Union, Britain, France, and China) which won World War II. Only those five nations were given veto power over the decisions of the UN Security Council, which is primarily responsible for enforcing the UN Charter to prevent and resolve wars.
Between 1946 and 1975 the Soviet Union vetoed 113 Security Council resolutions, Britain 13, the United States 12, France 6, and China 3. In 1971 the small Republic of China on Taiwan was expelled from the United Nations and replaced on the Security Council by the most populated nation, the People’s Republic of China. From 1976 during the next twenty years the United States used its veto in the Security Council 70 times compared to 19 by Britain, 16 by China, and 12 each by Russia and France. Since 1996 there have been only 24 vetoes with 12 by the US, 7 by China, and 5 by Russia.
From 1946 to 2013 the United Nations has reported 331 armed conflicts in which about 19.4 million people were killed. The Uppsala Conflict Data Program counted 246 armed conflicts by their definition between 1946 and 2010, and they estimated that more than 30 million people were killed in those wars. Of the more than thirty recent armed conflicts at the end of this period, only four had more than one thousand battlefield deaths to qualify as “wars,” and they were in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia. Between 1946 and 2000 the United States intervened in conflicts militarily 73 times, and they used covert operations in which casualties occurred 123 times.
In the last five centuries the costs of wars have increased in terms of human losses and environmental and economic damages. In the last century more powerful weapons have caused much greater numbers of civilian deaths while mortality rates of combatants have been decreasing. Wars have also spread faster in the modern era. Since World War II during and after the Cold War most of the conflicts have been low-intensity including those supported by the superpowers as well as revolutions and counter-revolutions. Wars have become increasingly asymmetrical between nations or empires harassed by guerrillas or terrorists.
The United States has been a major participant in wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan which have caused the deaths of several million people. In the Korean War the United States had 36,574 killed and 7,926 missing in action (MIA). South Korea lost 137,899 dead and 24,495 MIA. North Korea suffered about 400,000 killed and missing. China claimed they had 152,000 dead, but the Americans estimated that China had about 400,000 killed. Recent analysis of the Vietnam War has raised the estimate of the number of people killed in that long war to 3.8 million. The United States had 58,286 killed and 1,643 missing.
Since the explosion of atom bombs in Japan in August 1945 humanity has managed to avoid another total war, but many smaller wars have continued to erupt. Until humanity learns how to use international law to resolve disputes between nations and to prevent wars, the larger nations with more powerful killing machines will dominate the smaller and less militarized nations.
In the century since the beginning of the Great War (World War I) in August 1914 the human race has been suffering from wars that may have killed more people than all the previous wars in human history. Especially since its entrance into World War II in December 1941 the United States has increased its military power, becoming the world’s first superpower and engaging in numerous wars in various places on Earth. Even after the collapse in the early 1990s of its Cold-War rival, the Soviet Union, the US has continued to increase its military power in order to achieve not only world-wide military supremacy but global domination. Even with very few enemies left, US Presidents tell us their aim is to protect and promote American interests. With the motive to pursue national interests, rather than what is best for everyone, the consequences of militaristic strategies and tactics have made things worse for others by denying their economic rights. Americans have had to bear the sacrifices of soldiers, tax burdens, and the enormous national debt which will have to be paid off in the future. Yet the people of the world cannot be dominated by military power, and to attempt to do so is the greatest folly.
The American empire has been controlling other nations in order to exploit their natural resources and markets as the centers of capital claim a much larger share of what belongs to others. The United States with less than five percent of the world’s people consumes at least 25% of its resources. The old imperial mercantilism which imported natural resources cheaply and exported expensive manufactured products has been updated by the corporate monopolies rather than sharing the world’s resources more equally. The American occupation of defeated Japan from 1945 to 1952 supervised the democratization and demilitarization of one of the previously most militarized nations, but recently the US has been encouraging the remilitarization of Japan.
Since World War II the United States has become the most militaristically powerful nation in the history of the world. The US was using covert operations first with the Office of Strategic Studies (OSS) during World War II and then by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and afterwards military intervention to prevent developing nations from being really democratic and gaining their economic freedom. On September 30, 1950 President Harry Truman approved National Security Council Directive 68 to establish a master plan for the secret policy of covert and overt warfare using military, political, and economic powers. The military budget was quickly increased by 350% from $13.5 billion to $46.5 billion. US covert operations have overthrown democracies in Iran, Guatemala, Indonesia, Chile, Nicaragua, Haiti, Honduras, and other places.
The CIA and secret armies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) conducted Operation Statewatch to control elections in western Europe including Operation Gladio in Italy. The CIA hired professors to write more than 25 books per year with their propaganda. More recently right-wing think-tanks have published thousands of books to perpetuate those lies, and the CIA has planted tens of thousands of articles in the media, 700 alone in order to overthrow Allende in Chile. After such books were discovered, some conscientious scholars sued to get the titles revealed; but the US Supreme Court ruled that this would expose CIA methods and endanger national security. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) used Operation COINTELPRO to spy on political dissidents in the US. For example, in 1998 the Socialist Workers Party and the Young Socialist Alliance finally proved in a court of law that the FBI had used 20,000 days of wiretaps and 12,000 days of listening devices between 1943 and 1963, and offices and homes were burglarized 208 times to photograph or steal 9,864 private documents.
Secret operations by the American CIA have been responsible for overthrowing Iran’s Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in August 1953 and Guatemala’s President Jacobo Arbenz in June 1954. On September 11, 1973 Chile’s President Salvador Allende was assassinated and overthrown by an American-supported military coup. In each case the result was a military dictatorship that lasted many years.
Since the organization of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1949, American covert operations have been increasing and have targeted the following 39 nations: Syria, Greece, Albania, Philippines, Iran, Guatemala, Hungary, Tibet, Indonesia, Cuba, Congo, Iraq, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Ghana, Singapore, Algeria, Chile, Argentina, Afghanistan, Ecuador, Bolivia, Turkey, Angola, Australia, Egypt, Chad, Poland, Lebanon, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Angola, Venezuela, Haiti, Palestine, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. Nations in which leftists have been repressed by American covert action include Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, East Pakistan, East Timor, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The United States has intervened militarily in many other nations in the past half century, committing serious war crimes in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Libya.
The United States has used the CIA and covert operations by the military to manipulate elections and candidates in other countries. Military leaders of other nations have been trained at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia which has been protested and changed its name to the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) to try to hide their nefarious activities. Those who challenge the powers that be are treated as subversives, traitors, Communists, or terrorists.
Cuba has been strangled by an economic boycott for more than a half century. In October 2014 the United Nations General Assembly for the 23rd year in a row condemned the US trade embargo against Cuba and called for its termination by a vote of 188-2 with only the United States and Israel opposed. In October 2016 the US and Israel abstained on this for the first time.
In July 1979 the United States with Operation Cyclone began sending military aid to the Mujahideen fighting the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan. President Carter’s National Security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski suggested that they could make Afghanistan the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. In early December 1979 Carter decided to go ahead with a new generation of first-strike nuclear weapons that included the land-based MX missiles each with ten warheads, submarine-launched Trident II missiles each with 16 warheads, low-flying cruise missiles undetected by radar, and the Pershing II missiles in Europe that could hit Soviet targets within eight minutes, threatening the start of World War III in Europe on a hair trigger. This breakdown of Carter’s previous intention to dismantle the American empire made the Soviet Union realize they had little to lose by sending troops into Afghanistan on December 24, 1979.
During the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 the United States secretly spent $20 billion on Operation Cyclone supplying weapons and financial aid to the Mujahideen by way of Pakistan’s Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). After 1984 arms and money were also sent to the Mujahideen by the wealthy bin Laden and Abdullah Azzam. The militant groups fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan were trained by the Pakistani Armed Forces and ISI.
During the war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s the United States sent aid to Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein that included weapons, military intelligence, special operations training, and even participation in the war against Iran.
In addition to nuclear weapons, biological and chemical weapons are considered instruments of mass destruction, though since the First World War use of some of these has been restrained by treaties. However, the United States used napalm in Vietnam and white phosphorus there and since. Less lethal devices such as tear gas and pepper spray have often been used to quell domestic disturbances and protests. The Chemical Weapons Convention, which was signed in 1993 and went into effect in 1997, has not prevented the use of napalm, white phosphorus, and depleted uranium during wars, and it does not include the domestic use of tear gas, mace, and pepper spray by police.
The five nations with veto power in the Security Council (US, Russia, UK, France, and China) were the first five nations to develop nuclear weapons and are also the five largest exporters of weapons, the other being Germany. In 1968 the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed, and this Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) came into force in 1970. Many nations signed this treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries, and the five nuclear powers promised in Article VI “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament.”
Since then India, Israel, Pakistan, and North Korea have developed their own nuclear weapons and are not parties to the NPT which now includes 189 nations. The United States aided the development of these weapons in India, Israel, and Pakistan. In July 2009 Israel sent submarines armed with nuclear missiles through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea so that they could attack Iran. US Vice President Joseph Biden commented that they have a “sovereign right” to do so even though it would be a serious crime against peace, the worst of the war crimes.
During the nuclear arms race of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union these two “super-powers” increased their arsenals of nuclear weapons to more than 50,000 atomic and hydrogen bombs; but since the end of the Cold War a generation ago, the United States and Russia have reduced their nuclear arsenals. Currently Russia has about 7,300 nuclear weapons, and the United States has 6,970. France has 300, China 260, the United Kingdom 215, Pakistan about 110, and India about 100. Israel produced 80 nuclear warheads by 2004 but has enough fissile material to make 190 more. North Korea is believed to have less than ten nuclear bombs. The use of even a few nuclear weapons could massacre many millions of people and poison portions of the Earth with deadly radioactivity that would last for many centuries.
On December 3, 1989 US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to end the Cold War and begin an era of peace. Their agreement to let reunited Germany stay in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) western alliance was confirmed in February 1990 when the American Secretary of State James Baker promised Gorbachev that NATO would not expand “one inch to the east.” Gorbachev dismantled the eastern alliance of the Warsaw Pact. However, US President Bill Clinton began proposing the expansion of NATO at his first NATO summit in 1994, and he promised this in his 1996 re-election campaign. In 1999 Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary were allowed to join NATO as full members. Cold War expert George Kennan called this decision “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era.” On March 29, 2004 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania became members of NATO, and Albania and Croatia joined on April 1, 2009. During the Ukraine crisis at a NATO meeting in September 2014 the United States and the United Kingdom tried to bully the other 26 members of NATO to spend 2% of their GDP on the military.
In 1997 the Ottawa Convention agreed on a treaty to prohibit land mines, and it came into effect on March 1, 1999 after being signed by 138 governments and ratified by 101; but the United States and China did not join. By September 2000 about ten million antipersonnel mines had been destroyed. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was signed by 160 nations, and 76 had ratified it by April 11, 2001; but the United States, China, Israel, Pakistan, and India refused to accept this treaty.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted on July 17, 1998 at a conference in Rome by a vote of 120 nations to 7 (China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, United States, and Yemen) voting against with 21 countries abstaining. US President Bill Clinton signed the treaty on December 31, 2000 the last day it could be signed without being ratified. The treaty was ratified by the required 60 nations by April 2002 and became effective on July 1, 2002 to prosecute genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity in order to enforce international justice.
Three days after the terrorist attack on the two World Trade Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington on September 11, 2001 the US Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), allowing President George W. Bush to use force against “nations, organizations, or persons” responsible for the attacks or who “harbored such organizations or persons.” Bush also used this act to spy on people in violation of the US Constitution and without getting a warrant required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
In 2001 the United States withdrew from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and the 1972 Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention which had been ratified by 144 nations. That year the US also refused to join 123 nations who agreed to ban anti-personnel bombs. Also in 2001 the United States was the only nation that opposed the United Nations Program to Eradicate the Illicit Trade of Small Arms.
On May 6, 2002 the US President George W. Bush took the unprecedented step of “nullifying” the US signature to the ICC. The Bush Administration began a campaign of getting other nations to sign Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIAs) to assert that no American citizens would ever be prosecuted by the ICC or testify there. The administration claimed that 101 countries had signed such agreements, but many of those were executive agreements. The United States ended economic aid to any country that refused to sign the BIAs; yet 53 governments announced they were refusing to sign them. Fewer than 40% of the BIAs were ratified by parliaments. The European Union (EU) announced that any nation which signed such a BIA would not be accepted into the EU. Also every South American nation ratified the ICC even though most lost their American aid. In August 2002 the United States Congress passed legislation protecting the American military from being taken into custody by the ICC in The Hague. In December 2004 a foreign aid bill ended American support of any nation that ratified the ICC Treaty. In 2002 and 2003 the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions granting immunity from the ICC for one-year periods, but in 2004 they refused to do so again. So far the ICC has been investigating only nine cases that occurred in African countries and one in Georgia.
Since 1996 the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been invaded several times by its neighbors Rwanda and Uganda and others because of its extraordinary natural resources that include most useful minerals. As many as six million Congolese may have been killed, and hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped. Since the attack on the American consulate at Benghazi on September 11, 2012, the US Africa Command has been keeping at least 5,000 special forces in Africa. The United States has been conducting military operations with the military of nearly every African nation, averaging at least one mission per day.
Pilotless airplanes (drones) were developed in the George W. Bush Administration so that they could fire missiles on targets by remote control. These instruments of assassination and mass murder have been used more by President Barack Obama. On September 30, 2011 the American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan were assassinated in Yemen by Hellfire missiles from US Predator Drones. Two weeks later a drone also murdered al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. As of July 2016 during Obama’s Presidency the New America Foundation and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimated that 4,189 people were killed in 528 drone attacks. About one-third of the dead were probably civilians. Many experts on constitutional and international law believe that these killings are illegal despite the justification asserted by the US Department of Justice. By the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act the US Congress approved President Obama’s use of drones for secret assassinations “anywhere in the world.” The legal justifications for the murders were also made secret.
The United States invaded Iraq on March 20, 2003 to secure access to the fifth-largest oil reserves in the world. In the 2012 report “Joint Operations Access Concept” the Pentagon cited the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 as examples of overcoming anti-access forces, and it stated,
As a global power with global interests,
the United States must maintain the credible capability
to project military force into any region of the world
in support of those interests.
This includes the ability to project force
both into the global commons to ensure their use
and into foreign territory as required.1
The United States failed to get the approval of the United Nations Security Council prior to its invasion of Iraq in March 2003. UN inspectors were in Iraq and reported they had not found any evidence that the Iraqi government had any weapons of mass destruction. Falsely insisting that Iraq had them, US President George W. Bush told the UN inspectors to leave Iraq because the US was going to invade. This unnecessary war was clearly a violation of the UN Charter and international law as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan admitted. In February 2003 millions of people in the world marched in protest of this foolish war which was to make the United States much less popular around the world. Suddenly 54% of South Koreans had an unfavorable opinion of their American ally. In the year 2000 about 75% of Indonesians had a favorable opinion of the United States, but by 2003 an unfavorable opinion was held by 83%.
In 2016 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimated total world military spending in 2015 at $1,676 billion. The SIPRI 2016 estimate for the United States was $596 billion, China $215 billion, Saudi Arabia $87 billion, Russia $66 billion, France $51 billion, United Kingdom $55 billion, India $51 billion, Japan $41 billion, Germany $39 billion, South Korea $36 billion, Brazil $25 billion, Italy and Australia $24 billion each, Israel $16 billion, Turkey $15 billion, and Iran $10 billion. The 2017 budget for the US Defense Department is $619 billion.
In 1998 the Brookings Institution reported that by 1996 the United States had already spent $5.5 trillion building and maintaining its nuclear arsenal. In 2014 the US Government announced that in the next ten years it is planning to spend about $640 billion on the maintenance and development of nuclear bombs. New delivery vehicles for these would include 12 submarines, 100 planes, and 400 land-based missiles, making the grand total for the nuclear weapons $1.1 trillion in the next decade.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) has not become effective because it has not been ratified by China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. On August 30, 2014 United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon lamented that not one nuclear weapon has been destroyed because of a bilateral or multilateral treaty and that no nuclear disarmament negotiations are currently ongoing. He also noted that the nations with nuclear weapons have long-range plans to modernize their nuclear arsenals that are well funded.
American influence is widespread as the US has mutual defense agreements with about 94 countries and more than a thousand military bases in about 130 nations. How many people realize that the primary motivation of Osama bin Laden for the attack on the US in 2001 was the American military bases in the Islamic holy land of Saudi Arabia? Even after the end of the Cold War, the US has increased its empire of military allies in order to exploit trade. The United States has the capability to dominate most of the world with its Pacific Command (Asia), Central Command (Mideast), European Command, Southern Command (Latin America), and since 2007 its Africa Command. The US Special Operations Command began in 1987 and now spends more than $5 billion a year using special operations forces and hiring thousands of private contractors for covert and psychological operations in various countries. In 2016 Special Operations forces were deployed in 138 nations in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
On September 23, 2014 US President Obama ordered bombing of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and also sent in advising and training forces on the ground in Iraq, re-engaging in the war started by President George W. Bush in which American involvement had ended in 2011. Obama’s aggressive intervention in the civil wars in Iraq and Syria was not authorized by the United Nations Security Council and violates the UN Charter Article 2, Section 4. In three months the stock of armaments manufacturers rose quickly with Lockheed Martin going up 9.3%, General Dynamics 4.3%, and both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman 3.8%. On September 23 alone US warships launched 47 Tomahawk cruise missiles which cost $1.4 million each.
The United States also has a Space Command and recent development of cyber warfare. The US Government is currently using the following five programs to spy on people: Dishfire collects hundreds of millions of text messages every day; Co-Traveler captures billions of location updates from mobile phones daily; Muscular intercepts all data transmitted between Yahoo! and Google outside the United States; Mystic collects all details of telephone calls in five nations; and Quantum monitors internet traffic, and when information triggers suspicion, it actively attacks devices with malicious software.
The respected military advisor Andrew Marshall became concerned about global warming in 2002, and for the Pentagon he supervised research for the October 2003 report, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security. As a result the military establishment at the Pentagon decided that they need to arm against greater threats than ever occurred from the danger of thermonuclear war. They also recommended building a secure wall around the United States to keep out masses of foreigners. They doubted that Americans would take responsibility for having emitted a large share of the carbon which greatly impacts the poorer nations. The people of the United States have been emitting 5.6 metric tons of carbon annually per person compared to 0.7 metric tons per capita outside of the G-7 nations (US, Canada, Germany, Britain, Japan, Italy, and France). Between 2008 and 2013 the US Government increased its security spending related to climate change from 1% of the military budget to 4%. Yet China, which is spending $188.5 billion on the military has increased its annual spending for climate security to $162 billion.
Many more people will migrate in the future as global warming becomes worse. Already the United Nations Human Rights Council has estimated that there were 51.2 million refugees by the end of 2013, up six million from the previous year. Most of these refugees are from the wars in Afghanistan, Syria, and Somalia, and nearly half are children. This is the largest number of refugees since the end of World War II.
Many books and articles have been written about the horrors of war, the numbers of people who have been killed and wounded, the costs in wasted human labor, damaged property, environmental desecration, the false propaganda and lies told to justify them, and the human traumas and psychological illnesses which result from them.
The main purposes of this book are to suggest remedies for the greatest of human evils, to help persuade people that the Non-Proliferation Treaty can be fulfilled by disarming all nuclear weapons, and to describe humane ways that civilization can be re-organized to prevent wars and devastating climate calamities while reducing and eliminating abject poverty by making sure the basic needs of all people are provided. Although the end of the Cold War seemed to reduce the danger of a nuclear war, the current megacrisis over global warming and economic disparities could provoke major wars as billions of people struggle to survive on a planet with diminishing resources of fresh water and food. Wars over water have increased 28% in the 21st century compared to the previous quarter century. Major reforms are also needed to resolve this megacrisis by creating greater spiritual awareness of humane values with better cooperation for the good of all people so that people and their rights can be protected from the massive violence of war and the excessive greed that causes economic injustice.
During the Renaissance the pioneers of international law, Francisco Vitoria and Hugo Grotius, recommended moving humanity from wars to peace by achieving international justice using the following methods after a war: retribution, reconciliation, rebuilding, restitution, reparations, and proportionality. In recent years efforts are being made to apply the principles of law, democracy, truth, forgiveness, and rehabilitation.
Francis Boyle, a professor of international law, has filed petitions with several United Nations agencies complaining of genocide by the United States against Iraq. He charged that 200,000 Iraqis were killed in the first Gulf War of 1991, that 1.7 million people died because of sanctions by the US between the wars, and that 1.4 million Iraqis were killed from the illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003 and the occupation of the American forces until they withdrew from combat in 2011. In the Afghanistan War that began in 2001 on the side of the American coalition invading about 15,000 have been killed, mostly Afghan Security Forces, but it is difficult to estimate the number killed on the side of the Taliban. American financial expenditures for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are estimated to be at least $5 trillion including the anticipated veterans’ health care costs.
In the year 2000 Chalmers Johnson published Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, explaining how the CIA had used the term “blowback” to describe unintended consequences of their covert operations that could hurt America. This was the first of four books Johnson wrote on the folly of the American military empire. In his last book, Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope, he noted that the British and the Soviet Union voluntarily gave up their domination of other countries so that they could remain independent and self-governing. He warned, “If we do not learn from their examples, our decline and fall is foreordained.”1 Johnson recommended the following ten steps to dismantle America’s empire:
1. We need to stop the environmental damage US military bases were causing worldwide.
2. We must put down the burden of spending $102 billion a year on military bases in more than 130 countries.
3. We must end the use of torture.
4. We need to cut back the growing number of civilian employees serving the military.
5. We need to expose the myth that military spending creates jobs because studies have shown that it creates fewer jobs than most professions.
6. The US should stop being the largest exporter of arms and should stop training foreign officers at Fort Benning, Georgia.
7. The Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) programs that promote militarism in schools should be abolished.
8. We need to scale back on civilian contractors and private military companies such as Blackwater.
9. We need to reduce our standing army and improve treatment of the wounds and combat stress of veterans.
10. We must give up the use of military force as the chief means of attempting to achieve foreign policy objectives.3
In his 2011 book, The Age of Deception: Nuclear Diplomacy in Treacherous Times, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed Elbaradei warned against violating international law to stop the building of nuclear weapons as Israel did by striking Iraq’s research reactor Osirak in 1981 and Syria’s nuclear reactor at Dair Alzour in 2007. Elbaradei has warned that unless the nations with nuclear weapons fulfill their commitment under the 1970 Non-Proliferation treaty to disarm all those weapons, other nations will be inclined to enter the nuclear arms race to gain a deterrent and protect themselves from attack. He noted that four veterans of the cold war, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn, and William Perry, after leaving office proposed in January 2008 the goal of “a world free of nuclear weapons.” In December of that year 300 world leaders in Paris proposed Global Zero to eliminate nuclear weapons, but their plan has four phases that would not accomplish this until 2030.
President Barack Obama in 2009 reduced the number of US strategic warheads that were deployed to 1,968, and on April 8, 2010 he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in Prague. This was ratified and became effective on February 5, 2011, limiting strategic warheads to 1,550, but this was expected to last until 2021. Although this step was an improvement, more steps need to be taken to remove the danger of nuclear war as soon as possible. On October 14, 2016 the United Nations General Assembly voted 123-38 with 16 abstaining for negotiations in 2017 to ban nuclear weapons. Of the 38 countries voting against the resolution 27 are members of NATO.
Now is the time and the best opportunity to reform the selfish and arrogant foreign policy of the United States that has nearly bankrupted the nation as it did the Soviet Union and other European powers and Japan in the 20th century. The extraordinary destructiveness of nuclear weapons and the technology used to deliver them have made all-out war insane and obsolete since the destructive end of World War II in August 1945.
Many Americans, especially conservative Republicans, believe that Jesus the Christ is their savior. Yet they are often the most opposed to making peace, loving everyone including our enemies, and helping the poor as Jesus taught. Now that we are faced with a global crisis which threatens most of our civilization with catastrophic climate conditions, increasing economic poverty and misery, and the continuation of useless and destructive wars, would this not be a good time to put into practice the teachings of the Christ and other great spiritual teachers of mankind?
By applying love for all rather than fear and hatred of others we can solve our problems in peace with justice for all. Trying to kill people does not make them better but worse as they tend to fight back with similar violence. We can avoid hypocrisy and many social and political conflicts as well as military ones by following the golden rule, treating others as we would like to be treated.
The United States only has borders with the friendly nations of Canada and Mexico and has the buffer of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from potential enemies. Yet since 1945 the US Government has spent trillions of dollars amassing the most powerful military in the history of the world and fighting destructive wars in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, killing several million people.
After 19 airplane hijackers committed suicide attacking the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush led the United States into an endless war against terrorists. Such war crimes against peace and humanity must be prevented and stopped, but the world needs to find ways to do so without causing more wars. Even children learn at an early age that “two wrongs do not make a right.” Individuals must be held accountable for crimes they commit, but this can be done by lawful government with judicial processes using the most nonviolent means possible to bring perpetrators to justice. More important, humanity needs to organize the world in such a way that international conflicts can be resolved by democratic world justice using law enforcement and judicial procedures rather than by the battling military forces of powerful nations and the insurgents trying to fight back against them.
Instead of promoting more wars the United States can lead the world toward peace by providing a good example and by using diplomacy. With worsening conflicts looming as a result of increasing global warming the world can no longer afford the barbarism and massive violence of wars. Because the United States is so much more powerful than any other nation at this time, it is imperative that Americans take the first steps toward demilitarization and disarmament.
The US has already dismantled many military bases in Iraq and will soon be removing hundreds of military bases in Afghanistan as the international intervention led by the Americans in the civil war there winds down. Yet the United States still would have more than 700 military bases in other foreign nations including many that have been in Japan and Germany since the end of World War II. Many American troops have been in South Korea for more than sixty years.
The United States has a massive base on the African island of Diego Garcia for attacking the Mideast and Central Asia with 387 bunker buster bombs for destroying underground structures and more than 200 strategic bombers able to destroy at least 10,000 targets in Iran in one mission.
The United States needs to begin removing these bases to show the world that we want peace and that we believe we can solve conflicts by world law and diplomacy. Most of the 4,863 military bases inside the United States and its territories could also be converted into productive uses to improve the economy.
In 2007 Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa asked the United States to end the use of its military base at Manta, and their last base in South America was closed. However, in July 2009 the United States and Colombia made a secret deal to allow the US to have seven military bases in Colombia. Noam Chomsky noted that it was typical that Colombia has the worst record on human rights in the western hemisphere since the 1980s wars in Central America decreased. In February 2009 the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy led by presidents Fernando Cardoso of Brazil, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, and César Gaviria of Colombia concluded that the war on drugs was a failure and that prevention and treatment would be more effective and less harmful. US President Obama accepted the military coup which overthrew the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, and the US also recognized the elections held there under military rule in November 2009, enabling the US to use the Palmerola air base in Honduras. The United States funds the International Republican Institute (IRI) which supported the military coups that overthrew elected governments in Venezuela in 2002 and in Haiti in 2004.
Another important first step is for the United States and Russia to continue the reduction of their nuclear weapons by negotiation. During the Cold War these two superpowers had more than 50,000 nuclear bombs capable of being launched by missiles from land, planes, and ships at sea. Now these two nations need not be enemies and can safely reduce their remaining nuclear arsenals in order to lead the way to a more universal and multilateral nuclear disarmament under the supervision of a democratic world authority.
By moving as quickly as possible toward the abolition of all nuclear weapons the United States, Russia, China, Britain, and France will fulfill their obligation to Article 6 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In November 2004 the United Nations Committee on Disarmament voted to restrict all fissile materials that could be used for nuclear weapons to an international agency. The vote was 147 to 1 with only the United States opposed; only Israel and the United Kingdom abstained. Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, and Iran were among those nations which voted in favor.
In February 1967 Latin American nations signed the Treaty of Tlatelolco to prohibit nuclear weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it went into effect in April 1968. In 1996 most African nations signed the Treaty of Pelindaba to make Africa a nuclear-weapon free zone. The treaty has been ratified by 38 nations and became effective on July 15, 2009. Two protocols invited the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and China to agree not to use or threaten to use nuclear explosions in the African zone, and only the United States has failed to ratify them. The US should ratify these protocols. In February 2010 the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States was formed by every nation in the western hemisphere except for the United States and Canada.
The United States should also dismantle its ballistic missile defense (BMD) programs which are generally considered offensive weapons designed to overcome the deterrence of other nations’ weapons. Such weapons have a low success rate and could be easily overcome by a first-strike from another nation. However, after a first-strike by the US they could limit the damage from a smaller retaliatory strike. The US should also renounce the first use of nuclear weapons. Deploying nuclear weapons with ballistic missile defense, as the US is now doing even in Poland and the Czech Republic, is very threatening to Russia, Iran, and other potential enemies. Such threats are a violation of the United Nations Charter.
The United States and the world would also benefit by reducing its military expenditures. Since the United States with 4.4% of the world’s population is currently spending about half of what the entire world spends on wars and military preparations, we need to begin the process of world disarmament by taking some unilateral steps. If the US will lead the way to peace by example, then other countries will be more inclined to follow. Since the end of the Cold War the US has continued to fund massive weapon systems through its army, navy, and air force as well as difficult weapons in space and now even cyberwarfare. These preparations for wars that should never be fought are costing hundreds of billions of dollars each year and provide fewer jobs than almost all other kinds of expenditures. We have been warned about this massive military waste since the era of President Dwight Eisenhower who described the military-industrial complex and the government which completes the deadly “iron triangle.” In my 2011 book Progressive DemocracyI suggested that we should reduce the US military budget by 25% each year and begin the process of conversion to peaceful projects. With increasing disasters from global warming we will need to improve the Federal Emergency Management Agency which is now in the Homeland Security Department. As we change our national policy from “defense” (war) to peace, I propose that we combine the shrinking Defense Department with Homeland Security in a Security Department.
We can also transform the Department of State into a Department of Peace by using diplomacy for peace and justice rather than just for selfish American interests. Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is proud of her use of “coercive diplomacy” even though such threats against other nations violate the United Nations Charter, which as a treaty is the law in the US.
By greatly expanding Peace Corps programs we can advance the conversion from war to peace and begin helping other countries to prosper rather than by threatening and destroying them with weapons. Currently the United States spends hundreds of times as much on war and preparations for possible wars that will never occur than on non-military aid to other countries. The US spent much more money on wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq than the entire value of those economies and in that foolish policy created more enemies for the United States. If we spent even a fraction as much helping other nations, we would be making friends rather than enemies.
The way to peace is by peaceful and friendly methods which remove the causes of wars. Actually because the United States has been wasting so much of our resources on the military, the process of disarmament will benefit the US economy more than any other nation’s by freeing up more money for productive uses. War and arms races cause all countries who engage in them to become worse while converting to peace helps all nations.
After the US bombing of Serbia in the spring of 1999, at the first meeting of the South Summit of 133 nations in 2000 they declared that the “right of humanitarian intervention” justification “has no legal basis in the United Nations Charter or in the general principles of international law.”
The 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention has been signed by 161 nations and became binding international law in 1999. Since then more than 46 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed. The United States, Russia, China, India and 31 other nations thus far have refused to sign this treaty and eliminate their lethal landmine weapons. According to the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs more than ten million stockpiled mines have not yet been destroyed. All such weapons should be banned.
The United States should stop selling weapons to other countries and end buying arms from them also. The largest arms exporters are the United States, France, Russia, China, and the United Kingdom. In 2015 the United States sold $40 billion in weapons to other nations. France was second with $15 billion, followed by Russia with $11 billion and China with $6 billion, double its previous year. The next ten largest exporters of arms are Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Spain, Ukraine, Sweden, Belarus, South Korea, Netherlands, and Switzerland, and eight of these ten are European nations. The fifteen world’s largest importers of weapons are India, United Arab Emirates, China, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, United States, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Turkey, Egypt, Oman, Venezuela, and the United Kingdom, which is the only European nation other than Turkey. In 2015 the leading purchasers of weapons were Qatar $17 billion, Egypt $12 billion, and Saudi Arabia $8 billion. Seven of the ten largest arms industry corporations are in the United States. By providing weapons in various wars the US has been promoting these wars and making them worse. By stopping weapons sales with other countries the United States could lead the way to a ban on all international weapons sales. The rise of the extremist Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq in 2014 has been made a powerful threat largely because of all the American weapons and equipment they have captured.
The United States is also causing blow-back and creating more enemies through its recent use of pilotless airplanes called drones, which have been used not only for gaining intelligence but also for assassinating suspected terrorists. Not only are such assassinations illegal and unconstitutional without any due process of justice, the collateral damage that kills many civilians is outright murder. These weapons are beginning to spread already. Would Americans like to be targeted by drones from other countries? This short-sighted tactic must also be stopped. American policy should reflect our respect for law, justice, and constitutionality. Terrorists need to be treated as criminals. However, especially under George W. Bush the United States over-reacted to crimes by a few terrorists by going to war against other nations. Recent history shows that the largest and deadliest terrorist organization in the world is the United States Government.
No nation, not even the United States, has the authority to act as the world’s policeman. The United Nations by the powerful nations which control the Security Council has given the United States and other nations authorization for military action in Korea, Afghanistan, and Libya, but in other wars such as in Vietnam and Iraq the United States arrogated to itself the power to intervene in nations far from home with disastrous results. To end wars for good they must be prevented from beginning by disarmament and the nonviolent resolution of conflicts by judicial processes, not by trying to win a war by military means. Congressional Representative Jeannette Rankin, who voted against entering both World Wars, said, “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” In war everyone loses, some more than others. Even arms-makers who profit from wars are losing spiritually because of the misery they are promoting.
The Nuremberg Principles of International Law formulated by the War Crimes Tribunals held in Nuremberg, Germany after the end of World War II clearly define crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. (See Documents.) Every individual who participates in such crimes is morally responsible even if they are obeying orders of a superior officer. US Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson noted that crimes against the peace are the worst violations.
The nations of Costa Rica, Panama, Iceland, and Lichtenstein have abolished standing armies, and many island nations such as Mauritius, St. Lucia, Solomon Islands, and Samoa have never had national military forces.
On October 20, 2014 at the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, 155 nations signed the Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons which included the statement, “The only way to guarantee that nuclear weapons will never be used again is through their total elimination.”
1. “Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC),” Washington DC: US Department of Defense, 2012 quoted in The Poverty of Capitalism by John Hilary, p. 86.
2. Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope by Chalmers Johnson, p. 196.
3. Ibid., p. 194-196.