by Mairead Maguire
October 14, 2014
Maguire won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for
peace in Northern Ireland. Her book, The Vision of Peace
(edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu
and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from
She lives in
Belfast, Northern Ireland.
"It is shocking to listen to
politicians and military
boast of their military prowess
when in lay persons' terms
what it means is killing of
(Photo: US Navy / flickr)
How can we explain that in the 21st
century we are still training millions of men and women in our armed
forces and sending them to war?
There are more choices than war or peace, there are multi-optional
choices and a civilian-based non-military diplomatic-political
policy has more chance of succeeding in solving a violent conflict.
"Every day through our television
and local culture, we are subjected to the glorification of
militarism and bombarded with war propaganda by governments
telling us we need nuclear weapons, arms manufacturers, and war
to kill the killers who might kill us."
In war, the cost in civilian lives is
incalculable, not to mention the many military personnel whose lives
Then there is the cost to the
environment and the cost to human potential as our scientists waste
their lives planning and researching even more horrific weapons
which increasingly, in modern war, kill more civilians than
For example, the United States and the United Kingdom committed
against the Iraqi people when,
between 1990 and 2012, they killed 3.3 million people - including
750,000 children - through sanctions and wars.
We all also watched our television screens in horror in July and
August this year as the Israeli military bombarded civilians in Gaza
for 50 days.
But, why are we surprised at this cruelty of military when they are
doing what they are trained to do - kill, at the behest of their
politicians and some people?
It is shocking to listen to politicians and military boast of their
military prowess when in lay persons' terms what it means is killing
of human beings.
Every day through our television and local culture, we are subjected
to the glorification of militarism and bombarded with war propaganda
by governments telling us we need nuclear weapons, arms
manufacturers, and war to kill the killers who might kill us.
However, too many people do not have peace or the basics to help
them achieve peace.
They live their lives struggling with the roots of violence, some of
which are poverty, war, militarism, occupation, racism and fascism.
They have seen that they release uncontrollable forces of tribalism
These are dangerous and murderous forms
of identity which we need to transcend.
To do this, we need,
to acknowledge that our common
humanity and human dignity are more important than our
to recognize that our lives and
the lives of others are sacred and we can solve our problems
without killing each other
to accept and celebrate
diversity and otherness
to work to heal the 'old'
divisions and misunderstandings
to give and accept forgiveness
to choose listening, dialogue
to disarm and demilitarize as
the pathway to peace
In my own country, in Northern Ireland,
when faced with a violent and prolonged ethnic/political conflict,
the civil community organized to take a stand, rejected all violence
and committed itself to working for peace, justice and
Through unconditional, all-inclusive dialogue, we reached peace and
continue to work to build up trust and friendship and change in the
post-conflict era. The civil community took a leading role in this
journey from violence to peace.
I hope this will give an example to other countries such as Ukraine,
where it is necessary for an end to the war, and a solution of the
problem on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations and the
We are also challenged to continue to build structures through which
we can cooperate and which reflect our relations of interconnection
and interdependence. The vision of the founders of the European
Union to link countries together economically in order to lessen the
likelihood of war among nations is a worthy endeavor.
Unfortunately instead of putting more energy into providing help for
E.U. citizens and others, we are witnessing the growing
militarization of Europe, its role as a driving force for armament
and its dangerous path, under the leadership of the United
States/NATO, towards a new 'cold' war and military aggression.
The European Union and many of its countries, which used to take
initiatives in the United Nations for peaceful settlements of
conflict, are now one of the most important war assets of the
U.S./NATO front. Many countries have also been drawn into complicity
in breaking international law through U.S./U.K./NATO wars in
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and so on.
It is for this reason that I believe NATO should be abolished and
that steps be taken towards disarmament through non-violent action
and civil resistance.
The means of resistance are very important. Our message that armed
groups, militarism and war do not solve our problems but aggravate
them challenges us to use new ways and that is why we need to teach
the science of peace at every level of society.
The whole of civilization is now facing a challenge with the growth
of what President Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961)
warned the U.S. people against -
the military/industrial complex - saying that it would destroy U.S.
We know now that a small group made up of the
military/industrial/media/corporate/academic elite, whose agenda is
profit, arms, war and valuable resources, now holds power worldwide
and has a stronghold on elected governments. We see this in the gun
and Israeli lobbies, among others, which wield great power over U.S.
We have witnessed this in ongoing wars, invasions, occupations and
proxy wars, all allegedly in the name of "humanitarian intervention
However, in reality, they are causing
great suffering, especially to the poor, through their policies of
arms, war, domination and control of other countries and their
Unmaking this agenda of war and demanding the implementation of
justice, human rights and international law is the work of the peace
We can turn our current path of destruction around by spelling out a
clear vision of what kind of a world we want to live in, demanding
an end to the military-industrial complex, and insisting that our