The Dream of World Peace—A Flawed Vision
OPTIMISM over the prospects for world peace is running high. In her column for The Toronto Star, Carol Goar wrote: “Peace agreements are proliferating from Afghanistan to Angola. Regional conflicts that seemed intractable a few months ago are showing signs of abating. And the United Nations is undergoing a heartening rebirth.” This, says Goar, has triggered a “global epidemic of hope.” An editorial in USA Today similarly proclaimed: “Peace is breaking out all over the world.”
Particularly noteworthy of late has been what the UN Chronicle described as “the ongoing rapprochement between the Soviet Union and the United States.” Troop withdrawals, startling events in Eastern Europe, talk of troop and arms reductions—these developments have aroused hopes that the superpowers may finally be putting the brakes on the arms race. In a world where military spending reportedly drains the economy of over 850 thousand million dollars a year, this is a most welcome prospect.
Nevertheless, how likely is it that man’s dream of world peace will be realized? Even the most optimistic observers admit that it is a huge leap from arms reduction to arms elimination. Nuclear disarmament would require an unprecedented degree of mutual trust. Sadly, though, the superpowers have a long history of mutual distrust. As prophesied in the Bible, this has been an era in which men have proved to be “not open to any agreement [“trucebreakers,” King James Version].”—2 Timothy 3:3.
Besides, not everyone is convinced that the elimination of nuclear weapons would bring peace. Even if the nations could be persuaded to scrap their nuclear stockpiles, conventional weapons can still murder quite efficiently. World Wars I and II bear grim testimony to this fact. Furthermore, the technology needed to re-create nuclear weapons would still exist—ready and waiting for the first sign of political tensions. Some, like political scientist Richard Ned Lebow, even argue: “Probably keeping a few nuclear weapons around does keep people cautious.”
But as long as nuclear weapons exist, the specter of nuclear annihilation will make a mockery of any claimed attainment of peace; so will the continuation of the nonmilitary problems that rob millions of peace in their daily lives. UN secretary-general Javier Pérez de Cuéllar spoke of “the plight of millions of our fellow citizens who are homeless or live in totally inadequate shelter conditions. The problem is steadily growing worse.” The UN Chronicle further reports that economic underdevelopment afflicts “two thirds of mankind, in some cases with levels of poverty and destitution indistinguishable from the suffering inflicted by war.” And what about the situation of the world’s estimated 12 million refugees? Will arms reduction or even complete disarmament bring peace to their lives?
Clearly, man’s dream of world peace is a flawed vision—myopic, narrow, limited. Is there a better prospect for peace? Indeed there is. In the previous issue of this magazine, we saw that the Bible gives a sure hope for peace.a Soon Jesus Christ, as King of God’s Kingdom, will bring about a peace far surpassing any human expectations. But what will this peace really mean for mankind? The next article will discuss this.
a See “Who Will Lead Mankind to Peace?” in our April 1, 1990, issue.