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Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

I hope you’ll tolerate a seasonal blog rather than one that’s specifically university focused, though I hope universities can be involved in the process I briefly outline.  It’s the last blog of the year, so time to stretch one’s self.

The theme is peace.  I’ve been intrigued – and disappointed – that the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq has not occasioned a bit of conversation about a renewed commitment to preventing and avoiding war.  Obviously we’re still in Afghanistan, and the chances for civil peace in Iraq are unsure at best, so grandiose hopes would be misplaced.  But the chance for a bit of thought about a new or revised quest for peace as a component in American policy would be welcome, and I just haven’t seen much of it.

The contrast with American inclinations a century ago is striking.  At that time, the nation’s leaders were known for their naïve hopes that peace could be achieved.  We entered world affairs in a new way with Teddy Roosevelt’s brokering between Russia and Japan.  Then Woodrow Wilson hoped that a war would end wars, and even as late as 1927 we had a Secretary of State who thought a simple agreement could outlaw strife.  All silly and possibly, in retrospect, positively harmful in its lack of realism.

But it sure looks like we’ve overcompensated to the point that a political candidate who talked about hopes for peace might easily seem compromised from the outset.  We’ve had too many wars, too many fears; we arguably have made such a commitment to military strength that this option no longer seems relevant.  But this, too, risks being silly and, in truth, positively harmful in its lack of realistic balance.

So let’s think about peace more actively — as something that we could strive for as a nation, that as the world’s militarily most powerful nation, we should indeed strive for as a national and global responsibility.  And let’s not be afraid to restore the term to our vocabulary as we end one war and ponder the implications of our course over the past decade.  And good will to all men.