Revision of a 2009 Article for Today:
In an October 2009 interview in Time Magazine, Kofi Anan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, was asked whether or not “the U.N. should be given the authority to intervene militarily in situations like Darfur.”
“I’m not sure the member states are ready to give the U.N. a standing army….It’s a question of will. And I don’t think you will see a U.N. army,” Mr. Anan replied.
As local crises converge into global crises and threaten to overwhelm us, as the movement to create a democratic world government continues to move forward, national and ethnic military forces will remain perhaps the greatest obstacle to such a government. There exist today a number of different global citizens and democratic world government parties, alliances, coalitions, and institutes.
One of the most prominent is the World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy, which was founded in 1947 in Switzerland but is now headquartered in New York City across from the U.N. building. There’s WATUN, the World Alliance to Transform the United Nations. There is even the grassroots, online Global Referendum for Democratic World Parliament where any citizen on the planet can vote in favor of establishing a representative, democratic world government (click on the link below in “Sources” and vote).
International laws and courts are in existence and others have been proposed. Constitutions for world governments of one kind or another have been written or proposed. Various debates have gone on for years over what structure should a world democratic government take. For example, would a European-style parliament or an American-style tripartite system of checks and balances be best for a united Earth? Would the global legislature be bicameral or tricameral? What role would a Supreme World Court have? Would each current nation-state become a state or province of the world, or would boundaries be redrawn to better reflect regional geography and local ethnicity? Would a democratic world government be a world federation of separate republics or a single federated world republic? These are important questions, but perhaps we put the cart before the horse here.
A number of leaders from around the world have recognized the benefits of democratic world government from scientists such as Albert Einstein to former U.S. presidents such as Harry Truman to the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. The latest world leader calling for global cooperation to address planet-wide crises is U.S. President Barack Obama. But not even Kofi Anan believes humanity is ready for standing U.N. armed forces.
Even in an age of squabbling co-dependent nation-states and stateless-nations, the concept of national sovereignty, regardless of how archaic and obsolete it has become, still reigns supreme. It is a supreme illusion made even more ironic as so many groups of people who are dependent upon each other are so quick to kill and maim each other as global catastrophes loom.
To go further than Mr. Anan’s observation, how will we the citizens of Earth disarm our various militaries? What steps shall we take? There are almost two hundred armed forces from the various nation-states in addition to many thousands of armed gangs, paramilitaries, ethnic militias, religious militias, private militias, private security contract (mercenary) companies, militarized police and intelligence forces, rebel armies, secessionist armies, and terrorist groups. It will take a tremendous, almost unimaginable level of trust and willpower for any nation-state to stand down and demobilize their armed forces and mutually distrustful intelligence agencies.
A small nation may feel gobbled up by the larger ones, and the larger nations gobbled up by a swarm of smaller ones. For world powers with de facto, Postmodern empires such as the United States, the European Union, Russia, and China it will require a leap of faith of not just their leaders but also their citizens.
Certainly over long periods of time as the forces of globalization and unification continue to move forward with both positive and negative results, the many different nations of Earth will learn to cooperate together, work out disputes peacefully, and grow accustomed to living together in a federated world republic. The 13 original British colonies in America did, and eventually after several wars with themselves and their neighbors also learned to live peacefully with Canada, Mexico, and even Cuba despite many differences. Even more remarkably is the rise of the European Union after centuries of barbaric warfare.
Today the international focus is on the spread of nuclear weapons. The current nuclear powers struggle with the temptation to produce more weapons while attempting to gradually destroy their stockpiles without sacrificing a sense of security. Challenges arise with developing nations with unstable regimes acquiring atomic weapons such as North Korea and Iran. Serious concerns exist regarding India and Pakistan and the fact by sharing a common border negates any chance of stopping a nuclear launch.
Israel has a stable government, unlike Iran, but keeps its nuclear weapons secret. Israel feels its very existence so at stake it is feared it may be prone to use those weapons. Other nations feel the need to catch up and hold their neighbors at bay, if not with nuclear weapons then certainly with mass chemical and biological weapons. A corresponding development is the spread of ballistic missile technologies and the beginnings of robotic and space-based weapons. And, of course, terrorists from the right and the left seem eager to get their hands on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
In addition to weapons of mass destruction, we have the mass proliferation of guns, bombs, and ammunition. We have naval, amphibious, and air forces as well with massive arsenals of weapons. Our armies have tanks, artillery and batteries of rockets. So with the advocacy for global referendums with talk of world federalist meetings and world constitutions what else can we do? What do we really want? And what is our next step?
First, local, regional, national, and world-wide education is necessary to bring people’s awareness to the necessity for a democratic world government to 1) address our converging global challenges that threaten us with extinction, and 2) preempt a global dictatorship and empire in the making with the additional challenge of realizing that the so-called “One World Government” or “New World Order” would most likely be a neo-fascist, corporatocratic regime cloaked in the trappings of democracy, such as we saw happening in America under Bush-Cheney.
As part of this educational process people can be engaged as citizens in the Global Referendum for a Democratic World Government. Yes, we need a Constitution for We the People of Earth. We can have global referendums on that issue, too. We can vote yes, we want such a Constitution, and yes, we want to send delegates there to represent the many nations of Earth and design the architecture of a constitutional world democracy. We want to vote on accepting that Constitution. Engaging the average men and women around the planet in this manner furthers their education on the issue and awareness of the necessity for planetary unification and democracy. It instills civic pride and a sense of we are really all one people on one planet.
When the time comes for actual integration of the nation-states into a democratic world federation, two principles must be reiterated: 1) civilian control of the military and 2) public control of the money power.
Integration and unification will take time even after a world democratic regime is established. We will advance in stages. Perhaps not every nation-state will join right away or they may join in different degrees if we allow a wait-and-see approach. For example, there can be a mutual, simultaneous surrender of arms and demobilization of personnel by percentages among all the member nation-states. Perhaps the first reduction of military forces is by 10% to demonstrate good faith then by another 25% across the board. Smaller militaries will be phased out faster than larger militaries.
Integration of individuals from the armed forces of many nations into unified units will also facilitate this process. An issue here will be language and location of bases with ethnic sensitivity. For example one would not place a unit composed predominantly of Indian Hindus in a predominantly Pakistani Muslim area, but one could put Swedish or Brazilian or Kenyan forces there. Eventually troops may be so mixed around the planet that over time such issues become non-issues.
After a democratic world government is established with the acknowledgement that actual integration and unification will take time, years even, will we even want or need planetary military forces? Crime and terrorism may well persist indefinitely, and that can be handled by police forces and intelligence agencies working in concert. There may well be rebellions. It is widely believed, however, that under a democratic world government where all people are equally represented and disputes peacefully arbitrated in courts of law two things are likely to occur.
One is that wars between nation-states with corresponding use (waste) of resources toward military build-ups will cease and become nonexistent. The other is that ethnic wars and secessionist wars for autonomy or independence will also cease as all people come to be represented upon an interdependent and unified democratic world. There will be no longer any point as all ethnic groups and stateless-nations will be free within a constitutional democratic federation subject to representative republican government, local-global cooperation, and the rule of law.
So after a legally established and defined period of time after planetary unification begins, say 5, 10 or even 25 years after reunification all military forces are to be disbanded or converted to police and peacekeeping forces or perhaps pioneering space exploration and settlement. Demobilizing an integrated global military force will also take time and may well be best to accomplish in phases. Perhaps a small core volunteer force would be maintained.
The risk, of course, in getting rid of our military is it leaves all humanity defenseless in the face of any military assault from extraterrestrial alien forces from other worlds. At first this seems laughable, as we have not experienced such an invasion in our known history. Yet, let’s face reality here, folks. Our scientific knowledge of the Multiverse continues to expand with vast numbers of galaxies, stars, and planets including Earth-like planets coming into our observable and measurable awareness. We now realize the probability of life existing elsewhere other than on Earth is well over 100% and that the probability of intelligent life developing civilizations is also quite high. Some may be so far advanced beyond us here on Earth that we would be to them as ants to us.
And we may also encounter civilizations not as advanced as ours that we may end up destroying as the Spanish Empire destroyed the Aztec and Incan Empires. Note the use of the term probability not possibility. The unresolved issue of UFOs is also not to be dismissed as all hoaxes and nonsense as there have been too many anomalous events involving too many people and credible people at that. It would be dangerous and foolish to assume that simply because an alien civilization would be both highly advanced and non-human that it would automatically be peaceful even pacifist.
Obviously, let’s hope interplanetary and interstellar wars remain the realm of science fiction, and…how wise would it be for humanity to be prepared for hostile encounters with intelligent beings from other worlds? In distinguishing probability from speculation what best serves the interests of humanity here on Earth?
Perhaps one of the biggest concerns I have for global democracy, a concern I’ve heard echoed elsewhere, is while world government of any kind is probably going to happen like it or not, a democratic world government will take even longer to establish. Even worse, people have trouble conceptualizing global issues and grasping how urgent matters actually are. We are in a serious situation. No one really wants to confront all of our problems as they merge together. We can barely handle one of these challenges. We may be overwhelmed into a breakdown of civilization worldwide or worse, a mass die-off or even extinction. We may be forced to accept a one-world dictatorship imposed upon us in the wake of one crisis after another, or wait too long till the worst arrives and then it will be too late.
Debating a deliberate phased drawdown of armed forces and their weapons that would in turn allow the nations of the world to peacefully integrate themselves into a united republic may end up being nothing more than a rearranging of chairs upon the deck of a sinking ship. With all due respect, my fellow citizens, let’s get moving!
William Dudley Bass
5 October 2009
Revised and reposted 26 January 2012
Editors. “10 Questions. Kofi Anan will now take your questions.” Time. 12 October 2009: 4.
The World Federalist Movement-Institute for Global Policy, <http://www.wfm-igp.org/site/>.
Vote World Parliament (formerly Vote World Government), <https://voteworldparliament.org/>.
World Alliance to Transform the United Nations (WATUN), <http://www.transformun.org/home>.
NOTE: This essay was originally published as “The Challenges of Global Demilitarization,” on my earlier current affairs blog, At the Brink with William Dudley Bass on 5 October 2009 at, http://atthebrinkwithwilliamdudleybass.blogspot.com/2009/10/challenges-of-global-demilitarization.html. It was revised, rewritten, and re-published here this 26 January 2012. Thank you.
Copyright © 2009, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.