Peace soldiers

Marco De Andreis
1994 - Il Quotidiano radicale

ABSTRACT: The nightmare of the loss of national sovereignty following an armed invasion seems to have disappeared. Thus, "the existence of national armed forces" seems to be purposeless. The other function that required military interventions - peacekeeping - can be carried out "by a supranational U.N. army". Maintaining national armies entails a tremendous waste. But even after the Gulf War, and after the rhetoric of the "New World Order", everyone has relapsed into the mistake of considering the use of force as the "sovereign means" for the solution of controversies. On the eve of year 2000 it is an old and useless conception. Only the affirmation of the supremacy of the "rule of law" will be able to guarantee peace. And this will make the "radical anti-militarism" "effective" instead of utopian.
(1994 - IL QUOTIDIANO RADICALE, 9 November 1993)


In the West there is a generalized consent on the fact that the only functions that can legitimately be ascribed to military force are the defense of the national territory and the participation in U.N. multinational forces for the application of sanctions and for peacekeeping. A definition of this kind instantly raises the question: "who is threatening the territorial integrity of Western countries today"? The answer is, "no one".
The dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and of the Soviet Union itself have dispelled in the North of the world the old nightmare of the national sovereignty following an armed invasion. If this is true, if there is no national territory to be defended, then national armed forces are purposeless. The other legitimate function of military force - the application of sanctions on behalf and under the mandate of the United Nations, i.e. peacekeeping - can be carried out (perhaps even better) by a U.N. army. The waste resulting from the maintenance of national armed forces is huge. NATO countries spend almost 4% of the Gross Domestic Product, the equivalent of some $500 billion, each year to maintain their military apparatus. In the Atlantic Alliance more than four million people wear a uniform, and as many take care of producing the assets and services, including weapons, which the armies need. With less than one tenth of these expenses, both for personnel and for expenses, the U.N. could be equipped with an army capable of enforcing, whenever necessary and appropriate, the respect of the legality, while maintaining the principle that the use of force remains the last and ultimate means at the disposal of the international community. After all the rhetoric on the New World Order after the Gulf War in 1991, it is discomforting to notice how quickly the old praxis and policies have been resumed. Once again the main international protagonists seem incline to repeat the mistake of considering force as the chief means to solve international controversies. As we can see these days in Somalia, this is not true. The problems have become more complex, also in terms of theory and law. On the eve of the Year 2000, only the affirmation of a primacy of the rule of law based on belief and consent rather than on coercion will be able to guarantee a fair and durable peace. The rule of law affirmed with these means on a global scale by a reformed and more democratic U.N. will make the "radical" anti-militarism effective and no longer utopian. At the same time it will make feasible the non-violent praxis, with its attention for proper, unbiased information and the struggle against under-development.