By DOUGLAS REILLY
Benjamin Franklin, one of our Founding Fathers, once said “there never was a good war or a bad peace”. General and President Dwight David Eisenhower added, “the people of the world want peace, they want it so bad that someday governments must stand aside and let them have it”.
We could follow a foreign policy such as I’m describing here. Much is being said these days regarding DIVERSITY; this is related to creating a society where everyone has equal opportunities regardless of gender, color, race, ethnicity, faith, or politics. Why not apply this also to our foreign policy; WE DO NOT NEED TO MAKE ENEMIES! Okay, we prefer democracy over authoritarianism, capitalism over socialism, some religions over some others.
However, all of us are human beings with mostly the same hopes; to live in peace, have decent shelter and food, have access to good education, and good health care. We are well aware that the availability of these things inshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are not evenly distributed around our world.
Do we have to make enemies in order to justify the largest defense budget in the world? In fact ours is larger than the sum of the next 9-11 national ones. I submit that our defense budget is actually the largest JOBS PROGRAM in the country; it funds millions of workers to design and build machines of war that we say we hope will never be used, but are in use the world over by us and other nations and non-national organizations. We happily market and sell them, often without any concern over how they will be used and against whom.
Why not sit down with countries like China, Iran, and Russia; and discuss our desires, programs, and differences; with the goal of finding a way to accept each other and achieve a way of living together, accept our differences and similarities to enable us to live in some form of harmony. Image the possibilities of putting the trillions of defense dollars to tackle our common problems like poverty, hunger, climate change, criminality, and more.
Many years ago Roger Fisher wrote a book, GETTING TO YES; about a method of negotiating between differing parties. Here’s a simple description of this: first, try one’s best to determine what he/she wants, second, attempt to understand what the other side wants, and finally, discuss together attempting to find a solution that maximizes the goals of each.
I once had the opportunity to listen to a talk by Roger Fisher. When one man asked him, “doesn’t this sound like Jesus in the New Testament”. His answer was, “Yes. However, I understand the edict, LOVE THINE ENEMY, to imply you may have to fight and kill him, but try the hardest to understand him and live in peace with him”.
I’m advocating that our present administration change course and work toward peace instead of toward war.