The Threat to Humanity of Highly Destructive Wars

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manifestacion guerra y paz
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In Brazil we know great social violence, with a murder rate among the highest in the world. We have no peace because there is so much rage, hatred, discrimination, and a perverse social inequality.


Nevertheless, we are on the margins of the great martial conflicts going on in 40 parts of the world, some of which are truly menacing for the future of the human species. We are witnessing a cold war between the United States, China and Russia. A new arms race has begun, be it in Russia, or in the United States with Trump, to produce ever more potent nuclear weapons, as if those already in existence could not destroy all life on the planet.


The worst is that the hegemonic power, the United States, has transformed itself into a terrorist state, waging a merciless war against all types of terrorism, as a foreign policy: invading countries in the Middle East, and at home, chasing undocumented immigrants, detaining suspects without respect for their fundamental rights, as a consequence of George Bush, Jr's, "Patriot Act", that allowed suspension of habeas corpus, which Barack Obama promised to abolish, but did not.


Francis, Bishop of Rome, said on the plane on his way back from Poland, on July 12, 2016: «there is a war of interests, war for money, war for natural resources, there is a war to dominate the people: this is the war. Someone could think: is he talking about wars among religions. No. Religions want peace. Others want war. Capiche?» That is a direct criticism of the current world order of limitless accumulation, that implies war against the Earth and the exploitation of weaker peoples. Everyone talks of freedom, but without world social justice. Ironically it could be said: it is the freedom of free foxes in a coop of free hens.


Commentators of the world situation not quoted by our press speak of the real danger of a nuclear war between Russia and the United States or between China and the United States.


Trump, as French intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy puts it (O Globo 3/5/2016) «is a catastrophe for the United States and the world.  And he is also a threat». The same newspaper says about Putin: «he is an explicit threat. We know Putin wants to destabilize Europe, to accentuate the crises of the democracies, and he supports and finances all political parties of the extreme right. We also know that in all places where there is a battle between barbarism and civilization, such as Syria and Ukraine, Putin is on the wrong side. He is a true and great threat».


According to Moniz Sodre in his magnificent book, World Disorder, Putin wants revenge for the humiliation the West and the United States inflicted on his country at the end of the Cold War. He nourishes clearly expansionist pretenses, not in the sense of recreating the old USSR, but of restoring the boundaries of historic Russia. The risk of a nuclear confrontation with the West is not excluded.


We are losing sight of the warnings from the great names of the past century, such as Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, on July 10, 1955 and a few days later, July 15, 1955, joined by 18 Nobel laureates, Otto Hahn and Werner Heisenberg among them, when they affirmed: «we see with horror that this type of nuclear science has put in the hands of humanity the instrument of its own destruction». The same was affirmed by several Nobel laureates during Rio-92.


If the situation was seen as grave at that time, now it is dramatic. This is because besides nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons capable of decimating the human species are now available.


Some analysts of world conflicts suppose that the next step of terrorism would no longer be with bombs and suicide-bombers, but with chemical and biological weapons, some taken from the weapons reserve left by Kadafi.


At the root of this system of violence is the Western paradigm of the will to power, that is, a way of organizing society and the relationship with nature based on force, violence and submission. This paradigm favors competition over solidarity. Instead of making the citizens partners, this paradigm makes them rivals.


To the paradigm of the closed fist, the response is the extended hand, as an alliance to safeguard life. Instead of power-domination, caring should prevail. It pertains to the essence of the human being and of everything alive. Either we take this step or we will witness dramatic scenes, the fruit of the irrationality and arrogance of the heads of State and their hawks.




- Leonardo Boff, Theologian-Philosopher, Earthcharter Commission.


(Free translation from the Spanish sent by Melina Alfaro,  Done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.)
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