Peace In a Globalised World: Does It Always Mean the Absence Of War?

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By Oweyegha-Afunaduula 7th January 2023 As the National Geographic Society puts it “Globalization” is a term used to describe how trade and technology have made the world into a more connected and interdependent place. Globalization also captures in its scope the economic and social changes that have come about as a result.


That is why we now say our world is globalized. However, our view of Globalization is incomplete unless we factor in the World Wide Web or Internet. The World Wide We or Internet has been a pivotal force in driving globalization. It has revolutionized communication, transport and mass marketing, making global trade and interaction more accessible and efficient. It has also revolutionized the way we produce knowledge, teach and learn, or even wage wars and seek peace. It is upon this background that I seek to address my topic “Peace in a globalized: Does it always mean the absence of war? I am not the first person to wonder whether the absence of war means that there is peace.

What is true, however, is that peace in many countries has been reduced to freedom from physical harm. In this case we can say there is no peace in the Middle East because Israel is at war with the Hamas, and beyond the Hamas, with all the people of the Middle East, whereby many innocent men, women and children are suffering the ultimate fate in the life-death cycle: Death. Many men women, women and children have been and continue to be maimed and/ or else displaced, thereby marring their individual and collective futures.

The same is true in the Putin’s War in Ukraine. Right here in the Great Lakes Region, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, annihilation of life and human population displacements have been going on since Uganda-based rebels withing the ranks of the National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A) as Rwandese Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A) overthrew the almost all-Hutu regime of Juvenal Habyarimana. The military actions of the PRF/A forced millions of Hutus to seek refuge in the forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC (previously Zaire). One school of thought holds that just as Rwandese refugees helped the NRM/A, of which the y were integral, to capture the instruments of power and the State in Uganda, NRM/A helped PRF/A to capture power in Rwanda’s Kigali, and to pursue the Hutus into and in DRC.

According to this school of thought, the widely reported clashes in Kisangani between NRA and RPA over loots of the resources of DRC helped to conceal the genocide that was taking place in the Eastern part of that country. True, there has never been meaningful peace in the area since then. Some writings of the DRC, have claimed millions of Hutus have been eliminated, mainly since the end of the 1990s when the regime of Mobutu in the DRC was overthrown with the full participation of RPA and UPDF.

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Largely because of the almost joint military actions of the armies of Uganda and Rwanda on the one hand, and the Banyamulenge Tutsis who are Rwandese refugees in DRC, Eastern DRC has been converted into one huge river of human blood. It should be mentioned that the Banyamulenge refugees are seeking to be nationals and to enjoy full sociopolitical rights to participate in the politics, leadership and governance of the DRC; the same way that refugees and former refugees have become central in the politics, leadership and governance of Uganda. The DRC government, even after carrying the country into the East African Community (EAC) never ceased to accuse Uganda and Rwanda of abetting “Banyamulenge refugee” rebellion in the Eastern part of the country. Indeed, when the EAC proposed that Uganda sends a peace keeping contingent in DRC, the regime in Kinshasa was never fully happy, until recently it ordered Uganda to remove its peacekeepers from the war-torn region.

Peace erosion in the region, however, has been compounded by tens of rebel groups in the region. Most get their resources for war from stealing the mineral wealth of the DRC. Clearly there can be no peace where there is war. However, it is misleading to say the peace means absence of war. In his article of September 22 2021 “Is Peace the Absence of War”, Prof. Dr Michael Brzoska of The Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg, writes”. “A narrow concept of peace is based on the opposite concept of war. According to this definition, peace prevails wherever there is no war.

This shifts the problem of definition to the concept of war, which is then usually equated with deadly and destructive conflicts between at least two militarily organised armed groups”. In the second approach, peace is defined more ambitiously. The approach focusses not on large-scale armed violence but the conditions that lead to this violence. This opens up a wide spectrum of factors and layers that can be considered important. This openness makes it difficult to agree on when peace in a broad sense, also called “positive peace”, prevails. While many definitions have been proposed, none has yet attained a meaning as clear as that of peace as the absence of war. In a third approach, the starting point is the absence of war.

Where there is war, there is no peace. But the absence of war in a given place does not always mean that there is peace. Peace is understood here as a process in which the absence of war is the beginning of a path. Even if there is no agreement on what constitutes positive peace in the end, elements of a process of peace that have general validity can be found. Central to this is the reduction of the probability that wars will occur again”.

He ends his very short article by citing Willy Brandt who said, “Peace is not everything, but without peace everything is nothing.”  According to Chris van de Walt (2021), “It was found that peace is never described in Isaiah and Micah in terms of the absence of a modality such as war, but in terms of relationships. Peace is, therefore, not a condition established by people, but exists primarily within a relationship between God and people. What the prophets, Isaiah and Micah, teach us about peace should influence our thinking in such a way that our perception of it should be reviewed”.

The Editor, Daily Monitor of April 2023, in the article “Peace is not the absence of war” wrote, “Ugandans must begin to reflect deeply, ask themselves what peace means to them, and begin to do their part in seeking it, not just for themselves but for their neighbours and communities”. Citing Baruchi Spinoza, the Editor submitted that “For peace is not mere absence of war but is a virtue that springs from a state of mind, disposition for benevolence, confidence and justice”.

It is, therefore, deliberate deception to condition citizens and communities of people to perpetually tune their minds to believe that it is physical security that matters so that the national budgets are disoriented towards investing trillions of dollars in militarization, wars and human annihilation in complete disregard for social development, transformation and progress. Below I give some leads to literature that may expand the thinking of the readers of this article -you – on the important subject of peace.

This is where I want to come forth with my own views with particular reference to Uganda. The attitude of the governors of Uganda over the last more than 37 years is woven by three bush-based beliefs: Those who took arms to capture the instruments of power in Uganda are and should be entitled to everything. If you want peace, you must seek war and if you want war, you must seek peace. The only peace is military peace. In my view the combination of these three attitudes in the minds of the politicomilitary governors of Uganda explains the ever-worsening peace situation in the country and beyond.

It has become habitual for the politicomilitary governors to incessantly invest mushrooming financial, physical and human resources in militarization of the country and life, ostensibly to ensure the country and people of security. The national budget is every financial year designed as if Ugasnda is an ever-warring country. So much money has been spent on buying war planes, for example, many of which have crashed, extinguishing the lives of many young people who have been trained at great expense to the Uganda taxpayer. In a way, the attitudes of the politicomilitary governors have helped maintain instability and insecurity in the long-term, not only in Uganda but also in the Great Lakes Region.

This is interwoven in the policies and laws preferred by the politico-military rulers and their politico-military practices toward the indigenous communities of Ugandans. It is, therefore necessary to rethink the whole peace industry in Uganda to reflect the reason why the state of peace in the country and Great Lakes Region is deteriorating as ever rocketing physical, financial and human resources are allocated by the Parliament of Uganda to President Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s Politicomilitary regime.

I therefore, agree that Peace is not the absence of war. So much “unpeace” is caused by the policy and governance behaviour of those in power. Rethinking of Peace and the exclusively military approach to peace must necessarily involve asking a number of questions: What are the long-term social, political, economic, ecological, business, environmental policy, legal and regional strategies and choices of the people in power in Uganda? In whose interests are those strategies and choices? How do the politico-military governors of Uganda view the indigenous Ugandans in relation to refugees and former refugees? What are attitudes of the politicomilitary governors towards pluralistic society and practice in Uganda? What is the attitude of the politicomilitary governors of Uganda towards the health, education and agriculture of indigenous peoples? Why do the politico-governors of Uganda prefer to invest financial resources in individuals other than in the communities themselves towards development, transformation and progress? What is the employment policy of the politicomilitary governors of Uganda? Who gets employed and who does not? Who are displacing the long-term settled communities of Uganda, dispossessing them of their traditional lands, and forcing them to become modern day internal refugees? What is the status of intellectual capital in the country? Who ultimately decides how the national budget is oriented towards the various sectors of the economy? Many more questions may be asked to determine the status of peace of peace yesterday, today and tomorrow.

However, it is necessary to rethink the way we view security altogether. If we think about peace differently it will help Ugandans and the whole of humanity to demilitarize peace and the way we seek it. The first approach should demilitarize the minds of people both in power and outside power; the leaders and the led; the governors and the governed. This should involve recognizing that peace is not only physical or military, and that most peace is mind-based, while the rest is heart-based. Militarization involved hardening minds and hearts and retuning them to embrace the falsehood that all peace is military, thereby removing God and humanity from the equation of peace. When God and humanity are removed from the peace equation, we begin trusting in muscle power and weapons of mass destruction.

Those with masses of them begin to feel that they are powerful and can dictate terms to those who don’t have them. They may even think, believe and be convinced that they are gods and there is no God. That is why we refer to those with biological weapons, chemical weapons and atomic weapons as superpowers. Poor countries with rulers who worship weapons of mass destruction may follow the path of building arsenals of weapons of mass destruction even when the people they rule are swimming in seas of mass poverty. Such frequently encroach budgets for education, health, agriculture, transport, development, et cetera to quench their quest for power and glory.

They are like the biblical man who wanted tower of barbel up to heaven but his dreams were shattered when the tower crumbled. They too dream of leaving behind empires which almost always crumble after them after their craving comes to an end. It is too late to advise them to invest inhumanity and the social enterprises. In the wake of their departure is chaos and wars that could have been avoided if they were wiser in allocating time, energy and money to human and societal development, transformation and progress.

According to Billy Graham’s Peace with God, the Bible defines peace primarily in three ways: Psychological peace, the comfort within. Relational peace, harmony among humanity. Spiritual peace, which is between God and man. Let me add other types that have suffered overmilitarization of the human minds, hearts and society. Development peace, the peace that arises when people feel they are experiencing and gaining from the development process Cultural peace, the peace that people enjoy when the feel collectively that there is no plot by people in power or others to erode their cultural values and practices Environmental peace, the peace that obtains when people feel that their environment is safe, clean and secure Ethicomoral peace, the peace people when their ethical and moral values are not threatened or endangered Belonging peace, the peace when people feel a sense of belonging as an essential element of equity, diversity and inclusion Water peace, the peace when people feel that they have clean and safe water and that their water is not commodified, monetized and deculturized Electricity peace, peace when people do not only have access to electricity but can also afford it without being tempted to steal it Taxation peace, is the peace people enjoy when they are not overtaxed or exposed to multiple taxation Health security, is the peace when people are satisfied that they have health centres, dispensaries and hospitals that are of quality, well-stocked with medicines and necessary equipment Transport peace, when people feel their roads are passable during wet and dry periods, there is affordable transport, can afford air tickets, et cetera.

Community peace, is the peace enjoyed by members of the community when trust, safety, and social cohesion prevail within and between communities; when social and cultural capacities to resolve disputes and conflict; and to promote inter-ethnic and inter-group interaction and dialogue are possible; and when individual members and families feel secure, and their food crops and cash crops are not stolen from their garden Political peace, the peace people feel when there is no discrimination regarding participation in the sociopolitics of the country and in the enjoyment of freedom, peace, security, justice and democracy Food peace, is the peace when people feel they are free from hunger Employment peace, the peace when people feel they is justice in employment and that professionalism and qualification are the yardstick, not political, kinship, ethnic considerations, for one to be employed.

Slavery peace, is the peace people enjoy when they have meaningful and effective freedom instead of “peaceful slavery, domestically and externally Education peace, is the peace people feel when they have equal chances of experiencing education for development, transformation and progress with those in power or connected to them One can go on and on detailing the different types of peace in is diverse dimensions, which reflect the infinite number of the dimensions of the human brain to prove that peace is far more than absence of war.

There will be meaningful and effective peace if all humanity agrees to agree that the universal believe by rulers and governors that peace is absence of war is both false and deceptive. When this happens resources will be allocated to address the real types of peace that must be addressed, and which mostly mind-based. Only then shall we build meaningful and effective peace for the prosperity of humanity.

Below I leave the readers of this article with some written resources for those readers of the article who want to build more knowledge, wisdom, understanding and insights on peace. BIBLIOGRAPHY Brzoska, M. (2021). Is peace the Absence of War? The Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg. war#:~:text=The%20starting%20point%20is%20the,the%20beginning%20of%20a%20path . Richard Caplan (2021). Measuring Peace: More than merely Absence of War. Editor, Daily Monitor (2023). Peace is not the Absence of War. April 11 2023. Graciela H. Tonon (Editor)(2022). Social Justice for Children in the South. Springer. Inger Skjelsbæk (2022). Peace is more than absence of war. Part of Book series Evidence-Based Approaches to Peace and Conflict Studies. Interview by Cindy Horst. Springer. Mai Kaneko-Iwase (2021). Avoiding Statelessness Among Children of Unknown Parents Under International Nationality Law. Springer. Pitanguay Jacqueline (2011). Reconceptualizing Peace and Violence against Women: A Work in Progress. Vol. 36, No. 3 (March 2011), pp. 561-566 (6 pages). Published By: The University of Chicago Press Takashi Inoguchi and Lien Thi Quynh Le (2022). Digitized Statecraft of Four Asian Regionalisms: States’ Multilateral Treaty Participation and Citizens’ Satisfaction with Quality of Life. Springer. Chris van der Walt (2021). Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of a relationship founded by God – שָׁלוֹם (shalom) in Isaiah and Micah.  William R. Thompson, Thomas J. Volgy, Paul Bezerra, Jacob Cramer (2022). Regions, Power, and Conflict Constrained Capabilities, Hierarchy, and Rivalry. Springer William R. Thompson, Kentaro Sakuwa, Prashant Hosur Suhas (2022). Analyzing Strategic Rivalries in World Politics.Types of Rivalry, Regional Variation, and Escalation/De-escalation William R. Thompson and Thomas J. Volgy (2023). Turmoil and Order in Regional International Politics. Springer. Yukiko Nishikawa (2022). Springer (2022). Globalisation and Local Conflicts in Africa and Asia. Springer.

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