Courtesy Reuters

On Violence, Peace and the Rule of Law

Science and the increase of population are the major dynamics of our time. Science promises civilization its highest fulfillment but simultaneously threatens its survival. A billion more people will populate the earth in 10 years, three to four billion more in 30. No one can escape the combined impact of mass population and technology. We are, finally, truly interdependent.

In a world of such sweeping change, causing greater differences in daily human experience in one generation than in all previous history, the old rules have limited relevance. History teaches the wrong lessons. Metternich misleads. Present leaders of the world powers, indelibly impressed by Munich, fought in a world war before the Bomb. The experience that dominates much of their judgment was gained three decades ago, or more. It seemed then that weak men, confronted by fascism, doomed us to World War II because they sought "peace in our time," and as a consequence Czechoslovakia, Poland, Denmark, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France fell like . . . dominoes.

The old wars, though cruel and inhumane, were gentle compared to what can be. Generals who fought battles with rifles, tanks and propeller-driven airplanes on strategies developed by Bonaparte, Lee and Rommel have new weapons that cannot be used in a traditional manner. More and more nations seek to devise and wield the destructive power of technology. Unless it is prohibited, they will.

Politicians, emotionally conditioned by conflicting ideologies such as communism, capitalism, imperialism, totalitarianism and democracy, and schooled in alliances, colonial empires, economic exploitation, spheres of influence, balances of power, détentes, wary stalemates and summitry, endlessly negotiate, or quarrel over meaningless issues. Meanwhile, all around them divisions grow, tensions heighten and fear and mistrust rise.

We must ask ourselves how long we can go on like this. Contemplate the vast change of the past 30 years. Assume there will be even greater change in the next 15. Does a continued standoff really assure survival?

II

In America-at least subjectively-we have come to realize that our system is no longer

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