Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, January 2009
War Trend Will Soon Face Its End, if Referendums are Held
By Ivan Simic
ccun.org, January 31, 2009
While most people around the world wish the author for peaceful resolutions of conflicts, the truth is that wars are planned and executed for the benefit of the military industry, oil industry, and bankers who finance them. The world will not know peace until these three industries are nationalized, to exclude the private profit motive from them.
History has it that there was not yet a single year without war in history known to a mankind, and that war has been fought since time immemorial. Therefore, the biggest question today would be: Is it really possible to end wars? Throughout our human history we heard many politicians, leaders and rulers saying that there will be no more wars and that things will change, but nothing has changed. Even today, there are around thirty ongoing wars in the world.
Consequently, how and who will end wars: the United Nations, Non-Government Organizations, International Laws and Conventions, who?
The United Nations was established to stop wars between countries, to provide a platform for dialogue, and to maintain international peace and security, and justice. The UN has very noble charters and articles; however, the UN is not capable to maintain international peace and security. In one word; the UN is not influential and strong enough because some Member States do not respect the UN Charters.
Why the UN is not capable to maintain international peace and security? Perhaps, statements by the former US President George W. Bush and former US Ambassador to the UN John R. Biden will provide some answer. President Bush said; "free nations will not allow the United Nations to fade into history as an ineffective, irrelevant debating society." The Ambassador Biden said; "There is no such thing as the United Nations. There is only the international community, which can only be led by the only remaining superpower, which is the United States."
Because of such statements and hegemony of some Member States to get their will throughout, the UN is not able to prevent wars; it can only assist Member States in humanitarian issues and try to maintain peace with peacekeeping missions, after all military operations ends. The only serious resolutions issued by the UN will be visible when the Security Council passes its power to the General Assembly, and therefore, when the General Assembly get serious in its business and start working as one voice to bring peace to the world.
When it comes to NGO's, well, they are private institutions which are not directly a part of a structure of government, but relies significantly on funding from governments, individual donors, foundations, corporations. Currently, there are over 5 million NGO's around the world, out of which 0.1% is actually doing their jobs in terms of supporting and helping people in distress. Other 99.9% can be divided in two categories: ones who lobby for their financiers and others who do nothing at all, just waiting for easy money to come.
Pertaining to the International Laws and Charters, they are more or less associated with the United Nations, and without the UN they do not stand any chance of survival.
Then, how to prevent wars?
We saw that the international organizations and laws are not able to do anything serious to prevent wars; therefore, the answer for this global phenomenon lies in the domestic laws, not international. In order to prevent future wars we should focus our attention on domestic issues first. In relation, here are some possible solutions how to prevent wars, trough terms called the Head of State and Referendum.
According to definition, the Head of State is the general term for the individual or collective office that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchic or republican nation-state, federation, commonwealth or any other political state. In terms of protocol, states are distinguished as monarchy or republic, depending on the style of their head of state.
Different state constitutions establish different political systems, but four major types of heads of state can be distinguished:
the non-executive head of state system, in which the head of state does not hold any executive power and mainly plays a symbolic role on behalf of the state; the parliamentary system, in which the head of state possesses executive power but the exercise of this power is done on the advice of a cabinet; the presidential system (sometimes called 'imperial'), in which the head of state is also the head of government and actively exercises executive power; and, the semi-presidential system, in which the head of state shares exercise of executive power with a head of government.
In everyday life, the Head of State is a legal representative of the people-citizens of the country in which he/she was elected. His/hers duties, therefore is to serve and work in the best inertest of the nation which he/she represents as the Head of State.
Consequently, if the Head of State-collective office wishes to start a war and think that war is in the best interest of the nation, than it behooves on them to go to that same war. There is no better way for the Head of State-collective office to justify war than to be personally involved in one. They should not hide behind their desks and behind diplomatic immunities while soldiers die on the battle field, they should go and fight and it should be their honor.
This is nothing new to the world; many years ago Head of States and rulers went to wars to fight, for example: Genghis Khan, Saladin, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra VII, Julius Caesar, Napoleon I, Adolf Hitler, among many others. Maybe, when they find themselves in the middle of war and on the line of fire, then they will realize how wars are dangerous and hopefully end them.
Since there is no chance that we will see a Head of State brave enough to go to war, let's see more appropriate and reasonable solution to prevent the war trend, called referendum.
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy.
In contemporary days, war can be declared and started with the decision of the Head of State-Monarch-collective office, however, that needs to be changed. Before the government decides to engage in war, government should ask citizens for their approval. Approval to engage in war should be asked trough the War Referendum. It is nothing personal, however, certain decisions are best taken out of the hands of governments and determined directly by the people, especially when it comes to war.
Referendum is the best way to identify the spirit of the nation, and many countries have used it, for example: In Venezuela, in the Venezuelan recall referendum of 2004 voters determined whether or not Hugo Chavez, the current President of Venezuela, should be recalled from office. In Spain, in 1986 referendum approved Spain's membership to NATO. In Brazil, in 2005 referendum, 122 million voters decided to continue to allow the sale of firearms in Brazil. In Iraq, two years after the United States-led invasion, the current Constitution of Iraq was approved by referendum.
There is also one very popular referendum, called the independence referendum, a type of referendum in which citizens of one territory would decide whether that territory should become independent country. There were many successful independence referendums in the past, such as: 1990 Slovenia independence referendum, 1991 Croatian, Macedonian, Georgia and Ukraine independence referendum, 1993 Eritrean independence referendum, and most recent 2006 Montenegrin independence referendum, among others.
Also, here is a list of some expected independence referendums which will be held in the near future, such as: Scottish (the UK), Bougainville (Papa New Guinea), New Caledonia (France), Quebec (Canada), Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina), among others.
Still, there are some countries that do not like to use referendums, such as: Canada, the United States, Chile, the Netherlands, among others. Imagine who many lives would be saved if the US government had used a referendum before engaging in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Some politicians say that referendums are too expensive to be held, but are they. For example, in Denmark referendums usually happen every time when new treaties of the European Union have to be approved. Therefore, referendums are not expensive, wars are.
We can see that many important issues are determined by the people through referendums, but never when it comes to wars. Why is there no war referendum? Because there is no nation in the world which will vote in favor of war and government officials knows that.
Maybe, this is the time when we the people should take the matters into our own hands and stop this war trend since nobody else can.
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