His Holiness the Dalai Lama: Disarmament for World Peace
Through history, mankind has pursued peace one way or another. It is too optimistic to imagine that world peace may finally be within our grasp? I do not believe that there has been an increase in the amount of people’s hatred, only in their ability to manifest it in vastly destructive weapons. On the other hand, bearing witness to the tragic evidence of the mass slaughter caused by such weapons in our country has given us the opportunity to control war. To do so, it is clear we must disarm. Disarmament can occur only within the context of new political and economic relationships. Before we consider this issue in detail, it is worth imagining the kind of peace process from which we would benefit most. This is fairly self – evident. First we should work on eliminating nuclear weapons, next, biological and chemical ones, then offensive arms, and finally, defensive ones. At the same time, to safeguard the peace, we should start developing in one or more global regions an international police force made up of equal number of members from each nation under a collective command. Eventually this force would cover the whole world. Because the dual process of disarmament and development of a joint force would be both multilateral and democratic, the right of majority to criticize or even intervene in the event of one nation violating the basic rules would be ensured. Moreover, with all large armies eliminated and all conflict such as border disputes subject to the control of the joint international force, large and small nations would be truly equal. Such reforms would result in a stable international environment. Of course, the immense financial dividend reaped from the cessation of arms production would also provide a fantastic windfall for global development. Today, the nations of the world spend trillions of dollars annually on upkeep of the military. Can you imagine how many hospital beds, schools and homes this money could fund? In addition, as I mentioned above, the awesome proportion of scarce resources squandered on military development not only prevents the elimination of poverty, illiteracy and disease, but also requires the sacrifice of precious human intelligence. Our scientists are extremely bright. Why should their brilliance be wasted on such dreadful endeavors when it could be used for positive global development? The great deserts of the world such as the Sahara and Gobi could be cultivated to increase food production and ease over-crowding. Many countries now face years of severe drought. New, less expensive methods of desalinization could be developed to render seawater suitable for human consumption and other uses. There are many pressing issues in the fields of energy and health to which our scientist could more usefully address themselves. Since the world economy would grow more rapidly as a result of their efforts, they could even be paid more! Our planet is blessed with vast natural treasures. If we use them properly, beginning with elimination of militarism and war, truly, every human being will be able to live a wealthy, well-cared-for life. Naturally, global peace cannot occur all at once. Since conditions around the world are varied, its spread will have to be incremental. But there is no reason why it cannot begin in one region and then spread gradually from one continent to another. I would like to propose that regional communities like the European Community be established as an integral part of the more peaceful world we are trying to create. Looking at the post Cold War environment objectively, such communities are plainly the most natural and desirable components of a new world order. As we can see, the almost gravitational pull of our growing interdependence necessitates new, more cooperative structures. The European Community is pioneering the way in this endeavor, negotiating the delicate balance between economic, military and political collectively on the one hand and the sovereign rights of member states on the other. I am greatly inspired by this work. I also believe that the new Commonwealth of Independent Sates is grappling with similar issues and that the seeds of such a community are already present in the minds of many of its constituent republics. In this context, I would briefly like to talk about the future of my own country, Tibet, and China. Like the former Soviet Union, Communist China is a multinational state, artificially constructed under the impetus of an expansionist ideology and up to now administered by force in colonial fashion. A peaceful, prosperous and above all politically stable future for china lies in its successfully fulfilling not only its own people’s wishes for a more open, democratic system, but also of its eighty million so-called “national minorities”, who want to regain their freedom. For real happiness to return to the heart of Asia – home to one-fifth of the human race – a pluralistic, democratic, mutually cooperative community of sovereign states must replace what is currently called the People’s Republic of China. Of course, such a community need not be limited to those presently under Chinese Communist Domination, such as Tibetans, Mongols, and Uighurs. The people of Hong Kong, those seeking an independent Taiwan, and even those suffering under other communist governments in North Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia might also be interested in building an Asian Community. However, it is especially urgent that those ruled by the Chinese Communist consider doing so. Properly pursued, it could help save China from violent dissolution; regionalism and a return to the chaotic turmoil that has so afflicted this great nation throughout the twentieth century. Currently china’s political life is so polarized that there is every reason to fear an early recurrence of bloodshed and tragedy. Each of us- every member of the world community – has a moral responsibility to help avert the immense suffering that civil strife would bring to China’s vast population. I believe that the very process of dialogue, modernization and compromise involved in building a community of Asian states would itself give real hope of peaceful evolution to a new order in China. From the very start, the member states of such a community might agree to decide its defense and international relations policies together. There would be many opportunities for cooperation. The critical point is that we find a peaceful, nonviolent way for the forces of freedom, democracy and moderation to emerge successfully from the current atmosphere of unjust repression.