When I discovered that militarism is one of the top destroyers of the natural environment, I piled that onto my case against war. I did the same when I found out war wasted more money than anything else, was a major promoter of bigotry and racism, was the primary justification for government secrecy and the erosion of civil liberties, was the top barrier to the rule of law and global cooperation, militarized local police, etc., etc. When I came to see how counterproductive war was, increasing the dangers of war for those whose governments wage or prepare to wage wars, I added that to the overwhelming case.
In contrast, when I read about militarism as a top public health threat, a top cause of death and disease, a “completely preventable” epidemic which medical professionals therefore have a responsibility to try to prevent, I’m struck with conflicting responses. First, this is actually why I opposed war in the first place. Second, it’s a bit shocking and wonderful to read doctors, writing like doctors, treating war as a health crisis, almost as if we lived in a sane society in which problems were prioritized for rational reasons.
After all, our culture actively promotes war to little children, just as it does junk food and consumerism.
Preventing War and Promoting Peace: A Guide for Health Professionals is a valuable new book edited by William Wiist and Shelley White. The book is a collection of writings by health professionals and peace professionals. It begins with a section of chapters covering the damage that war does to civilians, to participants, to the natural environment.
Part II looks into causes of war, including war culture, war profiteering, and war academia. Parts III and IV address means of preventing war and promoting peace, and of doing so in the health professions. Not all the contributors to the book would agree with each other on all details. For example, I would reject parts of the chapter on war and the law, because it celebrates the UN Charter’s opening up of loopholes for legal wars as a supposed improvement on the Kellogg-Briand Pact’s ban on war. Any book analyzing the accomplished normalization of a mode of thought is inevitably going to find itself still tied up with the most deeply rooted vestiges of that thought. But that can make it an even more useful book for many others to read.
I’ve added this book to the following list of recommendations.
THE WAR ABOLITION COLLECTION:
Murder Incorporated: Book Two: America’s Favorite Pastime by Mumia Abu Jamal and Stephen Vittoria, 2018.
Waymakers for Peace: Hiroshima and Nagasaki Survivors Speak by Melinda Clarke, 2018.
Preventing War and Promoting Peace: A Guide for Health Professionals edited by William Wiist and Shelley White, 2017.
The Business Plan For Peace: Building a World Without War by Scilla Elworthy, 2017.
War Is Never Just by David Swanson, 2016.
A Global Security System: An Alternative to War by World Beyond War, 2015, 2016, 2017.
A Mighty Case Against War: What America Missed in U.S. History Class and What We (All) Can Do Now by Kathy Beckwith, 2015.
War: A Crime Against Humanity by Roberto Vivo, 2014.
Catholic Realism and the Abolition of War by David Carroll Cochran, 2014.
War and Delusion: A Critical Examination by Laurie Calhoun, 2013.
Shift: The Beginning of War, the Ending of War by Judith Hand, 2013.
War No More: The Case for Abolition by David Swanson, 2013.
The End of War by John Horgan, 2012.
Transition to Peace by Russell Faure-Brac, 2012.
From War to Peace: A Guide To the Next Hundred Years by Kent Shifferd, 2011.
War Is A Lie by David Swanson, 2010, 2016.
Beyond War: The Human Potential for Peace by Douglas Fry, 2009.
Living Beyond War by Winslow Myers, 2009.