The end of the Cold War and recent arms reduction agree ments are encouraging signs for peace. In order to fur ther help in building a peaceful world, this paper identifies five major peace forces. In this paper, we attempt to show why these five modern forces are major factors for peace and how they can be used by policy makers in building a sustainable peaceful world. The five factors are equally significant and closely interrelated and have a cumulative impact.

As with the force of gravity, we are little aware of the forces for peace until they are called to our attention. To better understand and use them we need to think about them on a large-scale and long-term basis.

Peace Force No. 1 DEMOCRACY *

Democracy is a powerful force for peace because there has never been a war between independent freely-elected democracies.1 Therefore, if all of the countries of the world became democracies, it is possible we could have a world without war.

Not only do democracies not fight one another, they fight many fewer wars than nondemocracies. All nations that were independent from 1950 through 1991 and did not change from democracy to nondemocracy or vice versa during the study period were assessed. It was found that only 23 percent of the democracies compared with 72 percent of the nondemocracies were involved in foreign wars. It was also found that there were no internal wars or coups in the democracies, while 90 percent of the nondemocracies had internal wars or violent military coups.2

R. J. Rummel in his five volume study was able to rigorously show further that not only do democracies not fight one another but that democracies are far less violent than other governments. He wrote, “Of the more than 119 million victims of genocide, killed in cold blood in our century, virtually all were killed by nondemocracies, especially totalitarian ones.” 3

It is encouraging, therefore, to know that the number of democratic countries in the world has grown from none two centuries ago to a majority (89) now. In addition, there are 32 countries in transition. 4

Examples of how to help more countries become democratic:

  • Providing economic aid to poorer countries can im prove their economic well-being. In general, as the health, ed u ca tion and economic well-being of a country’s citizens improve, the probability of the nation becoming a democracy increases.5
  • In a 1991 retreat, leaders of the 50-nation Common wealth promised to promote democracy and just gov ern ment. This is a weak commitment, and an effort should be made to have all nations link foreign aid to the human rights records of developing countries, as Britain and Canada have indicated their intent to do. 6
  • Former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto proposes an association of emerging democracies. She suggests that an association could share political experience to help members develop democratic methods and exert moral pres sure on nations that violate human rights. 7
  • The U.S. Congress has created and funded the Na tion al Endowment for Democracy, a quasi-private group, to openly help the growth of democracies. This organization and similar organizations have been more effective in helping countries develop democractic governments than the covert and violent activities of the CIA. 8

*Democracy, in the Studies cited here, includes only independent countries whose legislative bodies and head of government are elected by majority vote from two or more opposing choices by secret ballot, where there is freedom of speech.


International trade and investments can be a force for peace if they are based on long-term fairness and mutual trust. If international trade is based on economic exploitation or is based mostly on arms trade it can be a force for war as described in the latter part of this section.

Modern mass marketing is a powerful force for peace because such commerce is much more profitable when the world is peaceful. Continental markets are much more ef fi cient for mass marketing than small, divided ones. Modern commerce, because of its highly technical nature, can require dependable, long-term, large-scale commitments.

Most of us are unaware that prosperous modern day living is dependent upon international trade and in vest ment for a vast array of parts for use in agriculture, industry, medicine, communication, and computers. For example, probably few people are aware that British farmers only produce enough food by themselves to support 12 million of Britain’s 56 million people. 9 The research costs and risks of creating and using new highly technical products has become so great that companies look to long-term in ter na tion al partnerships to carry out the work.

International investments, built on international trade, are a further force for harmony. A vast number of large and small businesses are involved in foreign investments and no one likes to lose their investments. In order to illustrate how large international investments have become, consider the amount invested in the United States by 1990 by the fol low ing countries: Britain, $108 billion; Japan, $83 billion; Neth er lands, $64 billion; Germany, $28 billion; France, $20 billion; and Switzerland, $17 billion. 10

Paralleling the growth of modern commerce in the world has been the development of vast regions that are at peace with each other. For example, in the 1800s the growing area of internal peace on the North American continent paralleled the growth of railroads as they made mass marketing possible. The growing zone of internal peace started in the Northeast and moved south then westward as large scale trade grew.

Having a large area, such as the North American continent, with no battles within any of its parts is new to the long history of the world. For instance, prior to the current long peace, the United States fought nearly 2,000 battles in its first hundred years. And now there have been no battles fought on the North American continent for more than 100 years. 11

The large zone of peace in North America was no accident. It is significant that ethnic and religious groups that are fighting one another in various parts of the world generally are not fighting one another where they live together in more economically developed areas, e.g. North America, Western Europe, Australia.

Since World War II, there has been an explosive increase in global trade. World trade has increased more than 10 times.12 As world commerce has grown, the number of countries at peace with each other has grown accordingly. Countries at peace with each other for the past 40 years or longer include Canada, the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Japan, Tai wan, Australia, New Zealand and the countries of Western Europe. All of these countries have developed a high level of commerce among themselves.

A peaceful world can be built with the already large number of countries with no wars between them. These countries do not even have a threat of war between them. Where they share a common border, the borders are unarmed and they share in a well-established common defense system.

Examples of how to increase the growth of equitable commerce:

  • Most wars since World War II have occurred in developing countries where the people have few of the necessities to sustain life and are desperately poor. Some modern large-scale farming uses vast land-holdings to operate. To meet this need, giant corporations have acquired many small farms leaving local people with little. For example, in Honduras 67 percent of the population are limited to only 12 percent of the arable land. Nearly 61 percent of the population is malnourished.13 In such situations, if large corporations fail to understand and meet local needs, the danger of civil unrest and war is increased.
  • Economic depressions can drive desperate people in severely depressed countries to support leaders who promise extreme measures, e.g. Hitler. Current efforts to help the Soviet Union economically reflect this concern.
  • International trade agreements can help build friendly relations between countries if they are fair. Hostility is generated if the agreements are not fair, like allowing com panies in some countries to sell for less by ignoring uncon trolled pollution of the environment, paying starvation wages, maintaining unhealthy and unsafe plants. 14
  • Howard Brembeck in his book, The Civilized Defense Plan, tells how nations can collectively use international trade sanctions and/or incentives to cooperatively build security systems against threatening nations. 15


A shrinking world allows the public to better observe, un der stand, and respond to global dangers. Today, what seems commonplace, such as daily watching and par tic i pat ing in world events, would not have been possible a few decades ago. Due to rapid growth in the number of television sets, communication satellites, computers, fax machines and tele phones, significant events around the world can be seen, heard, or read about daily by hundreds of millions of people. Jet airplanes allow travel to most places in the world within hours, making it easier to talk directly to others.

Turner Cable News Network (CNN), with its reporters throughout the world, provides TV news to millions of people around the globe, around the clock. It gives everyone the same basis for discussion by providing the same information at the same moment. CNN has compelled rivals to increase live coverage of international news. This situation allows viewers greater opportunity to form their own opinions of world events.16 World news, however, can still be misleading at times, such as during the Gulf War when large-scale slaughter was shown mostly as a video game.

The worldwide communication growth pace is in creasing. For example, starting November 1991 World Ser vice Tele vi sion (sponsored by BBC) began beaming news daily into 38 Asian countries with a combined population of 2.7 billion. 17 In India people bought six million TV sets in 1988, up from only 150,000 a decade before. 18

Examples of how global communication can be a force for peace:

  • The world can see and act against common security threats. Acts of aggression, such as Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, can be seen by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. This allows nations to respond to aggressive acts early. For example, more than 100 nations quickly joined in supporting political and economic sanctions, through the United Na tions, against Iraq. This was the largest number of nations in history to support economic sanctions at one time. 19
  • The world is an open stage. It is increasingly difficult for autocratic leaders to keep their people isolated from world events. For instance, the efforts of the leaders of the 1991 Soviet coup to control information failed. The Soviet people kept informed of events through cellular phones, fax machines, satellite television, international broadcasts and pocket radios, as well as computers reproducing messages for the public.
  • Worldwide communication can help the growth of democracy. An understanding of freedom is being spread to people who are not now free because TV allows them to see people in other countries experiencing freedom. As businessmen, government leaders, students and tourists travel between countries, they can observe various types of freedom and techniques of self-government.
  • The global public can respond together to worldwide dangers, e.g. ozone depletion, global warming, radiation fall out, etc.


Militaristic nations, those with an excessive arms build-up, are far more likely to go to war. Newcombe and Klaassen found, from 1950 to 1978, that nations with the greatest military expenditures as a percentage of per capita income were 30 times more likely to be involved in an international war than other countries. 20

Iraq illustrates how a nation’s excessive arms build-up can be a warning signal. In 1984, long before Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, Iraq was spending a far larger part of its national income for the military (42 percent) than any other country in the world. 21 “Between 1981 and 1988, Iraq purchased an estimated $46.7 billion worth of arms and military equip ment from foreign suppliers, the largest accumulation ever of mod ern weapons by a Third World country.” 22

Military forces have established an influential political base throughout the developing world. They represent the largest single element in most government bureaucracies and the largest financial resource. They provide the visible trappings of prestige for political leaders, civilian or military: the req ui site honor guards, jet aircraft, helicopters, etc. They have a direct line to the world of wealth and business, the arms-producing corporations that are both beneficiaries of government lar gesse and contributors to political power. And they deal in matters of national security which can be made secret and inaccesible both to the public and to any of the usual checks and balances within the government. Countries under military control have suffered three times as many wars and 19 times as many deaths as in the rest of the Third World countries. 23

Examples of how reducing militarism can help the growth of peace:

  • The less money developing countries spend on weapons the more chance they have to improve their standard of living, education, and health as well as to become a democracy. In a detailed comparison of 142 countries, it was found that when military spending is high, socio-economic well-being lags.24 In much of the developing world, military expenditures are almost four times the investment for health care and twice that for education.25
  • Among 142 countries in 1987, the United States was number one in military expenditures, military technology, military bases, military training of foreign forces, military aid to foreign countries, naval fleet, combat aircraft, nuclear reactors, nuclear warheads and bombs and nuclear tests, while at the same time, the U.S. ranked 18th in infant mortality rate, 13th in maternal mortality rate, and 18th in population per physician.26
  • While democracies do not fight one another, some de moc ra cies have strong militaristic tendencies. In the last decade, seven of the world’s ten top merchants of offensive weapons, mass destruction weapons parts and weapons fa cil i ties were Western democracies. In 1990, the U.S. was the world’s top weapons supplier. Since World War II there have been over 170 wars and conflicts, mostly involving countries which rely on foreign suppliers for their military needs. 27 De moc ra cies can do much for peace by reducing their sale of arms.


Robert McNamara, former U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1961-1968, said “[W]e should strive to move toward a world in which relations among nations would be based on the rule of law, a world in which national security would be supported by a system of co op er a tive security, with conflict resolution and peace-keeping functions performed by mul ti lat er al in sti tu tions – a reorganized and strengthened United Nations and new and expanded re gion al organizations, in clud ing an Asian counterpart.” 28

The role of the U.N. is being forced to change from keeping peace to making peace, as more conflicts continue to erupt, more aid is delivered and more elections are monitored. With 13 current U.N. peacekeeping operations and over 52,000 U.N. troops and police officers on site, the added costs are threatening the U.N.’s continued scope of operations, unless delinquet members pay back dues immediately and make provisions to adequately fund the expanding needs. Also since in the past many worthy peacekeeping resolutions were vetoed by the major powers, the limination of this provision should be seriously coonsidered in the light of present day conditions.

Randall Forsberg writes, “The end of the Cold War represents a turning point for the role of military force in international affairs. At this unique juncture in history, the world’s main military spenders and arms producers have an unprecedented opportunity to move from confrontation to cooperation. The United States, the European nations, Japan, and the republics of the former USSR can now replace their traditional security policies, based on detterence, nonoffensive defense, nonproliferation, and multilateral peacekeeping. In fact, they have already taken early steps in this direction.”

Since the end of the Cold War, coun tries are be gin ning to put more em pha sis on work ing through the United Na tions. It is encouraging that the percentage of Americans who think the U.N. is doing a good job has risen from 28% in 1985 to 78% in December 1991.31

Examples of how to increase cooperative security:

A great stride forward in civility, human rights and co op er a tive security will occur as nations together create an In ter na tion al Criminal Court addressing these concerns. The atrocities committed by Saddam Hussein and those in the former Yugoslavia have rekindled interest in such a court. A working group of the U.N. International Law Commission has recently released a report in which it rec om mends that an International √áriminal Court ‘be es tab lished by a Statute in the form of a treaty.’ 32 The value of an International Criminal Court would be its clear message that the in ter na tion al community is committed to enforcing in ter na tion al law, and that all individuals, no matter how high their position, will be held accountable for crimes under in ter na tion al law.

Continued emphasis should be given to the U.N. resolution declaring the l990s the Decade of In ter na tion al Law. This resolution embraces four main purposes: (a) to promote acceptance and respect for principles of in ter na tion al law; (b) to pro mote means and methods for the peaceful settlement of disputes between States, in clud ing resort to and full respect for the International Court of Justice; (c) to en cour age the progressive development of in ter na tion al law and cod i fi ca tion; and (d) to encourage the teaching, study, dissemination and wider ap pre ci a tion of international law. 33

The increased use of cooperative security will be assisted by the further growth of the other peace forces described in this paper. The more nations work together in cooperative security, the less will be the burden for all countries involved and the more secure will be each cooperating country.

Ultimate Goal

In order to build a sustained peaceful world, we need to consider the basic requirements of humanity. Dr. Hanna Newcombe, in a comprehensive paper, describes the fol low ing basic needs of humanity.

  • The world’s population has to be balanced with a sustainable healthy global environment.
  • All people need democractic governments with basic freedoms assured. If all countries in the world were freely elected democracies, a world without war is possible.
  • A decent standard of living and quality of life is needed for all people, including those in the poorest countries. It is difficult to build a prosperous and peaceful world if there are gross inequalities between people.

Dr. Newcombe points out that there are upper limits to the world’s physical resources and some sharing will be required. She says, however, there are no limits in the mental realm, and scientific advances can help us meet our long-term basic needs. 34


It is sometimes said that due to hate, fear, greed and corruption there will always be war. The fact that the North American continent, with nearly 300 million people living together from all parts of the world, has had no wars between any of its people for more than 100 years demonstrates that war is not inevitable. Up until the end of World War II there was never a year free of war in Europe 35 and since then there has not been a war in Western Europe. Yugoslavia is in Eastern Europe.

This paper discusses five major forces that make for peace and the ways we can improve them so that we can better build a peaceful world. Much more research needs to be done. The amount of money spent on peace-fostering research by the U.S. government has been less than one percent of what has been spent on research to make weapons more deadly.36 The amount spent in the world for peace research is similarly small compared with the amount spent upon weapons de vel op ment.

There remains a serious need for more research in the area of building a peaceful world. The more rigorously it can be demonstrated through research how peace-fostering activities and institutions add to our security, the more likely there will be more funds to support these activities and institutions.
*Dean Babst is a retired government scientist and Coordinator of the Accidental Nuclear War Prevention Project of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; David Krieger, an attorney and political scientist, is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation; Bud Deraps is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lentz Peace Research Laboratory, St. Louis, Missouri.


For valuable suggestions to earlier drafts of this paper, we wish to thank: Dr. William Eckhardt, Lentz Peace Research Laboratory, Dunedin, Florida;. Jennifer Glick, Fourth Freedom Forum, Goshen, Indiana; Charles W. Jamison, Esq., Santa Barbara, California; Dr. Hanna Newcombe, Director, Peace Research Institute, Dundas, Canada; Dr. R. J. Rummel, Professor of Political Science, Univ. of Hawaii, Honolulu; Dr. Leonard Starobin, Editor, World Peace Report, Elkins Park, Penn ylvania; Dudley Thompson, Grass Valley, California.


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4. Mathews, Tom, et. al. “Decade of Democracy,” Newsweek, 30 Dec. 1991.

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22. “Why can’t Arabs rescue Kuwait?” Sacramento Bee, 25 January 1991 (Quote from Michael Klare’s book, American Arms Supermarket, University of Texas Press)

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24. Ibid, p. 27.

25. “We Arm the World: U.S. is Number One Weapons Dealer,” The Defense Monitor, Center for Defense In for ma tion, Wash. D.C.Vol. XX, No.4, 1991, p. 3.

26. Sivard, op. cit. p 46.

27. The Defense Monitor, Vol. XX, No.4, op. cit, pp. 2 & 3.

28. McNamara, Robert S. “The Changing Nature of Global Security And Its Impact On South Asia,” Address to the Indian Defense Policy Forum, New Delhi, India on Nov. 20, 1992 published by Washington Council on Non-Pro lif er a tion, Washington D.C., Dec. 1992.

29. Lewis, Paul. “Peacekeeper Is Now Peacemaker,” New York Times, 25 Jan. 1993.

30. Forsberg, Randall. “Defense Cuts and Cooperative Se cu ri ty in the Post-Cold War World,” Boston Review, May-July 1992.

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32. “Report of the Working Group on the Question of In ter na tion al Criminal Jurisdiction,” Report of the In ter na tion al Law Commission, U.N. General Assembly Sup ple ment No. 10 (A/47/10), p. 144.

33. U.N. General Assembly resolution 44/23, 17 November 1989.

34. Newcombe, Hanna. “Pax Democratia: Reaching the High Plateau,” paper presented at International Peace Re search Association, Kyoto, Japan, 26-31 July 1992.

35. Sorokin, Pitrim A. Social and Cultural Dynamics, Vol.III, American Book Co., N.Y., N.Y., 1957.

36. Babst, Global Security Study No. 10, op. cit.