The way things stand war is too easy. It is too easy to send someone else’s children to fight and die. It is too easy to dehumanize the enemy, making people believe, for example, that all children of Iraq wear the face of Saddam Hussein. It is too easy for leaders to commit egregious crimes under international law, including the crime of aggression, and not pay the price as did the Axis leaders at Nuremberg.

It’s time to change the rules so that those who wage war, particularly illegal war, will have appropriate consequences. It’s time to end the double standards, and to replace might makes right with the rule of law. It’s time to demand that our leaders find peaceful ways to resolve conflicts. Here are five simple ways in which war could be stopped in its tracks.

1. Require the leaders who promote and support war to personally participate in the hostilities. This would provide a critical threshold of personal commitment to war by requiring some actual personal sacrifice of leaders.

2. Show the faces and tell the stories of the children of the “enemy” until we can feel the pain of their deaths as though they were the deaths of our own children. It is much more difficult to slaughter an enemy who one recognizes as being part of the human family.

3. Give full support to the establishment of an International Criminal Court so that national leaders can be tried for all egregious war crimes at the end of any hostilities. All leaders who commit egregious crimes must be held to account under international law as they were at Nuremberg, and they must be aware of this from the outset.

4. Impeach any elected leaders who promote or support illegal, preventive war, what was described at the Nuremberg Trials as an “aggressive” war. It is the responsibility of citizens in a democracy to exercise control over their leaders who threaten to commit crimes under international law, and impeachment provides an important tool to achieve this control.

5. Rise up as a people and demand that one’s government follow its Constitution, cut off funding for war and find a way to peace. US citizens must demand that Congress not give away or allow the president to usurp its sole authority under the Constitution to make the decision to go to war. Citizens should also demand that Congress exercise its power of the purse to prevent war, including not giving financial support to a president attempting to bribe other countries to participate in an illegal war.
*David Krieger is the president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the editor of Hope in a Dark Time, Reflections on Humanity’s Future (Capra Press, 2003).
Readers’ Comments

What a wonderful set of rules that could begin our move from pre-cultural to cultural existence. (I explain this in my book.) I especially think the second and last rule are so important. If we had anyone in office with any integrity and character they would have taken away the money long ago, given the state of our (non-exsitent) health and welfare policies. I don’t know why it’s so hard to see that sending butter not bombs and medicine not missiles could turn our foreign policy around. Combine that with allowing countries to be what they want to be in religion, politics, etc., and it wouldn’t be too long that we would be respected and trusted and terrorists would have no place to hide because friends don’t injure friends. What I can’t understand is why no one hasn’t unearthed the president’s “military gap,” his investment shadows and his academic skills so that the world could see really what we have in the White House. Maybe he would turn out to be very impressive and maybe not, I just wish the American people were given the choice to decide for themselves. Where’s Mike Moore when you need him? Keep up your wonderful words and work,
— Roger

Another way to stop war is to join an organized boycott of particular U.S. companies. For more information see

General Electric (Hotpoint and other appliances), Oil Exxon Mobil/Esso, ChevronTexacom, Symbols of US Imperialism Altria (Philip Morris, Kraft) Pepsico (Pepsi, Starbucks), Coca-Cola, McDonalds
–Pol D’Huyvetter
For Mother Earth
International Campaign for Disarmament, Ecology and Human Rights
Establish 500 Sister Cities exchanges with the potential adversary. Exchange representatives from business, sports, education, health care, agriculture, city administration, religions, etc. Guests would stay at no cost with congregations of the various “peace churches.” Obvious purpose of these visits, but also seriously converse of the problems between us. Who would prevent this?
David: I especially like your first point – Require the leaders who promote war to personally participate in the hostilities. Alexander the Great was not lolling in some safe bunker with central heat and air – he was in the forefront of the battle. I would also require bush the “leader” to personally meet with Saddam Hussein before hostilities start. Before Gulf WarI I wrote to George Sr. that he and Saddam should meet in the desert, draw a line in the sand, and do hand-to-hand combat until only one was left alive. This would certainly cut down on the casualties!

Another point. It is far too easy to just ship several thousand troops to a staging area to start a war. I realize in the military it is necessary to maintain discipline, meaning “do as you are told”, but when our country has not been directly threatened, personnel should have an opportunity to opt out of participating wihout fear of reprisal. What if they gave a war and nobody showed up? I know that’s not an easy thing to accomplish, but it certainly would be worth a try.
Grandmothers for Peace