Minimizing War Through An International Alliance



Christopher Ebbe, Ph.D.    9-16

ABSTRACT:  A method of minimizing war and political violence in general is proposed, through deterrent and active worldwide cooperation among nations.

KEY WORDS:  war, civil war, political violence, deterrence, international cooperation, international alliances, diplomacy

The experience of human beings of war and the suffering that results from it has not caused war and political violence to become less common.  It is surprising that the experiences of World War II, the Holocaust, and present-day Syria would not trigger interest in international cooperation to outlaw and end practices such as non-defensive war.  The United Nations has not been particularly effective in reducing war and political violence, though its peace-keeping forces have reduced them slightly.  Here is a proposal for minimizing war and political violence, through an international alliance, as well as an analysis of reasons why some citizens will be wary of such cooperation and why some nations will avoid it.


1. Signatory nations would agree that if any signatory nation is attacked from outside, all signatory nations would immediately implement coordinated military actions sufficient to end the attack.  A structure for military cooperation would be developed beforehand that could be implemented quickly.  Whenever war seemed likely, as well as once an attack is ended and any invading forces withdrawn, the signatory group or the United Nations would attempt a mediated political settlement, based on grievances or fears present in the nations attacking and attacked, which could involve an International Judicial body if needed.  Any signatory nation that refused to cooperate militarily would be cast out of the agreement and would not be protected by it.  Nations with military forces too small to participate could be involved through financial contributions.

If the number of signatory nations were sufficient, the coverage of this agreement could be extended to non-signatory nations as well, if desired.

A nation that withdrew from the agreement for purposes of conducting war would be treated as violating the agreement, if war was conducted.  A non-signatory nation could not join the agreement during a war in order to prevent losing the war.

It is accepted that violence can be employed in self-defense by nations, but only self-defense in cases of active attack will be acceptable.  Pre-emptive strikes are acts of war and will be responded to as such.  All attacking nations would be subject to paying reparations as determined by the mediators or judicial bodies involved.  This would include a single strike not followed by war.

2. In the case of civil wars, this agreement would trigger forcible cessation of hostilities, enforced either by cooperating signatory nations or U.N. peacekeeping forces, followed by mediation by the United Nations, or by any other bodies or nations chosen by the sides in the civil war.  Any external nations financially supporting any side in the civil war would be forced by the signatories to cease that support, through financial and trade embargos by all signatories.

Civil wars are assumed to represent very significant disagreements between large numbers of a nation’s citizens.  The concerns of both sides will be taken seriously in the mediation attempts.  If mediation or the best outcome of mediation is refused, peacekeeping forces will continue to control the country until mediation is accepted.  Results of difficult mediations could include partition of the country.

In the case of civil wars, the agreeing nations would act whether or not the nation having the civil war was a signatory.  This could be seen as “interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation,” but such interference is justified by the ongoing suffering of the population of the nation having the civil war (particularly non-combatants and those who would prefer that the civil war not take place).

3. In the case of violence by non-state groups, all signatory nations would cooperate in ending the violence, with appropriate attention to the grievances of the non-state actors.


It is a sad commentary on the human species that such agreements as this would be necessary, but the species has no inbred moral scruples about groups attacking other groups for gain.  The evidence of this infuses our history, which many events taught as “history” in high school being how one country invaded or expropriated things from another country by force.  Even nations that view themselves as “religious” have been ready to employ violence and war for territorial gain, financial gain (e.g., colonialism) and as instruments of foreign policy (including the U.S. and the U.K.).  If we as a species abhor the kinds of violence and suffering that war causes (and fear it harming our own groups) sufficiently to want to end it, then cooperation among groups is the only way to put a limit on our own violence and our propensity to employ violence for gain.

The viability of such an agreement rests on the appropriateness of the mediation activities that follow the cessation of violence.  These must be carried out in a totally unbiased way and according to the highest standards of fairness and justice.  Warring bodies should have input regarding mediators, but if they cannot agree, then the signatory body will choose mediators.

The acceptance by nations of this concept means giving up some of their sovereignty—that part of sovereignty that allows them to take land or resources from other nations by force (not the part that allows them to defend themselves by force).  Giving up this “right” would seem to be in the best interest of all nations, and nations resisting doing this would be identified clearly in the international community as rogue nations, dangerous to all other nations.  Powerful nations will be the most resistant to giving up this “right,” so their acquiescence to the concept of this agreement will probably be necessary for its inception.  Nations could employ various methods of deciding whether to join the agreement, including referenda by their populations.  This voluntary partial loss of sovereignty would seem to be well compensated by the protection afforded by the agreement, and any nation could of course leave the agreement at any time.  Such an agreement would seem to be more important than ever in this age of more and more nations acquiring nuclear weapons.

In effect, this agreement would be like the human race (or most of it) asserting that killing other people is no longer viewed as a tolerable way of settling disputes, even disputes that have very large consequences for the opponents, such as divisions of territory and mass movements of people to the territory that they favor.  There were certainly many extreme hardships in the division of India into India, Pakistan, and Bangla Desh, but supporting this agreement would be saying that that was still better than having a hundred thousand more people killed in religious riots.  It would call for greater ability on the part of all people to tolerate differences (of opinions, of customs, etc.) and to view human life as ultimately more important than wealth and beliefs. 

Also, this agreement implies that nations accept their current boundaries and forego gaining more land in the future through aggression.  National boundaries could still be changed by agreement between countries, and in the future there may be more nations joining with other nations to make larger political entities.  Each nation would have to solve its population growth problems without resort to taking other nations’ lands.

Most people in the world would already agree with this proposal in principle, though when it is their own wealth or beliefs that are at issue, they seem more ready to at least allow their surrogates (national armies) to kill others on their behalf.  Religions would be expected to agree with this new concept and to help their believers to agree, though religions that mix local customs (diet, patriotism, theocracy) with issues of belief and relation to the deity (instead of separating these) would be less willing to agree.

One group of people who would be expected to oppose a non-aggression pact is the leaders of most countries!  If people generally rise to the top as leaders due to their ambition and their natural, above average aggression (needed to reach the top), we would expect that they would be more inclined than citizens in general to use force to accomplish certain things—sometimes things of benefit to the nation (greater wealth, more territory) and sometimes for the benefit of their own egos (bragging, being number one) and “legacy.”  Note how most “great statesmen” in the history books are remembered for their wars and conquests, and ask yourself why that would be.  Think about whether you have more respect or admiration for warriors (those who start wars) or for peacemakers and those who focus on domestic problems of the nation during their term in office.  This is a long-term problem for democracies, but fortunately voters can control the course of things, if they have the insight to realize that warriors (leaders who start wars) are not necessarily benefiting the nation. 

Such an agreement could be successfully started if the U.S., EU, China, and Russia would sign on to it, and it could be started through the auspices of the United Nations, whether or not it was viewed when activated as a U.N. agreement.

 It is likely that working together as signatories would lead to other types of cooperation (economic, etc.) between signatory nations, which would be another incentive for all to join.



It is natural for people to wish to protect themselves by preserving all of their options, including aggressive war, and while most people would say that their nation would never try to take another’s territory, history shows that this is common behavior among nations, usually justified by some slight or presumed injury and promoted by leaders by increasing their citizens’ fear of the nation to be attacked while actually motivated by the desire for gain.

This long-term fear generated by not knowing what may happen in the future must be overcome by taking the risk of making this agreement among nations and waiting to see if it works or not.  If it works the first few times, our fear that we might not actually be protected by the agreement would be lessened.

In some cases, citizens are already quite fearful about the possible actions of another particular nation (e.g., when that other nation is building arms and weapons of various sorts and is making political statements about the unworthiness of one’s own nation).  This would be a time particularly suited to trying out the alliance proposed here, though to hedge one’s bets, the fearful nation should probably build up its own army, too!

Concerns About Famine

It is hard for any nation to feel confident that it will be able to feed and protect its citizens no matter what unfortunate events might occur in the future.  If a nation is faced with famine or with having too little land to feed its people, it might in desperation think about taking some of an adjoining nation’s land.  Since under this agreement, such an action would be opposed by the signatory nations, signatory nations should agree also to help feed any nation that is unable to feed itself due to weather, drought, or other uncontrollable changes.


There have been circumstances in which one nation’s hatred toward another is so great that its citizens believe that a war of hatred, punishment, or genocide is justified.  This agreement would help to make such wars less likely.  All nations might agree that such hatred should be countered, with accurate information and opportunities for reconciliation, and should be ameliorated through the promotion of attitudes of acceptance and forgiveness toward all other human beings.  The assumption behind these attempts would be, of course, that people are generally good in all nations and that therefore general hatred is never justified.  Hatred that seems justified (to those hating) by past actions of the other nation should be the target of reconciliation efforts by signatory nations or global organizations such as the U.N.  The promotion of hatred by political leaders for their own gain should be denounced by all other nations and might become the target of an international court.  Political leaders must not be allowed to promote hatred or use war to divert citizens’ attention from domestic problems and failures of leadership.

The Historical Pattern of Conflict Among Nations

It is worth asking ourselves why nations tend to be in conflict.  Human beings seem to have a built-in motive to preserve and defend their own groups (nations), and we also have a built-in fear of those who are different from us.  These apparently are enough to generate a suspicion of other nations, and if most of the citizens of a nation are not doing well economically, nations seem to turn to taking things from other groups to make our own circumstances better (more land, more mines, etc.).  We are also fearful of value systems and thought systems that are different from our own, so nations sometimes turn aggressive in order to make other people value and think the same as they do, to remove that fear (of being “wrong,” of being dominated in the future by other ideas, etc.). 

These things do not have to be ruling issues, though.  As an example, let us consider the U.S. and Russia, since it might appear that these might be the least interested in a mutual defense pact.  Neither nation needs the others’ land or resources, and they are far enough away from each other geographically that their different customs and values do not pose much of a problem.  In decades past, Russia’s desire to make Communism the dominant worldview economically was a motive for aggression, but this has faded now, so the only remaining motive for being at odds would seem to be which nation is to be the most powerful nation on earth.  Citizens like being the most powerful, since it allows them to feel more secure from attack (and falsely augments their self-esteem), but most of the people in the world live without this comfort, so the citizens of Russia and the U.S. could certainly make do without it!  China would seem to be the nation currently most likely to resist a non-aggression pact, since it is growing, optimistic about its future, and wishing to expand, but this pact might be the perfect counterfoil to China, for the rest of the world, for decades to come.

The important point here is that civilizations have evolved enough now that economic reasons are not sufficient to justify aggression, and the only remaining barriers to peace are fear of each other and the desire to dominate in order to achieve safety (and pride).  These both can be ameliorated by government and other institutional policies that promote acceptance and assuage fear.  Our age-old pattern of aggression among nations may be losing its underpinnings, thus permitting such things as this worldwide non-aggression pact. 

Youthful Energy

Young men ages 16 through 25 are probably the persons most likely to be interested in war, partly because males have a natural urge to use force in sorting out status hierarchies and an urge to prove themselves as men through the use of force.  Opportunities must be constructed for the use of this energy and satisfaction of this need to prove oneself, such as disaster response teams and opportunities to work in somewhat dangerous conditions in construction or other projects aimed at public improvements.


If the reader “instinctively” prefers for his nation to hold back from such an agreement, he should think about it until he can give his actual reasons for holding back.  It is of course something of a risk as to whether the signatory nations could carry out a cooperative attack-ending military action, and of course many people have an ongoing mistrust of all other nations.  Those disagreeing should then accept that his or her nation is opting for being able to carry out war and political violence for aggressive (not defensive) purposes whenever it wants to, for reasons that it sees as sufficient but which most other nations will not see as sufficient. 

Those disagreeing should consider whether that is an adequately moral stance for their nations.  Consider that you would most likely view as a threat to your country any other nation reserving its right to carry out war whenever it wished to, so it would also be true that if your nation will not agree to end wars, other nations will of course view your nation as a threat to them, as well as viewing your nation as holding an immoral position.  In fact, your non-signatory nation will be a threat to other nations, regardless of how much you believe that your nation has only “good intentions,” since every aggressor nation believes that its wars are justified.

It is understandable that many people will be hesitant to endorse an agreement such as this, since it would be a rather large change in how nations conduct themselves, but those who are hesitant owe it to the rest of us to state what aggressive wars they wish their nations to be able to carry out in the future.  All nations will still have the right to defend themselves in war, so would you wish for your nation to be unhindered in carrying out war to steal another nation’s land, or to kill those who have a different religion than yours, or to kill those of a different race than yours?  What wars of aggression would you view as justified?