Forty years of “peace” studies and nothing to show for it

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The Article

The Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution has just wrapped up a two-day conference at Ottawa’s Saint Paul University, called “Women Building Peace.”

Peace, peace, peace. In vogue as never before. Yes,  “Peace Studies” is very hot, even though, unlike “Renaissance Studies” or “Canadian Studies,” there is no actual subject to analyze. Peace is not a “thing” or a place or a related series of events. Just as dark is the absence of light, peace — warm or cold — is essentially the absence of war. The rest is opinion and commentary.
Yet Peace Studies has become a huge academic industry over the last 40 years. The name is benign — what could be more worthwhile in principle than studies that claim to further what all of us desire? — but its allegedly disinterested agenda is anything but.

Peace Studies programs — the “idealistic” school of conflict resolution as opposed to the realist schools of military studies, geopolitics and the like — began as a response to the threat of nuclear armageddon during the Cold War. The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis accelerated their growth. Then the further upheaval of the Vietnam War prompted lavish donations from foundations like the Institute for World Order, which gave the movement academic security and political respectability.
But Peace Studies hasn’t produced practical prescriptions for managing or resolving global conflicts, because ideology always trumps objectivity and pragmatism.

The movement exploits the terminology of human rights, borrowing lofty catchwords like “empowerment,” “reconciliation,” “ripeness,” “rebalancing of power relationships” and “historic justice.” Peaceniks extol the values of dialogue and empathy. Their promotional materials exude sentimental clichés: “[We can find] ways of working toward a just and harmonious world community.”

Once past the rhetoric, though, it is clear that peace programs are code for advocacy of left wing ideology. The “scholarship” exists to put a respectable face on Western self-loathing.

Apart from Western “imperialism,” which they excoriate nonstop, peace “scholars” do not acknowledge the reality of ideologies that cannot be reasoned with, or the irrational hatred fuelling our enemies’ violent aggression against us. Neither do they admit the idea of just war or self-defence — at least not for powerful nations (read America and Israel). Most troubling, they tacitly or openly support terrorism as a permissible strategy for the “disempowered” to redress real or perceived grievances against the powerful (read America and Israel).

The gurus of the Peace Studies movement are far-left shills for the world’s worst dictators. In 2007, for example, the same Canadian Institute for Conflict Resolution that sponsored this week’s conference gave its imprimatur to another, “Peace as a Profession in the 21st Century.” The keynote speaker was Norwegian professor Johann Galtung, billed in the conference literature as “the father of modern peace research.”

What the publicity omitted was the fact that Galtung despises the “structural fascism” of “rich, Western, Christian” democracies and admires tyrannies. He believes the annihilation of Washington, D.C., would be a fair punishment for America’s arrogance. He adores Fidel Castro. In 1974 he mocked the West’s reverence for “persecuted elite personages” like Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov. He compared the U.S. to Nazi Germany for bombing Kosovo.

Galtung’s highest accolades are reserved for Chairman Mao. His gushings about Mao’s “endlessly liberating” China are revealing, but too sickening to publish in a family newspaper.

And this is the moral quisling Canadian Peace Studies academics choose to honour. But they are not alone. Brandeis University’s Peace Studies chairman justifies suicide bombings; the director of Purdue University’s program is coeditor of Marxism Today; the Sydney University’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies awarded a prize to Hanan Ashrawi, a spokesman for the terrorist PLO.

In the 1980s and again in 1990, human rights activist Caroline Cox and philosopher Roger Scruton analyzed Peace Studies curricula. They not only pronounced them bereft of information about the U.S.S.R., even at the height of the Cold war, but found them to be intellectually incoherent, riddled with bias and unworthy of academic status. Katherine Kersten, senior fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, says Peace Studies programs are “dominated by people of a certain ideological bent, and [are] thus hard to take seriously.”

Peace Studies’ graduates — patriotism-sapped converts to anti-Westernism — now swarm the globe, staffing left wing NGOs, giving credibility to the Islamofascism-promoting Cairo Conferences and applauding the anti-Semitic Durban hatefests.
Our realists can keep the literal barbarians from our gates. Indeed, real peace studies are to be found in military colleges, which seek through studies of past wars strategies for avoiding present wars where possible, and where impossible, for waging and ending honourable wars expeditiously.

What is needed are self-respecting intellectual soldiers to protect us from the “idealistic” barbarians within our gates: to protect our naive children from these latter-day Chamberlains and to dash from their lips the poisoned nectar of the peace racket’s dishonourable, self-defeating prescriptions for peace in our time.

Barbara Kay
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