How to Abolish Unjust Wars -- After This One Is Over:
The Elements of World Peace Are Present on Both Sides of the Global Debate
By Byron Belitsos

Publisher, Origin Press (
March 19, 2003

In times of great crisis, opposites often arise together in pristine purity. Unleash a great evil in one place, and its nemesis arises somewhere else. Knock a dying paradigm off the world stage, and a new one kicks up out of the blue.

But there's one other requirement: On its way out, the old model leaves behind an isolated but crucial truth, one that the new paradigm must incorporate if it is to be a genuine advance. The Bush administration, representing the last gasp of imperialist unilateralism in an interdependent world, is perversely teaching us one such isolated truth: that firm enforcement of international law is needed in a dangerous world.

In his ultimatum speech, Bush's Orwellian speechwriters dubbed our invasion of Iraq as "enforcement of the just demands of the world." Of course, most of us know better about Bush's brazen international antics, but the President is teaching us a cruel and bitter lesson about how to achieve a world without war and terrorism. The emerging new model, he is showing us, must incorporate the concept of decisive enforcement of global law. But in the new model, law enforcement must be embedded in the context of a genuine global democracy--a global governing structure that represents the will and reflects the sovereignty of the world's people.(1)

Let me put it another way. Right now in our face, Bush's horrifying abuse of the high principle of international law enforcement is calling forth its pristine opposite: The need for a genuine global legislature that can pass enforceable global laws, binding legislation that can be applied by a global executive branch and interpreted by duly appointed world courts--supported by a world constitution that jealously guards individual and national rights. And the first planks of this constitution will be the abolition of war between nations and the binding adjudication of international disputes and criminal acts by legitimate world courts. The first imperative of world civilization is to outlaw murder of all kinds across national boundaries, and to use legitimate force to hold individual lawbreakers--and not entire nations like Iraq--accountable before legitimate standards of world justice.

As I see it, the choice is stark: The force of law applied against individuals in a governed world, or the law of force applied against whole countries in a world of lawless anarchy--take your pick.(2)

I witnessed a case in point, which I want to share with you as we embark on our catastrophe in Iraq. By all accounts, the Bush administration had descended in the last week before the war into an unprecedented diplomatic chaos. One typical commentator, presidential candidate Senator John Kerry, called it "some of the weakest diplomacy in the history of the nation." The New York Times called it "a terrible diplomatic failure." But at the height of Bush's diplomatic delirium, what is arguably the very best moment in global diplomatic history occurred-the seating of the 18 justices at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. This happy development is the mirror opposite of what Bush is now foisting on the world. It was fascinating to me how it presented itself at the lowest point of Bush's chaotic diplomatic frenzy in and around the UN Security Council.

Although opposed with a vengeance at all points by the Bush administration, the ICC is as of March 11, 2003 officially inaugurated. It is now an operational reality. These 18 justices were elected by the 90 or so signatories of the historic 1998 Rome Treaty. Remember that particular embarrassment? That's the statue creating the ICC that President Clinton signed in the final hours of his administration, which Bush "unsigned" last May, not long before he announced his intention to unilaterally attack Iraq without UN sanction.

Here it was, the one institution that could deploy the existing (albeit weak) instruments of international law to bring the likes of Saddam Hussein before the bar of world justice, and Bush was trying to derail it. Russia and China balked at signing this treaty, now known as the Rome Statute, but the US actively tried to block the court's creation up until the moment last April when the treaty was ratified by the required number of signatories. No way, the Americans said! We were going to enforce our own idea of world law, on our own selfish terms, and with that manly Texas mettle that knows best.

Meanwhile, Bush set his Undersecretary of State John Bolton to work strong-arming countries into agreeing to exempt US citizens from the ICC's purview. The Republicans in Congress followed suit by pushing through the stupid (there is no other word for it) American Servicemember's Protection Act. But in the end the Bush administration's varied attempts to stop the launch of the ICC did not work. And last week they were morally upstaged by the event at the Hague, where 11 men and seven women--selected from a list of the world's finest jurists--were honored at a gala presided over by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. The inaugural ceremony was attended by foreign ministers and international diplomats from 100 countries-and of course was totally absent of representatives from the U.S.

There is much to adjudicate: There are already plenty of cases on the docket for the ICC to begin reviewing and investigating. And to my Republican and libertarian friends who fear that the ICC is based on legal principles inferior to the US Constitution and Bill of Rights, have a look at this point-by-point comparison put together by Washington Working Group on the International Criminal Court:

Other elements of the emerging global governance paradigm are showing up too, again, seemingly out of the blue and just in time to refute the doomsdayers and cynics among us. The pristine beginnings of world democracy--the innocent and fresh voice of the sovereignty of the world's people--a voice that can become one part of the legitimate underpinnings of a global democratic federal government, has been showing up in the massive peace demonstrations around the world. I would suggest that it is on that basis that one can elevate a vision of a radical expansion of the goals of the peace movement. This nascent peace and justice movement, which first showed its strength and diversity at the Seattle demonstrations against the WTO in 1999, should go beyond its mere antiwar or anti-imperialist sentiments; it should move toward the advocacy of a true global democracy under enforceable global law. There is no other sane or realistic way to global peace and justice.

Today's misguided peace movement is largely marked by a naive utopianism that confuses human nature with angelic nature. Angels can live in peace without law and government--humans can't. Yes, of course, "world peace" is a wonderful ideal, and war is a great calamity. But peace without justice is an illusion--a sort of truce until the next war comes along (e.g., the intractable Israeli-Palestinian stalemate). And justice, too, is unachievable without the just establishment of law by elected legislatures along with juridical institutions to apply the law. And juridical institutions are almost useless without enforcement mechanisms--the impotence of the UN is a case in point of course. On the international level, all this means, again, enforceable global law.

Peace requires justice, and justice rests on legitimate and enforceable law. Only when the peace movement understands this crucial syllogism, and only when international businessmen learn that global commerce is impossible without enforceable global law based on true planetary democracy, we will have an end to unjust wars like the one we are now fighting. Only then will there be an end to the evil adventurism of the American imperium and a genuine solution to terrorism. Only then can we really tackle the daunting problems of global pollution and grinding poverty.

A day will come, I have faith, when we will no longer need the George Bushes and the Saddam Husseins of the world to teach us their increasingly bloody and increasingly obvious lessons about how justice and peace are achieved on an all-too-human planet. To do it we will need enforceable global law--the crystallization of brotherly love on a planetary scale.

[Read down for sources of more information]


(1) The people of the world are the true sovereign of the planet, inherently; and each world citizen born on this planet possesses God-given inalienable rights inhering in their very personhood. The question for the 21st century becomes: Who represents that sovereignty? Who can legitimately protect human rights at the global level? And who is the true upholder and enforcer of global peace and justice?

(2) The final stage of the insane logic of the latter strategy is Bush's plan for the weaponization of space.


1. Some years ago, just before the fall of the USSR, I wrote, directed, and coproduced a 28 minute educational video about the concepts discussed in this essay. It is entitled "Toward a Governed World." Norman Cousins said, "the film is done with high professionalism and is as rewarding as it is important." I have dusted this off and am making copies available tonight for the first time in ten years for $15, including shipping cost and tax. (Sliding scale pricing for students or people on limited budgets.) Just email me your address and I will send you a copy with a bill.

2. 2. My website, has a section on global governance, with essays and links:


Byron Belitsos is currently CEO of Origin Media Group, Inc., which owns the website, a content management and e-publishing site offering "integral studies" content in all media for popular audiences. The firm also owns Origin Press, an award-winning trade book publishing house focused on integral spirituality and esoterica, whose authors include Ralph Metzner, Peter Russell, and Charles Tart, among others. A writer and lecturer, Belitsos has extensively studied the history, psychology, and philosophy of religion, with an emphasis on Buddhism and Christianity. He's also been a student of The Urantia Book for over 20 years, co-authoring the acclaimed recent title The Center Within: Lessons from the Heart of the Urantia Revelation (Origin Press, December 1998). Belitsos is an inaugural member of the business branch of Ken Wilber's Integral Institute.

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