Einstein on Iraq
What might Albert Einstein, fervent paladin for world peace and recipient in 1948 of the One World Award, say to a US invasion of Iraq? If he could be resurrected for an interview, it might go something like this (Einstein's statements are largely culled from his speeches).
"Professor Einstein, should the U.S. attack Iraq?"
"I should hope not. Wars are the bane of civilization."
"They perpetuate cycles of retributive violence by exacerbating mutual enmities."
"Shouldn't nations have the right to defend themselves militarily?"
"Only intermediately through international security forces. Besides, when nations wage war most claim self-defense. Is Iraq a bigger threat to the US than the US to Iraq?"
"Professor, you have often impugned militaristic nationalism. Why?"
"In my judgment, it poses an insuperable barrier to world peace. It breeds in citizens a propensity for aggression and a dangerous sense of moral superiority."
"Could you elaborate?"
"Gladly. So long as the individual state, despite its official condemnation of war, has to consider the possibility of engaging in war, it must influence and educate its citizens-and its youth in particular-in such a way that they can easily be converted into efficient soldiers in the event of war. Therefore it is compelled not only to cultivate a technical-military training and mentality but also to implant a spirit of national vanity in its people to secure their inner readiness for the outbreak of war. This kind of education counteracts all endeavors to establish moral authority for a supranational security organization."
"How do you propose to prevent wars between nations?"
"All states would voluntarily divest themselves of their armed forces. They would mutually inspect methods and installations used for the production of offensive weapons, combined with an interchange of pertinent technical and scientific information and discoveries. They would provide soldiers and weaponry to the supranational governing body, comprising representatives from all constituent nations. Empowered by a constitution approved by all nations, this organization would have the sole disposition of offensive weapons. It would adjudicate all conflicts between nations."
"Professor, forgive me, but aren't you being too na´ve? Surely, you don't think the US, Iraq, Russia, and, indeed, most other countries would voluntarily disband their armies? Why should the US relinquish its international hegemony by disarming itself?"
"Does the US not seek peace? Real security is tied to the denationalization of military power. A person or a nation can be considered peace loving only if it is ready to cede its military force to the international authorities and to renounce every attempt to achieve its interests abroad by the use of force. Peace can never be secured by threats, but only by an honest attempt to create mutual trust."
"Professor, many Americans distrust a world government. They think unscrupulous individuals will manipulate it to their own advantage and in the process, undermine American interests at home and abroad. Stripped of military might, America couldn't protect itself from these forces for ill. America would lose its liberty, independence, prosperity and moral authority."
"America can heighten its moral prestige by trailblazing the path to lasting peace. Let us trust other nations so that they may more readily trust us."
"Do you trust Saddam Hussein?"
"Does he trust us?"
[This letter was published in ETS, September 11, 2002]