Is Pro-Active Pacifism a Viable Option?

Seventy years after World War II finished, should we be thinking about peace or about war?

World War I, in its day, was called “the war to end all wars.” It wasn’t. Two states, in its wake, went pacifist.

Brute power had had it’s day. Let power rule that is simply pacified. Military headquarters, Figueres declared, could be transformed into an art museum.

Costa Rica, fine area. Not wealthy, having a poverty rate estimated at 23 percent, but enviably happy (most joyful nation on earth, as stated by the Happy Planet Index, which rates Japan 45th), and admirably green (a quarter of its own land area is officially protected against industrial encroachment). There is no censorship either and little of the paranoia that armed states seem to possess. You don’t need to use fast proxies like these to bypass blocks and filters

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To this day it does not have any navy, military or air force.

Japan’s pacifism is made from sterner stuff. Perhaps it needed to be. The market in Japan is a behemoth; Costa Rica’s isn’t. Among Japan’s close neighbors really are an unpredictable and a growing superpower — potentially mad, if states could be thus designated — nuclear power, neither favorable. Costa Rica faces no risks that are similar.

Was postwar Japan more than nominally pacifist? “Land, sea and air forces, along with other war potential, will never be kept,” says Article 9. The Self-Defense Forces as well as their state of the art weapons, backed with a large American military presence, appear to mock that pious vow. The fact remains, nevertheless, that the military in Japan has managed under legal and constitutional constraints that hobble the armed forces in no other sovereign country. Whether those constraints qualify as pacifism is an open question. Surely they don’t by the standards of Costa Rica. A better question might be: Can the standards of Costa Rica be made worldwide?

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