Department of Peace — Ukraine, world, and governance for the 21st century
After the war between the United States of America and the British Empire from 1775-to 1783 (also known as the American Revolution), leading contemporary American intellectuals, politicians, and activists such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison shaped the USA as a young political community. With several others, Madison and Jefferson later became known as “founding fathers” of the American nation due to their actions and ideas.
Today, not all of the founding fathers are equally known among the American population. One of the less known is Benjamin Rush who, besides being against slavery and in favor of rights for women, also promoted one of the best, most insightful, and most daring proposals — a government for peace.
After the war, one of Rush’s main arguments was that the USA did not need any new wars or aggressive behaviors toward other governments and countries. Instead, according to Rush, the purpose of the USA was to promote peaceful relations and co-existence with others. Therefore, Rush advocated establishing the Department of Peace with a connected Peace Academy.
His ideas were based on promoting peace for internal and external development. Internal in promoting and maintaining peaceful, civilized, and harmonic relations between Americans. External by promoting peaceful relations between the USA and other governments and contributing to a peaceful world.
As a reader, one must remember that Rush was promoting such ideas in a different context and situation compared to modern America. During Rush’s lifetime, being an American citizen was mainly about being white, male, a landowner, and a Christian. Also, it did not look long until new American politicians started promoting wars against indigenous (today Native Americans) populations and against the UK during the “Canada War” 1812–1815.
Rush’s ideas of creating a Department of Peace are still useful and are being promoted today by organizations such as Peace Alliance. For example, the proposal for a DoP is based on co-working and making decisions with the military in order to create governance balance and include civilian, humanitarian and peaceful perspectives in decision-making. The idea of having an American secretary (minister) for peace is promoted by using optimistic, positive, and inspiring communication.
Promoting peace is also about promoting a “peace culture” where a DoP would also have responsibility for developments, especially at the local levels. This means that a minister for peace would travel around the country and visit local peace councils and citizens in different areas to establish relations and dialogues. After all, human relations and cooperation mainly depend on how things are being done locally regarding community, trust, and institutions.
Now, you may wonder how and why this relates to Ukraine? There are several reasons:
- Modern Ukraine has never attacked another nation and is a victim of military aggression, meaning that Ukraine can inspire other nations to stand up against authoritarian and militaristic regimes.
- There is a moral difference between Ukraine as a young democracy and Russia as an old dictatorship, which has global importance since democracies do not wage wars against each other and can also integrate into larger governance units, such as a world federation with a World Parliament.
- If Ukraine can “win the war” against Russia, new stories and ideas for the future have to be created, including those about reintegration and trust-building regarding occupied areas of Crimea, Donetsk, and Lugansk regions.
- Most Ukrainians want to join the European Union, where peace is one of the most important values and behaviors in the union’s political, institutional, and social history.
In a post-war scenario where Ukraine is making reforms and improvements, like those required for the EU membership, creating a Department of Peace could also be a vital part of Ukraine’s institutional development. Partly because the idea of creating Departments of Peace is about changing and improving how modern states should function during this century.
The historical idea of the nation-state is that a nation exists for a state and a state exists for a nation, while the creation of a Department of Peace also means that a universal/cosmopolitan state exists to function for law enforcement, peacekeeping operations, and human security both for a community and the world as a whole and planet Earth.
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