A future without armies

Culture of peace – utopia or security policy alternative?
Forfatter: Ingeborg Breines
Forlag: Orkana Forlag, (Norge)
PEACE WORK / There is something vaguely medieval in the narrative of the media, politicians and gun fetishists today. That is why it is refreshing to read the chapter "NATO – out of date" in the book Fredskultur. Or how about Costa Rica: "We have no enemies and we don't need an army!"


Based on the law on market topicality, this book should be a success. With war and rumors of war, slaughter, invasions and refugee flows on all continents, a book about fred catch like fire in the familiar, dry grass.

When I don't think that will happen with this book, it is neither because of its subject matter nor its qualities, but simply because far too many people are not really interested in peace. Yes, it may seem as if it has been so long since Norwegians experienced a proper one war, that we find it a bit attractive with the military, with weapons and 'proper' men in uniform – with a brave direction towards the war zone and the killing fields.

Yes. We live in a time where leading Norwegians, the media, politicians and digital exchange of opinion to varying degrees revolve around weapons as problem solvers. Jens Stoltenberg, the man who after 22 July 2011 proclaimed that we should face terrorism with openness and more democracy, 12 years later leads the troops in 31 NATO countries under the motto "Weapons are the way to peace".

Jens Stoltenberg, the man who after 22 July 2011 proclaimed that we should meet terrorism with openness and more democracy, 12 years later leads the troops in 31 NATO countries under the motto "Weapons are the way to peace".

"Is bombing for peace a joke?"

How do you read a 415-page book on the culture of peace? From page 1? Or do you start in the extensive indexing at the back of the book? No, you don't do the latter, because it doesn't exist. Already there, I had to self-criticize my way of reading non-fiction. I usually read from the last page, even though I am neither Muslim nor Jewish. Read from the last page, criss-crossing in search of what 'he said' or 'she wrote' or 'here it happened', or "what role does the Nobel Prize play in building a culture of peace?", "is bombing for peace a joke or scientifically sound strategy?”. In this way, I form a picture of the values, scope, depth, accuracy and verifiability of the work and of the author. A frivolous way to read a book? Maybe. But have you read the Great Norwegian Lexicon from cover to cover?

It becomes a strength Culture of peace – utopia or security policy alternative? that it has a comprehensive table of contents, and short chapters that you can read individually and be inspired by. A lexical gold mine. At a time when # NATO controls research, media and news in the Kingdom of Norway in a way that we have not seen since Quisling led the country, with Aftenposten and Nationen at the forefront, and where only a few people had a radio and listened to "the voice from London" despite the fact that "everyone" afterwards thought they had done so. In this day and age, it is refreshing to read the chapter "NATO – out of date". Breines dares.

Yes, Breines dares at times, and it is to be hoped that the former UNESCO- the manager's book is purchased for the libraries; that is where it belongs, in school libraries, on book buses in Lofoten and Telemark and in the district libraries in Oslo East, where little eyes and ears suck and say, when they come home to the dinner table (yes, many still gather around the dinner table! It there is a culture of peace in it): "Mum, why doesn't the UN clean up Gaza?", "Why don't they give the Nobel Prize to someone who wants to abolish the wars?", and "Why is NATO still there when the Warsaw Pact has disappeared?".

Enormously stofftilfang

This reviewer loves short quotes from famous people. It can be used in lectures and newspaper articles. But I can only use it if I get to know when and where things were said and written. It increases confidence in the material and the author, makes the message a notch more reliable. In the next edition, which will come, for example pages 307–308 and 343–344 can be easily improved. But be careful, the book is equipped with lots of source references, which I have not found wrong either. It is important.

Selection and sequencing in the presentation must have been a challenge for the organization of the enormous amount of material. Certain questions arise: Should we, for example, have waited until page 187 to ask the question "Who do we want to be?" – but it is only as a reminder that the book spans a wealth of anecdotes, quotations and facts that require handling.

One of the author's biggest challenges must of course have been shuffling the many cards she has placed in the peace pile. The topic has become so broad and so comprehensive. Breines could probably have made some choices with advantage. It has become the book's strength and weakness. Therefore, you can use it as a reference book, as a background for study circles and debates. The many sub-themes, the many angles of approach and the many questions that one asks can form the basis for further work.

Ingeborg Breines

Alfred Nobel for disarmament

It is a former loyal UN employee who has written the book. Her love for and hope for the institution shines through. Then we have to accept dry lists of actors, dates and praise for bureaucrats and bureaucracies. It doesn't always turn out to be as sexy literature as this, but I guess encyclopedias were never meant to be either. And respect for the UN is not exactly a surplus commodity these days.

In many ways, the book can seem like a child of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, where almost everything is subsumed under the term peace: environment, human rights, disarmament, technological development, gender struggle, MeToo, racism, consumerism debate, children's rights and north-south tensions. Maybe a little along the lines of "if you only become good, everything will be good"? It is a Nobelwinner for each sub-theme. Also for Breines. And it moves us away from Alfred Nobel's peace idea of ​​betting all the chips, perhaps the greatest fortune of the time, on disarmament with a short and precise description of who the prize should go to: abolition or reduction of standing armies as well as the formation and spread of peace congresses."

This instruction is impossible to get wrong. But Nobel Committee has managed it, well helped by the temptation to make himself popular in large circles with his many millions and assurances that the prize is the world's 'most prestigious'. Is there any field that cannot be defended as "relevant to 'peace'"? In the extension of such a challenge, Breines could have taken more of a stand, dared to flag sympathies and antipathies. It had refreshed.

The prevailing thinking

When I read the book in October 2023, we are media-heavy with the most violent world since World War II. I would like to see today's war scene unrolled and explained – options drawn up and directions pointed out. It is in the shadow of war that the issues of peace must be given life. But of course it is also where they are most repressed and chilled. The book seems more content to talk about, and neither reveal nor criticize, although there are approaches to this.

As a reference book, as background for study circles and debates.

It would have quickly become a different book, one that would have required other expertise and experiences, if one were to clash with the prevailing thinking about violence and counter-violence, armor versus more armament, attack with counter-attack – this was medieval in the narrative of the media, politicians and weapon fetishists Today. And perhaps the war will just have to burn itself out, the enthusiasm will fade, even if it will cost a million lives and countless billions of kroner. Perhaps these wars must also be put to an end in blood and not in negotiations? The bill will probably end up in a mailbox near you anyway.

Costa Rica

The book's closing pages with peace prize winner Oscar Arias' words are exactly the finale it needs: Costa Rica have no enemies and we need no army!” Liberating.

In an age where enemy images fill every speech and every page in the mainstream media, and motivate billions of dollars in (almost) all 31 NATO countries, to weapons, violence, blood and death, Arias boils it all down to the essence of the peace models we need: a future without armies. It was the line that should be flown over Oslo City Hall every December 10. That was Nobel's vision, and essentially what Eisenhower conveyed between the lines in his farewell speech in 1961. And that was what Kennedy on June 11, 1963, shortly before he was shot, drew up for the students. A new day without scary images. A future without armies.


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