Friday, May 4, 2012

Why Peace: a Worldwide Plea for a New Path

by Marc Guttman, Ed.
published by Marc Guttman
POB 623, East Lyme, CT 06333
published: 2012

Available at Amazon

Sorry it's taken so long to get this post up, but I've become, as my husband says "sucked into" this book.   

Some reads are quick and fun; this one is not.  Not because the writing isn't excellent, but because the topics are so profound, and some of the information is so hard to absorb. 

It is dedicated "to the innocent victims and to the courageous dissenters and whistleblowers," so many of the following articles tell a story about war we don't often hear.

We've been taught a lot of things about war.  Some are spin, some are jingoistic efforts to substitute patriotism for thinking, some are catchphrases, "war is hell," "the first casualty of war is the truth," etc., but frankly, I was somewhat unprepared for this book.

I now have a stack of papers sitting by the book, full of quotations from its various authors, because every new section contains some serious, thought-provoking questions, and sometimes news that we've never heard before.
We remember Vietnam, but only a few are aware of what happened in the Plain of Jars, a bombing by the US kept secret from the public for over 5 years and continued for 9.
It is a disturbing book.  Some of the experiences related by veterans are more chilling than a Stephen King book, and even more so because they happened in real life.  Atrocities committed under orders could not be integrated into world-views when veterans returned.  
...friends began turning to alcohol and prescription drugs to escape their inner turmoil.  False promises of a nation supporting its troops also became exposed, as these same friends were turned away from mental health facilities, cracked down on for their drunken antics, and demeaned through articles about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, posted on walls with the word "P * * * y"  [partial expletive deleted -gw] etched over them.

I'm still halfway through, but didn't want to wait to let you know that I believe this is a book every single American should read, whether they believe that war is a good idea or not.  

There is no one author connecting the dots, but as the reader goes from section to section, there emerges a clear understanding of how the system "works" (or doesn't), to keep us in a more or less constant state of warfare for the last 100 years.  

Some authors tell their own personal stories of what they've gone through, whether as combatants, or civilians on the ground trying to stay alive, or as victims of repressive regimes trying to solve their countries' ills without resort to war.   
My relatives were among the millions of Iraqis who had no say in their government's actions, but who would now pay dearly at the hands of the most powerful military in the world
 from Sarajevo, Bosnia, former site of the Olympics:
everyone was on a crash course to learn 19th century skills such as chopping wood and bathing in a bucket...candles ran out quickly so people made do with lamps made from jar lids with old shoelaces as wicks, dipped in gasoline, stale oil or rancid lard . . . Just about all the glass in the city had shattered by the end of 1992, and everyone's windows were covered with UN-supplied plastic foil.
 Others talk about the connection between politics and war, or speak of the downward spiral into which warfare takes the human spirit.
War, whether real or make-believe, serves to justify huge increases in government spending, taxing, borrowing, and exertion of power over private affairs, and such government surges attract opportunists galore, while doing little or nothing to improve peoples' real security.
 [Institutions that make policy to "protect us" through war and heightened security policies] eat away at our center.  They eat away at who we are, conditioning us to accept force, violation, and disrespect as part of our daily lives; to accept the doctrine that might makes right, and to believe that nothing else is possible.  They tear us from our own centers, our own moral centers, our knowledge of who we are.
And lastly, there are suggestions for other options, other ways to look at situations that keep war as a last resort.
 Given the pervasive American culture of glorifying and worshipping violence, warfare, death and destruction, we must educate our children about the absolute necessity for peace, justice, human rights, and the Rule of Law, both internationally and domestically.
 As I've said, I've just passed the midpoint of this book, and there are so many viewpoints, from folks who were working in countries that were at war (for NGOs, for example), to those who emigrated to the US to get away from repressive regimes in North Korea and Cuba, to those who had to try to win "minds and hearts" in Afghanistan.  A South African talks about living under apartheid. There are many articles by ex-military; some had very senior positions.  And there are articles trying to get at the heart of the sinister military-industrial-congressional connection that pushes constantly at our government to keep the arms sales going.  

It's a view-from-every perspective of what war is, what it's not, why people want it, why it never seems to do what we thought it would do, and it's probably got enough information, complete with bibliographies and citations, to qualify as a for-credit class.

If you find yourself asking "how did we get into so many wars?" this is the place to look for answers.  You may not agree with every perspective, but I'm pretty sure they're all here.

I would love to hear back from others who read this book.  I, on the other hand, will continue to blow off housework and other things I should be doing to finish it.  Marc Guttman has done a remarkable job creating this compendium of thought-provoking articles, and I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to figure out how things fit together, and why things happen the way they do.    

I'll be putting up quotes on the Book a Day Reviews Facebook page as I continue through the book.  There are way too many to put here.


  1. Excellent review!

    1. Yes, it's excellent--both the book and your review! As one of the 70 some chapter authors--mine is about the FBI and "Top Secret America"--I feel so outclassed. I also empathize with being only halfway through the book due to how much thought is required. But isn't that what's needed now?! Truly critical thinking is necessary to overcome the war propaganda, the force of which cannot be understated.

  2. I have to chime in, and thank you for your review. I was the "copy editor" (along with a few other roles, including the production for print) for the entire volume, and also have a piece of my own included (near the back, so you haven't gotten there yet). I'm glad to see someone (other than the roster of great writers from within the pages) has seen just how important this work may well be, and am knowing you are only the first of many to discover its value. I am not at war, and neither are any of those whose words are included in "Why Peace" -- and if more of us affirm that each day, we will one day no longer see our world insist on assault and destruction as a means of solving problems.


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