War and peace


Rashid A Mughal

In Roman mythology, around 750 B.C, two twin brothers — Romulus and Remus — sons of Mars, the god of wars and priestess Silvia, their mother, were put on a small raft in river Tiber so that they could be saved from being killed by the King, their father who suspected that they might overthrow him one day. Both were saved by a she-wolf and later by a shepherd who brought them up to be men of wisdom, courage and boldness. They fought many wars together to defend their people but in the end turned against each other and the bone of contention was the Land where they wanted to build a new city-Rome. Remus was killed and Romulus became the king and the founder of Romae. Bottom line-wars only end in tragedy and killing of innocent human beings.
Today what we see is only war hysteria and hear endless rhetoric of aggression. We see human beings but don’t see humanity. Peace still seems to be distant dream. The times we live in today are times of change. Unfortunately not for good but for bad. Not positive but negative. Not peace but wars. Not conciliation but confrontation. Not respect for each other but insult and aggression. The above is true not only for individuals but groups, societies, nations and countries. Though very unfortunate and alarming but an undeniable truth and a hard fact.
We have seen gradual decline of moral values and etiquettes over the last few decades. The decline is more rapid, vicious, prominent and those who display this trend are not necessarily less-educated but highly educated and well-to-do people too. Particularly it has become more rapid during the last fifty years. When it comes to our leaders, it is very rare that we see a real class-honorable and respectful, knowledgeable and intelligent, having the guts and political acumen to pull the countries out of crisis, whether political or economical. On the contrary the type of leaders we have to put up with these days are largely average, corrupt, inconsistent and devoid of a vision for their people and nation. History is replete with some great leaders who drove their nations/countries out from very difficult and turbulent times to great heights and at the same time there are many who in fact created enormous problems, both political and economic, by their faulty and untimely decisions which put those nations in perpetual limbo. What were the drivers of those faulty, biased, narrow-minded and hasty decision? Perhaps the lust for power and control over vast majority of people and its resources. When Alexander set out in 312 BC with a huge army, he had only one agenda-conquering the world to make its people his subject and controlling their wealth. In many cases it is the sheer lust for power which motivated kings and princes to wage wars and destroy the enemy or be destroyed .In ancient Greece and Roman times, tribes, nations, states would be in a perpetual state of war to acquire more power and control over a large mass of land. As times passed by they realized that creating an environment of aggression and war was detrimental to their people so they came to terms with rivals and thus was born the idea of peace treaties.
Probably the earliest recorded peace treaty, although it is rarely mentioned or remembered, was between the Hittite Empire and the Hayasa-Azzi confederation, around 1350 BC. More famously, one of the earliest recorded peace treaties was concluded between the Hittite and the Egyptian Empires after the 1274 BC Battle of Kadesh. The battle took place in what is now modern-day Syria, the entire Levant being at that time contested between the two empires. The treaty holds such importance in the field of international relations that a replica of it hangs in the UN Headquarters. In modern times, famous examples include the Treaty of Paris (1815), signed after Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo and the Treaty of Versailles, formally ending the First World War between Germany and  Allies. Despite popular belief, the war did not end completely until the Allies concluded peace with Ottoman Empire in 1919 at the Treaty of Sèvres.The Treaty of Versailles is possibly the most notorious of peace treaties, and is blamed by many historians for the rise of National Socialism in Germany and the eventual outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. The costly reparations that Germany was forced to pay the victors, the fact that Germany had to accept sole responsibility for starting the war, and the harsh restrictions on German rearmament were all listed in the Treaty of Versailles and caused massive resentment in Germany. Whether or not the treaty can be blamed for starting another war, it exemplifies the difficulties involved in making peace. However, no such conflict resulted from the more punitive settlement with the Ottoman Empire.
Another famous example would be the series of peace treaties known as the Peace of Westphalia. It initiated modern diplomacy, involving the modern system of nation-states. Subsequent wars were no longer over religion but revolved around issues of state. That encouraged Catholic and Protestant powers to ally, leading to a number of major realignments. The Korean War is an example of a conflict that was ended by an armistice, rather than a peace treaty with the Korean Armistice Agreement. However, that war has never technically ended, because a final peace treaty or settlement has never been achieved. A more recent example of a peace treaty is the 1973 Paris Peace Accords that sought to end the Vietnam War.
The lesson we learn from history is that war and confrontation are not the solution for solving problems or differences between countries, nations, groups and individuals. It is conciliation, mutual respect, a desire to live in peace and above all abundance of tolerance and patience which are the “must haves” to achieve tranquillity. In the last century, we saw the results of World War-I and World War-II. Read the history and see the statistics. Look at the innocent people young, old, aged parents and toddlers who were the victim of bombings and bullets for no fault of theirs. The wars only satisfied the personal ego and arrogance of mad and mentally sick leaders like Hitler and Mussolini but taught us a bitter lesson too. The fate of the likes of Hitler and Mussolini will always be same. Example is before us but we do not learn and take a lesson.
— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.

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