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Principles of Nonkilling Security Analysis
Excerpt, May 2006
by Glenn D.Paige

1. Since lethal ingenuity overcomes every form of defense, the only sure security from homicide to war is to seek absence of the will to kill.

The history of warfare shows the relentless advance of offensive capabilities over all forms of defense. This is illustrated by contemporary efforts to develop capabilities to penetrate missile defense systems and by development of cyber warfare capabilities to overcome defenses of command and control information systems.1

2. Whereas lethality seeks deterrent security by creating fear through credible readiness to kill, nonkilling security rests upon credible common commitment not to kill.

All parties to nonkilling common security work to make it absolutely credible to each other that they possess neither intent nor capabilities to kill. Nuclear weapons states have sought security by seeking to make it absolutely credible that they will employ their genocidal weapons even if it brings retaliatory annihilation akin to suicidal self-destruction. But fear of overwhelming lethal force fails to deter asymmetrical attacks upon them. And fearful mutual insecurity remains to haunt them because of human irrationality and the possibility of technological catastrophe.

3. Since the pathologies of killing threaten physical, psychological, and economic well-being, nonkilling security measures must remove them.

One pathology is the "pathology of defense,"2 in which bodyguards kill their own heads of state, guns in homes kill more family members than intruders, and in which the world's greatest military power is in fear of being attacked by weapons it has developed. A second source of pathology is the debilitating psychological effect upon society of the presence of traumatized killers,3 surviving victims of lethality, groups, and generations, nurturing feelings of hatred and revenge,4 or on the other hand celebrating self-subverting lethal triumphalism. A third pathology is economic. It has been powerfully explained by former general U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children….This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.5

An example of what has been termed a "colossal waste" of resources is the cost of the United States nuclear weapons program alone from 1940 to 1996 of 5,821 trillion dollars.6

The pathologies of reliance upon lethality for security are well summed up in a statement by General George Lee Butler, former commander of all U.S. nuclear war-fighting forces: "Nuclear weapons are inherently dangerous, hugely expensive, militarily inefficient, and morally indefensible."7

4. Transition to nonkilling security requires recognition of causes of killing in violation of human needs and participation of all concerned in processes of problem-solving to seek their satisfaction.

In a classic study, Deviance, Terrorism & War (1979)8 John Burton has argued that all violence from criminality to revolution, terrorism and war comes from the violation of universal human needs. He argues that these needs are the same for all parties in conflict, the rulers and the ruled, oppressors and the oppressed. He argues that neither coercion/punishment nor moral exhortation will suppress violence as long as participants whose needs are violated are not engaged in problem-solving processes to seek their satisfaction. Definitions of human needs vary. Burton cites nine.9 Among them are psychological, material, and physical needs for "recognition," "distributive justice," and "security." In conversation he has stressed the importance of denial of need for recognition of "identity" as a factor in political violence.

Support for Burton's thesis comes from political psychiatrist Jerrold Post's conclusion that killing political terrorist will not stop terrorism: "One does not counter the vicious species of [terrorist] psychological warfare with smart bombs and missiles. One counters psychological warfare with psychological warfare."10 Further support is found in advocacy by Heifetz and Linsky of broadly "adaptive" responses versus narrowly "technical" ones to threats. They point out that the initial response of the U.S. Government to the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001 was "to reduce terrorism to a technical problem of security systems, military and police operations and criminal justice," rather than as an adaptive challenge to solve problems related to the Crusade one thousand years ago.11

Similar non-technical creativity to abolish war has been advocated by General Douglas MacArthur, "We are in a new era. The old methods and solutions no longer suffice. We must have new thoughts, new ideas, new concepts….We must break out of the strait-jacket of the past."12 From this perspective, the six-party talks on denuclearization of the Korean peninsula should be approached not only as a technical problem but as an opportunity for broadly adaptive, creative, participatory problem-solving processes to meet the needs of all.

5. Transition to nonkilling common security requires research to identify and convert into socially useful forms those factors most conducive to transforming decisions by all parties concerned.

Research is needed to discover nonkilling spiritual forces in all faiths and philosophies (S1), nonkilling contributions from all sciences (S2), nonkilling skills in every vocation (S3), and nonkilling cultural contributions from songs and all the arts (S4). Research is needed on institutions (I) and resources (R) that can be adapted for nonkilling change. The results of findings must be combined (S4) and communicated through the media, education, and training to empower leaders (L) and citizens (C) with knowledge to assist them in achieving nonkilling security conditions (NKSC). These factors can be summed up as: S4 X IR(LC) = NKSC.

6. Nonkilling security requires research to produce useful knowledge on the facts and causes of killing, the facts and causes of nonkilling, causes of transition from killing to nonkilling, and creative thought on conditions for completely killing-free societal and intersocietal relations.

Every case of killing from homicide to war requires causal understanding, just as is needed for cure of any disease. The reasons why people do not kill also must be understood. Furthermore knowledge is needed for every case in which individuals, groups, organizations, and governments renounce killing from individual actions to public policies. Why have 86 governments completely abolished the death penalty for all crimes?13

Finally beyond fact-based knowledge of the causes of killing, nonkilling, and transitions between them, creativity needs to be challenged to envision and evaluate conditions for completely killing-free societies.

1: Korea Research Center for Strategy, The Strategic Balance in Northeast Asia 2005 (Seoul: Research Institute for Strategy, 2005), pp. 49-52 (back)
2: Craig Comstock, "Avoiding Pathologies of Defense," in Nevitt Sanford and Craig Comstock, eds., Sanctions for Evil (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971) (back)
3: Rachel MacNair, Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress: The Psychological Consequences of Killing (Westport: Praeger Publications, 2002) (back)
4: Rajmohan Ramanathapillai, "The Politicizing of Trauma: A Case Study of Sri Lanka," Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, Vol. 12, No. 1 (2006), pp. 1-18 (back)
5: Speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953 (back)
6: Stephen D. Schwartz, ed., Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 (Washington: Brookings Institution, 1998) (back)
7: Speech at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C., December 4, 1996 (back)
8: John Burton, Deviance, Terrorism & War: The Process of Solving Unsolved Social and Political Problems (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1979) (back)
9: Burton, pp. 72-3. The nonviolent Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement of Sri Lanka cites ten basic human needs for: "a clear and beautiful environment; a clean and adequate supply of water; a minimum of clothing requirements; an adequate supply of food; basic health care; a modest house; energy requirements; basic communication; total education; and spiritual and cultural needs." A.T. Ariyaratne, Collected Works, (Ratmalana: Sarvodaya Lekha Publishers, 1999), Vol. 7, p. 170 (back)
10: Jerrold M. Post, Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004), p. 161 (back)
11: Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive through Dangers of Leading (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002), p.19 (back)
12: Speech to the American Legion, Los Angeles, January 26, 1955, quoted in Norman Cousins, The Pathology of Power (New York: W.W. Norton, 1987), pp.67-9. See also Nonkilling Global Political Science, p. 156 (back)
13: Amnesty International, The Death Penalty, ACT 50/009/2006 (back)