by the


     In a preceding Comment the issue of war and its justification was discussed from the point of view of the Society of HumanKind, using as an example the then imminent threat of war against the nation and state of Iraq. The conclusion reached in that Comment was that if the Society of HumanKind were to be consulted it would conclude that a decision to embark on war in the case of Iraq was not justified in the circumstances then obtaining. In the event the advice of the Society was neither sought nor followed.

     The world is now faced with the aftermath of war in Iraq, which raises an issue not examined in the earlier discussion; that is, the view of the Society on the question of peace and its conditions and maintenance. The tragic developments now unfolding in the immediate outcome of the destruction of Iraqi society and its political regime make the issue particularly pertinent.

     It is no coincidence that the 'Topic' discussed on the Society's website at the same time as its 'Comment' on war is entitled 'Unity and Diversity'. That Topic sets out the view of the Society that unity (and consequently peace) between individual members of humankind can only be maintained by a shared commitment to a positive and welcoming attitude toward difference and diversity in the human species. The Topic is concerned with peace within individual human communities rather than throughout humankind, but exactly the same principles and conclusions apply to the diversity of human communities as they do to difference and variety among individuals.

     Peace on a world-wide or international level therefore, as it is understood and advocated by the Society of HumanKind, will depend on the development of a general consensus that a wide variety of differing human communities is always to be preferred to any attempt to enforce uniformity or conformity between them. Indeed, as the Comment on War indicated, an attempt to enforce conformity as between differing cultures and political systems is likely to be counter-productive of peace and unity rather than to create it, as the outcome of war in Iraq now, sadly, seems to be demonstrating.

     If therefore the World Council of the Society of HumanKind were even now to be consulted, it would undoubtedly say that if lasting peace is the objective of what is now going on in Iraq then every effort should be made to encourage, develop and preserve the unique character of the Iraqi state and its peoples. The earlier Comment, on War, indicated that the first, best step in dealing with the problem created by the Iraqi regime should be to establish, with some confidence, the real wishes and ambitions of the people of Iraq for their own future. That would lead to a process of negotiation in which those wishes might be reconciled and agreed with others who might be affected by them. The outbreak and successful conclusion of military action has not changed that view of the Council on that proper approach to the difficulties presented by Iraq and its regime.

     In practical terms, what the Council seeks is that all those involved in the attempt to create and maintain peace in our world should commit themselves to the maintenance and encouragement of diversity and difference among humankind and its communities. Once that commitment is made, the Council will then be concerned to see that it is counter-balanced by the establishment of effective means to prevent variance among and within humanity proliferating to the point at which it poses a threat to the survival of the present generation of humankind or any of its infinite successors. In other words, the Society will want to ensure that there is an effective check on the natural desire of existing individuals or nations to make the best of themselves and their potential. That ambition must be limited by the need to ensure that our demands on our existing resources, or the pressure we put on our environment never becomes a threat to our children's, or any of our descendant's, future.

     In the case of Iraq the problem of reconciling today's ambitions and wishes with tomorrow's needs is at an international level. In present circumstances the only agency realistically available to undertake that work is the United Nations. In dealing with these problems in the context of Iraq therefore, that is where these matters should now rest. As one of the very few fully articulated ethical and moral movements that are wholly independent of the existence of any deity or other power or authority beyond those already present in humankind, the Society is ready to contribute to that process in any way it can.

     To put the discussion set out in this Comment into the language of the Society, the World Council of Elders will not accept that any attempt to import the cultural, or political and economic, beliefs of other societies into Iraq is justified, for two reasons. First, any such attempt is likely to reduce the existing degree of variety amongst human communities. As such, the action would contravene the Society's Principle of Unity, and specifically the Principle 1.3. Second, any imposition of a culture, or a political or economic system, whether on individuals or on communities, is precluded by the conclusions reached in the Treatise of that name. Therefore, the World Council of the Society of HumanKind can only support efforts to introduce and impose a cultural, economic or political regime into Iraq if that action is in full accord with the freely expressed wishes and ambitions of the Iraqi people. Without that free and informed consent the World Council is precluded by the pursuit of its Aim from giving any support to such activities and, within the limitations set out in the Treatises on Knowledge and Tolerance and as they are examined in the Essay on Politics, is bound to oppose them.

     For the general reader it could perhaps go without saying, but it must nevertheless be obvious. The World Council of Elders also believes that the best and most direct way individuals can help to resolve these, and many other seemingly impossible problems, is by joining the Society and taking a full part in its effort to achieve its Aim. But, as all members and adherents will know, beyond the publication and maintenance of the material set out on this website, the principles of the Society preclude it, or any of its membership, from taking any other positive action to promote either itself or its work.

Addendum   (May, 2007)

     Since this Comment was writen events have moved on. The problem that has emerged is one of conflict within Iraq. On that issue the Society's views are derived from the principles already set out in this Comment.

     From the Society's standpoint conflict among, within or between groups or communities is indistinguishable from that between individuals and societies. The Society will therefore seek to foster and promote the view that diversity among groups or communities within Iraq is to be welcomed and encouraged, and that any attempt to impose unity or conformity between them should be avoided.

     At the same time the internal violence and instability that has been created by, or has emerged from, the recent military action in Iraq may pose a general risk to peace and stability beyond its boundaries. On that issue the Society will seek to ensure that any such consequence is contained, by military action if necessary, on the ground that it will otherwise pose a real and recognisable threat to the achievement of its Aim.

     Beyond that however, the Society will confine its support to those actions which it judges to be intended to minimise and mitigate the harm done by internal conflict in Iraq through the provision of humanitarian aid to, and peace-making efforts among, those affected. In the military, humanitarian and peace-making actions it advocates, the Society will look to the United Nations to supply and control the necessary manpower and resources.

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©Lawrence Thornton Roach
    August, 2003 AD