Sunday, September 27, 2015

Nature of War, War on Nature – 'Talking Peace'

Review by Bill Doughty

"As a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy ..."

That's how former Commander in Chief and President Jimmy Carter begins his 1993 book for young people, "Talking Peace: A Vision for the Next Generation."

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, Carter and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1977.
The book, published eight years before 9/11, is surprisingly still relevant and timely – beginning with the first chapter, "Peace in the Middle East." Carter describes how peace was achieved between former mortal enemies Egypt and Israel via his Camp David process.

Carter acknowledges the dangers presented by displaced Kurds and Shiites. His text is accompanied by a maps of the region and a map of the world highlighting free countries and regions without conflict. He concludes:  "In the Middle East, many issues remain resolved. What happens to the people of his troubled region will have a direct effect on our own lives ... as with disturbances in other regions, our nation could once again be dragged into armed combat." Those words were written in the 1993 first edition.

Carter explains the causes of war in simple language meant for young readers:
"The reasons for going to war are many and varied. Battles may occur because a piece of land that has long been related to one group is taken over or controlled by another. Nations struggle over natural resources, including access to seas and oceans. Historically, ideas also have led to war. When one group has no tolerance for the religious opinions, race, or ethnicity of its neighbors, violent conflict can erupt. A change in the politics of a government that harms the average citizen's quality of life may inspire war. An oppressive regime's abuse of the people may eventually incite protest or outright rebellion."
A "notable graduate" of the U.S. Naval Academy. Courtesy of USNA.
Quoting Thomas Paine, he explains when and why war is necessary: "It is the object only of a war that makes it honorable," Paine wrote. Carter concludes, "Few Americans today would criticize the military actions our forefathers took to liberate America from British rule and to support democratic ideals for all people."

"Protecting the Environment" is the title of another chapter that includes short essays on "global warming," "loss of biodiversity" and "overpopulation":
"Another way in which humans have fundamentally altered the balance of nature is by reproducing. The number of people in the world is growing at an explosive rate, even as the numbers of many other species dramatically decline ... Our resources – food, water, shelter, and gainful employment – are already taxed and will not be able to keep pace with this phenomenal growth."
Pope Francis addresses the United States Congress Sept. 24, 2015.
Carter's passion about the environment was echoed last week by Pope Francis in his historic address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Francis said: "I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity... Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a culture of care and an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature."

Pope John Paul II is hosted by then-President Carter Oct. 6, 1979.
That "culture of care" is at the heart of Carter's lifetime of work. Carter hosted Pope John Paul II for a visit to the White House Oct. 6 1979. The White House issued a statement that day about their private meeting in the Oval Office: "The Pope and the President agreed that efforts to advance human rights constitute the compelling idea of our times."

"Talking Peace" is a book filled with the former naval officer's views on world peace, democracy, health care and human rights, showing how all are interrelated.

As in his other writings, Carter credits his mother for his views about human rights and equality for all. Later, he was further inspired during his service in the Navy, he says.

"...As a submarine officer I was influenced by the policies of President Harry Truman, who sought to abolish racial discrimination in the United States armed forces," Carter writes. He expands his views about equality, including income equality, and efforts at conflict mediation in more recent books such as "A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power," 2014; and "A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety," 2015.

This book was published by Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin Books, with profits donated to the Carter Center. It has been updated since the first edition from 1993. President Carter is a recipient of the Gold Medal of the International Institute of Human Rights, the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize and the Liberty Medal, among other honors.

Nine years after this book was published Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Prize for Peace.

In his 2002 Nobel acceptance speech, Carter said, "I am not here as a public official, but as a citizen of a troubled world who finds hope in a growing consensus that the generally accepted goals of society are peace, freedom, human rights, environmental quality, the alleviation of suffering, and the rule of law."

Carter said he remained hopeful despite the rise of fundamentalism, extremism and terrorism. "The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices."

Kings Bay, Ga. (Aug. 11, 2005) - Former President Jimmy Carter speaks with former Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, Vice Adm. Charles Munns, as they ride out to sea on the bridge aboard the Sea Wolf-class attack submarine USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23). U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Mark Jones (RELEASED)

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