for Alternative Defence
- to abolish war as an accepted social institution,
precisely as we have done with slavery, cannibalism,
child labour, rape, genocide,etc.;
- to provide survival, security and protection without
causing an arms race and threatening other societies;
- to deal with conflicts and create peace by peaceful
means, in accordance with the UN norm;
- to permanently secure the existence of the Earth and
humankind, never put it at risk;
- to enable present and future generations to live in
a world where the norms of the UN Charter are
- to preserve pluralism in all aspects of life, unity
in diversity, respect for life, and
- to live in partnership with Nature.
Lesson 1 to
In the militarised world system and the nuclear age,
we can not afford to wait until war breaks out and then
react with military force. We need an active peace policy
that seeks to avoid violence and resolve conflicts long
before they lead to war.
Lesson 2 to
We can't disinvent nuclear and other technologies,
but neither have we disinvented cannibalism, we abhor it.
It should be perfectly possible to develop an equal,
universal abhorrence against incinerating our planet.
4 RELEVANT TYPES OF
There are four types of threats against any society:
internal and external, direct and structural. Examples of
Type 1, outside and direct: invasion, occupation,
extinction, sanctions, nuclear warfare. Examples of Type
2, outside and structural: embargo, economic warfare,
ecological breakdown, global crisis, poverty,
maldevelopment, inequality. Examples of Type 3, inside
and direct: state and private terrorism, warlords, civil
wars, minority repression. Examples of Type 4, inside and
structural: alienation, social disintegration, Mafioso,
corruption, black markets, normlessness, drugs.
Lesson 3 to implement:
Only a fraction of these threats can be met with
military means. Over a certain point, military means will
add to the threat-production in one or more of the four
categories. We must introduce limits to the role of the
military and to destructive potentials. It's like
medicine: up to a certain level it may be useful, beyond
it has adverse effect.
Lesson 4 to implement:
In principle, there are no limits to what can be done for
peace and security. It is possible to develop a culture
of peace and nonviolence - but not if one element
dominates over all the others, in this case the military
in world security affairs.
Lesson 5 to implement:
There is far too much talk about social
security, human security and environmental security that
does not challenge the supremacy of the violent sectors.
As long as this is so, these types of security will
remain residual, complementary and war as an accepted
institution will pervade.
10 PRINCIPLES OF ALTERNATIVE
1. Good only for defending ourselves, not able to
2. Shorter range and less destructive power, but
3. The defensive capacity is bigger than the offensive
potentials of others.
4. It is adapted to the needs and features of each
unit, be it a municipality, a country or a region.
5. Shaped to not create excessive dependence on
foreign deliveries (energy supplies, military
components), i.e. reduce other-reliance.
6. Does not promote arms exports, has no economic
profit motives attached and can thus be dismantled - or
expanded - depending on the situation.
7. Has no connections with mass-destructive weapons or
8. Co-functions with a variety or other defence and
security measures, including preventive diplomacy,
peace-keeping, peace-making and peace-building.
9. Its leaders and staff (men and women) are trained
in conflict understanding and -resolution.
10. Its tasks, structure and statutes are in
compliance with the provisions and norms of the UN
Charter, including UN peacekeeping principles.
Lesson 6 to implement:
By threatening someone else, we increase the
threat against ourselves. It is wiser not to threaten
anybody but be extremely difficult for anyone to control
or subdue, should they try.
Lesson 7 to implement:
If others do harmful things, we are not helped by paying
back in kind. If others cross red lights, we are not
better off by imitating their folly. Small countries will
remain weaker if they choose to defend themselves with
the same weapons which bigger ones have plenty of, but
can become stronger, more resistant, if they choose
alternative means. That's why the U.S. lost in Vietnam
and the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.
Lesson 8 to implement:
There are two types of power: a) offensive power where we
try to control and bully anybody around, effects
well-known when it hits ourselves... and b) defensive
power, power over ourselves and our own destiny,
self-determination and making it impossible for others to
rule over us.
A. Armed forces
B. Civil defence and protection
C. Nonviolent resistance
(A) Defensive military and civilian components must be
separated in space. Military forces can not defend modern
cities with dense populations. For urbanised areas, there
are only civilian means; any use of destructive means
will make a mockery of the word "defence". So, the
military is only for area defence, in the countryside.
Cities and town should be declared open according to
international law, thus not defended militarily and not
being attacked with military means. Women and men
(B) Civil defence and protection is employed in
urbanised areas which is also where refugees and wounded
people will seek protection. It is about shelter, but
much more. It is prepared in peace time and aims to help
the population under most difficult circumstances; it is
reserve stores of basic foodstuffs, the ability to switch
to domestic energy sources, keep hospitals functioning
etc. It is to make sure that public administration can
survive computer sabotage etc.
(C) Nonviolent resistance is everything - some hundred
methods, big and small - that prevent an aggressor from
gaining access to and utilising the territory: go-slow,
sabotage, deception, ridiculing, moral appeals,
demonstrations, refusing to co-operate, acting defiantly,
using culture, gaining moral support abroad - it's the
utilisation of Internet, videos etc.
B and C are particularly suitable for those who want
to defend their society but do not want to carry guns.
Alternative defence offers a role for all - it does not
punish conscientious objectors nor those who think
military defence is best.
Lesson 9 to implement:
While a society may well need military
defence, it can not survive in the long run unless
civilian preparedness is much upgraded from what we have
today - where little investments have been made to secure
the population's survival. So, military and civilian
components each have their role, can co-function but must
be separate in space.
Lesson 10 to
This defensive defence mode is able to function as a
deterrent. It makes occupation and control, utilisation
of resources virtually impossible. It boosts social
cohesiveness and any occupier will think twice. In
addition, all the world's sympathy will be on the side of
the strong and defensive, not on the (morally) weak,
Lesson 11 to implement:
Legitimate defence means to protect oneself
and be strong and powerful but NOT to threaten anybody
else. With alternative defence there will be no doubt who
"began" it all or who violated international norms and
laws. The party with defensive defence simply can not
8 SECURITY MEANS
1. Military - conventional, paramilitary, guerrilla,
home guard, techno-commandos, module defence etc, small
mobile units. That depends on the society, and models are
2. Economic - the self/other-reliance problem should
focus on what a society should be able to do on its own
if cut off in a crisis or war. Equal interdependence,
trade and openness is great, dominance-dependence or
asymmetric relations are not. To be strong in the
defensive mode, each society should be able to stand on
its own feet and satisfy its citizens' basic needs when
the going gets rough.
3. Political - the relations between citizens and the
state operating security means, the problem of
legitimacy, law and order, of democratic decision-making
about defence and security. The above mixed civil and
military model allows pacifists as well as those who want
to carry arms to serve their country.
4. Civil defence - shelters, evacuation plans, caring
for victims and refugees, etc.
5. Civil preparedness - making society operate under
the crisis conditions, energy storage, hospitals, mass
communication, schooling, production and
6. Nonviolent defence - non-cooperation with enemy,
persuasion, strikes, moral pressure, political
"jiu-jitsu," social boycott, teach-ins, refusal to pay
tax and fees, parallel society, civil disobedience,
alternative economics, dual sovereignty, symbolic
7. Society's invulnerability level - decentralisation,
robust technology, infrastructure, self-reliance in basic
needs categories such as food, water, shelter, and basic
8. Community, human beings - cultural identity,
morale, belief in the future, crisis and problem-solving
orientation, solidarity, civil society, participation,
freedom and reliable media.
Lessons 12 to implement:
There are many means, one military and 7
civilian. Traditionally, only 1 and 3 are used; we need
to re-conceptualise defence and security to integrate the
rest. The more means we have developed, the safer we are.
While arms cannot be exported to crisis areas, many of
these other means will also be qualified to serve in UN
and OSCE missions - civil affairs, police, monitors,
reconciliation workers etc.
Lesson 13 to implement:
Defence is an all-society matter, not the monopoly of
elites. Being protected by elites is potentially
dangerous and undemocratic. The comprehensive, democratic
'mixed defence' outlined here opens up for public
participation and the creation of strong, resistant - but
non-threatening - societies.
7 LEVELS OF SECURITY
1. Inner human being (psychological security)
2. Individual citizens (human security)
3. Municipality/local society (local)
4. Nation-state or state-nation (national)
5. Region (regional)
6. Inter-national (international)
7. Global - or world order - level (world order,
Lesson 14 to implement:
The dominance of national security is
outdated. States are too small to handle the big
conflicts and problems and too big to handle the small
ones. From contemporary history we know now that the
all-pervasive national security paradigm can co-exist
with insecurity at virtually all other levels. We need a
security thinking across these levels. The world cannot
be sure if individuals feel insecure somewhere - and
individuals can't be secure when regional or global
security needs are neglected.
Lesson 15 to implement:
Security is multi-dimensional, multi-level,
multi-cultural and multi-intellectual. Neither pacifists
nor military should be allowed to monopolise it. This
model offers them co-operation and thus legitimacy
It's not enough to have a system aimed at deterrence
or military balance. What if deterrence fails - which it
is likely to in a system where there are no rules agreed
upon by all actors? Contemporary military defence may
deter many from war, that is true. On the other hand, if
it fails and war breaks out - thousands or millions may
perish. This must never happen. A genuine security system
must function well through the following five phases:
1. Prevention of violence and dissuasion from
2. Crisis, tension, threats
3. Defence, struggle, if need be
4. Conflict-resolution, regulation - towards:
5. Normalisation, prevention, dissuasion (full
Lesson 16 to implement:
The way we are 'protected' today means that if
deterrence fails and some fool starts a larger war, it
could be the end. No state has invested enough in
surviving a period of fighting or reducing the harm an
opponent can inflict.
Lesson 17 to implement:
Security is not a linear function, but one of
cycles. It is not about extinction if...but about
survival and permanence. A strong, defendable society has
various means to use through the entire conflict cycle.
And it cares about protecting people - both in the
countryside and in urban areas.
Lesson 18 to implement:
Alternative defence and security are means to surviving
crises without being killed having your society totally
destroyed. Thus, alternative defence embodies the HUMAN
RIGHT to live without the fear of annihilation, a right
to peace. A right for future generations, although they
cannot voice that right here and now. Alternative defence
is fundamentally responsible vis-a-vis a sacred value:
that there shall be something rather than nothing, that
the world shall exist indefinitely.
Lesson 19 to implement:
There is a fundamental contradiction between
the modern industrial society and modern military
technology: if used, it will destroy that society because
its destructive power is out of proportion with defence
and because modern society is extremely vulnerable. (Even
a computer love message can paralyse it...)
Lesson 20 to implement:
Stop believing in all the 'threat' assessment,
refuse to let somebody play on your deep fear. Security
and defence - and peace - is not about death and
destruction, it's about life and development. Of course
there are threats, challenges and worries. We are not
taking the easy line and saying that everything is fine
and we should just love one another. In fact, there are
so many serious challenges to our survival and well-being
that it is absurd to let military-industrial-bureaucratic
complexes create even more for the sake of their own
elitist benefits. Civilian and military leaders of
virtually every state have built shelters for themselves
and their families , but not for their citizens.
WHAT IS SECURITY?
Says Jan Oberg, "So,it looks like alternative defence
is more or less the opposite of what is preached today!
Here is a definition by TFF associate Johan Galtung from
'Security is simply here defined as one's own
invulnerability minus the capacity of the other Party to
destroy. I think it is a fairly reasonable definition of
security: it means the capacity to come out of a conflict
unscathed, in other words the probability that human
beings, society, nature and also one's own defence system
will survive. One may later on decide to change them, but
then out of one's own will. If the invulnerability level
is insufficient, then one is insecure."
In contrast, today's 'security' could be defined
'Security is one's own vulnerability plus our capacity
to inflict destruction on the Other. If actually used, it
will destroy what should be defended. Only when we have
more destructive and offensive power than the opponents
or can intervene far away, can we be safe.'
Because the alternative defence model - and many other
thinkable ones - will reduce the threat and fear levels
everywhere, resources can be devoted to improve the
living standards of those most in need. Thus, it reduces
both direct and structural violence to much lower
You may see this and similar models as defence and
security in transition: after some time when the arms
race and the threat-psychology has declined, some
countries may think it much safer to go on and switch to
purely non-military defence and security - we thus get a
kind of disarmament race leading in the longer run to a
nuclear-free and weapons-free world where the skills of
conflict-management and dialogue are as natural and
highly developed as are the skills today in computer
WE NEED A CULTURE OF PEACE AND A NEW DEFENCE WITH IT
There is a violence of the underdog - of the
disadvantaged, humiliated, victimised, hopeless. And
there is a violence of the topdog - of the arrogantly
powerful, the privileged who want more, the
empire-builders, those who need to be the judges of
everybody else, those who see themselves as God-chosen to
fulfil a mission. There is a violence with those who
obsessively have to mould, force, engineer and control
their surroundings and fellow human beings.
Violence CAN be justified when used as the last resort
by those who have tried everything else - or by the
dispossessed who have no other way to be heard. But in
nine of ten cases violence is an indicator of disorder,
it's a disease. It is anything but mastery of the
situation, it's the negation of leadership and
In contrast, there is no violence of the happy, the
balanced, those who feel they live a rich, meaningful
life, those who have seen through propaganda, who let go
of fear. There are few violent impulses with those who
have some kind of inner harmony and can enjoy the here
Violence is the life not lived. The world military
system is the future not perceived. Non-violence opens
opportunities in individual and social life. It's the
only means to protect pluralism.
Isn't it time we create a global dialogue - over
Internet, for instance - about what makes a healthy
defence and security for the whole human being and all
human beings, sustainable over time and in tune with the
existential challenges facing us all in the 21st century?
Isn't it time to let citizens have a say in how we want
to achieve security instead of letting elites play on our
fears to accept militarist 'protection'
There are many alternatives, not only the one
presented above. In fact, given the wish for us and
future generations to live in peace, I believe there are
only alternatives to the present militarist, nuclearist
system. And those alternatives are compatible with the
global campaign for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence.
We shall only achieve such a culture of peace if we kill
two things: the ability to harm and kill and the
perverted belief that our security lies in that
You are hereby invited to brainstorm, explore and
discuss democratic, alternative defence. Sooner than you
think, alternative security even for big powers may be
the theme of a CNN Q&A..," ends Jan Oberg.
Please also read the articles on TFF's site by our
associate Dietrich Fischer, one of the world's leading
thinkers on alternative defence and peace.
© TFF 2000
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