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The meaning of peace

September 07, 2007

Re "All aboard the peace racket," Opinion, Sept. 2

Bruce Bawer seems outraged that after a bloody century of war leading to war, someone might call for an alternative approach to conflict resolution. The field of peace studies offers a comprehensive theory of peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace building. But working for peace, Bawer insists without proof, is "wishful thinking," evidence of weakness, promotion of "defenselessness" and appeasement of tyranny. He believes that nonviolence means refusal to "stand up for yourself." In reality, nonviolence means fighting back with compassion, understanding, noncooperation and the courage to suffer. And it works. Nonviolent resistors hastened the end of British tyranny in India and destroyed white supremacist tyranny in the U.S. South.

Bawer's way to peace -- prepare for war -- is a call for more war. Why publish a critique of peace studies by someone who doesn't know the meaning of peace?

Timothy Braatz

Mission Viejo

The writer chairs the history department at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo.


I am a Quaker and resent Bawer's referring to us as naïve. Yes, we may be naïve in matters of war, but we know peace. Our efforts in the peace movement are, to say the least, small potatoes in terms of numbers of individuals and resources involved compared to the millions of individuals and billions of dollars spent on war and preparing for war.

It's obvious that Brawer is afraid of the peace movement. I encourage him and those like him to relax. We are serious. We are not violent. We do not play our role like warmongers do. Someone has to represent the ideal. Most would agree that the ideal is peace, not war.

Phil Rizzo



Bawer quotes Sun Tzu and Flavius Begetius Renatus as giving "sage" advice on the merits of war. But naturally these men would tout war; as military strategist and general, respectively, they were both part of the war machines of their time. Had Bawer delved a little deeper, he might have noted not Cuba and North Korea as places of peace but countries such as Costa Rica and Iceland, which have no regular military forces and no external conflicts.

Barbara Zaragoza

San Diego


Before we disinter Neville Chamberlain and drag his sorry bones around the world stage one more time to justify attacking yet another nation, let's consider the real nature of his historic mistake. He preferred peace to war. Sane people usually do. His mistake was in thinking that he could have peace without justice. He agreed to an unjust peace, and the blow-back came in the form of bombs falling on London.

The lesson we should take away from old Neville is this: Peace is better than war (nine times out of 10).

Cynthia Hart

Culver City


Did I get Bawer's point correctly? Throughout history, war has always been the best solution to every problem; seeking peaceful alternatives is pointless.

Charles Bragg

Beverly Hills

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