Between education and catastrophe
Educating for global citizenship
March 17, 2004
In his 2004 Peace Proposals, the founder
of Soka University, the Toda Institute, and numerous other educational
institutions, has called for a new kind of education. Daisaku Ikeda
argues that education for global citizenship is an imperative that
the world can ignore at its own peril.
In his most recent annual peace proposals, Ikeda focuses on three
urgent peace and policy arenas, including United Nations reform,
nuclear disarmament, and human security. In all three arenas, Ikeda
wisely emphasizes public education. In all three arenas, the Toda
Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research has conducted multinational
research projects published in scholarly volumes and journals.
United Nations was established in 1945 at a time that the United
States was the only major power to be largely left unscathed by
the scourge of World War II. In an act of realism, the United States
agreed to grant its wartime allies (USSR, Britain, France, and
China) veto power in the Security Council. The assumption was that
from then on the world will be policed by the five Great Powers.
the emergence of the Cold War and the revolution in China torpedoed
that assumption. When the Soviet Union absented itself
from the Security Council to protest the continued representation
China by the nationalists, the United States could rally the UN
to fight the Korean War under its blue flag. When Britain and France
invaded Egypt in 1956, threatened by their veto power in the Security
Council, the aggression had to be taken up by the General Assembly
under Resolution 377.
That resolution provides that, if there is
a "threat to peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression" and
the permanent members of the Security Council do not agree on action,
the General Assembly can meet immediately and recommend collective
measures to U.N. members to "maintain or restore international
peace and security."
The "Uniting for Peace" mechanism
has been used ten times, most frequently on the initiative of the
United States. In an ingenious move, Ikeda and other world leaders
are now calling for the revival of that principle. Ikeda proposes
that the General Assembly should be empowered to take an active
part in the collective security system measures.
five nuclear powers of the Security Council (US, Russia, Britain,
France, and China) have put nuclear disarmament into a
In the meantime, nuclear proliferation has become a growing phenomenon.
Israel, India, and Pakistan have joined the ranks of nuclear powers.
Iran and North Korea appear as aspirants. Following the first Persian
Gulf War in, the logic behind such aspirations was best expressed
by an Indian general. In essence, he argued that only the possession
of nuclear weapons can deter the United States from massive bombing
of a country.
Advocating pre-emptive strikes against an "Axis
of Evil" (Iran, Iraq, and North Korea), the Bush Doctrine
has given credence to such logics of proliferation. Ikeda perceptively
points out the intimate connection between the two phenomena. Continued
possession of nuclear arms by the Great Powers encourages nuclear
proliferation by the smaller powers. By considering all weapons
of mass destruction as morally and politically unacceptable, Ikeda
proposes, we can achieve greater security for all.
The events of the new century have demonstrated that tribal and
national educational programs are no longer adequate. They often
legitimate sectarian loyalties that fly in the face of an increasingly
interdependent world. When terrorist acts such as those in Israel/Palestine,
9/11/01 in New York, or 3/11/04 in Madrid occur, the entire world
Similarly, when state terrorist acts take place by indiscriminate
bombing of the West Bank villages, Afghanistan, or Iraq, the
losers are not only the victims. The "victors" also lose in
international power and prestige. Unilateral exercises of hard
power have become unacceptable to the people of the world and
are consequently counter-productive.
UN reform and nuclear disarmament is, however, the tip of an
iceberg of human problems. Latent violence has always prompted
violence. The increasing gaps among and within nations are
the injustices against which violence seems to provide an easy
But violence breeds violence in a never-ending cycle.
argues that unless we focus on fundamental human security problems,
such as nutrition, housing, education, and welfare, the world
to face tragic consequences. A global civil war of terrorism
and counter-terrorism has been unleashed on the world. Civilization,
as H. G. Wells observed, is race between education and catastrophe.
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Majid Tehranian is Professor, School of Communications, University
of Hawaii at Manoa, and Director of the Toda
Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research in Honolulu,
Hawaii. His latest book is Bridging
a Gulf: Peace in West Asia (London, I. B. Tauris, 2003).
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