AFWW Masthead
 AFWW Newsletter #29 - January 2013 - Dismantling the War Machine      
War is Obsolete
Real-World Example
AFWW's Line in the Sand
Nonviolent Means Necessary
About AFWW
Quotable Quote 
"It is useless to proceed along this path, one cannot prepare for war and expect peace. There is no compromise possible between preparation for war, on the one hand, and preparation of a world society based on law and order on the other." 
Albert Einstein 

A Good Book

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control by Medea Benjamin.  



A Good Movie


Lord of War.  Starring Nicholas Cage. Arms dealer confronts the immorality of war and the machine that supports it.  








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A Future Without War

Believe in it.

Envision it.

Work for it.

And we will achieve it.





These three quick links are to Dr. Hand's core articles on paradigm shift:

To Abolish War

Shaping the Future

More Links:





Is it not time for our species---inheritors and caretakers of this wondrous planet---to renounce the waste of resources and lives taken from us by war?


Increasing evidence indicates that humans in the deep past, our ancient forbearers, excelled at cooperation. [for insights on the origins of human cooperation see book review of Mothers and Others: on the Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Understanding by anthropologist Sarah Hrdy.] This capability allowed us to invade and conquer every habitable landscape on the planet. We shared in caring for each other: for our group, for our young, and for others in times of illness or need.


Growing evidence also suggests that with regard to using deadly violence, we preferred to get along. That whenever our numbers seriously outpaced our resources, we split up and sought out new territory rather than fight to the death. 


Homo sapiens' Option Number 1 for dealing with major conflicts over resources---dispersal, fueled by an aversion to war---can be thought of as a key pressure responsible for driving us to occupy the entire globe.


Anatomically modern humans have been around for roughly 200,000 years. It was at the Agricultural Revolution, only about 10,000 years ago, that we settled down big time. In the filmed lecture, "No More War: the Human Potential for Peace", evolutionary biologist Judith Hand uses the work of  anthropologist Douglas Fry to make the case that war was invented late in our evolutionary story. That war is a sad, unintended consequence---along with social hierarchies, subordination of women, and slavery---of settling down. By ceasing our nomadic way of life we created a profoundly new environment for ourselves, and our responses to living in that new, settled environment were not all good ones. 


Space Shuttle launch 

Other responses we made led to other results. Among these, we now control staggering and dangerous powers. We are sculpting the planet itself---changing the land physically, altering the numbers and kinds of other life forms, even shifting the weather.


Most awesomely, beyond the wildest imaginations of all generations before us, we have taken our first steps off-planet. We begin to reach for the stars. Destiny calls. What kind of destiny shall we create? 


War is not a genetically built-in trait, inescapable and inevitable. It is a recent cultural invention/habit/meme. We can tolerating it, or dump it, along with other things that have become obsolete, into the dustbin of history. For suggestions how to accomplish that goal see "To Abolish War" and "Shaping the Future.



 Dismantling the War Machine

To accomplish the eradication of war, a critical mass of global citizens must come to share the following beliefs.

  • Believe that war is a cultural invention, not part of our inescapable biology.
  • Believe that when humans set their collective mind to it, we have the power to achieve pretty much whatever we choose: we can climb the highest mountains on the planet. explore the deepest reaches of the Earth's seas, fly in the sky, put colonies on the Moon and Mars, end human sacrifice and slavery. We can maintain cultures of war---or create new cultures of peace.
  • Believe that great achievements, certainly one as massive as ending war, requires that our efforts be organized, focused, and well led.

Unless these beliefs become the guiding reality for a sufficient number of global citizens, we cannot end war. When, however, these beliefs do become real for enough of us, success is only a matter of will and time.


So the next question becomes, how do we dismantle the war machine?


Something history and logic make evident is that we cannot use violence. We cannot kill our way to liberation from war. Consider World War I. If this war taught us nothing else, World War I---the "War to End All Wars"---brought that truth home with brutal clarity.


What options, then, do we have for undoing the mentality and operational machinery of the beast?


Here we are indebted to nonviolent social transformers of our recent past who used the strategy and tactics of nonviolence to mobilize critical masses of people to dismantle specific evils. Inspiring visionaries like:

  • Mohandas Gandhi, who catalyzed the dismantlement of British rule of India,
  • Suffragist women, who dismantled systems of political enfranchisement for men alone,
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., who was the face and voice of a great movement to dismantled one country's system that segregated humans based on skin color alone.

Their efforts teach us many things, among them that we will need to use both Constructive and Obstructive approaches. Also, that the strategy used to do the actual dismantling relies on the principle of Lever and Fulcrum.


Constructive and Obstructive Programs


Two synergistic approaches are required. Neither alone will achieve this grand vision.


The first approach Gandhi called "Constructive Program." Through good works of peace education, peace making, peace keeping, and peace building we lay the ground for living in a warless future. We shift our cultures from a war mentality to a peace mentality and give people the tools to live in peace. 


The second, equally important and synergistic approach is called "Obstructive Program." Here is how, using the strategy and tactics of nonviolent direct action, we take the war industry apart piece-by-piece. 

The essay, "To Abolish War," compares Constructive and Obstructive approaches, explaining the necessary contributions of each. The essay also:

  • Considers critical gender differences in using physical aggression and concludes that partnership of men and women will be essential to ending war, and
  • Introduces the concepts of levers and fulcrums: the idea that by selecting weak spots of the war machine as places to apply sufficient people pressure, we can remove war's supporting infrastructure.
Legions of organizations and institutions around the globe are dedicated to a variety of Constructive Programs.

But so far, the world does not have many Obstructive Programs, let alone a united, mobilized one 

aimed at the war industry 


We've taken only initial steps to end war (e.g., founding the United Nations, establishment of the International Court of Justice, actions directed at eliminating nuclear weapons, and treaties against the use of landmines and cluster munitions). But AFWW believes the time is right for the global community to unite in a way that will create an unstoppable movement to overcome all forces---financial and political---supporting the continuation of war. See "Shaping the Future."



Levers and Fulcrums


The great pioneers of nonviolent social transformation succeeded by skillful--- even masterful---use of the principle of lever and fulcrum. Each analyzed the nature of the beast to be defeated, they found its weak points (the fulcrums), and they mobilized people power (their lever) to apply pressure to the weak point. 


The war machine, which functions primarily as a massive money-maker for the few and a job creator for multitudes, is not simply going to fall apart because a great many people want it to. Too much money and power is invested in it. Prayers alone will not do it. Peacebuilding, peace-education, and peacemaking alone or in combination will not do it.


A blog entitled "Dismantling the War Machine" describes how we tackle this enormous dismantling task. Directed action against fulcrums not only weakens the war machine, it recruits ever more champions to the cause of ending war. The blog lists a number of potential fulcrums, among them are killer drones. Read Dismantling the War Machine
Liberian Women on the Move
A Real-World Example 

When a critical mass of citizens decide that a war must end and they are determined to make it happen no matter what the cost to themselves, then that war will end. 
For example, after a brutal eight-year war that included mayhem and rape, the women of Liberia had had enough. Christian and Muslim women, who previously had not had much to do with each other, united in common cause---to force the warring factions to make peace. The article "Liberian Women Demand and Get Peace!" describes how they used nonviolence and persistence to achieve their goal. An award-winning film, "Pray the Devil Back to Hell," documents details of their efforts.

Leymah Gbowee
In 2011, one of the most prominent women energizing the effort, Leymah Gebowee, won the Nobel Peace Prize, along with the woman who subsequently became Liberia's president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Tawakul Karman, an activist from Yemen.  

Ending a war can be done. Ending war itself can also be done...when a critical mass of global citizens decide that enough is enough.


AFWW sees the nucleus for a global ending-war movement in the activities of the Nobel Women's Initiative. In late October 2010 they led a delegation to Palestine and Israel, seeking to support women in both communities who want to end the seemingly endless conflict there.


This month, from January 19-24, they send a delegation to Liberia to meet with grassroots women leaders who are playing an important role in the challenging work of maturing and maintaining their hard-won peace. You can read about the Nobel Women's delegation to Liberia here, and check out their activities on Facebook


While their current major focus is on ending violence against women in conflict situations, I foresee a time when the Nobel Women's Initiative partners with a great many organizations around the globe in beginning the campaign to free us from all war, freeing women, children and all of us from behavior that has absolutely become obsolete. Enough is enough!


AFWW's Line in the Sand - Killer Drones



Arguably, drone warfare is not honorable. Because it poses no risk whatsoever to the user, it is fundamentally cowardly, not heroic. Moreover, by hovering overhead interminably and raining death from the sky on innocents, it is a weapon of terror. 


The use of robotic killer drones, like war itself, is a deeply immoral act. The reason AFWW has chosen to focus on this weak link (fulcrum) of the war machine is that, if there is something our species does not need, it is yet another new way to kill each other.


Humanity needs to embrace the goal of ending war, not the goal of creating new ways to wage war.


Using drones by the United States executive against US citizens is certainly contrary to the US Constitution. Using drones in other countries as a method of targeted assassination is contrary to international law. In a recent decision upholding the Obama administration's use of drones in targeted assassinations, district judge Colleen McMahon expressed deep concerns about the existence of a secretive government program that assassinates those deemed to be enemies of the US, but does so without judicial oversight. She wrote: "I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws."


But for the war industry there is money to be made. And by the twisted logic of dropping an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to "save a great many lives" (the argument always used to justify this horrific act), robotic killers can be sold to any citizenry as being simply a wonderful new edition to our killing arsenals because fewer lives are lost than in a vicious ground war. Thus the global powers-that-be embrace killing and money-making as just part of life as usual, a new way to make war for the future, and the global citizenry appears poised to accept this.


But perhaps not.  Perhaps the times they are a'changin'. Protests, both legal and at the grass roots, against killer drones are gaining momentum. Perhaps a global ethos that rejects war begins to emerge.


AFWW is involved in supporting one such action in early April. You and/or your organization might want to participate.



SAN DIEGO, CA.  APRIL 4-7, 2013.


For Information, see the website of the


Sponsors to date:

Peace Resource Center of San Diego, San Diego Veterans for Peace, San Diego Coalition for Peace and Justice, CODEPINK, Global Exchange, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), Canvass for a Cause, Af3irm, A Future Without, Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (COMD), San Diego International Socialist Organization, SAME Alliance.


Related resources



Ethicist Peter W. Singer's Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century.  It explores how science fiction has started to play out on modern day battlefields, with robots used more and more in war. 


Activist Medea Benjamin's Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control



The Drone Landscape 


The Drone Economy 


The Drone Morality


To Create a Nonviolent Future Requires the Use of Nonviolent Means

An essay entitled "To Date, Nonviolence Movements Were 'Before Their Time.' Now They Are Poised to Change History" explains why the human community is poised to make a stunning, historical paradigm shift in worldview every bit as large as the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions.


We are, in fact, already in the throes of such a "Great Turning." The only question is where we will end up. Can we shape a future we desire or must we simply blunder forward and hope for the best?


The essay suggests that we can consciously create a shift from cultures steeped in violence at every level to ones that embrace nonviolence....which would include putting an end to that  great violence which is war. And that to do so, we must use nonviolent means.


Among other things, the essay explores:

  • Examples of successful nonviolent social transformation movements.
  • Why getting women involved will be an essential, necessary key to successfully using nonviolence to change history.
  • Why we have reached a unique historical window of opportunity to actually make this great, positive paradigm shift, a shift that will leave a legacy to benefit all the children and people of earth deep into our future.

Read the full essay   


About A Future Without War

We want to provide newsletter readers with a reminder about our extensive website, The materials can be a reference for personal use, something to share with friends or colleagues who doubt that it would ever be possible to abolish war, and as thought pieces to stimulate discussions, for example, by your students, a book group, or peace activist organizations. You will find on the site:

  • A Mission Statement
  • Capstone Essay: "To Abolish War"
  • "Overview" Essays - 7 essays explaining the core rationale for why it is reasonable to believe we could abolish war if we make it a priority.
  • "Cornerstone" Essays - 9 essays explaining each of the broad categories of "good works" that we need to attend to simultaneously in any campaign to abolish war and maintain that state into the future.
  • "The Books" - a Table of Contents, reviews, and FREE download of Women, Power, and the Biology of Peace, links to purchase that book and also A Future Without War: the Strategy of a Warfare Transition"
  • A Link to the AFWW Blog
  • A Map of Nonviolent Cultures
  • A Video of Dr. Hand
  • Several Movie and Book Reviews
  • Archives of AFWW Newsletters
  • Links to over 150 Organizations involved in some aspect of the campaign to abolish war
  • Miscellaneous AFWW Essays

These are titles of and links to current Miscellaneous AFWW Essays:

A Future Without War
Believe in it. Envision it. Work for it.
And we will achieve it.

A Future Without War
Contact Info
A Future Without War Dr. Judith Hand P.O. Box 270074, San Diego, CA 92198