TCS Daily

Partners for Peace

By Stephen W. Stanton - October 2, 2002 12:00 AM

Dear Nobel Prize Committee:

I am writing to provide my strongest support for the nomination of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and U.S. President George W. Bush for the Nobel Peace Prize. Norwegian Parliamentarian Harald Tom Nesvik was exactly right when he lauded "their decisive action against terrorism, something I believe in the future will be the greatest threat to peace."

It is heartening that Nesvik understands the difference between sustainable peace and pacifism carried to impractical extremes. Turning the other cheek is not a viable option when even one weapon of mass destruction can kill millions. As technology advances, such weapons are becoming cheaper and easier to produce and deliver. Their ubiquity will only grow in time if not kept in check by the firm leadership of Bush and Blair backed up by the credible threat of decisive action.

We have reached an age in which small numbers of terrorists can wreak more havoc than even the largest of the world's standing armies. A single knapsack of known biological agents presents a larger threat than any conventional missile. A nuclear device could easily fit within a shipping container. Either weapon could inflict over a million deaths. Allowing such devastation is unconscionable.

Bush and Blair understand that their unrivaled military strength can deter such aggression by rational leaders. For the past fifty years, the unsavory doctrine of mutually assured destruction has been simultaneously the greatest threat to world peace and its strongest pillar. The U.S. and UK nuclear deterrent is complemented by the world's preeminent conventional forces. Bush and Blair have signaled their willingness to commit these forces to halt aggression in any part of the world. Their firm stance has deterred an unknowable number of military campaigns by ambitious dictators.

Unfortunately, many leaders are not rational, having no regard for the lives of their people. Annihilation is not a viable deterrent to such individuals. For example, Saddam Hussein waged wars of aggression that cost over one million lives. To this day, he continues amassing weapons of mass destruction in defiance of UN resolutions. Until recently, an attack with these weapons seemed possible, whether initiated by Iraq itself or by a terrorist agent.

The leadership of Bush and Blair has preempted catastrophe. In his speech before the UN, Bush stirred the world into action. As of this writing, Iraq has agreed to a return of inspectors in response to the resulting shift in world opinion.

Today, terrorist organizations without geographical boundaries are the biggest threat to world peace. Traditional deterrence is impossible against such aggressors. They have no land to capture and no centralized leadership to topple. Moreover, terrorists driven by boundless religious zealotry willingly sacrifice their own lives to inflict massive casualties on their adversaries. The threat of retaliation and criminal prosecution after such an attack can never deter those who seek martyrdom. In pursuit of their twisted religious goals, the terrorists preach genocide, encourage terrorism, finance crimes against humanity, and seek weapons of mass destruction.

Bush and Blair understand that preempting terrorist attacks is a grave prerequisite for world peace. The world must not wait for a smallpox outbreak or a mushroom cloud to erase entire cities before taking action. Terrorists must be stopped before the atrocities are committed. Preemption saves lives. Perhaps more importantly, successful campaigns of preemption will demonstrate the futility of terrorism for those who would commit such acts in the future, making it difficult for radical groups to attract and retain new members.

The case for Bush and Blair does not rest solely on the doctrine of preemption. Preemption is merely a means to achieve peace in the short term. Both gentlemen have also been strong proponents of the institutions that will make enduring peace in the Middle East a reality for generations to come:

  • Economic cooperation, free trade and open markets: A sound economic infrastructure will efficiently allocate capital and create new opportunities and prosperity for all citizens. Only prosperity and the hope it brings can displace the fertile soil of hopelessness in which radical fundamentalism takes root.
  • Enforceable private property rights: Property rights facilitate investment and the creation of physical capital, which combines with labor to raise GDP per capita. This wealth will foster education, healthcare, and other institutions that satiate the people who now hunger for violent action out of desperation.
  • Rule of law: No dictator, no army, and no citizen should again have the ability to deny the populace of due process and basic inalienable rights. Oppression under lawless regimes has nurtured militant reactionary groups.
  • Education: Most terrorists lack even a basic understanding of history, knowing only hatred and propaganda. They lack the basic skills to become a viable part of the world economy. Education will free the minds of the next generation, equipping future youth with the skills to prosper in the global marketplace and the perspective to embrace the many diverse cultures of the world as brothers, not enemies.
  • Freedom of speech and press in a liberal democracy: Every individual can voice his views and participate in the leadership of the nation. Pent-up ethnic and religious tensions do not boil over into violence. Under democracy, policy is guided by the aggregate will of the majority, not an individual corrupted by dictatorial power.
  • Tolerance: Wars are fought between "them" and "us". All cultures, all religions, and both genders must be included as a part of "us" in every nation to ensure the world no longer contains "them."

The history of the United Kingdom and the United States has not been perfect. There have been military engagements that were difficult to justify in hindsight and indefensible tactics employed in even the most noble campaigns. Bush and Blair can do nothing to change that history, but they have already improved our future. They have made progress to make the world safer from terrorists. The two conduct themselves and their armed forces with integrity and precision.

Their goals have been laudable. Both seek a pragmatic resolution to the violence in Israel and upheaval in Palestine. They have achieved closer relations with the former Soviet Union. They have worked hard to defuse the powder keg set to explode in the Middle East. They have sent military personnel overseas to train the local law enforcement in protecting local citizens from global terror. In achieving these objectives, they have never used military aggression as their first resort. When force has been necessary, both leaders willingly incurred tremendous financial expense to use unprecedented precision munitions and methods to destroy enemy capabilities at the smallest possible cost in human suffering.

I share the goals of even the most radical pacifists. I want to see a world without aggression, without a single life lost to violence. That is precisely why I support both Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair so completely.

No surgeon ever delights in cutting his patient. Unfortunately, doctors must sometimes wield a scalpel to remove a tumor. This is done not to harm the patient. Doctors have the most profound respect for life. Surgery is only performed in the defense of life, and only as a last resort.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair view the military with the same respect and reluctance. The people that deserve the Nobel Peace Prize are not the ones that simply avoid violence. They are the ones that bring the world closer to a lasting peace. Such peace is not possible when the enemies of life have unfettered access to weapons of mass destruction and free reign to deploy them. The Committee should recognize the leaders that make real peace possible, the ones that take the practical steps necessary for the citizens of the world to live in a well-protected peace. Such leaders are willing to deal with the harsh realities of the world, ensuring that we face only the least of all evils instead of a far worse fate.

The events of September 11, 2001 demonstrated to the world that inaction is often the enemy of peace. George Bush and Tony Blair are working hard to avert the very real threat of more such attacks in the near term, and they are building the institutions that will defuse the terrorism in the future.

Alfred Nobel is the man who created dynamite. His legacy is not one of destruction, but one of innovation, prosperity and peace.

I ask that Bush and Blair be judged in the same manner. They should not be considered for the Peace Prize because of military campaigns, but for the elimination of weapons of mass destruction, the suppression of terrorism, the establishment of liberal democracy where brutal regimes once existed, and the legacy of peace they are making possible.


Stephen W. Stanton



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