Rules of conduct are a fundamental element of any activity where parties come together to interact. Sports, cards games, debates, church functions, weddings, and funerals are examples of events where rules exist of how to conduct ourselves when we enter into space with others.
The Jemez Principals are another set of ground rules that organizations agree to uphold when conducting grassroots organizing with each other and communities. Robert’s Rule of Order is another set of rules many institutional boars implement when conducting business with each other. Even the most basic and innocent game of hopscotch has rules.
Rules often represent our intentions for making decisions together or how we want to be treated. Over the millennia, people, communities, and institutions have created norms of co-existence and work that necessarily included ways to hold each other accountable.
At the international level, with lives and health of hundreds of millions in the balance, global leaders are failing us and stepping outside the agreed upon rules; in face they have ceased to respect or acknowledge the rules at all. The 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) between Russia and the U.S. banned land-based, nuclear-capable missiles within a certain range. Eliminating a class of missiles entirely, the ban was considered one of the most successful acts of arms control in history. But in the years following the treaty’s heyday, accusations surfaced that Russia was developing a banned nuclear-capable weapon, rendering the treaty meaningless.
In this critical moment, instead of taking leadership in peace-making and de-escalation tactics, the U.S. responded with threats to also design missiles outside treaty parameters. Multiple generations have grown up under the normalization of endless war. Perpetual conflict between peoples, regimes, governments, cultures, religions, races, and ideologies across the world and in our communities has seemingly rendered world leaders trigger-alert happy. By posturing in an imperialistic and wasteful-spending way, the U.S. alienates potential allies and U.S. residents.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has already said that the US is raising the nuclear threat by it’s actions. He said, “The world is facing a rising threat of a nuclear war because of the U.S. pullout from arms control treaties and its destabilizing military plans.” He also said that doing so “could lead to the destruction of civilization as a whole and maybe even our planet.” If we understand the escalating danger then why do we continue to walk towards the edge of the cliff? Let’s step back from the cliff together. Let’s descalate, sit down, listen and learn. If we can learn to do it when the stakes are not as high, we can bring those same rules of engagement onto the global scene into the future. The U.S. could take the lead on a new treaty with Korea, Russia, and all countries who have yet to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
To learn more, send an email to Jumana Master at Jumana@georgiawand.org.