Peace movements are a loose assemblage of groups and individuals, often with dissimilar programs but in accord on seeking to reduce conflict or end war by achieving some change in foreign policy.
Peace movements are a loose assemblage of groups and individuals, often with dissimilar programs but in accord on seeking to reduce conflict or end war by achieving some change in
Peace movements and conscientious objection are significant concepts in relation to the overall understanding of military conflict and the nature of warfare because of the fear of global annihilation. Estimates put the
In the ancient world, international relations did not exist.
In ancient Rome, however, conquest and domination was a way of life. During the first few centuries
During the Middle Ages, the
The appearance of traditions of absolute pacifism took place during the latter Middle Ages and the
The historical origins of
Later in the seventeenth century, pacifist sects relying on religious grounds of conscientious objection transplanted their beliefs in the New World. The best-known American sectarian peace group was the
Meanwhile, in Europe, at the end of the eighteenth century, one of the most important philosophical contributions to the principles of peace appeared. In
At the conclusion of the War of 1812 and the end of the Napoleonic conquests on the European continent in 1815, the first organized peace movements were formed in the United States and Great Britain. In the United States, an organized endeavor that was both religious and humanitarian, but not specifically tied to any one sectarian group, emerged under the leadership of New England sea captain and Harvard graduate
One of the most important advocates of peace during this period was the “Learned Blacksmith” from Connecticut,
Antidraft riots in New York City in 1863.
In the aftermath of the American Civil War (1861-1865), European peacemaking efforts had a profound impact on the American quest to eliminate war. Attempts to promote the importance of international law in Europe occurred roughly at the same time that the American Peace Society began widespread propaganda for
During these same years, inspired by the movement for international arbitration, European peace activists also created their own international network. Though not organized as peace movements the way they were in Great Britain and the United States, peace societies sprang up in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and even czarist Russia, thanks in large part to
The movement for international arbitration also became widely popular in the United States at the start of the twentieth century. Among the most influential organizations were the
The outbreak of
During the war, the
In the United States, the administration of President
The organized peace movement in the United States became divided between liberal internationalists who supported the war and pacifists who opposed it. Ultimately, this division resulted in a reorganized peace movement that would be led by groups such as the religious
The leading peace advocate of the “modern” movement during this period was
A young woman offers a flower to a military policeman at the Pentagon during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in 1967.
By the late 1930’s, as fascism and militarism took hold in Europe, organized peace movements–still located in Britain and the United States–once again split apart. Devoted pacifists opposed the use of arms, while internationalists considered the defeat of German chancellor Adolf Hitler and Japanese aggression a necessity for establishing world order. Unlike Great Britain, which had come to grips with the issue of conscientious objection, the United States required some form of alternative service to bearing arms. A Civilian Public Service camps program was established and paid for by the Historic Peace Churches. Still, this approach did not satisfy absolute pacifists, and the controversy continued for the duration of the war.
The most dramatic peace protests of the twentieth century took place in the United States during the
In San Francisco, people of all ages demonstrate against the imminent U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In June, 1982, the movement for a nuclear freeze was dramatically illustrated at a disarmament rally in New York City. More than 700,000 people participated, making it the largest political demonstration in U.S. history. The campaign’s grassroots impact was enormous as the freeze referendum appeared on state ballots across the nation. “It represented,” in the words of one reporter, “the largest referendum on any issue in American history; sixty per cent of the voters supported the resolution.” Although the freeze movement did not achieve its ultimate goal, the anti-nuclear arms movement did result in a change in attitude, both at home and abroad. It provided a badly needed political platform in support of arms control and disarmament.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that began after the terrorist attacks of
Thus, the peace movement that emerged after 9/11 has embraced the notion of advancing international collective political struggles in novel as well as traditional ways. The interconnectedness associated with globalization and new communication technologies has elicited new opportunities to forge a global collective identity. No longer are organized peace movements primarily the domain of the United States and Great Britain alone. While military theorists believe that the future of warfare will revolve around social and communication networks worldwide, antiwar groups are demonstrating that theory as they get out the message of peace and justice.
One of the most important developments involving the issue of conscientious objection is that governments have moved away from a strict interpretation of “conscience” based on religion to a more secular understanding of people’s views regarding a particular war. With respect to peace movements, it is safe to say that their importance has grown globally in size and stature, given the realities of modern warfare and the possibilities for nuclear annihilation. No longer are peace movements confined to nations composed of traditional peace societies and organizations. While peace movements, historically, may not have been effective in preventing all wars, it is clear that they have been responsible for informing publics as to the destructiveness of modern warfare.
Beales, A. F. C. The History of Peace: A Short Account of the Organized Movements for International Peace. New York: Dial Press, 1931. A survey of the peace movements in the United States and Great Britain to World War I, with primary emphasis on the London Peace Society. Brock, Peter, and Nigel Young. Pacifism in the Twentieth Century. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1999. A revised and expanded version of one of Brock’s earlier works, Twentieth Century Pacifism (1970), analyzing pacifist ideals and peace movements throughout the twentieth century in Europe and the United States. Carroll, Bernice, Clinton F. Fink, and Jane E. Mohraz, eds. Peace and War: A Guide to Bibliographies. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, 1983. A massive annotated bibliography covering topics on peace and war from 1785 to 1980 from a transnational perspective. Chatfield, Charles. The American Peace Movement: Ideals and Activism. New York: Twayne, 1992. A historical survey of the organized sectarian movement to the 1980’s campaign against nuclear weapons through the lens of social movement theory. Cooper, Sandi. Patriotic Pacifism: Waging War on War in Europe, 1815-1914. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Examines the role of citizen peace activism by focusing on national and international societies, schools and curricula, and the effects of peace movements on the political process in Europe during this period. Cortright, David. Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. A valuable work discussing the meaning of peace, origins of peace societies, and internationalism, with an emphasis on religion, democracy, social justice, morality, and disarmament. DeBenedetti, Charles. The Peace Reform in American History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980. Expanding and updating the classic work by Merle Curti, Peace or War: The American Struggle, 1636-1936 (1936), this survey emphasizes peace work as part of the larger reform movement in American society. Ferrell, Robert H. “Peace Movements.” In Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, edited by Alexander DeConde et al. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002. Offers a brief overview of the origins of peace movements and American foreign policy efforts in the realm of international relations. Howlett, Charles F., and Robbie Lieberman. A History of the American Peace Movement from Colonial Times to the Present. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2008. The most comprehensive survey of the struggle for peace and justice in America to date, with an emphasis on achieving social and economic justice; contains a thirty-two-page bibliographic essay on peace scholarship. Wittner, Lawrence S. Confronting the Bomb: A Short History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2009. An abridged version of Wittner’s award-winning trilogy The Struggle Against the Bomb, which stresses the effectiveness of grassroots movements worldwide in challenging and thwarting the nuclear desires and ambitions of the great powers.
Collaboration in War
Prisoners and War
War Crimes and Military Justice