Former army chief says ‘make love, not war’
Throughout history millions have urged us to ‘make love, not war’ and an important voice has just joined this choir.
On Tuesday, Australia’s former Army Chief, Peter Leahy, suggested that the defence budget should be cut and redirected towards its diplomacy and aid programs – and no, he wasn’t wearing flares or dreads.
Leahy, who was Army Chief for six years (2002 to 2008) was quoted in The Age as saying “Food, water and energy shortages, climate change, pandemics and mass migration” are the problems we should be focusing on, rather than “equipping the Australian Defence Force for a war it’s unlikely to fight”.
Leahy also pointed to a Lowy Institute report stating that diplomacy was the most effective way to influence the behaviour of other nations, a view proved by humanitarian Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Greg Mortenson, an American who has dedicated his life to building schools and promoting education in remote regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. His book, “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Fight Terrorism and Build Nations…One School at a Time” further confirms that the most effective way of fighting terrorism is to educate children in an effort to broaden their future.
Both Leahy and Mortenson have first-hand experience fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, although with contrasting approaches. The recent comments by Leahy demonstrate that a diplomatic approach of engaging with and supporting local communities, like Mortenson has been able to do successfully, is essential in establishing long-term peace.
Mortenson has proven that peace through education and diplomacy is not only possible, it is one of the best and most efficient methods. His simple diplomatic method, which focuses on building relationships through the tradition of drinking tea, has gained him the support of Islamic leaders, military commanders, government officials, tribal chiefs and former and current Pakistani presidents.
As the former commander and chief of the Australian army in Afghanistan, Leahy’s comments reveal it is obvious that we will not resolve terrorism and improve security whilst we continue to drop bombs and destroy the livelihoods of some of the poorest civilians in the world. Killing will only encourage the next generation of terrorists.
We need to take a page out of Mortenson’s book and engage and invest into these communities. For “If we truly want a legacy of peace for our children, we need to understand that this is a war that will ultimately be won with books, not with bombs.”
So in order to make love, not war – all you need is a few cups of tea.
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