I begin from the assumption that war and the culture of war can be abolished, and that in order to achieve this and to make the transformation to a culture of peace, we need to understand the causes of war and the forces for peace.
This book traces the history of one of the most important forces for peace, the American peace movements of the 20th Century. There have been six mass-based peace movements, each responding to a particular war or threat of war. They developed in response to the Spanish-American and Philippine Wars of 1898-1902, World War I 1914-1918, the rise of European fascism, 1932-1938, the rise of the Cold War 1946-1950, the Vietnam War 1965-1972 and the threat of a first-strike nuclear war from 1980 to 1990. Each of the six peace movements will be described in turn, including their program, the social class relations of the people involved, the problems they encountered, and the extent to which they were successful.
The next section of the book analyzes the culture of war and the economic and political roots of the six wars and war threats that have provoked the American peace movements.
A new section describes the origins of the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace from 1992 through 2002. This is done from my vantage point as the initiator of the Culture of Peace Programme at UNESCO and the Director of the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace in 2000.
The final section draws lessons from the past to suggest how today's peace movement can best accomplish its task in the future. By analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of past American peace movements, by understanding the culture of war and the causes of war, and by putting the American struggle in the context of the Global Movement for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, we can move from understanding to effective action for peace.