Mar 172013

A Relevant Voice from the Past: 

Albert Einstein on War and Peace

by Katherine Vinluan-Arellano



Albert Einstein, the great physicist, is also one of the most popular pacifists and anti-war activists of all times.  He realized that his greatest mistake in life was his having encouraged F.D. Roosevelt to develop the atomic bomb to counter Nazi Germany when the U.S. became the first country to unleash the atomic bomb on a civilian population.  Since then he spent his life promoting disarmament of individual states and the idea of a world government that would act as the only police force.

Recipient in 1948 of the One World Award, Einstein crusaded for a potent international organization to adjudicate all conflicts between nations. Comprising of representatives from every constituent nation, the organization would be empowered by a constitution approved by all. The unequivocal support of the nuclear powers was essential to the viability of this world government.

Why, indeed, should America relinquish its geopolitical and economic hegemony by disarming itself?

Einstein had a simple—some will say simplistic—answer.

America seeks peace, does it not? “A person or a nation,” Einstein wrote, “can be considered peace loving only if it is ready to cede its military force to the international authorities and to renounce every attempt to achieve its interests abroad by the use of force. Peace can never be secured by threats, but only by an honest attempt to create mutual trust.”

Einstein was against extreme nationalism and encouraged that everyone views himself as a citizen of the world.  Even while he also supported Zionism (the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland), he was against a Jewish state with borders and he emphasized the need for Jews and Arabs to treat one another with respect, trust, and compassion.


Let us remember Einstein’s famous words on war:


I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.


The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb. This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them.


The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.


Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race.


He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is no different than murder.


You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.


I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.


One does not make wars less likely by formulating rules of warfare… War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished.






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