I got one of the most amusingly ridiculous pieces of political spam in my email box recently:
please can be seated in your nice wormchair and email to the rest off the world to forward the red note to their head of state, if the world peace treaty ever take place (with your help and those that read this), there are enough monie spent on each country on defend budgets (that %30 off our taxes monie) we can all have 3 presents each every day for the rest of our lives the and also our great great great grand children lives, not including the ten year early retirement which we should have
together we can kindly ask the world top 20 leaders to sign a world Peace treaty
please can you copy and paste the message in the red below then email it to your local Members of Parliament (MPs) or someone who s head of state
in your country or county
do this once (mean you r a true beliver))
copy and email all the text to a hundred people (mean this will happen, 100x 100 x 100x 100= 1 bilion people
Etc. etc. etc., at great length.
It would be the height of laziness to take potshots at a naive piece of badly-spelled spam, but since it’s the day after Christmas, and I’m feeling very lazy indeed, let’s grab the pump-action Remington and stroll out to the pike barrel, shall we?
Putting aside the fact that this particular email seems to have been dictated by a Nigerian Prince to someone for whom English was not their first (or even second) language, let me concentrate on the underlying idea animating the missive, namely a world peace treaty to end war.
Hate to tell you sparky, but it’s been tried. It was called the Kellogg-Braind Pact:
WHEREAS a Treaty between the President of the United States Of America, the President of the German Reich, His Majesty the King of the Belgians, the President of the French Republic, His Majesty the King of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, Emperor of India, His Majesty the King of Italy, His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, the President of the Republic of Poland, and the President of the Czechoslovak Republic, providing for the renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy, was concluded and signed by their respective Plenipotontiaries at Paris on the twenty-seventh day of August, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight, the original of which Treaty, being in the English and the French languages, is word for word as follows:
THE PRESIDENT OF THE GERMAN REICH, THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF THE BELGIANS, THE PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC, HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF GREAT BRITAIN IRELAND AND THE BRITISH DOMINIONS BEYOND THE SEAS, EMPEROR OF INDIA, HIS MAJESTY THE KING OF ITALY, HIS MAJESTY THE EMPEROR OF JAPAN, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF POLAND THE PRESIDENT OF THE CZECHOSLOVAK REPUBLIC,
Deeply sensible of their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind;
Persuaded that the time has, come when a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of na tional policy should be made to the end that the peaceful and friendly relations now existing between their peoples may be perpetuated;
Convinced that all changes in their relations with one another should be sought only by pacific means and be the result of a peaceful and orderly process, and that any signatory Power which shall hereafter seek to promote its ts national interests by resort to war a should be denied the benefits furnished by this Treaty;
Hopeful that, encouraged by their example, all the other nations of the world will join in this humane endeavor and by adhering to the present Treaty as soon as it comes into force bring their peoples within the scope of its beneficent provisions, thus uniting the civilized nations of the world in a common renunciation of war as an instrument of their national policy;
Have decided to conclude a Treaty and for that purpose have appointed as their respective Plenipotentiaries
[List of Plenipotentiary signatories omitted]
who, having communicated to one another their full powers found in good and due form have agreed upon the following articles:
The High Contracting Parties solemly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another.
The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means.
The present Treaty shall be ratified by the High Contracting Parties named in the Preamble in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements, and shall take effect as between them as soon as all their several instruments of ratification shall have been deposited at Washington.
This Treaty shall, when it has come into effect as prescribed in the preceding paragraph, remain open as long as may be necessary for adherence by all the other Powers of the world. Every instrument evidencing the adherence of a Power shall be deposited at Washington and the Treaty shall immediately upon such deposit become effective as; between the Power thus adhering and the other Powers parties hereto.
It shall be the duty of the Government of the United States to furnish each Government named in the Preamble and every Government subsequently adhering to this Treaty with a certified copy of the Treaty and of every instrument of ratification or adherence. It shall also be the duty of the Government of the United States telegraphically to notify such Governments immediately upon the deposit with it of each instrument of ratification or adherence.
IN FAITH WHEREOF the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed this Treaty in the French and English languages both texts having equal force, and hereunto affix their seals.
DONE at Paris, the twenty seventh day of August in the year one thousand nine hundred and twenty-eight.
The brainchild of French foreign minister Aristide Briand and U.S. Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg, the Pact was conceived as a way of constraining future German aggression and eliminating the horrors of war for all time.
Didn’t work out so well.
Like all Utopian schemes, the Kellog-Briand Pact failed because it assumed human beings were both perfectible and rational in large numbers, neither of which is the case. Forged in a time of relative economic prosperity, when Hitler was an ex-con running the fringe National Socialist German Workers’ Party, no one could foresee the Great Depression and the conflagration of World War II just around the corner.
Wars happen for a variety of reasons, none of which can be derailed solely because the countries involved signed a piece of paper saying war is bad and naughty and they’re having none of it. Treaties work when they either benefit both nations (see, for example, the Rush-Bagot Treaty, which demilitirized the Great Lakes), or because one party to the treaty has the obvious ability to completely beat the snot out of the other.
Treaties with non-democratic regimes are only as good as the obvious willingness of democratic nations to use force to back them up. Which is why I have little-to-no faith that the recent treaty with Iran will have the slightest effect on Iran’s nuclear program beyond accelerating it…