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Updated 3 May 2010

Our times have never been more perilous.

"Today every inhabitant of this planet must contemplate the day when this planet may no longer be habitable. Every man, woman and child lives under a sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident, miscalculation, or madness."
John F Kennedy

Multitudes of terrorists are attacking "soft targets" all over the world with increasing frequency. Some unknown number are honing something vastly more destructive than Hiroshima. Proliferation is now a fact of life and so far intractable. Mortal enemies will soon be facing one another with nuclear arrows in their quivers--unless the Security Council can live up to its name and devise ways to ensure nuclear reactions can only by employed in peaceful pursuit.

Instead of chasing shadows into a swampy mire, it is high time to get smart, to find the real causes of violence and terrorism. The ultimate enemy resides in our genes. No time should be lost in formulating social structures conducive to peace and prosperity. For millennia, humanity has pursued both secular and religious solutions--to no avail.

Jessica Stern, in her book Terror in the Name of God states: "We should not turn away from this dangerous aspect of religion in an attempt to remain uncontaminated. We must recognize the seductiveness of sectarianism to understand the extent of the danger." In other words, if we do not address and fix the Psychological Roots of terrorism, we will miss badly and for a long, long time."

It is not so much religion, as it is the capture of religion by the fanatic who happens to be charismatic and without conscience. These folks co-opt families, organizations and nations with seeming ease. Martha Stout has this to say:

"Short of a sociopathic leader who diverts the course of an entire nation, leading it into genocide or unnecessary war, the psychopathic killer is surely the most terrifying example of a psyche without a conscience..."

According to Justin Frank, we have just lived through a period as a nation with a sociopath, also known as a psychopath, in power.

As for monotheism, radical fundamentalism is now the terror of our times. In particular Wahhabism and its variants are trying to drive the world into Armageddon.

Firmly rooted in most of Islam, Wahhabism has influence everywhere there are Muslims. Its roots are especially deep in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia. In Pakistan, a succession of corrupt dictators effectively ceded public education to the Wahhabists who now operate some 8000 madrassas, religious schools. Madrassa curricula emphasize Islamic instruction that glorify jihad and martyrdom. Hatred of the non-Islamic world becomes easy to instill, counter to what most practicing Muslims believe.

By any reasonable standard, Pakistan is not yet a democracy where political parties vie for power via elections. Democracy will never come to pass unless a middle class develops that can not only demand democracy but sustain it. Pakistan has been slow to shake off feudalism and still does not have a central government capable of developing a coherent society.

General Musharraf took power in a coup. With his demise, the new government may be turning the tide. The Taliban retreated. But like a hydra, they are re-constituting on other fronts. A strategic change on how to conduct war against insurgency also has improved prospects for eventual peace. But again, private interests (corruption by our hand-picked up government) are not picking up on this opportunity. Whenever and wherever the powerful abuse their subjects, they run into resistance of the populace. The present Afghanistan government is little better than the Taliban were.

By permitting his nuclear technology to leak out to states and individuals with terror interests, General Musharraf may have enabled an apocalypse. North Korea has been equally careless about protecting Humanity and its progeny.

Russia and the United States are moving toward weapon reduction. If that holds on as policy, it will only be the first of several phases in any process that eventually ensure peace. That process will work if national boundaries become transparent enough to allow monitoring and responding to any developing threats.

Given the dogmatic state of world governments, social systems, and religions, the critical borders will remain closed for the near term. It may even look impossible to most. But we think otherwise. For example, if the probability of a nuclear holocaust can be reduced to one in a million annually, then the likelihood of such an event stretches out to small levels similar to those of nature itself. It will not be easy. The knowledge and wisdom are there in certain quarters. Given the lead-in sentence of this paragraph, this all remains to be seen

See: Global Zero for how to take action.

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