Give Peace a Deadline: What Ordinary People Can Do to Cause World Peace in Five Years

Give Peace a Deadline: What Ordinary People Can Do to Cause World Peace in Five Years

by Nathan Otto, Amber Lupton

For many, peace is an elusive dream; true advances toward this communal goal have been few. But Give Peace a Deadline bursts through the barrier of apathy to show individual readers how they can actually help achieve world peace-in just five years.

By adopting "action through access," a trailblazing approach to activism, the authors build on…  See more details below


For many, peace is an elusive dream; true advances toward this communal goal have been few. But Give Peace a Deadline bursts through the barrier of apathy to show individual readers how they can actually help achieve world peace-in just five years.

By adopting "action through access," a trailblazing approach to activism, the authors build on technological advances in both communication and collaboration to present a well-defined plan to end global conflict. By applying business disciplines, such as professional management and result measurement, to the peace-making process, Nathan Otto and Amber Lupton have ignited a revolution for global peace that will attract a broad range of peace seekers ready for immediate action and real results.

Otto and Lupton don't just offer theories and concepts. Through connections with world leaders, major corporations, leading peace activists, and international media, the authors have developed a broad marketing platform for their peace program. And for readers who are ready to take responsibility for achieving peace, Give Peace a Deadline is a beacon of hope in tumultuous times.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

This is an introduction to the authors' newly launched P5Y (Peace in Five Years) organization, which puts the deadline for achieving peace at February 14, 2014. The authors are calling for an international peace movement to end politically organized warfare, offering a business-oriented model that includes accountability, deadlines, and measurable goals. Otto, who formerly organized several successful Internet ventures, and Lupton, a personal development expert, describe here an infrastructure that enables planning and development, centered at their web site ( and supporting as many peace collaborations as individuals or groups are willing to propose. Skeptics, take note: the authors assert that they do not see peace as a Utopian conclusion; they acknowledge that disagreements and struggle will continue but argue that resources freed from the machinations of war can be reallocated to other worldwide problems of poverty, hunger, and disease. While this book takes a self-actualizing approach to changing the world, it is ultimately a call for volunteers willing to devote themselves to a movement that has a recognizable and imperative outcome as its goal and is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in that goal. [A portion of the proceeds will go to support the movement.-Ed.]
—Jim Hahn

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Greenleaf Book Group, LLC
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By Nathan Otto Amber Lupton
Greenleaf Book Group Press
Copyright © 2009

Nathan Otto and Amber Lupton
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-929774-86-9


We are confronted by a mode of thinking that divides all the world into us and them, and by a mode of acting that prescribes killing all of "them" before they kill all of "us." In this view, the dividing line between good and evil is starkly etched, and efforts at compromise are equated with heresy. -Madeleine Albright

LET'S BE CLEAR: War is about killing. It's not about glory and duty and saving small children and acts of heroism. It's about killing another living human being before he can do the same to you-in order to achieve some goal established by a political entity. If you are directly attacked you will defend yourself in a moment of desperation. On the other hand, premeditated murder is considered to be the most heinous crime and carries the heaviest punishment. Yet war is politically organized premeditated mass murder. Condoned killing is what separates war from all other human social activities. Although individuals are punished and taken out of society for murder, political entities are usually not delegitimized for waging war.

This chapter describes the realities of war, the way our society trains for war, the cost of killing to society, and the impacts on the individuals we finance to kill. This is a tough subject, but if we were writing a book about slavery in 1852, for example, we would not just give our strategic plan for ending slavery; we would describe the actual human pain and cost of slavery in every detail. Just as abolitionists took personal responsibility for slavery, so too must we take personal responsibility for war. When our country kills in the name of war, we kill and you kill as well. We don't mean you are picking up a gun and shooting someone, but the reality is that our pervasive tolerance and tax dollars pay for war. Nothing we can write on this page can actually capture the horrible reality of one human being killing another human being. Although we can't bring the reality of killing and war to these pages, we can demonstrate that both killing and war are about you and us.


Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines war as "a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations." But we prefer this more evocative definition: War is a violent conflict carried out by at least one political group against another group or population. War is political violence.

Under our definition all of the following would be considered war: planning attacks, shootings, bombings, terrorism, violence by mercenaries, extraordinary rendition by the CIA, political kidnappings, and genocide. And these are all happening right now, at this very moment. Out of your sight and hearing, people are dying in pools of their own blood. Mothers are burying their children. Infants are starving. Innocent people are being imprisoned and tortured.

The amazing, maddening fact is that modern history tells us that war doesn't work! War doesn't achieve its long-term political ends. If it does achieve its short-term aim, it's with massive death and destruction, which render any gains pointless. War is the most blunt instrument for change anyone can imagine. So why do we keep going back to it again and again? At some point, we must learn that war no longer works.

Whether war works or not, we still have it on our planet. While a hundred years ago war in a distant land could be said not to involve you or me, today it does. War is personal. In this chapter we are going to look at how personal it is. There are no longer any unknown distant lands, and all of us are involved and affected by war. Let's start with the most personal part of war: killing.

War is about killing. In a book about world peace it is natural to ask: Are human beings natural born killers? The answer is no.


You may have heard people argue that humans are violent by nature and that war is inevitable. Respected anthropologist Raymond Dart's "killer ape theory," based on his analysis of bone piles in African caves, suggests that early humans were violent cannibals. The theory states that ancestors of humans were distinguished from other primate species by their aggressive tendencies, and humans have retained these tendencies throughout evolution. Dart's theory, however, was later refuted decisively by anthropologist Bob Brain, who showed that the bone piles were produced by predatory cats, not humans. Dart graciously retracted his theory, and although it is largely discredited, it nevertheless remains popular.

William Ury, also an anthropologist and founder of the Harvard Negotiation Project, wrote in his book The Third Side, "There turns out to be little conclusive evidence in the archaeological record for the story of pandemic human violence during the first 99 percent of human evolution." We humans, by and large, are not designed to kill other humans. Ury refers to humans as "Homo Negotiator" for our inherent ability to negotiate conflict.

Douglas Fry, a research scientist in the Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology at the University of Arizona, argues that even though aggression is a part of human nature, how it plays out is based more on culture, and generally, people have an immense capacity for peacefulness. He supports this theory in his book, The Human Potential for Peace: An Anthropological Challenge to Assumptions about War and Violence (Oxford University Press, 2005), in a discussion about the very low levels of aggression and the absence of warfare he was able to find in more than eight present-day hunter-gatherer societies. He also argues that Western researchers usually study male chimps, who tend to be more aggressive, to the exclusion of female chimps and the more affectionate primate species bonobo. Frans De Waal, a leading primatologist, in his book Our Inner Ape (Riverhead, 2006) describes how human nature falls between chimp and bonobo behaviors. You and we are not doomed to violent behavior. As humans we are culturally capable of educating ourselves not to kill. In fact, we have natural tendencies toward negotiation.

Lt. Col. David Grossman, in his book On Killing (Back Bay Books, 1996), notes the startling fact that if faced with a stark choice of killing a stranger face to face in war or possibly being killed, 98 percent of men would rather die than kill. He gives many examples of men violating direct orders to kill, even in combat situations.

Ury, De Waal, and Grossman all point out how the human capacity for war is based on culture and conditioning. Ury suggests that the advent of war was a cultural phenomenon based on the transition from hunter-gatherer societies to agrarian societies. We have now made the transition from an agrarian society to a technological society, which makes war far too risky for you and us. If war is a cultural phenomenon, not an inborn human trait, then we can end war the same way that we began it a few thousand years ago: through a cultural phenomenon. We ended slavery in this way.

Even those of us who are culturally exposed to violence can renounce killing. Badshah Khan, for example, was born into the fierce mountain tribe of the Pathans, but he was also a follower of the peace leader Mahatma Gandhi. Khan created a nonviolent army of 100,000 Muslim tribesmen who had previously believed in killing as a matter of honor. In Nonviolent Soldier of Islam, author Eknath Easwaran tells courageous and moving stories of Badshah Khan's inner struggle to fight nonviolently for the dignity of his proud people under British rule:

Throughout the thirties and early forties Pathans had to endure mass shootings, torture, the destruction of their fields and homes, jail, flogging, and humiliations. Khan himself spent fifteen years in British prisons, often in solitary confinement ... But the Pathans remained nonviolent and stood unmoved-suffering and dying in large numbers to win their freedom.

The Pathans suffered enormously at the hands and guns of the British but did not waver in their commitment to love, forgiveness, and nonviolence. In their day, these people were reviled in the Western press. It was considered impossible that they could choose the path of peace.

Today, the descendants of these same Muslim tribesmen are known for their belief in violence. They are called the Taliban. Does it seem possible to you that the Taliban could take the path of constructive conflict today, like some of their ancestors did? If enough of the world's people, including the Taliban, give peace a deadline, we can build on our strengths as negotiators and agreement makers to settle conflicts, meet basic human needs, and work for the good of ourselves and all humanity. However, if peace is not given a deadline and we allow war to continue, we will continue as a species to waste huge resources in training individuals to overcome their natural reluctance to kill.


The more up close and personal killing is, the more difficult it is for us to overcome our natural revulsion toward the act. For most people, killing a stranger in hand-to-hand combat is nearly impossible without special conditions: protecting our family or our close combat buddies, being enraged, or "going over" to an extreme psychology of dehumanizing the enemy. Likewise, stabbing, eye gouging, and other close-up methods of force are extremely difficult to tolerate psychologically. The more clearly we can see a potential enemy's eyes and face, the more personal the killing becomes. We see the enemy as human.

For this reason, organizations that wish to train men to kill do their best to increase what is known as the killing distance, the psychological and physical distance from another human that objectifies the event in order to overcome the natural resistance to killing. Soldiers are never told, "Shoot that person in the head so that his brains and blood are spattered all over you and the ground." Civilians are not told that in news stories or advertisements either. Rather, so that they can overcome their natural aversion to killing, our soldiers are trained to hate the enemy, to "eliminate the target," to kill from behind, to kill in pairs or close-knit squads, and to use weapons with maximum distance.

In modern warfare, literal distance is increased as much as possible by the development of weapons that can kill from far away so that soldiers never have to come into personal contact with the individuals under attack. With long-range missiles, modern tanks, intercontinental bombers, drones, and remote-controlled weapons, the act of killing is increasingly becoming a sanitized process directed from a quietly glowing control room. When you hear about glory and honor in military advertisements or political arguments for war, does that create a killing distance for you? Knowing the truth about killing distance and the cost to military personnel and society of creating it gives you the power to choose.

Some people are able to kill without damaging their psyches. These people are not generally criminals and monsters, although some are. According to Grossman, about 2 percent of men are able to kill a human enemy at close range without conditioning, and without suffering damaging psychological effects. After military training that includes extensive behavioral conditioning, the percentage of men able to kill a human enemy at close range rises from 2 percent to 40 percent. For those who are not natural killers, the cost is very high.

An old high school friend, a solid good guy from the Midwest, called Amber the other day and started talking about what he had been up to the past fifteen years.

I decided to go into the military, and you know I was really cocky riding in the rodeo, and I used to be prejudiced. I'm ashamed now after what I've seen about how I used to be. I signed up for this special part called recon where we went out first. We were in Africa. It was terrible, these fifteen-year-old boys with guns. A little boy died in my arms after I tried to save him. I swore an oath to die for my country and I love it, so don't get me wrong. The power to decide when another person is going to die should never be taken from God and given to a person. It's just not right. I took fourteen lives in total, and anybody who tells you they don't know the number of lives they took is lying. I sometimes cry when I'm alone and think that I am a monster for what I have done. Nobody else knows the details, not even my wife. I am afraid that the man that left is not the man that came back, and I have fears she would think bad thoughts of me. When a good man knows that he is capable of ending a life, he always fears that he is really nothing more than a killer. I am haunted by what my final judgment might be. I don't think God cares about stars and stripes and doing one for my country. I'm counting on Mercy.

This story is not unique. The majority of people are emotionally damaged by killing. This is part of the system in which you and I are participating.

Modern military conditioning comes at a financial and moral cost to you and to us and at a psychological cost to the individual. Depending on your personal morals, there is a cost to consistently violating your integrity. Grossman describes the case of Duane, a CIA veteran who was assigned to guard a Communist defector in a safe house in West Germany during the mid-1950s. Locked together in a small apartment, the defector repeatedly started to attack Duane, only breaking off the attack at the last minute. Duane was told by his superiors to draw an imaginary line on the floor and kill the defector if he crossed the line.

Duane felt certain that this line was going to be crossed and mustered up all of his conditioning. "He was a dead man. I knew I would kill him. Mentally I had killed him, and the physical part was going to be easy." But the defector (apparently not quite as crazy as he appeared to be) never crossed that line. Still some aspect of the trauma of the kill was there. "In my mind," Duane said, "I have always felt that I had killed that man." Duane is an example of how even preparing to kill another human is psychologically stressful.

Although Duane himself may seem distant, and you may not know someone who has participated in war, imagine this: Multiply Duane's example by all of the people you encounter in your daily life. Chances are that you have interacted with someone today whose life is touched by the damage of killing and military conditioning to kill. Think about people at your job, at the grocery store, your mail-delivery person, the person who sells you coffee. The people who are directly affected by war are all around you.

What are the costs of being a killer? For the dead, the suffering is over. For the one who kills, the suffering can continue. A soldier can take pride in destroying the enemy, but as soon as the soldier realizes the enemy was somebody's father, mother, sibling, or child, the killing distance is closed and the killing becomes psychologically traumatic. Dennis Reeves, a retired Navy psychologist, testifies to the psychological trauma military personnel endure after killing:

When our guys felt or thought that they had maimed or wounded or killed some of the innocent Iraqi civilians ... that was quite devastating to them because it was very psychologically traumatic for them to believe that they had killed somebody's father or mother or child.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is not uncommon. Figures provided by the Rand Corporation in 2008 showed that more than 300,000 soldiers sent to Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from depression or post-traumatic stress syndrome. Some soldiers lose the ability to feel emotions at all. Others are consumed by guilt or self-doubt. Still others experience uncontrollable fits of rage or suicidal thoughts and actions.

Physicians for Social Responsibility estimates that the total healthcare cost for mentally wounded veterans of the war on terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan will top $650 billion. The societal cost in broken families and ruined lives will be incalculable. Many of these men and women will develop PTSD for one simple reason: They were ordered to kill another human being, an act that challenges their human nature no matter how much training they have undergone.


Excerpted from GIVE PEACE A DEADLINE by Nathan Otto Amber Lupton Copyright © 2009 by Nathan Otto and Amber Lupton. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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