Current Issue

 Click here to subscribe.

Share

Search
BeisMoshiach.org
Web
Tags
"Misnagdim” #1000 #1001 #1002 #1003 #1004 #1005 #1006 #1007 #1008 #1009 #1010 #1011 #1012 #1013 #1014 #1015 #1016 #1017 #1018 #1019 #1020 #1021 #1022 #1023 #1024 #1025 #1026 #1027 #1028 #1029 #1030 #1031 #1032 #1033 #1034 #1035 #1036 #1037 #1038 #1039 #1040 #1041 #1042 #1043 #1044 #1045 #1046 #1047 #1048 #1049 #1050 #1051 #1052 #1053 #1054 #1055 #1056 #1057 #1058 #1059 #1060 #1061 #1062 #1063 #1064 #1065 #1066 #1067 #1068 #1069 #1070 #1071 #1072 #1073 #1074 #1075 #1076 #1077 #1078 #1079 #1080 #1081 #1082 #1083 #1084 #1085 #1086 #1088 #1089 #1090 #1091 #1092 #1093 #1094 #1095 #1096 #1097 #1098 #1099 #1100 #1101 #1102 #1103 #1104 #1106 #1107 #1108 #1109 #1110 #1111 #1112 #1113 #1114 #1115 #1116 #1117 #1118 #1119 #1120 #1121 #1122 #1123 #1124 #1125 #1126 #1127 #1128 #1129 #1130 #1131 #1132 #1133 #1134 #1135 #1136 #1137 #1138 #1139 #1140 #1141 #1142 #1143 #1144 #1145 #1146 #1147 #1148 #1149 #1150 #1151 #1152 #1153 #1154 #1155 #1156 #1157 #1158 #1159 #1160 #1161 #1162 #1163 #1164 #1165 #1166 #1167 #1168 #1169 #1170 #1171 #1172 #1173 #1174 #1175 #1176 #1177 #1178 #1179 #1180 #1181 #1182 #1183 #318 #319 #350 #383 #390 #550 #560 #594 #629 #642 #776 #777 #778 #779 #780 #781 #782 #783 #784 #785 #786 #787 #820 #823 #824 #825 #826 #827 #828 #829 #830 #831 #832 #833 #834 #835 #836 #837 #838 #839 #840 #841 #842 #843 #844 #845 #846 #847 #848 #849 #850 #851 #852 #853 #854 #855 #856 #857 #858 #859 #860 #861 #862 #863 #864 #865 #866 #867 #868 #869 #870 #871 #872 #873 #874 #875 #876 #876 #877 #878 #879 #880 #881 #882 #883 #884 #885 #886 #887 #888 #889 #890 #891 #892 #893 #894 #895 #896 #897 #898 #899 #900 #901 #902 #903 #904 #905 #906 #907 #908 #909 #910 #911 #912 #913 #914 #915 #916 #917 #918 #919 #920 #921 #922 #923 #924 #925 #926 #927 #928 #929 #930 #931 #932 #933 #934 #935 #936 #937 #938 #939 #940 #941 #942 #943 #944 #945 #946 #947 #948 #949 #950 #951 #952 #953 #954 #955 #956 #957 #958 #959 #960 #961 #962 #963 #964 #965 #966 #967 #968 #969 #970 #971 #972 #973 #974 #975 #976 #977 #978 #979 #980 #981 #982 #983 #984 #985 #986 #987 #988 #989 #990 #991 #992 #993 #994 #995 #996 #997 #998 #999 1 Kislev 10 Kislev 10 Shvat 10 Shvat 10 Teives 11 11 Nissan 112 Tammuz 12 Tammuz 13 Iyar 13 Tishrei 14 Kislev 15 Elul 15 Menachem-Av 15 Shvat 17 Tammuz 18 Elul 19 Kislev 2 Iyar 20 Av 20 Mar-Cheshvan 20 Menachem-Av 22 Shvat 24 Teives 25 Adar 27 Adar 28 Nissan 28 Teives 29 Elul 3 3 Tammuz 33 Tammuz 352 5 Teives 6 Tishrei 7 Adar 770 864 865 881 9 Adar 9 Av 9 Kislev 903 Acharei Acharei-K'doshim Achdus Adar Ahavas Yisroel Alef-Beis All Jews Shall Rise Alter Rebbe Amalek Argentina Arizal army Artwork Aseres HaDibros Australia Avoda Zara B’Chukosai B’Shalach Baal Shem Tov baal t'shuva Baba Sali Balak BaMidbar bar mitzva Basi L'Gani B'Chukosai be Bein HaMeitzarim Beis HaMikdash Beis Nissan Beth Rivkah B'Haalos'cha B'Har B'Har-B'Chukosai Birthday Bitachon Blindness Bo B'rachos Brazil brit milah Brussels B'Shalach Canada chai v'kayam Chanuka Chassidic Rabbis Chayei Sara Chernobil chesed Chevron children chinuch Chitas Choshen Chukas Churban controversy convert Dan Diary of the late R’ Saadya Maatuf Dollars dreams D''varim Editorial Editor's Corner Eikev Elections Elul Emor Europe Family Purity fire France free choice Gaza Gentiles Georgia Gulf War Gush Katif Haazinu Hakhel Halvayas Hameis Hashavas Aveida HaYom Yom Hebron hiskashrus Holy Temple Honesty Honoring Parents Hospitality IDF Igrot Kodesh India Intermarriage Internet Iran Iron Curtain Israel Japan Jewish Refugee Crisis Kabbala K'doshim Kfar Chabad Ki Savo Ki Seitzei Ki Sisa KIDDUSH LEVANA Kiryat Gat Kislev kKi Sisa Kohen Gadol Korach korbanos KOS SHEL BRACHA Krias Shma K'vutza Lag B'Omer lashon ha'ra Lech Lecha letter Litvishe maamer Machatzis HaShekel mahn Mar-Cheshvan marriage Massei Matot Mattos Mattos-Massei Menachem Av Menora Metzora Mexico Mezuzah Miami MiKeitz MIkvah Mishkan Mishpatim Mitteler Rebbe Mitzva Tank Mitzvah Tanks Mivtza Kashrus MIvtza Neshek Mivtza T’fillin Mivtza Tefilin Morocco Moshe Rabbeinu Moshiach & Geula Moshiach Seuda music Names Napoleon Naso Nazi Holocaust niggunim Nissan Nitzavim Nitzavim-VaYeilech Noach Noachide North Africa olive oil painting Parshas Parah parshas re'eh Parshas Zachor Pesach Pesach Sheini Pinchas Pirkei Avos P'kudei Poland prayer Prison prophecy Purim R’ Avrohom Schneersohn Rabbanus Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Rabbi Shlomo Galperin Rambam Ramban Rashbi Rashi Rebbe Rebbe Maharash Rebbe Rashab Rebbe Rayatz Rebbe Rayatz & Joint Rebbetzin Chana Rebbetzin Chaya Muska Rebbetzin Rivka Red Heifer Reform movement R'ei Rishon L'Tzion Rosh Chodesh Rosh HaShana Russia S’firas HaOmer Samarkand seifer Torah s'firas ha'omer Shabbos Shabbos Bereishis Shabbos Chazo Shabbos Chazon Shabbos Hagadol Shabbos Nachamu shalom bayis Shavuos Shekalim shiduchim Shlach shleimus ha'Aretz shliach shlichus Shmini Shmita Shmos Shoftim shtus Shvat simcha Simchas Torah South Africa Sukkos summer summer camp tahalucha Talmud Torah Tanya Tazria-Metzora te Tefila Tehilim Teives Terror teshuva Tetzaveh t'fillin the soul tisha b'av Tishrei Toldos Tomchei T'mimim Truma t'shuva tTruma Tzanz Tzav Tzedaka Tzemach Tzedek Tzfas tzimtzum Tzitzis Tzniyus Ukraine undefined Upsherinish VaEira VaEs'chanan VaYakhel VaYakhel-P’kudei VaYechi VaYeilech VaYeira VaYeishev VaYeitzei VaYigash VaYikra VaYishlach Vocational Schools Winter women Yechidus Yerushalayim Yeshiva Yisro Yom Kippur Yom Tov Zionism Zohar Zos HaBracha. B'Reishis סיביר
Visitor Feed
Friday
Feb242017

25 Years of Swords into Plowshares: Preparing for War or Playing Chess?

By Prof. Shimon Silman, RYAL Institute and Touro College

While state budgets are struggling to fund peoples essential social needs, military spending is growing. Money is easily found for sophisticated weapons whose destructive power is comparable to that of the weapons of mass destruction; for submarines whose single salvo is capable of devastating half a continent; for missile defense systems that undermine strategic stability It all looks as if the world is preparing for war.” (Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of the Soviet Union, writing in this months Time magazine)

“The way things are going, I think that if there is a war in the future, the two countries will just play a chess game with each other.” (U.S. Department of Defense scientist, expressing his personal opinion in a private communication to me)

Who is correct, the president or the scientist?

THE STATE OF THE WORLD

We ask this question against the backdrop of 25 years of Swords into Plowshares. It was 25 years ago this week that the Rebbe MH”M said his famous sicha identifying the declaration of the heads of state meeting at the UN, announcing a new era of peace and mutual cooperation among the nations of the world as the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy that in the Era of Moshiach the nations of the world will beat their swords into plowshares.

Over the past 25 years we have reported frequently on Swords into Plowshares (SIP) type developments: military technologies and resources transformed for peaceful uses, nations that have given up their militaristic agendas and now pursue peace, and quoted extensively from the annual Human Security Reports showing that, when you do the statistics, the world has in fact become more peaceful.

So why does Gorbachev say, “It all looks as if the world is preparing for war?” Gorbachev is now 85 years old but back in the 1980’s he played a major role in the transformation of Russia that led to the Swords into Plowshares declaration.

There is a well-known story that when Gorbachev first came to power the Rebbe MH”M called in Professor Branover (Yirmiyahu ben Devora sh’yichyeh – we mention him for a speedy and complete recovery from his illness) and told him to start working on a project to provide housing and employment in Israel for the thousands of Russian Jews who will soon be coming out of Russia.

Branover was shocked by this request since nobody knew of any such event on the horizon. So he contacted his friends in the Soviet Union to see if they knew of any indication that the Jews would soon be leaving Russia. They told him that there was no indication of any such thing and that in fact from all indications it was expected that things would get worse under Gorbachev. Branover wanted to be sure that he understood the Rebbe MH”M correctly so he went back to the Rebbe MH”M to verify the instruction. The Rebbe MH”M told him again that very soon thousands of Jews would be leaving Russia, that there must be housing and employment ready for them and that Branover should work on this project with such intensity that he would even dream about it at night! The rest is history: Jews came out by the thousands, many settled in Israel and Branover had built a community with housing and employment for many of them.

But that’s not the end of the story. Years later, after the communist regime fell and Gorbachev was out of power, he came to visit Israel. The Israeli government assigned Branover to show him around. At one point Branover told Gorbachev about the Rebbe MH”M’s prediction that soon the Jews would leave Russia by the thousands. Gorbachev was shocked. He couldn’t believe that any person could have known this. Gorbachev said that he himself had no plans to make major changes when he came to power. In fact, he said, he had no idea what he was going to do. But he wanted to preserve communism.

Gorbachev is not to be taken lightly. But is he correct that “It all looks as if the world is preparing for war?”

To answer this, let’s first take a look at the Swords into Plowshares sicha and see what we should expect to see in the world after 25 years of SIP. Then we will take a look at some of the data that will tell us what has been happening and where we are holding. Then we can decide if the world is in fact preparing for war or for a chess game.

THE SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES SICHA

The characterization of the Swords into Plowshares development is described in the first few sections of the sicha. Here are some excerpts:

It is well known that everything that happens in the world is through Divine Providence, especially major events connected with countries of great importance whose influence and leadership affect the whole world.…

First of all, there was the event which occurred on the eve of this Shabbos, a conference of the heads of state of the major world powers, led by the leaders of the two superpowers. At that meeting they decided upon and announced a new era in international relations—an era in which warfare would be eliminated, weapons would be reduced or destroyed, and peace and unity, cooperation and mutual aid would prevail among the nations of the world—for the good of all mankind …

One of the prophecies of the Geula by Moshiach regarding the conduct of the nations of the world is: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not raise a sword against another nation nor shall they learn any more war.”

Since these days the heads of state of the nations of the world are making decisions and announcements regarding the reduction and elimination of weapons and the increase in things required for the maintenance of the economies of their individual countries and the world as a whole, which is the content of the prophecy “They shall beat their swords into plowshares”—dismantling the instruments of war to construct from them instruments for working the ground, “the earth from whence comes forth bread”—this is a clear sign of the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy as part of the true and complete Geula by Moshiach.” (Translation from Chapter III of my book “Scientific Thought in Messianic Times,” where a more complete translation can be found.)

I would like to focus on several elements emphasized in this description:

The nations. There is an emphasis on “countries of great importance whose influence and leadership affect the whole world.… a conference of the heads of state of the major world powers, led by the leaders of the two superpowers.” The meeting was the first ever between the heads of state of the 15 members of the Security Council. But there are only 5 permanent members on the Security Council – U.S., Russia, China, England and France – and they are the “major world powers.”

The era. “An era in which warfare would be eliminated, weapons would be

reduced or destroyed, and peace and unity, cooperation and mutual aid would prevail among the nations of the world—for the good of all mankind.”

The transformation. “The reduction and elimination of weapons and the increase in things required for the maintenance of the economies of their individual countries and the world as a whole.”

So to see how Swords into Plowshares has progressed over the past 25 years, we should focus primarily on how this transformation has been implemented by the 5 major world powers.

Over the years, we have extensively documented specific transformations in each of these countries, but now let’s see if we can quantify the overall transformation for each of these countries.

There are many organizations and institutes—including the UN itself, when it’s not busy criticizing Israel—that have been studying this, and that fact alone is a sign of how the world is changing and what the world now expects from itself.

“MR. GORBACHEV,
TEAR DOWN…”

In recent years, the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), whose reports we have used extensively over the years, has published the Global Militarization Index (GMI) which is a measure of how militarized a nation is. It evaluates over 150 countries using a complicated formula which considers: military expenditures as a percentage of GDP, military expenditures relative to health spending, military personnel in relation to the population and heavy weapons in relation to the population.

The Global Militarization Index, then, would be a good way to quantify the transformation of military to peaceful—the 3rd focal point on the list above. The one drawback of the GMI, however, is that it only goes back several years, not all the way back to 1992. But we will note the ranking of the 5 major world powers on the GMI list for the year 2016:

Nation Rank

Russia 5

U.S. 31

France 60

England 71

China 91

Surprise! None of the major world powers—except for Russia—are even in the top 20% of militarized nations. Most of the highly militarized countries are small countries (that you’ve never heard of) and are certainly not “countries of great importance whose influence and leadership affect the whole world.”

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), however, has data going back to 1992. Their data considers military expenditures as a percentage of GDP for numerous nations throughout the world. We have generated a graph to show this percentage for the 5 major world powers. (Credit goes to Yan Zverev of Touro College for generating the graph. The graphs are color coded, but if you are reading this in black and white, it may be hard to identify which graph represents which country. The curve that ends off highest in 2015 is Russia, and the one below it is the U.S.)

Surprise again! What do we see? In all cases except for Russia, this Militarization Index has gone down.

BICC also considers a Global Hunger Index (developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute) and notes that “most states suffering from hunger also have comparatively low levels [of] militarization.” So for Gorbachev to say that “While state budgets are struggling to fund people’s essential social needs, military spending is growing” is an exaggeration. We politely say to him, paraphrasing President Regan, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that picture you’ve painted of the world.”

A GAME OF CHESS

This brings us to the alternative theory—the chess game – which, I think, is a good model for what’s going on in the world now.

Firstly, let’s ask the basic question: Since we are in the era of Swords into Plowshares, should there be any military conflicts in the world at all?

To answer this, let’s take a closer look at this prophecy of Isaiah. He says:

And they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not raise a sword against nation nor shall they learn any more war.

We notice something very interesting here. First he says that the nations will beat their swords into plowshares because (as the Radak explains) they won’t need them any more as a result of Melech HaMoshiach’s influence on the nations of the world. Then he says, “Nation shall not raise a sword against nation.” It would seem that the order should be reversed. First it should say that the nations will not raise swords against each other; then, since they won’t be fighting each other they won’t need their weapons any more so they will beat them into plowshares. From the fact that beating the swords into plowshares is stated first, we see that this process will begin even before all wars cease. Then, as a further development, “nation shall not raise a sword against nation,” i.e., there will be no more war. And finally, “nor shall they learn any more war.” They will not even maintain a readiness for war. There will be no military exercises, no military training or even any computer simulations of conflicts.

The game of chess is all about strategy, positioning, projecting power, exerting pressure and bluffing. In my opinion—I agree with the Defense Department scientist—it’s all about positioning and projecting power rather than preparing for war.

A case in point would be the controversy over the islands in the South China Sea, claimed by China as well as other nations. A recent Bloomberg News report analyzes this situation and explains that while there is a possibility of this leading to war, it’s unlikely, because China does not want to interrupt the 5 trillion dollars in trade that passes through the area every year.

It’s all about posturing.

One might even say that the last line in Isaiah’s prophecy, “nor shall they learn any more war,” means that they will stop playing these chess games.

So raise your glass, say a bracha, take a SIP and say, “L’chaim!”

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.