War Proofing

Pattern number within this pattern set: 
Douglas Schuler
Public Sphere Project (CPSR)

Societies are often tricked into going to war unnecessarily. This can assume different forms in different societies, but generally "the first war" is one of words and it is focused on the citizens of the country who is starting the war. The government (and / or other entities) "beats the drums" to get the public ready to accept the idea that war is necessary. The media often helps this by supplying a round-the-clock forum for the people who will argue for the necessity of the war.

The public often trusts the government not to lie. The public expects or at least hopes that the government is looking out for the interests of the public. And even when the public distrusts the government, citizens are simply out-maneuvered and locked out of public discourse. Moreover, questioning the necessity of war can be risky for individuals and for media outlets. Their loyalty can be impugned and media outlets that may find themselves threatened economically and, in some cases, physically.


This pattern is most relevant in societies that tend to wage wars that are illegal and / or unnecessary.


While we can generally give the single title of "War Proofing" as the solution to this problem, it is hardly one thing. It must an entire system of responses and like other responses to tragedy, it is often overwhelmed in the face of a sudden and brutal onslaught. And, beyond that, it's generally poorly developed and inadequate when faced with a government that really really wants to start a war. War Proofing must begin long before a war is actually being sold to the public. And it needs to happen in every country that might conceivably launch one.

Hopefully, soon, I will begin to list elements of a pattern of War Proofing.

It will include education, economic analysis (who loses, who profits), economic conversion, engagement with the media, propaganda analysis, public awareness, etc.

One approach to public awareness would be to establish commemorative days that highlight notable judgement in relation to war.

For example, May 1st could be established as "Mission Accomplished Day", to remind people of President George W. Bush's wildly inaccurate declaration on May 1, 2003, while aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, that the major hostilities related to the invasion of Iraq were over. Or January 28th could be called "Pinocchio Day to remind the American public of George Bush's State of the Union address when he stated that Iraq had "over 25,000 liters of anthrax", "more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin", "as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent" and "upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents." While there are many other possible days related to this particular war, other countries and other wars, will certainly have countless others to remind them of tragic wars that should — and could — have been avoided.


Initiate a variety of "war proofing" activities in war-friendly countries.

Pattern status: