Global Violence and Security


Through our Program on Violence, War, and Their Alternatives, PsySR strives to highlight the essential contributions of psychology to reduce military violence and to improve global security. We give a voice to psychological perspectives on the issues of war and peace with justice. Through education, collaboration and advocacy, we add to the public discourse about major threats to humanity from war, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and oppression. We explore root causes of, and optimal responses to, global violence.

We bring special attention in each activity to motives, emotions, perceptions and defense mechanisms that are often critical but unrecognized in the preparation or conduct of war. We work to understand the particular social-psychological factors in the forces of militarism and corporate globalization. We work to prevent the development and use of weapons of mass destruction, to reduce military budgets, to curtail production and use of landmines, and to increase protection from hazardous military wastes. We oppose weapons sales to oppressive governments and the militarization of outer space.

Positively, we encourage active nonviolent alternatives to war including tension-reduction and conflict resolution strategies, diplomacy, cultural exchange, empowerment of displaced victims of conflict, support for the United Nations and support for multilateral treaties such as the Comprehensive Test Ban and the International Criminal Court.

A PsySR Member Perspective: Marc Pilisuk on Who Benefits from Global Violence?

Military, economic, and environmental violence in the era of globalization cause immense suffering and ultimately threaten the existence of life as we know it. We seem to struggle endlessly, and sometimes even effectively, over whether a particular war should be continued or ended, whether some displaced victims of globalization will be fed and treated humanely, whether modest measures–less than what is needed–will be adopted to save our increasingly warmer and more toxic environment, whether some scandalous rip-off by one or another contractor will end.

As citizens we have negligible power, however, to bring certain crucial items to the public agenda: Can we prevent–rather than merely respond to–the heart-wrenching suffering that surrounds us? Should war and military preparedness continue? Should all people have the right to derive resources from their own communities sufficient to sustain healthy lives before wealthy conglomerates are permitted to usurp those resources? Will electoral and legislative processes be made free from the influence of big money? Could the vast resources used to promote enmity be used to promote empathy instead? Read More »

A PsySR Member Perspective: Kathleen Malley-Morrison and Lauren Groves on Governmental Aggression

Governments, like individuals, have shown a capacity for inhumanity to man, for as long as they have been in existence. Even within today’s constitutional democracies, governments carry out acts of aggression that would constitute criminal conduct if performed by civilians. Invasions of other lands, capital punishment, torture, violations of international treaties, disavowals of international human rights agreements, police or military violence against their own citizens, and killing foreign civilians during wartime are all examples of governmentally sanctioned aggression and violence.Read More »

A PsySR Member Perspective: Morton Deutsch on Preventing Armageddon in the 21st Century

Some conflicts – whether between spouses, labor and management, or nations – seem to escalate out of control. They follow a malignant course toward outcomes that nobody wants. People who are caught up in such conflict usually find ample justification for blaming the other party. It seldom occurs to the opponents to look hard at the conflict itself, including the conditions that intensify it or might de-escalate it.

Psychologists and other social scientists are well acquainted with such conflicts. Conflict research yields knowledge that has been successfully applied and can be productively applied to the conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis, India and Pakistan, the volatile situation with Iran, and other conflicts that seem to be stuck in the kind of escalating sequence that could lead to continued mutual harm. The findings of research on conflict do not replace the need for expert understanding of our antagonists or of the technical side of arms negotiation. But focusing on the typical characteristics of the conflict process itself, rather than exclusively on the characteristics and motives of our antagonists, may suggest a different approach for dealing with an adversary. How we define the problem determines where we look for solutions.Read More »

The Challenge and Urgency of Nuclear Disarmament

PsySRThere are over 25,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. At least 5,000 of them are targeted at cities and on hair trigger alert, ready for launching in 15 minutes. In the name of security, humans have created a system of weapons capable of destroying life on Earth many times over. Despite agreements and treaties committing nuclear weapons states to the elimination of nuclear weapons, the United States funds research, development, and production of nuclear weapons–and threatens the use of these weapons in polices that provoke proliferation, rather than preventing it.Read More »

Links and Resources to Learn More and Take Action

An alphabetical listing of organizations and resources focused on global violence and security is available HERE.