The Trend of History
“The main innovation in the revelation of Moshiach is in that he will fix the entire world and its nations. No facet of the world will remain outside the realm of “the sovereignty shall belong to G-d.”
(the Rebbe MHM)
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“At that time there will not be any of the ‘iron which shortens the life of man’ as it says, ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares.’ Even more than that – death itself will be annulled….There will be everlasting life literally – the soul in the body – since the ‘iron which shortens the life of man’ will have been annulled.”
(the Rebbe MHM)
An Agenda for Peace
And it shall be at the end of days
that the mountain of the House of G-d
will be firmly established at the head of the mountains
and will be exalted above all other hills
and all the nations shall flow to it.
And many nations shall go [to confer with each other]
and they shall say one to another,
"Lets go up to the mountain of G-d
to the house of the G-d of Yakov
and [Melech HaMoshiach] will teach us of G-d's ways
and we will follow His paths."
For out of Tziyon shall go forth Torah
and the word of G-d from Jerusalem.
And [Melech HaMoshiach] will judge between the nations
and admonish many peoples
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.
It's happening now!
On January 31, 1992 the heads of state of the major world powers met at the United Nations in New York City. This was the first ever Security Council Summit i.e. the first meeting held by the Security Council at the level of heads of state. At this meeting they issued a joint statement announcing their intention to reduce arms production and to redirect the resources to improve economic conditions throughout the world.
The next day, at the Shabbos farbrengen of Parshas Mishpatim in “770,” the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach announced that the statement issued by the heads of state at the United Nations was the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, thousands of years ago, that in the Era of Moshiach the nations of the world will “beat their swords into plowshares.” He explained that this declaration of intent by the world leaders was the direct result of the influence of Melech HaMoshiach himself on the nations of the world. He continued by describing the details of this influence over several decades, especially the promotion of the ideals of goodness, fairness and justice through the observance of the 7 Noahide Commandments, throughout the world. This brought about a refinement of the nations of the world, the climax of which was the collapse of the atheistic Communist regime in Russia and its replacement with a government committed to justice, fairness and peace based on the belief in G-d. (In the next section we will present a translation of excerpts of this sicha.)
This new heightened sense of morality was described by the Secretary General of the United Nations in his report on the January 31 Security Council Summit. In this report, titled “An Agenda for Peace,” he wrote: “It is possible to discern an increasingly common moral perception that spans the world's nations and peoples”
Another aspect of the Geula has begun to unfold before our eyes. Melech HaMoshiach brought the nations of the world to the point where they made a resolution and a declaration regarding world peace. This was followed by Melech HaMoshiach’s own announcement that this declaration was in fact the beginning of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s Swords Into Plowshares prophecy.
At the RYAL Institute we have investigated extensively three general areas of Swords Into Plowshares (SIP) transformations. They are: 1) Countries that have transformed significant amounts of military resources to peaceful uses, 2) Nuclear technology that has been transformed to peaceful uses, and 3) Satellite technology that has been transformed to peaceful uses. Every year, at the annual conference of the Institute, we report on “What's new in Swords Into Plowshares."
What is "Swords Into Plowshares"?
Before beginning our reports on these areas of SIP transformation, it would be instructive to get a good definition of exactly what "Swords Into Plowshares" is. To do this, we quote the Radak (Rabbi David Kimchi), one of the most well known classical commentaries on the Torah and Prophets. In his commentary on Isaiah's prophecy, he explains that Melech HaMoshiach will be the master of all the nations, he will admonish them and tell them to “get in line.” He will bring peace among the nations so they won't need their weapons any more. So they will beat them - transform them - to make them into instruments for working the land.
We see from this a few components of a SIP transformation:
- It is orchestrated by Melech HaMoshiach himself. His influence on the nations of the world brings them to this state of affairs.
- There is a reduced threat perception. Nations do not feel threatened by each other so they feel that they do not need so many weapons. As a result of this there is a surplus of weapons and military resources.
- Arms reduction and redirection. Weapons, specifically, are removed from military use and transformed into instruments to produce food, and, more generally, military resources are redirected towards economic goals.
A Global Phenomenon
We want to emphasize that this is an ongoing process involving all technologically advanced nations of the world. We will describe many examples of this in the coming sections. This Swords Into Plowshares phenomenon has been so extensive over the past decade and a half, however, that it is impossible to document it completely. There is an institute in Bonn, Germany that has been documenting the conversion of military resource to peaceful uses extensively since the process began. The institute, called the Bonn International Center for Conversion (BICC), is an international think tank which conducts research, makes policy suggestions and provides consulting services to governments and private organizations. It collects data and information on a wide variety of SIP transformation issues and publishes various reports, most notably its annual “Conversion Survey”, a book length report on Swords Into Plowshares transformations throughout the world, as well as periodic shorter reports on specific countries and specific technologies. They describe themselves as “an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting peace and development through the efficient and effective transformation of military-related structures, assets, functions and processes.” They “support and promote the processes by which people, skills, technology, equipment, financial and economic resources are shifted from the military or defense sector towards alternative civilian purposes.” The BICC reports are among the sources for this chapter of our book.
Another major work documenting the global Swords Into Plowshares transformation is the book From Defense to Development. Commenting on this global phenomenon the author writes:
“If there is a single turn-of-the-century trend that gives us hope…it is the phenomenon of conflict resolution and its companions – cooperation, education and investment – in place of war, destruction and privation. The 1990s was a period of remarkable progress in peaceful transition in the world, from South Africa to the former Soviet Union…. Spending on the military plummeted almost 40% worldwide. Although tensions and a worrisome rise in militarism are still percolating in the world, our knowledge and practice of conflict resolution has expanded enormously. Almost all people, even our military leaders, would agree that investments such as clean water, agricultural productivity and above all, education, are far more powerful in achieving human welfare than spending on war and defense.”
One may find examples of military to peaceful transformations described in the many science and technology journals, newspapers and on the internet. Frequently, they say explicitly that the development that they are describing is an example of Swords Into Plowshares!
In addition to technologies, the armed forces of many countries have been transformed and redirected, and their role has been considerably redefined. In countries where the prospect of external aggression has been greatly diminished or is now non-existent, the traditional emphasis on self-defense as the primary function of the military has been reconsidered. Greater prominence is attached to other functions such as international peacekeeping or peace-enforcement operations; humanitarian assistance and emergency aid in cases of natural disasters etc.
The Rebbe MHM has emphasized how the U.S. Air Force has been used to bring food and medicine to victims of such disasters in countries far away from the U.S. that have no direct connection with this country. The sole motivation for this assistance was goodness and kindness.
Furthermore the narrow concept of national security, embodied above all in the armed forces, has been surpassed by that of global security and, moreover, the realization that global security cannot be achieved without seriously reducing poverty, improving health care and extending good governance throughout the world. In other words, plowshares may be more powerful than swords in achieving global security.
Even some of the most militaristic and violent countries, such as Russia and China etc., have come to realize that Swords Into Plowshares is the way to go. After the defeat of the regime of Sadam Hussein, a member of the new Iraqi Governing Council was interviewed by an American news network. He described how they were attempting to transform Iraq into a democratic country. In the course of his statement he listed several components that a society should have to be considered democratic. Among the usual ones such as freedom of speech, representative government etc., he mentioned “the transformation of power for peaceful purposes.”
The Swords Into Plowshares transformation is so pervasive throughout the world, that a group of physicists from the China Academy of Engineering Physics, in a paper titled “The Practice And Progress Of Defense Conversion in China”, were prompted to write, “The peaceful use of military technology represents the trend of history.”