War has always been a cause of great trouble and suffering for all of humanity. It has existed from the earliest beginnings of man and continues to exist until today. From thousands of years ago and maybe even earlier, there has already been a very long tradition of attempts to end war. For Immanuel Kant and many other thinkers, the most important goal to be achieved in our world is a true and perpetual peace among states and people.
In his 1795 political philosophical essay, Kant begins by setting out the “preliminary articles” to the establishment of an everlasting peace between states. He mentions three basic conditions required for the possibility of a perpetual peace. To him, perpetual peace between states is quite attainable and it is also something which we are morally obliged to make an effort for.
Kant’s essay presents what to do to achieve that perpetual peace and this proposed program has two steps. The first, the “preliminary articles,” are the steps that should be done immediately and as fast as possible. The text of the articles is brief and concise and is as follows:
1. “No treaty of peace shall be regarded as valid, if made with the secret reservation of material for a future war.”
2. “No state having an independent existence – whether it be great or small – shall be acquired by another through inheritance, exchange, purchase or donation.”
3. “Standing armies shall be abolished in course of time.”
4. “No national debts shall be contracted in connection with the external affairs of the state.”
5. “No state shall violently interfere with the constitution and administration of another.”
“No state at war with another shall countenance such modes of hostility as would make mutual confidence impossible in a subsequent state of peace: such are the employment of assassins (percussores) or of poisoners (venefici), breaches of capitulation, the instigating and making use of treachery (perduellio) in the hostile state.”
These conditions deal with the environment of mistrust between states and hopefully help create an environment conducive for the existence and flourishing of a perpetual peace. To do this, instead of setting up rules and boundaries to solve conflicts, the conditions seek to set up a relationship between states that is mutual and stable. Kant states that the objectives of the articles are to assure the sovereignty of each state (Articles 2 and 5), to remove what may be threats to the sovereignty of other states (Articles 3 and 4), and to assure that all states are trustworthy and will cooperate in upholding the peace for all (Articles 1 and 6).
According to Kant, for a truly lasting peace, the measures must be first fulfilled, relationships between states defined, and principles to govern...