Peter van Uhm: Why I chose a gun-3

Such a state monopoly on violence, first of all, serves as a reassurance. It removes the incentive for an arms race between potentially hostile groups in our societies. Secondly, the presence of penalties that outweigh the benefits of using violence tips the balance even further. Abstaining from violence becomes more profitable than starting a war. Now nonviolence starts to work like a flywheel. It enhances peace even further. Where there is no conflict, trade flourishes. And trade is another important incentive against violence. With trade, there’s mutual interdependency and mutual gain between parties. And when there is mutual gain, both sides stand to lose more than they would gain if they started a war. War is simply no longer the best option, and that is why violence has decreased.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the rationale behind the existence of my armed forces. The armed force simply meant the state monopoly on violence. We do this in a legitimized way only after our democracy has asked us to do so. It is this legitimate, controlled use of the gun that has contributed greatly to the statistics of war, conflict and violence around the globe. It is this participation in peacekeeping missions that has led to the resolution of many civil wars. My soldiers use the gun as an instrument of peace.

And this is exactly why failed states are so dangerous. Failed states have no legitimized, democratically controlled use of force. Failed states do not know of the gun as an instrument of peace and stability. That is why failed states can drag down a whole region into chaos and conflict. That is why spreading the concept of the constitutional state is such an important aspect of our foreign missions. That is why we are trying to build a judicial system right now in Afghanistan. That is why we train police officers, we train judges, we train public prosecutors around the world. And that is why — and in The Netherlands, we are very unique in that — that is why the Dutch constitution states that one of the main tasks of the armed forces is to uphold and promote the international rule of law.

Ladies and gentlemen, looking at this gun, we are confronted with the ugly side of the human mind. Every day I hope that politicians, diplomats, development workers can turn conflict into peace and threat into hope. And I hope that one day armies can be disbanded and humans will find a way of living together without violence and oppression. But until that day comes, we will have to make ideals and human failure meet somewhere in the middle. Until that day comes, I stand for my father who tried to shoot the Nazis with an old gun. I stand for my men and women who are prepared to risk their lives for a less violent world for all of us. I stand for this soldier who suffered partial hearing loss and sustained permanent injuries to her leg, which was hit by a rocket on a mission in Afghanistan.

Ladies and gentlemen, until the day comes when we can do away with the gun, I hope we all agree that peace and stability do not come free of charge. It takes hard work, often behind the scenes. It takes good equipment and well-trained, dedicated soldiers. I hope you will support the efforts of our armed forces to train soldiers like this young captain and provide her with a good gun, instead of the bad gun my father was given. I hope you will support our soldiers when they are out there, when they come home and when they are injured and need our care. They put their lives on the line, for us, for you, and we cannot let them down.

I hope you will respect my soldiers, this soldier with this gun. Because she wants a better world. Because she makes an active contribution to the better world, just like all of us here today.

Thank you very much.



Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!


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