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Another Voice: Remembering the peace of another Christmas Eve

By William Lambers

Two hundred years ago today, America and Britain received a special gift. Only nobody in either country knew about it.

The gift was peace. That Christmas Eve night the Treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium ending the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States. Historian Fred Engelman wrote, “the Americans disappeared into the solemn night with peace in their pockets.”

Of course, there was no CNN back then. It would be some time before anyone in either country would know about it.

Britain and the United States were tired of fighting. The War of 1812 was largely a stalemate. But now they were ready to put down the guns. Although tensions and disputes did not end for some years to come, diplomacy began to settle these issues. The border between the United States and British-ruled Canada developed into one of peace.

Had they not chosen the road to peace, what would the border be like? How could there be any development if there is constant war?

On this Christmas Eve there are nations whose fate hangs in the balance. Which way will they go?

Ukraine is one. The government and pro-Russian rebels are waging war. A cease-fire in September was ignored. Around 1 million people have been displaced. The factions can still make peace, but they have to sit down for talks.

South Sudan is another example. Fighting between the government and the opposition, as well as conflict among tribes, has put the newly independent country on the brink of famine. The two sides have to make peace or their people will starve.

President James Monroe said disarmament saved both sides from useless expense and the danger of tensions and collisions. A costly and dangerous naval arms race was avoided. With today’s biggest armaments, nuclear weapons, we should think the same way.

William Lambers, of Cincinnati, is the author of “Ending World Hunger” and “The Road to Peace” and a blogger with the Huffington Post.