Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Eliminating War to Eradicate Polio


Polio, once a global scourge, was on the verge of eradication in 2012. Since that time, it has reemerged as a global public health emergency according to the World Health Organization. Why has it now spread from its final strongholds in Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan to at least 10 countries spanning Asia, Africa and the Middle East? It is not because of changes in the virus or ineffective vaccines. The answer is war, and as we all know, “truth is the first casualty of war.”

The Taliban claims that immunizations can cause infertility or worse, and violently obstructs the polio vaccinators while vilifying them as part of a U.S. plot. Indeed, in years past, the U.S. CIA did a great disservice when it disguised its officers as polio vaccine workers in efforts to capture Bin Laden, giving fuel to the Taliban’s false claims and violence.

Efforts to reclaim the momentum in eradicating polio will require a renewed global effort, and ultimately the elimination of war itself. In our ever shrinking world, it is only a matter of time before we see this scenario play out with a resurgence of polio in the U.S. and West as more and more young families avoid vaccinating their children against polio thinking it is a disease of generations past and in some cases a disease they have never heard of.

Both war and polio should be eliminated and we can do both. It will take unprecedented collaboration amongst humans across national and cultural lines, and will involve many organizations and associations.

There may be no organization in the world better suited to take on some aspects of the challenge than Rotary International, with its longstanding mission of peace and peace building, and a dedicated membership of 1.2 million Rotarians joined together in service work though Rotary clubs in 220 countries of the world including China and Russia

In our nuclear-armed, polio-infected world, President Kennedy’s statement that “mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind” remains true today.

We must not be naïve in this effort. Self-defense and international peacekeeping will always be needed, but violence is quickly becoming maladaptive. Peacekeeping and preventing war is much harder than fighting war but the outcomes benefit everyone.

There will always be conflict – it is the tools of resolving conflict without war that must become the cultural norms. These are tools that already exist and that have been used to resolve every conflict that has ever been fought. These include:

1. Diplomacy, 2. Cooperation and collaboration on international programs like polio eradication, 3. Appropriate foreign aid emphasizing the meeting of essential human needs of food, water, shelter, education, health care and a healthy environment and, finally 4. Adherence to international law, not unilateral action.

We must abandon unexamined assumptions, e.g., that war will always exist, that we can continue to wage war and survive, and that we are separate and not connected. When we awaken to the reality of interconnectedness we see that polio cannot be eradicated without ending war.

As a ground-up organization, Rotary International has had a university-level peace fellows program for more than 10 years pursuing understanding and international peace building. Individual Rotarians joined together to form a growing and active Rotarian Action Group for Peace in 2012. Eliminating nuclear weapons is an important step in this process. The Rotary Action Group for Peace has collaborated with the Nobel Peace Prize group Physicians for Social Responsibility and their international affiliate International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War to educate on the humanitarian consequences of even a very limited nuclear war. This has resulted in developing an international physician Rotary speaker’s bureau of 79 physicians in 21 countries speaking and engaging Rotary clubs the world over.

This type of remarkable collaboration may be just the prescription for our very survival.

For information on arranging a Rotary presentation contact: Erin Thomas @ or Rotary Action Group for Peace

Robert F. Dodge, M.D., serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace FoundationBeyond WarPhysicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions, and writes for PeaceVoice.


More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”