In his famous “Cross of Iron”/ “Chance for Peace” speech in 1953, President Eisenhower critiqued the military-industrial complex while asking, “Is there no other way the world may live?” In Costa Rica today, we glimpse another way to live.
In 1948, Costa Rica dismantled their military establishment and intentionally cultivated security relationships with other nations through treaties, international laws, and international organizations. Free of the burden of military spending, they used the financial savings to invest in their people, creating strong public institutions including public higher education and universal health care. In short, Costa Ricans created a society committed to peace, solidarity, and international law. They have survived with safety and relative prosperity for over 65 years without a standing army.
A Bold Peace details the events which shook the country to its foundations, culminating in the 1948 civil war and the decision to abolish the military. Over the decades, the Costa Rican model has survived several serious crises, but the current threats may be the most formidable of all.