SfP Bulletin December 1985
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To greet a few handshakes and smiles as harbingers of a detente may be to indulge in wishful thinking,but wishful thinking — also called “hope” — may be an ingredient of effective action. Effective action depends on avoiding two kinds of danger: succumbing to despair when things go bad and indulging in complacence when things seem to get better.
The Reagan administration in the U.S. has made things look very bad indeed. Sabre rattling has exceeded in intensity all the noises heard since the start of the Cold War. While deterrence remained the chief argument-stopper in all discussions of the arms race, the proponents of winnable nuclear war unmasked their batteries and went over to the offensive.
Deeds may speak louder than words; but as inputs to social reality words are deeds. Every one is to a certain extent a prisoner of one’s own rhetoric, politicians especially. Of course, politicians are also adept in making about-faces but it takes effort. What is being said becomes part of social reality, in particular of the political climate, one of the determinants of the amount of trust or distrust and of the degree of cognizance of reality or of paranoia in the relations between the superpowers.
Those that argue that trust must be established between the superpowers before any serious steps toward disarmament are undertaken are half right. Those that argue that the paranoid attitudes of the superpowers’ leaders are induced by fears generated by the arms race are also half right. The truth is not “somewhere in between”. The truth encompasses both positions, as is so often the case when cause and effect are interchangeable.
The intensification of the cold war had already started during Carter’s administration. The momentum carried over into Reagan’s and made it that much easier to shift the drive toward war into high gear (the “High Frontier”). The substrate was already there, namely the rhetoric of hatred and threat and the self-righteousness of crusade. Of course rhetoric alone was not enough to keep up the impetus. That was provided by visions of new opportunities to spike the arms race with “high tech”. And this is what has attracted ever more competent scientists and technicians and imaginative war planners to the mammoth preparations for the final holocaust. Coupled with the rhetoric of war planning,the provision of vast resources for war planning produced the politically lethal climate of these Reagan years for the whole world.
To the credit of the peace movement, it did not succumb to despair. There was a crescendo not only of protest, but also of substantive debate. The Star Wars issue, especially, provided a welcome opportunity to carry the debate to the camp of the war community when scientists and even strategists joined the “peace mongers” in building resistance to the drive to war.
Of course it was too much to expect that Star Wars would be dramatically scrapped. Politicians are prisoners of their rhetoric. But it is just barely possible that the stout resistance mobilized against the drive to perdition played a part in defusing the rhetoric.
Thus, the better-than-expected outcome of the Summit heralds hope. It will be somewhat more difficult for the US or the USSR to proceed openly with plans for a first-strike knock-out blow after a publicly stated agreement that a nuclear war is unwinnable. In effect, both leaders started to speak in the language of the peace movement. In the context of international politics, words are acts.
People now must avoid the danger of complacency (to which they succumbed after the last Summit). Both failures and successes, whether real or not, should be occasions for intensifying effort.
I wonder if long ago,
Before dinosaurs walked,
Or turtle’s swam,
Before Earth’s cap was wooded.
Before Arabia was anchored in sand,
I wonder if two men way back then
While the world longed
For a master plan
To unite two ideas
That threatened a clash
That would bring an end to Man.
If these two men
Could not agree,
Then went their separate ways
And a big bang dissolved
In a searing flash
To end their scale of days.
If slowly life started again,
To begin what we know today – The search for Shelter,
The building of tools,
The long moil of work and play.
If a quiet brooding Being
Covets a special space
And tolerates Man as long as two men
Acknowledge their proper place.
Murray Wilton November 21, 1985
Despite the foreboding situation the 1985 review conference did succeed in achieving a final declaration by consensus. The parties declared their conviction that the NPT is essential to international peace and security and reaffirmed their continued support for the objectives of the Treaty – to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear explosive devices, to halt and reverse the nuclear arms race, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
The critical issue on which the conference came close to foundering was the failure of the three nuclear powers (U.S.,U.K., USSR) to meet the requirements of Art. VI to achieve a comprehensive test ban and a cessation of the arms race “at an early date”. Because of US opposition to a test ban, a vote was avoided. Because of its policy of solidarity with the US on the question Of preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, the USSR also wanted to achieve consensus and avoid a vote.
Negotiations conducted by Ambassador Garcia Robles (Mexico) for the neutral and non-aligned states and Lewis Dunn of the US led to the adoption of the final declaration by consensus.
- William Epstein (Copies of the final document are available from the national office.)
In 1987 Ontario Hydro will start removing tritium from the heavy water used in its reactors. Tritium is an essential component of nuclear warheads; and Ontario Hydro, wishing to exploit the element commercially, is faced with the problem of reassuring the public that none of its tritium can be used in the American nuclear weapons program, either directly or indirectly. To that end, it is inviting public input into the establishment of guidelines for the exploitation of this product.
Briefs from interested organizations and individuals are welcomed on the issue. Deadline is Jan. 15, 1986, for the public consultation. Background material is available from David Hardy, M.C.I.P., Senior Community Studies Planner, Ontario Hydro, 700 University Ave., Toronto, M5G 1X6.
David Suzuki has joined the board of Pollution Probe in Toronto.
The Bertrand Russell Peace Lectures were inaugurated Nov. 5 and 6 at McMaster University in Hamilton by E.P. Thompson (U.K.)who has been described; as the single most important figure in European Nuclear Disarmament. He spoke on “The Threat of War” and “The Healing of the Blocs”.
The University College (U of Toronto) Lectures in Peace .Studies heard Johan Galtung, founder of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, speak Nov. 28 on “World of Wounded Nations: The Politics of Trauma’: Galtung was in Canada to deliver the keynote address to the Canadian Conference on Economic Conversion.
Eric Fawcett, former president of Science for Peace, has been hard at work since summer attempting to establish an international network of scientists opposed to continuation of the arms race. He has established contact between a number of national groups of scientists and secured promises from the groups to exchange publications. Science for Peace endorsed the idea (Its acronym is SPIN)at its Nov. 6 board meeting. SANA – Australia and the Japan Scientists Association have already begun exchanging newsletters.
SPIN is not an organization itself, Fawcett claims. It has no constitution, no officers and no mandate, but it’s an idea whose time may come. He is currently supporting and seeking support for a meeting of scientists on the occasion of the possible 1986 UN Special Session on Disarmament.
From: Vice-President (Research)
Subject: S.D.I. Research
“Any staff member of this University is free to accept support from this source, provided that the results of the work are freely publishable without undue delay in the scientific or scholarly literature. My own personal view with respect to this source, is that I wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole because to do so would be to accord it more credence than it is worth. Anyone who thinks that S.D.I. can be taken seriously should read the article “Software aspects of strategic defense systems” by Professor D. L. Parnas (U. of Victoria) in the American Scientist,October 1985, vol. 73, 5, pp.432-440.”
- J. Gordin Kaplan
University of Alberta
Anatol Rapoport will teach a course in McMaster University’s new peace studies program in 1986.
Two international conferences have been announced for April:
For Vancouver, a city centennial project directed toward the assembling of “ideas for constructive steps leading to disarmament” which will be incorporated into the “Vancouver Proposals”; a document to be delivered to all NATO and Warsaw Pact Countries. April 19-27.
And in Montreal, April 21-23, is a conference on the theme “Illusions and Realities in the Nuclear Age”. Scheduled to appear on the program are SfP board members and members Anatol Rapoport, George Ignatieff, Margaret Fulton, Robert Malcolmson, M.L. Banda, M.V. Naidu, Ernie Regehr.
Ursula Franklin helped narrate the CBC IDEAS program, THE NORTHERN FRONT, in October. Other members appearing on the three programs were Robert Reford, Ernie Regehr, Mel Watkins. A complete transcript of the three programs and a bibliography are now available from CBC Transcripts, P.O. Box 4039, Station “A”, Toronto NSW 2P6, 85. Address: IDEAS.
NEW YORK (AP). A group of banks led by First National of Chicago has agreed to lend the Soviet Union $400 million (US) at low interest rates to buy grain from Canada and the US.
“The Soviet Union has come to be regarded as one of the best credit risks around,” said Ed Hewitt, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.
“The Geneva Summit,” he said, has improved things quite a bit. It has changed the atmosphere in a more positive direction.”
Technology has created an interdependence between nations which we seem not yet willing or able to recognize. Summitry in Geneva is all very well, but we who are not nuclear weapons powers feel Lilliputians when we ponder our inability to influence the policies of the US and the USSR.
The FREEZE campaign offers a first step to all countries to press for a halt to the madness of the seemingly endless pursuit of nuclear superiority by the two superpowers.
Public opinion in both the US and the UK, for example, speaks out clearly in its support. Norway, which voted against the Indian and Soviet Freeze drafts before the UN General Assembly in 1983, abstained on both these and on the Mexican-Swedish draft in 1984 because of public support for the Freeze in Norway. Australia, which abstained on the three resolutions in 1983, voted in favour of the Mexican-Swedish draft in 1984 as a result of pressure from its Nuclear Disarmament Party.
The Five-Continent peace initiative of 1984, which called for a nuclear Freeze as a first step, was reaffirmed in 1985 by the leaders of Argentina, Greece, India, Mexico, Sweden and Tanzania.
The Canadian government is susceptible to the influence of public opinion. Its position on SDI surely reflects that. There is no reason to believe that our failure to support last year’s Freeze resolution at the UN is etched in stone.
Gordon Thompson, in his briefing sheet on the Implementation of a nuclear weapons Freeze which was distributed at the pre-NPT Review Conference in Geneva, writes:
“The Freeze concept is seen by some as primarily a vehicle to express popular support for an end to the arms race… (but) …a Freeze would also serve national and international security functions in the same manner as more “traditional” arms control measures. Indeed, a good freeze-reduction package could serve these functions better than any likely alternative.
“A Freeze would be a small but very positive step towards a stronger framework of international security and the ultimate goal of global disarmament. Accordingly,the Freeze process should establish precedents which will be useful in more mature-stages Of world organization. This argues for the adoption, wherever possible, of multilateral or international measures of oversight and verification, rather than bilateral measures.”
— Brydon Gombay
For getting post-Summit bearings:
Alva Myrdal, The Game of Disarmament, Pantheon Books, N.Y., 1978, Paperback, $7.75 in Canada.
This is a sobering and detailed study of why years of disarmament discussions have failed and of the awesome cost of an arms race which has brought less and less security the faster it has escalated.
International Journal of group Tensions, Special Volume on. the Nuclear Threat, 10 West 66th St., Suite 6-D, New York 10023, Editor Benjamin Wolman.
Contributions by Wolman, M.Ryle, S.M. Finger, N. Nachmias, J. Frank, R.Lifton, A. Rapoport, J.Lowebstein, K.Boulding, S.Zuckerman, T.Williams, P. Tetlock, B. McGuire, Jr.
Lloyd Etheredge, Can Governments Learn? a title in the Pergamon Government & Politics Series.
From the introduction: “My subject will be one recurring problem, American policy toward revolutions which use Marxist rhetoric, receive material aid from the Soviet Union, and are directed against a repressive government that has received substantial material aid and political support from the United States.”
Roger Walsh, Staying Alive: The Psychology Of Human Survival, Shambhala (New Science Library), Boulder, Colorado, 1984.
Roger Walsh has succeeded in preparing a brief ,highly readable overview of psychological issues in the present global crisis. The book is organized into four sections:
- Crises of population, resources, the environment and the threat of nuclear annihilation;
- Psychological causes of the crises are explored;
- Effective responses are discussed; and
- The psychological impact of “living on the brink”.
Dr. Walsh’s hopeful conclusion: “The magnitude of our difficulties may be matched only by the magnitude of our opportunities….There is exciting and desperately needed work to be done, and we are privileged to have the opportunity of doing it.” (Pg. 93.)
STAYING ALIVE has about 90 pages of text, 120 quotations, forwards by the Dalai Lama and Linus Pauling, 20 pages of notes and references and a 6-page appendix of organizations concerned with peace.
F.H. Knelman, Reagan, God And The Bomb, McClelland and Stewart, Toronto, October, 1985. 350 pages, $22.95.
Professor Knelman, Quebec Chapter member, former Science for Peace National Board Member, and author of the acclaimed Nuclear Energy: The Unforgiving Technology (1976), discussed his latest book at a Toronto Chapter seminar Nov. 15. His analysis of the New Right and of the political advisors surrounding Pres. Reagan focussed on the religious fundamentalist views which lead to a belief in the Bomb as an instrument of salvation as Armageddon approaches.
The President’s advisors who hold such views see arms control as meaningless and are dedicated to a quest for superiority in the arms race – which they endorse. They see this arms race as the best means of bringing about the capitulation and economic suffocation of the USSR.
Despite the power of these advisors, Prof. Knelman is optimistic about the future. He sees their power eroding at the hands of Congress.
Anton Colijn and Trudy Govier, U. of Calgary Peace & Conflict Resolution Study Group, Canada’s Participation In NORAD: Brief submitted to the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defense, October, 1985.
John Polanyi, Norad’s Future In Doubt, Brief to the Standing Committee of External Affairs and National Defense. Presented in Ottawa Nov. 19, 1985. In his Brief Prof. Polanyi discusses links between Star Wars and NORAD.
Anatol Rapoport and Derek Paul for Science for Peace, Competitiveness And Security, a Brief on the External Affairs Department’s Green Paper submitted to the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on Canada’s International Relations, November, 1985.
Security and disarmament
I recently came across your discussion paper ‘Security and Disarmsment’ of February, 1982. I was very interested to read of your support for an international satellite surveillance system.
Enclosed is a copy of a recent book in which I also endorse that proposal.”
- Keith Suter
Keith Suter, Peaceworking: The United Nations and Disarmament. The United Nations Ass’n of Australia, 147A King Street, Sydney NSW 2000, 1985.
Members of the Executive:
Enclosed is my membership renewal and cheque for $5.
Since there are growing numbers of us who happen to be unemployed, I would like to suggest that either you have another category of membership for unemployed at $5, or that you combine student, retired, unemployed into a single category. It seems to me important that the fact of unemployment is recognized more seriously in the academic and peace fields, especially as a major cause of the problem is unproductive military expenditures.
- David Leadbeater
Cause of the Month
At this time I want to thank you for the help to our Cause of the Month Club. For years, after discussing problems facing us at the time, we have decided what organizations should be supported. At the last get-together I presented excerpts from the President’s Corner in the Bulletin and read your letter to the group. The enclosed check is our small contribution to Science for Peace. Our very best to you.
The Toronto Chapter, which got its mandate at the last SfP board meeting Nov. 6, has already started a newsletter of its own. It has moved quickly to assume responsibility for the lecture and seminar series at the University of Toronto which were formerly organized by national board members.
Equally quickly,the new (Nov. 6 mandate also) Ottawa Chapter will move to take over and administer a national board approved program: the establishment of an award in the national youth Science Fair program.
Membership drives are underway in Quebec and B.C. Chapters. New Brunswick Chapter has finished this year’s.
Gerhard Stroink, National Board Member from Halifax (Dalhousie), attended the Nov. 6 board meeting in Toronto to discuss possibilities for establishment of a chapter in Halifax.