SfP Bulletin March 1987
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Moscow, Feb. 14-16: Political Agenda Or Propaganda?
I have been asked whether Mikhail Gorbachev’s spectacular conference, “For a Non-Nuclear World”, which brought together hundreds of scholars and famous people from the West and the Soviet Union, was primarily intended for propaganda and designed to disarm gullible Westerners or represented a real change in Soviet attitudes and policies. In answer to this question it is necessary to keep in mind that in the activities of every government there are two distinct realities. The first is the reality in its primary sense: the reality of nuclear weapons, armies, terrorism and the use of force by the state in all its various forms. The other reality is what people are thinking of at any given moment. It is the reality of public opinion and this, of course, is politically fundamental. None realizes this more than the Soviet government, but in this respect it is not all that different from other governments, including that in Washington.
What differentiates Moscow from Washington at the moment and is of concern to Canadians is that, while the American administration is in evident disarray from domestic reasons as well as in consequence of the evident differences within the administration on foreign policy issues, the new Soviet leadership has embarked on a policy of domestic reform and an attitude of liberalization. These developments in the USSR could have far-reaching effects if they are allowed to proceed by their domestic as well as foreign opponents.
When I was in Moscow last September I gained the impression that domestic reform was to be given priority over militarism by the new leadership. If this is to succeed, however, resources would need to be diverted from military competition with the West. Since nuclear weapons cannot be used except for intimidation which escalates international tensions and fuels the arms race, the Soviet aim is to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. In other words, domestic reform and the measures to reduce international tensions are essentially interlinked.
Soviet leaders who wish to change course radically face obstacles within the Soviet Union as well as from abroad. There are some Pentagon strategists who apparently believe that the Soviets can be “forced into submission” by a continued acceleration of the arms race,and there is opposition to reform from conservatives in the Soviet Union. Obviously certain powerful members of the ruling elite who value their positions and perquisites more than they value the good of the Soviet people,may try to thwart the reforms. The Soviet press is full of denunciations of this opposition. The other less obvious danger is the innate conservatism and suspicion of authority of the Soviet people who developed a certain disillusionment about raised expectations which have not been fulfilled in the past.
It seems only reasonable from the Canadian standpoint that the bold initiatives of the new Soviet leadership should be given a chance; they may not recur again. There is logic in Mr. Gorbachev’s arguments that in order to achieve “constructive endeavors to improve our country” the USSR will not need war and the arms race, but “lasting peace, predictability and constructiveness in international relations”.
As a former Ambassador to NATO, I am concerned also about the impact of divergent public and political perceptions of present opportunities in East-West relations on the solidarity of the alliance. It is allied solidarity, after all, that represents the real deterrent to war-the reliance on any one type of weapon.
At a time when relations between Washington and the European members of the alliance are under strain over the interpretation of the ABM Treaty, amid problems as to how to cope with terrorism and the Middle East crisis, facing the danger of a trans-Atlantic trade war, it is noteworthy that Foreign Minister Genscher has openly advocated that the West take Mr. Gorbachev and his “new policy” literally with all this Implies. Speaking in Switzerland earlier this month the German minister said:
If there should be a chance today that after 40 years of East-West confrontation, there should be a turning point in East-West relations, it would be a mistake of historical dimensions for the West to let this chance flip just because it cannot escape a way of thinking that invariably expects the worst (NY TIMES, Feb. 18)
It would be even more inexcusable if the opportunity were missed by Canadians, situated as we are on the shortest route of the nuclear-tipped missiles that the Soviets now propose to eliminate, simply because of the temporary disarray in the Reagan administration. Science for Peace members have been active opening up the contacts between scientists in the Soviet Union and the West, and have found the discussion freer and less manipulated than in the past. We intend to follow up and test the ground for more solid cooperation as opportunities offer.
— George Ignatieff
NEXT MEETING OF THE BOARD: Tuesday,Mar.31, supper at 6:30 at the Rapoports’, 38 Wychwood Park in Toronto. Call (416)656-5496 or the national SfP office.
A distant spiral galaxy
Once symbolized tranquility.
The stars were awesome, but serene;
Novas were few and far between.
But now the starry firmament
Is known to be more violent.
Pulsars rotate and radiate
At so immoderate a rate,
And nebulae ethereal hide
Such nasty fireworks inside,
One can’t be sanguine any more
About what nature holds in store.
Puny beside a pulsar’s jet,
The Bomb is still a greater threat.
Trajectories of neutron stars
Are comfortably far from ours,
Whereas the Bomb is dangerous
Because it’s pointed right at us.
Even when orbiting in space,
It targets Earth, no other place.
However imprecise its aim
It will destroy us just the same—
Unless we first can find the wit
And courage to dismantle it.
— Chandler Davis
Canadian Voice of Women for Peace invites SfP members to a week’s UN visit in early May. An opportunity is provided to observe the Disarmament Commission at work, meet with the Canadian Mission and with women active in disarmament affairs.
Cost — approximately $500. Contact Janis Alton, Voice of Women, 736 Bathurst St., Toronto M5S 2R4.
I’m delighted with the formation on Dec 25 of the Retired Soviet Generals and Admirals for Peace and Disarmament, and that representatives of our group have been invited to meet with them to establish theme and agenda for this summer’s discussion. Our three previous meetings with the Warsaw Treaty ad hoc group were cordial and productive and we expect these relations to continue.
— Leonard Johnson, Generals for Peace and Disarmament
I would like to recommend you to read the following report: American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens. It is a subcommittee staff report for the Subcommittee on Energy Conservation and Power of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515. (Oct. 1986)
We are very glad that Alexander Rapoport is going to have his songs performed in Toronto. Mr. Asano Shofu and Mrs. Izui Chieko are very happy and honored to hear that the songs will be performed. Needless to say he has their permission. They will be performed in our “No More Hiroshimas” concerts in Tokyo and Hiroshima this August, too.
— Shingo Shibata
Mr. Asano and Mrs. Izui are the composers of haikus for which Alexander Rapoport has written the music. The songs will have their world premier at the University of Toronto May 26.
David L. Parnas writes:
“I view SfP as an organization that should focus on public education … I want to emphasize reaching the public, not academics and not politicians. My involvement with the SDI issue in the last two years has convinced me that many of our colleagues are misleading the public about the potential reliability and safety of technology. We need an organized force to counter those who claim that security can be achieved through the development of arms and related technologies. I also believe that we cannot have much influence on politicians unless we develop influence with the public. Most politicians that I have met are followers rather than leaders.”
David Parnas is a computer scientist and emphasizes the insights generated by that branch of applied mathematics. Every other scientist will do the same. Physicists, biologists, chemists do the same. It is important to see the prophylactic role that some knowledge in these fields can play in peace education. It is important to render the people immune to explicit or implicit misinformation-disinformation — disseminated by weapons enthusiasts — the promised defence to be provided by Star Wars (once called civil defence), the passing over or silence or outright dismissal of the effects of nuclear explosions on the climate, on the ozone layer, etc., come to mind.
Knowledge about the physical and biological consequences of a war of total destruction is widely disseminated. Knowledge about the fallibility of computers to which decisions about nuclear launching may soon be completely delegated is wide spread. But nothing happens to slow the warmakers. What needs to be as widely known is how a minuscule group of persons have the power to decide the life or death of billions. What puts them and keeps them in positions of power over the life and death of the rest of us?
With Parnas I think the effectiveness of peace education depends on contacts between concerned scientists and the public, the creation of an alliance to counter the power of those who claim that “security” can be achieved through the deployment of high technology arms and ignoring the consequences of such deployment.
(To be continued)
— Anatol Rapoport
Hans Blumenfeld, Does Deterrence Deter War? From the Bulletin.
And from your bookstore: Hans Blumenfeld, Life Begins At 65: The Not Entirely Candid Autobiography Of A Drifter, Harvest House, Ltd, Publishers, Montreal, Canada’ 1987.
E. Fawcett & D. Paul, Conventional and Chemical Disarmament as Confidence- Building Measures Leading to Nuclear Disarmament. Paper prepared for an international forum of scientists gathered in Moscow 14-16 Feb. 1987 to discuss the staged elimination of nuclear weapons.
Barry Childers (Geneva) offers some practical suggestions for carrying on the dialogue with war-mongers: Ask the Tough Questions.The Bulletin will reprint his article for you.
From the UN SMDP Bulletin, January, 1987, the text (in French or English) of the Delhi Declaration on Principles for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free and Non-Violent World.
Gernot Böhme, Report of a meeting on Science, Technology and the Military at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. Early Jan. Dr. B8hme was with the delegation from Germany and this report is in German. From the Bulletin.
Grace Halsell, Prophecy And Politics: Militant Evangelists On The Road To Nuclear War, Lawrence Hill & Co. Westport, Co.. 1986
— William Klassen
This book highlights the problem which arises from bringing the terms “religion” and “peace” together. Grace Halsell has been in and out of the Middle East for a number of years.She has made numerous trips to Israel with Jerry Falwell and interviewed many Christian leaders from the USA. She wonders why Israel has made such a strong alliance with the Moral Majority and concludes that American Jewish leaders are prepared to endure the insults inherent in the
fundamentalist theology for the greater good: the security of Israel.
Most disturbing to Halsell is the fact that thousands of Christian tourists annually come to Israel and never discover there the living churches. It is alarming to read her evidence of the involvement of many Christian fundamentalists in the secular state of Israel and the support they provide for its nuclear capabilities. She portrays the alliance between dispensationalist Christians and Israel as a betrayal of both Christianity and the state of Israel.
This is a courageous book which any one who is concerned about Middle East peace or about religion and peace can read with profit. The book as written holds your interest; the material is well researched. She cites evidence that President Reagan (pp. 40-50) is a follower of the dispensationalist line. It illustrates that a most dangerous threat to world peace today is an unscientific approach to the Bible. Those scholars who are seeking to interpret the Bible responsibly and to look at its values in the light of the threat of nuclear annihilation have a very important task before them. Zeal without knowledge is one of the most destructive forces in human history. To read this book is a sober reminder of that fact and a sombre call for help addressed to informed students of ancient literature.
Write the Department of External Affairs, 125 Promenade Sussex Drive, Ottawa KlA 0G2 for a copy of the department’s Annual Report 1985/86, which covers the period April 1, 1985 to March 31, 1986. Of particular interest is the restatement of the priority objectives of Canadian arms control and disarmament policy as outlined by the prime minister in October, 1985:
- negotiated radical reductions in nuclear forces and the enhancement of strategic stability
- maintenance and strengthening of the nuclear non-proliferation regime
- negotiation of a global chemical weapons ban
- support for a comprehensive test ban treaty
- prevention of an arms race in outer space
- building of confidence sufficient to facilitate the reduction of military forces in Europe and elsewhere.
From Kluwer Academic Publishers, 101 Philip Drive, Norwell MA 02061,U.S.A. or your local bookstore:
Archie Harms and Douglas Wyman, Mathematics And Physics Of Neutron Radiography.
Yu. B. Germeier, Non-Antagonistic Games, translated from the Russian by Anatol Rapoport.
The new (Fall, 1986) Stanley Foundation bibliography of resource material is available on request from the Foundation,’ 420 East Third St. Muscatine, Iowa 52761, U.S.A.
Prospects for Peace, edited by Paris Arnopoulos, Montreal, Gamma Institute Press, 1986. $18.95. 20 essays on the subject of war and peace from the perspective of Canadian futurists.
The Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems was signed in Moscow on May 26, 1972. Some of the features:
- unlimited duration
- USSR and US undertook not to deploy ABM systems for territorial defence
- 2 ABM systems were allowed: one around a national capitol the other in an area containing ICBM silo launchers
- neither party could develop, test or deploy ABM systems or components which are sea,air, space or mobile land-based
- national verification means allowed and not to be interfered with. No concealment.
A protocol signed July 3, 1974, reduced the number of allowed deployments from two to one — either in the ICBM silo launching area or centered on the national capitol.
Joseph Palca, “Soviet Scientists’ Assessment of SDI”, Nature, 8 Jan.1987 Reviews analysis of SDI by USSR scientists. While many of the criticisms voiced resemble those already familiar, the point is made that SDI may be a violation of the ABM Treaty of 1972. SDI would not protect Europe and would destabilize a current strategic weapons balance.
L. Sykes and D.M. Davis, “The Yields of Soviet Strategic Weapons”, Scientific American, January, 1987. Seismic data from Soviet underground tests since 1976 indicate yields have been held to limit of 150 kilotons set by Threshold Test Ban Treaty. The findings disprove US claims of Soviet testing abuses.
Jim King, Dept. of Physics, U. of Toronto, has become associate director of research for the Toronto area.
In Ottawa and among our members there is interest in preparing one or two background papers on chemical and biological warfare, addressing issues of verification, recent use and future development plans. There is identifiable foreign expertise on these topics, particularly within the Pugwash Chemical Warfare Study Group. An aim of any group we can establish will be to absorb this expertise and bring it to the Canadian scene.Arthur Forer, Dept. of Biology, York Univ., Downsview, Ont. M3J 1P3, tel: (416) 736-5398, has agreed to lead a study group for SfP. The mission of the group at this stage is to establish communication channels between Canadian experts in various aspects of the topic and to develop within the group up-to-date expertise on the subject so as to be able to formulate positions for Science for Peace and to influence public opinion and have an input to public policy;
The group will develop its own dynamics and maintain a cooperative liaison with the regional research directors. The first step seems to be for those SfP members interested to communicate directly with Dr. Forer and to declare specific areas of interest and expertise.
The way is open for the formation of other working groups. Hopefully the network we have established across the country can begin to make such efforts work quickly once the need or interest is articulated.
— Paul LeBlond
Dept. of Oceanography, UBC Vancouver, B.C. V6S 2C4
The National Youth Peace Prize
Co-sponsored by Science for Peace and the National Youth Science Fair Foundation. Contributions to prizes, nationally and regionally, are tax deductible through Science for Peace.
The BC Chapter has voted money for its regional Youth Science Fair and arranged for judges.
Walter Dorn has completed his study of peace-keeping satellites, a review of the literature and the concept,for CIIPS.
THE QUEBEC CENTRE FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT AND COMMUNITY HEALTH (Dr. Paul Cappon, director) has announced the ‘AMBASSADORS OF PEACE’ program to develop human understanding and friendships between Quebec and Soviet young people. 15 boys and 15 girls, aged 12-14. will visit the Soviet Union in May — a follow-up to the International Year of Peace.
John Buttrick has accepted the chair of the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly in Toronto and will resign as treasurer of the Toronto Chapter.