SfP Bulletin October 1987

Full text version of all articles from SfP Bulletin October 1987. A PDF edition is also available.

President's Corner

From opening remarks at the 12-13 September Conference of Research and Education Directors

Never since the cold war began forty years ago have the opportunities been more favorable for those who seek to apply science and technology to peaceful uses. Since the new leadership in the Soviet Union have come up with a new set of priorities, the East-West crisis is seen as unnecessary and obsolete. The sooner governments realize this, the better, and focus on overcoming remaining obstacles so that resources can be released for more constructive uses than the arms race.

As we approach a new century, we face the challenge of overcoming the remaining obstacles that are holding up an agreement between the USA and the USSR on the reduction of a whole stack of overkill missiles, applying multilateral diplomacy to the dangerous game of “chicken” in the Persian Gulf, the efforts at peace making in Central America and in Afghanistan. The highest priority for Science for Peace rests in promoting peaceful cooperation, especially in arms control and disarmament agreements, which would serve to reduce international tensions and fears, particularly in monitoring compliance at a “safe level of compliance”.

Since wars and fear of wars grow out of scientific and technological innovations which fuel the arms race, scientists have to address the causes underlying the war fever that grips the earth and provide relevant information to a bemused and troubled public as well as to its leaders in politics.

— George Ignatieff

On Three Continents

Mrs. Davis and I spent the past year working with graduate students at Addis Ababa University in a CIDA-sponsored project coordinated by the Dept. of Biology, U of Waterloo. The newcomer from the West is struck by the huge slogan over the roof of the luxurious Hilton Hotel: “Peace, Solidarity And Friendship” and to learn that an important government committee has the same name. This in a country that spends up to 40% of its limited budget on the military.

It faces a constant threat of new aggressions from Somalia, where the US has a powerful military base and is building a second provocative one. It faces an active secessionist war in Eritrea, where the rebels are supported and armed by such right-wing countries as Saudi Arabia.

The Ethiopian government has devised both short-range and long-range elaborate plans to eliminate the backwardness, illiteracy and ignorance inherited from a feudal past, to make the country self-reliant in agriculture, and to increase labor productivity. Although progress has been attained toward all these goals, implementation of many has been severely retarded by the military expenditures.

— Charles Davis, St. John’s, NFLD

Brydon and Andre Gombay are settled into their “sabbatical” address in France and promise to keep up posted on the French and European outlooks on affairs of mutual concern.

Myriam Fernandez is just back from a month’s working trip to Brazil for CIDA, looking at the Canadian sponsored wheat program. After completing her degree in the spring she will go to work for CIDA on the Brazilian wheat program.

Eric Fawcett, Dept. of Physics, UofT, Toronto, M5S 1A7, is Canadian coordinator of the second Int’l Peace Week of Scientists November 9-15, 1987, coordinated this year by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Concept: Throughout the world scientists and non-scientists jointly hold events then announce their activities as part of a world-wide event.

Aims: To further arms control and disarmament and the application of science for peace and human betterment by promoting well-informed public discussion and enhancing world -wide cooperation between concerned scientists and non-scientists.

A $50,000 (US) Peace Prize is being offered for the best proposal for a plan to provide incentives that science be used for peaceful rather than destructive purposes. Deadline: March 15, 1988. For the rules, write or call Prof Fawcett or the Bulletin.

To join the action by being an endorser for this year, contact Prof Fawcett or Dr. David Krieger, Pres., Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, 1187 Coast Village Road, Suite 123, Santa Barbara, Calif. 93108, USA.

Plutonium

During the evening of Aug 6, 1987, the Journal programme on CBC-TV made public planned overflights in Canadian airspace of transport planes commissioned by the US government to carry plutonium from western Europe to Japan. According to Bill Cameron, a potential accident over Canadian territory could have enormous consequences because of plutonium’s extreme toxicity. The inhalation of a single dust particle of this substance may subsequently result in death. Perhaps SfP should probe this issue further. Is our Canadian North being viewed as an inconsequential wasteland in this context?

— Robert Korol

On June 26, 1987, the UN Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment came into effect. Canada has both signed and ratified the Convention and accepted Article 20, which gives an independent international commission the right to investigate allegations of torture on their territories. (Al)

A UN 'Brain Trust"?

“Brain Trusts” became fashionable during the Franklin Roosevelt regime in the U.S. before and during World War II. “Think Tanks” have become an important part of the intellectual scenery in every country of the globe since then. An internationally sponsored think tank concerned with global problems has been the Int’l Inst. of Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria. This “Think Tank” has been circumscribed by the fact that its sponsorship has been international rather than trans-national, and it has consequently been dependent on the good will of the sponsoring countries. One type of limitation was imposed by a tacit agreement to avoid approaches to global problems that could raise ideologically sensitive issues. Another dramatic limitation resulted from the cutting off of US support by the Reagan administration. Eventually other American sources of support were found, but the intimidating power of national governments directly intruding in an international enterprise of this sort was made clear.

Scientific knowledge has become the basis for the “high tech” weapons industry and modern military systems. Wishful thinking, need for support contracts or outright dishonesty motivate scientists to work on killing-systems problems and on developments that lead to almost criminal waste of human or material resources.

It is now recognized that the most formidable obstacles on the way to solution (or even consideration) of many of the most important global problems are political rather than technical. A “lack of political will” is frequently mentioned as blocking measures aimed at reducing the chronic threat of omnicidal war. What is performed by individuals or small groups. There will be an effort made to insure coordination and relevance of research whose sponsors want a Science for Peace imprimatur. Proposals will be reviewed and assistance given their development by the regional and national directors. Final approval will be given by the national directors after refereeing by experts as needed. Only after this process can a proposal for a research project or an educational program be submitted for funding consideration to outside financing organizations. The Board of Science for Peace approved this process at its September 15 meeting.

Programmes endorsed by the conference included the national “Peace from Science” prize awarded by the National Youth Science Foundation and the workshops on Surveillance and Verification, Chemical and Biological Weapons. An international conference on Peaceful Development in the Arctic (chaired by Franklyn Griffiths) was endorsed for 1988, as was a national conference on NORAD before the next renewal date. Continuation of an enlarged Bulletin, implementation of a long-planned publication programme, of on-going chapter lecture series, etc., were all endorsed. A most intriguing proposal was the joint sponsorship (CIIPS and SfP, at least) of summer sessions for university faculty preparing peace and conflict studies programmes.

A full report is in the making and will soon be available. We hope a “Think Tank” will grow out of our activities, but we will not blueprint one: the underlying philosophy of our present program is that structure should grow out of function. Perhaps we can explore for a future UN Think Tank, as well as develop a “National Component” of such a transnational venture that might eventually arise.

— Anatol Rapoport, Toronto

To follow up :

On the NORAD Conference, contact David Horwood, 3540 Durocher, # 12, Montreal,P.Q. H2X 2E5, (514)849-6605.

Proliferation: Phil Ehrensaft, Bitnet R14644@UQAM or Dept. de sociologie, UQAM, CP 8888, Succ. A. Montreal H3C 3P8 (514)482-6586.

Special “review of pertinent literature” section for the Bulletin: Phil Ehrensaft (see above) and Philip Wallace. (See list at left.)

Papers Prepared For The Conference — Available From The Bulletin

  • David Parnas,Building Helpful Fences Parnas & Chik-Parnas, STEP at Queen’s
  • G.W. Hoffmann,
    • The Use of the Chess Clock in Formal Discussions and Debates
    • Minterviews
    • A Theory of War and a Strategy for Peace
  • J. Neelin, The Peace from Science Winners at the UN
  • Franklyn Griffiths, The Arctic as an International Political Region
  • A. Rapoport, The Largest Number, A game to be played by participants in a communicating net
  • T.C. Hutchinson and Julie Chouinard, Environmental and Agricultural Consequences of a Major Nuclear Power Plant Accident (Brief submitted on behalf of Science for Peace to the Ontario Nuclear Safety Review).
  • Derek Paul and Bryan Southern, Radioactive Air Monitoring: A Survey of Ontario (Brief submitted on behalf of Science for Peace to the Ontario Nuclear Safety Review).

A detailed Conference Report will include evaluations and comments by participants.

Letters

I am editor of the Ottawa Peace Calendar. My husband and I are members of Science for Peace and thus receive your excellent newsletter, quotations from which I hope to include in our newspaper.

I met Eric Fawcett at the Fate of the Earth Conference in Ottawa a year ago. I am impressed and encouraged by the work and achievements of Science for Peace, especially in the Toronto Chapter.

— Pat Scrimgeour, Ottawa

Note: The Ottawa Peace Calendar is published monthly by the Ottawa Peace Resource Centre, P.O. Box 4075, Station E, Ottawa K1S 5B1.

Even in Psychology the most obscure research seems to find grant money from the US Office of Naval Research. This kind of reliance is not far removed from that of uranium refinery workers in Port Hope or of the Litton employees in Rexdale. In a helpless situation it is prostitution.

— Craig Summers, Kingston

George Ignatieff spoke at the first plenary session of the annual conference of the Group of 78 on 25 September. The session, chaired by Canada’s Disarmament Ambassador, Douglas Roche, was concerned with “constructive internationalism”. Addressing the question, “UN: A Security Alternative for Canada”, was a second plenary panel in which SfP board member Hanna Newcombe participated. Other SfP board members contributing to the deliberations were Eric Fawcett, Janet Wood and UN representative Walter Dorn, who served as recorder for the meeting of the working group on UN Peace-Keeping and Regional Conflicts.

— Walter Dorn, Toronto

Newsworthy

George Spiegelman, on sabbatical from UBC, is “doing my other career research here at Scripps Research Clinic” (Division of Cell Biology)and promises to “file reports to the Bulletin”. Luis Sobrino takes over as BC Chapter chair. Address: Dept of Physics, UBC. (604)228-3647.

Colin Bell (now at Acadia U) turned over his duties to Vera Webb, Dept of Microbiology UBC, who has been chapter secretary. Membership inquiries should be directed to Vera, other matters to Luis Sobrino.

Molly-O

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine
warm upon your face,
the rains fall
soft upon your fields,
and, until we meet again,
may God hold you
in the palm of His hand.

— an old Irish Grace

Canadian Defence

Five Canadians: Jeffrey Simpson(Globe & Mail Ottawa columnist), Joel Sokolsky (Assistant poli-sci prof at Royal Military College Kingston),John Lamb (director Cdn Centre for Arms Control and Disarmament), Steve Shallhorn (Greenpeace Ottawa), and William Epstein (formerly director of disarmament in the UN Secretariat,now at UNITAR), discuss the Defence Dept. White Paper in the October issue of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. All select the purchase of nuclear-powered submarines as the crux of concern — either pro or anti — the proposed Canadian Defence Policy.

“It seems grotesque,” writes Epstein, “that Canada should now be the first non-nuclear country — and the first non-nuclear party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 — to advocate the production, conversion, and / or transfer of peaceful fissionable material to military purposes.”

If the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is unavailable to you, this Bulletin will copy the section for you.

MIT MacArthur Fellow, Thomas Homer-Dixon, speaking on “Plutonium Over Canada”, introduced Canadian Student Pugwash-Scarborough to colleagues at Scarborough College, U of T,on 29 September. This first meeting attracted over 40 — the membership of the new student group is approaching 60. Faculty advisors are all SfP members: S. Whalen, Humanities, L. King, Physical Science, and A. Weatherley, Biological Science. Pres. Leslie Collins is contact person: C-6 Scarborough Residence, 286-6186.

The International Institute of Concern for Public Health plans to launch a newsletter (yet to be named) in November. Those interested are invited to a “Stuffing Party” (envelopes, that is) Oct. 20 at the home of Nancy Jackman, 184 Roxborough Drive in Toronto, 7:30 pm. Rosalie Bartell will be present to brief on the Global Conference of Radiation Victims in New York in September.

Call 533-7351 for more information.

Bookshelf

Pierre Laplante and Joseph Levy, editors, La Paix: Nouvelles Avenues, éditions du Meridien, 1980 rue Sherbrooke ouest, bureau 1000, Montreal H3H 1E8, 1987. Papers delivered at a colloquium sponsored by the World Council of Religions for Peace and Science for Peace by Michel Beaudoin, Rychard Brulê, Paul Cappon, Charles-Phillipe David, Jean-Pierre Derriennic, Louise Gagné, Daniel Holly, John Humphrey, Baghat Khorany, David Mandel, Gérard Pelletier and Jean-Guy Vaillancourt.

TI-ID — Initiative Für Abrustung Lecture, July 6, (Darmstadt, West Germany) Anatol Rapoport, “Risiko und Sicherheit in der Heutigen Gesellschaft”; German translation of recent Science for Peace Bulletins in 5-6/87 Darmstadter B/Atter, Editor, GUnther Schwarz, Haubachweg 5,6100 Darmstadt.

David Parnas, Star Wars: Dream or Nightmare … “Since my resignation (from the US/SDIO Panel on Computing in Support of Battle Management), I have discussed my position with hundreds of interested audiences and responsible politicians in Canada,the United States,the UK, Norway,Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia, This paper summarises my position and what I have learned since resigning.”

Mikhail Gorbachev, “The Reality and Guarantees of a Secure World”, Moscow, Sept 17, 1987, in Pravda and Izvestia. Available in English translation.

Science for Peace Bulletin | ISSN 1925-170X (Print) | ISSN 1925-1718 (Online)