SfP Bulletin November 1989
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Dr. George Ignatieff, immediate past-President of Science for Peace and our first Honorary President, wrote one of the tributes to the late John and Lois Dove in the last number of the Bulletin. Now, incredibly, George Ignatieff himself is gone. Our grief is renewed, our sense of loss massively enlarged.
As President of Science for Peace, George Ignatieff was held in the highest personal regard for his inspiring leadership, but also as colleague and friend. This great Canadian made superb efforts on behalf of our organization, which not only gratified the membership, but led us to realise our excellent fortune in having as President one of such unique experience and expertise concerning international and national leaders, politics and affairs. His influence extended the scope and enlarged the influence and standing of our enterprise.
The successful functioning of Science for Peace depends not only on the enthusiasm and industry of executive and ordinary members, but on the effectiveness, vision and stature of its Presidents. George Ignatieff splendidly fulfilled the requirements. However depressing his loss, we can best honour his memory and spirit by getting on with the work of Science for Peace to the best of our abilities. This will represent our sincerest form of respect to his life and memory. Science for Peace members send their heartfelt wishes to the members of the Ignatieff family, especially to his wife Alison and sons Andrew and Michael.
For so long Canada enjoyed and deserved, as a world middle power among the nations, an enviable reputation with regard to its records in human rights, and in its respect for peaceful solutions to international problems and its role in helping to solve them — the model of an “honest broker” in world affairs. That reputation has somewhat dimmed in recent years. However, it is reassuring to read (Globe and Mail, October 9) that a statement by the Canadian Pugwash Group has been sent to Prime Minister Mulroney which “calls for the abolition of cruise missile testing in Canada, Canadian support for a comprehensive nuclear test ban, a greater role for the Canadian Forces in the United Nations, and greater Canadian involvement in both conventional and nuclear disarmament.”
Dr. John Polanyi, of the Canadian Pugwash Group was reported as saying that he “was confident the Prime Minister would heed the group’s message even though it was, in many ways, contrary to current Canadian foreign policy and might bring the country into conflict with its NATO allies.”
Initiatives such as this are enormously important, not because they necessarily produce immediate results, but because they keep governments informed of what a group of responsible and intelligent people, whose number includes some who are greatly experienced in diplomacy and international relations, are currently thinking about our country’s long-term responsibilities in matters of international peace and security.
William Epstein; Chairman of Canadian Pugwash Group; Senior UN Official; diplomat; distinguished scholar; author, consultant and activist in disarmament, was a long-time friend and colleague of George Ignatieff. Science for Peace Bulletin is honoured and grateful to be able to publish this splendid and unique account of George Ignatieff’s life’s work.
To recall George Ignatieff’s dedication, persistence and humanity in his life-long struggle for a peaceful, secure and decent world is the occasion for both pain and gratitude. Pain, because of the great loss we have all suffered. It is no exaggeration to say that, in addition to his immediate family, all who had the good fortune to know him, in particular in the peace movement in Canada and throughout the world, feel bereft and desolate by his sudden death: Gratitude, because his fearless pursuit of a safer and better world and his rock-like integrity and determination in that pursuit, despite his first-hand knowledge and understanding of the difficulties and obstacles, will remain an inspiration and a beacon to all who follow in his path.
This scion of Russian nobility, who came to Canada as a boy, was both a great Canadian and a great internationalist. A protégé of Mike Pearson, he performed outstanding service to Canada in London and Washington and as Ambassador to Yugoslavia, to NATO, to the United Nations in New York and in Geneva where, as representative of Canada on the Conference on Disarmament, he was in effect Ambassador for Disarmament, a position to which he was later formally appointed for a brief period in 1984. Among all the important posts he held, he counted his years at the United Nations as his best.
I first met George in 1946 when he and I were middle level officers at the UN, he an assistant to General Andrew McNaughton the Canadian representative on the newly established Atomic Energy Commission, and I one of the few Canadians in the UN Secretariat. I was immediately impressed with his strong aversion to nuclear weapons (then called the “atomic bomb”) and his equally strong support for the UN and international peace. When Canada was elected a member of the UN Security Council in 1947, George became McNaughton’s deputy representative and his knowledge of politics and skill at diplomacy served McNaughton in good stead in dealing with all the hot issues of the post-war world — the coup in Czechoslovakia, and the military conflicts in Indonesia, Kashmir, Korea, Palestine etc. It was in those days that George Ignatieff was first called a “peacemonger” by the press at the UN, a label which he proudly used in the title of his book of memoirs.
Twenty years later Ambassador George Ignatieff returned to New York as Canadian Permanent Representative to the UN and as Canadian representative on the Security Council to which Canada had again been elected. He advocated an enhanced role for the United Nations in peacekeeping, peacemaking and disarmament. Highlights of this period were the third outbreak of Arab-Israeli war in 1967, the Biafran conflict in Nigeria, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and the continuing East-West and North-South problems. He deplored the withdrawal of the UN Emergency Force from Sinai at the unilateral request of the United Arab Republic (Egypt) and foresaw that it would inevitably lead to the six-day war that occurred in June 1967. Thereafter, he worked closely with Lord Caradon and Arthur Goldberg in crafting the famous Resolution 242, adopted unanimously by the Security Council, which laid down the basic principles for peace between Israel and the Arab states.
When his tour of duty at New York was up, he was delighted with his appointment in 1969 as successor to General E.L.M. Burns, ambassador for Disarmament and Canadian Representative to what was at that time called the Eighteen Nation Committee on Disarmament (now the 40 nation Conference on Disarmament). I think he was a bit surprised to find that he was also to become Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations Office at Geneva and to the many UN Specialized Agencies where he had to monitor some 4,000 or more meetings each year!
Before taking up his post in Geneva he asked me to outline for him a programme of disarmament measures that ought to be pursued in the near term (3 years) and the long term (15 years). I warned him of the improbability of the Government agreeing to support in any active sense many of the measures in the program, but he was very pleased with the list of measures and was determined to seek permission to pursue them in Geneva.
As it happened, George was in fact fortunate in being able to play an active role in the drafting of two treaties — the Seabed Treaty (banning all nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction from the seabed and ocean floor) and the Biological Convention (eliminating and banning all biological and toxin weapons). He regarded these, however, as minor or secondary achievements and was disappointed that the Government would take little or no initiative in pressing for a total nuclear test ban, specific measures to slow down and reverse the nuclear arms race and to ban all chemical weapons.
A decade later he and I were both very pleased when Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau proposed the “strategy of suffocation of the nuclear arms race” at the UN’s First Special Session on Disarmament in 1978. The strategy included four major items from our list — a total ban on nuclear testing, a ban on flight testing strategic delivery vehicles, the cessation of production of fissionable material for weapons and a freeze and reduction of military expenditure. All these measures are now active items on the disarmament agenda.
By 1971, however, George had become increasingly frustrated by what he perceived as the Government’s trend to abandon its active support for internationalism in peace and disarmament and its contempt for the “helpful fixer” role. He also felt that External Affairs was rapidly losing its former decisive influence in foreign policy matters and that other departments, in particular National Defence, were increasing their actual role and influence. Moreover, the role of the United Nations and of multilateralism were also being eroded by unilaterlism of states and by the bilateral American-Soviet negotiations on nuclear disarmament. Finally, when he received the offer to become Provost of Trinity College, his alma mater, he decided to accept it and to end his career in government. Thus, George Ignatieff began his long and brilliant international career with his first posting abroad to the UN in New York in 1946 and ended it with his last posting to the UN in Geneva in 1972. And, although he knew better than most the problems of the UN and its limitations, he never failed to regard it as humanity’s best hope for a secure and peaceful world.
He told me that in his new career he intended to devote as much of his time and energy as he could to the cause of peace. He certainly lived up to that intention. Although his published memoirs, “The Making of a Peacemonger” ended in 1972 at the same time as his diplomatic career, George did not end his pursuit of peace. He merely shifted his efforts from governmental to non-governmental channels, where he was free to criticise openly whatever he considered as wrong or misguided in government policies. He took full advantage of the many opportunities to do so.
In the 1970s John Polanyi, its then chairman, invited George and me to join the Canadian Pug-wash Group, and we became active in the Pugwash Movement at about the same time. George was always a great source of strength and could be relied upon to help in every way possible. He arranged for us to hold meetings at Trinity College, and he hosted the 30th International Pugwash Symposium, at Trinity in May 1978, on “The Dangers of Nuclear War”. The meeting, organized by John Polanyi, was the first Pugwash Symposium held in Canada and was attended by distinguished international scientists. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau attended with two of his senior advisors and wrote the Foreword to the published volume edited by Franklyn Griffiths and John Polanyi. The Prime Minister was impressed by the discussions and, at the concluding dinner, I was able to urge him to attend the First UN Special Session on Disarmament the following month and to give him a list of possible measures to propose, some of which he set forth in his “strategy of suffocations of the nuclear arms race.”
When I became Chairman of Canadian Pugwash later that year, George very graciously agreed to become Deputy Chairman. He was always ready and generous with his advice and help. He chaired the first public Canadian Pugwash Conference at the Learned Societies Conference at the University of Saskatchewan in 1979. His help was invaluable when Canada hosted the 31st international Pugwash Conference at Banff, Alberta in 1981 and at the 25th Anniversary Commemorative Meeting at Pugwash, N.S. His talents were recognized by the Pugwash Council and he served either as a convenor or rapporteur of a working group at every international Pug-wash Conference he attended. In 1987 he was the first Canadian to be elected a member of the Pugwash Council. At the 39th international Pugwash Conference, in Cambridge, Massachusetts at the end of July 1989, George performed his last public service when he was the Rapporteur of the Working Group on “The Role of the United Nations in International Security”, a subject that was dear to his heart and interests.
George made his services and expertise available to the entire spectrum of organizations laboring in the vineyard of peace. At the end of 1979 he became President of the United Nations Association in Canada and, together with the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Pugwash Group, organized a Symposium on “Survival in the Nuclear Age” at the Learned Societies Conference in Montréal in 1980. In 1983, he was the main speaker at a peace rally of 80,000 persons in Vancouver, and in 1987, at a conference on peace issues in Edmonton, he brought 5,000 people to their feet in a standing ovation when he criticized the arms control and defence policies of the Canadian Government. At the meetings of the Consultative Group on Disarmament of the Department of External Affairs, of which he was a member from the time of its organization in 1978, he was an outstanding pillar of principle and integrity in his insistence on Canada’s preserving a more independent line in foreign affairs and defence and being less subservient to American policies and plans.
When the American Association for the Advancement of Science decided to hold their first Canadian conference in Toronto in January 1981, for the first time one of the major themes was directing science towards peace. George was asked to make arrangements to discuss this theme at the Canadian end. It was at that conference that Eric Fawcett, Terry Gardner and Derek Paul decided to launch the Science for Peace organization in Canada; they wanted the support of Canadian Pugwash and called on George and me for help, including the drafting of their basic resolution. Later, George was to become President of Science For Peace and, on his retirement, the first Honorary President.
During his seven years as Provost of Trinity College and six years as Chancellor of the University of Toronto, he was indefatigable in his work for peace and international security. He went to heroic lengths to spread the gospel of peace and accepted speaking engagements and radio and television appearances all over Canada. His views were not only inspiring but were popular with both students and the general public and he was very much in demand.
During the 70s and 80s George and I developed the practice, which became a habit, of consulting each other regularly on matters of Canadian and world affairs. We found it remarkable how closely we agreed in our views and ideas. Almost by instinct we could correctly assess or guess the other’s opinions and reactions. In our long association over the years I cannot recall one single instance in which we failed to reach quick agreement.
This led to the annual practice of Canadian Pug-wash to submit a statement to the Canadian Government on international peace and security, in which we urged the Government to adopt what we considered better policies and proposals on various aspects of the arms race and on arms control and disarmament. These were drafted by George Ignatieff, John Polanyi and myself and invariably received the full support of the Canadian Pugwash Group at its annual autumn meeting. They were sent to the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for External Affairs and other Government leaders and officials and leaders in Parliament, as well as to a number of peace groups and nongovernmental organizations. While very few were ever adopted by the Government in office, we were assured that they were all carefully considered and we liked to think that they did have some influence on Government policies.
Among the many policies we advocated, a constant current was the desire to have Canada re-assert the leadership role it had exercised during the early years of the United Nations when Mike Pearson, Paul Martin and Howard Green came forward with one important initiative after another. Those leaders believed that Canada could best preserve its independent policies and exert its influence in the world through active participation in the United Nations and NATO, rather than unilaterally or as a junior partner of the United States. The same belief imbued George’s ideas and actions.
Those were the golden years when Canada was a recognized leader in peacekeeping, peacemaking, technical assistance and development aid, and in human rights and environmental affairs. Canada is still one of the most popular and respected members of the United Nations, as was demonstrated by its election last Fall to the Security Council. But its leadership role seems much diminished and its initiatives are few and rarely very far-reaching or imbued with vision.
Some of the specific measures and actions that we urged on the Government included: abandonment of flight testing American cruise missiles in Canada; support for a nuclear freeze on the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons; negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear test ban beginning with a moratorium on testing; support for a conference to amend the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty in order to convert it into a comprehensive test ban treaty; negotiations for the cessation of the production of fissionable material for weapons; simultaneous negotiations for nuclear test ban and deep cuts in strategic weapons; support for an international satellite monitoring system under the United Nations; support for a ban on developing, testing and deploying anti-satellite weapons and the banning of all space weapons; Canadian refusal to participate in American plans for a strategic defence initiative; reconsideration of the 1987 White Paper on Defence and abandonment of plans to acquire nuclear-powered submarines; and the taking of initiatives by Canada to strengthen the United Nations.
In addition, George Ignatieff was a leader in the campaign opposing the renewal of the bilateral American-Canadian NORAD agreement and argued that North American defence should be made a direct NATO responsibility. In that way, he believed that Canada could best preserve its independence while ensuring the security of Canada and the continent.
George was also very happy to witness the changes in the Soviet Union and believed that Canada should take full advantage of the new Soviet policies and the improvement in East-West relations. He was also greatly pleased by the recent revitalization of the peacekeeping and peacemaking functions of the United Nations. He believed that all these developments provided many new opportunities for Canada and the nations of the world. He believed that if they were indeed taken full advantage of, then all humankind could look forward to a new era of international peace and security such as the world had never seen before.
All these ideas are part of the legacy that George has left to us.
The loss of this great Canadian and great internationalist and humanitarian is truly a most grievous one. His passing will be mourned and his memory will be cherished by the many thousands who were fortunate to know him and personally and by the others who knew him only through his work.
Throughout my life I have had discomfort in getting to first-name terms with people considerably older than myself. It is a cultural, generational, and personal matter. But with George Ignatieff, whom I met for the second time nine years ago, somehow it happened easily and at once. From the time he first occupied the Chancellor’s office at the University of Toronto, his door was always open to colleagues sharing his interest and devotion to world peace. It didn’t matter whether he was being inconvenienced, he always had time.
It was at that time, and stimulated by George and the large forthcoming conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, that Eric Fawcett formed “the Committee for Directing Science toward Peace”, which became Science for Peace in March 1981. George accepted a Directorship in the new organization fairly early on.
My frequent visits to the Chancellor’s office gave me incidentally an opportunity to observe a great mind at work. Here was a man who worked fast and unfalteringly, who always centered in upon the nub of a problem, and who always seemed to be in possession of the latest relevant information. He was open to new ideas even if he didn’t need them — because he always had a full slate of his own. I don’t know where his inspiration came from; perhaps it is the charm of human achievement that it cannot be perfectly analyzed.
In time I came to regard him not merely as a worthy, successful and gentlemanly person, but as one who had achieved true greatness. Ability, brilliance, the gift of profound comprehension, and above all, warmth and magnanimity were his. George never condescended. He was one of us.
During his presidency of Science for Peace (1986- 88) several significant steps forward occurred; among these were initiation and funding of our 1988 Arctic Conference, and acquisition of the Franz Blumenfeld Peace Fund. When George retired as President and became our first Honorary President, he was spending very much of his time with Alison, his wife, who needed his full-time care at that time, but he was also suffering from the lingering aftereffects of pneumonia which made his life especially difficult. But he never showed outward signs of the fatigue to visitors to his office.
Great men have faults just as others do, but if George had any, I have forgotten them already. He liked people in positions of responsibility to be independent thinkers, and had little use for small-mindedness. When he came upon deficiency in this area, he could quietly and wittily describe such an individual to his friends in a single word — with great effect. “A rat”, or “sleazy”; the only disparaging words from him that I heard, but devastatingly apt. For George there could be no merit in timidly following a safe policy that in fact meant acquiescing to more militarization, threat or complicity in war preparations.
My great luck was that George became a friend, just as Lois and John Dove had done over a similar period of time. With the Ignatieffs it was no longer the great diplomat and his consort, but the lovable George and Alison. The friendship was still developing when it was cut off, but I can never forget it and will live the rest of my life enriched by the memory of all our interactions.
Jonathan Schell (“Speak Loudly, Carry a Small Stick”, Harper’s, March, 1989):
History rarely provides direct, unequivocal answers to our questions, but in this case it has provided them. We live in the future about which the credibility theorists made their predictions. The disaster they strove so adamantly to prevent — the fall of the Saigon regime — occurred. Worse, that fall was accompanied by the fall of two American presidents — events that, if the theory was right, could only hugely magnify the damaging consequences of Saigon’s fall. After all, if the American public forced out presidents who sought to “protect” countries against attack, then how could other countries place their confidence in the United States? However, the dire consequences predicted by the theory failed to occur. India and Pakistan did not fall. Countries around the world did not fall. The Soviet Union and China retained their “respect” for the United States and even increased it. “Free institutions” all over the world remained standing. The free world did not collapse. The credibility theory was tested, and it was wrong. It might be logically compelling and it might be historically sound and it might prove right in some future place or time. But in this place and in this time it was wrong.
A Reuters report (“India near H-bomb test, report says”, Globe and Mail, May 22) claims that:
“India and Pakistan are much deeper into a nuclear arms race than previously thought, with India poised to test a hydrogen bomb and Pakistan developing an atomic bomb for use with F-16 attack aircraft, researchers reported yesterday.”
“If either country tests or deploys weapons …the other will follow, posing a danger to the security of South Asia and perhaps undermining efforts to keep other countries such as Argentina and Brazil from joining the nuclear club …”
“Pakistan will have produced enough weapon-grade uranium to make eight to 16 bombs by the end of 1990 while India already has enough plutonium for at least 40 to 50 nuclear weapons.”
“…Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan ‘appear unwilling or unable to constrain their nuclear weapons programs,’ resulting in a nuclear stand-off between the two nations …”
“Wars are not caused by nations having armies … wars are caused by political conflicts that create crises that spin out of control. Now, the Soviets are not going to wake up one morning and say, ‘Let’s invade Europe today’ …But their being in Europe prevents the natural political evolution of the Eastern European countries. Thus political tensions within those countries fester — they have no safety valve. Sooner or later, under these conditions, an explosion will happen; popular unrest will break out. What will the Soviets do then? Will they sit back and watch their empire disintegrate, or will they be tempted to launch a war against the West to save the empire?” Remarks by Christopher Lane (adviser to the Bush Campaign), quoted by Jack Beatty (“The Exorbitant Anachronism”, The Atlantic Monthly, June 1989).
From a letter by Eric Cox, Field Director, World Federalist Association in The Nation, June 5:
in the late 1940s and in the 1950s much American foreign policy, however narrowly focused, nevertheless was directed through the United Nations and was supported by both major political parties …When the pressure was put on President Eisenhower to intervene in the Congo, he had the good sense to opt for the United Nations’ dealing with the troubles there. In later years bipartisan support for the United Nations waned, and unilateral actions replaced multilateral diplomacy. Not coincidentally, what followed was a series of U.S. failures in Vietnam, Lebanon, Nicaragua and elsewhere.
Bruce Van Voorst (“Will Star Wars ever fly?”, Time, June 26):
“Bush decided not to relax US insistence on the ultimate right to install (SDI). He acted in part to avoid irritating his conservative supporters. But the Soviets say they will not agree to START without continuing constraints on SDI.”
On “Brilliant Pebbles”: “The new SDI director, Lieut. General George Monahan, has cautiously embraced the concept as ‘doable’, but warns that it is still an experimental approach.”
“When inspected closely …Pebbles appears less than brilliant. Much of the sensing technology remains unproved, and the difficulties of retaining human control of thousands of semi-autonomous weapons hurtling through space are immense. Moreover, claims that pebbles would cost as little as $500,000 each are overly optimistic. Even if such difficulties can be overcome, it is unlikely that the American public would ever warm to the idea of cluttering the heavens with a swarm of rockets outnumbering existing satellites by a factor of six.”
Let us hope Bruce Van Voorst’s confidence in US public perceptiveness is justified …
Paul Lewis (“Military Buildup in Canada Falls Victim to Budget Cuts”, New York Times, June 30); excerpts:
“The percentage of its economic output that Canada spent on the military was 2.2 percent in 1986, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Ten allies devoted a greater share of their gross national product to the military, led by the United States at 6.7 percent.”
“Many analysts say the Conservatives’ reversal on military buildup came about because of a clash between the country’s traditional desire to assert its independence of the United States, and a deep aversion to military spending.”
Bill O’Neill (“Life in the exclusion zone”, New Scientist, July 1):
“Kombinat is “the authority that now governs the 50-kilometre exclusion zone around Chernobyl’s infamous nuclear power station.”
“Kombinat pays people four times the going rate to work in the territory from which about 135,000 residents were evacuated soon after the accident. Workers do 15 days on and then 15 days off, many returning to their families ensconced in Kiev about 130 kilometres to the south. Their health is regularly monitored as part of the agreement, though some of them say they have never felt better.”
“Employees of Kombinat collect and bury contaminated property in lined tombs in the ground, and rebury the waste that was discarded quickly and perhaps ineptly — no one knows for sure — in the immediate aftermath of the accident. They scrape off topsoil and bury that, too; and they sprinkle the roads with water, which keeps down the radioactive dust but does little to ease the accumulating contamination of the soil. They also run the three working reactors at the power station, and they look after the scientists and technologists who have turned the zone into a vast research laboratory. You see them driving round in vehicles with huge numbers on the doors instead of licence plates. Vehicles designated in this way were abandoned after the accident and will now never leave the exclusion zone.”
Paul Brown and Michael Duncan (“Blunders give Russia missiles secrets”, Manchester Guardian Weekly, July 9):
“Furnaces worth Sterling 7 million to make a secret substance which can give ballistic missiles pinpoint accuracy have been exported free to the Soviet Union because of blunders by the CIA and the Department of Trade and Industry.”
“The technology on which the process is based has been regarded as giving the US the edge in the cold war. The technology has now been mastered by the Russians who are producing a surplus of the secret material, known as carbon carbon. It has offered to sell the material to the Ministry of Defence for use in Trident missiles at less than the price Britain can produce it.”
“The furnaces were manufactured in Scotland and subsidised by the taxpayer.”
“The blunders by the CIA and the Department of Trade and Industry failed to stop the export and a regulation preventing completion of the contract was made after the order had been shipped.”
“The carbon carbon is placed as a nose cone shield on intercontinental ballistic missiles to give them pinpoint accuracy, increasing first strike capacity to knock out enemy missile silos.”
From “A European street of easy neighbours” (Manchester Guardian Weekly, July 16, 1989):
All things are possible with Mikhail Gorbachev. But not all things to all men, all together. And that is both the fascination of, and the trouble with, his Strasbourg address last week. It sketched countless possibilities for the future of Europe. But is was not the long-awaited definition of ‘our European home.’
It is not a European home that we need, but a European street of relaxed neighbours. Put us all together — different clout, different systems — under one roof, and there would be domestic strife. That is the history of the old, bad, warring Europe. Set us side by side along an avenue and who knows what, in the end, may appear?
Martin Walker (“Strapped for cash, stumped for solutions”, Manchester Guardian Weekly, July 23):
“…the US can no longer afford its pretensions to leadership of the Free World.”
“Like so many militarist systems, the American superpower has proved so good at fighting the last war that it is not terribly well equipped for the challenge of the next one.”
“The US has done a stunning job of building up all kinds of weaponry needed for every possible kind of Cold War, nuclear or conventional, desert or arctic, outer space or under the icecap. But it is embarrassingly short of the ready cash that is clearly now the main sinew of the Great Game of the 1990’s.”
“To make a virtue out of this necessity, President Bush convened a symposium of business leaders at the White House to ask them what private industry could do for Eastern Europe, consistent with the interests of the shareholders. The answer was not a great deal more than modest investments already under way, for the obvious reason that if such ventures made commercial sense, banks and businessmen would be making them.”
John C. Polanyi (“Controlling the cancer of war”, Globe and Mail, July 28):
“The subtext of the conventional force reduction in Europe is that nuclear powers and their close allies must be barred even from conventional armed conflict, since the danger of the escalation to nuclear war is intolerable.”
“The real world is hearing a message that is still only whispered within the confines of Pugwash — namely, that nuclear weapons are in the process of relegating not only nuclear war but war itself to the junk heap of history.”
(John Polanyi, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, recently delivered the closing address at the Pugwash International Conference in the United States.)
From article by Charlotte Montgomery (“Open-skies conference called feather in Canada’s cap,” Globe and Mail, September 2):
“It is a tribute to Canada that both superpowers have quickly accepted its offer to hold an international open-skies conference, a Canadian disarmament expert says.”
“Usually the big powers like to keep these to themselves,’ Alex Morrison, executive director of the Toronto-based Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, said of the proposed conference on surveillance flights.”
“In the arms control field, it’s a significant development, and it’s a tribute to Canada’s work in the verification field and … to our.objectivity.”
“The conference is intended to bring together members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact to draw up an agreement allowing surveillance flights over each other’s territory at short notice. This so-called open-skies concept has been approved in general terms by both the United States and the Soviet Union after decades of intermittent discussion.”
“Prime Minister Brian Mulroney offered Sept. 24 to hold the conference in Canada, an offer that Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze accepted Wednesday in a meeting with External Affairs Minister Joe Clark. A date and location remain to be chosen.”
From the editorial “Diverting energies from defence” (Globe and Mail, September 28):
“There is a view espoused today by many Marxists (who yesterday claimed that capitalism was on the brink of collapse) that socialist and capitalist economies are compatible in a single, global marketplace. Mr. Gorbachev’s vision of Greater Europe is founded on the conviction that the hostile competition of the past can be transformed into cooperation in the future.”
“An opportunity has arisen for both sides to divert a substantial portion of their mammoth annual expenditure on defence into more productive investment. Such savings will be easily absorbed by emerging environmental problems and the need to get new aid to the deeply indebted nations of the south.”
From The Toronto Star, Sept. 29:
“Ottawa has told Moscow that it may allow the presence in Canada of Soviet aircraft to inspect military bases here and in the United States.”
“The Mulroney government made the informal offer while sending to the Soviets and our NATO allies a detailed plan for opening European and North American skies to unrestricted aerial surveillance of sensitive military facilities.”
“One possibility is that the Soviet inspection planes would use Gander, Nfld., where the Soviet airline Aeroflot already has refueling rights, sources told Southam News.”
“A copy of the Canadian document was distributed to all NATO and Warsaw Pact governments last week.”
“The move is the latest by Canada in its efforts to act as a catalyst for new East-West peace talks.”
“‘Open skies’ is a concept first put forward by former US president Dwight Eisenhower during a 1955 Geneva summit with Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev, who instantly dismissed it as an espionage plot.”
“But last May Bush revived the Eisenhower plan. Two weeks later, it was endorsed in principle by all 16 NATO members and last week by the Soviets.”
Disarmers will regret that the British Labor Party has abandoned its disarmament policy (Reuters, Globe and Mail, October 3). The reason appears to have been that “Labor’s old unilateralist defence posture was attacked (at Labor’s annual conference) as a major factor in the 1983 and 1987 general election losses …”
Gordon Barthos (“Palestinians, Israelis headed for nuclear war, Hussein fears”, Sunday Star, October 8) quotes King Hussein of Jordan:
“Israel is a nuclear power. Israel possesses weapons of destruction.”
“If there is no progress towards a solution (to the Palestinian demand for a homeland) very, very soon, then I think the possibilities are very frightening.”
Hussein claimed that radicals in both Israel and Palestine camps “have been working very hard to destroy any chances for peace.”
“We hope that they will not win.”
“One can only hope that reasonable, responsible elements will have their say now — before it is too late.”
“Despite the very dark picture …people of good will and farsightedness can hopefully emerge to save the situation.”
“We have really come to the point now where the core of the problem has to be addressed: the Palestinian problem and Palestinian rights over Palestinian soil.”
“The Palestinians are ready (to talk peace). Somehow the Israelis have got to get their act together and make their contribution, too.”
“The interests of Israel, the interests of her neighbours, the interests of the world and of the Palestinians are not being served by a totally negative attitude and a reliance purely on force.”
The B-2 Stealth Bomber Strategic Absurdity
The B-2 Stealth bomber, ten years in development at a cost of $22 billion, flew for the first time on July 18, 1989. If — as seems extremely doubtful even to its advocates — the full programme survives Congressional opposition, 132 of the flying-wing planes will be built by the mid-1990s at a programme cost exceeding $70 billion.
According to General Larry C. Welch, chief of staff of the US Air Force, 132 B-2s will be needed to hold enough strategic targets in the Soviet Union at risk in the late 1990s if a START agreement is negotiated under the current US-Soviet consensus on weapon ceilings Under this agreement, each superpower will be limited to 6,000 strategic weapons, of which 1,100 will be “bomber weapons” — air-launched cruise missiles, gravity bombs, and short-range attack missiles. Air-launched cruise missiles will be counted individually within the ceiling, but the B-2, which will carry no cruise missiles, will be counted as a single weapon even though it will carry about 20 gravity bombs and/or short-range attack missiles. This will increase the total warheads available to about 9,500, of which some 4,600 will be on 230 B-1B and B-2 bombers. The counting rules favouring bombers are a good example of how well-intentioned arms control efforts often promote weapons development.
The B-2, designed to elude radar and other sensors, is intended to penetrate Soviet air defences and attack mobile missiles held in reserve during a protracted nuclear war. This is most likely a cover for the real purpose of the programme, which is to maintain the manned bombers on which the US Air Force relies for its claim to independence and preeminence among the military services. This claim, which originally justified the independence of both the Royal Air Force (in 1918) and the US Air Force (in 1947), has been stretched to absurdity in this $530 million disturber of nuclear rubble.
Will the B-2 pose a destabilizing first-strike threat to the Soviet Union? No, and to the contrary, says General John D. Chain, USAF, commander of Strategic Air Command. It will be not faster than a commercial airliner, and its 6,000-mile unrefuelled range will leave it dependent on tanker support. Although individually very difficult to track and shoot down, it will not be completely invisible to radar, and an attacking force would face a very high probability of detection. Its virtue will be the ability to penetrate highly defended areas in which even the B-1B will not be able to survive in the future. In the logic and jargon of nuclear deterrence, the B-2 would be stabilizing.
Opponents of the programme argue that the B-2 is too costly, that it is not required, that it is unlikely to meet its performance goals, and that planning to fight and win a protracted nuclear war by attacking mobile missiles doesn’t make sense, especially after several thousand nuclear warheads have already been expended by both sides. A cheaper alternative to the B-2 is available in the conversion of the B-1B to advanced cruise missile carrier, the cost of which would be only about 10% of the cost of the B-2. Unfortunately for the air force, the START counting rules would permit only about 50 cruise missile carriers and almost any old bomber would do.
Although reluctant to kill the B-2 outright at this stage, the US Congress has reduced its funding and will insist that the bomber meet its performance goals before authorizing production. The B-70 programme of the 1960s was cancelled, as was the B1 of the 1970s, only to be resurrected as the B-1B in Ronald Reagan’s military spending binge of the 1980s. There are even more serious doubts about the B-2 than there were about those earlier attempts to replace the aging B-52, and it seems likely that wisdom will prevail against the parochial interests of the US Air Force. For the present at least, the B-2 should not worry anyone but the Americans, whose political problem it is.
Major-General (Ret) Leonard V. Johnson
The following is an address given by Ursula Franklin to the annual general meeting of the Toronto Chapter of Science for Peace, April 26, 1989.
Tonight I want to take a little time to stand back and see what Science for Peace as a movement has achieved. What was envisioned, when almost 30 years ago Kenneth Boulding came to this university to talk about the subject “Is peace researchable?”. This idea came out of a long tradition of those who felt strongly not only that science had given great benefit to humanity — but also that the scientists themselves had a particular role to play vis a vis the needs the world faced. I think it is well worth while to look at what, in the intervening 30 years, we have learned both about science and about peace.
For peace? or against war?
In the initial stage people thought very clearly — “here is science giving enormous intellectual input into the practice and art of war; where is the corresponding input into the activities and the practice and the tools of peace?” People thought that surely one can redirect the intellectual activity of good people so that at the end of their struggle with their particular scientific discipline the result would not be more war but more peace. We should at this point be very clear that there have been enormous successes — that in fact science has been a very good instrument against war — very much more so, as one looks back, than an instrument for peace. I will elaborate on that distinction later. We should not underestimate the effect that the collaboration between scientists and citizens has had, if we realize there was, (in spite of the arms race) no war between the superpowers, no war in Europe.
Isn’t that the deterrence factor (and we hear that often)? I would say no — to the contrary, it is the deterrence of the collaboration between scientists and citizens. If anything scared the world enough not to use nuclear weapons, it was not the military, being good and silent about weapons. It was the scientists, from whom the citizens got the information that was good enough, solid enough, and irrefutable enough to make clear what nuclear war meant. Nuclear winter was not a pronouncement of the Pentagon or of any other military authority. Nuclear winter was pried out by scientists and citizens, in answer to the question of what would really happen after even very limited nuclear attack. And so you can take it for very many of these weapons — the critique of the Pershings, the Cruise missiles — the critique of the nuclear submarines. All these have come out of the collaboration between scientists and citizens. It has made a difference. None of us can ever know what would have happened without it. Even the limited nuclear test ban treaty is a very good indication that some things got done.
Nevertheless one has to say that while science combined with citizenship had an effectiveness against the tools of war, it has been much less successful in giving us the tools for peace. The tools for peace — the turning around of research to the problems of peace — does not have the same record as the use of scientific knowledge against existing weapons. We again don’t know what was prevented — but an awful lot happened. Star Wars preparations did happen — no scientist could prevent the initial concept and that enormous misuse of human ingenuity, leading to the development of a weapons system against which our colleagues then spoke.
Science vs. citizenship
I think there are a few things, that may not have been as clear 30 years ago as they are now, that relate both to the nature of science and to the nature of citizenship. One may see more clearly today than one did then, that science as an activity and as an enterprise is intensely competitive; it is essentially a private enterprise, in the sense of private scientists and groups working in strong seclusion and strong competition. And, in a technological society, science is a tool, a general practice, not for the common good, but for the private glory. (One can take the word private sectorally or otherwise.) On the other hand, citizenship is a collective activity. You cannot be a citizen alone. You can be a scientist alone. You can be a scientist in a small secluded group. Citizenship, on the other hand, is something that one can only practice with others, and working with those others will not be an exercise in unison. The very nature of citizenship demands that we develop the skills, the techniques and the compassion to deal with differences. And so there is essentially a fundamental difference between what science asks the scientist to do, and what citizenship requires.
War, of course, is the most competitive of all activities. It’s the one where the race is run to the end, and where nothing, in the minds of the military, stands in the way of winning. Peace on the other hand, is a cooperative activity. And I think one has to remember, again and again, the indivisibility of peace. There must be peace for all — you can’t have peace alone. And there’s peace for those one likes and loves; and there’s peace for all those ‘jerks’ we can do without. And there is no other way. This is why the work for peace is so difficult. Because,
peace is genuinely a collective achievement. It is a common good. It rains peace, like the rain, on the just and on the unjust, on the deserving who spend 30 years “wasting their time on it” during which they could have learned Chinese and grown orchids; and on those who spent 30 years going to movies and looking after their investments. And if there’s peace, there will be peace for all.
And so, there are essentially two very different worlds in which the scientist lives. And I think we should not be surprised that science for peace, when there has been science for peace, has come, not from the competitive establishments, but from the citizens’ groups that started out wanting to be useful to the collectivity. We have had the good research of Project Ploughshares, of Voice of Women, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, and of many other groups among our medical colleagues. This was research in which the researcher was, in the first place, a citizen who happened to have that special toolbox that made her or him a scientist, and for that reason was useful to the collectivity. But it was neither the only toolbox, nor was it intended or believed to be the sole solution to the problem. It was a contribution. That contribution had to be done outside the competitive establishment, because, for a collective solution, one very rarely gets a promotion, tenure or a grant. We see more clearly than was seen 30 years ago, an essential incompatibility between the way in which science is practiced and the requirements of peace.
Peace and the war against nature
Nevertheless, what the world 30 years later presents to us is more fights among nations and stronger tools of power. We see among the victims of the preparation for war, nature herself — the environment — all that may rightly be considered the “commons”. We are not only in great need of the tools for peace, but we are in even greater need of the tools for ecological peace. These science has not given us. Science has given us some of the “anti-war” tools — the critique of what is not to be done with the environment, but not the tools for what ought to be done. This, I think, is the challenge that is very much ahead of us.
This challenge requires another look at whether we consider knowledge a common good. Do we see those who contribute to knowledge, by a variety of ways in which science is one, as the citizens who put their knowledge into the pot? Or, do we consider knowledge a commodity that is bought and sold and traded? We are at a very crucial point in the technological and intellectual history of our time. Because in a technological age, most things are considered a commodity: people — nature — rivers. Everything is looked upon, including knowledge, as if it can be bought and sold. And that puts the quest for the common good into an incredibly difficult position.
I feel so strongly about this because we are faced with two strategies. The strategy that science promotes (and much of the enterprise that our national governments across the globe promote) is a strategy for maximizing gain. But what is needed by a world that wants peace, as well as justice and ecological survival, is a strategy of minimizing disaster. And there comes a point where these two strategies become incompatible. The road forks, and one cannot at the same time maximize gain and minimize disaster.
In some of my more dark gloomy moments I think of putting out a sort of tract of “physics for politicians” that would deal with very simple things such as the 2nd law and the impossibility of the perpetual motion machine — that one cannot create something from nothing. And then I think, well — why go to physics? There is something that is much simpler in women’s experience. All mothers, all teachers know that the best way to equilibrium among people is to say “One cuts, and the other chooses.” And if you have a cake in front of you, and a birthday party for 4-year-olds, and you say “One cuts, and the other chooses” you will find justice comes quite naturally. We have no civic or international equivalent of this. We do not say “We build the park, and then you choose to enjoy it.” There is no such activity we can do in this competitive world, as humble as it might be. I think this is very crucial. The world at one point was small enough, that one could at the same time tolerate the maximizing of gain for some without at the same time courting disaster for all. That time is past. It’s past because of the reach of technology — the technology that gives us war.
And so, I think the time is pretty serious — and we have to look in a direction where I see the possibility of the solution. We have to look at the nature of citizenship, and at that experience of collaboration that we have known historically. Here women have always been in the forefront, bringing their experience from their homes into the communities, knowing that it is far more important to minimize disaster than to maximize gain, bringing the skills of listening, of ferreting out what is needed. These citizens’ skills must be augmented with the knowledge of science, or about science, that the technological society needs.
Now that knowledge is much less than what is usually paraded, because I privately think that the, let’s say “technification” or “scientification” of arguments is a political ploy. There is a difference between discussing what should be done and how it should be done. You don’t argue with architects about how they do the foundations, but you do argue about what sort of foundations you have, and whether or not a certain place is right for a certain building. Nevertheless most citizens are brainwashed into thinking that they know nothing and the experts know it all.
For those of us who do function on occasion as experts, it is absolutely essential to work with citizens on two levels. One is to demystify the affairs that are presented as being scientific. The other is to give enough information, in a clear enough form, that people can converse and are shielded from the obvious put-down. That is not so difficult. I think one overestimates the difficulty, because one always thinks that science means doing science rather than understanding science. These two things are not the same — there are a lot of people who do science in the sense of doing experiments. They haven’t a clue what they are doing. They have no understanding of science. And there are people who have a profound understanding of science who would not have the background to go into the lab and do the next experiment. We find this in debates and discussions, in good science writing. There is really only the difficulty of teaching — taking the time in a noncompetitive atmosphere to bring people who haven’t happened to have grown up in a lab an understanding of how it functions. Anyone who can fill out an income tax form can understand how nuclear fusion works!
If we want to make any contribution to get out of where we are (and I’m so delighted to speak here because Science for Peace, Toronto chapter, has taken this step through their lectures) the crucial step is to narrow the difference between the citizens and the scientists by stressing the literacy — the civic literacy — that is an essential part of education. Many of my colleagues certainly are, at best, Grade B citizens when it comes to political sophistication. One must share what is essential about science — about understanding science — with those who have other skills to share with us.
This is why it is so necessary not to act as if the community consists of interested and concerned citizens on the one hand, and scientists on the other. *Rather we must say that we need for the struggle in front of us, citizen-scientists. Their practice of science will hold the knowledge that we need for this earth as a common good. They will refuse to consider knowledge as a commodity, in which the knowers need to be paid by esteem or money or both to share their knowledge, graciously, in bits and pieces. They also will value equally the knowledge of the citizen — the knowledge that we need to minimize the disaster we see over the horizon.
For I’m not at all sanguine about what is happening on the political front. Much as we are thankful for the developments in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, I have never thought the question of peace a question of external affairs. I think the question of peace is a question of justice, and I am not so sure that global justice has advanced in any way; or whether instead we see a decrease of danger for the haves with an increase of danger for the have-nots. It may be that war has been externalized from the affairs of state in the East-West sense, and pushed into the competition between the rich and the poor — the internal competition at home, or the war between the rich and the poor in the global economy. So I am far from being sanguine that we are any further away from the dangers of war. For that reason I can only plead with you to look at enlarging and increasing the tools for citizenship, that are now also the tools for saving the environment, by contributing what science can bring, realizing that what science can bring is a small fraction of what is needed.
We should not forget history. We should not forget that the technological society, that we now see impinging on both peace and justice, has resulted from what by many is called the scientific revolution. I will close by reminding you that the great historian of technology, Lewis Mumford, once said — that if we want to describe in one sentence the difference between the 13th century to 15th century, and the 18th century to 19th century, we see that the seven deadly sins of the Middle Ages have become the seven cardinal virtues of the new industrial world. There is greed and avarice, there is envy, there is gluttony — there are all the things that have become the motors of economic well-being. And to put science in the service of peace, we must not ignore the things that have happened in the past, and that now come to our and the next generations, to be reconciled, redeemed and hopefully transcended.
Transcribed and edited by Mary Vise
Disarmament brings responsibilities.
Olivia Ward, “Defence cuts leave victims out in cold”, Toronto Star, June 30:
Over the next five years, Ottawa is cutting $2.74 billion from its defense budget.
But it has not yet come to terms with the prickly problem of conversion from military to civilian projects, helping jobless people and threadbare regions find a new economic base.
As military contracts are cancelled and 14 bases across the country closed or scaled down, no strategy exists to help those affected.
As Seymour Melman (“The Demilitarized Society”) has stressed, if governments are to avoid subjecting many of their citizens who are involved in the arms industry and the armed services from quite needless hardships as they reduce the size of their military-industrial complexes — or even disarm — they must be prepared to face their social and economic responsibilities to those people who could lose their jobs. And this is no easy matter. Even if the public money that is currently being spent on armaments and armies will be available to put it into peaceful industry to help create jobs for those displaced, there may, for years to come, be the need to spend large sums on retraining people in these occupations for their new jobs. People who are willing to work and if necessary be retrained deserve and should expect this consideration from their community, as represented by the government.
The Future of the ABM Treaty
Ashton Carter of Harvard University (and trained originally as a theoretical physicist at Oxford) has recently reviewed the ABM Treaty, its weaknesses, loopholes and possible abuses from the US standpoint (“Testing weapons in space”, Scientific American, July 1989). He points out that:
Four modes of testing a space weapon are treated differently by the ABM Treaty, in spite of the fact that they can — to a certain extent — be made to replicate the same test conditions. In a “full-up” ABM test … a weapon in stable orbit intercepts a strategic ballistic missile in flight. In a “lofted mode” test …the intercepting weapon is launched on a suborbital flight; it is technically not “based” in space. In an ASAT-mode test …both weapon and target are placed in orbit. In an air-defense-mode test the weapon is aimed at an aircraft in flight or an instrumented target on the ground. The traditional reading of the ABM Treaty forbids the testing of any type of weapon in a full-up mode but does not restrict lofted-mode tests if the weapon is launched from an agreed ABM test range. Weapon testing in space in the ASAT and air-defense modes are also allowed as they do not exceed an unspecified threshold beyond which they are regarded as “ABM capable.”
Ashton Carter lays out “three approaches to negotiating an agreement to limit the testing of ABM-related weapons in space (that) differ in the strictness of the limits.” The first of these would “clarify the traditional interpretation of the ABM Treaty” — i.e. attempt to make it harder to find ways around the rules as originally intended. The second approach would be to “negotiate a more restrictive regime,” which, in addition to the already established basic rules, would forbid all lofted-mode weapon tests, all ASAT-mode tests against thrusting (and perhaps non-thrusting) targets and all airdefense-mode tests, would announce and describe tests of space weapons before they occur, allow prelaunch inspection of specified payloads related to space weapons, and ban nuclear reators in space except those in pre-inspected civilian spacecraft.
The third approach would be to “negotiate a more permissive regime” — meaning principally that the US and USSR would:
- Determine which types of tests are prohibited in space except at an orbital test range.
- Agree to certain measures that facilitate monitoring of activities at an orbital test range.
- Agree that all test targets are to be launched along customary ICBM and SLBM test ranges or agreed ABM test ranges.
- Agree to forbid tests of components of deployed space-based ASAT or air-defense systems in a full-up ABM mode.
- Determine the threshold at which space-based ASAT and air-defense systems attain an ABM capability or create a base for rapidly establishing an ABM defense. Agree to ban deployment of systems exceeding the threshold.
- Agree to limit heavy-lift launch capability in order to preclude the rapid deployment of a space-based ABM system.
- Prepare unilateral countermeasures as needed to ensure effectiveness of offensive-missile force, given the increased risk of breakout and leak-out associated with a permissive weapon-testing regime.
This is a chilling article, and it of course presupposes that “the US and the USSR will probably continue to find it in their national security interest to keep the ABM Treaty intact.” And the author concludes that: “It is probably more important to clarify the line between permitted and prohibited ABM-related activities than to draw it at a certain place.”
To the less technically sophisticated, and more peace-oriented reader, the overview, evaluations and proposals of this article, no matter now great their ingenuity, look like a particularly tortuous script for the theatre of the absurd, or a map of hell. They represent one more exercise in the pursuit of the endless spiral of mounting furies, which any future holds for humanity that is not based on national and international disarmament as our central dynamic.
From John W. Dower (“Japan’s New Military Edge”, The Nation, July 3): “…Japan is (or is about to become) the third largest military spender in the world, with a defense budget that exceeds that of any of the United States’ NATO allies and is bigger than the combined defense outlays of the members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean). There are …Americans who applaud this and even ask for more.” However …
“Former Defense Secretary Harold Brown now warns that unfavorable global conditions could prompt Japan to embark on a substantially independent military course, as it did in the 1930s — only this time with nuclear weapons in its arsenal.”
“Technology is the key to U.S. strategic superiority over numerically superior Soviet forces; electronics are the key to modern military technology; development of leading-edge military systems now depends in large part or spin-on know-how; Japan now holds the lead in an extremely wide range of these dual-use technologies, and is moving rapidly toward domination in others.”
Thus, the tenor of this article is that, because of its progressive capture of technological mastery, Japan will end up with potential military dominance, not only capable of building and wholly servicing all manner of advanced military equipment (even in the aerospace area which at present is cited as the single high-tech area where the US still leads the world), but may also become the major, or sole, supplier of many key high-tech components for US military equipment, including aircraft. The author (Joseph Naiman, Professor of History and Japanese Studies at the University of California, San Diego) concludes that “Japan is the new player who can change the rules and is not about to go away, and who, in all probability, has not yet decided how it will play.” For all concerned, uncomfortable times.
Power for spacecraft …and for SDI
“A modern satellite uses less energy than an electric fire. Future space missions and the weapons of Star Wars will need the generating capacity of a small power station,” according to Jeff Hecht (“Hungry for power in space”, New Scientist, July 8, 1989). Solar panels are the expected means of generating power for the operations of orbiting communications satellites of the future as being researched by NASA. But the vulnerability of solar panels to attack is leading SDI Organization investigators to turn to nuclear power for its weapons, and NASA is also getting more interested in radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) and nuclear reactors to drive space vehicles over solar system distances, because photovoltaic technology has not so far devised a solar cell with a conversion efficiency (sunlight to electricity) of more than 31 percent. RTGs have already powered 21 NASA spacecraft including those on Apollo lunar missions and the Galileo probe to Jupiter and Ulysses (bound for the sun) are powered by RTGs.
Nuclear reactors are much more powerful, but are hazardous — e.g. those in the reconnaissance satellites Cosmos 956 in 1973, which “scattered radioactive debris over northwest Canada as it came down, while Cosmos 1402 completely dispersed during re-entry.” Now, new and much more powerful systems are being planned for SDIO and NASA use.
Chemical power (e.g., burning hydrogen and oxygen to drive a turbine which converts the energy into electricity through an alternator or direct-current generator) may be more attractive, but has associated engineering problems (effluent damage to spacecraft) which may limit its use.
Nuclear bomb configurations to generate x-ray lasers as weapons or space vehicles are under consideration by SDIO — though the 1967 Outer Space Treaty signed by the US and USSR. “bans the deployment of nuclear weapons in space, and the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 prohibits testing weapons in space.” Fortunately (!) it seems that there may be “serious technical problems with the bomb-driven, x-ray programme.”
However, as already noted, the SP-100 (the space probe bound for Jupiter) is fueled with plutonium-238 in an RGT which “will generate 25 times as much thermal power as the first-generation Soviet reactors, and will operate for seven years rather than for three months, so it will contain far more products that are highly radioactive.” Also, dead reactors will add to already-existing space junk and collisions “could scatter highly radioactive debris into orbits occupied by missions carrying people as well as cargo.”
There are a dauntingly high number of projects planned, being researched, or under way whose “success” will add enormously to a variety of threats to human beings. The threats range all the way from “accidental” re-entry of radioactive satellite or space station debris (e.g. Cosmos), to pollution of the atmosphere by plutonium, and the escalation and eventual employment of high tech weapons systems.
The Martians are Coming!
Frederick Turner (“Life on Mars”, Harper’s, August), asks how “as the Cold War ebbs” … “are we to employ the beautiful and terrible heroic spirit of humankind, ready for suffering and sacrifice, when we no longer have war and nationalist myth to spend it on? How are we to use those billions of dollars and rubles, which employ millions of workers and serve as a fiscal and technological flywheel, to keep the economy going? Garden Mars! The enormous scale and expense of such a project can, in this light, be seen as one of its advantages.”
First, Frederick Turner (Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas) might care to read Seymour Melman’s “The Demilitarized Society” (reviewed in the last number of Science for Peace Bulletin). In that work, the “flywheel” notion of the fiscal and technological function of the military and arms industries is disposed of — exposed, in fact, as the huge detriment and burden to productivity and wealth it really is.
Anyway …the author, at great and grandiloquent poetic length proposes to use ecological and genetic engineering to conquer, settle, indeed “garden” Mars. And sees this as a challenge of unprecedented inspiration. Heaven forfend that he have his way and that all we can do as we abandon war, will be to spew our goods, our services, and our best brains into the void of Martian conquest, destroying much of our second world in the name of progress. Let us stay in our own celestial sandbox, clean it up, and learn to play the games of civilization.
Blocks to Arms Control
From “A farewell to arms” by Hella Pick (Manchester Guardian Weekly, August 13), regarding “unexpected progress at conventional forces negotiations and movement on strategic weapons”:
“The Russians are …finding that Mr. James Baker, the new US Secretary of State, lacks the detailed knowledge of arms control (of) his predecessor, Mr. George Schultz, and that he does not yet have enough enthusiasm for this highly specialised form of diplomacy.”
“Many Third World countries continue to regard chemical weapons as the ‘poor man’s nuclear arsenal’, and are reluctant to give them up. Officially, only the US and the Soviet Union acknowledge their chemical weapons capability. That leaves out …Israel, Iraq, China, and South Africa, which refuse to make any disclosures and, in some cases, have not even joined negotiations. Yet an effective …ban is near impossible without world-wide compliance.”
Chemical weapons — “the poor man’s nuclear bombs” — rank behind nuclear weapons in terms of perceived global threat. But they are nevertheless terrible weapons, could become even more fiendish than they are today, and, worst of all, are relatively cheap and easy to make, while their manufacture may be very hard to detect. An Associated Press dispatch (“Twelve States may harbor chemical arms”, Globe and Mail, September 26) notes that only the US and the USSR acknowledge ownership of chemical weapons, though up to a dozen states — including Libya and Iran — are thought to possess them, or have the means to make them.
Thus, “delegates to the 40-nation Conference on Disarmament ended their meeting in Geneva last month without any clear idea of when it would be possible to conclude a global ban on chemical weapons.” Their sticking point is “how to monitor the production of chemical weapons which … can be made in factories like those that make fertilizers.”
Thus, Libya is accused by the US of building a chemical arms plant at Rabta, which Muammar Gadhafi claims will be a pharmaceutical plant.
Although the US and USSR have agreed to exchange information on their stockpiles of chemical weapons there is, as yet, no indication of the size of the stockpiles. Although the US is scheduled to destroy 90 percent of its older weapons, it began in 1987 to produce “binary” weapons, or two toxic chemicals that become lethal when mixed. This means simplicity and safety in storage, but no reduction in lethality when combined in a suitable carrier (bomb, missile).
This problem was highlighted in remarks by Viktor Karpov (“Soviets endorse further, faster cut in chemical arms”, Globe and Mail, September 27) who said: “It will not be sufficient only to get rid of old weapons if the United States is going to produce new chemical weapons.”
However, US President George Bush told the UN General Assembly that the US would, in the first eight years of a chemical weapons treaty, be prepared to destroy 98 percent of its arsenal if the Soviet Union “joins the ban”. And, the US would destroy all its chemical arms within ten years of the signing of the treaty by all nations capable of making the weapons.
One cannot help wondering, if chemical weapons are so horrifically hard to detect and monitor, whether one could ever be sure that every nation capable of making chemical arms had signed the treaty. Of course, that might prove a useful “escape clause” for some to avoid a total elimination when we were some years closer to the ten years, post-treaty limit referred to above!
The End of Star Wars?
If Strategic Defence Initiative were destined to become an actual weapons system, launched into orbit, rich with the space-based sensors, mirrors and missiles required, then Congress should be pumping in around $10 billion a year at this point in the program.
In reality, however, many on Capitol Hill predict the SCI account will dwindle over the next few years to around $3 billion annually, maybe less.
Given that the various elements of ‘strategic defense’ projects totalled around $750 million before SDI, such a sum amounts to a little more than a fat research program.
What happened? Why is this program dying?
The key reason is: Ronald Reagan left town.
With the possible exception of Caspar Weinberger, his loyal defence secretary, Reagan was the only official in town who really believed that SDI could provide an ‘astrodome’ shield that would, as he once put it, render nuclear weapons “impotent and obsolete.”
Even Vice-president Dan Quayle, once SDI’s chief senate cheerleader, recently confessed that the astrodome idea was “political jargon”.
Bush, Quayle and top military men still say they want SDI — but as a system to protect missile sites, air bases, submarine ports and other military targets from a nuclear attack. The idea of defending the Free World is gone.
This is from Fred Kaplan (“Star Wars just a glimmer of former glory”, Toronto Star, Oct. 8). Can it be true? Can the United States, a country of 240 million, the world’s most powerful, scientifically and technically advanced country, and a democracy, really have had its arms budget so profoundly influenced by the whim of one man, who lacked all scientific and technical knowledge, and whose dream of “Star Wars” was, from the start, the subject of endless criticism and condemnation by the great majority of independent scientists and thinkers within the US? Well … yes. But what does this say to us who stand to gain or lose so much when our fates and those of so many others can be determined by so few — and frequently such ignorant — political figures. What is the origin of the magic authority wielded by such a few “maximum leaders” in the world? At what point will individual, independent human beings make the effort to put as much enthusiasm and interest into understanding the true nature of their political fates as they put into watching sport, listening to music, or going to movies? When will we cease to “trust” these leaders and instead inform ourselves sufficiently about the circumstances of our own societies and those of the global community that we shall be able and determined to “instruct” them as to the merit or error of their intentions on “our” behalf?
The Galileo Mission
There is a story in today’s Globe and Mail (October 11) headed “Death threat from space” by Karl Grossman. The lurid title embellishes a straightforward enough account of the possible global horrors that could result if — tomorrow is the date — “the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration goes ahead with the launch of a shuttle carrying a space probe containing lethal plutonium.” (By the time you read this, the probe will undoubtedly have long been launched.) The probe, part of the “Galileo” mission will be sent to explore Jupiter. The first problem would be if a launching mishap occurred — “a Challenger-like-explosion” with release of plutonium into the atmosphere when, it has been argued, “in a worst-case scenario, the plutonium would escape and thousands to tens of thousands of people would die.” But wait: assuming the probe clears the atmosphere, it will come back to 185 miles above Earth’s surface at 30,000 miles an hour in a slingshot manoeuvre that will have taken it round Venus. If the probe falls and disintegrates as it nears the earth in 1992, and if all 49.25 pounds of plutonium it contains were released, this would result in “more than the combined plutonium radioactivity return to earth in the fallout from all the nuclear weapons testing of the United States, the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom” according to Dr. John Gofman, professor emeritus of Medical Physics at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Gofman has calculated that test fallout has caused 950,000 lung cancer deaths and refers to the Galileo mission of “one of man’s modern lunacies.” What’s it for? Well, Grossman claims that “Use of nuclear power in space …provides a market for (General Electric), which for years has been hard-pressed to sell its nuclear plants. It fits the nuclear-power oriented agenda of the US Department of Energy and the national nuclear laboratories created as part of the wartime Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb.” But, in addition, “Galileo and next year’s plutonium probe mission to the sun … are expected to prepare people for the planned launching of substantial amounts of military nuclear devices in the 1990s. Items slated to go out include GE-built SP-100 space reactors to power the Strategic Defense Initiative, or Star Wars.”
So … a failure for the organizations like Science for Peace in this country, the USA and elsewhere that are dedicated to seeing the end of the arms race and the beginning of global security. For, let us remember, space shuttles really do explode within the earth’s atmosphere. And rocket launches really do go out of control and crash back to earth with their payloads. So if we sent up enough payloads we can be statistically certain that some of them will return to us unbidden. So, there! Modern lunacies? Precisely. But if the arms race, rhetoric aside, really can be stopped, perhaps these particular forms of lunacy will at last be curtailed.
Test Ban Treaties and the Yellowknife Geophysical Laboratory
Peace scientists everywhere will recognize the value of the greatly improved seismic detection facilities opened in September at the Yellowknife Geophysical Laboratory as a means of detecting underground nuclear explosions as well as countless seismic events of natural origin. The Federal Energy Minister, Jake Epp, has named this facility, and others like it, “Tools for peace and development” (“Modernized seismic observatory praised as tool for arms control”, Globe and Mail, October 12). Scientists of the Group of Scientific Experts which is part of the Geneva Conference on Disarmament were among scientists from more than 20 nations who gathered at Yellowknife to discuss the new facility’s significance for nuclear arms control.
The new facility includes an array of 19 seismometers, a new control centre and an instant communication link to Ottawa via satellite. Some $3.5 million has been spent by the federal government through External Affairs and Energy, Mines and Resources in these improvements to a facility begun in 1962. Dennis Monsees of EMR, who is in charge of the seismometers, was quoted as saying that “If we have an 80 percent detection rate now, the new equipment should give a 99 percent detection rate.”
Scientists present at Yellowknife discussed the implications of this improved system in the verification of nuclear test-ban treaties. “A comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty has not yet been signed by the super powers, but the scientists believe the establishment of a reliable system to verify compliance will be an important development.” The Yellowknife facility will be one of the most advanced of such systems. This is an excellent contribution to the cause of peace, of which one wishes the government would make many more.
Economics of Weaponry
Economist John Kenneth Galbraith, to the conference on “Ethical Choices in the Age of Pervasive Technology” at the University of Guelph, October 26, 1989 (item in Globe and Mail, November 1, entitled “Military defeat means economic victory”):
“I would urge … a greatly reduced technological commitment as regards weaponry and defence. In the American case, such a commitment draws technical and capital resources from civilian and other public use. The Pentagon, it has been estimated, now pays the salaries of about one-third of all U.S. engineers and scientists. The availability for civilian use of these resources and associated capital has played a large role in the economic success of Japan and the German Federal Republic since the Second World War. Their economic success can be traced in no small part to the military constraints that were the result of losing a war. Military defeat was the prelude to economic victory.
I would urge further that all modern governments have an organization that maintains an eclectic and systematic surveillance of the industrial economy. This should be in constant search for unexploited technological opportunity, and it should command the financial resources that, directly or indirectly, should be committed thereto. This should not be a purely scholarly exercise of surveillance …It should be a major department of government disposing serious revenues in areas of possible useful and competitive technological development or in defence against socially damaging development. It should have a long view of the future; it should thus be a counter to the most damaging of recent public and private tendencies, which is to sacrifice future problems and prospects to short-run comfort …
Immediately urgent also is the need for the state to devise ways and means for dealing with the social consequences of economic development. This, more than incidentally, is a task that cannot be accomplished without effective co-operation between the affected lands. Since we share the same planet, there must be shared responsibility and action for its preservation.”
“Ethical Choices in the Age of Pervasive Technology” was the title of “A World Conference” at the University of Guelph, Ontario, from October 25-29. The Conference was held under the auspices of the University School of Continuing Education; Chair and chief organizer was Professor Henry Wiseman. More than seven hundred attended the proceedings and there were more than 100 invited speakers in 15 workshops, not including some 19 additional invited speakers spread over five plenary sessions.
The appeal and timeliness of a conference with the topic and intent of this gathering is obvious — especially for those in Science for Peace, and Janet Wood, Terry Gardner and Alan Weatherley were asked in 1988 to be coordinators for workshop number 14: “Technical and ethical choice in the field of international peace and security.” Among the speakers at this workshop were Anatol Rapoport and Alan Weatherley, while Metta Spencer and Bill Klassen acted as Rapporteur and Advisor, respectively — all are members of Science for Peace. The workshop participants were particularly fortunate to have as Chair Professor Seymour Melman of Columbia University, author of the recently published “The Demilitarized Society” and numerous other critical works on the economics of militarization. One useful experience was to have the participation of Brigadier Generals W.R. Dobson and L.T. Rowbottom of the Canadian Forces and the opportunity to debate and discuss with them the role of the Canadian military in relation to changing social attitudes and emerging global arms reduction possibilities.
The topics discussed in workshop 14 included: 1) Nuclear deterrence and risk assessment — the hidden values in strategy; 2) Technology and public perceptions of national security; 3) The great deterrent — nuclear weapons and the pursuit of security; 4) Who controls arms control?; 5) Knowledge of technology as an aid in the struggle for peace (Anatol Rapoport); 6) Use and deployment of the “military-industrial complex” in improved times for peace and security (Alan Weatherley). Each workshop was required to produce a final report containing three recommendations and three questions. For workshop 14, these were as follows:
- Three concluding recommendations:
- The Canadian government should give full support to amending the Partial Test Ban Treaty to a comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
- Stop all arms trade in order to free funds and energies in both developed and underdeveloped countries for addressing their social and economic needs.
- Universities should undertake research to recommend public policy for designing and implementing disarmament and the conversion from a military to a civilian economy. They should initiate the training of highly qualified personnel to participate in this process, and encourage wide public discussion.
- Three concluding questions:
- Should the Canadian government not initiate and promote an international process directed toward total disarmament, as against mere regulation of the arms race (arms control)?
- Should not savings from disarmament be used for the purpose of meeting the hitherto unmet socioeconomic needs of the people?
- As countries disarm, must they not ensure that members of their armed services, defence department, and arms industries are retrained and relocated, if necessary?
The first recommendation was adopted by the general assembly at Plenary IV (Presentation and Open Forum on Workshop Findings).
The topics of the fourteen other workshops were as follows: Ethical choices and technology in: food systems; animal husbandry; media/arts/culture; computers and information systems; human development; economics; education; energy; environment; health sciences; industry; labour; law; research administration. The main function of Plenary IV was to compare the workshop reports and discover differences, common threads and generalizations.
The Conference was successful in fulfilling its major objectives, which justified the massive and sustained organizational effort it required. As might be expected in such a vast undertaking, some participants felt that there were important relevant topics and interest groups which were not included. It was apparent that many participants wanted more opportunity for presentation of individual views and questions. It is hoped that these concerns will be addressed in any future endeavours.
This new organization, was launched, following a public meeting, in São Carlos, São Paulo State, Brazil, on Friday, June 9, 1989, appropriately during United Nations Environment Week. Participants in the meeting were:
- José Albertino R. Rodriguez, Professor of Sociology in both the Universidade Federal de Brasilia e de São Carlos; Vice-President of the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC);
- Eric Fawcett, Professor of Physics, University of Toronto, Canada (who was visiting Professor Paulo Césaro de Camargo in the Department of Physics, Universidade Federal de São Carlos — UFSCAR);
- Dietrich Schiel, Associate Professor of Physics, Coordinator of Scientific and Cultural Dissemination, Instituto de Física e Qímica de São Carlos, Universidade de São Paulo — USP-SCAR;
- José G. Tundisi, Professor in the School of Engineering, Universidade de São Carlos; Director of the Centre for Water Research and Applied Ecology.
São Carlos is a small town (150,000 population) about 300 km west of São Paulo (15 million population) that houses two universities, UF-SCAR and USP-SCAR. By New World standards, São Carlos has a long scientific and cultural tradition. A branch of Ciencia Hoje (Science Today) has an office there in the elegant building where the public meeting was held. The building houses the Centre for the Dissemination of Science and Culture, operated by USPSCAR, and is alive with eager schoolchildren every weekday.
Ciencia Hoje is an excellent monthly publication, which might be described as a cross between Scientific American and Science, but which carries articles of more general appeal than either. It is an organ of SBPC, the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science, which also edits a review, Ciencia e Cultura (Science and Culture). SBPC is an important organization, which, with about 20,000 members, has considerable influence in Brazilian scientific affairs. It holds an annual meeting in July, which is comparable in scope with that of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Science for Peace and Justice has not yet been formally constituted, but it is significant that the Vice-President of SBPC, Professor Jose Albertino R. Rodriguez, was a participant in the public meeting in São Carlos, where he spoke on science policy in Brazil relating especially to appropriate development, without destruction of the environment. The new organization will be a member of the Science for Peace International Network (SPIN), and thus will regularly receive Bulletins and Newsletters from other leading members, as well as Reports from several resource organizations, and will have the possibility for joint initiatives with the 40 or so members of SPIN in almost as many countries. Professor Rodriguez told us that this material would be a valuable resource for the publications of SBPC, as well as for the members of Science for Peace and Justice.
The inclusion of the word “Justice” in the name of the new organization implies social and economic justice, as well as justice to Mother Earth, i.e., preservation, and/or development without destruction, of the environment. This new emphasis should not be seen as detracting from the primary concern for Peace, but is entirely appropriate for a country which has never fought a major war, its only military adventure being the shameful participation with Argentina and Chile in the dismemberment of a large part of Paraguay over a century ago.
Brazil furthermore is still almost immune from involvement in wars in the various troubled regions of the world, though in a desperate effort to keep up interest payments on the massive external debt, the country unfortunately has become a major arms producer, and thus exacerbates these troubles. Brazil also shares of course in the global vulnerability to nuclear winter, in the event of a major nuclear war, even if it were confined to the nuclear powers in the northern hemisphere.
The term “social justice” has resonance in a country with 36 million abandoned children (half the population under 18), with 30 million illiterates (28% of the population over 5) and with an infant mortality rate of 68 (all government estimates for 1984); “economic justice” means in Brazil, as in every other South American country, first of all release from the bondage of external debt, which clearly can never be paid off and is widely seen to be a levy imposed by the developed countries in a latter-day model of imperialism; “justice to the earth” means an end to environmental destruction and to maniacal megaprojects (many of which are inflicted on the country by transnationals, with the sole outcome of further increase in the external debt), and the beginning of appropriate and sustainable development.
This extension of the mandate from “Peace” to “Peace and Justice” is consonant with the vision of Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, when they founded the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs in 1957. The new emphasis on “Justice” resonates with the Dagomys Declaration of the Pugwash Council, proclaimed in September 1988, on “Ensuring the Survival of Civilisation”. The Latin-American Pugwash Group, which is coordinated by Professor Ubiritan d’Ambrosio, Pro-Rector of UNICAMP-USP, is fully cognizant of the foundation of Science for Peace and Justice, and will coordinate Pugwash activities in Brazil with those of the new organization. We look forward to the day when Brazil, with its 150 million population, and other major underdeveloped (or distortedly-developed) countries in South America, Africa and Asia, take their proper place in the community of nations. These countries are represented in the United Nations, but they are incapable of proper development under the present international economic regime. Developed and underdeveloped countries alike may collapse and die in the 21st century, if we fail to hobble the Four Horses of the Apocalypse: War, Plague, Hunger, and Death. The main purpose of Science for Peace and Justice, like the other member organizations of the Science for Peace International Network, is to abolish War, the most dangerous, since it causes the others, of these terrible afflictions on humanity.
Eric Fawcett, Coordinator of the Science for Peace International Network
Your editor needs help! When I took on this job I asked Science for Peace colleagues to supply me with material they thought might be suitable for the Bulletin. And indeed I got reports of meetings, a couple of book reviews, etc. And some people have sent me various “news items”, that is, they have brought material in papers and magazines to my attention, in the expectation that I may want to use it. Well, I may. But the trouble is that for both “Quotes and Notes” and “From the Media” one needs to examine very carefully the context of highlighted material and, indeed, must frequently read and review (for “Media”, especially) several related texts — often quite lengthy texts — before featuring an item, sometimes in the form of a short review. And this is enormously time-consuming. If people would really like to help I would beseech them to do the following:
- Send me “Quotes and Notes” material and — especially — “Media” material in a form that can be used directly. The style of thing I refer to can be seen by perusing this number of the Bulletin and its immediate predecessor (Vol 9, No. 2, June 1989). There can, of course, be no guarantee a particular item will be printed, because there could be many items competing for limited space, including those I collect myself — and most of which I eventually discard. But items that are sufficiently “worked up” that they require only a minor editing will be a great help. To save yourself undue effort, call me (416) 284-3353 or write to me (address on last page) or send email c/o C. C. Dyer (also on last page), to inform me of any item you think should be included and ensure I know it is coming.
- If you read any new book you believe Science for Peace members should know about, then why not review it and send me the review (say 250- 1,000 words)? Reviews can be sent by email c/o C. C. Dyer (see last page of Bulletin) or posted to me (address on last page). This will simplify my search for suitable reviews. But, again, it will be wise to check first in case the book is not quite appropriate or I have already obtained a review for it.
- Lastly, if you have news items of Chapter activities, reports of conferences, speeches on Science for Peace matters, etc., please try to put them into the form of concise statements that I can use with little editing.
Editing the Bulletin is an arduous job. So far I find I am doing too much of the spadework, whereas my job should be mainly selection, presentation, collation, and editorialising. There are a lot of you out there — and, as I said at the beginning, I need your help.
1999: Victory Without War, by Richard Nixon. Pocket Books, Toronto, 1988, 336 pp.
Richard Nixon, “American’s elder statesman of foreign relations”, remains representative of his country’s post-1945 political leadership and ideology. As he puts it in this volume, his is a “pragmatic” position, holding a hard middle ground between the “super hawks” and “super doves” of the Republic’s “leadership class”. He is not an apocalyptic neo-conservative. He criticizes Reagan’s “belligerent rhetoric”, rejects the prospect of an anti-Soviet East Europe, recognizes the economic causation of Third World societies’ “turn to communism” and emphasizes the need for their prosperity, and prefers the defence of Latin America and other “American interests” by their own client militaries rather than by the invasion of US troops.
But the subtitle of his book — “Victory Without War” — does not mean that he or other US “pragmatists” are any less fond of military solutions than in the heyday of the Vietnam War, which Nixon judges “a tragedy — not that we were there, but that we lost” (p. 20).
As others, Nixon believes that Gorbachev’s concessions on nuclear armaments and testing, troop and tank division cutbacks in Europe, military pullout of Afghanistan and encouragement of democratic reforms in the Eastern bloc are but so many manoeuvres of the Russian masterplan to defeat the US and achieve “world domination”. “Under Gorbachev,” he says, “the Soviet Union’s foreign policy has been more skillful and subtle than ever before. But is has been more agressive, not less” (p. 26). He repeatedly appeals to the myth of a “massive Soviet superiority in conventional forces and arms” (eg. pp. 72, 200). He declares without qualification that Cuba and Nicaragua were “far better off” under Batista and Somoza than under their current “brutal communist regimes” (p. 122 and p. 134). He acknowledges and strongly endorses US threats of nuclear attack against the USSR over Iran in 1945, in Korea in 1953, against the USSR in the Suez crisis of 1956, against the USSR again in the Berlin crisis in 1959, and against the USSR in the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 (pp. 71-77). He reassures us, however, that: “The United States is an avowedly and manifestly defensive power” (p. 46). And “It has never been an offensive power” (p. 71). Indeed, he laments that the US has lost its global monopoly of nuclear weapons to “deter Soviet aggression”. But insisting, in italics, that equality is the secret to future arms treaties (p. 87), he endorses SDI whether or not it violates the ABM Treaty of 1972 (p. 85), insists on billions more US arms expenditures “to restore previous superiority in warfare capability” (eg. p. 218), and calls for a six-fold increase of Japanese military spending (p. 230) and an unlimited increase of NATO military spending (pp. 204-220) to ensure that the West “wins the Cold War”. He also recommends an increase in US aid to the Contra invasions of Nicaragua (pp. 132-7), and to Savimbi’s South African-supported UNITA forces seeking to overthrow the government of strategic mineral-rich Angola (p. 142). He also fully approves of the US military invasions of Lebanon in 1957, the Dominican Republic in 1965, and Grenada in 1983 (pp. 106- 7). Paradoxically, his own administration’s secret bombing of Cambodia in 1969 and overthrow of the elected Allende government in Chile in 1973, are not mentioned. This may be because Nixon supports “covert actions” that s-tay covert (p. 109). Nixon also advises increasing military aid to the government of El Salvador, which has killed over 60,000 of its citizens since 1979. Here and elsewhere Nixon advises against any human rights tests of governments which the US arms and aids (pp. 135-7). He also rejects any UN intervention in conflicts involving the exercise of US power (p. 22).
For those interested in Nixon’s position on arms control today, he unequivocally repudiates a commitment to “no first use” of nuclear weapons (p. 213) and scorns the “zero-zero” option for nuclear arms (p. 191). He recommends raising the nuclear threshold (p. 212), advises “lengthening the nuclear fuse” (p. 212), opposes START (p. 94) and overall counsels that, “Those who call for the elimination of nuclear weapons are living in a dream world” (p. 68). “You cannot win more at the conference table,” he declares as “axiomatic”, “than you can win on the battlefield” (p. 177). Any move towards “disarmament”, he declares, “would be disastrous” for America (p. 314). The US “must protect its interests.” Primary among these are the “vast and essentially natural and human resources” of the Third World (pp. 142, 265-66)-“oil”, “strategic minerals”, “cheap labour”, “raw materials” — which are the “prizes” of the great US-Soviet “competition” (pp. 120-21). (Canada, by the way, ranks at the top of US “vital interests”, pp. 114-5.) The world-historic competition between the US and the USSR is not for the “naive” or “the weak of will”, and Nixon counsels the violation of international law if “national liberation movements” get in the way of what is in the interest of the US (p. 129). However, he emphasizes that he only seeks “a century of peace” (p. 13) and a “victory for the right of all people to be free from political repression” (p. 24). “Only by example and never by force,” he reiterates in conclusion, “will our values be extended to others” (p. 314).
Nixon’s general argument here is warmly endorsed in reviews by the New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times. His “political and moral vision” expresses, it seems, a conventional world-view of America’s official ideology. As Nixon puts it, the world is the site of “a titanic struggle between two clashing conceptions of man and his place in the world. The American-Soviet contest is a struggle between the opposite poles of human experience — between those represented by the sword and by the spirit, by fear and by hope. The Soviet’s system is ruled by the sword; ours is ruled by spirit. Their influence is spread through conquest; ours is spread by example. We know freedom, liberty, hope and self-fulfillment; they know tyranny, butchery, starvation, war, and repression” (p. 316). Even the great problems of environmental depredation, which Nixon mentions once in passing, are located in the rising “major ecological crisis in Eastern Europe” (p. 153). Nothing that the US does can be really wrong, except in the failure of “will” or “far-sightedness”, and nothing the Soviet Union does can be really right, except in the eyes of “the misinformed” or otherwise misled. The nature of the US-Soviet “competition” (the axial concept of this book) is ultimately a zero-sum game. Whatever is a gain for the Soviet Union (eg. international recognition for peace initiatives or increased trade with the West) is necessarily a loss for the US, unless US leaders use it as a “lever” to get more back in return (e.g. an arms advantage or a “linkage” concession, pp. 178, 218). On the other hand, whatever is a loss for the Soviet Union is necessarily a gain for the US, and therefore “freedom” — however onlookers may misunderstand appearances (eg. stalled or violated arms-reduction agreements). The only limit here is that excessive losses by the Soviet Union, e.g. an East Europe turned hostile, would lead to a Soviet union striking back in a way that would incur heavy losses of US supporters (p. 150). Nixon’s zero-sum game has more than one chapter, unlike the apocalyptic anti-Sovietism of the “super-hawks”. At the same time, this zero-sum game is a somewhat loaded game. Nixon confides in passing that the US has immeasurably greater power in the world that its adversary, the USSR: “We have learned to project power around the world better than any nation in history” (p. 125), whereas the Soviets “cannot project their power over such great distances” (p. 135). It is a zero-sum game that the US is destined to win, if it but “stays the course”.
Nixon’s representative view has one fatal flaw. Its concept of the Soviet Enemy seeking “world domination” appears to be a projection of what his own policies seek to achieve for the United States.
— John McMurtry
Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age, by Modris Ecksteins. Lester & Orpen Dennys, Toronto, 1989, 396 pp.
In this astonishing work the author attempts no less than an analysis of the intellectual, emotional and (dare we say?) aesthetic dynamics of World Wars I and II. His thesis: that there was an atmosphere of rebellion or revolution (not communism!) in the air of pre-WWI Europe, exemplified in such phenomena as the ballets of Diaghilev, Stravinsky, and Nijinsky, and art and literature of the likes of Picasso, Cocteau and Joyce.
In no state was the social ferment as great as in Germany. Ecksteins contends that the belated self-recognition of a German state, the lack of “objective definition” led to “the idea of Germany and Germanness (becoming) a question of imagination, myth and inwardness — in short of fantasy.” This he links to the Lutheran tradition in which “religion was a matter of faith rather than good ideas or doctrine.” Ecksteins believes that the inventors, scientists and architects of Germany were pre-eminent in bringing us into our “post-industrial world” but that in an “experiential sense” also, Germany, more than any other developed Western nation, manifested the “psychic-disorientation that rapid and wholesale environmental change may produce.”
Among the effects of such societal dynamics on a Germany drifting towards war, Ecksteins notes that around 1870 British steel production was four times that of Germany, yet by 1914 German steel production equalled the combined production of Britain, Prance and Russia. There were comparable changes across the board, including the use of energy and the production of electricity and chemicals. In “less than one prolonged lifetime, Germany … moved from a geographic assemblage … to become the most formidable industrial … (and) …military power in Europe.”
All of this was accompanied by a great population increase, booming living standards, sweeping educational reforms — the latter not merely in technical areas. Somehow, out of this, grew a new German culture in which technique, efficiency and innovation were seen as spiritually liberating, encouraging to the development of an intense “inner freedom.” With this grew national ambition to lead, dominate, and also to disparage as second rate many of the older cultures of Europe — notably the French and the British.
It all came from there, as Ecksteins sees it. The national pride and bombast, the will to excel which became the urge to conquest, the notion of a future different in some fundamental, revolutionary way to all its pasts. Always change. A desire to assert the new against the old in technology, culture and the spirit alike. World War I, when it came, was fought by men who, though their moods shifted over the four appalling years, exemplified different attitudes in their amazing collective fortitude. The Germans held to their national ideals, their notions — by now seemingly almost inbred — of superiority, and of will to create a new society. The British and French generally behaved according to their concepts of solid bourgeois societies in which men did their duty with a certain decorum in the face of horror. It changed gradually towards acts of barbarity — gas initiated by the Germans, tanks by the British. But, again, gas could be viewed as a sort of inevitable outcome of the German drive towards societal revolution, rebellion — never to be held to the forms of the past even in matters of warfare.
After WWI, the main argument goes, Germany still somehow held to a vision of the future, an aesthetically-propelled concept of a new society which had been thwarted by the war. Ideas like racial purification and the amazing sound and light extravaganzas of the Nazi rallies are seen as outcomes of a dark and mindless art. Hitler himself, though he failed as an artist, is portrayed as a consummate designer and impresario of kitsch on the huge stage of German national life.
This book is a tumultuous work in the dictionary sense of that word, in that it produces a “conflict of emotions in the mind.” And to evaluate it fully will require several re-readings and long reflection. The book attempts to drive the continuous shaft of an idea — that of a concentrated furious aesthetic of change, a perverse, and essentially a wicked and barbarous idealism — through all the events from the beginning of the 20th century including the two World Wars. Does it succeed? Well, it certainly makes for absorbing reading, aided by its splendid style. And if it is “right”, then it may throw powerful gleams on the origins of WWI — which have always been a problem of collective irrationalities to most people. As for WWII, it can help to explain its beginning as a continuation of the irrational aesthetic impulses not thoroughly extinguished by the slaughter of a generation earlier. If it is “right” then all of us should tremble at the implications, because what Ecksteins’ thesis says is that one of the most terrible of wars may have been fought not fundamentally over territory, wealth, fear or envy, or political questions, race or religion (as these latter three are usually understood), but as a result of twisted aesthetic notions which so captivated and inflamed a gifted people that they could lead to the loss of millions of Germans and cause the deaths of scores of millions more.
A feature of this work is the outstanding use by the author of the vast untapped source of information in the personal letters of ordinary soldiers, especially of WW1. The power and eloquence of these letters gives a stunning expositional freshness to the narrative which grabs the reader’s attention in a way not usually experienced in works of historical analysis.
Modris Ecksteins is a Professor of History at the Scarborough Campus of the University of Toronto.
— Alan H. Weatherley
Michalos, A. C. (1989). “Militarism and the Quality of Life” Canadian Papers in Peace Studies, No. 1. Science for Peace, Samuel Stevens, Toronto, 55 pp.
A retreat, announced to the SfP Board meeting of September 25th, was held the weekend of Nov. 3-5 at Maple Creek, Ontario. Twelve members participated. The retreat was conceived as a group effort to plan and recommend to the Board SfP activities for the immediate and near future; widespread representation was sought. For a variety of reasons, and regrettably, we found ourselves with representatives from only three groups, all from nearby Hamilton, Toronto, and Waterloo.
There emerged from much lively discussion the appended list of sixteen projects — eight presently or chronically engaged in by SfP, and presented for reaffirmation, four new research projects, two projects for the education of ourselves and our membership, one for public education, and one “superordinate” project of long-range research and self education.
We were attentive to the need to find within the group of participants in the Retreat a sponsor or convenor for each of the projects proposed; the parenthetical entries identify these persons (or in two cases other Science for Peace members responsible for the project).
In late September, there seemed to be some wish of the Vancouver groups to plan a more or less parallel retreat. If they or other groups have done this, or are soon to do it, the Board will have a wealth of recommended projects to deal with, of which these from South-Central Ontario will be but a part.
A Notice of Motion regarding this retreat and its recommended projects is being forwarded for the December 3 Board Meeting of Science for Peace, with the expectation that the projects may be adopted and pursued with vigour. Those who attended the retreat believe that these projects represent some of the most important contributions our organization can make in the near future in progress towards a stable peace.
Projects Recommended by the Retreat
A. Presently, Recently, or Chronically Engaged by Science for Peace**
- Science for Peace International Network: SPIN (E. F.)
- Public Education through Large Events (E.F. T. G.)
- A series of public conferences under the title(s) Future History Of Planet Earth (Future H.O.P.E.) is planned. The first, Future Histories: Remembering Tomorrow took place Nov. 10-11, ’89, at Metro Reference Library, 789 Yonge St., Toronto.
- Follow-up on the Arctic Conference of Nov. ’88 (P.B.)
- Proposed research on Canadian and International security questions related to the Arctic; non-provocative monitoring techniques.
- Redirection of Science Towards Peace (Luis Sobrino)
- A proposed Conference on Professional Ethics of Scientists, B.C. Chapter.
- Peace Education as a Part of Formal Education (T.G.)
- Interaction with schools, school boards, universities, CPREA, COPRED, Learned Societies; Interuniversity Seminars, etc.
- Tritium Export (P.R.)
- Hamilton, Ontario chapter of SfP project, focussed on Ontario Hydro’s plan to sell its tritium (byproduct) to U.S. for “non-military” use.
- Verification Technologies (P.B. & D.R.)
- Pursuit and extension of SIP’s active work on satellite monitoring; to include, at least, passive submarine detection technologies.
- Accidental Nuclear War (Michael Wallace). A 1991 Conference on Pacific Security is planned by the B.C. Chapter.
B. New Proposed Research Projects
- Economic Conversion, with personnel reallocation (J. V.)
- Case study or studies examining in detail problems and possible solutions arising in the wake of a posited political decision to reduce arms production. Some such studies have been made in the U.S. by Melman, Dumas, et al. Our motivation is to demonstrate — insofar as possible — feasibility of conversion to consumer production without traumatic social cost — unemployment, severe dislocation, etc.
- CIIPS is inviting proposals, for funding at the level of $100,000, for somewhat similar projects. The research will require the assembly of an expert task force.
- Modelling of military or economic forces as nonlinear systems (L. T.)_
- Lynn Trainor and Ray Kapral have active, allied research interests.
- Militarism and the Environment (R. W.)
Topics studied would include low-level training flights and the proposed NATO installation at Goose Bay.
- Small Study Group on International Comprehensive Security Systems (L.T. and A.S.)
C. Self Education Projects
- Ongoing Watching Briefs (E.F.)
A proposal to monitor media reports on selected matters of particular interest to SIP. A tentative list of such topics has been prepared.
- Abstracts Bulletin (A.S.)
Thumbnail abstracts of selected articles from a wide range of journals will be circulated to interested members.
D. Education of the Public
- _Task Force on Science for Peace and the Media (J. S.)
This group will try to find or create channels through which the concerns of SIP can reach various constituencies of the public with greater frequency, prominence, and regularity than heretofore.
E. Superordinate, Long-Term Project
- _What kinds of Economic Systems can Preserve Society? (J.V.)
- Host & Peter Brogden (P.B.)
- Shirley Farlinger (S.F.)
- Eric Fawcett (E.F.)
- Rapporteur & Terry Gardner (T.G.)
- Herb Jenkins (H.J.)
- David Roulston (D.R.)
- Arnold Simoni (A.S.)
- Jean Smith (J.S.)
- Lynn Trainor (L.T.)
- John Valleau (J.V.)
- Chair & Alan Weatherley (A.W.)
- Robena Weatherley (R.W.)
A sponsor or convenor for each of the projects is given from this list of participants (or in two cases Science for Peace members responsible for an ongoing project). Telephone and, where available, FAX numbers are given. We intend this list to be an invitation to act. We urge Retreat Correspondents and others to contact the appropriate sponsor or convenor and join one or more of these Project-teams; to suggest other Projects that they might wish to promote; and to pass this Report on to colleagues and friends who might wish to join in our activities.
The Science for Peace office has copies of reprints of the following technical article on the seismometry of verification of nuclear test ban treaties:
- K-Y Chun, G. F. West, R. J. Kokosky and C. Samson “A novel technique for measuring Lg attenuation — results from eastern Canada between 1 and 10 Hz”, Bull. Seism. Soc. America, vol 77, No.2, April 1987, pp.398-419.
- J. Scrimgeour, “International Stability — An Information and Control Systems Study of the Process”, presented at the IFAC/SWIIS Workshop on International Conflict Resolution using Systems Engineering, Budapest, June 5-8 1989.
- Alex C. Michalos, “Trust and the Quality of Life” (‘first draft, comments welcome’ on title page) 1989, 44pp.