SfP Bulletin December 1996

Full text version of all articles from SfP Bulletin December 1996. A PDF edition is also available.

President's Message -- Comfort me with H-bombs

Know that …in the hearts of men
to come more bombs will be born
magisterial bombs wrapped in ermine — all beautiful
and they’ll sit plunk
on earth’s grumpy empires
fierce with moustaches of gold
(Bomb — Gregory Corso 1958)

The end of the cold war has not brought peace and cooperation but conflict and division. So the political philosophers of deterrence whom we all opposed were right — for the wrong reasons. They said that the bomb’s existence prevented world war. This may not have been true — the absence of nuclear war in the period from 1950 to 1990 may have been our historical good fortune. But the bomb certainly gave organizations like Science for Peace a clear rationale for their existence and activity. And it gave powerful non-nuclear countries like Canada good reason to distance themselves from the positions and policies of the nuclear states in order to maintain their own political credibility within the wider world. That reason has now disappeared. In its place has come economic and political uncertainty.

So in Labrador we can offer NATO further low flying hours and not be concerned about tormenting the Inuit inhabitants and thus discrediting ourselves in the eyes of a ‘third world’ which has in any case disappeared along with the nuclear confrontation. And when the US bombs Iraq we can immediately associate ourselves with this brutal illegality because there is political and economic advantage in so doing and the views of others no longer need trouble us. In the past a mild distancing would normally have been in order, with phraseology such as “Canada understands the US action and the provocations that gave occasion for it but believes that conflicts should normally be settled by agreed actions under UN auspices etc. etc.”, but even that slight consolation is now denied us. At the same time our credibility as provider of relatively unbiased peace-keeping forces has disappeared along with much of the Canadian military’s reputation for competence, fairness and courage. Indeed we could conceivably take this opportunity — having disbanded the Airborne regiment — to convert the rest of Canada’s armed forces into an unarmed (or only lightly armed) civilian or paramilitary peace-keeping operation. Our war-fighting capability will not be missed inside or outside the country and it could certainly help the federal deficit. Of course that won’t happen.

What can we do? Where shall we find Gregory Corso’s gold-moustached bombs to sit in judgment on us? Is it a coincidence that the promotion of the US to world hegemony has coincided with the rise of cults and militias inside that troubled country? They are certainly prepared to judge their state but their magisterial manner lacks something. Only if other states become world magistrates within and outside the United Nations, not only for the US but for Palestine, Israel, Rwanda, Britain (in Northern Ireland), Bosnia and Serbia, without looking to short term political and economic advantage, will there be a change of atmosphere. We cannot expect the poor of this world to do this but rich and previously internationally-minded countries including Canada and Scandinavia should do so, not out of pure altruism but to promote our long term prosperity along with that of others. How can we persuade the Canadian government to take the long view? That seems to me the problem that urgently needs a solution.

Peace Studies Endowed at University of Toronto

George Ignatieff was Chancellor of the University of Toronto in 1981 when Science for Peace was founded by a few members of its faculty. Fastidious in keeping separated the ceremonial prestige of his office and the effervescent, critical exercise of his intellect, George never allowed the Chancellorship to encumber the man. His affection for the very concept of Science for Peace, and his personal support for our goal of creating a Chair of Peace Studies in the University of Toronto were immediate and vehement. We could not move fast enough to satisfy him.

Before 1981 was done, University College, guided with forceful grace by Peter Richardson, was side-by-side with Science for Peace in the Chair of Peace Studies effort, and by March 1982 was authorized by the University to seek endowment funds for the Chair.

Science for Peace had conversations with Anatol Rapoport, whose enthusiasm for the proposed Chair led him to commit himself to becoming a bridge between the dearth of activity we perceived at the University at the time and the endowed, permanent vigour we were striving for in peace studies. When in 1984 his term as Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna was completed, he volunteered his immense powers to become both generator and locomotive for a new Program in Peace and Conflict Studies in University College. Rapoport also served as President of Science for Peace, 1984-86, to be succeeded by George Ignatieff, 1986-1988.

By 1988-90, it appeared that the endowment fund for the Chair was well started, and its consummation secure. Most of us in SfP were lulled into inactivity. Then there were unsettling rumours: disaffection of some putative major donors on account of sloth in the fund’s growth; then, for a long time, nothing.

Professor Lynd Ferguson of the Department of Philosophy became Principal of University College in 1989, worked hard and uttered no rumours. Early in May, 1996, many of us were taken by surprise, as well as delighted, to be invited to “ … a reception to celebrate the establishment of THE GEORGE IGNATIEFF CHAIR in Peace and Conflict Studies, Monday, May 13, 1996, … East Hall University College.”

The George Ignatieff Professor-designate is Franklyn Griffiths, distinguished political scientist, restlessly creative thinker, demanding and popular teacher, and member of Science for Peace, known to many of us as editor of Arctic Alternatives: Civility or Militarism in the Circumpolar North (Science for Peace/Samuel Stevens, 1992).

Science for Peace congratulates the College and welcomes Frank in his new role.

Terry Gardner and Eric Fawcett plan to write a fuller account of the genesis of this Chair, naming more names, thanking many, and critically assessing much. If you have relevant information, please let us know.

Working Group Reports

Working Group on Climate Change

Co-ordinators: Adele Buckley— oceta@hookup.net
Derek Paul— paul@physics.utoronto.ca

Members of the Group have recently prepared four papers, and will supply copies on request.

1] “Climate Change: facts, strategies, choices and innovations” by Derek Paul was presented at the International Conference on Quality of Life at the University of Northern British Columbia in August, and is now in press with the Journal of Social Indicators. The main conclusions of this paper have been communicated to the Prime Minister and all the Ministers affected by the need for compliance with International agreements on greenhouse gas reductions; and also with some other members of parliament.

2] Global Security and Environmental Degradation” by Adele Buckley was presented at the Canadian Pugwash Group’s October 1996 seminar.

3] A response has been prepared for the provincial and federal ministers of the environment on the Report of their Task Force on Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels. This response will shortly be communicated to the various ministers and their staffs.

4] A paper “Choices for Plutonium Disposal” has been prepared by Derek Paul, at the request of the SfP Board, for the WG on Abolition of Nuclear weapons and the WG on Energy. The report, now in its third draft, is available for perusal. This paper focuses on the problem of disposal of military plutonium rather than of the larger total quantity of plutonium residing in spent fuel.

Working Group on Human Rights

Co-ordinators: Phyllis Creighton— ppcreig@idirect.com
Eric Fawcett— fawcett@physics.utoronto.ca

Phyllis Creighton has written the following letters on Science for Peace stationery in response to Urgent Action Notices of Amnesty International on behalf of Prisoners of Conscience. Normally copies of the letter (or similar letters) are sent to Ministers, Police, Legal or other concerned authorities.

All members of SfP are encouraged to write on Science for Peace stationery, which will be supplied on request to Eric Fawcett, who will co-ordinate the responses.

15 May 1996: to All Parties Hurriyet Conference State of Jammu and Kashmir, India on behalf of electoral officials, subject to death threats.
14 Jun 1996: to President of Mexico on behalf of members of a peasant organization “Movimento 6 de Marzo” in the State of Guerrero, persecuted for demonstrating for lack of adequate agricultural resources.
15 Jul 1996: to President of Syria on behalf of Mustafa Tawfiq FALLAH, a prisoner since 1970, who now at age 59 is in very poor health.
05 Oct 1996: to President of Legislative Assembly of El Salvador expressing concern about proposed legislation to reintroduce the death penalty.
10 Oct 1996: to Governor of the State of Guerrero, Mexico on behalf of Bertoldo MARTINEZ, a leader of “Movimento 6 de Marzo” (see 14 June), arrested 3 October in Acapulco.

Peace Magazine: Science for Peace Section

All members of SfP should have a subscription to Peace Magazine, because this is now our regular vehicle for communication of ideas. Canadian subscriptions (including GST) are $17:50 for one year, $30 for two years, with 6 issues per year, from:

Peace Magazine, 736 Bathurst St., Toronto, Ont., M5S 2R4

We list below the articles in the Science for Peace Section of Peace Magazine for 1995 and 1996. Back numbers are available from Peace Magazine (or from the SfP Office) at $5 each (including mail).

Recent E-Mail Notices

We list the titles of recent SfP member network e-mailings, to inform members not on e-mail (and to remind those who are). Please contact the SfP Office if you would like a copy of any of these notices.

  • 10 Sep: The 1996 NORAD Agreement by Ann Denholm Crosby, Political Science, York University
  • 20 Sep: Canberra Commission calls for abolition of nuclear weapons, a summary of the Report by David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
  • 03 Oct: Canada and Star Wars by Bill Robinson of Project Ploughshares, Board Member of SfP
  • 16 Oct: Environment Assessment Hearings on AECL’s Nuclear Waste Management and Disposal, papers and a call for action by the Working Group on Energy, by Helmut Burkhardt, Secretary of SfP

Conference Report

SfP Representative to INES: Eric Fawcett— fawcett@physics.utoronto.ca A full copy of the Report on the Congress is available on request.
INES Congress, August 1996: “CHALLENGES OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Science and engineering have become instrumental to many of the present unhealthy patterns of development. This is why the International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES: SfP is a member) organized this a Congress on the topic.

INES was supported by the co-organizing University of Amsterdam, who hosted the Congress, the international union organisation FIET, and the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, a major German research institute. Over 500 people attended the Congress.

The four major topics of the Congress, organized into 20 workshops, were:

  • Ethical foundations and basic attitudes;
  • Concepts and strategies for sustainable economies;
  • Sustainable development on a local, regional and global scale;
  • Elements of a safe and secure world.

The future work of INES in the spirit of the Congress relies vitally on a broad membership. INES is an international association of individual engineers and scientists as well as over 70 member organizations from five continents (including Science for Peace). All readers committed to a responsible use of science and technology are invited to become individual members. Application forms are available from:

INES, P.O.B. 101707, 44017 Dortmund/Germany,
or fax +49-231-103869, or e-mail r.braun@ping.de,
or on the INES home page ( http://cac.psu.edu/~duf/social/ines.html).

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