SfP Bulletin Summer 2007
Full text version of all articles from PDF edition is also available.
Apart from the activities ongoing in our various working groups, Science for Peace is engaged in a number of new and continuing projects. For these projects, Science for Peace members are encouraged to participate through research, writing reports, preparing materials for our web site and for educational purposes, or helping to organize public events. In addition, our remarkable new staff person, Donya Ziaee, is in the process of organizing materials for use this fall in an effort to encourage new students, Faculty members and lay people to support or join Science for Peace. Devoting a couple hours a week to any of these projects will greatly strengthen the work in these projects. Here, then, is a small summary of some of the work in which your participation would be greatly welcomed.
Global Issues Project.
This project seeks to build a critical mass of key people who are educated about, and interested in, the current threats to global stability that arise from rapid consumption of key resources. The Global Issues Project is designed to study global trends, to try to understand when possible shortages might occur, to explain inter-relationships between vital factors, and to consider strategies that might help humankind to manage its way through the anticipated shortages. Please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
Militarism and the Environment.
While the waging of war is well known to destroy environments, less well discussed is the huge environmental impact of war industries themselves and, often, their exclusion from environmental legislation. This project will research and compile the data concerning the environmental impact of Canadian and global military activities in order to produce a book and/or internet resources. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Idea of the University.
This project is studying the role of Canadian Universities in Canadian society. The influence of businesses, governments and the military on the mission of the University, their role in influencing the activities of academics, and their effects on the nature of education are under investigation. Further, the establishment of institutes within Universities which specifically advance the agenda of business and military communities is being uncovered. email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Technology – Virtual Conferencing.
Julia Morton-Marr has organized the use of audio technology that allows all members to attend Board meetings, hold Round Table discussions, Special Events, and Conferences. The purpose is to increase participation 24/7 by all members wherever they are in the world. The SfP Conference Room link is:
For help on access please contact Julia Morton-Marr. Email: email@example.com; Phone: 1-905-820-5067 to arrange a time.
The following article has been adapted from a talk delivered by the author at the recent Science for Peace Annual General Meeting, held on May 12, 2007.
There is no doubt that Canadian foreign policy is currently undergoing a major shift. We are at a time when the imperial nature of our international role is becoming increasingly evident and a large portion of the Canadian ruling class no longer finds it useful to entertain certain myths and misconceptions about that role. The illegal invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and the leading position that Canadian soldiers, institutions and aid agencies are taking in that country’s colonization and its peoples’ subjugation are examples of this shift; they represent, as Rick Hillier put it, “a glimpse of the future.” This remodeling of the Canadian empire has also had the effect of causing a number of organizations to call for a return to the `traditional role’ of peacekeeping prompted by adherence to some prevalent myths. I believe that by examining Canada’s ongoing criminal intervention in Haiti, done under the auspices of the UN and under the veil of peacekeeping, we can challenge these naive and regressive calls more effectively.
Since its independence over two centuries ago, when the black slaves of Hispanolia overthrew their French Masters in 1804, Haiti has been under constant siege from imperialism. It remains the most frequently singled out region in the world for American interventions, the most notorious of which was the 17-year occupation that began in 1915 and which re-installed virtual slavery and secured in place a brutal American-trained army to be used as an enforcer by a line of dictators who ruled Haiti for decades to come. In 1987, the devastating legacy of that occupation was successfully ended when a grassroots mobilization known as Lavalas overthrew the foreign-financed dictatorship of Jean-Claude Duvalier. It was this same movement that also succeeded in bringing to power, in 1990, Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide.
However, within 7 months, the Aristide government was overthrown in a CIA-backed coup headed by General Raoul Cedras of the Haitian Army. After three years of rule by the military junta, during which an estimated 10,000 Haitians were murdered by the army and affiliated death squads in an attempt to neutralize the popular movement, intense international pressure prompted the Clinton regime to re-install Aristide in 1994 with the assistance of Canada and France. However, the nefarious conditions of the assisted return included an imposition of a neoliberal economic agenda – which directly threatened the grassroots democracy – amnesty for the coup leaders, and consent to the presence of a US-led UN Peacekeeping Force. The latter was to remain in the country until 1999, with Canada’s participation, presumably to assure adherence to the political and economic dictates of the negotiation. Aristide completed his term – which was unconstitutionally shortened by the agreements – but not before he disbanded the hated Haitian Army.
In 2000, Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected a second time with a 92% majority in elections deemed fair and transparent by international observers. However, Canada, the US, the E.U. and Haiti’s economic elite dismissed the elections as fraudulent on the flimsiest of basis, subsequently using this charge as a pretext for a devastating international embargo on Haiti, along with a well-managed destabilization campaign against the new government. A year later, a band of former death squad soldiers who had been involved with the first coup regime, and members of the disbanded Haitian army – all stationed in the Dominican Republic and trained and armed by the CIA – began to make bloody incursions into Haiti’s north, killing poorly armed police officers and supporters of the government. Aristide and CARICOM (Caribbean Community) pleaded with the international community for assistance in ending these violent attacks, but the pleas were dismissed.
By 2004, the attacks increased and the ranks of the rebels swelled as prisons were emptied of criminals who joined the revolt. The beleaguered government struggled against the armed usurpers concurrently withCanadian, Ame-rican and French diplomatic usurpers pressing Aristide to negotiate with the tiny but powerful elite. In late February, US Marines and Canadian commandos arrived in Haiti and the Canadian foreign affairs minister, Bill Graham and US Secretary of State, Colin Powel, publicly called for Aristide’s resignation. By February 29, when the rebels failed to capture the capital, Port-au-Prince, and just as a shipment of arms for the Haitian police were due to arrive from South Africa, the coup was effectively completed when US marines marched into the presidential palace, kidnapped Aristide, and flew him to the Central Republic of Africa, with Canadian special commandos securing the Haitian airport.
Immediately after the coup, on the night of Feb. 29, with unprecedented haste, the UN Security Council voted unanimously for the 3-month deployment of a Multinational Interim Force (MIF), composed of French, American, Canadian and Chilean troops. Canada alone provided 500 soldiers and 6 CH-146 Griffon Helicopters to the 3,600 strong force – a force presented as a constituent of a peacekeeping mission. Over the next 90 days, the MIF conducted heavily-armed patrols throughout the country and mainly in urban slums, and carried out various arrests and detentions. During this time, remnants of the paramilitary group that had attempted to overthrow Aristide began a crazed slaughter of pro-democracy activists and the residents of poor neighborhoods, reminiscent of the attacks against Lavalas supporters following the first coup. The international troops did nothing to stop these murders from taking place, as a National Lawyers Guild report from the time indicates. Interestingly, a draft Counter Insurgency Man-ual recently com-pleted by our Department of National Defense mentions the MIF deployment as an example of a suc-cessful counter-insurgency. Be-sides obvious questions as to why, if this multinational de-ployment was a counter-insurgency mission, it was never presented as such, one has to also wonder that if paramilitary gangs were not being stopped, who were the “insurgents?”
In fact, the force was implicated in a number of abuses, including: the killing of Aristide supporters, such as the massacres of March 12 and 13, 2004, when dozens of protesters calling for the return of Aristide were gunned down by international troops; non-licensed house searches and death threats against Aristide supporters, for which Canadian troops have been specifically condemned in a report by the British Medical Journal, the Lancet; and extra judicial arrests and detentions, the most notable of which was the violent and illegal arrest of community activist and internationally-acclaimed folk-singer, Annette Auguste, by US Marines. The Marines used hand grenades against the unarmed grandmother and blindfolded and handcuffed her grand-children.
It seems that it was Lavalas, Haiti’s popular movement of the poor, to which the Counter Insurgency Manual is referring. The manual actually recognizes that such insurgencies “stem from political and social dissatisfactions and ideas for social change” and “must be defeated through military, paramilitary, political, economic, psychological and civil actions.” The International Force also oversaw the dismantling of an entire elected government structure and the imposition of an illegal dictatorship headed by Gerard LaTortue. The new interim gov-ernment directed the dismantling of social programs, repealing of the minimum wage raise, dismissal of thou-sands of civil sector workers (mostly from the poorest slums), end to food subsidies for the poor … and the list goes on.
The International Deployment was replaced on June 4, 2004, again with notable haste, with an official UN peacekeeping force – The United Nations Stabilization Mission for Haiti, or MINUSTAH – which still remains in Haiti today. The need for this mission was first outlined in the resolution for the MIF deployment, which is based on the premises that Aristide “resigned” and that the source of conflict was the “flawed elections” of 2000, a falsity that Canada promoted. In addition, its mandate, as directed by coup plotters – the US, Canada and France – focused almost exclusively on assisting the illegal LaTortue government in maintaining control over the resistant population. Gerard LaTortue was himself a UN official, had served in a former brutal Haitian junta, had connections with the Haitian elite, and had lived outside of Haiti for more than 15 years. This is a man who had celebrated the rebels as freedom fighters and called for the elimination of 12% of the population in Cite Soleil (Haiti’s largest slum and the base of Aristide’s support) in order to pacify that population.
Canada continues to play an important role in the mission, with 4 Canadian military officers positioned in such a way, according to one of these officers himself, “as to greatly influence every military operation in the country.” In addition, Canada has taken the lead in the section of MINUSTAH dedicated to poli-cing. Under the MINUSTAH Police Mission (or UNPOL), cur-rently headed by Graham Muir of the RCMP, the Haitian National Police ranks have been stacked with former members of the Haitian Army and Death Squads from the first coup against Aristide in 1991. Top positions within the Haitian Police are occupied almost exclusively by ex-members of Haiti’s brutal military. This integration was conducted with the assistance of consultants from the former Kosovo Liberation Army (another brutal paramilitary ally used in a past `peacekeeping’ mission) and with RCMP officers providing training and weapons.
A systematic program of extra-judicial assassinations, bloody repression, warrant-less arrests and detentions, rape, and violent elimination of popular dissent has been, and still continues to be, carried out by this police force, all while they continue to be trained by 1,600 UNPOL forces, including 100 RCMP and Quebec Provincial Police officers. From 2004 to 2006, the Lancet medical journal finds this police force and its civilian attaches to be responsible for over 4,000 deaths and 35,000 rapes in the Haitian capital alone. The mutation of the HNP by the UN into an effective proxy army should not be surprising considering that a full year before the coup, at a confidential meeting of western officials hosted by the Canadian government, called the “Ottawa Initiative on Haiti”, the need for regime change in Haiti was officially recognized, as was the reintegration of the dreaded Haitian army under a UN protectorate.
Besides having maintained the two-year illegal coup government and reinforcing the thugs of the HNP, MINUSTAH has itself conducted massive repression of the Haitian poor majority. Frequent and deadly incursions into slums like Cite Soleil and Bel Air under the guise of `stopping gangs’ has resulted in the death of many civilians, with three large-scale massacres within a year and a half. The first of these took place on July 5, 2005, when UN troops massacred over 60 civilians in Cite Soleil and left scores more injured. Many of the victims were women and children shot at close range. General Auguste Ribeiro, in charge of UN operations at the time, resigned from his post, declaring that he did not want to be brought up on war crimes. He later spoke about the extreme pressure being imposed on him by the US, Canada and France to use violence. Another massacre took place in the early hours of December 22 – days after a protest that called for an end to the occupation – when 400 armored UN troops fired 22,000 rounds of ammunition over 7 hours into the Haitian slum, killing 50-70 people. Not a single medical unit accompanied the MINUSTAH forces, and the local Red Cross accused MINUSTAH of denying them access to the injured – a clear violation of Geneva Conventions, as are the firings on hospitals, schools and churches.
When questioned about these violations and civilian casualties, the Special Representative of MINUSTAH in Haiti, Edmund Mulet, has either denied responsibility or has dismissed the dead as collateral damage, sounding more like a war general than a UN representative of a peacekeeping mission. Of course, MINUSTAH does not take a casualty account after incursions. It is much simpler to group all of their victims as gangsters or kidnappers, just as it is much easier to call all Afghan casualties “the Taliban.” While Edmund Mulet continues to reject MINUSTAH complicity in the deaths of poor men, women, children and the elderly during incursions into Haiti’s slums, other UN officials admit that no investigations are conducted to determine responsibility for these murders.
Peacekeepers in Haiti have approved, assisted, covered up and contributed to the murder of over 10,000 civilians, the arrests and detentions of hundreds of political prisoners, the displacement of 200,000 internal refugees, and a social and developmental setback of years. Their mission has meant a consolidation of the 2004 coup d’etat, the legitimization of and support for a two-year bloody dictatorship, the transformation of a police force into a weapon against its own people, and the crushing of popular movements and a legitimate resistance. The MIF and MINUSTAH in Haiti represent a brutal three-year occupation force, a nightmare that has not ended for the Haitian people and which con-tinues to subvert the sov-ereignty of the newly elected government. This is an occupation force, assembled with “peacemakers” and under the auspices of the UN, which bears a distinct resemblance to the NATO occupation of Afghanistan, or, indeed, the American occupation of Iraq.
It is a mission that is legitimized with a new colonial ideological tool called the “Responsibility to Protect,” an inherently racist doctrine authored by Canada and incorporated by the UN without a vote, which permits some 20 wealthy nations the right to circumvent international law and intervene on the sovereignty of countries that those same 20 nations have classified as “failed states.” Yet above all else, the goal of the MINUSTAH deployment has been, since its initiation, to secure Haiti for the uninterrupted implementation of the economic program of the IMF and the World Bank, which has been consistently and unequivocally rejected by the Haitian masses any time they have had an opportunity to be heard. The goal has been to ensure that Haiti will be yet another dumping ground for American and Canadian surplus goods, and yet another `independent state’ reaped by imperial powers for its most valuable resources – in Haiti’s case, its citizenry, that is, a massive and desperate source of cheap labour.
It is this agenda against which the people of Haiti are struggling, a struggle to which all Canadians of con-science must lend their solidarity. That solidarity re-quires us todemand an independent investigation into Canadian involvement in the coup since the elec-tion of Aris-tide in 2000. We must echo the call of the Haitian poor majority for an end to the UN occupation and demand the withdrawal of Canadian police and military political advisory forces from Haiti under terms set by the Haitian government. We must provide provisions for aid with “no strings attached” that goes directly to the elected government of Haiti, and an end to the practice of subverting funds to suspect “civil society” organizations and donor-directed initiatives. We must call for a release of all political and illegally held prisoners and a cancellation of Haiti’s 1.3 billion dollar odious debt as dictated by international law. We must end the culture of international impunity and demand that Canada pay reparations to the people of Haiti for the significant damage done to Haiti’s economic, political and social infrastructures.
Canada Haiti Action Website: www.canadahaitiaction.ca
Yves Engler and Anthony Fenton, Canada in Haiti: Waging War on the Poor Majority (Fernwood Publishing, 2005).
Paul Farmer, The Uses of Haiti (Common Courage Press, 2005).
Paul Farmer, Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plague (University of California Press, 2001).
The following is a presentation delivered to the University of Western Ontario’s University Research Board on May 8, 2007. UWO is collaborating with General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada to assess ballistic materials for the manufacture of light armoured military vehicles at its London facility. General Dynamics, with revenues of some $19 billion and 70,000 employees, is amongst the world’s largest arms manufacturers, central to the US military industrial complex.
Thank you very much for inviting me. I will propose to you that the University Research Board undertake an ethics review of military related research at Western.
The context for our discussion is the contract between a research team in our Faculty of Engineers and General Dynamic Land Systems (GDLS) on Light Armored Vehicles LAVs). The issue of military research is of course much wider than this contract. However, I want to say a few words about it be-cause it illus-trates the nature of issues raised by military research. GDLS is a part of General Dynamics, a major player in the US military industrial complex. Although GDLS makes LAVs for a number of clients, including Canada, the major product line at the London plant are Strykers, the vast majority of which are for the US Army in Iraq. UWO research is thus improving the performance of a weapons system that is crucial in the US occupation of Iraq. Although we have not been able to see the contract with GDLS, neither Jeff Wood – the UWO Engineering Professor who is directing the research – nor his students, with whom we have discussed and debated the issue, have denied this assertion. The Stryker is a multipurpose vehicle. It is not just used for transporting troops and supplies – it is a gun platform, mounting a variety of cannon and missiles; it is used in aggressive patrols to provoke firefights with insurgents; in urban terrain it lays down a wall of fire that shreds houses on either side of the street; and, because of the relative silence of its engine, it is a preferred vehicle for snatch operations in which suspects are seized from their homes.
I need only briefly remind you of the nest of ethical issues that surround the war in Iraq: a war launched on the basis of mis- and disinformation; a war that many regard as having been undertaken in violation of international law; a war in which the torture of prisoners by the US at Abu Graib and Guantanamo has been documented and protested by international agencies; a war waged by the US with an incompetence that many regard as in itself immoral; and a war in which studies published in the eminent medical journal the Lancet put the civilian death toll at over half a million. I do not expect at all that we in this room will agree in our evaluation of these issues, but I do hope we agree that they are weighty enough to make us reflect on our University policies and practices around military research.
I will now proceed to make four general propositions about military related research, which I define as research either conducted directly for military agencies (Defense Departments. etc.), or for known military applications by private companies.
- Military related research raises special ethical issues.
- Academic freedom, though rightly cherished, is not an absolute.
- An ethical review for military related research is practical.
- Conducting such a review is part of the university’s obligation to its faculty, staff and students, and to the community at large.
- Military related research raises special ethical issues, warranting special processes for ethical review. All research can have indirect and unforeseen consequences. A geologist’s investigations may inadvertently lead to a mining company despoiling landscape. I research videogames, and students have claimed that I have destroyed their otherwise promising careers by introducing them to a time-wasting and addictive pastime. Research for the military, however, raises a specific issue because the function of armies is the exercise of deadly force. This is not the only thing that armies do, but it is the thing that only armies are meant to do. This means that a university researching for the military, or for a military contractor, must reckon on the possibility that this research will help kill someone. Moreover, and this is an important subset of the argument, this killing will not necessarily have been approved by our national government. In the case of General Dynamics, it is killing in a war that Canada did not join. In the case of other US defense contacts, it could be killing in Iran, Venezuela or Columbia, and, given the internationalized aspect of the arms trade, it is not impossible that in future UWO researchers could be working on weapons contracts for European, Chinese or Russian companies whose weapons would be used in Sudan, Chechnya or Tibet.
- Academic freedom though rightly cherished is not an absolute. It is, in practice, already balanced and limited against other considerations. The argument often made against my case is that it puts us on a `slippery slope’ towards constraining the autonomy and intellectual freedom of academic researchers. In fact, due to this Board’s own good work, we already live and work on that `slippery slope’, and our daily business as academics is based around a set of compromises on intellectual freedom. The URB, to its great credit, does not allow the torture or abuse of animal and human research subjects. We accept that the researcher is not autonomous, but answerable. Last week, I received a letter requiring me to complete an ethics review for a SSHRC research project that in essence involves asking a few people some questions about open source software and other computing applications. Irritating as it is, I accept that there are issues of safety, privacy and honesty that have to be respected. It is anomalous that there is no comparable ethics review process for making a weapon that will certainly be used to kill and maim in a dubious cause.
- An ethics board for military research is practical. The University Council on Research Ethics Involving Humans and the University Council on Animal Care, Animal Use Subcommittee, are current examples of large complex bodies with a wide range of expertise and community involvement, dealing with difficult issues. A similar body for military related projects could be composed of university experts in international law, human rights, and medical effects of weaponry. Any researcher negotiating a project for a military agency, or a known military application for a civilian agency, would have to submit the project to an ethics board review. Grey area cases, where the researcher is unsure about whether ethics review is required, could be adjudicated by the board itself. This board would be mandated to consider whether any given instance of military related research will contribute to armed force involvement in violations of international law or the abuse of human rights, and be empowered to reject the application if it does so. There should be a public component of the review board hearing, in which public interest groups on either side of the issue are invited to present their concerns, and the discussions in this section should be documented and made publicly available.
- The university has an obligation to conduct such reviews. This obligation is in part to the potential victims of the weaponry we help manufacture, even if they are half a planet away on the chaotic streets of Baghdad. However, it is also a responsibility to our own faculty and students. When we accept a company such as GDLS onto campus, we are accepting that its presence is a valuable and welcome contribution to an educational process. The university has a responsibility to ensure that this process does not, even if indirectly, implicate students, staff or faculty in violations of international law or offenses against human rights. It is not sufficient to say that this is an individual responsibility of the researcher or his or her assistants. Finding out about weapons systems, about where and how weapons are deployed, and evaluating controversies surrounding their use, is complex and time consuming. Individuals do not necessarily have the resources to make an informed decision. The University, as a knowledge institution, with amassed expertise in ethics, law, and international relations has exceptional resources in this respect. The graduate students today working on Strykers, or any other military related project, may in the future have to come to terms with the fact that in their youth they worked on supplying armaments for one of the first great humanitarian catastrophes of the twenty-first century. We have a responsibility to help prevent such nightmares, for the sake of both the perpetrators and the victims.
Paul Hamel, President of Science for Peace, spoke at a recent panel at UWO, “On the Ethics of Military Research in the University,” which took place on 12 March 2007.
On 31 March this year, 150 people from places near and far in Ontario converged at Port Sydney to pay their final respects to Norman Zinkan Alcock, founder of peace research in Canada, engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, husband, parent, grandparent, brother-in-law, uncle and friend. Norman’s widow, Pat, was present, her sisters, the Alcock children, Stephen, Christopher, David and Nancy, their spouses and children, some other relatives and many friends. Chris Lind, a close friend of the Alcock children, was master of ceremonies for the memorial service. He summarized Norman’s characteristics beautifully when he said:
“The late 1950s, 1960s were a time of revolution and Norman Alcock was part of the vanguard party. If he wasn’t a revolutionary, he was certainly a rebel. I was trying to think of a single norm he didn’t challenge and couldn’t think of one. He challenged the norms of an academic career, of a business career, and of child rearing.
“Our generation [that of Norman’s and Pat’s children] were pretty tough on the [older] generations and we pushed a lot of adults away, but in the Alcocks’ split-level house at the end of Lakewood Drive, our energy, questioning and crazy dreams were nurtured and encouraged. It was magic! Our energy was even harnessed as we walked round the Institute table collating pages for the newsletter…
“The home that Pat and Norm made was one of creativity, of possibility, of boundary pushing and experimentation. Ideas were currency and everyone had a bank account. No one was prevented from haggling at the bazaar.”
A native of Edmonton, Alberta, Norman’s life took him to many places through many stages. He was highly successful in his early engineering studies, at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, graduating in 1940. He obtained an M.S. in Electrical Engineering at Cal. Tech. one year later, then worked with a select team on Radar during the war, first at the National Research Council in Ottawa, and later at the Telecommunications Research Establishment in Malvern, England. In 1949 he obtained a PhD in Physics at McGill University, followed by a period of employment at AECL, Chalk River. He next branched out to become an entrepreneur, exploiting the commercial possibilities of radioisotopes for medical or other peaceful purposes in Oakville, where he also developed some land for new housing and built the house on Lakewood Drive already referred to above.
Of special interest to members of Science for Peace must be the Alcocks’ decision to give up a prosperous life as entrepreneurs and enter the nascent field of peace research. It was a gamble and a huge risk for a family with young children, even in affluent Oakville, and Pat was fully involved in this.
The rationale for founding a peace research institute is given in full in Norman Alcock’s The Bridge of Reason (John Wilkes Press, 1961, 40 pp). This invaluable, groundbreaking text is available in the Toronto Public Library system only at the North York Library, in the stacks (call number 327.172A).
Norman’s rationale was that “the only feasible road out of our present dilemma [war and threats of war] is by the bridge of reason.” Secondly, “the bridge of reason must be based upon the concept of the critical few.”
The meaning to be given to these statements was essentially the assumption that science (in its broadest sense) could show the path of peace through a sufficient body of scientifically conducted peace research and thereby turn international affairs away from paths leading to wars. The research would require a substantial minimum of international effort, and hence Alcock’s use of the term “critical.” He was only too aware that the critical number of able peace researchers was unknown, but speculated it would exceed a couple of hundred, and could be in the thousands, spread between many institutes in many different countries.
It turned out, most sadly, that either these assumptions were insufficient, or that the critical number was not achieved, and is larger than could have been found and supported in those days. This question is better answered in his response to my 1986 letter – see below.
The Alcocks funded their institute initially from their own resources, living frugally and driving their old station wagon wherever they went, carrying a banner across its back that read:
People began to donate money. A Committee was formed, which they called the Communications Committee, with the purpose of raising the awareness of Canadians to the founding of the institute, and consisting largely of members of the CBC, Pat recalls. Another very fortunate circumstance at the outset was the almost simultaneous formation of The Canadian Voice of Women for Peace, known colloquially as Voice of Women, or VOW. This remarkable and important organization was seeking a project to cut its baby teeth, so to speak, and chose to raise funds for the Alcocks’ newly formed Canadian Peace Research Institute (CPRI) in Oakville. Funds were also raised by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and by the World Federalists. Making the Institute a reality was an example of what groups of diverse people of goodwill can achieve.
Money was soon forthcoming, and grants were obtained for specific projects. Over the next fifteen years or so, numerous people were hired by CPRI. Hanna and Alan Newcombe were among the early research staff, though they eventually, for convenience, chose to operate their own institute from their home in Dundas: the Peace Research Institute Dundas (PRID). But the two institutes collaborated. Others who were hired to staff CPRI included William Eckhardt, Anita Kemp, John Paul, Jerome Laulicht, Allison Lee and Gernot Köhler.
Over its 20 years of operation CPRI researchers published many papers and attended conferences. In addition the Institute created its own Press and published the following books, though I make no claim that the list is complete:
John Paul, Jerome Laulicht and George Strong, In Your Opinion (1968) 349 pp.;
Hanna and Alan Newcombe, Peace Research around the World (1969) 275 pp.;
Norman Z. Alcock, The Emperor’s New Clothes (1971) 177 pp.;
Norman Z. Alcock, The War Disease (1972) 238 pp.;
William Eckhardt, Compassion (1972, reprinted 1973) 238 pp.;
Matthew Melko, 52 Peaceful Societies (1973) 223 pp.;
Norman Z. Alcock, The Logic of Love (1976).
In the 1970s Norman’s interests began to shift in the direction of mysticism. This trend first showed itself in print in a little book entitled The Quest for Reality (93 pp.). He was a deeply spiritual man, and this was evident to me in all my dealings with him, not all of which are recounted here.
I first met Norman in 1976, when I was trying to decide whether to attend the Pugwash Conference that was to take place in Mühlhausen, East Germany, later that summer. The invitation was my first to any of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, and I was hesitating, as these conferences represent a major commitment in time. Norman had attended six Pugwash conferences in the early 1960s and, after an interval, another one in 1967, but none since then. Pat, who went with him to two of the conferences, stated that Norm felt Pugwash had played a significant role in averting war at the time of the Cuban crisis. Norman’s Pugwash participation also coincided with the efforts to bring about the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), forbidding nuclear weapons tests from being made in the atmosphere, an endeavour in which Pugwash had also played a part. The PTBT had the effect of eliminating most fission fragments from nuclear explosions from entering the atmosphere, and thus brought about a significant improvement in public health worldwide. These two contributions from those early days undoubtedly played a significant part in the award to Pugwash and to Joseph Rotblat in 1995 of the Nobel Peace Prize.
By 1976, however, Norman had not participated in Pugwash international conferences for nine years, and he neither encouraged me to attend nor discouraged me from attending. Very characteristically, he left it entirely to me.
On that occasion, in 1976, we talked a good deal about the CPRI Press, and I remember purchasing a good many books, including the entire remainders of The War Disease, both in paperback and hard cover. The War Disease is a wonderful primer on war and its causes, and deserves to be reprinted again or to be updated and rewritten as a first-year text for all students of peace and conflict, as well as for the general public. Members of Science for Peace, especially those concerned with education, might do well to study The War Disease and consider producing a new version, updated, but having the same purpose.
It is also known that Norman advised Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau prior to the UN’s First Special Session on Disarmament, in 1978. Of the three Special Sessions on Disarmament, the first is generally regarded as having been by far the most successful.
My next memory of Norman stems from his participation in the telegram to Soviet President Brezhnev in early January 1980. On 27 December 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and, to quote a retired diplomat, “all hell broke loose at the UN in New York.” The late Bertrand Russell had more than once indulged in an exchange of telegrams between himself and a Soviet President in times of crisis. In the absence of Russell, it seemed to be Canada’s turn to follow suit, and I organized a telegram to be sent to the Soviet President, bearing as many distinguished Canadian signatures as possible. Norman was one of the signatories, and we made sure the telegram reached its addressee by having it go through the diplomatic channel, that is, the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa. This achieved, we received a response about ten weeks later, in the form of an invitation to four of the signatories to attend a luncheon at the Soviet embassy in Ottawa. Norman was one of the four who accepted to attend, the others being John Hewitt (a nuclear engineer), Murray Thomson and me.
At that time, possibly the lowest point in East-West relations, very few highly placed people in Canada or the United States were willing to talk with Soviets, so low had the relationship sunk. Also, there was a Canadian trade embargo against the Soviet Union, so that the Ambassador explained, as Norman recounted to Pat, “you see, I have nothing to do, and can spend all the time you like with you.” The proof was that the drinks before lunch and the lunch itself lasted from noon until 5 p.m! Norman and Murray were the more experienced of us four at second-track diplomacy, and provided most of the conversation with the ambassador – Alexander Yakovlev. The Embassy’s Councilor, Alexei Makharov, a very deserving fellow as I later found, was also present, as well as a third Russian who claimed to be the Embassy’s press agent, but was clearly from the KGB. The latter had to be silenced several times by Yakovlev during the lunch, to prevent his version of Soviet orthodoxy from inundating us. Alexander Yakovlev was a historian by training and a man of some distinction. He later became a member of the Politburo and Gorbachev’s right-hand man on foreign policy in the Kremlin. The luncheon at the Embassy established a link between Soviet diplomats and Canadian Science, which served the peace movement well during the next few years.
At that time, Norman was also a member of the Ambassador for Disarmament’s Consultative Group. According to Geoffrey Pearson, then Ambassador for Disarmament, Norman knew more than anyone in the Group about arms control and disarmament, and was well liked and respected.
CPRI closed in 1981. Its archives are stored by the Province of Ontario at its Grenville Street address in Toronto. Those wishing to explore them should allow more than two hours, as they will need to surf the list of contents of the 34 boxes prior to getting their chosen box or boxes brought out to them.
Also in 1981, Science for Peace was formed, and Norman and Pat were among the early people to join. Not long after, members of its Board decided to hold a retreat, so as to plan useful action for the new organization. By that time the Alcocks had sold their property in Oakville and purchased Gryffin Lodge, jointly with Margaret Binns and Jean Hunter, Pat’s sisters, on Mary Lake, just south of Huntsville. The Lodge was operated as a tourist business for a time by Margaret and Jean and their brother, Barry Hunter, They invited us to come to Gryffin Lodge, where we were splendidly looked after by these good people, and held most fruitful discussions.
Though CPRI was now closed, PRID continued and, during Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s last Parliament, two things occurred which may well be traced partly to the influence of the two peace research institutes. First, Trudeau had been a Board member of CPRI prior to his heavy involvement in politics, indicating not only his sympathy with Norman’s basic ideas, but an inclination to seek peace through his own life and politics. Months only before retiring from politics, Trudeau, then Prime Minister, toured many capitals trying to persuade national leaders to join an international peace initiative. The peace initiative, though often regarded as unsuccessful, required long hours of preparation in high-level think tanks in Ottawa and this, in itself, was highly educational for the bureaucratic participants. Second, in the last hour of Trudeau’s very last day in Parliament, the Act was passed that brought into existence the Canadian Institute of International Peace and Security (CIIPS) – Trudeau’s very last political action as Prime Minister. The Institute functioned increasingly well for eight years, until it was closed by Order-in-Council by Brian Mulroney, as a petty expenditure-reducing move. CIIPS functioned at arms length from government, but was entirely funded by the Federal Government. Norman served on the Board of CIIPS in its early years.
Another task of Science for Peace should be to see how many of the useful functions of CIIPS could be taken up by existing nongovernmental groups, and to seek federal funding for these.
I next interacted with Norman in 1986 and 1987. Late in 1986, Jo Rotblat had asked me to write a paper on Peace Research for the Pugwash Conference in Gmunden, Austria, the next year. Having, at the time, only published about two papers that would qualify as peace research, I was somewhat at a loss on how to begin. I therefore wrote to the dozen best known peace researchers from the early days of that discipline, asking them a range of questions about what they considered peace research had set out to do and what of that it had achieved. Of the two best answers received, Norman’s was one, and is particularly noteworthy. In his view the purposes of peace research were to formalize the search for peace into a scientific discipline: “Widespread acceptance of this goal should lead to:
“(a) a compilation of war/peace facts which could be used as a support for the disarmament/arms control position;
“(b) scientific theories of the causes of war;
“(c) the legitimation of peace as a valid subject of study – peace education;
“(d) stimulation of the war-peace debate;
“(e) help for decision-makers through alternative directions;
“(f) elimination of the war system by showing its absurdity.
“Over the past two and a half decades it would seem that the first five of the above objectives have been achieved. The sixth, of course, is by far the most difficult and has not been achieved. In fact the new data, the theories, the debate and the alternative directions have if anything polarized the world economy. Why? Because peace requires more than the rational mental awareness of scientific research. It needs the motivation and deep social concern of peace action to a greater degree than exists at the present time. But especially the elimination of war will take an expanded awareness, on the part of individuals around the world, of the interdependence of life – of the oneness of the planet -a spiritual sense.
“We live in an era of transition toward an integral age. Peace is a goal but it is also a means which can only be achieved through an integration personally and in the larger social community of our mental, emotional, and spiritual nature. That is the nature of the task before us.”
Those few paragraphs, immediately above, are surely his epitaph.
In 1990, Norman was awarded a Fellowship at Ryerson University, a de facto honorary degree. It was awarded for pioneering peace research in Canada. In 2004, he was awarded the Order of Canada.
Norman moved away from the Huntsville area for a time, but was induced to return by his children, of whom Stephen, an entrepreneur and builder, constructed him an ecologically friendly house on Gryffin Lodge Road. My last few visits to see Norman were at that charming little house. It was there too I called briefly with two friends from France, whom I was introducing to Ontario. It was a delightful international meeting.
To conclude, we must all reconsider peace research and its role at this time. The Peace Research Institute Dundas closed at the end of 2004, so that Canada, a pioneer in this area, now has no peace research institute apart from Project Ploughshares, which cannot by itself cover the whole field. It would be an appropriate tribute to these brave pioneers to see their purposes reinstated and given a central role within Canada.
In the meantime, I grieve, remember and celebrate.
A Note from the Editor: As a last wish, Norman Alcock’s family suggested that donations might be directed to Science for Peace in Norman’s memory. Science for Peace thanks a large number of individuals who have donated to Science for Peace in memory of Norman. These donations will be used to fund the book and/or educational materials in the Militarism and the Environment Project, these materials dedicated to the memory of Norman Alcock.
Walter Josephy, a long-time member of Science for Peace and many other progressive organizations, died in Guelph, Ontario, on Jan. 18, from liver failure, aged 86.
Walter was born in the Baltic seaport of Rostock, Germany, in 1920. His parents, Heinrich Josephy and Lotte Marcus, came from prosperous Jewish families that were highly integrated into German society; Heinrich had been awarded the Iron Cross after he was wounded in the battle of Noyon (1918). The Josephy family owned a wholesale grain business and Walter grew up in a grand house staffed by servants. But the business failed. In March 1929, Heinrich sent Lotte away to Berlin for a holiday and. in the middle of the night, he shot himself.
Lotte moved to Berlin with Walter and his sister Susi. Walter was a schoolboy when the Nazis took control of Germany, and he sat through “lessons” where the teachers explained the racial connections between Jews, blacks, and monkeys. Walter was told that he would never be allowed to obtain his graduation diploma. So in 1936, he went to Marburg, where a private school was licenced to prepare students for the British School Certificate. But how was he to improve his command of the English language? Lotte placed a small ad in the London Telegraph, offering lodging and tickets to the Berlin Olympics, in exchange for taking Walter back to England for a month. So Walter accompanied Leonard Wills, whose parents were farmers in Sussex, to the Berlin games – sitting close enough to have a clear view of Hitler. He spent a pleasant month in Sussex, improving his English and milking cows, returned to Germany, and passed his Certificate examinations.
Walter wanted to be an electrical engineer. He was qualified to apply to a British university but the required tuition money could not be moved out of Germany. In Bodenbach, in the “Sudeten” region of Czechoslovakia, there was an engineering school where instruction was in German and Jews could still gain admittance – indeed, by this time, most of the students were refugee German Jews. Walter studied in Bodenbach through the summer of 1938. When Neville Chamberlain capitulated to Hitler’s demand for German annexation of the Sudetenland, an “eerie stillness” fell over the town. All the gas stations were closed, but not the drug stores – so Walter bought cigarette lighter fluid, filled the tank of his Jawa motorcycle, and drove to Prague, where he got a visa for the U.K. From Gdynia, Poland, he sailed to London and freedom.
“My sponsors turned out to be the spinster ladies Marter … squiresses of their estate of Walton at Epping Green … Thank goodness, I had some kind of a suit which I quickly learned to put on for dinner. Afternoons, hot scones and tea were served and Times crossword puzzles attacked. My English had improved enough so that I found an answer occasionally.” Walter persuaded his sponsors to offer the required guarantee for his sister Susi, and she escaped Germany on one of the last ships to leave Hamburg before the war.
In England, Walter got a job as an apprentice, testing power transformers. But after the fall of France, all German nationals in the U.K. were interned – even the “friendly enemy aliens.” After a few weeks of internment near Liverpool, “rumours of dramatic moves began to circulate. They alleged that we would be shipped to Canada or Australia. Few believed this, but, indeed, people soon started to line up in front of tents for registration. … If Hitler won during the summer, I would be safe, at least for a while, in Canada. If he did not, Canada remained relatively near and in close touch with Europe, and it would be much easier to return from there. … I lined up at the “CANADA” tent for a free ticket.” The story of the internees, many of whom later achieved prominence in post-war Canada, was related by Eric Koch in his 1980 book Deemed Suspect. The drudgery of prison camp life in rural Ontario was relieved as the internees established “universities,” complete with courses and textbooks. But what Walter really wanted was to join the army and fight fascism. He was given his chance in April 1941, returning to England and joining the Pioneer Corps and then the REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers). Walter worked on the “#10 predictor,” an early electronic computer designed to direct anti-aircraft guns. When the Germans began striking London with V1 flying bombs, his unit was set up near Hastings and “we actually brought down quite a lot.” He also served in India and Burma.
After demobilization, Walter settled in London and worked as a design engineer. He married Goldie and sons Michael and David were born.
Walter thought well of Canada – even though he had only seen it through barbed wire – and the family moved to Ottawa in 1957. Walter was a founding member of the teaching staff of the Eastern Ontario Institute of Technology, which later became Algonquin College. He taught courses in circuit theory and electronic communications. In 1966, he was co-author of a report to the CBC that assessed the “manpower implications of foreseeable technological changes” – innovations such as cable television, colour broadcasting, and the transition from vacuum tubes to integrated circuits. Walter retired from Algonquin in 1984.
Walter was most in his element at his workbench, holding a soldering iron, surrounded by disassembled electrical devices. Any gadget he purchased was soon customized with some sort of auxiliary attachment. Walter couldn’t bear listening to television commercials, so he designed and wired a photoelectric circuit that shut off the set’s sound; a pocket flashlight in the darkened living room served as a prototype TV “remote control.”
Walter and Goldie were well-known in Ottawa as peace activists, organizing public meetings and protest marches against nuclear testing, the stationing of nuclear weapons in Canada, and the war in Vietnam. For several years in the 1960s, their Ottawa house became a terminus of the underground railroad for American draft dodgers.
Walter had a natural talent for languages. He learned French well enough to teach electronics courses in that language, and after his son Michael moved to Costa Rica he also became fluent in Spanish. He enjoyed adventure expeditions to Egypt, the Galapagos Islands, and China, and he made frequent visits to Oaxaca, Mexico and Costa Rica.
After his retirement, Walter was an active member of Veterans Against Nuclear Arms (VANA), Global Population Concerns, Science for Peace, and the Humanist Association of Canada. At the 1997 VANA Convention in Toronto, Commander Rob Green, Royal Navy (Ret.), proposed serving a subpoena to the heads of the NATO countries, who were due to meet in Madrid, challenging the legality of their nuclear weapons. “Who knows Spanish?” he asked. A few hesitant hands went up, Walter’s among them. “You’re going to Madrid!” was Rob’s command. Walter agreed and went.
Of course, he was not permitted entry to the meetings, but the point was made at press conferences and protest marches. (Thanks to Connie Gardner for this anecdote.) “There are many problems facing the world,” said Walter, “but if we don’t get rid of nuclear weapons, these other problems won’t matter.”
Walter felt passionately that reconciliation of Jews and post-war Germans was necessary and he visited Germany many times, often speaking to school classes. In 1999, he was honoured at civic commemorations of the Holocaust, in Rostock.
Walter was active to his final year, riding his bright red motor scooter. He travelled to Costa Rica and Nicaragua with Michael and his family last July.
Walter is survived by his sons Michael (Professor of Mathematics, Universidad de Costa Rica) and David (Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph) and by his second wife, Sophia. **
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Rapoport page 290, Defending Europe, options for security (Taylor & Francis, 1986)
It is a curious habit of technocratic thinking to assume that every problem poses solutions. Even mathematicians do not have this. If you ask me whether or not I think humanity has a chance I will say a very slim one. I don’t pretend there is a solution. However, there is another way of dealing with this problem: not as a search for a solution, but as an organization for action.
Tom Lawson writes to the Bulletin:
“I … read your tribute to Anatol Rapoport [in the February Bulletin] with great interest. What a man!! I … visited him … when I was starting a senior secondary school course on Peace and Conflict Studies. His advice was invaluable, and the course was an unqualified success for my last three years of teaching. I have had dozens of classes playing Prisoners’ Dilemma and learning the great lesson it teaches …”
- President – Paul Hamel
- Vice-President – Judy Deutsch
- Secretary – Phyllis Creighton
- Treasurer – Wendy Devine
- At Large – Derek Paul
- At Large – Metta Spencer
Science for Peace Board Members (2007-08)
- Adrian Kuzminski
- Mark Leith
- Lee Lorch
- Shaun Lovejoy
- Julia Morton-Marr
- Peter Nicholls
- Derek Paul
- Jim Prentice
- Floyd Rudmin
- Robert Russell
- Metta Spencer
- George Spiegelman
- Alan Stauffer
- Herschell Stroyman
- John Valleau
- Joe Vise
- Janis Alton
- Margaret Back
- Kari Brozowski
- Robert Campbell
- John Courtneidge
- Phyllis Creighton
- Ed Daniel
- Chandler Davis
- Judy Deutsch
- Wendy Devine
- Karl Dilcher
- Walter Dorn
- Rose Dyson
- Brydon Gombay
- Anne Goodman
- Paul Hamel
- Eva Kushner