SfP Bulletin July 2008

Full text version of all articles from SfP Bulletin July 2008. A PDF edition is also available.

Note from the New President of Science for Peace

It is an honour, and a daunting responsibility, to be president of Science for Peace. It is also somewhat ironic since I work in a field generally decried as unscientific and anachronistic, for I am a psychoanalyst working with both children and adults. Contrary to much “received wisdom,” Freud’s intellectual integrity provides a model for our difficult times. As he amassed clinical data, he continually enlarged and revised his psychological theory in the direction of increasing complexity. Freud’s framework is analogous to the conceptual frame of ecology in that it contains multiple points of view that are like various map projections – intersecting perspectives that provide overlapping and varying explanations, depending on the particular questions that arise.

Most pertinent for the present, Freud’s psychology is centrally about the capacity to perceive reality and about the ability to act ethically in accord with reality. Especially helpful in understanding the current situation are extensive clinical observations about aggression. Interfering with a reality orientation are resistances, conflicts and defenses (such as denial), wishes, and difficult and overwhelming feelings. Freud’s psychology contrasts much with the predominant behaviourism and biological reductionism of North American psychiatry, in many ways the complementary psychology of neo-liberalism.

From psychoanalysis comes attention to the individual person. We live in a terrible time, threatened on many fronts, but it is individual, powerful people who are responsible for dangerous and unconscionable decisions. A small group of powerful and phenomenally wealthy people profit from conditions that threaten extermination -state militarism with its range of nuclear and new weapons, climate change interacting with reduced biodiversity and extreme water scarcity, and the re-ordering of the world economy which leaves millions of people utterly destitute, uneducated, ill, and vulnerable to needless premature death.

While it is urgent to halt these trends, to massively transform the way we live, it is also necessary to understand the multiple interactions, to know history, to maintain a perspective of safety for future generations. There is an ample history of quick fixes with their catastrophic effects – biofuels, the green revolution, massive water engineering projects that devastate entire ecosystems, nuclear energy with its radiation legacy that will last millions of years, iatrogenic illness due to zealously promoted pharmaceuticals. Every decision and choice of action needs to be assessed against the background of the deep racism and hypocrisy of the dominating global North.

Here, briefly, is a case example. Listen to Wangari Maathai (Green Belt Movement, Kenya) describe her birthplace in the Rift Valley: “At the time of my birth, the land around Ihithe was still lush, green, and fertile. The seasons were so regular that you could almost predict that the long monsoon rains would start falling in mid-March. In July you knew it would be so foggy you would not be able to see ten feet in front of you, and so cold in the morning that the grass would be silvery-white with frost… Because rain fell regularly and reliably, clean drinking water was everywhere. There were large well-watered fields of maize, beans, wheat, and vegetables. Hunger was virtually unknown. The soil was rich, dark red-brown, and moist.”

Monocropping has transformed much of the Rift Valley. Kenya is the main source of flowers for Europe, with profits going to transnational corporations. The energy use is likely enormous for both transportation and refrigeration. Pesticides and water pumping severely deplete the soil and water. With these economic shifts come mass displacements and internal migration to intolerable living conditions. Kibera, a slum in Nairobi is now home to 800,000 people. In one section of this slum, there are ten working pit latrines for 40,000 people, while in another section there are two public toilets for 28,000 people. Yet the current political unrest is attributed only to “tribal” violence, and the British government imperially tells its citizens to help Kenya by buying flowers.

With all the bad news, it is heartening that Science for Peace brings together people committed to working on all these injustices and global threats.

The Science for Peace Vocation

In a recent Note from the Science for Peace President (December 07), it is wisely stated that “we need to identify the social, political and economic mechanisms” that drive current conflicts, wars and oppression. One might add that we must clearly identify this set of mechanisms to realize the mission of Science for Peace – a mission that corporate media, politicians and activists normally do not and usually cannot fulfil with their given goals and resources.

In the same issue of this Bulletin, our Wasan Action Framework on ecological destabilization seeks “to identify the root causes of the crisis” on the environmental level. Again, one cannot but agree with this scientific objective. It flows just as clearly from the Science for Peace mission.

Yet what is missing in both this and the next issue of the Science for Peace Bulletin (April 2008) is any rigorous identification of any mechanism driving conflict, war, oppression and ecological despoliation – the latter now in cumulative trend at virtually all levels of life organization.

Rather, vague references to a “growth paradigm” – growth of what? – are the closest we get in either of these Bulletin issues to the causal mechanism behind our cumulative global disorder. Indeed, the December Bulletin’s most lengthy article advocates fictive “stories that teach us how to live”. The April 2008 issue continues at this surface level of analysis focusing on such things as a ìrevenue neutral carbon taxî, a recent federal Liberal policy which treats downstream symptoms and has been already in place in Norway over 20 years.

One need not disagree with these ideas to recognize that they are insufficient as Science for Peace analysis. It needs to lead in identifying the underlying and expanding system decider at work which remains taboo to name – even as the system selects, through its life-blind globalizing cycles, destabilized global climates and virtually all the other core problems that the world now confronts.

Surely Science for Peace can grasp the nettle a little more robustly. Our fields of meaning are already saturated with symptomatic commentary. Some words at least should be devoted to hard analysis of the exact causal mechanism at work.

Perhaps someone might point out the general fact, rather than avoid it, that there is hardly a contemporary war, invasion, oppression or ecological collapse anywhere that is not directed by a ruling value-sequence mechanism of turning private money into more private money demand for external money possessors as its ultimately regulating drive-wheel of selection.

Can anyone think of exceptions to this global system decider as the causal structure behind what Science for Peace seeks to prevent?

I have written books and addressed Science for Peace audiences on how this generic mechanism explains the inner logic of the perpetual war machine by which we are overwhelmed at both social and ecological levels – but the causal mechanism at work and its international regulatory solution still remains studiously avoided, even by Science for Peace Bulletins.

Surely it is time to take analysis to deeper ground in fulfilment of our Science for Peace vocation.

Militarism in Canada Today: What do we do about it?

A Talk to Veterans Against Nuclear Arms (VANA), Toronto, 22 April/08

I. Introduction

Militarism today is bad for the global economy, terrible for the environment, hugely destructive of human rights and of life itself, and a major risk to the future of humanity.

Why then, do we put up with it? Why is it virtually ignored, not only by Parliament, the media and the general public, but also, with some notable exceptions, by fellow member NGOs working in international development, education and the environment? The answer, I believe, is partly due to its complexity, partly because military action in the past, of which we have been a part, was considered to be essential for our survival, and partly because certain values which we hold dear are also associated with the military. These values and qualities include personal fortitude, bravery and a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for a higher cause. Unfortunately, the institutions in which these values are attributed have now become the single biggest threat to our common security and our lives.

Definitions

Militarism is defined by Webster as “the continuous and belligerent maintenance of strong armed forces”. Oxford says it is “reliance on military strength and methods.” The Houghton Mifflin Canadian Dictionary goes even further: It is “the glorification of the ideals of a professional military class,” and “the predominance of the military in the administration or policy of the state.”

The global reach

Militarism in Canada cannot be separated from militarism world-wide. The economist Kenneth Boulding wrote that the world military system is a single system, in which the component national forces derive their legitimacy, and therefore budgets, from rival national and military forces. Recognizing this, he said, “is an important step towards achieving a collapse of the legitimacy of military organizations.”

“The modern military establishment, in the organizations it dominates, the money it controls, the politicians it commands, the scientific community it subsidizes, and under the cloak of patriotism that protects it, has become a polar force in its own right. It embraces and controls the civilian authority that legally and constitutionally is presumed to be the source of its restraint” (John Kenneth Galbraith).

II. The Dimensions of Militarism

Thirty-nine years ago I wrote a peace research review entitled “Militarism 1969: A survey of world trends.” It concluded with this summary:“Militarism is a function of several interdependent social policies and processes. It is these which strengthen and maintain militarism, rather than a single root condition or cause. Namely:

  1. Militarism is maintained by the continued manufacture, purchase and exchange of arms.
  2. It is fed by the recruitment and training of armed forces. These include regular members of military units, reserves, militia, Special Forces, mercenaries and heavily armed police.
  3. It is nourished through Military Pacts and by bilateral or multilateral defence treaties [based on a perceived enemy].
  4. It is supported by the cult and practice of secret intelligence agencies.
  5. Militarism grows in a social climate characterized by nationalism, patriotism and an over-emphasis on authority, buttressed by attitudes which stress the perversity and weakness of human nature.
  6. It is fostered by economic, political and military interest groups which resist social change. [and who benefit materially from the arms trade].
  7. Finally, it is enhanced by those who believe that only violent means can overcome severe social injustice.

Militarism is also enhanced by the media that offer their opeds, columns and editorials unequally to lobbyists and think-tank writers, funded by defence departments and their allies.

III. Current Trends & Realities

1. Defence spending, procurement and the armed forces

Bill Robinson and Steve Staples of the Rideau Institute found that Canada’s military spending will reach $18.24 billion in the current year, an increase of 9% over the previous year. After the next two years of planned increases it will be 37% higher than it was in 2000-2001.

The Ottawa Business Journal and the advertisements placed there by CADSI, the Canadian Assn. of Defence & Security Industries, describe the major procurements and projects the government has announced, a total of $27.9 billion over the next 25 years, for frigate life extension, a strategic and tactical airlift fleet, heavy to medium life helicopters, logistics trucks, joint support ships, new tanks and other vehicle acquisitions

It should be said that much Canadian defence procurement has multi-purpose capacities: for war-making, peacekeeping and humanitarian aid. All told, the Canadian government has given about $5 billion to defence corporations over the past 30 years in grants and unrepaid loans. The Canada Pension Plan has invested more billions of dollars in several war companies, including some of the world’s top weapon makers. The Canadian Cadet Program, at a cost of $155 million (2002-2003 estimates) has included 56,000 Canadian youth 12 to 18 years of age.

As Canada expands its military, so do most other countries, with the annual global military bill coming to $1.4 trillion, enabling huge expansions of destructive power. Russia has commissioned another batch of new intercontinental ballistic missiles which, its military boasts, can hit targets more than 6,000 miles away and penetrate any prospective missile shield. Even small island states in the South Pacific have planned national armies to defend themselves. Against whom? Why, other island states involved in the same process, while arms manufacturers cheerfully watch their profits rise. An estimated 600 million small arms now circulate in the world today, weapons which do most of the killing, maiming, abducting and destroying happening today in many parts of the world.

2. Canada embedded in a Military Alliance

Canada joined NATO in 1949 seeing it as a defensive alliance against the threat of Soviet expansion in Europe. The Cold War ended almost 20 years ago but NATO, rather than ending, as did the Warsaw Pact, has expanded its borders and members to 26. President Bush now seeks NATO membership for the Ukraine, Georgia, Macedonia, Albania and Croatia. Its military wages war in Afghanistan, and its nuclear weapon policies, supported by Canada, threaten to destroy the Non Proliferation Treaty and its 13 Steps for nuclear disarmament. Those policies state that nuclear weapons are to be maintained and improved indefinitely. They can be targeted on non nuclear weapon states, can be kept in Europe, and are “essential for peace” At least 100 NATO nuclear warheads are, in fact, now stored in non nuclear weapon states in Europe. All of these policies violate the Articles of the NPT.

3. Maintaining secrecy on military-related security policies

On Valentine’s Day, 2008, Canada and the US signed an agreement which allows for the deployment of US troops inside Canada. There was no official announcement, nor was there a formal decision by government. The agreement was not between two governments but signed by military commanding officers. US Air Force General Gene Renuart and Canadian Air Force Lt.-General Marc Dumais signed a Civil Assistance Plan allowing the military from one nation to support the armed forces of the other nation during a civil emergency.

A Binational Planning Group (BPG) was established in late 2002, one whose mandate is neither accountable to the US Congress nor to the Canadian House of Commons. It has two wings: a Combined Defense Plan and the Civil Assistance Plan. The BPG is involved in supporting the ongoing militarization of civilian law enforcement and judicial functions in both countries, such as in the areas of immigration, police and intelligence.

Another example of secret diplomacy is the Security & Prosperity Partnership. Four years after the launch of the SPP there has been no public consultation or parliamentary debate. The Council of Canadians is calling for public consultation and parliamentary debate and an end to talks aimed a promoting continental integration of Canada and the US.

4. DND Spending on Think Tanks and University Grants

In an article in Walrus Magazine. “How think tanks are muddling our democracy”, George Fetherling quotes Donald Abelson at the University of Western Ontario, that think tanks today have a “profound determination to market their ideas to various target audiences”. Fetherling comments: “listing heavily to political starboard (right wing)…their goals were those of the new conservatism. In Canada, that meant corporate and personal tax breaks, closer ties with the US, private health care… and more recently increased military spending.

Amir Attaran of the University of Toronto comments on how the Department of National Defence spends millions of dollars on think tanks and scholars “to offer up agreeable commentary.” A current DND policy reads that, to receive money, the Conference of Defence Associations (which received $500,000) must “support activities that give evidence of contributing to Canada’s national policies’.”

The writer then lists the grants from DND’s Security and Defence Forum received by scholars at Canadian universities: York, UQAM, Wilfrid Laurier, Laval, McGill, UBC, Manitoba, UNB, Carleton, Dalhousie and Calgary each received between $580,000 and $780,000, while Queen’s obtained a grant of $1,480.000. Why? The writer claims that DND sponsors policy scholars who create the ideas, news and views that shape Canadians’ perception of the military and the war. “When DND needs a kind word in Parliament or the media – presto! – an SDF-sponsored scholar often appears, without disclosing his or her financial link.”

5. Militarism and the Environment

Physicians for Global Survival, in a research report entitled The Impact of Militarism on the Environment, concluded that military activities have extensive adverse impact on the environment . Today the world’s militaries consume approximately 25% of all global jet fuel. The Pentagon is considered the single largest US consumer of oil. An F16 jet on a training mission lasting less than one hour uses twice as much fuel as the average motorist uses in a year.

The estimated number of nuclear warheads built worldwide since 1945 is over 128,000. Many of them use separated plutonium, which has a half-life of 24,000 years. At the end of 2005. there were 15,000 metric tons of high-level waste from the nuclear weapons complex in the US and still no safe place to store it. In the former Soviet Union – in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, the Urals and Siberia – millions of people live in areas contaminated from nuclear testing, accidents or deliberate dumping of radioactive materials. Thousands of civilians have died; many more of them and their offspring linger on, poisoned and disfigured by what is known as “radiation sickness.”

6. Radarsat II and the Militarization of Space

Is Canada’s Radarsat II is a satellite for peace or war? Or both? “The Canadian Space Agency emphasizes the peaceful uses of these eyes in the sky… These ingenious machines have the ability to serve many civil purposes, but they also have the ability to act as spies in the sky, and more ominously, to act as a very precise gun sight for missiles launched from air or land, or from space. Much of their use depends on who gets the data that they send back to earth” (Peace Magazine).

Richard Sanders writes that for the past 12 years, in exchange for NASA’s launch of Radarsat I, the US government has controlled 15% of the observation time. US government agencies also have free access to all RADARSAT data over six months old .

7. Cultural Values and Attitudes

One reason why it is entrenched in our society is that militarism is also associated with values, and with popular sports with which so many of us associate. There are many examples in the North American culture, such as:

  • Almost every day new films and videos are shown which focus on killings and assaults, sometimes with the latest weapons for mass obliteration of often unidentified enemies.
  • Who of us is not embarrassed by the childish yet potent rants by Don Cherry, champion of both hockey fighting and a tougher military, on Canada’s ubiquitous TV program, Hockey Night in Canada?
  • And who cannot identify with Bobby Nadeau, the goalie of the Chicoutimi Junior hockey team who refused to defend himself from an unprovoked attack by the opposing goalie? A sports writer wrote that “he is now tainted with a reputation for not fighting back” (16).
  • Who can forget the picture of Charlton Heston brandishing his rifle at the National Rifle Assn’s conference and his identification with the sanctity of the right to possess and use guns?
  • Or the graphic words of General Petraeus of the US Army, who pleaded with Congress not to withdraw troops from Iraq because “now we have our teeth in their jugular”? Or those of General Hillier who used similar language: “the job of our (Canadian) troops is to kill people.”
  • At last year’s football final in Toronto, the Grey Cup was brought into the Rogers Centre by the Canadian military. It could be seen, riding triumphantly on a tank, followed by a recruitment detachment from DND.

IV. Conclusion

Canada is not among the most militarized states today. But it is allied to one which is. The Alliance, in turn, is part of a global network of security and defence institutions governed by military thinking. If this thinking prevails, then our children and grandchildren will be forced to live in a militarized world for the next 50 years. Canada’s plans and immediate purchases are for weapons systems to last at least 25 of those years. And, as a member of NATO, Canada supports the long range planning for new nuclear weapons into the 2050s. More wars of indeterminate size and ferocity are now assumed, and new weapons budgeted for. The Walrus Foundation just held a fund raising luncheon and panel discussion in Ottawa with the theme: War in the 21st Century: does Canada have what it Needs?

What Canada needs is not to assume new wars, but new policies on how to prevent them, to take seriously the warnings that, environmentally, our world may not make it into the mid-Fifties. And, given the increasing danger of nuclear war, premeditated or by accident, the odds for survival that long grow shorter with each passing year.

Unless sufficient numbers of us, here and abroad, connect and are able to say with one voice, and be heard by the decision-makers: “Enough! Stop living the worst case syndrome and repeating the enemy-obsessive mantras that ricochet off the walls of Parliament, and which sully too many editorials and public discussions. If we choose to survive, and if we really want to live in peace, then let us prepare for peace!”

V. What do we do about it?

There is, of course, no one thing we can do which will bring about an end to the militarization of Canada and the world. But there are many things we can and are doing which can slow this destructive process and finally end it. Here are eight of them:

  1. Maintain what is already being done by NGOs in opposing land mines, cluster bombs, small arms and nuclear weapons, while helping to strengthen international law and the major treaties which underpin it..
  2. Continue to challenge NATO’s nuclear weapon policies, as well as those of the other Nuclear Weapon States. Seek an end to uranium mining and production in Canada. Join a uranium network, such as CFSC-Uranium. Show how grievously the environment has been damaged by the production of nuclear weapons and the failure to safely store nuclear wastes.
  3. Publicize, then seek an end to the ongoing production and sale of military commodities in Canada. Ask why no specific data can be obtained for the sale of weapons and their components to the US. Tell people about the arms bazaars frequently held in Canada, including the latest one in Ottawa called CANSEC 2008.
  4. Try to find out what the think tanks and university scholars funded by DND are researching and writing about in using these funds. Ask questions of the directors or administrators of university research institutes.
  5. Challenge the Canadian government’s lack of transparency in reporting the sale of military exports, in security and defence issues with the US, the integration of military commands and the Security and Prosperity Partnership.
  6. Establish a method for publicly monitoring the militarization of Canada, and seek support from other NGOs who share this concern. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists uses a Doomsday Clock. The Fraser Institute employs Tax Freedom Day. The IDRC shows second-by-second increases in global population concurring with decreases in available arable land.
  7. Seek with other NGOs a Ministry of Peace which defines a defence policy that is nonviolent in its objectives, methods and operations. Consider withholding the percentage of one’s income tax estimated for war-making. Inform the government and Conscience Canada and contribute that amount to the Peace Tax Trust Fund.
  8. Study and become familiar with the many dimensions of militarism, its role in history and in our present world. Examine the relationships between cultures of war and peace, on the one hand, and militarism and pacifism on the other. Such studies could lead to new insights & actions on government policies related to cultural attitudes and values that are common to us all.

It is time to turn our backs on the unilateral search for security, in which we seek to shelter behind walls. Instead, we must persist in the quest for united action to counter both global warming and a weaponized world… To survive in the world we have transformed, we must learn to think in a new way. As never before, the future of each depends on the good of all. (Statement of 110 Nobel Laureates)

Nuclear Weapons: Just Say "No"!

Speech to the DPI Conference, April 8, 2008

Last October I wrote to our Foreign Minister to ask for Canada to vote at the UN General Assembly for a resolution for action to ensure that all nuclear weapons are taken off high alert and the operational readiness of nuclear weapons systems reduced. We are all at risk for our lives with thousands of nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert – bad judgement under pressure or even a computer glitch could bring nuclear catastrophe. Canada abstained on that vote. Why? Foreign Affairs explained: Canada is a member of NATO and deterrence remains an important element of NATO’s defence strategy. “NATO’s nuclear weapons,” they claimed, “make a contribution to the security of allies through deterrence, a strategy that is entirely defensive in nature.”1

Shame on the government! NATO’s deterrence strategy is not defensive. NATO policies include the possible first use of nuclear weapons. Several hundred US tactical weapons are deployed in five NATO states that signed on to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as non-nuclear weapons states [Belgium, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, and Turkey] and they maintain aircraft and pilots ready to deliver them – illicit nuclear sharing arrangements, and possible first strike. Mega-terrorism?

Nuclear weapons contribute to your security? A Canadian parliamentary report a decade or so ago pointed out they make us all more insecure. Four US former cold warriors who wrote two articles in the Wall Street Journal in January 2007 and 2008, William Perry, George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn – all long familiar with nuclear policies – pointed out that reliance on nuclear weapons for deterrence is “increasingly hazardous and decreasingly effective.”2

The Government of Canada recognized in 1999 that elimination of nuclear weapons is the only sustainable strategy for the future. But its NATO allies – the UK, France, the US, are all modernizing their nuclear arsenals to make them more usable and planning to retain them into the far future. The US, with its goal of “fewer but newer nukes forever” and its promised counter-proliferation preventive wars against any country alleged to have weapons of mass destruction, shows the claim that nuclear weapons are for security is a lie.3 The Empire strikes for power.

The two-tier world – nuclear have and have-not states – is untenable. Up to 40 more states might get nuclear weapons for their ‘security’ and the ability to fight back. Nuclear chaos and far greater danger loom.

We need to be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves,”4 to speak truth to power. Nuclear weapons threaten all of us, indeed life on a planetary scale, as does climate change. It is not just that today’s nuclear weapons are, on average, 20 times as powerful as the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. Computer modeling suggests use of even a small number could trigger nuclear winter, crop failure, starvation, mass die-off of the human race. Nuclear weapons technology can put an end to human life. Therefore abolishing nuclear weapons is the crucial need, if there is to be a human future.

We must persuade Canada to take leadership to get NATO policies changed. Failing that, we must get Canada out of NATO because NATO policies contravene both NPT commitments and international humanitarian law. Never forget, the International Court of Justice advised in July 1996 that in general the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is illegal. For human survival, we must get the nuclear weapons states to carry out the unequivocal commitment they made at the 2000 NPT Review Conference to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. Jonathan Schell, in his new book The Seventh Decade: the new shape of nuclear danger, says that abolition “must and will be the first and most important step along the path of securing the integrity of the ecosphere.”5

But the problem is more profound, Sir Joseph Rotblat, the UK scientist instrumental in founding the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, observed that though we can and must abolish nuclear weapons, we cannot disinvent them, nor can we guarantee that science will not invent an even more diabolical weapon, and therefore it is war itself that we must put an end to.6

Thus nuclear weapons and a Department of Peace are inextricably interconnected, and we have a huge, daunting agenda.

I take heart remembering …

  • My own church, the Anglican Church of Canada’s long faith witness, from 1955 and all through the Cold War, against nuclear weapons
  • An evening at a World Council of Churches’ major conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology nearly 30 years ago during the Cold War of public witness against nuclear weapons by US scientists who had helped develop them and people from the far corners of the world
  • The wish of the majority of people in both nuclear and non-nuclear nations, as many polls over many years show, to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

I have a hard time recognizing my country now, with its grotesque military budget and pride in combat. People say there will always be wars, aggression is inborn. There may be an aggressive instinct, but we would not be here on Earth if cooperation, forgiveness, mercy, and love were not much stronger. Far deeper than aggressiveness is the universal human desire and need to create … to create art, music … and children. Without the love that impels creation, and the capacity to bond so helpless infants are nurtured to sturdy childhood, there would be no human race at all. That love will create peace.

Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the hell on earth unleashed on August 6th and 9th, 1945… People vapourized into the mushroom cloud, children, their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters burnt like charred logs, dealt a death not even human. People fleeing the cities, walking like ghosts, skin and flesh dripping from their hands, eyes popped out, crying “water! water!”, many of them throwing themselves into the river to escape the agony. Remember that any one of us could become a hibakusha — a nuclear bomb victim – bearing the pain and scars, the genetic damage from radiation to taint offspring. Think about the submarines silently cruising, whose nuclear missiles could destroy all the cities in the world many times over.

And then act. Shake public apathy, spread the word, build awareness. Ask the politicians what they will do to resolve the contradiction between Canada’s complicity in NATO’s nuclearism and its commitment to the NPT. Ask them to press the government to take leadership in working for a ban on nuclear weapons.

And remember abolition is possible. We can push back the nuclear wall. 113 countries — most of the southern hemisphere and central Asia are nuclear-weapon-free. Why not Canada too? 2,195 cities in 128 countries are members of Mayors for Peace, a body headed by Hiroshima’s mayor that has an agenda – the 2020 Vision, of a world free of nuclear weapons by 2020. Experts in this field agree there are no physical or financial obstacles to dismantling all nuclear weapons by 2020 as well as degrading the fissile material to make them, and strict international controls are technically possible. Get your mayor to be a Mayor for Peace! We need to get the mayors to challenge the federal government to work for abolition. Consider using the sample resolution on the Mayors for Peace website for city councils, to educate councillors and mobilize them to work, perhaps even to organize a financial contribution to the work of Mayors for Peace, as 59 Belgian cities have done. Support the ICAN campaign – Physicians for Global Survival’s International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons.

We can and must put an end to these barbarous weapons before they destroy civilization. Einstein, from whose concepts this hideous evil sprang, marked the way: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest!”7

Notes

1 My email was dated 23 Oct. 2007; Maxime Bernier’s response 21 Feb. 2008, email from min.dfaitmaeci@international.gc.ca ^

2 George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, “Toward a nuclear-free world,” Wall Street Journal, 15 Jan. 2008, p.A13 ^

3 Jacqueline Cabasso in Nuclear disorder or cooperative security? U.S. weapons of terror, the global proliferation crisis, and paths to peace (New York: Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy, 2007), p.91 ^

4 New Testament Matt. 10:16 ^

5 The seventh decade… (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007), p.217 ^

6 Sir Joseph Rotblat, “A world without war: is it feasible?” Annual Remembrance Day Lecture at the Imperial War Museum, November 2002, published by the Abingdon Peace Group, pp.4,5 ^

7 Russell-Einstein Manifesto, 9 July 1955, www.pugwash.org/about/manifesto.htm accessed 24 April 2008 ^

Brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology

On 6 June, Walter Dorn (Chairman of the Canadian Pugwash Group) and I presented a joint Brief to the above Standing Committee.1

The Brief had been quickly prepared over about three days, as the Committee had not given Science for Peace enough advance notice. As a result, it is inadequate on several matters, for example, nanotechnology, and it lacks a section on GMO foods. Also the section on shared research needed expanding.

Part I of the Brief was presented by Walter, speaking as SfP’s UN representative, and Part II by myself as Treasurer of SfP. The Brief was, in addition, fully approved by the Canadian Pugwash Executive.

Walter’s section of the Brief (about 30 percent) was devoted to technological aspects of peacekeeping activities of the UN, a subject on which he has specialized for many years. The rest (Part II) contained contributions from Judy Deutsch, Adele Buckley, John Valleau and me, and was broad and forward-looking in its perspective.

The verbal presentations, which are strictly limited in time, appear in Hansard, as also the questions and answers. Walter’s presentation was directly taken from his portion of the Brief, Part I. This was not practicable for the much longer Part II, but I was able to list most of the recommendations in somewhat abbreviated form in to my very limited time. I received a question from a Bloc Quebecois member, asking me to explain “ecological footprint.” That question and my answer will also be reported in Hansard.

Hansard

The following was what I said to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, 6 June 2008, and is essentially what will appear in Hansard:

“Les limites des resources planétaires et la limite prévoyable de la population mondiale demanderont par conséquence une limite à la production industrielle et un arrêt de la croissanse de l‘économie mondiale.

Pour le moment, personne ne sait comment créer une économie soutenable et non croissante, mais nous devons nous occuper de cette tâche, et de nous convertir à une nouvelle mentalité, c’est-à-dire, adopter un nouveau paradigme.

“I will continue in English:

“This call for new thinking has led to the following recommendations, which have been abbreviated here:

  • enhance mechanisms by which Government and Members of Parliament can dialogue with independent scientists
  • act upon the reports of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy
  • set up a committee or council to study paths to a sustainable future
  • become informed (educated) in the concept of ecological footprint (see reference in our written Brief)
  • recognize climate change as a world emergency
  • limit the usage of water in any district to the amount that is replaced by annual precipitation
  • initiate plans to halt the ecological destruction of the Province of Alberta (and of any other ecologically threatened area)
  • prevent inappropriate ethanol production (see reference in our written Brief)
  • set in motion a study for a new, electrified railway system for Canada (its extension to all of North America to be encouraged)
  • oversee nanotechnology to prevent pollution and ill-health effects, and set up the necessary physical facilities to achieve this
  • label GMO foods
  • make strong efforts to prevent poor choices of technology
  • reduce and eliminate subsidies to sunset industries
  • take steps to reverse the commercialization of universities

“We welcome questions of all these recommendations.

Thank you.”

[The list above excludes two recommendations in the Brief, one of which is implicit in the call for a new paradigm, and it adds the recommendation on GMO, which had not reached me when the Brief was completed.]

Notes

1 The Brief can be obtained by phoning or emailing Walter Dorn, 416 482 6800/ext 6538 and dorn@cfc.dnd.ca, or, Derek Paul: 416 532 6440 and farp@sympatico.ca ^

Book Release: Sustainable Life on Earth

A 2008 book entitled Sustaining Life on Earth: Environmental and Human Health through Global Governance has been published and co-edited by one of our members, Colin Soskolne.

Dr. Colin Soskolne, professor of epidemiology in the Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Alberta, and principal editor of Sustaining Life on Earth says, “We push the boundaries of common sense in all that we do in the name of progress, approaching system level thresholds, and we even exceed the tipping points of these living systems. Business as usual is no longer an option.”

The book is an interdisciplinary collaboration with a broad array of disciplines, from law to health, ecology, biology, economics, social sciences, and ethics, all concerned with the sustainability of living systems. It is anchored in the Earth Charter as the available set of values and principles to which, if we both individually and collectively subscribed would lead us from a path with catastrophic consequences to one of sustainability. The book is designed to save us from ourselves. Based on years of research and peer review, the book is a wake-up call to the world that explains how catastrophic consequences will result from government inaction. It is a collection of essays including several by Science for Peace members, including Helmut Burkhardt, Rose Dyson and Laura Westra.

Soskolne points out that our environmental problems are not confined to global warming. In 2005, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment declared that life-supporting ecosystems are in danger, and that the effects are being felt by people globally. Scientists and concerned citizens around the world are sounding the alarm that we are at risk of catastrophic harms. They argue that the time for political rhetoric and casual engagement is over. It is time to commit to a different path, one that leads to a more sustainable future for all life forms, including humans.

The book comprises 27 contributed chapters over 482 pages. It includes a Teachers’ Guide.

The link for ordering the book is at: http://www.LexingtonBooks.com/ISBN/0739117297.

Colin Soskolne: www.ualberta.ca/~soskolne

In Memory of Lynn Trainor

The following has been adapted from some of the remarks prepared by John Valleau for Lynn Trainor’s memorial.

It is a rare privilege if one gets to know, two or three times during one’s life, a truly fine person. Lynn Trainor was such a person; I consider myself blessed to have been his friend.

For you knew that whatever Lynn said or did, it was based rock-solid on his compassion and his honesty. One could trust his instincts completely: it was enormously reassuring.

For me as for many of you, Lynn was not only a friend but a mentor. I think especially of his characteristic relaxed and encouraging manner of entering into discussion, however contentious the subject—I wish I had learned that lesson better! He was never intimidating, always gentle and warm, even slightly self-effacing—it meant everyone was put at ease and found it natural to be involved.

Presently, mind you, it would emerge that Lynn had in fact a thoroughly worked-out position, firmly based in his principles and priorities, and, as often as not, also an already-formulated action plan in which he was seeking to involve you. For, in spite of his gentle manner, and in spite of his being, by trade, a theoretician, Lynn was one of the most action-oriented people you could meet.

Still, the gentleness was absolutely genuine too.

That may make Lynn sound very sober and intense. Actually, as many of you know, any encounter with Lynn was full of his sense of fun—one was not allowed to take oneself over-seriously. He even specialised in forever kidding his friends—puncturing every pretension before it had any chance to inflate! He knew, better than most, that life is too important to be engaged without laughter.

I knew Lynn best through our joint activities in Science for Peace, and I’ll turn in a moment to a few words about his role in our organisation. But meanwhile it would falsify the picture not to draw attention to some of the many other facets of his rich life: his interests and contributions covered an extraordinary range.

The bedrock of all this was the centrality of his love for Anne, his children and his wider family.

One needs also to recall Lynn’s long and distinguished career as an academic. He taught and did research in several universities, and of course latterly, for many years, in the Department of Physics at the University of Toronto. His research was in theoretical physics, in which he published many distinguished papers on diverse subjects; especially noteworthy was his pioneer role in opening up the field of theoretical biophysics.

Leaving aside these central matters, one also remembers:

Lynn Trainor the hands-on farmer, presumably seeking, on his farm near Rice Lake, to regain his Saskatchewan roots.

Lynn Trainor the Chairman of the North York Board of Education, his activities there enough by themselves to make his life memorable, as he fought to make the public schools provide the diversity and challenges needed alike by gifted kids and by the needy children of the Jane-Finch corridor.

Lynn Trainor, political pundit. He was a supporter of the NDP for many years, though not uncritically. He often took me to task for being naive in my suppositions about leadership hopefuls like Bob Rae and Stephen Lewis, urging a certain skepticism as to the depth of their commitments to genuine democratic socialist principles. I have to admit that time largely justified many of his remarks.

Lynn Trainor, medical skeptic. Lynn suffered anguish over the health troubles of his daughter Pat, and the failure of conventional medicine in that regard. It led him to an iconaclastic interest in examining the claims of unconventional techniques such as homeopathic remedies, subjects beyond the pale for many less open-minded scientists. This led in turn to a longterm dedication to helping, financially and in other ways, a physician friend who was forced into dispute, and eventually legal contest, by the conservative medical establishment in Ontario.

Lynn Trainor, urban activist. I think here of our early involvement in Praxis, a UofT-based leftwing organisation aimed especially at helping the poor of Toronto to organise. What I now remember best is the story of the fire. Praxis had as office a house on Huron Street, where we held meetings and kept all our files and records. One night that house mysteriously caught fire; some neighbour noticed and called the firemen, who came and put out the fire. Only afterwards was it discovered that all the Praxis files had vanished from the filing cabinets. Evidently the firemen had been unduly prompt! And indeed the RCMP, as they admit, had (and still have) those files. Lynn and the rest of us must have been pretty subversive, it seems.

And there is so much more —- this hasn’t even mentioned Lynn’s longtime membership in Pugwash, nor his dedicated support of the Montessori schools,nor his work in continuing education, and so on and on: the list of his involvements is truly dazzling.

Meanwhile, Lynn played a leading role in Science for Peace, giving us years of dedication and enthusiasm. From the start: SfP was founded in 1981, and Lynn was one of the original members and a leader from the early years. And, until recently when his health began to fail and he and Anne sought some retreat elsewhere, he continued to play an inspiring role.

I believe his role was especially key in 1987-89, when SfP went through very serious internal troubles that threatened its very existence. This had to do with very discordant interpretations of the responsibilities of its leaders, expressed especially by a bitter dispute between George Ignatieff and John Dove, both outstanding people and respected workers for peace. As President and Secretary, they were two of the then three-member Executive Committee; I was the third, but not really non-partisan. It was then that Lynn showed his true colours: he might prudently have lain low, but instead he jumped into the fire by agreeing to join this fraught Executive as a 4^th^ member—a brave step! His quiet but firm good sense helped calm the waters a bit, and may well have saved SfP from self-destruction at the time.

His central role continued. The Executive was moved to Vancouver, as an attempt to put an end to the discord. But that wasn’t entirely satisfactory, because most of the activity was in or around Toronto—it was here that coordination and initiative was required. For this purpose a more-or-less self-appointed local committee was set up: the “Ad Hoc Committee”; Lynn played a prominent role. The Committee met frequently, always in the cafeteria of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry (which was deemed appropriate); probably the reason we met there was actually that they always had date squares, of which Lynn was inordinately fond.

The Ad Hoc Committee was actually very effective, and ushered in one of the most fruitful periods for SfP: the international Arctic Conference got planned, a key SfP Retreat was organised to re-examine our work, publication ventures took shape, and so on. Lynn was in the thick of this, and simultaneously was co-leader of two SfP research projects. He was an important factor in the revival of an organisation that had been seriously threatened.

As the “troubles” eased, Lynn and I launched a new project, meant to broaden the SfP focus beyond its original focus on the nuclear threat and reducing the risk of war. We very modestly named it “The Superordinate Project”! — can’t you just see the grin on Lynn’s face?

The Project accepted the reality and gravity of the environmental crisis and also the harm that would follow from the still-nascent move towards ‘corporate globalisation’. The SoP plan was to assemble a group of “thinkers” from diverse fields for ongoing discussion, the attempt being to formulate a vision of an acceptable and sustainable future, and to see how to reach it. For that one needs input from many fields—economics, political science, engineering, philosophy, etc. This group met more-or-less monthly, for about 2 years. At each meeting some member of the group would offer a discussion paper for intense scrutiny by the group. The experience was intellectually fascinating, in fact my most exciting experience within SfP. The focus gradually came to be on analysing the idea of geographically-defined self-sustaining societies (maybe one nation, like Canada or India, maybe a region of several), and trying to imagine what economic and social arrangements would be required to make it function—the contrast with “globalisation” is patent.

Lynn was in his element: provoking and joining in far-ranging discussion, and, of course, pushing for concrete outcomes. He was frustrated, too, because it proved difficult to get the members to stop talking long enough to produce useful publications. (Only one significant SoP paper reached the public, in fact in more than one language: “Nature’s Veto” (authored by Abe Rotstein, Peter Harries-Jones, Peter Timmerman). The need for intense effort along the lines Lynn was promoting still exists: a vision of a possible future both sustainable and just still needs to be made concrete, and the path to it still needs signposts: Lynn’s creativity was before its time, here as elsewhere.

These remarks have referred to only a few of Lynn’s enthusiasms, and there is not time now to lay out the amazing contributions he made with respect to many of them.

In every case, one learned enormously from what Lynn had to say.

In every case, he was ahead of his time.

In every case, interacting with Lynn was a rewarding and heart-warming experience.

In every case, it was just great fun doing things in his company.

We have been blessed and altered by his life. He lives on in each of us, and in the ongoing efforts of Science for Peace to make the world a better and more peaceful place.

Lynn’s family has suggested that those who wish might, in his honour, make a donation to Science for Peace. This could be mailed to

University College,
15 King’s College Circle,
University of Toronto,
Toronto, Ont., M5S 3H7

You should say the donation is in memory of Lynn, and let the office know should you not want the family to be informed that you have made such a donation.

Remembering John Buttrick

The last Bulletin had a brief mention of the death of John Buttrick in a car accident on Gabriola Is., B.C. He was 88 and a long-time member of Science for Peace.

He was a fearless and long-time fighter for peace, a conscientious objector in the second World War and actively helped a large number of refugees from the Vietnam draft and more recently deserters from the US military service Iraq. When they moved to Gabriola Is. he helped to set up the Gabriola chapter of War resisters to support a resister living there.

Born in the US, he held professorships in economics there but left his position as Chair of the Economics Dept. at the Univeristy of Minnesota in protest to the Vietnam war. He joined the faculty of York in 1970 where he was the director of the Graduate Program in Economics during its formative years and was associated with York’s centre for Research on latin America and the Caribbean.

He held visiting Professorships in many countries and after retirement he and Ann moved to Jamaica where he was involved in research for the Jamaican government and other Latin American countries.

An example to the end of good humour and integrity, his motto was “Never stop questioning, always be skeptical, and never be afraid to stir up a hornet’s nest.”

Announcements

Good News

An apology has been given to Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples for the suffering they endured over the past centuries especially in the Indian Schools run by churches and the government with the intention of totally assimilating Aboriginal children into “white” society. (If Aboriginal land claims and resource rights had been established in Alberta it is likely the tar sands would not have been developed.)

Australia will establish a successor to the Canberra Commission with an international commission on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Work is proceeding on a ban on cluster munitions. Please sign the People’s Treaty on Cluster Munitions at www.minesactioncanada.org/peoplestreaty.

Friends of the Earth Canada and EcoJustice have launched a court case against PM Harper for failing to implement and enforce Canada’s signed agreement to honour the Kyoto Protocol.

Reminder!

Science For Peace (Towards a Just and Sustainable World) depends on its members for funding by membership fees and donations. Please be generous. Please encourage more people to join us.

Book Nook

Engelman, Robert. 2008. More: Population, Nature and What Women Want. Island Press.

Estulin, Daniel. 2007. The True Story of the Bilderberg Group. TrineDay LLC.

Marsden, William. 2007. Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care). Alfred A. Knopf Canada.

Report from the Science for Peace Annual General Meeting

The AGM was held on Saturday, May 17, at OISE and was chaired by Paul Hamel.

The Executive members were approved:

President – Judith Deutsch

Vice-President – Chandler Davis

Secretary – Alan Stauffer

Treasurer (interim) – Derek Paul

Member-at-large – Phyllis Creighton

The following Directors were elected or retained to complete their term:

  • Janis Alton
  • Margaret Back
  • Hans Bathija
  • Bob Baxter
  • Kari Brozowski
  • Phyllis Creighton
  • John Courtneidge
  • Veronica Dahl
  • Ed Daniels
  • Chandler Davis
  • Judith Deutsch
  • Karl Dilcher
  • Walter Dorn
  • Rose Dyson
  • Margrit Eichler
  • Brydon Gombay
  • Anne Goodman
  • Paul Hamel
  • Eva Kushner
  • Lee Lorch
  • Shaun Lovejoy
  • Margot Mandy
  • Alex Michalos
  • Julia Morton-Marr
  • Peter Nicholls
  • Derek Paul
  • Jim Prentice
  • Floyd Rudmin
  • Robert Russell
  • Metta Spencer
  • George Spiegelman
  • Alan Stauffer
  • Herschel Stroyman
  • John Valleau
  • Joe Vise
  • Paul York

(All Directors must be paid-up members)

Our thanks to the members of the Nominating Committee: Rose Dyson, John Courtnedge and Phyllis Creighton. The AGM also passed a resolution on nuclear power (see next page)

We welcome the new members, thank those retiring from the Board and appreciate the work and dedication of the continuing members. All together we will make a difference.

AGM RESOLUTION

WHEREAS:

The Wasan Island Framework, agreed to by Science for Peace, supports the belief that there are good and sufficient alternatives to nuclear power in Ontario and in Canada,

WHEREAS:

There is growing evidence of harm to health from the entire nuclear chain including radiation from all operating nuclear power reactors and evidence of harm from even low levels of radiation,

WHEREAS:

Politicians at this moment are deciding the energy future for Ontario.

WHEREAS:

To stop uranium mining in Ontario there is a growing grassroots movement by the native population and groups such as Fight Uranium Mining and Exploration,

WHEREAS:

The links between nuclear power and nuclear weapons are increasingly evident as more nations turn to nuclear power as a step on the road to nuclear weapons,

WHEREAS:

A “deep geological repository” for the storage of radioactive waste has been proposed by Ontario Power Generation to be located on the Bruce nuclear site in the municipality of Kincardine, Ontario, for Ontario Power Generation-owned nuclear stations at Bruce, Pickering and Darlington,

WHEREAS:

Nuclear power does not solve the problem of climate change,

WHEREAS:

Funding for new nuclear plants in Ontario will necessarily reduce the amount of funding available for alternative energy research and supply,

WHEREAS:

Nuclear power, through its inherent danger, brought with it the Nuclear Liability Act,

WHEREAS:

Nuclear power leaves major expenses to future generations far beyond the life of the reactors,

We, the members of Science for Peace, declare our opposition to investment in new nuclear reactors and the refurbishment of old reactors increasing Ontario’s dependence on nuclear power, and so we urge a phaseout of nuclear energy and the adoption of renewable energy sources and conservation.

Moved by Shirley Farlinger, seconded by Chandler Davis, carried.

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