Category SfP Bulletin January 1986

President's Corner

We live in a society where most people make their livelihood by getting paid for services rendered. This mode of cooperation, based on the principle of exchange, imposes responsibilities on the participants. These are some­times explicitly spelled out in profes­sional ethics.

The nature of some of the professions is such that the responsibilities of the professional person rendering services to different people do not necessarily conflict. Although a phy­sician may inadvertently curtail services to one patient because he must serve another, he does not thereby automatically harm the one because he helps the other.

Other professionals, for example, lawyers who are required to serve the interests of a client, often must work against the interests of the client’s rivals, competitors or opponents. This circumstance, acknowledged to be in­herent in the legal profession, is therefore generally accepted.

Similarly, it has been taken as a matter of course through the ages that a ‘soldier “serves his country” and eschews politics. Generally, this has been interpreted to mean that the interests of his country are determined by others, particularly politicians.The soldier’s duty is to further these interests, often by acts of violence, such being natural to his profession. When violent, the services rendered by the soldier for his country very definitely harm others. Moreover, a soldier sometimes does harm to his own country if the war in which he fights was a consequence of a disastrous policy which the soldier was not able (by the ethics of his profession) to question. But this circumstance is also acknowledged to be inherent in the profession of the soldier and therefore generally accepted as unavoidable.

In each of the three instances cited we have rather clear indications of a professional ethos: in the case of the physician, loyalty to the patient or, as implied in the Hippocra­tic Oath, to humanity in general; in the case of the lawyer, loyalty to the client within limits imposed by law; in the case of the soldier, loyalty to his state, in general without any con­straints, especially since the weapons of total destruction have done away with all traditional constraints in war – e.g., sparing civilians.

What about us who call ourselves scientists? Do we have responsibili­ties? If so, what are they? Although analogues of the Hippocratic Oath have been proposed for scientists, they have not been accepted. A scientist does not need a license to “practise”. And it is not clear whom he is supposed to serve. For this reason no generally recognized ethical constraints restrict the activity of a scientist, as disbar­ment restricts the lawyer or a poten­tial malpractice suit restricts a doctor. There is nothing except his own conscience and the opinion of respected colleagues that prevents a psychologist, for instance, from desig­ning ways of persuading people to buy things they don’t need for prices they can’t afford to impress people they don’t like. Similarly, there is nothing except his own conscience and possibly opinions of respected colleagues to inhibit a chemist from working on an effective method of poisoning water reservoirs, a biologist from developing a pathogenic organism against which there is no protection, or a physicist from developing ways of delivering this death-dealing organism without its arrival being detected.

Human life now stands in danger of being extinguished on this planet, and this danger stems entirely from a technology aimed at total destruction.

This technology was made possible by rapid advances of science, coupled with the refusal of many scientists to abandon the conception of science as a “value free” mode of thinking. In this conception science is exclusively instrumental – an enterprise that can find effective means of attaining given goals but chooses to be powerless to evaluate the goals themselves. In other words, the conception of “value free” science makes the profession of the scientist appear similar to that of the soldier.

In contrast to the soldier, all of whose service is to a nation’s power elite,the scientist has served ordinary people by providing means of reducing misery and drudgery, of emancipating human beings from irrational fear and superstitions, of teaching ways of reaching consensus on what is objec­tively true. This promise of science in the service of humanity is incompatible with the threats scientists generate when they choose to serve power exclusively.

One can discern in this dichotomy a social responsibility of the scientist: namely,to refuse to be co-opted into the service of the war machine. The respon­sibility of organizations of scientists such as ours has also become clear: namely, to explore alternative oppor­tunities for creative scientific work.

Surely these exist in every field. Scientists interested in space tech­nology, for instance, could work on surveillance techniques that could make data immediately available to everyone, thus undermining the base of military secrecy. Surely enough imaginative use can be made of exciting new discoveries in biology to entice biologists, especially the young, away from biological warfare research. There is plenty of work for economists to show how the transition from a war to a peace economy can be made with the minimum pain.

In short, we could make our task the finding of alternative fields of endeavour to induce a “brain drain” away from military research and to widen the scope of scientific research directed toward survival. This would create opportunities for governments genuinely dedicated to the pursuit of peace to shift their support to these areas.

— A.R.


New Deal

I bristle with missiles
Like a porcupine in heat
I shall forfeit my prowess
When I cannot compete – If they have ten thousand
Then I must have more
I need several assistants
To help me keep score.
I know they maintain
A close tally on me
But my troubles compound
For accounts don’t agree.

The only escape
From these seeming dead ends
Is to scrap the whole business
And treat them as friends.

- Murray Wilton

Déjà vu

“In 1982 the Swedish Government put forward a paper to the Committee on Disarmament calling for an interna­tional radioactive monitoring data ex­change to complement the existing International Seismic Data Exchange,and thus to serve further the purpose of verification of compliance with a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.” — Derek Paul, Radioactive Air Monitoring, 1985.

“President Ronald Reagan has written to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev pro­posing,:that experts meet to discuss improving the verification of agreements on underground nuclear tests.” — Michael Gordon, NY TIMES Service, Globe and Mail 26 Dec. 1985.

“Slowly, the nuclear-weapons powers seemed to be responding to the protests against the testing of nuclear weapons. …Scientists from East and West worked out a very detailed scheme for a world-watch system to monitor possible viola­tions.” (July, 1958) — Alva Myrdal, The Game of Disarmament, Pantheon Books, NY 1976.

“The superpowers have no reason to question the reliability of verifica­tion of a test ban; they have at their command a network of seismological observation facilities and,in addition, capacity for global surveillance by satellites using remote sensing instru­ments of increasing refinement.” — Alva Myrdal (ibid.)

The Summit -- Seen from Europe

Switzerland, Dec. 1985

In spite of the promising handshake in Geneva between MM. Reagan and Gorbachev, it appears to most of us here that today’s world is in the throes of a runaway race. The question whether the US and Europe should or should not pursue efforts towards the achievement of what Pres. Reagan has called Star Wars is at present hotly debated.

It is quite clear that neither of the two super-powers can tolerate a situation of obvious military inferio­rity. But it is equally evident that all attempts by either side to esta­blish a position of superiority can only accelerate the pace of the arms race. Are we condemned, therefore, to see an ever-increasing proportion of the world’s resources invested in the production of armaments at a time when mankind faces challenges to its survi­val, other than those of nuclear war, of an unprecedented scale?

Concerning Star Wars, an important point has so far been overlooked. Even in the most unlikely event of an effec­tive SDI, the end result after A major exchange would consist of a junkyard of radioactive nuclear debris circling around the Earth in low orbits. This “hot” material would soon be dispersed over the entire surface of our globe. The use of nuclear methods to kill at­tacking missiles would, of course, only make matters worse.


Star Wars

Re David Parnas, U of Victoria Prof, the Toronto-based Globe and Mail asked: “How does someone so strongly identified with opposition to Star Wars get asked to sit on an evaluating committee for the program in the first place?”

Parnas stated that he was persuaded to serve on the panel after a govern­ment recruiter asked him, “How would you like to help save the world from nuclear conflagration?”

Parnas: “How do you say NO to a question like that, especially when they add, ‘and we will pay you $1000 a day’?”

Asked to reconsider his resignation from the project he was told there was a lot of money to be spent,“and don’t you think you should help us spend it well?” He has been told by colleagues that the money is good for the field.

“I don’t know if Star Wars is good for the country, but it is certainly good for my company.” .

At The Ninth Annual Meeting Of The US-USSR Trade And Economic Council:

“Many US businessmen are known for their well-developed spirit of enter­prise, a knack for innovation and an ability to identify untapped growth opportunities. I am convinced that today the best, genuinely promising possibilities of that kind are to be found not in pursuit of destruction and death but in the quest for peace and in a joint effort for the sake of equal and mutually beneficial cooperation among all countries and peoples.”

- Mikhail Gorbachev, Moscow
December 10, 1985

Children’s Perceptions of the Nuclear Threat

Results of a questionnaire study of Children’s Perceptions of the Nuclear Threat made by members of Toronto Psychologists for Social Responsibility in Toronto and Hamilton have been published in the October issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. A nationwide study now being run out of McMaster University in Hamilton, again involves children aged 7-13.

Still in the early stages of devel­opment are plans to conduct in-depth interviews with a sample of Toronto children regarding their views on nuclear war.

Members Rosalie Bertell, Dr. Dorothy Goresky (also national President of PSR) and Luis Sobrino are participating in a public inquiry Jan. 18-19 in Nanaimo, B.C., into activities at the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and Test Ranges at Nanoose Bay, B.C. The purpose of the inquiry is to increase and improve public knowledge as a basis for judging the desirability of renewal of the Canada/US agreement on the use of CFMETR after April 1986. Proceedings are to be published.

International Year Of Peace

The UN General Assembly in resolution 37/16 of 16 Nov1982 and by proclamation on 24 Oct 1985 has declared 1986 as the International Year of Peace. Goals of the year are to stimulate concerted and effective action by the United Nations (and its constituent parts) in promoting peace, international security and cooperation on the basis of the Charter and in resolving conflict by peaceful means; to strengthen the UN; and to focus attention and encourage reflections on the basic requirementsof peace in the contemporary world.

assembled by Science for Peace was presented in December to Laidlaw Library (University College) at the University of Toronto. According to Librarian Epp, this will be the be­ginning of the University’s special “peace library”. The Soka Gakkai (International Buddhist Assoc’n.) will present another gift in January.

University College will launch its four-year Peace and Conflict Studies Program in fall, 1986. The program will be listed in the 86-87 calendar. A. Rapoport will teach the basic course in this program as well as at McMaster University next year.

Papers Invited

The annual conference of CPREA will be held, as always, in conjunction with other learned societies, this year at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, June 4,5,6. Deadline for submission of papers is March 15. For the second year a conference banquet will honour an outstanding Canadian peace researcher, educator, or peacemaker. Program chairman is Prof. M.V. Naidu, CPREA president, Dept. of Political Science, Brandon Univ., Brandon, Man. R7A 6A9.

Toronto, 4 Dec.

De Havilland Aircraft of Canada has been sold to Boeing. Most Canadians probably think of this as a nice com­pany in Seattle“which builds only large jet transport aircraft”. Boeing is the largest single contractor for the US Department of Defense. It draws all its profitability from that source and its chief works, under the label ‘Boeing Military Aircraft Corporation’ are in Wichita, Kan. An investigative reporter might care to inquire into the military agenda behind this sale.

- Ian Hacking

Chomsky on tape

Noam Chomsky, The Global War, Tape, $5. National Office.

The final report of the hearings held last year in the Interfaith Program for Public Awareness of Nuclear Issues is available from Ontario Hydro, Social and Community Studies Section H19, 700 University Ave., Toronto, Ont. MSG 1X6. Tel: (416)592-3868

Members contributing to the hearings through briefs or oral testimony were Phyllis Creighton, Gordon Edwards, Mark Goldberg, George Ignatieff, Rosalie Bertell, Ernie Regehr, Derek Paul, Hanna Newcombe, Joseph Reid, R. B. Byers, Norman Rubin, Anatol Rapoport, Grant Sheng, Arnold Simoni.

The Hydro-Tritium report, announced in the December BULLETIN is available from the same source. Ontario Hydro’s director of the community in-put pro­gram is David Hardy. Science for Peace input is being solicited for the dead­line of January 15. A national com­mittee of Norman Rubin, Lynn Trainor, John Brenciaglia, John Dove and Anatol Rapoport is coordinating submissions.

Science Policy

Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for science and technology policy agreed to convene a forum to discuss major issues for Canada in the development of a Canadian Policy for Science and Technology. The forum is expected to take place in the spring.

The Board of Science for Peace has taken steps to consider a research policy for the organization and to con­sider, in particular, programs in space research that Science for Peace might endorse and participate in. Derek Paul and Chandler Davis are assembling ideas on research policy and Lynn Trainor is doing the same for space research.

Contact any of the three through the national office.

MORE ON ISMA: A 1982 contribution to the Pugwash Symposium in Versailles, France, by Lynn Trainor, On An Inter – national Satellite Agency for the Use of Satellite Observation Data for Se­curity Purposes”. Available from SfP.

About half a million scientists and technologists – a high proportion of total scientific expertise – are direc­tly employed on military research and development.

“The nuclear arms race feeds on the continuous input of scientific innova­tion,and there is a growing belief that the momentum of this arms race is determined by actions of scientists…. The introduction of any new weapon is an irreversible step, and in this sense the role of the scientists in the arms race is of crucial importance.”

- from the Pugwash (1982) Symposium on “Scientists, The Arms Race and Disarmament”


The Toronto Chapter honored the IPPNW at its December 18 weekly seminar — and Xmas party. The seminar was addressed by Frank Sommers, founding president of PSR Canada.

Committee for the “Peace Award” in.:. the Youth Science Fair Program is Wm. McGowan, J. Neelin, R. Morris and A. Mingarelli, representing the Ottawa Chapter. Leroy Sanders will serve as secretary of the new chapter, Angelo Mingarelli as chairman and James Neelin as Treasurer. Wm. McGowan spoke on Nuclear Winter at the November monthly meeting. Planned for February is a meeting with Wolfgang Behrends, West German Ambassador to Canada.

James Gardner has prepared a posi­tion paper on the Ontario Hydro-tritium sales issue for the Waterloo Chapter.

If you would like to become more involved in Science for Peace activi­ties, contact the Chapter in your area.


Books reviewed in the Summer, 1985 DISARMAMENT (A publication of the UN Dept. of Disarmament, Room DC2-853, UN, New York 10017) include Thomas Perry’s and Dianne DeMille’s Nuclear War: The Search For Solutions, proceedings of the Oct. ’84 Vancouver Canadian Confer­ence on Nuclear War. (Available from the PSR National Office, 100 College St. Toronto M5S 1A1, or order through SfP.)

Write to the United Nations if you cannot get the following books in your local bookstores:

David Fischer & Paul Szasz, Safeguarding the Atom: A Critical Appraisal, Josef Goldblatt editor and author of the conclusions and recommendations. SIPRI, London, Taylor & Francis, 1985.

An overview of IAEA safeguards — a vast amount of data not easily avail­able, of interest to both laymen and specialists.

Anatoly Gromyko and Vladimir Lome­iko, A New Way of Thinking in the Nuc­lear Age (Title translated), Moscow, International Relations, 1984.

“The book marks a departure in Soviet political literature. The authors put forth in generalized form the concept of a need for a new way of thinking for the nuclear age, a way which goes beyond former notions of our planet as an arena for hostile military blocks.”

Herman Kahn, Thinking About the Unthinkable in the 1980’s, N.Y., Simon & Schuster, 1984.

“…Given his fatalistic premise that nuclear weapons ‘cannot be disinvented,’ all his efforts focus on how to enhance drift toward deterrence. His primary focus in on the rationale for maintaining a force of nuclear weapons.”

Full text version of all articles from SfP Bulletin January 1986. A PDF edition is also available.

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