Category SfP Bulletin January 2004
As the final parts of this belated Bulletin are put together, the arrest of Saddam Hussein by the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq has been announced. Great discussion of the process by which the former Iraqi dictator will be tried is circulating among the endless group of (male) experts that the various administrations and media outlets rely on for their insightful opinions.
One important ingredient that seems to have eluded the watchful eye of the west has been some discussion of the various figures which have aided and abetted Mr. Hussein during his reign. So, for example, almost exactly ten years ago to the date of Saddam Hussein’s arrest, we saw that the current Secretary of Defense for the U.S., Mr. Donald Rumsfeld, was smiling as this “Special Envoy” shook hands with one of the employees of the CIA. Documents released by Iraq last year in an attempt to comply with new UN Security Council threats to re-invade, revealed the German and U.S. companies supplying the Iraqi military with the means to develop, manufacture and deliver chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers and Kurdish civilians during this period.
For the U.S., these exports were, of course, all approved by the U.S. State Department. We know, too, that U.S. Congressional committees and both European and United Nations teams had determined by the end of 1995, that Iraq had used chemical weapons in their war against Iran. The response of the U.S. administration was to prevent Iraq from being specifically named at the UN as the culprit for these war crimes. Indeed, reports from U.S. sources indicate that the U.S. actually provided satellite information to the Iraqi so that they could +“calibrate” their chemical weapons delivery systems in their use against Iran.
The Reagan administration managed to stifle the Congressional report and subsequently provided half a billion dollars in agricultural subsidies to the Iraq. Not to be outdone, the Bush (senior) administration followed with a 1 billion dollar subsidy. (a very detailed summary of declassified document and documents obtained through the freedom of information act in the US can be found at the National Security Archives www.gwu.edu/ ~nsarchiv/special/iraq/index.htm).
So, with all of this help from western nations who where profiting from these crimes, one might wonder who should stand trial for these war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“Toutes les puissances de l’Europe forment entre elles une sorte de systeme qui les unit par une même religion, par une même droit des gens, par les moeurs, par les lettres, par le commerce, et par une sorte d’equilibre…”
Jean-Jacques Rousseau ‘Projet de Paix Perpetuelle’ 1760
“Europe is the weak link in the Cold War”
E. P. Thompson in ‘Exterminism and Cold War’ (Verso) 1982.
From 24-26 October 2003 I attended and spoke at the “2eme Journees du Desarmement Nucleaire” (JDN) in Venissieux (Rhone) in France. Venissieux is effectively an industrial suburb of Lyon at the end of Metro line D, but with a population currently reaching 60000, including substantial communities of North African and Middle Eastern origin, it has independent city government. The mayor, Andre Gerin of the French Communist party (one of the few European parties not yet to have become parties of democratic socialism), opened the Saturday sessions, held in a converted industrial building now a municipal facility, the Salle Irene Joliot-Curie. Over 200 participants were present. French peace/antiNW groups are structured differently from UK groups; the term “pacifiste” includes both practical anti-NW groups (Stop-Essais, ACDN etc.), broader peace groups (Mouvement de la Paix), and religious/moral groups in the Anglo pacifist sense. There has never been an equivalent of the British CND, and Abolition 2000, in the UK a specific networking group (which I currently chair), is represented in France by supporting organisations that adhere to the A2000 statement but have had separate ongms.
The world situation was the topic for Saturday morning. I was supposed to examine the continuing problem of nuclear weapons and to find a European way to solve it. A tall order. Along with our colleagues in Stop-Essais (esp. physicists Dominique Lalanne and Gerard Levy) Abolition 2000 UK is trying to rebuild a Euro connection, last seen at the height of the Cold War in the form of the European Nuclear Disarmament movement (END), led by the late E. P. Thompson. The mid-twentieth century Marxist intellectual and activist movement, associated with the names of Thompson and
Raymond Williams, has recently been described by Stephen Woodhams (“History in the Making” (2001) pub. Fernwood Publishing in Canada). Woodhams’ title is either optimistic or ironic. One of the disappointments of recent political history has been the collapse of integrated socialist thinking. The three best known UK protagonists all died rather young, Raphael Samuel at 62, Williams at 66, and Thompson at 69 after a prolonged illness (at a similar age I look forward optimistically to a substantial future both scientifically and politically…).
But now the movement may need to change in order to survive anywhere close to the main stream. The present day isolation of the Marx-influenced left (the SWP and similar extra-parliamentary parties) has created a situation rather like the one that used to prevail in the USA. Extra-parliamentary activists staff the movements and can even bring thousands on to the streets but are without much effect within the structured political system. To avoid marginalisation or political co-option we have to link with other parts of the “movement”, the anti-globalization structures, and events such as the European Social Forum, while retaining our bourgeois contacts.
My remarks, as I explained at the outset, were delivered in a mixed linguistic mode (“franglais”). I looked at the origins of and differences between French and British NW. The UK’s weapons are now entirely coordinated with those of the US. Britain possesses no nuclear bombs (abandoned 5 years’ ago) or UK-designed missiles. All Trident II missiles are US-built and stored in Texas; the UK merely has “title” to some. These missiles are seen as entirely part of NATO’s munitions and their so-called sub strategic capabilities linked to the NATO doctrine of potential first use. Hence it could be politically easier for France than for the UK to declare a no first use policy. Britain retains NWonly to secure top discussion table status within NATO and the UN and to keep its virulent nationalist press silent. France may see its weapons as politically if not militarily more significant.
Wars are endless – only peace can be perpetual. What then can be done? Some things only by the state (if citizens demand them), for example:
- Using the opprotunity provided by the current constitutional discussions a specifically non-nuclear (and preferably antinuclear) defence policy for the EU could be established. This would restrict NW to NATO and the USA.
- An ‘anti-nuclear’ component could include pressure from the EU NATO states, led by France, for NATO to adopt a no first use policy.
- The present de facto (by NATO-US-Russia agreement) nuclear weapons free zone in Europe could be made de jure (in the form of a NWFZ Treaty). This might include previous Warsaw Pact states including the Eastern part of Germany as well as the independent states of Sweden, Finland, Austria and the Balkans.
excerpt from talk during Peace Week at the Univerity of Toronto
We probably all agree here that waging war is generally pretty bad for the environment. We don’t need to think very deeply about the environmental catastrophe that arises when one drops a nuclear weapon on defenceless citizens. The devastation to the environment that millions of litres of agent orange or of napalm on the countries of Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos are also pretty easy to think about.
What I will focus on here are two aspects that are less obvious than “total war” but which allow us to think about, 1) the consequences of the military doctrine on a global scale and, 2) how the dominant economic forces on the planet benefit from destruction of the environment. I will illustrate that the same global forces which maintain a system of inequality are the ones which drive the agenda leading to unregulated assault on the earth’s environment and which disproportionately affects underprivileged people on this planet.
Here is part of a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and reported in the Chicago Tribune on May 16th of this year 2003:
“The federal government is America’s biggest polluter and the Department of Defence is the government’s worst offender. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, unexploded ordnance waste can befound on 16,000 military ranges across the U.S. and more than half may contain biological or chemical weapons. In total, the Pentagon is responsible for more than 21,000 potentially contaminated sites and, according to the EPA, the military may have poisoned as much as 40 million acres, a little larger than Florida. That result might be considered an act of war if committed by a foreign power. “
These comments were made earlier this year at a time when the U.S. Defence establishment was attempting to have more of its activities exempted from environmental laws in the US. Bob Feldon of the economic think tank, Dollars and Sense, wrote earlier this year that:
“The U.S. Department of Defense is, in fact, the world’s largest polluter, producing more hazardous waste per year than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined. “
Indeed, even members ofthe US military and the Pentagon itself have admitted that the military bases in the US are an environmental catastrophe. Admiral (ret.) Eugene Carroll, before the First International Conference on US Military Toxics and Bases Clean-up in 1997 stated in reference to Cold War rationale:
“In a mindless, criminally negligent process, we poured resources into military expansion both at home and abroad without any regard for the environmental consequences. Pollution was ignored on the grounds that “national security” took absolute priority over all other considerations.”
The effects of these activities in the US are known, of course, by the people who live around or on the military installations all through the US. Citizen groups have formed and have documented the extent of the damage to the local environment. For example, the Environmental Health Coalition released a 30 page report documenting Military Toxic waste throughout the US. In another report by the Environmental Working Group, documentation of massive perchlorate contamination, (used in all rocket propellants) in the water table is available. This study also discusses on page 32 a study conducted by the main manufacturer of rockets in the US, Lockheed Martin, where perchlorate was feed to human subjects at a dose 83 times higher than the permissible levels in California… the subjects received $1,000 compensation for this risk. This experiment was part of an overall campaign to have the regulated levels of perchlorate in the environment relaxed, thus allowing greater contamination and helping to avoid law suits.
This pollution nightmare occurring by the US government on US soil correctly predicts that US industrial-military activities outside of the US on foreign soil would also occur at an incredible level. For example, in a horrific incident that took place in 1968, a B52 bomber crashed before landing on a runway in Greenland. This bomber was loaded with 4 nuclear weapons. The land upon which it crashed had already been confiscated by the US during the 1950’s in order to build a massive military base as part of the DEW line. A Danish group recently detelmined that extremely high levels of radioactivity still exist on the ground as well as in the fish in the ocean around the crash site. The Pentagon has also conceded that not all of the plutonium was recovered following the crash.
I will mention one other location before discussing the “economic” considerations. I mentioned in the context of Greenland, the military base that was part of the DEW line. The DEW line or “Distant Early Warning” line was established to monitor the Soviet Union and detelmine if some sort of launch or attack was under way. What is now apparent was that the establishment of those military bases across the entire northern region of Canada was accompanied by a massive environmental insult in arguably the most delicate ecological region in the world. So for example, in order to withstand the extreme conditions of the north, PCBs were used in many of the building materials, such as paint, and in electrical equipment. When these northern bases were finally closed, the extent of the degradation became known where, for example, leaking barrels of PCBs were left out around the bases contaminating the soil. The Canadian Government estimated that it would take 400 to 500 million dollars to clean up the sites. They are in fact, using this clean up as a “make work” project by assisting and promoting the establishment of Inuit-owned companies to clean up the sites.
Another important aspect of this problem is the economic forces driving these environmental catastrophes. In a bid to clean up these northern DEW Line bases, the Canadian Government asked the US government to help pay for the clean up. The US originally refused but then offered $100 million dollars for the cleanup. However, the $100 million dollars was not in cash but were credits for the Canadian Government to purchase US-made military equipment. So, the actual financial burden remains in Canada along with all of the toxic waste. As is typical in this country, that burden lands again in the laps of the indigenous peoples in this country on whose land these bases were set up in the first place without their permission. Thus, this represents one example where pollution of the environment by the military is “good for business”. Not only does it offer job opportunities for cleaning up the mess, in the case of Canada, it helps finance the US military industries who will benefit from the 100 million dollar “guns-in-lieu-of-cash” deal to sort out this mess.
How do military industries get around this problem of environmental regulation. The easiest way it to get exempted from the regulations. So, the DoD turns out to be partially or totally exempt from provisions in every piece of legislation that controls US environmental degradation. Indeed, this last year, given the hysterical opportunity the attacks on the world trade centre afforded, the Pentagon attempted to have even more of its activities exempted from these statutes. This was supported by heavy lobbying by military contractors and coalitions of industries who wanted their activities free from regulations and free from the consequences of being caught violating those regulations.
This attempt to get around environmental rules is, in fact, an integral aspect of the global economic system. All of the trade agreements which have been or are in the process of being negotiated, specifically exempt the activities important for security and the military of a nation from these rules.
Who we are
January 2003 marked the birth of Students of Science for Peace, the undergraduate student group of Science for Peace at the University of Toronto. Currently, we have roughly 20 active members who meet on a weekly basis. The majority are science students, though we have active members in the social sciences and humanities. Full details on our activities are on our web site: www.sfpstudents.org.
We are de facto members of Science for Peace, and meet based upon our common context and position as undergraduate students. Up to this point, there has been a significant gap in communications between our group and the main body of Science for Peace. With a concerted effort, this gap can be bridged in a fruitful manner.
Why we are relevant
Historically, Science for Peace has lent weight to soliciting membership and involvement from university faculty and specialists; this is vital to maintaining credibility, and should naturally continue. However, allow me to present some arguments for why investment of time and resources in Students of Science for Peace is also an important undertaking:
- Many of the students in Students of Science for Peace are literally top of their class, and intend to pursue graduate studies. It can be said without exaggeration that these students will be the esteemed scientists and faculty of the future. If they find support and inspiration from Science for Peace at this crucial stage in their academic career, a lifelong commitment to being involved with and promoting the organization will be fostered.
- Students of Science for Peace has been undertaking research and education efforts, and is therefore contributing in a concrete way to the mandate of Science for Peace. For example, our upcoming seminar series will cover the topics of Depleted Uranium Munitions, Missile Defence, Land Mines, Pharmaceutical Patenting and Sustainable Energy.
- Many of the students in Students of Science for Peace have promoted Science for Peace among their professors, serving as means of outreach and publicity for Science for Peace.
How you can help us
Here are some suggestions as to how you can contribute to Students of Science for Peace:
- Attend one of our Friday meetings, wherein you can give a short talk on your area of interest or speciality (i.e. current state of global warming research).
- Share information with our research groups. Contact the research group heads via our website (www.sfpstudents.org), and email them primary documents and/or general resources.
- Supervise a Science for Peace student research project through the University of Toronto. Undergraduate students can obtain a credit for independent research projects, provided that they have a professor supervIsor.
- Attend our events, which will be posted on the Science for Peace email list-servers.
Please note that our members are always willing to volunteer with the activities of the main body of Science for Peace; consider us an inexhaustible source of free student labour.
I look forward to a year of fruitful collaboration.
Students of Science for Peace
Note from the Editor: Students for Peace are currently working on starting chapters at several llniversities in Ontario in the spring. Science for Peace has made funds available for them to travel to other universities in order to help organize other students across Canada. Please contact Students for Peace or Science for Peace to help out with this campaign or to get a student group started in your city.
The Edmonton Coalition Against War & Racism in association with several other Canadian Peace groups is having a campaign against the Canadian participation in the US NMD program. We are curTently working on 2 projects, one very cheap and one very expensive!
1. BUILD YOUR OWN ANTI BALLISTIC MISSILE – It will work as well to defend Canada as the US National Missile Defense at a fraction of the cost!
Materials – The cardboard core from a roll of paper towels. A cone of paper (aluminum foil, optional), tape to fasten. Decorate on the outside with felt pens or decals. Insert a message or anti NMD flier in the centre. VOILA! Be the first one on your block with an Anti- Ballistic Missile! Build as many as you can. Start an “alms race” in your neighbourhood, community, province, all around Canada.
Each city will hold a stockpile gathering on January 17, 2004 to organize interception and launching exercises. We’ll invite the media for that event. Each missile will be sent individually in an envelope to the Prime Minister in Ottawa briefly after January 17 (No postage required.).
THE WORLD WILL BE A SAFER PLACE IF WE USE CARDBOARD MISSILES INSTEAD OF NUCLEAR ONES!
2. We have written an open letter to Paul Martin & are placing it in the Globe & Mail newspaper. Cunently, we are gathering names of distinguished public people who will support the message with their name & a financial donation to defer the cost. We are also willing to publish the ad in French and are seeking partners to do so.
In Edmonton, any help with these two projects will be much appreciated, specially spread the word about it and give a donation. You are also welcome to join us in contacting prominent people to ask them sign and fund the letter. If you are interesting, please get back to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I used to have a wall plaque that read “Warning: don’t release tongue before brain is engaged”. I was reminded of this by reading your perverse editorial “Canada’s missile role” (Friday, January 9), which urged our involvement in the u.S. missile defence scheme, supposedly on the basis that this would “enhance Canadian sovereignty” .
The idea that sovereignty would somehow be asserted by choosing to immerse Canada even further in the military designs of a foreign nation — especially of a nation apparently bent on worldwide imperial control — seems to me so wrong-headed as to need no further rebuttal! One might just add that it would surrender not only our sovereignty, but also the interests of Canadian citizens, for most Canadians have no wish to dominate or exploit the rest of the world. It is also very dangerous to identify oneself as part of, rather than as critic of, an imperialist regime: one thereby chooses to make oneself a target of resistance (and maybe tenorism) —- and to become part of the wreckage when the empire falls, as one day it certainly will.
As you admit, the scheme in which Canada is considering participation is for “midcourse” interception by (for now) ground-based anti-missile missiles. Therefore your remarks about “boost-phase” interception, and also about Patriot missiles, are totally inelevant and serve merely as obfuscation. By contrast, your claim that the relevant technology is “welladvanced and has proved effective” is, instead, false. In fact that technology cannot be made to work. It problems cannot be overcome by improved gadgetry, because they are inherent in the basic physics of the mid-course missile tracking methods (basically radar and infra-red detection), which make it easy and cheap to thwart interception (e.g. by using radar ‘chaff’, cooling the warhead surface, deploying decoys, and so on). As I and others have repeatedly pointed out, in your paper and elsewhere, this argument has been published in full detail (perhaps most thoroughly by the U.S. Union of Concerned Scientists —- go to www.ucsusa.org and click to their report “Countermeasures”); there has been no scientific or technical rebuttal of this argument by the Pentagon or anyone else, and none of the U.S. tests has even engaged this problem. Hence your claim is wrong, and for our government to proceed on such a basis would be fraudulent — it’s time some people did some homework.
Nor is it valid to say that fears about a new arms race should have lessened. In fact Russia has halted the dismantling it had begun under Start II, and is reinstating “multiple independently-targetted re-entry vehicles” (MIRVs); furthermore the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals are on high alert, often even on “launch-on-warning”, so the danger of “accidental” holocaust is high. China, in turn, now feels its small deterrent intercontinental force is inadequate: it is increasing it, and plans mounting on mobile launch pads and on submarines, and recently tested MIRVs. In short, the new alms race is already under way as we talk! Can it be that you are unaware of these escalations?
Your editorial closed by invoking a fear of our “strategic” “impotence”. What do you mean by such a phrase? If you mean we will not project coercive powers overseas, I think I join with nearly all Canadians in saying that I indeed hope we will not do so. If you wish rather to propose that Canada will become vulnerable to attack from elsewhere, then you owe it to your readers to clarify that scenario. In my own view, there is no such threat, except and only to the extent that our government chooses to identify us with the policies of the U.S., seen widely, after all, as the greedy bully of the world. Yet that identification is the course you appear to urge.
Canadian Peace Education Conference
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
November 20 – 24, 2003
Report Goals: This conference report focus is on effective curricula that would forward the role of peace education in Canada. The SfP working group looked for existing Canadian Courses and Curricula in Universities, French Schools Secondary & Elementary Schools, Private Schools, and how they might include local communities.
General: The Second Annual Canadian Peace Education Conference was a very important gathering of the peace academics, educators, NGO’s, researchers, educational activists, university students, and young people from Secondary, Elementary and Private schools, such as Montessori and Waldorf Schools. All who attended were people involved in making a philosophical difference for peace education in Canada.
New approaches and Outcomes
15. In the original UNESCO constitution, UNESCO’s role was mandated for Peace Education, and this role needs to be encouraged. The Canadian Commission of UNESCO (CCU), although they have not achieved the Culture of Peace (COP) in all schools across Canada, are moving forward on their ‘Culture of Peace’ programme of work. Update from CCU: At the General Conference fall 2003 at the Commission III on sciences UNESCO’s members countries 4 adopted the Earth Charter. As you will see if you go to their site www.earthcharter.org It is at this moment based on the same principles and values as the culture of peace. A new CD has been produced for kids. Since 2000 each UN thematic topic of the year, relevant to the culture of peace, has been used to promote the culture of peace: in particular the year of dialogue of civilisations (2001) was well received by municipalities. In 2003 the year of water was particularly successful in raising interest among young people with excellent response.
Many more Youth Organizations are becoming involved; the ‘growing up in cities project’ GUIC, brings together universities and NGOs. Municipalities have started a pilot research action project that will bring a better understanding between adults and young people for a sustainable and democratic cooperation at the municipal level. In Science, participation of the Commission, linked events to Development and Peace Days on November 10th, 2003. FOlmal education, a recent development of the ASP school project in Canada lead by Alysouk Lynhiavu at CCU, has started with the organization of a spokespersons for ASPnet. A very interesting network of artists and Canadian role models are ready to encourage COP work with teachers and their schools; see www.unesco.ca.
During 2004 for the commemoration of the end of slavery, and several UN days, will encourage the promotion of the values of culture of peace. CCU materials have been developed for schools, in the context of the promotion of tolerance.
16. On Monday, a conference summary conversation was held with approx. 12 participants. There were two main outcomes. First was on creating collective peace organization to be called the “Canadian Peace Education Foundation: For a World Fit for Children” http: / /www.peace.ca/foundation.htm The second was a “Canadian Peace Initiative-CPI” which proposes a venue to help advance the unity, direction and capacity of Canadian peace building education, and is synonymous with a National Culture of Peace Program. It is a conceptual idea in development and will be the subject of the add-on Conference next November with a possible Interim Workshop in March or August 2004.
17. Helmut Burkhardt suggested that Science for Peace hold a Canadian Peace Education Roundtable prior to the “Interdisciplinary Conference on the Evolution of World Order” to be held at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario, on October 14-16, 2004. A ‘Sustainable Peace Education Round Table’ is planned for October 13, 2004.
18. Although UNESCO’s ‘Culture of Peace’ main document, covered environmental and other educational and scientific conferences and outcomes, there was little curriculum evidence from participants or trade show holders, that linked peace and environment, at the conference. Most of the conference presentations and discussions were homocentric.
19. The UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development Decade 2005 – 2014 needed to be mentioned in the light of COP. There are too many terms being used by participants. Even though those who developed these concepts may think that they are ‘watertight’ there still needs to be future discussion on the semantics involved with’ A Culture of Peace’.
“Decision-makers and governments, must understand that globally that we are committing suicide for the planet and all species, with humanity’s current lack of peaceful, sustainable and security based actions.”
Conference Documents at http://www.peace.ca/Conference20030utcomeDocument.htm
Full text version of all articles from PDF edition is also available.