Category SfP Bulletin August 1990
The pages of history have been turning with incredible speed during the last year, and their story has, on the whole, been extraordinarily encouraging. The initial cry that ‘The Cold War is Over’ seemed perfectly appropriate as a heartfelt wave of relief most people could rejoice in. But its endless repetition, sloganized for use as a springboard for scores of press articles, and almost as an incantation by people in their everyday conversation, surely betokens an all-too-common tendency to simplify complex issues and an excuse to put aside related matters that actually loom as seriously as ever and will never disappear without dedicated and ceaseless human effort (see ‘The Historic Moment’ by J. McMurtry in this issue of the Bulletin). The writer has encountered, even among some members of Science for Peace, a too-general, an undue, optimism — as though all international problems were automatically reduced in proportion to positive changes in East Europe and the Soviet Republics.
Of course, we should be more optimistic as a result of the amazing events that have occurred. After all, if the world’s major military superpowers can be influenced merely to intensify and persist in their discussions and negotiations on arms control and limitation as a result of perceived reductions in tensions between nations and states, it is a good thing — and a sign of hope. But let us understand also that, in terms that Science for Peace would approve, the process that could bring us to a just and peaceful world has not begun. Elimination of arms, in the true sense of discarding them, not just replacing obsolescent ones with new ones (perhaps fewer, but notably more dangerous), still has to happen. The reduction of armies and the shrinking of arms industries are being talked about — that, really, is all. And meanwhile there is a world of hostilities and threats in which, at any moment, events, unanticipated by governments and ordinary citizens alike, are apt to explode with stupefying speed and violence.
The above is, of course, just a prefatory note to the most recent — and current — world crisis. From the standpoint of Science for Peace, Iraq’s move against Kuwait is a paradigm case of the importance of Third World ambitions, territorial demands, perceived historical imperatives and the like, seen no longer either as appeals for help or as curses and threats, but as acts of great magnitude with the distinct possibilities of massive regional warfare and, by extension, global involvement.
This is not the place for dissection of the justice or injustice of Iraq’s claims to Kuwait. What should largely concern Science for Peace are the following: (i) Why did not the countries that armed Iraq or that tilted in its direction in the Iraq-Iran war forsee that Iraq would become a major military power as a result of their assistance? (ii) If now the US, Britain and other powers are so condemnatory of Hussein, why was his regime backed against that of Iran? (iii) We hear that US ‘think tanks’ on international strategic questions are currently and urgently studying the mid-Eastern situation. Why should their views be given credibility if no substantive anticipatory modelling of the present crisis was previously forthcoming? And if it was forthcoming, why were Western and Arab nations alike evidently so ill-prepared to understand and attempt beforehand, by diplomacy and, especially, through the United Nations, to head off what has now happened? (iv) Why, having obtained a condemnation of Iraq’s actions from the UN Security Council, did the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Australia, Egypt, Turkey and others act in their capacity as separate sovereign states to exercise direct military intervention by way of armed confrontation and with the possibility of lethal action against Iraq, instead of initially acting through the UN Security Forces? (v) In particular, as Canadians, Science for Peace members need to know why the Canadian Prime Minister has committed an apparently feebly-equipped force of Canadian service personnel to the supposed defense of Saudi Arabia without any parliamentary discussion and, it would appear, essentially at the request of US President Bush?
The entire question of Western involvement in this Arab World Affair is coming under increasing criticism by many of its inhabitants. Their already apparent disdain for many aspects of Western existence and attitudes is sure to foster increased disgruntlement, anger and resentment in the future.
Meanwhile, and for Science for Peace, this is the punchline in this whole sorry mess: If a war does now break out, it will be powered, on both sides, by armaments made by the great military powers of the West and the USSR and fought by troops many of whose commanders were taught their battlefield skills in the West or in Russia, and also their strategies in politics, polemics, espionage and sabotage.
Down the road we can expect to see many Iraqs. That, as members of the developed world is our fault and the price we shall continue to pay for declining our responsibilities as human beings towards our fellows. Even if war is no longer possible in Europe, still less between the USA and the USSR, the military powers have armed the Third World. India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq are all, despite general poverty, militarily powerful states. Within a small number of years the latter three, in addition to India, may be nuclear-armed. None of these countries is in any way foresworn against the use of the most dangerous weaponry. They are either poor in all ways, or poor except for one or a few resources which makes them anxious and vulnerable — and now makes them dangerous. Various South American states may be expected to become internationally threatening, too, in the years to come.
It would, indeed, be wonderful if Science for Peace members, along with the whole community of antiwar groups, could drop out of the picture, take things easy, and get on with their lives. But, really, all the events in Europe have done is to have shown us that some progress can be made — in the sense that a change in certain basic attitudes may eventually lead to a process of genuine disarmament. This is far from actually happening in Europe and the US as yet. But even if it does come about, there will be scant cause for celebration as other countries increasingly flex the military muscles that have been bestowed on them by those whose dearest wish may eventually become that they could somehow expunge from their history and from the world, the very notion of war.
A few last words on rhetoric and bellicosity. Anyone reading or listening to the media since Iraq invaded Kuwait will have been struck by the reemergence of the language of cold warriors: ‘The Butcher of Bhagdad’, ‘A New Hitler’, declared readiness to give Hussein a ‘bloody nose’ if he merits one, and so on. It is evident that those that have been impelled to lie low by the events of the last year are still there, hiding beneath the detritus of history, all too delighted to leap again to centre stage for yet one more sterling performance of the superhawk. What a shame they have no shame and can again find the nerve to speak in so cheap and inflammatory a fashion of issues that may yet produce wholesale human misery and slaughter.
A Note on the Arms Lobby
Finally, we recently received the following material from an article in Abendzitung, August 11/12, 1990 translated from the German by Marion Dove, former (and first) National Coordinator! Secretary of Science for Peace –
It’s certain that some circles have an interest in armed conflict. In the past 10 years (Saddam) Hussein has spent 80 billion Deutsch Marks on weapons. And the West has supplied him with whatever he wanted. Now, when the East-West conflict is losing its meaning, the armament lobby is saying: ‘We must remain strong. For the Third World has the weapons of the First World. For this reason we must continue to develop our weapons in the future.’ When these systems are developed they come by often dubious ways into the Third World. As a result the argument of the armament lobby is perpetually valid. This leads to a vicious circle.
This extract comes from an article entitled ‘The Armament Lobby is delighted by War’ based on a interview with Elmar Schmaeling, former fleet admiral.
Alan H. Weatherley
- From The Toronto Star, February 2 —
- External Affairs Minister Joe Clark has predicted Canada’s policy on Latin America will lead to clashes with Washington. ‘Unquestionably there will be controversy when we disagree with the United States on issues affecting Latin America’, he told an audience at the University of Calgary. But he said Canada did not back down when the United States disagreed with Ottawa’s policies on Cuba and Nicaragua and Canada will not back down in the future.
- By Paul Brown and David Fairhall (Guardian Weekly, April 1) –
- Workers who service Britain’s nuclear deterrent have been exposed to dangerous neutron radiation because of a miscalculation by the Ministry of Defence. The radiation levels have led to fears that the plutonium inside Polaris missile warheads may have been overheating, potentially lowering their effectiveness in a war.
- From The Toronto Star, May 28 —
- Canada continues to support NATO’s strategy of maintaining a mixture of nuclear and conventional weapons in Europe, federal officials say. In a speech Saturday, External Affairs Minister Joe Clark said it makes little sense ‘to retain nuclear weapons whose only target can be our new friends in Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany’. But department officials, speaking on condition they not be identified, said the minister was referring only to aging, land-based nuclear missiles and artillery shells.
- From The Globe and Mail, April 16 —
- Canada’s 30-year-old attack warning system is moribund … bees make honey in some sirens, squirrels find them an excellent, dry place to store nuts, hunters find them a good target, and mice love the insulation around the electrical wires… In fact, the siren will not penetrate most of today’s apartment buildings. And now a simpler proposed system, called WEBS (Warning and Emergency Broadcasting System) seems destined to sit and wait, not for enemy rockets but for government money. This last is, of course, good news!
- By Douglas Roche (The Toronto Star, May 24)-
- In 1989, despite the ending of the Cold War, the US tested (nuclear weapons) 11 times, France 8 and the Soviet Union 9 times. Can anyone doubt that the 1,820 nuclear tests since 1965 have relentlessly driven the global arms race?
- President Mikhail Gorbachev has offered to negotiate nuclear weapons down to zero, but the US, adamantly maintaining that nuclear weapons are crucial to peace, insists on continued testing. NATO continues to claim that the strategy of nuclear deterrence has enduring validity.
- Further –
What is Canada’s position (on th comprehensive test ban — CTB)? Canada has abstained from every vote on the conference at the UN. A government spokesman said in Parliament that Canada will not support the amendment. This attitude is inconsistent with statements that a CTB is a ‘fundamental’ policy. The argument that confrontation over a CTB could exacerbate multilateral relations is minuscule compared with the great danger ahead for the world if the absence of a CTB results in the downfall of the NTP.
- Roche discusses briefly the proposed amendment to the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) of 1963 that would convert it to a CTB. A main conference on this topic is expected next January. Roche suggests that –
- The amendment conference is a unique opportunity for the international community to give resounding political support for an end to nuclear testing and thus stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Canada’s credibility in espousing an end to nuclear testing, is on the line.
by John McMurtry, Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph, Ontario
The military system has always existed to impose one party’s will on another’s by threat or acts of collective homicide, and always to enforce claims over social wealth of some kind. It has been so deep a pattern of determining the geography of the human species, its habitat and its forms of life that it has been assumed as unavoidable across millenia — even by such revolutionary and anti-conventionalist thinkers as Karl Marx or, at the other end of the historical-cultural spectrum, Lao Tzu. But we now live in an historic moment with no precedent. A world empire, the USSR, has unilaterally initiated a reverse-field policy of demilitarizing state relations of power, however long its geo-political context may permit it to persist. Meanwhile, in the remainder of the industrialized world, the military program for conflict resolution seems less and less believed in by those not in the military command. An indication of this historic change of attitude is to be found in Western public opinion polls over the last decade. In the United States where threat of armed attack has long been a cornerstone of national culture, those supporting national armament reduction increased from 7% in January 1981 to 74% in January 1990. On the other side of the now dismantled iron curtain, the demilitarization of Central Europe has been declared as state policy by the governments of both Czechoslovakia and Hungary, and there have been continuous major unilateral reductions by the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union in tanks, weapons developments and nuclear testing since the end of 1988, without any clear limit to the long-term extent of this world-block disarmament project.
In complement to this increasingly public rejection of social death-threat as a test of rightness in international disputes, has emerged an increasingly generalizable correlation between demilitarized economy and economic success. This has shown itself most dramatically in the increasing productive supremacy of the German and Japanese economies, which were benignly stripped of their militaries by unconditional defeat in the Second World War. The same lesson has been conversely revealed in the Soviet Union’s economically ruinous armaments competition with the United States since 1945, which itself has suffered a precipitous decline in its relative productive position in the world in correspondence to its devotion of social resources to military buildup.
A long-term historical pattern is unfolding. Armed force has been traditionally exalted in the world’s major cultures as the gods’, Yahweh’s, Isanagi’s, Allah’s or the Christ’s way of demonstrating collective virtue. But now national self-proving by capacity to obliterate other societies seems ever more widely repudiated. Are we now at the end of the second millenium on the verge of overcoming the problem of war itself? According to transcontinental statesman and political theorist Milovan Djilas: ‘We are now witnessing the total absence of war, the most dramatic movement in the history of mankind.
Reality is less congenial. An arresting symptom of the military system’s continued hold on the structure of civilization is that despite the dramatic public turn of public opinion towards national armaments reduction in the United States, and despite the cumulative commitment of its former world adversary over several years to no longer conduct external affairs by force of arms, the United States government proposed in its first budget after the collapse of Warsaw Pact regimes in East Europe to increase its military spending to over $300,000,000,000 a year, almost $1,000,000,000 dollars a day. At the same time, under fact-evasive proclamations of ‘peace dividends’ and ’50% cuts’ it proposed to introduce new short-range 400 and 1000 kilometer nuclear weapons to strike its increasingly disarmed Soviet foe, demanded that its former enemy in East Germany become not neutral but a subordinate military ally, and continued to conceive armaments reductions as a means whereby to achieve armaments modernization. (In the words of Secretary of State James Baker, ‘Our force modernization and arms control efforts reinforce each other’.) In all this, the US was loyally supported by the rest of the industrialized West. The idea of an autonomous military program with little relation to the changing realities of the world did not arise. Elsewhere, military regimes and rebel forces long armed and financed by the US in the third world on the grounds of turning back a globally advancing communist adversary, continued to be armed and financed with or without the existence of the ‘Soviet menace’ by which this military assistance had always been justified. In South and Central America, the Middle East and East and Southeast Asia, these forces, and others, continued to employ their increasingly high-tech weapons against unarmed peoples with the rate of genocides, ethnocides and extinctions of tribal and ethnic groups persisting without notable abatement. In this way, the military monster remained very much alive despite claims of a ‘total absence of war’, with in fact a vastly escalated relative power of its ascendant Western command to impose its will on whoever might resist it. There are now, ironically with ‘the end of the Cold War’, fewer deterrents than before on global armed force capacities to terrorize people in the third-world places where people have suffered the most from military oppression since World War II.
For it is surely a general fact worth our notice that the world’s most powerful and wealthy military bloc, which is controlled by perhaps a fraction of one per cent of the globe’s population, has continued to develop its capacities of violence, while the rest of the world’s peoples who might oppose its cumulative demands for natural resources, interest payments, markets and obedient labour-power have been ever more relatively disempowered. The academy’s debates on equality, welfare and theories of choice do not appear to apply to such a situation. One looks in vain for any analysis that does. Even at the most general level of analysis of the military institution, its logic and its structure of rule, we find a learned culture of silence. Since the military establishments of countries can also direct their capacities to organize terror against their own populations and indeed are now widely so deployed across the world, it may be unwise to be sanguine about the current windfall of world military supremacy to Western powers remaining ‘ours’. It could be deployed against us too if we happen by opposition to be identified as ‘enemies’ by those in command of allied armed forces. The short of it is that dramatically new and unprecedented openings towards world peace and disarmament just prior to 2000 — the unilateral breaking of the imperial sword by one superpower, the great movement towards demilitarization in Europe, the escalating public preference for arms reductions reaching even to the United States — have also dialectically loosed new and unprecedented possibilities of military oppression. For as the superpower conflict declines, the freedom of maneuver of one superpower has been enhanced. For example, while the Soviet Union, whose xpansionist policies of armed force’ have been u ed to justify United States military interventions in Central America, was dramatically reducing its a med force personnel outside its borders, military forces armed and financed by the United States were a the same time escalating their killings of unarmed civilians in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, and Columbia. Between October and November of 1989 in El Salvador, for example, civili n assassinations by US-supported security forces increased from 83 to 1767. Within the next montiji, Panama was invaded by US forces in violation of reiona1 and international law, and US-sponsored military interventions persisted or escalated in Afghanistan and Kampuchea where Soviet or Soviet-allied troops had completed promised withdrawals. There is an unseen pattern to all this. The compulsions of the military program we conceptualize as defence operate independently of external threat, and are apt to become more dangerous as the enemy they are said to defend us against ceases to exist.
The Editor received the following in correspondence with Eric Fawcett (Founding President, Science for Peace) while he was in the USSR during the summer of 1990. It is reproduced almost as received because of its obvious interest and relevance for Science for Peace members.
Peace Research In Moscow
1) Soviet Peace Committee (SPC)
This is a long-established organization, well-supported financially from the Soviet Peace Fund, with splendid premises on Prospect Mira (Peace Prospect). Like all Soviet institutions, however, it has undergone major changes, and perestroika finds expression in the form of exciting new projects undertaken by a rejuvenated organization.
I met three staff members, all political scientists in their 30’s to 40’s, fluent in English and very busy when I visited: Dr. Andrei Y. Melville, Vice-President of SPC; Dr. Alexander I. Nikitin, Director of SPC Research Centre; Michael P. Shein: Consultant to International Department of SPC.
The programs they described to me may be classified broadly into public or research, and Soviet or international, but cross-over occurs between these classes. Thus Economic Conversion is a matter of immense and urgent concern in the Soviet Union, and SPC provides the infra- structure for an Economic Commission, comprising trade-union and management people from industry, academic economists and other social scientists, party members, military and government representatives, etc., which is beginning to work on issues of economic conversion in the Soviet Union.
On the other hand, the findings of the Economic Commission are relevant to the problems of economic conversion in other countries. Michael Shein told me he was just back from a visit to the UK by members of the Economic Commission, to consult with groups like Science for Peace on how to help their country convert its deeply militarized industry.
Michael Shein also referred to the work of three Soviet groups which are working on problems under the auspices of the SPC: Lake Baikal Pollution, Arctic Ecology, and Acid Rain Monitoring. Each of these groups could provide mutually beneficial help and information to corresponding Canadian groups.
Projects described by Alexander Nikitin as being under way in the Research Centre of the SPC include:
- Conflict Resolution, with plans to establish a centre in Moscow for studies in conflict resolution, and the hope to learn from western specialists in this field how to deal with the Soviet Union’s notorious internal problems;
- Public Opinion Surveys on many topics — peace, ecology, economic and social issues, etc.;
- International Security, including environmental and economic problems, resource exhaustion, etc., as well as the traditional concern with military security;
- Formation of a Computerized Data Base on international cooperation and joint projects.
Keen interest was expressed in meetings with other organizations. I was given a report on a substantial meeting held in February with the Center for Soviet-American Dialogue, with workshops on global ecology, energy, the economy, people’s diplomacy and various other problems. Alexander Mikitin recognizes Science for Peace as the natural Canadian counterpart to the SPC Research Centre, and expressed great enthusiasm for arranging workshops or roundtables; topics suggested include: pollution of lakes and rivers (Baikal/Great Lakes); Arctic issues; acid rain; European security (there was special interest in the fact that Science for Peace has a small but significiant membership of political scientists); conflict resolution (Meech Lake/AzerbaijanArmorg). When I remarked that these would be small affairs, with little expectation of any considerable public participation or media attention, he assured me that this was just what they wanted — in fact he suggested a venue in a small university town away from the distractions of the metropolis, with 3 or 4 Soviet participants (Waterloo, Kingston?).
2) Peace Research Institute Moscow (PRIM)
This organization was founded within the last year. I met the Director, Professor Alexander K. Kislov (a historian), who is also Deputy Director of the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, where PRIM is presently housed. The Institute replaces the Scientific Council on Peace and Disarmament Research, and the concern expressed by the Director lest PRIM grow too large and bureaucratic suggests that this may have been the fate of the earlier organization. He envisages PRIM eventually as having about 10 staff members, working mostly on contract, with rapid publication of their research findings.
These two organizations will join the Academy of Sciences Committee (Soviet Scientists for Peace Against the Nuclear Threat: CSS) as members of the Science for Peace International Network (SPIN). I was unable to arrange a meeting with the Chairman of CSS, Vice-President of the Academy of Sciences Yuri A. Osipian, since he was deeply involved in the intense political activity in Moscow this summer.
Science for Peace can expect to receive the future publications of both organizations which I encouraged them to send also to the more active members of SPIN. We should also endeavour to establish a computer data link with the Soviet Peace Committee. They are now exchanging data with US groups, but not yet Canadian.
I should strongly emphasize the very different nature of Soviet Peace Committee from the organization we once knew — its renaissance provides yet further evidence that ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ are not just empty words, but ideas now being put into practice with vigour and determination. When, for example, I asked for SPC literature and found there was none, the reason was most interesting: the old literature was regarded as propaganda of little significance now, and the new literature is not yet available because of the tremendous difficulty in getting things published in Moscow, where innumerable new organizations have sprung up, each putting out its own literature.
The Russian scholar will recognize the syndrome from previous historical experience — everything ‘before the resolution’ is abandoned and the world is to be created anew. This time however is different — there is no violence. Science for Peace should assist in this process of reconstruction and democratisation by engaging in the interaction and exchanges that have been suggested.
The Dalai Lama and Peace
George Woodcock ‘A blueprint for a better tomorrow’, The Globe and Mail, April 11) writes that the Dalai Lama, following his Nobel Prize speech, spoke of his dreams of a neutral Tibet — a Zone of Ahisma (=Non-Harming) or peace — where peace on three levels might be achieved: —
peace among human beings by the transformation of the Tibetan plateau into a militarily neutral zone; peace between humanity and the other species by turning Tibet into the world’s largest park of biosphere; peace between humanity and the earth by forbidding technologies that produce hazardous wastes.
Woodcock points out that Tibet is
… now one of the most militarized parts of the world, occupied by at least 250,000 Chinese troops; it is the site of atomic-testing grounds; its people are kept down with even greater rigor than the other subjects of the ruthless gerontocrats in Beijing.
Woodcock goes on to mention the pristine environment of a Tibet until the 1960’s that had unravaged forests, great untouched herds of deer, antelope, bear, snow leopards and wild asses that roamed unthreatened because the ‘devout Buddhist compassion for all living beings reigned supreme.’
He further observes that, although all these wonders have been sadly damaged by the Chinese rulers, the events in Europe of recent years ‘have taught us the possibility of the impossible.’ Therefore, he reasons — and aids his arguments by reference to such longtime success stories of neutral countries as Switzerland, Sweden, Austria and Costa Rica — it is perhaps not too much to hope that Tibet may be healed and freed. Extending such hopes to a wider stage, Woodcock includes the possibility of finding ways to place among neutralized and conserved zones the Amazonian and African rain forests, the Arctic and the Antarctic.
Then comes his ‘big’ idea:
Can we apply the same hope to Canada? … like Sweden and Switzerland and Costa Rica we are indefensible if any power chooses to attack us, and like them we might find a safer role in becoming a zone of peace and communication. We could not win a war, but we might help to keep a peace, as in his own way the Dalai Lama has done by keeping his people’s hopes and culture intact, even in exile, and without a word of war.
Low-Level Flying: The Goose Bay Base
Rick Cober-Baumann, director of the Inner Resource Centre at Sheshatshit, said in May that ‘the Innu are saying we worked hard to generate support and we’ve been heard … Certainly people here are glad to hear NATO is not coming here.’ Ian Strachan, one of those who supported the Happy Valley — Goose Bay NATO base, denied, however, that the efforts of the Innu had influenced NATO against establishment of the base that would have boosted low flights of high speed military jets from 7000 to 40,000 a year, attributing the decision to ‘political and economic considerations that had nothing to do with complaints’ (Kevin Cox, The Globe and Mail, May 23). The Department of National Defence statement on NATO’s reasons also refers to ‘technical, financial and geographic factors.’
While neither the Innu nor those who attempted to assist them in their efforts can be sure at this point how effective they may have been, it seems unlikely in these times that the efforts will have been entirely without impact and influence. No doubt that will be the inference of minority groups with grievances who believe their case is just, and the present outcome will certainly not discourage them for future projects.
We had declarations from the NATO chiefs during May that ‘the Cold War is over’, and the July declaration issued by the NATO summit meeting made the following main points (Guardian Weekly, July 15) –
- NATO has asked the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact Allies to sign a joint peace declaration committing all signatories to non-aggression.
- NATO has invited Gorbachev and other East European leaders to address its top decision-making body, and to set up offices in Brussels to liaise with NATO.
- Manfred Woerner, secretary general, will visit Moscow on July 14 to brief Gorbachev.
- Nuclear arms will be ‘weapons of last resort’, moving away from the ‘flexible response’ doctrine, and the US will withdraw all nuclear artillery shells from Europe if the Soviet Union does the same.
- Once a treaty is signed on conventional forces in Europe, NATO will commit itself on troop levels in a united Germany, and seek talks on further cuts. It will move away from a strategy of ‘forward defence’ and develop smaller, more mobile multinational units.
- NATO wants the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) to have a secretariat to service regular high-level consultations, a mechanism to monitor elections, a centre for the prevention of conflict, and a parliamentary assembly of Europe.
Despite the important implications of these shifts in NATO’s perspectives, the Canadian Defence Minister, William McKnight has indicated that Canada is very unlikely to reduce its military budget or, as an immediate measure, unilaterally withdraw its NATO troops (Carol Goar, The Toronto Star, April 14). McKnight cites the jobs already performed by the armed services — ‘search and rescue; maritime patrols; emergency evacuations (of civilians); … preventing illicit drugs from entering the country; cleaning up oil spills and other natural disasters; and participating in peace-keeping missions ….’ (He might now add civilian police actions!). All this costs Canadians less than one third as much in taxes per capita as Americans pay for their armed services.
Nevertheless, polls taken early in 1990 showed 66 per cent of Canadians favouring reduced military spending, and if McKnight is putting forward a multiplicity of non-military roles as justification for continuation of existing armed services, a very full and nationally-discussed table of priorities should be available for consideration by politicians of all parties and their constituents. McKnight is, in fact, ‘promising to enunciate Canada’s basic defence priorities by the end of the year.’ It is not only vital that this be done, but that the Minister adhere to his intent. McKnight has indicated as basic needs
… a professional force in three environments; land sea and air. It will have to be trained in a primary (combat) role and … continue to have equipment to allow the force to function.
We have national roles to fulfill, as well as the ongoing support of our allies. And that may well mean, over a short period, continued presence in Europe. It will definitely mean being involved in peacekeeping because that is something the world looks to Canada to provide.
We cannot really fault the continuation in international peacekeeping forces, but we do need to know its costs, present and future, relative to those of continuing in NATO forces and the non-military service tasks McKnight mentions. For, if these latter tasks are to be permanently and consistently factored into the armed forces’ budget they could rapidly become much more expensive than now. Then we could, and should, expect public debate on whether the budget for non-military tasks must continue to be found by adjustments within an existing total or will necessitate an overall increase — in which case there might arise important opposition from Canadian taxpayers.
As far as Canada in NATO is concerned, Leonard V. Johnson (Major-General, ret.) has written (The Globe and Mad, April 10) that Canada is not militarily threatened now, nor will it be in the foreseeable future; that the ‘nuclear threat, always remote, arises solely because Canada lies between the United States and the Soviet Union …’; ‘that the Warsaw Pact is no threat to Canada.’ However, Johnson argues that
… if all the costs of recruitment, training, airlift, supply, communications, reinforcement and protection of sea lanes were counted, as they should be, then the total cost attributable to European defence would be at lest half of the defence budget, upward of 86-billion a year. This expenditure is no longer justified by military necessity.
The Future Welfare of NATO Personnel
Olivia Ward (The Toronto Star, April 8) notes that
… while North Americans are arguing about the future, thousands of returned Soviet soldiers and their families are surviving in tents on military bases where running water is a luxury. Others simply have been discharged to find new jobs and lives in a threadbare economy where starvation is making a comeback.
As for the US –
Urgent action on demobilization is unlikely. The most popular scenario … is for gradual reductions that would let the troops find new postings in the United States, without the kind of turmoil suffered by the unprepared and underdeveloped Soviet Union.
Even disarmament groups lobbying for conversion from the military economy consider troop returns a non-issue. ‘The big problem is defence contracting’, said Dr. Betty Lall of the New York-based Council on Economic Priorities. ‘We assume the personnel will come back, and new people won’t be recruited. The force would shrink by attrition.’
The one million troops that have been in Europe are supposed to be reduced to 565,000 by year’s end, the Soviet and US troops to approximately similar levels of less than 200,000 each. In light of this, it becomes difficult to see why Canadian forces will not soon have to undergo a phased withdrawal, also. However, as a country with a much wealthier economy than the USSR and much more concerned with social welfare than the US, it behooves Canada to ensure that its eliminated troops receive generous opportunities for retraining or job resettlement as required.
Concept Trends in Australian National Security
Frederic Bobin (Guardian Weekly, April 1) writing on Australia’s defence policy points out that with the ‘imminent demise of ANZUS (the defence treaty that binds the US, Australia and New Zealand), Australia is looking towards a new defence policy of its own that will give it greater autonomy.’ Since 1987 Australian forces have been moving to the northern part of the county.
Two airbases have recently been opened at Curtin and Tindal, a third is due to be established at Cape York Peninsula, and a cavalry regiment is to be stationed at Darwin.
Naval force redistribution will emphasize defence westward towards the Indian Ocean. Already, ‘Exercise Kangaroo’ with 23,000 Australian and 2,000 American troops has provided a large-scale test of the new arrangements.
What the author terms ‘pacifist circles’ are supposedly alarmed at these trends towards ‘neomilitarism’, but Defence Minister Kim Beazely has discounted such criticism, claiming the projects are defensive, as confirmed by the 2.3 per cent of gross domestic product that supports the military.
It seems that the driving force in a re-vamping of the military is ‘increasing instability in the area … illustrated by the recent crisis in the Fiji Islands, Vanatu and Papua New Guinea. Each time Australian troops were put on alert, ready to intervene if necessary and evacuate Australian nationals.’
Canberra nowadays identifies Indonesia and Papua New Guinea as ‘the principal strategic lines.’ The Soviet Union is now ‘practically seen as a natural partner in the region’ and recently there has been a considerable rapprochement between Australia and France.
Global Change and its Consequences
Paul Brown (Guardian Weekly, May 27) describes findings of a ‘confidential United Nations report on global warming.’ Listed as effects are severe winter storms common in Britain, the possibility of malaria and other tropical diseases being established in the south and cereal crops being extinguished by drier conditions in the east. Deserts could spread to various Mediterranean countries, European ski areas will disappear and the subtropics will become greatly extended northwards. Although, in the terms of this report some places — notably Canada and the Soviet Union — may benefit economically from expansion of crop-growing areas, especially for cereals, there may be major disruptions of societies because of disease, water shortages, shoreline erosion, coastal flooding and loss of agricultural land. Northern forests will be badly damaged, many mammal species will die because of habitat loss and, overall, ‘loss of diversity will be a characteristic of rapid climate changes.’
Rivers will disappear, lakes (including the Great Lakes) will shrink or dry up. Air pollution will worsen and together with radiation increases, permitted by ozone depletion, will adversely affect human health.
All this plays to the sort of analysis attempted by T. Homer-Dixon elsewhere in this number of the Bulletin and offers a prospect of generally deteriorating human environments that, taken together with rising world populations, increasing politicization, bellicosity and arms production among a growing group of nations points to a scenario of continuing international tension and friction. The precise conditions of our collective existence may change a lot over the next century, and our crises may change their nature and their main foci. But even if some things were to improve a lot, we can hardly expect a golden age, and indeed a realistic view of the physical future of the Earth suggests much global instability, against which we can expect innumerable problems of human peace and justice will have to be worked out.
Trips to Mars?
In 1989, President George Bush stated that ‘the only footprints on the Moon are American footprints’ and ‘it is America’s destiny to lead.’ These remarks were associated with his call for ‘a sustained programme of manned exploration of the Solar System and … the permanent settlement of space.’ This would be seen as including the establishment of a permanent Lunar base and an expedition to Mars. Excerpts from two recent letters (Nature 1990, Vol. 345, p. 760) are relevant.
The cost of a manned mission to Mars is currently estimated at $500,000 million and rising … There are no scientific grounds for the mission, it being generally agreed that robots can perform scientific tasks in space as well as or better than human beings, at far less cost and no risk to life… A manned expedition to Mars is a fifteenth century response to a twentieth century problem.
The justifying arguments usually given for a manned mission are political and metaphysical. They include appeals to national pride, assurances that a manned Mars mission will fulfill human destiny, and that collaboration with the Soviets in this venture is important for world peace, and other highly dubious claims. Bruce Murray, in his recent ‘manifesto’ (Nature 345, 199: 1990) adds vicarious adventure to this list. He thus confirms what some of us have long believed — that public entertainment is one of the real motives for manned spaceflight.
Division of Biology
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, California 91125, USA
… President Bush wants to send a few astronauts to Mars so that they can walk around for a bit and come back loaded with rocks. Yet modern North American space policy ignores a far more justifiable goal for human presence in space: trying to make that presence both materially and economically self-sufficient. A trip to Mars would require only an elaboration of existing technologies on an enormous infusion of government money. But a small independent colony, placed wherever it could function best, employing as yet undeveloped biotechnology to recycle wastes and grow its own food, would be an incomparable scientific achievement.
We don’t need more rocks here on Earth. We need to find solutions to Earth’s environmental problems. Lessons in self-sufficiency, learned by biologists and engineers in a small test-tube colony in space, might provide some of those solutions.
Charles A. Gardner
Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology
University of Michigan Medical School
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA
Summary of Lecture by Ross Smyth
Past Pres., World Federalists of Canada
Past Pres., United Nations Assn. (Montreal)
Loyola Jesuit Institute for Studies in International Peace
Lonergan College, Concordia University
April 5, 1990
Canada comes nowhere near its leadership potential to help move our tiny planet into an era of peace and prosperity throughout the 1990’s and into the 21st century. As an important middle power we need a clear mission, a long-term plan.
For the year 2000 most Canadians would choose a world with peace and justice. Our policies should aim in that direction.
The postwar period up to Lester Pearson’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize has been described as the golden age of Canadian foreign policy and diplomacy. Now we need a new challenge which would make our internal problems such as the Meech Lake accord seem less significant. That challenge could be a more imaginative and creative external affairs policy.
Decade of International Law
The Decade of International Law proclaimed by the United Nations provides such an opportunity and could lead to global application of the rule of law including the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Two important factors should influence our choice of goals and policies as people everywhere become increasingly interdependent.
First, we must abandon the old concepts of security and national sovereignty. The common security of all humanity and the rule of law must replace war and the threat of war in order to release resources for human development and to save the planet from environmental disaster.
Second, we must link freedom with justice on a worldwide basis. We must no longer tolerate the growing gap between rich and poor, either at home or abroad, and the resulting cruel death by starvation of 40,000 children daily.
Canadians must recognize themselves among the more fortunate on a planet in crisis suffering grave problems unmanageable by states acting separately. We require a new level of cooperation possible through a more effective institutional framework. We must view the world as one society, embracing all of humanity in its diversity. The ideals of civilized community life must be applied on a global basis.
Democratize the UN
Canada should advocate much more actively the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and the development of dispute settlement by a stronger United Nations system.
Exploding the myth of nuclear deterrence should become a central theme of Canada’s foreign policy. Douglas Roche, until recently Canada’s disarmament ambassador, claims this western strategy prevents genuine nuclear disarmament and will threaten the peace.
Countries such as Iraq and others will continue to seek more powerful weapons until plans for common security and the effective abolition of nuclear weapons are in place.
The World Federalists of Canada and six other cosponsors of the Nuclear Weapons Legal Action (including the United Church of Canada) are asking our government to seek a Supreme Court of Canada opinion on the legality of the first use of nuclear weapons in Canadian and International law.
Admiral Eugene Carroll, Center for Defense Information, Washington, told the US Senate foreign relations committee that pursuit of deterrence is the engine of the arms race, and an end to all nuclear testing would prevent the creation of new families of nuclear weapons.
Comprehensive Test Ban
The 1963 partial test ban treaty prevents all nuclear testing except underground. A comprehensive test ban treaty would cut off qualitative advancements. Thirty-nine countries (excluding Canada) have initiated an amendment conference to be held in two sessions in June and January. The US and UK have indicated probable veto of any such treaty. Canada would have strong public support in trying to convince them otherwise.
The nuclear non-proliferation treaty of 1968 sets a double standard of two classes of states, the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ It expires in 1995. The ‘haves’ have not lived up to the letter or the spirit of the treaty by any significant reduction in nuclear arms and this leads poorer countries to seek cheaper weapons of mass destruction. Just as Canada publicly opposed South Africa’s racial policies, we should oppose weapons of mass destruction more vigorously.
Need Public Defence Review
Canada urgently needs a defence review with broad public participation. Defence policy should be subsidiary to external affairs policy to reduce a repetition of the 1987 defence white paper which outlined unrealistic plans for increased expenditures and commitments well into the next century.
Canada still lacks a plan for conversion to peace. Lack of planning and external defence liaison resulted in the abrupt closing of military bases in P.E.I. and Manitoba creating local hardship. Our postwar demobilization demonstrated that massive shifts from a war to peace economy are possible.
The government created the impression of no change in Canada’s 1990 defence budget because the five per cent increase represented inflation; yet it amounted to over $600,000,000 while a few millions were taken away from native and women’s groups, and large reductions were made in funds to the provinces for health and education. The cold war has thawed. Where’s the peace dividend?
President Bush continues to argue for a $300 billion defense budget, yet Admiral La Rocque, Director of the Center for Defense Information, made proposals to Congress for a $200 billion budget that would still maintain a powerful, versatile military force. In a small way, we mimic the US.
The respected US Physicians for Social Responsibility said: ‘The US is first in military spending and nuclear testing, but falls to 4th in literacy rate, 13th in maternal mortality rate, 17th in infant mortality rate, and 31st in percentage of infants with low birthweight.’
Canada continues to waste over one billion dollars annually by keeping its NATO troops in Europe. We should admit that military alliances are becoming obsolete, and work through the UN on new thinking and new plans based on the ‘common security’ of all states. We should not encourage transforming NATO into another non-military rich man’s club further discriminating against the poorer states.
Of more than 160 countries, Canada ranks 12th in military spending and only 48th in size. Our plan should reduce spending and possibly increase size. Expensive offensive weaponry should be phased out in favor of a purely defensive defence force. Eventually all states should maintain armed forces only on their own territory. International peacekeeping under UN command should become an even more important role for Canada,. We could consider offering training schools for UN peacekeepers. The suggestion of Dr. M.W. Ashford for an Emergency Response Corps as a fourth unarmed defence branch to combat natural and man-made disasters should be considered.
Canada’s useful work in verification and ‘Open Skies’ should be expanded to press for open seas and open space which, if ever adopted, would make unnecessary the billions of dollars spent on intelligence and spying, always a threat to open government.
Lacking courage, Canada took another wrong step last year in approving US tests of the Advanced (Stealth) Cruise Missile over Canadian territory.
Now ranking 13th as an arms exporter, Canada should make new efforts to cease the arms flow. Over $20 billion worth of armaments are bought annually by Third World regimes, many engaged in conflict or human rights violations. Canada should be working for a UN arms register, an arms control agency, an international satellite monitoring agency, and demilitarization of the Arctic.
By the 21st century, the term superpower will no longer refer to military strength; and the world will survive disaster by war only if the United Nations becomes the indisputable major peacekeeper. The US now impedes the UN by being over $500 millions in arrears in their financial commitment — the cost of one Stealth bomber.
The underfinanced United Nations should have revenues from sources other than government contributions. Canada could propose a small surcharge on international postage and other means to provide more stable financing.
Environmental Crisis Looms
Today scientists view the earth as a living organism like a giant human body. If a part becomes ill, it affects the whole. Through the slow destruction of the environment, the earth is in the early stages of cancer. Many distinguished scientists give us only ten years to reverse the trend. We now link the rain forests of Brazil to our future. Yet in our method of accounting, the trees, almost as important to life as water, are worth nothing until they are cut down. We need better yardsticks. The deteriorating global environment will point increasingly to the need for effective world law.
The developed states who have created most of the pollution are becoming alarmed at the lack of anti-pollution controls in the less affluent. Many of these developing states pay more in interest to the banks of the developed world than their export earnings. The net transfer from poor to rich last year reached $40 billion. The bottom forty of the developing states ended the 1980’s poorer in per capita terms than at the beginning of the decade.
Where’s the justice in this situation? Over a billion people or one in five live in extreme poverty, and just as many have no access to clean water. As UNICEF recently noted, the funds spent on tobacco advertising would be sufficient to provide preventive health care to the 100 million children at risk in the 1990s. A reduction of military spending of 10 per cent could provide housing for the 100 million homeless people. Our priorities are wrong.
To create employment for their people the poorer contries will give priority to development. The report of the Rotary Peace Forum held in Toronto last fall revealed that the developed world must help the developing states to the tune of billions of dollars, particularly with sustainable development and environmental protection. It’s in our own interest to do so.
An American journalist wrote: ‘The greenhouse effect and CFC’s are a hell of a lot more important to the future of the world than the US budget deficit.’ This also applies to Canada.
As a new member of the Organization of American States (OAS), Canada must take this opportunity to increase trade and aid with Latin America and to act as a moderating influence on the US tendency towards unilateral action and military solutions.
The public must not leave external affairs policy to the experts who often get so immersed in detail and brush-fires that ‘they cannot see the forest for the trees.’
Our ultimate goal in external policy should be the transformation of the United Nations into a true world parliament representing the global interests of all humanity. This transformation will be a difficult process because national politicians jealously guard their turf and resist transfer of power from one political level to another. We require far greater public pressure but it may not be long in coming. The world is changing very rapidly.
Yuri Kanin, Nature’s Moscow correspondent reported on Chernobyl (With Dosimeter in the Sarcophagus’, Nature, Vol. 339, 171-172, 1990). He describes the events thta have occurred recently as regards returns and resettlements in the region, continuing programmes of decontamination, rehabilitation, and research. Excerpts follow.
Chernobyl, with almost 800 years of history, had a predisaster population of 18,300. Now, it houses 6,000 people on a scheduled basis: 15 days in the zone and 15 days with their families outside. The buildings are repeatedly decontaminated.
Although radioactive objects have been decontaminated and removed and short-lived isotopes have disappeared, the ‘caesium period’ has now set in. (Long-lived caesium-137 and caesium-134 will be the chief contaminating isotopes for a considerable time.)
The town will, of course, remain. My firm belief is that it must become the centre of an international research site. Many of those to whom I have talked in Moscow, Chernobyl, Pripyat and at the nuclear station are coming round to the idea. There is undoubted interest abroad.
But some people have already returned to live in villages in the 30-km zone, happy to be at their hearths again. About 1,000 people are now living with elevated radioactivity. They are supplied with uncontaminated food and are regarded as brave people defying an invisible threat. But why do not the authorities exercise their authority? Most of them may be old people who have found it difficult to put down roots in new places, and the levels of radioactivity in the villages may be low. But people do not stay at home all the time; they go to the woods to pick mushrooms, they tend grazing cattle and many of them drink locally produced milk. Grandchildren are already paying visits, to take a country holiday and breathe ‘fresh air.’ The zone is no place for permanent living.
(In the town of Pripyat) the famous blue spruce trees are blue only at the top, with the rest of their needles green as in pine trees, but half as long again.
Kompleks (a communal service enterprise at Pripyat) is now creating a protective buffer zone of forest belts around the nuclear plant and Pripyat. It is also trying out a novel decontamination technology … three years ago, when the activity was high and the work dangerous, decontamination meant spraying, the removal of topsoil or both. Now the objective is to use electrochemical, acid, alkali and high-temperature and polymer treatments to process the waste into a compact mass. Then, extending the network of burial grounds can be avoided while the emplacement of compacted waste in fixed storage will be much more reliable.
Next July, Spetsatom (another communal enterprise) plans to test in the Chernobyl Zone an installation for soil-decontamination using infra-sound. It can separate, fraction by fraction, radioactive particles ranging from 20 to 400 mm. One installation can decontaminate 100 tones of soil an hour (or in one year, could treat soil to a depth of 0.2 m over an area of 100 km^2^).
An expert group from the Moscow-based Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy has been drilling holes into the bowels of the destroyed reactor. Why should anything of this sort be done?
Igor Kambulov, Head of the Kurchatov Institute group, says that the objective is partly research and partly the enhancement of the safety of the structure. The group plans to tell by drilling the exact location of the fuel mass. ‘We have found that its state is stable and subcritical by a wide margin’, so that a spontaneous chain reaction is highly improbable. But to enhance the degree of subcriticality … the group has been inserting further neutron absorbers … ‘the maximum temperature of the fuel is 150°C and it is falling steadily.’
You understand how difficult it is to control (radiation in the vicinity of the reactor) and realize how indebted we are to the brave men working there … until they receive the maximum permissible dose of radiation. Kambulov told me that the personnel working inside the Sarcophagus had been replaced five times since 1988.
And, lastly –
Changes in the flora and fauna of the zone are of special interest to researchers … a handful of enthusiasts are working on the greenhouse farm of the city of Pripyat, also a very interesting subject; they have many plans and ideas, but for the time being lack the necessary funds and instruments. But I believe they have started something. Chernobyl is a dark episode in the history of mankind which may yet serve as a world laboratory and so help prevent similar accidents.
Vera Rich, writing from Cracow (‘Concern Grows Over Health of “Chernobyl Children”, New Scientist, April 21, 1990), states that
In Palessie, in southern Byelorussia; between 50 and 70 per cent of children now have health problems. About 8 percent have thyroid complications in forms that had not been observed before Chernobyl. The incidence of cancers and congenital deformities was significantly high, the seminar was told. Meanwhile common illnesses had become up to 20 percent more common in the area because people’s immune systems had been weakened by radiation exposure …
… researchers estimate that one-fifth of the children in Byelorassia had received 10 gray or more since the accident — 10 times as much as would be needed to cause illness, and about 100,000 times as much as people normally encounter in a year from background radiation.
by F.W. Rudmin, accepted 1990, Peace Research. (excerpts)
In this article, Dr. Rudmin employs a 53-year-old data base of 10.9 variables measured in 71 tribal cultures by L.W. Simmons in a re-analysis using modern techniques of cluster analysis. ‘A conservative analysis showed the prevalence of warfare to correlate (p < .01) with 18 variables which clustered as 1) vesting of immanent power, 2) designating dispensible people, 3) agricultural society, and 4) agricultural wealth. There was little support for theories that war is related to patriarchy or the subjugation of women.’
Some excerpts from the article follow –
Of all types of cultures, it is the hunting-gathering people who are least prone to war …, and the salient characteristic of hunting-gathering peoples is their egalitarianism … They have little social stratification and minimal systems of social authority. It is the more complex, stratified, politically structured societies that are prone to war …
To make killing and being killed bearable it may be necessary to structure thought and social institutions internally so that people are devalued and dispensible. It is also possible that devaluation of the enemy in combat and the capture of devalued human beings during war brings into a society lower castes, slaves, and sacrificial victims. However, this would seem a weak explanation. American Indians, for example, had warrior traditions, were fierce combatants, took scalps, but adopted captives into family relations …
And (in commenting on a positive correlation between the influence of women in government and war) –
This study is not alone in these findings. In 1935, Margaret Mead wrote … belief that women are naturally more interested in peace is undoubtedly artificial, part of the whole mythology that considers women to be gentler than men.’ … Eckhardt (1989) has (also) recently reviewed the literature and found that there is little evidence in the research record for gender explanations of war. He concluded, ‘While warriors and hunters have been largely men, women have cheered on (their) activities and celebrated their victories …’
Finally … there is little evidence that practices of violence and the availability of weapons are correlated with warfare. This would argue against those peace researchers and peace activists, usually psychologists and psychiatrists, who equate violence with war … violence is distinct from war. The former is evident in all societies; the latter is socially organized and socially sanctioned. Violence and weapons may be necessary conditions of war, but they are not sufficient conditions.
Canada recently expressed its intention of joining the Organization of American States, and thus its recognition of the obligations of members under the charter of that organization. One member, the United States, has by its invasion of Panama, clearly violated its undertakings under that charter, in particular according to the following articles:
3(g): ‘Controversies of an international charter arising from two or more American States shall be settled by peaceful procedures.’
18: ‘No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason, whatsoever, into the internal or external affairs of any other State. The foregoing principle prohibits not only armed force but also any other form of interference or attempted threat against the personality of the State …’
20: ‘The territory of a State is inviolable; it may not be the object, even temporarily, of military occupation or of any other measures of force taken by another State, directly or indirectly on any grounds whatseover.’
The modalities for addressing the ‘Pacific Settlement of Disputes’ are laid out in Chapter V of the charter and include arbitration and judicial settlement. There is provision (Article 56) for special sessions of the General Assembly, called by the Permanent Council, and for meetings of consultation of ministers of foreign affairs, similarly initiated (Article 59). Any member State may initiate such procedures.
Thus mechanisms were clearly in place under the charter for the US to seek peaceful resolution of any grievance it may have had against Panama. It chose instead to use its military power to subvert the clear intentions of the charter to seek peaceful solutions to problems between American States.
In the debate that raged about our joining the OAS, those against joining often claimed that it would put Canada into the position of becoming a supporter of the US policy clearly unlawful and oppressive, and ill-regarded by most Canadians. The alternative view was that Canada could act as an important counter-balance to US interventionism. Here, very quickly, we have a clear test between these positions. Canada’s initial response to this hemispheric crisis have been quite discouraging, expressing as they have an ‘understanding’ for yet another act of international lawlessness. This is not what we expect of the Canadian Government.
Eric Fawcett, Professor of Physics
L. Terrell Gardner, Professor of Mathematics
John Valleau, Professor of Chemistry
University of Toronto
The above was a letter in the Guardian Weekly, January 21, 1990. The letter was based on an earlier letter (December 27, 1989) addressed to the Rt. Hon. Joseph Clark, Minister of State for External Affairs with six signatures. Lack of a reply to the December letter led to a reminder note to Mr. Clark in March 1990. Unfortunately the response which was finally received (dated May 8) referred to Article 51 of the UN Charter which, in addition to Article 21 of the Charter of the OAS ‘permits states to use force in self-defence.’ What External Affairs Minister Clark is referring to here relates to the following (quoted from his letter):
In December 1989, immediately prior to the United States’ military action, the Panamanian National Assembly declared the country to be in a ‘state of war’ with the United States. An off-duty American military officer was killed by members of the Panamanian Defence Forces, and families of other American Servicemen received threats. The lives of American citizens who were stationed in Panama by right of treaty were demonstrated to be in jeopardy. It was apparent that all reasonable and extraordinary diplomatic efforts to negotiate asolution to the crisis in Panama had failed.
Considering the aggression displayed by the regime of General Noriega before December 20, 1989, the Government of Canada accepted the United States’ Government’s explanation of the need to resort to force and expressed regret that the situation has deteriorated to the extent that force was required. We acknowledged that the use of force presented a dangerous precedent, but recognized that the situation in Panama prior to the United States’ intervention was unique.
Well, there we have the explanation of the Canadian Government’s position. It is, of course, easy to appreciate the profound threat a power like Panama would constitute to the safety of the United States.
In Nature Vol. 344, March 1, 1990 appeared three articles on A.D. Sakharov. The main article, by Soviet physicist E.L. Feinberg, entitled ‘The Physicist and the Soviet Citizen’ gives a biographical sketch, a discourse on Sakharov’s scientific work, notes on his political evolution, and his disarmament and human rights activities.
We learn that Sakharov’s father taught physics at high school and university and published several textbooks. His spiritual development was influenced by father, mother and grandmother, all of whom are said to have ‘belonged to the finest layer of the Russian intelligentsia and imparted its traditions to him’. Sakharov was born in Moscow in 1921. Sakharov attended Moscow University and after the war he joined a group headed by the physicist I.E. Tamm to work on the development of high tech weapons. As is well known, he made very important contributions in this field and was ‘generously rewarded by the government — with three Golden Stars of the Hero of Soviet Labour, among other orders and prizes — and in 1953 was elected a full member of the USSR Academy of Sciences.’ Over the period from 1948 to 1968 about 20 years of Sakharov’s life were devoted mainly to perfecting the hydrogen bomb, plus work on the peaceful use of nuclear fusion. But by 1961 he was already coming into conflict with Krushchev over further testing of the bomb. He lost his position when he published abroad ‘Meditations on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom’. He received the Nobel peace prize in 1975 but was sent to Gor’kii to live under constant surveillance following his protests over the invasion of Afghanistan. As everyone knows, he was released by Gorbachev in 1986.
In his scientific work and thought, Sakharov ranged from nuclear fusion to strong magnetic fields, elementary particles, field theory and cosmology. According to Feinberg,
The very trend of his thought was unusual. Moreover, when expressing his ideas he often used to omit some intermediate elements which seemed obvious to himself. Accordingly, at times his arguments at first seemed inconceivable and even plain wrong. Only after further, sometimes rather lengthy reasoning would it become clear that he was right.
Feinberg’s memoir becomes most compelling when he turns to Sakharov’s political evolution and views on disarmament. Pointing out that Sakharov was neither a member of the communist youth organization or the party, he notes that, nevertheless ‘his political views were in accordance with official ideology until almost 1956, the year Khruschev revealed Stalin’s ferocious crimes’. Then, and this is of the greatest interest,
It is absolutely wrong to think (as many people do) that Sakharov’s political activity was a kind of repentance for the ‘sin’ of participation in the bomb making. At that time, as well as later, most physicists believed that the world would not be safe if one power had a monopoly on nuclear weapons. Even in 1944, Neils Bohr was greatly troubled by this, as later were Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell. I remember Landau (who himself has been jailed under Stalin, but who nevertheless took some part in the thermonuclear project) saying to me many times in the 1960s: ‘Good for physicists — they saved the world from war.’
Sakharov was of the same opinion. And then,
I heard at second hand that during his meeting with Edward Teller about one year ago he said to him something of the kind: ‘Essentially, you and I were solving a common problem.’ On another occasion I myself heard him say, ‘Teller is a tragic figure’.
Sakharov’s belief was that one should struggle for non-proliferation, and for reduction of nuclear arsenals as well as of conventional armaments. But he saw this as being possible only in the open world with human rights truly secured. In sum, I am sure that his political activities would have followed the same course even if he had not been involved in the making of the bomb.
V.N. Soyfer in a brief article (‘Against Lysenko’) in the same number of Nalure, notes that as early as 1959 Sakharov was producing calculations of the genetic threat from nuclear test explosions that contradicted the soothing claims of Edward Teller and, as a development of this thinking, he went on to attack Lysenkoism. Soyfer adds that ‘By this time Tamm and Sakharov had become legendary figures in biological circles.’
The third article by M. Frank-Kamenetskii only barely touches on Sakharov the man, but describes the physical environment — ‘an old Russian town that had been stripped of its name and was impersonally referred to (as it still is) as the “facility” or the “mail box”! This high security, defended town was, if you like, a Soviet equivalent of Los Alamos — a community of people working, under tolerably comfortable conditions, on a state-run atomic energy project; the time was 1951 or 1952. The author amusingly describes how scientists forbidden under security regulations from discussing their work when away from their immediate work place, invented a vocabulary of substitution terms so that they could talk of scientific work unimpeded by state security officers. Sakharov was one of the scientists who inhabited this ‘mail box’.
What follows is the text of a letter from Dr. Mike Pearson to Dr. Eric Fawcett. The context is obvious and needs no editorial comment in itself. However, Dr. Fawcett has suggested that it be published as a legitimate commentary on the changes in Science for Peace objectives that are occurring. Dr. Fawcett has also suggested that, as a kind of ‘rejoinder’, the text of a lecture by Dr. T. Homer-Dixon also be published. This seems like a reasonable idea! Readers should also note the review of Dr. Homer-Dixon’s recent long paper on ‘Environmental Change and Violent Conflict’ which is given in the Review section of this number of the Bulletin.
Dr. Eric Fawcett
Science for Peace
University of Toronto
Thanks for sending me the brochure on Science for Peace for 1989-90. If I recall our phone conversation correctly you wanted my comments on it; anyhow, here they are.
Generally, I think it is very good, and my only query concerns the new involvement with environmental matters. In one sense, I suppose this is more or less inevitable, in the sense that as the danger of nuclear war recedes, the threat of ecological disaster looms ever larger. On the other hand, I feel that there are still some very serious peace issues remaining, e.g., verification of arms control, accidental nuclear war, horizontal nuclear proliferation, chemical and biological weapons, and I am afraid that there is a danger of our spreading our limited resources too thinly. After all, we are the only professional body in Canada who can deal with these issues (I am excluding the military!), while there are already several very competent organizations that are concerned with ecological questions.
Actually, I have said all this before, but if there is a consensus that this is the way we should go, then I accept it. But then I think that the name of our organization becomes even more inappropriate than it was. I have always been a little uneasy about it, not least because there is no reference to our being Canadian-based. Also, I know that some people have been turned off by it. My own preference in the past was for something like ‘Canadian Scientists for Peace’. Anyhow, in view of the new orientation what about ‘Canadian Scientists for Global Concerns’?
To summarize, my only criticism of the brochure concerns the first three words! Also, a possible misprint, 5 lines from the bottom of p. 3: ‘untimely death at 96’. Sounds rather strange.
Laboratoire de Physique Nucleaire,
Université de Montréal
Montréal, H3C 3J7
12. 4. 90
Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, University of Toronto, April 1990
The general theme ‘environmental change and security’ encompasses many issues. This is partly because the terms ‘environmental change’ and ‘security’ are imprecise.
Regarding ‘security’, should the Working Group adhere to the rather narrow traditional meaning of the term within political science that emphasizes military activities and safety from overt conflict? Or should we expand the term’s meaning to include such matters as domestic socio-economic well-being, health and intergenerational equity? We might be tempted to broaden the definition, because the possible links between environmental change and security are thereby greatly multiplied, which makes the problem seem more interesting. But such a broadening could make ‘security’ almost synonymous with ‘well-being’ and this could bring too many issues within the Working Group’s ambit
As for the phrase ‘environmental change’, security specialists have usually narrowly interpreted this to mean ‘climate change’. Undoubtedly the Working Group should additionally consider such problems as deforestation and the degradation of agricultural land, as well as problems associated with water resources such as the pollution and overuse of rivers and the depletion of fish stocks.
If we use the standard, somewhat restrictive definition of ‘security’ and a fairly encompassing definition of ‘environmental change’, I see four quite distinct issues the Working Group might address:
- The Possible Effects of Environmental Change on Security. This is the most obvious and, I believe, the most important issue for researchers. There are many scenarios: environmental change may shift the balance of power between nations either regionally or globally, producing instabilities that could lead to war. Or, as global environmental damage becomes more obvious, nations of North and South may quarrel over who is responsible for the damage and who should pay for mitigating it. And poor nations may fight over dwindling and uncertain supplies of water, agriculturally productive land, and fish. In general, environmental change will probably ‘ratchet up’ the level of stress in the international system, increasing the likelihood of conflict and impeding the search for cooperative solutions.
Researchers need to identify here both the mechanisms by which environmental change might affect security and the regions where these mechanisms might operate. In other words, researchers must answer two questions: How will environmental change lead to threats to security? And where will such threats appear?
- The Possible Effects of Security Activities on the Environment. If the first issue above concerns the causal arrow going from environmental change to security, here we are interested in the reverse arrow from security to environmental change. It is increasingly clear that military activities have had a striking impact on the national and global environment. Again researchers need to address the two questions of ‘how?’ and ‘where?’.
- The Opportunity Cost (with Respect to Environmental Protection) of Investing Resources in Security Activities. A number of commentators have juxtaposed current investments in military activities with current investments in environmental protection. This juxtaposition is particularly common now, because people are speculating about the possible uses of the ‘peace dividend’ arising from reduced military spending.
- The Possible Effects of Environmental Change on Our Contemporary Understanding of the International System. Global change could seriously challenge the theory (or ‘discourse’) of international reality that currently constitutes and legitimizes international actors and guides international actions, including states’ security behavior. It may force humankind to revise the whole interlinked network of concepts such as ‘state’, ‘sovereignty’, ‘national interest’, and ‘balance of power’. Global environmental problems may not be adequately explained or solved within this current framework. Researchers could therefore explore the literature on conceptual schemes — both cooperative and conflictual — that humankind might develop as alternatives to our present understanding of international affairs.
As noted, I believe the first issue above — concerning the effects of environmental change on security — is the most important. A number of scholars in North America have begun to address this question. In the United States, Jessica Mathews at the World Resources Institute has written an important article in Foreign Affairs. Janet Brown, also at WRI, and Gareth Porter at American University have prepared a book of four regional case studies.
At Worldwatch, Michael Renner and Jodi Jacobson have been working on environmental security and environmental refugee issues. The Pacific Institute in Berkeley, under the direction of Peter Gleick and Ronnie Lipschultz, is undertaking a number of studies on sustainable resource development and contentious river basins. They are focusing in particular on how states might develop cooperative regimes to resolve environmental disputes. In November, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with the Centre for Global Change at the University of Maryland, convened a large workshop to conduct an introductory and wide-ranging survey of climate change and international security.
In Canada, the Canadian Institute for International Peace and Security recently held a conference (under the direction of Fen Hampson) on climate change, global security, and international institutions. Maurice Strong, in association with IIASA and the World Federation of United Nations Associations, has proposed a World Commission on Global Security. At the Department of Defence, Colonel Ian Cowan and Dr. Chris Tucker have been considering the implications of climate change for Canadian defence policy. And the Peace and Conflict Program at the University of Toronto is planning a multi-year joint research project with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on environmental change and conflict.
Much of this current research in North America is important and constructive, but most is still very preliminary. Even skilled analysts have not penetrated the problem in a creative and insightful way. There seem to be numerous reasons for this, which may be worth considering in our discussions:
- Researchers have emphasized climate change to the neglect of severe terrestrial and aquatic environmental problems.
- Researchers have not clearly recognized the need to separate their analysis of the mechanisms by which environmental change could lead to conflict from their analysis of the regions that will be most susceptible to particular kinds of environmentally-derived conflict. In other words, they have not adequately separated the ‘how’ question from the ‘where’ question.
- Causation is very indirect; that is, there are many causal steps between a specific environmental stress and a specific threat to security. However, the underlying influence of environmental factors may be great.
- It is difficult for researchers to estimate the complex interactions and multiple social effects of diverse and simultaneous environmental problems.
- Environmental degradation and its social effects (including conflict) cannot be clearly separated from other variables, including population growth, culture, and the prevailing institutional arrangements and social relations in a society. There are complex feedback relationships between all these variables.
- When investigating causal paths from environmental change to conflict, it becomes clear that physical and social variables are linked in ways that cannot be readily understood given current natural and social science epistemologies and ontologies. In particular, it seems difficult to develop defensible causal generalizations conjoining types of physical event with types of intentional action.
- Moreover, understanding the mechanisms linking environmental change and conflict involves specifying causal links across levels of analysis usually regarded as quite independent.
- To avoid platitudes, analysts must acquire considerable knowledge of a wide range of disciplines, from atmospheric science, to agricultural hydrology, to international relations. Specifically, they must make use of the numerous relevant conflict theories available to social scientists.
- Unfortunately, the ‘realist’ theory that is often used to understand security problems is largely inadequate for identifying and explaining the links between environmental change and conflict.
Realism permeates most current thinking about international relations (including regime theory); it focuses on states as rational maximizers of power in an anarchic system (that is, in a system without common government). According to this view, behavior within the system is principally a function of the structure of power relations between the constituent states. This perspective has a number of consequences when realist theorists consider environmental issues.
First the emphasis on states means that theorists think of the world as divided into territorially distinct, mutually exclusive countries, not broader environmental regions or systems. Transboundary environmental problems tend to be selectively deemphasized, because they often cannot be associated with or linked to a particular country, and they do not have any easily conceptualized impact on the structure of economic and military power relations between states. These problems are often just not seen, and when seen, there is pressure to regard them as not of overriding importance.
Furthermore, because realism assumes states are unitary actors, events internal to states, which may be produced by environmental change, are also deemphasized. For example, the internal social dislocation — the fracturing of societies — that may be caused by environmental degradation in the developing world is not clearly recognized as a potential threat to security.
Finally, realism’s use of a simple rational choice model to explain the behavior of actors hinders analysts’ use of non-rational-choice theories derived from psychology and social-psychology that may help us understand the potential conflict implications of environmental change.
In light of the above comments, it appears that researchers should begin their work by carefully specifying the mechanisms by which environmental change may lead to conflict. This will require an unprecedented meshing of knowledge from the natural and social sciences.
I am directing my own research along these lines by identifying the most important and probable causal paths from environmental change to national and international conflict. I am tracing, in other words, the causal steps from an environmental problem (such as the degradation of agricultural land) to certain types of social effect (for example, large migrations of people across borders) to certain kinds of conflict (such as ethnic conflicts when migratory groups clash with indigenous populations).
Such a ‘causal-path analysis’ shows that some important issues have been neglected. For example, while researchers have often suggested that environmental change may lead to interstate conflict by producing scarcities of essential resources (such as water), a more insidious and more powerful cause of conflict — at least for developing societies without the capital to adapt to environmental degradation — may be the slow impoverishment that such degradation will produce. This impoverishment will lead to an ever-widening gulf between the standard of living people expect and the standard they have actually attained. Such ‘relative deprivation’ is considered by many theorists to be a prime cause of civil strife. And in our tightly interdependent world, civil strife rarely has only local consequences; it often spills over into wider regional and international conflict.
After undertaking a preliminary causal-path analysis, researchers will be better equipped to begin a case-by-case regional analysis; that is, they will be better able to ask the ‘where’ question. Taken together, these causal-path and regional analyses will provide an excellent foundation for constructive and far-sighted thought about policy recommendations to governments in both the North and South.
‘Environmental Change and Violent Conflict’ by Thomas F. Homer-Dixon; prepared for the Workshop on ‘Environmental Change and Threats to Security’ at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, March 1990.
Commenting on Fukuyama’s article ‘The End of History’, Homer-Dixon notes that during the next half-century, we can expect a rise in human population to nine billion, major decreases in irrigated agricultural land, virgin forests, degradation of freshwater resources, collapse of fisheries, probable significant climate change, all occurring against a background of increases in nuclear and chemical weapons and fossil fuel storages. He concludes that
In the next decades, environmental problems may come to dominate over all other factors affecting the international system. Contrary to Fukuyama, the most dramatic episodes of our historical saga are probably yet to come; and the script will be written by material not ideological factors.
This, from the Introduction to Homer-Dixon’s article indicates the drive of his thinking and its significance for Science for Peace. His question: ‘Will large-scale environmental changes produce violent national and international conflict?’ lies at the heart of his analysis.
In terms of method, Homer-Dixon contends that analysts of global-societal change have failed ‘to separate … the mechanisms by which environmental change could lead to conflict from their analysis of the regions that will be most susceptible.’ Moreover, he is critical of current tendencies to consider world problems on a state-by-state basis and to concentrate on ‘simple scarcity conflicts’. Homer-Dixon maintains that the emphasis should be on ‘strategic’ environmental resources — water, agricultural land, fisheries — disputes over which lead to conflicts within states (e.g. the Philippines, over forestry abuses) and between states (e.g. Turkey and Syria, over the water of the Euphrates).
Homer-Dixon selects for special consideration three principal types of theories by social scientists among a typology of thirteen ‘common theories of conflict’ which he proposes; these three are: (i) frustration-aggression theories; (ii) group-identity theories; (iii) structural theories. He writes that
‘… relative-deprivation and insurgency perspectives together tell us that severe civil strife is likely when 1) there is a clear group structure within a society; 2) the distribution of rewards within the society is regarded by certain of these groups as wholly illegitimate; 3) the balance of power within the society is regarded by these same groups as unstable; that is, they believe there are ‘opportunities’ for increasing their power or overthrowing the structures of authority in the society; and 4) there is the organizational and leadership capacity within these groups to provide them with adequate information and coordination.
Reflecting on the actions of Indian groups within Canada this summer one cannot but be impressed by the aptness of these claims by Homer-Dixon and by his prescience (the article was written much earlier this year). ‘Practical politicians’ are frequently scornful of the theoretical flights of social and political scientists, but that may largely be because their education has been neglected. Indeed, the Canadian Government might do well to ponder Homer-Dixon’s subsequent words:
In addition, by altering group members’ self-perceptions, their understandings of the nature of power, and their assumptions about the possible means to achieve change, leaders can instil the belief that their group will be much more likely to succeed in a contest for power.
Homer-Dixon reveals eminent sensibleness in noting that further research on the relations between environmental change and conflict may sometimes ‘indicate planning to adapt is not a sensible policy response … and that we should move as quickly as possible to prevent environmental disruption.’
In an appendix, Homer-Dixon gives a compact and useful ‘typology of common theories of conflict’ in which he briefly sets forth social and political theories that deal with the individual (innate aggressiveness, aggressive personality, frustration aggression, misperception and cognitive process theories), the group (aggressive-group, group-identity, organizational process, and vested interest theories), and lastly the system of interacting units (structural, Hobbesian-anarchy, spiral-anarchy, communitarian and liberal theories).
Homer-Dixon illustrates his discourse by the use of a number of diagrams that attempt to portray the dynamics of this thesis; the topics or problems addressed include 1) environmental change and human conflict, 2) environmental problems facing the developing world, 3) social effects of environmental change in developing countries, 4) hypotheses regarding the effects of environmental change on agricultural production, 5) hypotheses on effects of environmental change on productivity in developing countries, 6) feedback between social effects, 7) types of conflict arising from environmental change in the developing world. Although these schemes are presented in the general form of systems analysis diagrams or flow charts, replete with arrows to indicate cause and effect, feedback, etc., and are clearly designed, I find them less useful than the body of the text. I think this is because many of them have ‘too many boxes’ and become confusing both because of this and because of the too-complex mix of categories of information they imply — from very concrete and definite to extremely speculative.
In attached pages, not specifically listed as an appendix, Homer-Dixon has included a bevy of figures and tables of data and information about environmental change, ranging from growth of the human population to change in temperature and CO2 (and other greenhouse gases), ozone, chlorofluorocarbon chemistry and per capita water availability, to the Milankovitch Cycles (effects of Earth’s orbital change on the extent of the tropics). The material collected here is very useful as background. The paper includes a comprehensive reference list.
Homer-Dixon has offered an important service to those interested in the mainsprings of conflict in a world in which change — economics, socio-political, and environmental — is obvious, rapid, frequently uncontrollable, and usually to be viewed with apprehension. We cannot stop or suspend change, and there are many changes that persons of good will and peaceful intent will want to foster and expedite — if, in many cases, these are principally changes in attitude. But Homer-Dixon performs a capital function in bringing home to political scientists the inescapable realities of physical environmental changes that form a background to world problems, while reminding them that to operate as thinkers in today’s world they cannot afford to ignore the accumulated knowledge of past conflicts and their interpretation in the light of modern social, biological and economic understanding. We can look forward to much of interest from this stimulating author in the future.
Alan H. Weatherley
‘Strategic Defence for the 1990s’ by Gregory Canavan and Edward Teller, Nature, 344, April 19, 199, pp. 699-704.
In this long article Canavan and Teller analyse the ‘cost-effectiveness’ of ‘nuclear attack missiles, … space-based defensive missiles designed to collide with the missiles as they leave the atmosphere, … anti-satellite missiles directed against space-based defenders and … the costs of (the) passive defensive measures of hardening, evasive manoeuvre and decoys, singly and in combination’, as featured by space-based defenders.
This mission has macabre undertones, of course. Thus, the cost-effectiveness of a nuclear missile ‘which could destroy a nation with an estimated monetary value of $10 million million can be generalized to 36:1:
Using such an approach, the authors determine case by case, the most economical of the space-based defenses, anti-satellite missiles, etc. This treatment leads to claims such as the following:
Throughout the next ten years, the most effective countermeasure to space-based defenders is likely to be a guided missile armed with a nuclear weapon. … the benefits of hardening and manoeuvre (as applied to space-based defenders) are separately marginal, particularly against improved anti-satellites. Only hardened manoeuverable carriers with a large warning range lie within the region of probable effective anti-satellite masses … carriers become more survivable at all warning ranges as the mass of the defenders is reduced. … a combination of hardening, manoeuverability and decoys is three times more cost-effective than hardening and manoeuvre combined.
For survivability, defenders are best deployed in self-reliant singlets. In 1983 the singlet proposal would have evoked scepticism: today, Brilliant Pebbles are clearly feasible … the US Strategic Defense Initiative Office has recognized the advantages and decided to develop singlets in preference to large carrier vehicles.
The authors also consider ‘further countermeasures to frustrate the defence’, including beam weapons (they claim the Soviet Union has them), ‘red-out’ from nuclear explosions in the high atmospheres to conceal the attack and anti-satellite missiles, the problem of keeping anti-satellite replacement costs low (said to be solved by Brilliant Pebbles), and vulnerability from complexity (and therefore likely system failure: again, solved by Brilliant Pebbles which are claimed to be simple and cheap).
To most readers the consideration of these questions, especially by Edward Teller, will recall the days of the Reagan Cold War. And certainly it seems strange to see these matters argued about in a journal like Nature. In mitigation, if that is an appropriate word, Canavan and Teller state that
The cost of deploying 100 Brilliant Pebbles is proably less than $1,000 million. Such deployment is an urgent and necessary step … Political objections … could be overcome by making the enterprise an open and international undertaking That would be particularly fitting because, since its inception, the strategic defense initiative has been intended to protect the whole of mankind, not just a single nation. A cooperative demonstration supported in part by … other nations would be a highly constructive step towards assured safety for all.
However, as everyone knows, critics of SDI concentrate on two major problems (quite apart from ‘cost-effectiveness’ !): viz., 1) the enormous complexity and the resulting problems of functional reliability — both of which have been judged by many as essentially ‘insoluble’; 2) the threat that SDI defenses, if not universally deployed would constitute for those nations’ not possessing it, an unavoidable challenge to devise ways to overcome it — result: a perpetual destabilizing effect.
Who can tell? Perhaps one day we shall all live under a ‘Reagan umbrella’, with a potential cloud of Brilliant Pebbles, or their distant decendants, permanently orbiting overhead. Meanwhile, let us get on with building peace, social justice, and universal disarmament.
Alan H. Weatherley
‘Third World Ballistic Missiles’ by J.E. Nolan and A.D.Wheelon, Scientific American, 263, August 1990
In this article Nolan and Wheelon recount how during ‘the past decade the number of countries in the missile club has more than doubled, to 18. Many of the new members have been at war …’. The authors explain the steps by which the ‘big industrialized countries’ armed client nations, disregarding the effects this would produce in later years. They explain how
A pattern by which missile technology reaches hands for which it was not intended can be discerned. First the clients modify missiles to achieve capabilities that the original suppliers would not have countenanced. Next they produce copies of the improved version. Then they design new missiles from scratch, seeking export markets to defray some of the expense. The emergence of Third World missile exporters has helped create a buyer’s market, in which a remarkable range of missile technology is available to anyone with cash.
Interesting … and yet hardly remarkable. This must surely be the essential pattern of all arms sales: proliferation — improvement — more sales technologies, from the development of the bow and arrow upwards. How else could it be? The authors ‘explain’ how the Great Powers failed to see clearly what the consequences of arms sales would be because the ‘preoccupation with East-West issues overshadowed problems in the Third World.’ Yes, well, if this is a sample of the failure of the strategic moves of the Great Powers to grasp the sublimely obvious, it at least helps to explain why those same Great Powers have 1) contributed so much to the present chaotic world situation, and 2) should never again be trusted with any degree of insight into the conduct of international affairs. Great Power does not refer, in the realms of international strategic matters, to great brain power.
The authors (Janne E. Nolan is a senior fellow in the Brookings Institute; Albert D. Wheelon was chief executive of the Hughes Aircraft Company, from which he retired in 1988 to teach at MIT in 1989, before that he was a deputy director of the CIA) catalogue the present missile capabilities of the countries of the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, and South America; they also discuss South Africa.
Among the fifteen countries considered, Israel, with missiles it has developed itself, has the most dangerous weapons in the Middle East. Its missiles could reach to all of its neighbouring countries and are almost certainly nuclear-armed. Saudi Arabia has the Chinese CSS-2 which has nuclear carrying capability and a range of more than 1500 miles. The authors regard the Iraqi missiles as a future threat second only to those of Israel, particularly as Iraq is actively seeking nuclear capability.
In East Asia, India has (in 1989) independently developed a 1500 mile missile ‘derived’ from space-launch technology provided by France and the Soviet Union. Ironically, the US was prepared to provide additional space technology on the eve of the launch and may still do so.
Nolan and Wheelen point out that although hazards and ranges of missiles may differ greatly, ‘strategic weapons cannot be defined in absolute terms. What matters is the weapon’s ability to reach beyond the front lines to threaten an enemy’s depots, factories and cities.’ They also suggest that missiles are uniquely effective as terror weapons; here they cite the particularly demoralizing effects on civilian populations of the German V-2 rockets launched against the British population in World War II, and modern versions of such weapons used by Iraq against Iran in their recent conflict.
The authors conclude that
The proliferation of ballistic missiles cannot be reversed, but some of its greatest dangers can be mitigated. Above all the US should recognize the waning of its influence on the global arms race so that it can wisely wield the influence it retains. The stakes have never been higher.
To this, we may add that it is the US and other Great Powers, by their attitudes of attempting to safeguard their interests by endless proliferation of arms that have promoted the growth of Third World missiles, and that there is therefore no particular reason why we should assume that the US will be any wiser now in its influence than previously. Finally, Nolan and Wheelon have provided us with the clearest of indications (should we need them!) that ‘poor countries’ are increasingly liable to be dangerously enough armed to be feared by any country.
Alan H. Weatherley
Boyce Richardson, Time to Change, Summerhill Press, Toronto, 1990, 299 pp., $14.95
Staff members at CIIPS were struck by the discordance between two documents that arrived in the spring of 1987. One was the Brundtland commission report, ‘Our Common Future’. The other, apparently oblivious to environmental threats to security, was our national White Paper on national defence. As Nancy Gordon and Fen Hampson say in the preface to this book, ‘it doesn’t matter how many tanks or guns or subs or missiles you have if the most important enemies you face are environmental degradation, economic decline, and demographic trends.’
Faced with the gulf between these two reports, the CIIPS staff wondered, ‘What is going on here? What are the threats to Canadian security? How should Canada reponse to those threats?’ They asked writer and film-maker Boyce Richardson to produce a book on these subjects. To help him tap relevant expertise, they organized a series of working dinners for about 20 people, with a short presentation followed by structured discussion at each dinner.
The outcome is a well-written, hard-hitting book for the general Canadian public. Its five chapters are organized around five challenges: environmental, economic, demographic, military, and political. Although it presents little that is new for the reader who is already reasonably well-informed about these topics, it does provide a readable overview for the relative newcomer to these fields. Because it provides a specifically Canadian account, readers in Canada may well prefer to gain their introduction from this book than from the various American and European overviews that are available.
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
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