EDITORIAL

Out of a global back room, worthwhile peace proposals

Peter C. Newman June 28 1982
EDITORIAL

Out of a global back room, worthwhile peace proposals

Peter C. Newman June 28 1982

Out of a global back room, worthwhile peace proposals

EDITORIAL

Peter C. Newman

In the tumble of dramatic protests, overblown rhetoric and cross-country marches attempting to bring about nuclear disarmament, one clear and realistic voice has finally been heard. Instead of hysterically demanding peace at any price, it promises a solution to the most agonizing dilemma of our time.

Awkwardly titled The Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, this call to disarm distills the wisdom of some of the world’s leading statesmen and, unlike most of the other approaches being advocated, carries the sanction of senior influences in both the United States and the U.S.S.R. The document takes as its basic theses the indisputable notions that since the forces of destruction under debate are man-made, humanity has it within its power to contain them; that efforts in this direction to date have been too feeble to be effective; that all states have a basic right to domestic security; and that nuclear weapons have altered not only the scale of warfare but the very concept of war itself. “In the nuclear age,” it states, “war cannot be an instrument of policy, only an engine for destruction.”

At the same time, the document rejects such utopian approaches as a worldwide nuclear freeze for the very good reason that this would do nothing except perpetuate the Soviets’ existing nuclear missile superiority. It also refuses to accept the tragically unrealistic notion that total disarmament will ever be possible. For one thing, the U.S.S.R. does not dare to disarm without losing its empire of satellites in Eastern Europe and its grip on the population of its homeland. What this declaration does accomplish is to renounce the idea of a nuclear exchange as any kind of viable national policy. It advocates the immediate, mutual withdrawal of battlefield nuclear weapons; agreement for conventional force parity between the superpowers; and gradual elimination of the nuclear umbrella.

Signed by, among others, the former prime ministers of Norway, Poland, Nigeria, Holland and Sweden, as well as the former foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Mexico, Japan, Guyana and Tanzania, the report also carries the signature of Giorgi Arbatov, a full member of the U.S.S.R.’s Central Committee and director of Moscow’s prestigious Institute of the U.S.A. and Canada.

The Canadian signatory is R.A.D. Ford, our former ambassador to the Soviet Union, a distinguished poet and one of this country’s most enlightened diplomats. His allegiance to the new disarmament initiative lends great credibility to the cause.

What binds these statesmen together is the sure knowledge that nuclear war would amount to an unprecedented catastrophe for mankind and suicide for those who resort to it. “There will be no winner in a nuclear war,” they conclude. “The use of these weapons would result in devastation and suffering of a magnitude which would render meaningless any notion of victory.”