I have read with great interest the comments on Gorbachev's proposals. I wonder if Franklyn Griffiths has any evidence for the existence of "competing differences or internal opposition" to Gorbachev's position. It seems to me to be very immature to discuss the life-and-death question of mankind in terms of a P.R. competition or one-upmanship, such as "seize the high ground."
I share George Ignatieff's wish that the Soviets had put forth their proposals in the Geneva context. But maybe they have done just that. As both sides have strictly observed the agreement barring public statements on the Geneva negotiations, we have no way of knowing. What we do know, however, with reasonable certainty--given the general position of the U.S. government--is that their proposals were not acceptable to the other side.
Under these conditions the only possibility left to the Soviets would be an appeal to the true sovereign of the United States, the American people.
We Canadians, as America's closest neighbors and friends, have an obligation to help them understand and accept the Gorbachev proposals as the last best hope for their--as for our--survival.
Hans Blumenfeld Toronto
I really appreciated your letters from the Kabats, Cloud-Morgan, and Woodson--the Pruning Hooks Four. Their witness to peace, although controversial, clearly focuses on the actions that will be required from more of us if the arms race is to be stopped. Those familiar with the history of Christianity between the death of Christ and Constantine's conversion in 313 know that the nonviolent resistance to war was an obligation of all who professed to follow Christ. Many died because of their civil disobedience. Today, a small but faithful group of Christians feel compelled to resurrect the practice of honoring God's law over the State's law. They are paying a costly price for their convictions, yet do so willingly because of their allegiance to the gospel message.
David Ramsay Kaministiquia, Ont.
Too many politicians consider that the peace movement can be disposed of by some vaguely supportive statement at election time. We need to hold the attention of politicians, not just at election time but continuously.
The key is votes. The movement includes thousands of voters, and can influence additional thousands. We ask politicians to take action on peace issues that may have adverse effects on other vote-getting issues. Are we prepared to make similar decisions and vote primarily on the basis of candidates' records on peace issues?
I propose that the Peace Alliance coordinate a campaign to sign up peace group members in a commitment to vote and to influence others to vote primarily on peace issues. This should apply to all levels of government- city, provincial and federal. All communications with politicians should contain reminders that future voting will be on the basis of the record on peace issues.
Politicians can be told which peace objectives will form the basis of their performance records. Peace groups have some common objectives such as:
The politicians' records can be kept and given to all voters at election time.
Norm Hoye Vancouver
The year 1986 began with very bad news. Having deployed the Pershing II rockets in Mutlangen, Neu Ulm and Heilbronn, the U.S. and NATO began to station the cruise missiles according to plan. The first of 96 cruise missiles planned for the German Republic arrived here and were placed in bunkers in a village, Hasselbach/Rheinland - Pfalz.
The public protest against this irresponsible action of the U.S. government and NATO is a "campaign of civil disobedience until disarmament." About 200 members of this initiative have pledged civil disobedience at least once a year. The reaction of our government is punishment of this civil disobedience. Various peace groups supported an appeal for an escalation of civil disobedience in October in Mutlangen and plan to blockade the Pershing II depot there for a whole week. (More information about this action from Klaus Vack, An Der Gasse 1, 6121 Sensbachtal, F.R.G.)
In the first cold days of January 1986 there were large protest demonstrations against the clearing of a wooded area in Wackersdorf/Bayern, a little village, where the German government is planning to erect a facility for nuclear energy like Windscale in England or La Hague in France. Thousands of people demonstrated without force in a sit-in in Wackersdorf on the site of the planned works of a German company. This demonstration faced about 3000 policemen, but showed that many courageous people want to stop the ecological and military exploitation of our world and the destruction of nature and human beings. We urgently appeal to you in Canada also not to stop your opposition against the nuclear policies of government. The cruises now being stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany were tested at Cold Lake in Alberta. Our responsibility for peace is global - we are all connected.
A short time ago, the Canadian Minister of Defence, Erik Nielson, gave a speech in Baden-Baden in southern Germany on the occasion of the stationing of the first Canadian NATO unit now equipped with the new CF-18 fighter planes. Your War Minister spoke of "deep connections" between Canada and the Federal Republic of Germany, which were based on "respect on both sides and a real friendship." Our governments are showing a diabolical fellowship to destroy our planet. Last year dozens of members of West German and North American peace groups declared a "German-North American peace message." Their founding declaration calls for more cooperation between North American and West German peace groups with the aim of breaking up the power cartel of NATO.
To reach this aim, the initiative is organizing a second "peace pilgrimage" through Germany to which they invite all interested friends from Canada and the US. Come to West Germany and take part in this peace march. It will start on June 10, 1986 in Heilbronn and spend four weeks going through the southern part of Germany. From July 19 to July 23 the pilgrimage will stay in Berlin and also visit the Democratic Republic of Germany. With the peace pilgrimage the peace movement will show the deep friendship between German and American people and our common purpose: to stop nuclear madness. (For more information about the pilgrimage write to Anne Stegmeier, Auguste - Supper Strasse 26, 7400 Ludwigsburg, F.D.G.).
In Heilbronn (a place where Pershing IIs are stationed) there will be from June 14 to 17, 1986 the "Heilbronner Days for Peace, Justice and Democracy." About 5000 people will be discussing in many forums the future of the peace movement.
I hope for closer co-operation between the social movements in our countries. I wish you courage, energy and the imagination to create a world where there are no more weapons and all people meet as equals.
Volker Beck, Metzstrasse 8, 6000 Frankfurt/Main, Federal Republic of Germany
You say that Dorothy Rosenberg blames "most of the world's evils--hierarchy, militarism, and competitiveness--on patriarchy." Two simplistic stereotypes are being reinforced here which have serious implications for the peace movement: first, that men are inherently evil, and second, that women are quintessentially good.
If it is not good enough for Premier Pawley that his heart be in the right place, condemned in part, like myself, by his maleness (something over which neither of us had much control) then it will hardly be good enough for me.... If it were your thesis that certain types of women are morally superior to certain types of men I would have no difficulty with your position. But what we would then be faced with is a tautology, where the underlying criterion is one of morality, not gender. The proposition then becomes: Good women are better than bad men. It is equally true that good men are better than bad women... When my father went to jail as a pacifist conscientious objector in World War II, women spat on him in the streets. Those righteous nurturing mothers sent their sons proudly off to be slaughtered, then wept incredulously when they did not return....
I resent deeply the appropriation of the moral high ground by the feminist movement. I support those feminist proposals which work for social justice for all, regardless of sex, for peace, [and] for political equality....The impact of your selective and biased stance with regard to the peace issue is to alienate many males who would normally rally to the peace banner...What is most dangerous about the feminist interpretation of militarism is that it deflects vital energy, which should be devoted solely to fighting evils. ....If there are indeed innate differences in the way in which we respectively perceive the world, then there is at least a genuine desire amongst well-meaning men, to join hands with our feminist comrades to overcome the terrible threats which confront our entire species.
Colin Smith, Halifax, N.S.