Letters

By Andrew Kapos, Ernie Regehr, Maxine Kaufman Nunn, Colin McKinley

Monitor Arms Trade

We need a mechanism to halt the flow of arms to acute theatres of war. Of course, arms embargoes against aggressor nations are well known. But outside powers usually take sides and one arms supplier's "aggressor" is another arms supplier's "freedom fighter" or "victim."

Public pressure can create a UN agency to monitor and collect facts about warlike conflicts. This body would pay special attention to the role of arms shipments from any country outside the theatre of conflict in protracting the fighting. It would initiate discussions among the supplier nations to stop the shipment of war-fighting materiel and the recruitment of mercenaries and advisors on a theatre-wide basis.

The success of such an embargo would shift the political situation within the belligerent nations. War parties would be deflated, to be displaced with more sensitive political groupings less vulnerable to great power pressure. This idea will be resisted by the established military-industrial complexes of all the "advanced nations," but in the struggle for world order, concepts such as this have to be developed.

Andrew Kapos, Etobicoke, Ontario

Church Statement was Firm

I was surprised to read in Dwight Burkhardt's article on the churches' response to the Defence White Paper that "the church leaders fail to take the moral position that a security system based on nuclear deterrence is itself immoral

They do not even follow the U.S. Catholic Bishops in calling deterrence morally acceptable only if it leads to nuclear disarmament."

The churches' response actually does both. It rejects nuclear deterrence: "We must say without reservation that nuclear weapons are ultimately unacceptable as agents of national security. We can conceive of no circumstances under which the issue of nuclear weapons could be justified and consistent with the will of God, and we must therefore conclude that nuclear weapons must also be rejected as means of threat or deterrence." This is repeated in the declaration that "nuclear weapons have no place in national defence policies."

The thrust of the churches' response to the Defence White Paper is to reject nuclear weapons. Their use and their threatened use are declared immoral.

The church leaders then face the problem of ensuring that the thousands of existing nuclear weapons not be detonated while their removal is being arranged. In this they did in fact follow the lead of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. whom they quote in their conclusion that "nuclear deterrence is tolerable only as a transition to nuclear disarmament." The point of this statement is that while you work toward nuclear disarmament, it is important to place disincentives and deterrence on the use of the remaining nuclear weapons. The only moral justification for deterrence is to prevent the use of nuclear weapons. This is tolerable only within the context of working vigorously toward the elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Even while calling on the Canadian government to clarify its strategic doctrine and its position on nuclear deterrence, the church leaders call on the Canadian government to make clear Canada's support for deterrence as opposed to an abandonment of deterrence in favor of war-fighting. But even here this is no support for nuclear deterrence as the basis of security. Instead, the church leaders say, "the purpose is to assert that the problem of deterrence must be solved through disarmament, not through nuclear war-fighting strategies which promise greater insecurity and render disarmament a fond hope." So the point is that the moral solution is not to move, as American strategy does with the apparent acquiescence of Canadian policy, from deterrence to war-fighting. Instead, it is to move from deterrence to disarmament.

Ernie Regehr, Project Ploughshares, Waterloo, Ontario

Palestinian Nonviolence

Palestinian human rights lawyer Jonathan Kuttab spoke in Toronto on April 10. He stressed that the uprising has been largely nonviolent; with strikes, boycotts, increased local self-reliance predominating. "What you see here [on TV] is primarily the rock throwing... although... in many cases these kids are throwing the rocks even when the soldiers are way out of range... But in those cases when Palestinians get hold of weapons...[they] did a very strange thing to those weapons. They emptied the magazines [pointing upwardsj and then they broke the weapons."

From this new strength and resulting "generosity" stems the great opportunity for Israel. The danger, says Kuttab, stems from Israel's mistaken view that the conflict with the Palestinians can be solved by dealing with the Arab regimes. Mutual recognition by Israel and the Palestinian movement (PLO) is the only thing that can give Israel legitimacy in their eyes.

Maxine Kaufman Nunn, Toronto

Arms Trade

Dipping me in hot water again, I see! I was surprised that your readers take such a thorough interest in Boeing's products. Somehow, the diversity of the products of Boeing-Winnipeg has never been truly appreciated by the public. In a recent External Affairs issue, Canadian Defence Products Guide, Boeing-Winnipeg advertised "lightweight, epoxy-graphite, man-portable anti-tank" guns (just what we need today) and Robot-X missiles (digital autopilot cruise drones jauntily painted as Canadian flags). One feels forced to trust a company as caring as that.

Colin McKinlay, Montréal

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1988

Peace Magazine Oct-Nov 1988, page 5. Some rights reserved.

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