FIVE years ago, the main qualifications for peace activism were: good feet for marching, a knack with movie projectors, and a grasp of deterrence and first-strike scenarios sufficient to answer the questions an audience might ask after watching a nuclear war film.
Nowadays our scope is broader. The nuclear weapons are still there, to be sure, and we still haven't banished them from the harbors or from North Dakota silos. But we don't believe anymore that we can do so without addressing such other political and societal problems as the global debt crisis, nationalism, the environment, the separation or re-integration of nation states, the governance and security of Europe, and the best way to rescue perestroika.
The problems are inter-linked but people approach them from different starting points. Peace activists must develop sane systems of security to replace the militarism of the Cold War. We refer to "common security" as our chosen model for reform- though without always understanding the concept. It's time to think the notion through.
We turned to David Bell, a political scientist at York University who works largely on issues of social defence, to help as review this topic. We were delighted when Professor Bell agreed to edit a special issue of PEACE on this timely topic. He invited several eminent reserachers to clarify the concept of common security and show how it is possible for security to be mutual. The result is a publication worth keeping for reference, especially now that Cold Warrior strategists have to change their ways. We are also grateful to External Mfairs' Disarmament Fund for financial assistance in preparing this special issue. Coincidentally, the discussion of "social defence" in the Disarmament Campaigns section augments the papers on common security. Finally, we cover preparations for the October Helsinki Citizens Assembly.