My friend David Cortright asks “Who wants nuclear weapons?” and describes the present situation as “insanity of the first order.”
Perhaps ignorance of the first order? For generations, citizens of the major nuclear weapons states have been told that nuclear weapons are essential to their security and that Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the only way to end World War II.
We are still at the level of World War I thinking when it comes to weaponry. Ignorance of international affairs is massive.
A compliant media goes along with whatever is acceptable to governments. The Security Council is credited with powers which it does not have to launch wars. When the war is “over,” as with Libya, silence falls. How many killed? Did democracy arrive? At what cost? Did the Security Council even try to find nonviolent ways of ending conflict?
Most students have never seen, let alone studied, the UN Charter. The UNA, here at least, has effectively become a sub-department of our Foreign Office.
We put up war monuments, like the recent London one to the RAF bomber crews who flattened German cities. But it is only the bravery of the young air crews, sent to their deaths, that gets mentioned—not what they were doing.
There is a way forward and it has been around for over 30 years. I refer to the public education paragraphs 100-106 of the Final Report of the 1978 First UN Special Session in Disarmament. Governments have never kept that promise of public education. Most people have no knowledge of our NPT obligations under Article VI or of the 1996 ICJ ruling about our legal obligation to negotiate nuclear disarmament “in good faith.” Or that there is, thanks to ICAN, a perfectly good draft treaty in existence on which they might start.
That we now spend $1.7 trillion a year on our global military is known only to a few. Anti-poverty and development agencies do not mention it.
After the First World War, soldiers were described as lions led by donkeys. Now we have whole populations who could well be described as sheep with blinkers, led by greedy wolves. It’s time we, the only shepherds around, started to swing our crooks.
Bruce Kent, Movement for the Abolition of War, London
Recently, Evan Solomon of the TV program “Power and Politics” interviewed the executive director of the Canadian Shooting Sports Association [CSSA], Tony Bernardo. I was astounded and nauseated by Mr Bernardo’s zeal in trying to convince TV viewers that the right to own guns for sport shooting, or whatever, was the most important activity you could possibly undertake.
His exuberance is designed to destroy any vestige of the federal Gun Registry bill in Canada. The CSSA is engaged in what they have euphemistically named the “unshuffling” of the Gun Registry program. This involves simply exchanging [unshuffling] guns with another gun owner, making the gun registry inoperative. You could do that with cars too, thereby ending all that car registration nonsense. After all cars don’t kill people—do they ?
In our community once, two young boys were shot in the same week. Later there were shooting deaths that were not accidental.
The power of the gun is palpable. In hunting big game, some hunters feel “the thrill of the kill.”
Guns also provide the means for killing sprees in schools, an army base, a theatre, and even a holiday site in Norway.
Then there is the gargantuan manufacture of guns and weapons in the USA, so that we can make war to bomb and shoot our way to a more peaceful world.
There must be a better way for grown-up men to use their energy rather than in “unshuffling” the Gun Registry bill.
Leo Kurtenbach, Saskatoon
Professor Roger D. Fisher, a co-author of Getting to Yes, died recently. We spent six weeks together at a Cape Cod workshop on making peace, the result of which were published in a book called International Conflict and the Behavioral Sciences: the Craigsville Papers.
I once asked Roger, “What if you approach someone and suggest discussing with him ways to resolve a conflict, and he replies ‘I don’t want to talk.’?” Roger responded without missing a beat, “I ask him why he does not want to talk.”
Amitai Etzioni, Washington, D.C.
If we look beyond violent persons’ acts at the their motivation, we may sometimes learn how to prevent future offences of the same kind.
Frank Sterle, Jr., White Rock, B.C.