Two Talks in Pugwash, Hungary

Millionaire Cyrus Eaton invited some scientists to his summer home in Pugwash, Nova Scotia, to discuss nuclear war. Thirty-eight years later, Pugwash, the organization that grew out of that meeting, is still holding conferences. Our editor participated in the one in Budapest in September and taped these two conversations.

By Metta Spencer and Mary Kaldor (interviewers) | 1986-12-01 12:00:00

1. Hungarian Samizdat

Mary Kaldor is an economist by training and a peace activist by profession and avocation. She writes on peace and security matters and edits the END Journal. Her visit to Budapest was a homecoming for her, since some members of her family still live in Hungary. We talked to her with two daring young activists who publish 500 copies monthly of an illegal underground magazine. We will refer to them only as “Samizdat.”

SAMIZDAT: We’d like to know how well you’ve been satisfied with what has happened here at the conference so far.

KALDOR: …There isn’t much change in the Soviet participation, because their Pugwash group hasn’t changed since Gorbachev came. But the other Warsaw Pact officials, who are not peace movement people, but scientists, and in my group two Hungarian military officers, are much more open I remember before. The Hungarian military officers were very interested in the idea of unilateral disarmament initiatives such as troop withdrawals. This was new: The Polish delegate to our group gave a very good paper saying that military balance was nonsense. And the Hungarians agreed with him.

PEACE MAGAZINE: Conventional balance?

KALDOR: Any military balance — that to talk about military balance s meaningless because the statistics can be juggled. Officials in Europe all used to claim that military balance is very important. But now the Hungarian military officer said that what we have in Europe today is a balance of phobias, not a balance of military forces. So that was a change. I read a paper to which I hoped to get Soviet response, but I didn’t.

P.M.: Tell us about that paper.

KALDOR: It was about the British Labour Party’s program of alternative defence. I described that policy, which is very radical. It calls for getting rid of all British nuclear weapons, getting rid of all American nuclear weapons in Britain, de-nuclearizing Britain’s role in NATO—which really means trying to persuade NATO to adopt a non-nuclear, defensive, conventional strategy. I said that obviously people are very doubtful about implementing such a policy, particularly if the United States is very opposed to it. I said that I believe that it will only be possible to implement it if there are equivalent changes going on in the Warsaw Pact.

Now, these changes are not necessarily military. The significance of the defence policy is not military at all, because there are so many nuclear weapons around that it doesn’t make that much difference. The real significance is political. It means an enormous change in he political consensus in Britain, the balance of political forces. It means an enormous change in the political relationship between Western Europe and the United States, so what one says has to happen in the Warsaw Pact is something that has equivalent political implications. And I mentioned in my paper three possibilities. One was the de-nuclearization of Eastern Europe—non-Soviet, Warsaw Treaty Organization countries. Another was really substantial troop withdrawals from particular countries—the countries I mentioned were Hungary and Czechoslovakia—something like 50,000 troops. And a third was what I described as “significant political openings.” For example, legalizing Solidarity, visa regulations—freedom to travel—and allowing autonomous peace initiatives. That would really help to change western perceptions. In the paper I argued that in the United States, it is said that the Soviet Union wishes to impose its model all over the world, and the Soviet role in Eastern Europe is evidence for that, and that’s why we need military strength. But if it can be shown that the Soviet Union is in Eastern Europe for security reasons, this would change perceptions.

SAMIZDAT: What does it feel like to come to a country where there had been a peace movement and now there is an empty space?

KALDOR: My impression is that it is not so empty. I haven’t been here long enough to say, but my feeling is that lots of people here—students and others—are really interested in these questions but are not working as an organized group.

SAMIZDAT: There is no activity as such. There is interest, I agree.

KALDOR: Do you count your magazine, or meeting regularly in a circle every week to discuss—are those not “activities”?

SAMIZDAT: They remain isolated. The street actions of Dialogue were a real example of the spreading of a peace movement. These meetings now are closed.

KALDOR: But do you think they don’t spread? I don’t know. My feeling is that there is a changed mood since I came here two years ago. For example, I felt that everyone outside the Dialogue [an peace movement that was briefly tolerated by the government in 1982] that I talked to—whether it was the Democratic Opposition or whether it was my relatives, or whether it was the official peace movement—was skeptical about peace activities. [They] didn’t believe this would be a subject that would mobilize young people. There’s been a real change.

Also, I believe that Dialogue had an effect on the official discussions. I wouldn’t have believed some of the things that the Hungarians said today. It really opened up the discussion. That week in 1982 was the most exciting political week in my life. Were you there when we had the public meeting?


KALDOR: You had created—and I felt part of it—a real independent peace movement. I think you should remember that something equivalent has happened in the West. It’s not the same, and I don’t believe in symmetry. In 1982 the Western peace movement was a moment of passion, excitement, and creation. It hasn’t gone away. People are still there, doing things, but they are doing things in much more isolated, fragmented ways. They don’t have the same grip on the political situation. Yet we may be getting further. In middle groups in society—not just the peace movement—there’s a real change in opinion on these issues. It’s so much more than the peace movement anymore. It’s discussions at universities, and in government, and at all sorts of levels. But ideas that were completely new and original in 1982 and 1983 are really accepted in Western European societies. So what’s happening now may have more deep significance, although it doesn’t have the same excitement and drama. I don’t think it’s a low period in terms of the peace discussions, but the organized movement has almost become marginalized. CND in Britain is extremely large; it now has 100,000 national members and maybe 400,000 members if you include all the local groups—so it’s really big. It’s bigger than the Labour Party. But it isn’t an actor in the political arena and the media, despite the fact that issues—Star Wars, Libya, East-West relations, nerve gas—all are very important issues that are in the newspapers every day. So I think you have to make a distinction between the peace movement and the peace atmosphere that is in the air.

P.M.: I think the form of activism has changed. Two or three years ago I would never miss a demonstration, but sometimes I do now because I’m too busy doing peace work of other forms. I’m not unusual in that regard. Man of the people who used to be on the street are still active in different ways of working—in politics, in peace education, and so on.

KALDOR: Well, I think that it’s a mixture, actually. In England there’s a culture now of “NVDA”—nonviolent direct action. And that’s very, very important. We can’t even count all the American military bases. This February we had a blockage of the Molesworth Base and everybody who went there knew that they were breaking the law and could be arrested. And 4000 went there. They wanted to stop the work on the base. They sat in the snow from 6:00 in the morning until 3:00 in the afternoon. And another thing happening in England is that every time the cruise missile goes out of the Greenham Common, it’s watched and we’ve set up telephone trees. Everybody—including me—has in their house a telephone tree with the names written down. So if the missile passes near your house, the nearest person on the list rings you up and says, “The cruise missile is passing. Will you please go and look and call the next person.” This is “Cruisewatch.” The military use of the missile is completely lost because it’s observed every time it leaves the base. Sometimes people paint it and put signs on it.

SAMIZDAT: On the cruise missile? (Laughter.)

P.M.: I didn’t know that!

KALDOR: Yes. They’ve been keeping very quiet about it because it’s so embarrassing to them. There haven’t been court cases much because the authorities just don’t want the public to know that this is going on.

P.M.: Does it bother you that the missiles are that accessible?

KALDOR: Oh, I don’t believe they even work—I think they’re all dummies! They’re entirely there to frighten the British population. And so all of that goes on and people feel very committed to actions of that kind, but to give an example, in my own local group, which is Brighton, we had a discussion. We have about a thousand members in Brighton, and we raised the money for a bus so that people could go to demonstrations whenever they felt like it. The bus goes to different bases. The overall mood is saying, “Look, we’re really bored with this. We want to have some deep discussions, and we want to take up international actions.” This year, my town, Brighton, has become Labour for the very first time in history, and it’s become a nuclear free zone. So we thought we would ask the council to send a delegation across the channel to Dieppe and to Rouen, which the nearest big town, to try to persuade them that they should have a different policy on nuclear energy. And we will campaign to persuade other groups to have a dialogue wit the French.

Also, people are very concerned about American public opinion. They wonder whether we can implement a defence policy if Americans are very hostile. There are several towns called Brighton in the United States and Australia and New Zealand, so we thought we would start an organization of Brightons-Opposed-to-Nuclear Weapons. People want to do a lot of that kind of activity….

There’s a lot of samizdat now, isn’t there? Have there been any problems?

SAMIZDAT: Yes. The last issue of Beszéló, 450 copies were stolen out of a car.

KALDOR: That’s the most prestigious samizdat magazine. I want the new copy of Beszéló. It’s about Chernobyl. We’re trying to publish a book on that.

SAMIZDAT: Their [duplicating] machine was taken away with all the copies of the fifteenth number. The police broke the door in while they were there, and all of the staff were made to carry the copies personally to the car and they even threatened to set the house on fire if they didn’t.

KALDOR: Incredible.

SAMIZDAT: And one time our homes were searched for our second issue—the one on Dialogue.

OTHER SAMIZDAT JOURNALIST: But you should say that ultimately you didn’t resist. They were exerting pressure on him and he said, “Don’t require us to produce a paper [showing permission to publish] and in return we will not be very indiscreet. We will keep only what we really need.”

P.M.: So you were trying to make a deal with the authorities.

SAMIZDAT: And they did so! They made a deal.

KALDOR: And you now feel ashamed! But it’s all right. I would do the same! [We laugh.] Marta—you know her—told me that when she was interrogated, the policeman was Jewish. He said to her, “What’s a nice Jewish girl like you doing in the peace movement?” She said she didn’t dare reply, “What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in the secret police?” [We laugh.]

P.M.: Mary, the concept of “detente from below” doesn’t have much currency in Canada. Could you talk about it a little?

KALDOR: Ask them too. I think it’s a very crucial and original concept that we developed over the last few years. And that’s something that I learned from the Dialogue group. When I came to Dialogue’s first public meeting, László Janos said, “I’m not really afraid of nuclear war. What I’m really afraid of is Cold War.” To me, what’s really frightening about Reagan’s nuclear war-fighting policies is that they close the borders and bring hatred and repression in our societies.

SAMIZDAT: We made a comment on the Libyan bombing, in our group’s name, and we added that it could contribute to the closing of the borders and to the repression of the peace movement on our side.

KALDOR: That’s interesting. We published a book on the bombing and I argued in the introduction that Libya has created a new cosmology. The old cosmology of good and evil in the West was that lack of human rights in the East was the reason for Western military strength. In order to break that cosmology, we don’t say that disarmament is more important than human rights. We say that military strength is not the way to bring about human rights. And the same holds true of terrorism. There is a new cosmology: Terrorism is a reason for military strength. Of course we’re opposed to terrorism, but we think you have to deal with terrorism in quite different ways, through the law, and through understanding the problems of the Middle East. It shouldn’t be used as a reason.

Anyway, László Janos said, “I’m really more afraid of Cold War than nuclear war.” Cold War could mean a return of the fifties, where in Hungary the fifties were very terrible. Deportations, prison camps. My uncle was in prison for six years—two years in solitary confinement, and my aunt in concentration camp. My aunt always used to say that living in those conditions is more unbearable than dying.

Anyway, what that made a lot of us realize is that to people in the Eastern bloc, dialogue is seen as a precondition for disarmament, as really important for disarmament—not something that is merely nice. And if we ask ourselves why we are protesting nuclear weapons, the actuality of nuclear war is very difficult to comprehend. But it’s got something to do with what’s happening now—that nuclear weapons maintain this terrible balance of terror in Europe, the hegemony of the United States and the domination of the Soviet Union, and the lack of self-determination. So really this is an emancipation movement.

That became very clear to us when talking with the Dialogue group and other groups in Eastern Europe. And what we really need is a strategy that directly confronts it. “Détente from below” is an idea of really bringing together the citizens of Europe, and not allowing the arms race to be used, as it is used ideologically, to divide us. There is a fantasy that we’ve been brought up to believe in, of a confrontation between good and evil, in which anybody who opposes it is on the evil side. So in the West anybody in the peace movement is on the side of the Soviet Union and in the East anybody who campaigns for human rights is an agent of Reagan and Thatcher. And we really have to break that down and show that peace and human rights are the same issue. If we do, we’ll make nuclear weapons useless. And that will create the possibility of reducing nuclear weapons. “Détente from below” is actually the peace movement’s own strategy; it’s not something that we demand of governments.

Nuclear disarmament is something we say to governments, to political parties. We say, “Please disarm.” Détente from below is something we do ourselves. It’s really creating the social basis for ending the cold war. It means really making our own social movements, our own social space, our own civil society—which is a term they use very much here—and creating our own links across East/West borders. What we ask of governments are things that would help that—such as easing visa regulations, easing passport controls, allowing autonomous activities. But basically this is our policy and we do it ourselves. That’s why people find it appealing. We’re not asking for anything, we’re doing it.

That is so little understood in North America, and that it’s so central and so original in Europe! I’d love to get that understood in North America—that there really is an alternative to the East/West conflict.

KALDOR: What I see in the North American peace movement is a lot more emphasis than we have in Europe on Third World problems. That is our shortcoming. One of the things I want to do is to try to have Third World and European problems discussed together. For example, I’d like to have a Czech and a Chilean talking about human rights.

SAMiZDAT: Very interesting idea! You know, the Czechs—the Charta 77 Group—wrote an open letter to Nicaragua on human rights.

KALDOR: Yes, that was wonderful.

SAMIZDAT: I want to mention that Western radio stations—especially Radio Free Europe and the BBC—are very important in shaping the Eastern political opinion. Our journal has been featured a couple of times in their programming.

P.M.: But Radio Free Europe is government-run, isn’t it? And so it must always take the U.S. line.

KALDOR: But it has got better recently.

SAMIZDAT: Yes, but when they talked about our journal, they omitted any mention of our statement on the bombing of Libya. And we had an interview with Polish intellectuals which was edited so they sounded just like Radio Free Europe. But still, this is the only way the large group of Hungarians can know about our group and our campaigns.

P.M.: The independent peace activists in the Soviet Union also depend on Western radio for communication within their own movement. The independent groups can’t be in touch with each other.

SAMIZDAT: Yes, it’s somewhat the same here. It’s not as hard as in the Soviet Union; we can have phones in Budapest. But the countryside is so remote that can’t communicate with outlying areas very well.

P.M.: Are there ways in which we could deliberately try to use something like Radio Free Europe? Perhaps we could offer materials for their broadcasting.

SAMIZDAT: Well, in general it speaks very skeptically about the peace movement. It would be a real breakthrough to be in communication with them. They look upon situations from a confrontationist point of view.

P.M.: I see. Tell me, how much trouble might you get into for your publishing and peace work?

SAMIZDAT: Well, he [referring to the other journalist] got a legal warning after they seized our journal at his house. They could have imposed a fine, but they didn’t. And you know, those Dialogue cases are finished. Those people have refrained from continuing Dialogue.

Did you hear what happened on March 15, our national holiday? We were in the streets in the annual parade. Olga Dioszegi was collecting money to help pay the fine of a member of our group who had been punished. She was arrested and jailed, and when we heard about it, we began to protest, chanting, “Olga, Olga!” After the crowd dispersed, we had a sit-in at the base of a statue. Later, we got fined for it—3000 forints.

P.M.: About a month’s salary. For doing what?

SAMIZDAT: For disrupting public order.

P.M.: Were you holding a sign?

SAMIZDAT: No, we were sitting there silently at the base of the statue.

P.M.: So I guess it’s still not easy for you people, despite all the encouraging political and economic reforms that have been accomplished in this country so far. I hope you will write us. We can publish your articles without getting fined or arrested. Can you get articles out to send us?

SAMIZDAT: We can try. We will try. It will be good to communicate with Canadian groups.

2. Ólafur Grímsson

Ólafur Grímsson is a Member of Parliament in Iceland and President of Parliamentarians Global Action, a remarkable organization through which legislators around the world work together for social change and peace. The founding President of the organization, which was formerly called “Parliamentarians for World Order,” was Douglas Roche, now Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament. This group organized the Five Continent Peace Initiative, the recent deal for monitoring seismic tests from Soviet soil, and the scheme to call a conference to upgrade the Partial Test Ban Treaty.

PEACE MAGAZINE: Let’s talk about the extraordinary new style of organizing and working for disarmament that you are promoting. It differs from the way politicians customarily go about things.

GRIMSSON: Right. It’s a new approach to disarmament and other global issues. With the old approach, of course, people just try to affect their own states internally, without cooperating with similar forces in other countries. There’s been very little cooperation except at the leadership level between the peace movements of Canada, the United States and Europe. This means that the peace movement and other related nongovernmental organizations have played the game of the state: They’ve operated on a narrow national basis instead of realizing that we now live in a global world. But the business world and the mass media have realized that fact. Pepsi-Cola, and IBM and ABC Television and the Herald Tribune, for example, all operate at this global level.

We cross the diplomatic barriers.

A second drawback of the old approach is that the states that are working for disarmament have operated within institutions in which states are the only accepted actors—such as, say, within the U.N. General Assembly, the Conference of Disarmament in Geneva, the non-aligned summit conferences, NATO, and so on. It has not been considered acceptable to cooperate formally with non-governmental organizations, with scientists, with the mass media, or to lobby in other political settings.

And third, there are hindrances to getting results with the international organizations that work toward these aims through the United Nations or other global institutions. One such hindrance is the requirement of consensus, and another is the career perspective of the officials in those groups, who want to keep their jobs and advance. Their way of doing so is not to offend anyone.

All of these factors have limited the scope of politics on the disarmament issue. So we have been trying a completely new approach—which I call the “network” approach. We assume that any actor—whether it’s an individual, a non-governmental organization, a group of scientists or other experts, a non-nuclear state, a parliament, or a group of U.S. congressmen—_any_ actor willing to work for the same policy aims— say, a comprehensive test ban or a freeze—should be accepted as almost an equal participant in a working coalition that takes all political systems and all international institutions and settings as its field of operation. We are creating networks of cooperation between all these different actors and we are crossing the diplomatic barriers.

P.M.: But there are legal impediments to that in some countries. It’s illegal for a U.S. Congressman to make diplomatic overtures to another country. Remember when Jesse Jackson was scolded for doing that?

GRIMSSON: That is right. You have the Lohman Act in the United States, which says that a citizen or a Congressman may not negotiate with a foreign country. It’s what Richard Perle quoted when he was told a few months ago after a Congressional hearing about the agreement between the National Resources Defense Council of the United States and the Soviet Academy of Sciences to monitor the seismological network in the Soviet Union. A Congressmen walked up to him and said, “Isn’t that fantastic that the Soviets have allowed American scientists to come in there!” And Perle’s comment was, “I think that’s a breach of the Lohman Act”—for the American scientists to make that agreement.

Yes, there are restrictions. But there are ways around those. For instance, American scientists and citizens and Congressmen can participate in the work of our organization, Parliamentarians Global Action, or even be employed by us—as Archambault, Lynn Sykes, and Jack Evernden [the seismic monitoring scientists] have done. Formally, their work is done for us as an international organization. We can then take it and advocate it to other governments. As an Icelandic citizen, I am not bound by the American Lohman Act. There’s no such act in my country—or that of my Dutch or Canadian colleagues.

So you always have some elements inside the network who can do for you what other elements cannot do. For example, as a non-governmental organization, we can lobby in support of the proposals of the Group of Six—the Five Continent Peace Initiative—which they cannot do because they are bound by diplomatic procedures.

P.M.: Excellent. Let me tell you of something that happened when the main issue in Canada was the testing of the cruise missiles. I had contact with the Prime Minister’s office and was told informally that he wanted nothing to do with the cruise missile, but that there were 60 bills in the U.S. Congress that affected Canada’s economic interests, and that he couldn’t refuse the cruise, lest there be economic retaliation. When I asked Americans about this they said that such a thing would be impossible; economic sanctions could not be organized in that way, even if Canadians expected the worst. I got some people together for lunch to strategize about it. My idea was to invite an American freeze candidate for the presidency to come to Canada and make a speech saying, “If you support our efforts by refusing the cruise, then the American freeze politicians whom I represent, will look out for your interests when those bills come up.” But I was told that such a thing was out of the question.

GRIMSSON: Well, you shouldn’t have let them convince you. You should have gone ahead and done it.

P.M.: They said, for one thing, that we’d have to have a lobbying group in Washington to run up the flag every time one of these bills came up in Congress.

GRIMSSON: Not necessarily. What you could do, as was done for New Zealand last winter, is to contact a group of American congressmen who are dedicated to the freeze issue or, in that case, to New Zealand’s policy on nuclear weapons. And you alert them to the fact that the American administration may use the threat of commercial retaliation. And these American Congressmen would be prepared to act on the slightest evidence of such retaliation. As it has turned out, against the expectations of what was being said by people close to the administration last winter, New Zealand has carried on its policy. It is no longer part of the ANZUS alliance, but one hasn’t heard anything more about economic retaliation.

P.M.: They haven’t been hurt, then?

GRIMSSON: No, because there are people in the U.S. Congress who are aware of what was being said to New Zealand. They let it be known in New Zealand and in Washington that they would expose the slightest evidence of economic threats.

P.M.: I see. And so your organization, Parliamentarians Global Action, is consciously working at that level, deliberately setting out to find ways of transcending national boundaries.

GRIMSSON: Absolutely. And we have also done so—although that has been less publicized—on the North/South relationship by working to increase funding for development aid in some key European countries. For example, we cooperated with the Italian Members of Parliament in ’84 and ’85 to lobby for the Italian “Hunger Bill,” which raised Italy’s contribution to aid to Africa by $1 billion U.S. a year. This made Italy, among the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries, one of the top contributors to overseas aid. And it was done by bringing in people from different countries, different international organizations, different political parties, to operate as a network to build support for that action in the Italian Parliament. It can now be used as an example to other countries, by saying “If the Italians could increase their contribution by this huge amount, then you can do it in Spain, France, and the other countries.”

So it basically works on the assumption of treating the entire globe as one political system, where you can operate with flexibility, and secondly, taking all the actors who are willing to support the goal, and cooperating in these efforts, and using them in a sophisticated way and coordinating them to some extent. But after a time, coordination becomes less necessary because people are so aware that it becomes automatic.

P.M.: And you have three amazing success stories so far: The establishment of the Five Continent Peace Initiative; the seismic verification of the test ban moratorium; and the work on the amendment to the Partial Test Ban Treaty.

GRIMSSON: Yes. They are all different, and they are not all in an equally advanced state, but you are right. These are three examples of how it works. And the Group of Six, which could have been just some politicians who made statements, has evolved into an entirely new thing.

P.M.: When I first knew about the Group of Six I thought it was wonderful but, because it operates way up there at the summit level, I wondered what it had to do with us grassroots activists. “How can we support it?” I couldn’t imagine any possible input that local peace organizations could make to that process.

GRIMSSON: Ways are getting institutionalized. For example, in Athens in 1985 , a few days after the Delhi summit and also after the Mexico summit recently, there came together about sixty international personalities representing peace organizations and scientists, to discuss the policy proposals of the Six. They considered ways of furthering these policies. The Group of Six don’t want this to be an action of just six leaders. In Europe and the United States coordinating committees have been established in the various peace organizations to promote the policies of the Six Nations Initiative. There is cooperation between our organization and these coordinating committees. The German one, for instance, put an ad in the Washington Post a few weeks ago calling on the American Congress to become active in stopping testing. And the American movement has also been active in making the proposals of the Six known to U.S. Congressmen and other interested bodies. So there is already a system of direct cooperation. It’s important inside the planning group of the Six Initiative, which consists of representatives of the six leaders and one or two people from Parliamentarians Global Action. It relates them to the constituency of the peace movement.

P.M.: And the six leaders could talk to the superpower leaders, while the parliamentarians could equally approach members of parliaments and legislators.

GRIMSSON: Absolutely. And that division of labor has proved to be very useful. The six leaders cannot go to the German Bundestag or the American Congress and lobby for their proposals—but we can. We can say things that they can’t say, so we have an effective relationship.

Another aspect of it is that it is not formally an initiative of states but of the leaders.

P.M.: Why does that matter?

GRIMSSON: It matters because you don’t then have to engage the huge bureaucracies of the states in the activities. You don’t have to go through the relevant ministries and all the official channels. The initiative is a personal one by the presidents of these countries.

P.M.: Well, suppose one of these leaders was not elected again. Would he or she continue?

GRIMSSON: No, although you have the case of Julius Nyerere, still continuing inside the group, although he stepped down as President of Tanzania. But I don’t think he will continue indefinitely. And it doesn’t mean that if there’s a new government, the new Prime Minister will necessarily come into the initiative, because it doesn’t go with the countries.

P.M.: But the group will still be kept at six?


P.M.: Now, Parliamentarians Global Action had a relationship with the Group of Six from the very beginning.

GRIMSSON: Yes, we created the Group. In the summer of 1983 we approached heads of several governments and asked them to become part of such a group. We approached Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau and discussed it with him.

P.M.: Perhaps he’d have done better to join your group instead of attempting his own peace initiative.

GRIMSSON: Well in any case, he decided not to join—maybe because he knew he was stepping down as prime minister.

P.M.: There was another reason, I understand. It was thatt he felt that non-aligned countries didn’t have any clout. He viewed this basically as a non-aligned action and believed that by acting as a loyal member of the alliance he could get further. What is your view of that?

GRIMSSON: With respect, I don’t think that is true. The world has changed. Cooperation between allied states and non-aligned states can be a very useful thing. Mr. Papandreou belongs to the Group of Six, even though Greece is a member of NATO.

P.M.: True, and that was said to be another factor weighing against Trudeau’s involvement in the Group of Six. I heard that some people in the Canadian government thought Papandreou too radical and wouldn’t have liked for Trudeau to work closely with him.

GRIMSSON: No, at that time it had not been decided who would be in and who out. Anyhow, I think this year the Group has proved in terms of verification how they have moved the Soviets. With all due respect to Canada’s influence as a true partner in NATO, the Group has had more influence on American policy than any NATO country. It is interesting that Chancellor Helmut Kohl has seen this and before the Mexico summit wrote (on his own initiative—nobody asked him) a long letter to the Six declaring his support for the initiative, declaring his support for the policy of the comprehensive test ban. In my opinion he was using the Group of Six to state to the Americans in strong terms the support of West Germany for the comprehensive test ban that now can be verified. West Germany would have had difficulty saying that in NATO. So it used the Group of Six as a way to get that message to the Reagan administration.

P.M.: You know, Canada abstained from voting at the U.N. on the issue of the amendment to the Partial Test Ban Treaty. Can you explain that?

GRIMSSON: Well, I think that Canadians have to explain that! But it was a new idea. It is understandable that, on the first occasion when it is introduced into the international arena, some countries might abstain. Some other respectable countries (such as Sweden) abstained too. The idea is perhaps too new for the established diplomats in the foreign ministries.

P.M.: But that is an area where people can make a difference in the future, because the opportunity will come up again and the Canadian government should be lobbied to promote the idea. Right?

GRIMSSON: Oh, absolutely! Absolutely!

Peace Magazine Dec 1986-Jan 1987

Peace Magazine Dec 1986-Jan 1987, page 12. Some rights reserved.

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