The Road to Peace

Eds. Ernie Regehr and Simon Rosenblum. Toronto: James Lorimer 1988; 206pp

By John Bacher (reviewer) | 1989-02-01 12:00:00

THE WEAKNESS Of The Road to Peace is evident in its title; evidently the authors have forgotten the words of the great American pacifist, A. J. Muste, that "there is no road to peace, peace is the road." By setting out a grandiose blueprint for peace, Regehr and Rosenblum highlight the limitations in their technocratic path. Muste's observations about the need for a nonviolent approach stand in contrast to this book's preoccupation with verification techniques, discovering the optimal level of nuclear weapons needed for deterrence, and search for new military strategies.

It is astonishing that the most visionary article in this prosaic anthology is written by a retired Major-General, Leonard Johnson. Johnson passionately outlines what he aptly terms the "mad, mad world" of nuclear war fighting strategies. He traces the current insanity to the transformation of war by the industrial revolution away from "small regular armies and navies for limited objectives" into a "global conflict involving millions of combatants and the economic power of large and small industrial states fighting for unlimited and nebulous political objectives." He traces the origins of current suicidal nuclear strategies to the doctrines of the "air-power apostles" and details such concerns as the past threat of nuclear war.

ONE OF THE MOST REVEALING errors in The Road to Peace is Simon Rosenblum's observation that it is not currently possible to "develop technologies and procedures to detect steps towards building nuclear weapons." Here Rosenblum ignores one of the critical aspects of the "suffocation" strategy put forward by Pierre Trudeau. This is the shutting down of the nuclear fuel cycle, especially uranium refineries, which (since they occupy such a massive area) cannot be hidden from satellite photography from outer space. Nowhere in The Road to Peace is attention focused on Canada's role as a uranium exporter. In the brief mention of this issue, Ernie Regehr, Bill Robinson and Simon Rosenblum call for uranium exports to be permitted only if "strict conditions" were met that the nuclear weapons programs of other countries would not be aided. This fails to challenge the dubious claims of current supporters of nuclear exports that no such weapons links now exist.

A core weakness of The Road to Peace is apparent in such observations as Regehr's - that arms were developed, not simply "out of cynicism and malice," but "out of a desire for security." History is full of wars, invasions, and covert operations that comprised power struggles having nothing to do with a search for security.

Regehr's and Rosenblum's downplaying of the role of militarism leads them to ignore the struggles of peace, ecological, and human rights advocates to achieve a detente from below. No mention is made of the process of the East/West dialogue, of such vital documents as the END and Prague appeals or the more recent proposal to give life to the Helsinki accords. Ignoring the effort to dismantle the blocs through such means as Petra Kelly's proposal for an international nonaligned movement for social defence, Regehr and Rosenblum stress the "de-alignment " approach favored by German Social Democrat Erhard Eppler. Having been at the Coventry END Convention when Eppler made this proposal, which was intended to blunt demands of the European Greens for withdrawal from NATO, I observed that this was regarded by many in the European peace movement as one of the dullest of the peace proposals. That such blandness should be so highlighted in The Road to Peace, shows the provincialism of the Canadian peace movement and its inability to challenge the roots of militarism, in contrast to the thrust of END. None of their more innovative proposals, such as the withdrawal of all foreign troops and missiles from Europe, the creation of demilitarized zones, and the extension of human rights in both blocs, receive any mention in The Road to Peace.

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1989

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1989, page 23. Some rights reserved.

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