Stable Peace

By Hanna Newcombe; Arnold Simoni | 1990-02-01 12:00:00

Securing Security: Views of Two Canadian Peace Elders

THE CHANGES in Central and Eastern Europe must be secured by some sort of ratchet effect, as a basis for further progress. Kenneth Boulding is fond of talking about four "phases" -stable peace, unstable peace, unstable war, and stable war. Examples are Scandinavia; bipolar Europe until lately; India-Pakistan; and Lebanon. This scheme suggests a new geo-politics, mapping the world as to the four Boulding phases of peace and war. Ours is a time transition from the war system to the peace system. Boulding's four phases are stages in that transition. Areas of stable war and unstable (occasional) war snake through Africa, the Middle East, and South and South-East Asia in a great arc which Alan Newcombe and I have called "the fuse." Areas of stable peace include Scandinavia, North America, and since World War II, Western Europe. Our task as agents of the great transition is to shrink the "fuse" area and expand the peace area. Since 1987, many wars along the fuse have been settled. Examples are the Iran-Iraq war, Namibia, Cambodia, hints about talks between India and Pakistan, and the Soviets quitting Afghanistan.

The area of stable peace, which until recently has occupied part of the great belt through the Northern temperate latitudes (Japan, North Arnerica, Western Europe) now shows promise of "closing the ring" by also including Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The weapons are still in place; the planet is still booby-trapped. The intent to use the weapons has evaporated, but accidents could still happen.

While we work on dismantling the weapons, we must also rearrange politics. We must avoid re-creating a strong reunified Germany in the midst of disunited weaker neighbors, or reviving old Balkan rivalries that ignited World War I. We must also avoid carelessness born of exhilaration. Let us then look at some possible structures in Europe that could produce sustainable peace. One is the old Rapacki Plan: a neutralized, demilitarized West and East Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. This could adjoin a Scandinavian denuclearized zone in the North and a Balkan denuclearized zone in the south. If this area also developed semi-federal p0litical and economic institutions, Germany, whether reunified or not, would be "diluted" and rendered harmless, while attaining its own legitimate national goals. The overlap with the European Community and Come-con would be acceptable, even beneficial, as some nations would be members of two regional associations. Such "cross-links" or multiple loyalties are peace-producing.

It would be better to use EEC and Comecon, the economic associations, than NATO and Warsaw Pact, the military alliances, for this European unification. However, one advantage of the latter is that North America would be included, i.e. a bigger chunk of the Northern belt of industrialized nations which constitute the present stable peace area.

But there is a still better format for including this larger area, plus the European neutrals: the CSCE (Helsinki) framework, recently suggested by Mr. Gorbachev. If this loose grouping could extend to economic and political cooperation, it might produce the stable and peaceful results. Conventional disarmament negotiations are now taking place in this framework.

Now that weapons are no longer needed, for lack of an enemy, gradual disarmament may come spontaneously, by reciprocated unilateral reductions (maybe not even coordinated) just to save money. However, without treaties, back-sliding might occur if tensions rise again. We need a ratchet effect to secure our gains, and only treaties can do that. Mutual unilateral reductions could still precede treaties.

For a gradual automatic process for disarming our stocks of H-bombs, we could simply cut off the tritium, and the bombs would be duds in 5 or 10 years. We have to think up other technical fixes for other types of weapons.

Why do we have this "peace crisis right now? If it is all due to Gorbachev, it might be quite fragile. Leo Tolstoy argued against the "great man theory" of history, at that time with respect to Napoleon. Leaders may see that the world has to cooperate to prevent ecological disaster. This may be a "common enemy" to unite us-a superordinate goal which transforms former enemies into allies.

Are we going to make it after all? (1 have despaired many times.) Who knows? Nature is testing us for fitness. Only the first phase of the experiment has ended in Europe. Our major asset has always been the ability to think. Problem-solving must now extend from technology to socioeconomic and geo-political situations.

Hanna Newcombe
Peace Research Institute Dundas

Stable Peace, part two

By Arnold Simoni

WHILE THE surprising changes in Eastern Europe may lead to enhanced peace and security in Europe, they also pose dangers of instability. The Warsaw Treaty Organization may fragment or yield a new authoritarian, aggressive post-Gorbachev USSR, again suspicious of American military power. Arms control or security agreements cannot neutralize this potential.

Apromising approach to this historically persistent problem is a voluntary transformation of the Central and East European region into a community of states with a non-threatening military posture. This community of states which could be called a Regional Association of Nations (RAN) would consist of West and East Germany, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. These nations would employ a collective

security policy of enhanced defensiveness, deliberately concentrating on anti-aircraft defences and anti-tank weapons, and dramatically reducing force levels by relying instead more on militia. Such a security arrangement would buffer between the Soviet Union and the Western states. By providing a credible defence of its own territories (perhaps with a joint defence force drawn from the region) without threatening its neighbors, the RAN could improve security in the region.

A similar regional arrangement might be considered for other states that are prone to conflict with their neighbors. Balkan and Baltic states, including Finland, are examples of regional groupings of states that might benefit from the RAN approach.

A Regional Association of Nations would produce the following benefits:

(1) It would form a buffer zone between East and West, assuring both the Soviet Union and Western European states that no threatening military forces would be near their borders.

(2) By its defensive military posture, it would prevent the nations within the region from threatening each other.

(3) It would reduce the danger that revisionist movements in Germany and Poland might use force to regain territories lost in World War II or earlier.

(4) It would reduce military spending of states in the RAN and its neighbors because of the non-threatening nature of defence forces in the region.

A precondition for RAN is a fluidity in the institutions of participating governments. Such fluidity exists now but may not last long.

Arnold Simoni
Centre for International And Strategic Studies, York University.

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1990

Peace Magazine Feb-Mar 1990, page 16. Some rights reserved.

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