Peace as a Political Weapon
by Vladimir Bukovsky
No matter how much evidence is amassed of Soviet deception during the past thirty years-violation of international agreements, manipulation of public opinion, subversion and terrorism, covert coups and overt aggression-a large part of the Western public still finds it too difficult to accept. If nothing else, the sheer scope of this Soviet activity and the utterly inhuman methods they employ make a “balanced” Western observer suspicious.
Even the most undeniable facts—like shooting down the Korean Airliner, or the invasion of Afghanistan—failed to change public opinion in the West prompted many people to look for a more “rational” explanation of Soviet . Instead, the very absurdity of Soviet motives, or even for a justification. And more often than not, these explanations tend to blame the Western governments rather than the Soviets.
Unfortunately, such an attitude is only natural. Any textbook of medical psychology describes a similar pattern of behavior displayed by a mother who lost her child, or by a patient with terminal cancer. In general, whenever a person is confronted with something mind-boggling, something utterly horrible and beyond his control, he goes through a succession of mental states ranging from denial to guilt, and from fantastic “rationalization”to acute depression.
Indeed, what can be more traumatic than to face a mortal enemy who stops at nothing and who can destroy the earth five times over? An enemy who subjugates country after country, slowly but steadily, for half a century; who penetrates every sphere of our life and ruthlessly exploits our weakness-all for no apparent reason? In the course of history, the has tried practically every possible approach, from containment to detente, and nothing has worked. As Solzhenitsyn suggests, the Soviet specter is like a cancer and, therefore, not surprisingly, our reaction to it is similar to that of a cancer patient.
Soviet behavior, however, ceases to appear so frighteningly irrational unbelievably cruel as soon as we understand that they regard themselves as being at war with the rest of the world. Basically, we accept different moral standards during wartime, and many acts of violence and deception appear justified. Thus, the sinking of the Lusitania by German U-boats in 1915 was probably a worse crime than shooting down a passenger airliner in 1983, simply because the former incident killed at least four times as many innocent people and because it occurred in neutral waters, while the latter occurred within Soviet air space. Yet we are inclined to accept the sinking as legitimate, while the airline incident is viewed as a totally irrational and inexplicable act.
Similarly, when we read about Lawrence of Arabia, we are not particularly outraged by his skillful manipulation of feuding Arab tribes. Yet we refuse to believe that the Soviets routinely employ the same methods of warfare by supporting and manipulating all kinds of extremist groups around the world. The facts are undeniable, but it seems just too mean to be true.
And, speaking of propaganda, have deception or disinformation, not always been legitimate means of war, from the Trojan horse to the fake D-Day assaults? Every country’s army has a special detachment for psychological warfare, dormant in peacetime and activated at the beginning of hostilities. The only difference in the case of the Soviet Union is that the entire country became such a detachment, while the war itself was not formally declared.
Strictly speaking, however, we can not blame the Soviets even for waging an undeclared war against humanity: this war was actually proclaimed at turn of the century by the founders of Marxist-Leninist ideology under the banner of “class struggle” and it continues unabated ever since. Every five years at each Communist Party Congress, the Soviet ruling clique solemnly reaffirms the declaration of war by pledging its full support to liberation movements” and to the “forces of progress and socialism.”
The Same Ideological State
Sixty Years after Lenin’s death, the Soviet Union remains the same ideological state serving the purposes of the world revolution as he had conceived it. It does not matter that no one nowadays believes in Communist dogma. In their everyday lives the Soviet people may perceive it as a nuisance, or as a source of numerous jokes shared equally by the people and their rulers. But at the end of the day, the Communist Party is still in firm control of every aspect of Soviet life, and Communist ideology is never challenged within the Party. The differences between the Communist and non-Communist worlds are still defined as “antagonistic” (i.e. irreconcilable), as are those between the opposing “classes” of “capitalist society”— proletariat and bourgeoisie.
What was once a utopia, a dream, became a structure, an institution, and everyday job for millions of people. The Soviet Union is not a state in traditional meaning of the word, but a huge and well-organized army of ideological warriors, a fortress with hundreds of front organizations, thousands of publications around the world, and with a gigantic budget perhaps even a bigger one than their military budget.
The idea of a permanent war against the non-Communist world is the dominant feature of Soviet life. As in Nazi Germany, millions are brought up in the spirit of militarism and hatred, convinced by the pervasive propaganda that every foreigner is a spy, an enemy by definition. Just as one example of this massive militaristic upbringing, look at a copy of a popular Soviet magazine for pre-school children, “Veselye Kartinki” (Merry Pictures). With a circulation of 9,000,000 copies, it is dedicated to glorification of the military tradition, past and present, to praising the SovietArmy in general and the border guards in particular, because “they protect your peaceful and happy childhood.” In the light of this, should we surprised that the murder of some three hundred people on a Korean airliner did not arouse popular indignation in the Soviet Union?
Consistent with a state of permanent war is notorious Soviet secretiveness. Practically anything, from a small-scale map to a telephone directory, or from the production goals of a factory to statistics of accidents and natural disasters, is treated as an official secret. Recently a new law was massed making it a criminal offense (punishable by three years in labor camps) to pass virtually any information to a foreigner or to any person just might pass it to a foreigner. This new law, of course, does not apply to passing genuine military information, the penalty for which has been the firing squad.
In fact, the Soviet system not only stresses secretiveness, but a deliberately cultivated paranoia. Numerous TV series about foreign spies, endless films about World War II, persistent official appeals for vigilance, and artificially created international tensions-all these are designed to maintain a spirit of mobilization and virtually a state of martial law.
Not surprisingly, any attempt by a Soviet citizen to escape to a “capitalist country” (or a refusal to return from a visit to such a country) is treated under Soviet law as high treason and is equated with desertion by a soldier to enemy forces during a war (article 64, part 3 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation).
In such a political atmosphere it became only natural that if, by anV chance, an ordinary Soviet man comes into contact with a foreigner, his patriotic duty is to deceive the “enemy” Thus, entire streets are freshly painted, roads are paved and red carpets are laid down in anticipation of a foreign delegation at every town, collective farm, school, or factory it is supposed to visit. “Occasional encounters” (allegedly accidental and spontaneous) are rehearsed well in advance. Food and consumer goods are urgently brought and displayed in shop windows. Potential trouble-makers are jailed, or locked up in lunatic asylums, or simply sent away under a suitable pretext. And woe be to them who may spoil the picture of prospered peaceful Soviet life.
Equally^ those who are allowed to travel abroad on official business as tourists) are instructed what to say and what to do. Special KGB agents placed among them to monitor their performances, while their families back home serve as hostages. A Soviet man travelling abroad is not a civilian, but a frontline soldier in the ongoing ideological war.
One might say that these methods are too crude to deceive anybody. Yet, the sheer scope of this deception is simply too huge for many to become suspicious. An average Western man is not prepared to detect a colossal and audacious falsification. Let us remember that an outrageous falsification was actually believed by millions in the West for many decades. In the darkest hours of Stalin’s great terror, Western intellectuals were praising his regime as the most just and humane on earth, and they were greeting it as the harbinger of mankind’s bright future. The trend has changed only very recently, when thousands of refugees came, wave after wave, from Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the Soviet Union, bringing their stories of horror. Only after dozens of books were published disclosing the truth about the Soviet regime (like Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago"), only after the truth about persecution of Jews and the abuse of psychiatry for political purposes became widely known, while application of the Communist model created obvious disasters everywhere, from Cambodia and Vietnam, to Ethiopia and Angola, to Cuba and Nicaragua-only then did the “crude” methods of the overt Soviet propaganda cease to be effective.
Still, many thousands of those who visited the Soviet Union recently came out with the impression that the Soviets, whatever problems they might have (and who has no problems?) are essentially just another country* not too different from the rest of the world, and certainly do not want a war with anybody. Thus, the main goal of the Soviet disinformation - to conceal the fact of war waged by them against the non-Communist world “is still being pursued. As Dr. Goebbels, an early expert in the field, said: “A lie must be monstrous to be convincing.’
The Brainwashing Campaign
Robert Gillette in his Los Angeles Times article (August 12, 1984) from Moscow, “Soviets Show the Facade of Peace,” describes in detail the massive brainwashing campaign:
Two centuries later pokazukha [the facade] is alive and well in Russia, and an integral part of state propaganda. Its principal targets today are the growing numbers of American and West European peace activists who come here in organized tours to see for themselves whether the Soviet Union is, as it claims to be, a benign and peace loving nation.
Some return home discouraged by the heavy-handedness of Soviet propaganda and the inflexibility of officials who uniformly insist that ‘’American imperialism” is the sole cause of tension in the world.
But hundreds of others, whose fears of a nuclear holocaust seemingly predispose them to take Soviet reassurances of good will at face value, come away from whirlwind tours with a glowing image of the country and its ambitions in the world arena that bears little resemblance to the Soviet Union familiar to the foreign scholars, diplomats, journalists, and businessmen who live here.
Although their numbers are relatively small, the often bizarre image they carry away is amplified ty the dozens of speeches many will deliver home to church and civic groups across the United States, with cumulative audiences numbering in the tens of thousands.
Many of the peace tours are hosted by the official Soviet Peace Committee, an arm of the propaganda of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, headed by Yuri Zhukov, a veteran political commentator at Pravda, the main Party newspaper. Zhukov is an alternative member of the Central Committee.
On the American side, the names of groups sponsoring peace tours of the Soviet Union reflect their hopes that a grass-roots dialogue with “ordinary Russians” will somehow succeed in easing tensions where conventional diplomacy has failed.
“US-USSR Bridges for Peace” in Norwich, Vermont, for instance, brings leaders of nuclear freeze groups from New England communities. “US-USSR Citizens Dialogue” gathers up ordinary Americans from across the country for a whirlwind exposure to Russian hospitality.
A Woodmont, Connecticut, organization called “Promoting Enduring Peace, Inc.’’ which describes itself as non-political as well as non-profit, takes a more leisurely approach. The group sponsors summertime peace cruises” down the Volga on a luxury ship that its promotional literature calls the “Dove Boat” From the moment they arrive in Leningrad or Moscow until their departure ten days to two weeks later, the jet lagged Americans are plunged into an exhausting round of banquets. peace seminars, state-sponsored peace rallies, factory visits, folk concerts, and glimpses of the pomp and glitter of Russian Orthodox Church services.
Some Americans are surprised to see Russians on the streets behaving like ordinary people, chatting, often smiling, coddling their children. When these fleeting scenes of Soviet life fail to match up with the Orwellian image of a repressive state many Westerners bring with them, they conclude-with encouragement from their Soviet hosts - that the deception lies on the other side.
The visitors’ horizons are further limited by the fact that almost none of them speak Russian. Even those who do seem generally unaware that most Soviet citizens, when confronted by an unknown and inquisitive foreigner, find it best to respond with a faithful reproduction of Pravda or the last obligatory political lecture he or she attended.
Travelling in the company of polished and gregarious Soviet journalists and selected tour guides who speak colloquial American English, the visitors hear endless toasts to “mir i drizhba”—peace and friendship. Often, there is a visit to a model elementary school where brightly dressed children present flowers to the foreigners, then join hands with them and sing “We Shall Overcome.”
“We garden-variety Americans aren’t accustomed to walking into an auditorium where the whole school applauds us,” Wayne Bryan of San Antonio, Texas, who was on a “Citizens Dialogue” tour, told a Moscow news conference. “We held hands all around and sang ‘We Shall Overcome”. It was a very moving experience.’
The tours of schools and children’s camps carefully avoid glimpses of compulsory civil defense and military education for boys and girls.
The touring Americans, many of whom see themselves as practicing alternative diplomacy, resent being told by diplomats and other foreigners here that their Soviet travelling companions are not journalists and peace activists in the Western sense, but propagandists - a legitimate profession in Soviet terms, with no invidious connotation whose business is not to inform public opinion but to guide it.
“We were overcome by the warmth of the welcome, by the tears, by the cry for peace in such difficult times,” Helen Hamilton, a Presbyterian peace activist from Tacoma, Washington, said after a tour that included a visit with Valentina Tereshkova, the imposing former cosmonaut who heads the Soviet Women's Committee.
“She may not be as free as I am to work for peace, but she is not a propagandist,” Hamilton said with indignation in her voice when a reporter suggested that Tereshkova’s job was mainly one of public relations with Western women’s groups.
In city after city, the visitors file through war memorials where they are told that a nation that lost 20 million people in World War II could possibly harbor aggressive aims towards others.
Few foreign visitors seem to sense that they have stepped into a torrent of domestic peace propaganda designed to convince ordinary Russians — who do indeed want peace — that the state’s massive military investments are vital not only to protect the Soviet homeland, but to preserve world stability and the “gains of socialism” across the globe, from Vietnam to Cuba, and from Afghanistan to Poland.
The peace tours often end with a “plenary session” and a news conference in the spacious wood-paneled headquarters of the Soviet Peace Committee, which is located fittingly on Prospect Mira-Peace Avenue.
Under the warm glow of television lights, Soviet reporters from Radio Moscow, Tass, and the Novosti press agency pose questions that elicit expressions of gratitude from the Americans for the warmth and hospitality they have seen and that encourage them to believe they are now part of a vital link between East and West.
Anne Swallow, for example, a minister from Carmel Valley, California, who led a United Church of Christ delegation from Northern California and Nevada in June, told one such news conference that she and her group were “gratified to have been part of breaking down the wall of mistrust.”
Although members of the group had spent only two weeks on a busy tour, she said they came away with a “better appreciation of the incredible diversity in religion, culture, and even ideology” that seemed to exist in the Soviet Union.
Most seem to emerge from the pressure-cooker of Russian hospitality convinced, despite the anti-American propaganda they acknowledge having heard along the way, that they have taken part in a meaningful grass-roots dialogue that has begun to chip away at the “misunderstanding” they believe lies at the heart of U.S-Soviet tensions.
“We are by no means a group of tourists,” Clinton Gardner, a founder of Bridges for Peace, told a Moscow press conference earlier this year. “We have made a breakthrough in a new style of dialogue between nations. I feel that Soviet society is ready to work with us.”
Touring Western peace activists often voice indignation at suggestions that they are being used, but their visits do serve Soviet interests in several ways.
For one, they lead to reciprocal visits to the United States and Western Europe by Soviet journalists, churchmen, and Peace Committee officials whose Western hosts often present them, in sincerity, as ordinary Russians.
Moreover, visiting Westerners lend credence and legitimacy to domestic Soviet propaganda as they travel about the country, giving interviews at every stop to local journalists. Russians are as wary of propaganda as any people, but when they hear visiting foreigners praising the strength and unanimity of the Soviet peace “movement” and the peaceable aims of Moscow’s foreign policy, they are more likely to listen.
The Soviet Peace Committee has convinced many of its guests that, despite its faithful reflection of government views, it is not an “official” organization but the focal point of a grass-roots disarmament movement roughly comparable to those in the West. This false impression appears to ease the apprehensions some American and European nuclear freeze advocates feel about putting unilateral pressure on their own governments.
“It is wrong to call this an “official’ organization, because its money comes from voluntary donations, not the state,” Clinton Gardner of Bridges for Peace, among others, has insisted.
The voluntary nature of these donations can be seen regularly on Soviet television news. A party lecturer harangues a crowd of lethargic, blank-faced factory workers standing on the shop floor. Someone on the podium calls for donating a day’s wages to the Peace Committee. The right arms of the workers rise in unison and the proposal carries without dissent. Russians, at least, understand that to vote “no,” however much one might favor peace, would only invite needless trouble.
I have reproduced this lengthy quotation simply because it gives the best description of the Soviet machinery of peace ever to appear in the Western press. It shows how the good intentions of people in the East and West are used to confuse and deceive each other, thus making them unwilling instruments of Soviet ideological warfare. Nobody is required to believe in the ideological dogma anymore. It is quite sufficient to have, on the one hand, an inexhaustible desire to be deceived, while, on the other hand, an equally unlimited willingness to submit, in order to make a powerful political weapon out of people’s desire to live in peace.
The Struggle for Peace as a Soviet Foreign Policy Tool
Before examining the most recent developments in the peace movement, let me briefly reiterate the main positions set forth in my pamphlet in 1981, The Peace Movement and the Soviet Union? Contrary to the allegations made by those who apparently did not read my pamphlet carefully, and yet have taken it upon themselves to criticize it, I did not ascribe the emergence of the peace movement in Europe to a “Communist conspiracy.” In fact, exactly the opposite is true: the “struggle for peace” has always been a cornerstone of Soviet foreign policy, a position openly proclaimed and inscribed in all Communist Party resolutions. According to Soviet ideology real lasting peace can only be achieved by destroying capitalism, that “hotbed of contradictions and imperialist intentions.” Why, they ask themselves, should brother-proletarians want to kill each other once they are selves, should brother-proletarians want to kill each other once they are free from “capitalist oppression”?
Moreover, according to their ideology, the ultimate triumph of Communism in the world is historically inevitable, which means they do not need to initiate a world war unless they are certain they will win it, of course, history must be encouraged and helped a bit now and then. Thus, a war fought in the “interests of the proletariat” is considered to be a “just war,” because, they believe, it leads to the liberation of humanity from the “chains of capitalism,” a development that ultimately will save mankind from the evils of war.
In practical terms, the “struggle for peace” has always been a useful tool of Soviet foreign policy- Communists have always known very well that the majority of the population in any country of the world would accept their rule only as a last resort-only when the alternative would be absolutely unbearable. They are, therefore, very skillful in exploiting unbearable situations (or in creating them, as in Poland), and they are extremely clever at molding political events to give the appearance that their rule is the only alternative. Thus, opponents appear to be “unreasonable” and “enemies of peace,” while the Communists are the “peacemakers?
Besides, in the ideological struggle it is much more advantageous to be on the side of such noble causes as “justice,” “peace,” “equality” — a terminological game played by the Soviets to the point of perfection. So, they are indeed “peace-lovers,” if we are to accept their definition of peace.
One can find plenty of examples in recent history to confirm the consistency of the Soviets’ “peaceful” policy as described above-the creation of the Soviet Union itself out of the ashes of World War I, and the turmoil of the subsequent civil war, Moscow’s “love affair” with Hitler, and the events during World War II. After the war, they touted the cause of peace while trying to catch up with the West in the nuclear arms race and as a means to silence the public outcry over their occupation of Eastern Europe. And now, as they try to retain their nuclear superiority over the West, they use it again to silence the growing criticism of Soviet adventurism in the Third World and of human rights violations at home, finally, and perhaps most importantly, they exploit the cause of peace to extend their political influence in Western Europe. Once again political foes of the Soviet Union —this time the Western democracies-are defamed as “unreasonable,” as “insane ” or as “warmongers” just because they do not want to accept the “lesser evil” of Soviet domination as an alternative to the ultimate evil of nuclear holocaust.
Also, contrary to the hysterical outcry of many anti-nuclear activists, I did not imply in the 1981 pamphlet that the so-called peace movement consists exclusively of paid Soviet agents. In fact, I had taken the trouble to repeat at least four times within fifty pages that in my view the overwhelming majority of peace marchers are well-intentioned, albeit confused, naive, and frightened people. As usual, there are plenty of professional political profiteers who seek popularity by jumping on the bandwagon of peace at any price, just as there are plenty of people who try to exploit the atmosphere of panic for their own selfish purposes. But there is also not the slightest doubt that this motley crowd is manipulated by a handful of activists instructed directly from Moscow.
There were already quite a few facts available by the end of 1981 to prove the latter conclusion. To begin with, the peace movement’s one-sidedness itself was very revealing. The major constituent groups of the movement have conspicuously refrained from condemning Soviet imperialism in Afghanistan, Poland, and other places, just as they have refused to denounce Soviet violations of international treaties and human rights agreements, They were crying shame on the Americans for merely planning to develop and deploy weapons like the enhanced radiation warhead and the cruise and Pershing missiles, but they were speaking only in whispers of the hundreds of Soviet SS-20s already aimed at Europe. They were happily throwing stones at General Haig in Germany, but Marshal Brezhnev did provoke similar outbursts of anger.
There were, moreover, a number of reports on the heavy representation of Communists in the leadership of the major peace groups, representation that was disproportionate to their number in the rank-and-file. There were also occasional quarrels inside the peace movement over the existence of Communist influence on decision-making, and there were even a few instances of direct Soviet involvement, as in the case of Arne Petersen in Denmark.
But most of the evidence of Soviet involvement in the European peace movement could easily be found by reading the Soviet newspapers and by comparing them with major peace movement publications. The new slogans adopted in Moscow would normally take from one to six months to migrate into major peace movement publications in Western Europe. The swiftness with which this occurred suggests a close, if somewhat indirect, link between some peace movement leaders and the masters of the Kremlin. The most striking example of West European peace activists following the Soviet lead was the designation of the last week in October as the target date for staging large peace rallies in Europe. This decision was first made public during the “World Parliament of Peoples for Peace” in Sofia, Bulgaria, in September 1980. Within a month, the first large anti-nuclear demonstrations took place in West European capitals.
It is also possible to trace the origin of the current peace campaign to specific Soviet actions. According to Soviet newspaper reports, the actual decision to begin supporting peace activists in the West was taken in the summer of 1979, more than a year before it was finally launched in Sofia. One can easily reconstruct the reasoning that led to this decision. If we keep in mind that since 1977 the Soviets have been deploying SS-20s at a rate of one per week, we should have no difficulty in realizing how helpful a peace movement in Western Europe could be in thwarting Western efforts to match the Soviet nuclear arms buildup in kind. There was, moreover, the need to preclude Western criticism of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which occurred about the same time the Kremlin decided to become involved in peace movements in the West. It was not difficult at the time for the Soviets to imagine what the West’s reaction to these moves would be. It may mean the end of detente, they probably thought, but they knew that could always resort to their traditional cold war strategy of combining provocations with the ever-present Soviet “struggle for peace.”
The Peace Conference in Bulgaria
After a year of active preparations, the initial stages of the peace campaign were remarkably successful. The “peace conference” in Bulgaria in September 1980 attracted 2,260 delegates from 137 countries, who claimed to represent 330 political parties, 100 international associations. and over 3,000 national non-governmental organizations. To be sure, this was no ordinary meeting of the international Communist movement. The political spectrum of those represented was exceptionally wide: 200 members of different national parliaments, 200 trade-union leaders, 129 leading Social Democrats (33 of them members of their respective national executive bodies), 150 writers and poets, 33 representatives of different liberation movements, women’s organizations, youth organizations, the World Council of Churches and other religious organizations, 18 representatives of different U.N. specialized committees, representatives of the Organization of African Unity and of OPEC, retired military officers, and representatives of 83 Communist parties.2
To gather such a wide variety of people from so many different political backgrounds to attend a political conference in a Communist country is by no means an easy task. The possibility that their presence might be interpreted as an endorsement of the Soviet Union’s aggressive and oppressive policies would normally deter many of them from coming. In the past even some Communist parties would have hesitated to send their represents fives. What happened on this occasion, however, was simply unbelievable: these 2,260 people voted unanimously to approve the absolutely pro-Soviet “Charter of the Peoples for Peace” and “Program for Action.” How could this be possible in the wake of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, at time when even many Western athletes had refused to participate in the Moscow Olympics?
Of course, one might guess that these “representatives” were quite carefully chosen in advance (after all, the Soviets had more than a year for preparations), and that only those known to be particularly “soft” on the peace issue were invited. Still, that alone could not have secured such stunning success. To be sure, the gathering was convened not by the Soviet government or by a Communist party, but by the World Peace Council. Who does not know, however, that this Council is a Soviet front organization? Moreover, the venue was carefully chosen-it was Bulgaria, not Czechoslovakia, or East Germany, let alone the Soviet Union. Still, who on earth could believe that Bulgaria would arrange an international conference independently from their Soviet masters?
The Soviet Use of the “Absolute Value”
The reason for the success of this conference is simply that the Soviets extremely skilled at brainwashing people. One of their most successful tricks, the same one which is the very foundation of Communist ideology is to confront a human being with an “absolute value.” Thus, the Soviets tout an absolute and everlasting happiness for mankind as an irresistibly appealing ideal attainable only through Communism. Similarly, the absolute and irreversible destruction of the entire globe, horrible as it is shown to be in numerous documentaries, is another “absolute value,” only this time an absolutely negative one. Relativism is a difficult concept to grasp, let alone to live with. Absolute value, on the other hand, whether positive or negative, saves us from the spiritual anguish of having to choose constantly between good and better, between bad and worse. But it also deprives us of our free will. It enslaves us.
This subject is endless, and it is not my task here to plunge into an extended philosophical essay. But a comment is in order on the notorious decision by American Catholic bishops to declare that nuclear weapons are immoral. Christian morality is a foundation of our civilization, and no one should think for a moment that the bishops have a monopoly on it. In my understanding, the Christian doctrine rejects simple arithmetic in the question of morality. “Human life is proclaimed to be priceless, and one life is deemed to be as priceless as a dozen lives. Then, how can they calculate that nuclear war is immoral, while conventional war is not? After all, the conventional World War II cost humanity some 50 million lives. Was it moral or immoral to defend ourselves against Hitler’s aggression?
As I have pointed out earlier, the absolute value deprives us of free will As Sidney Hook quite rightly remarked, “Those who say that life is worth ( living at any cost have already written for themselves an epitaph of infamy, for there is no cause and no person that they will not betray to stay alive,”3. Indeed, such endorsement of immorality is very strange to hear from God’s 5 shepherds, who, after all, should be more concerned with a man’s soul than his survival.
Be that as it may, in practice it was precisely the psychological lure of the absolute value that lay behind the stunning success of Soviet propaganda in and elsewhere. In the name of the ultimate value, people were asked to betray their normal values. After sufficiently scaring them with the horrors of a possible nuclear holocaust, they were bluntly told that the West was pushing the world toward the edge of catastrophe by imposing economic sanctions on the Eastern bloc and by boycotting cultural exchanges and sporting events (in response, of course, to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the persecution of scientists in the USSR). In order to defuse the issue of human rights, which was clearly putting them on the defensive, the Soviets proclaimed a new slogan: “The people have the power to preserve peace-their main right? Thus, in pursuit of the ultimate right, the people were supposed to sacrifice all other rights. And they did. After all. who cares how many are arrested, tortured, or killed by the Soviets when the main task is to save humanity from destruction? Not surprisingly, nobody asked the Soviets the most obvious questions: If you are as anxious to avoid a holocaust as you say, why should you continue to oppress your own people and others? Why should you remain in Afghanistan? Why should you not simply disarm unilaterally, as you require us to do? No, nobody asked these questions, because the Soviets are known to be “impossible,” while the West is known to be only “unreasonable” and often amenable to pressure.
Diplomacy Instead of Embarrassing Questions
Instead of asking the Soviets embarrassing questions, people of quite different professions have suddenly become preoccupied with the craft of diplomacy- They have been mesmerized by the “absolute value” and frightened by Soviet threats, deployment of sS-20s, and walkouts from arms reduction talks. Thus, American hosts of an official Soviet delegation are indignant when somebody tries to ask their guests an awkward question about violations of human rights or about persecution of Jews in the Soviet Union. Such questions are considered undiplomatic and detrimental to U.S.-Soviet relations. Justifying his decision to renew scientific exchanges with the Soviet Union at the very moment when Dr. Andrei Sakharov was reportedly dying in exile, the President of the American National Academy of Science, Frank Press, asserted: “Despite our continuous concern for Sakharov, there are some issues of such deep importance to the future of mankind that we have felt it necessary to continue talking about them with our Soviet counterparts. In this regard, arms control and international security are certainly of high priority. Our members feel very strongly about this issue”4.
A respected scholar with no sympathy for Communism, Professor Kenneth Galbraith, suddenly presents his readers with a highly optimistic view of the Soviet economy and goes even so far as to suggest that the Soviet people earn too much. Why?
I am not attracted by the Soviet system, but I am committed to the need of arm control - to the thought that after a nuclear exchange the ashes of Communism will be indistinguishable from the ashes of capitalism, even by the most perceptive ideologist. But it is a prerequisite for the control of nuclear weapons that there be a modicum of confidence and trust between the two countries. 5
Hence, on his recent “visit to Russia,” he notices only similarities between the American and Soviet societies. He even gives his Soviet hosts advice on how to improve the image of Communism:
When, in the Soviet Union, the spendable income exceeds the available supplies of the more sought-after goods, queues form at the shop. We saw these one day as we drove past a large shopping center on the edge of Leningrad. Standing in a queue is an uncomfortable thing; the shortages that induce it are seen as a failure of the government or the system. I asked my hosts if it wouldn’t be wiser to distribute a little less income in relation to the supply of goods, since wages, after all, are under state control. In consequence, people would attribute their inability to buy to their failure to earn enough rather than to the failure of the economic system to supply the desired goods. Surely, that would be better for the reputation of the system.6
As for the question of nuclear disarmament, this "is an effort one pursues primarily at home.”7
Soviet Influence Over the Peace Movement
Once again, this time through the “peace movement’’ Soviet propaganda has managed to hoodwink a considerable number of people in the West. After taking a spiritual lead over the movement, it was not very difficult to take an organizational one. After all, if we are to accept the “peace at any price” philosophy, we must all unite irrespective of our past crimes, political differences, and beliefs in order to survive. That was precisely the message presented by the head of the Soviet “delegation,” B.N. Ponomarev (Alternative Member of the Soviet Politburo and Head of the CpSU Central Committee’s International Department), in a speech before the delegates to the Sofia conference. And it was accepted unanimously, not only by Soviet delegates, but by Westerners as well, by Catholic priests, social democrats, liberals, trade-unionists, and women’s “lib” activists. For all our Western tolerance, is it still not shocking to see Westerners, no matter what their political cause, marching hand in hand with representatives of the Soviet Communist Party “to save humanity”?
What these multitudes of “inspired” people apparently do not know is that Communists are incapable of normal human cooperation - they are either your enemies, or they rule you. It is necessary only to look at what happened to the Labor Party in Britain to understand this simple fact. 8 Thus, in no time the small and nearly forgotten European Communist parties have taken over the leadership of the “peace movement” in Europe.
This fact has now, three years later, become common knowledge. In an article entitled, “The Story of Who’s Behind Britain’s CND,”9 Douglas Eden reveals that there is a large proportion of members of the British Communist Party in the CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) conference leadership, and that even the resolutions of the CP’s annual conferences are echoed by CND conference resolutions. More details of the Communist manipulation of the CND are set forth in an excellent article by Alun Chalfont in Encounter, and similar facts concerning Communist influence in the German and Dutch peace movements can be found in an article by Dr. Wynfred Joshua in Strategic Reviews The latter article also provides considerable information on the degree of direct Soviet involve' ment in the “peace movement” in the United States.
The evidence of direct Soviet involvement in the Western peace movement is so great that one could compile quite a lengthy catalog of facts and references. For example, in Switzerland, where Novosti Press Agency officials were discovered to be running the entire peace movement, the Swiss government closed the Bern bureau of Novosti, expelled the agency’s bureau chief, and forced the withdrawal of a Soviet diplomat it said was a KGB officer responsible for overseeing Novosti s local operations. The Swiss Foreign Ministry lodged a stiff formal protest with the Soviet Embassy accusing Novosti of “continued, grave interference in Swiss affairs incompatible” with its normal functions in a neutral country. The strongly worded note and other official Swiss documents asserted that Novosti had been involved in political activities ranging from masterminding antinuclear demonstrations, organizing anti-American rallies, supervising one demonstration that actually took place inside the chambers of the Swiss Parliament, and purveying disinformation.
While the Soviet escapade in Switzerland was handled firmly and consistently by the Swiss government, American officials mishandled the issue of Soviet influence in the U.S. “nuclear freeze” movement. Still suffering from an anti-“McCarthyism” complex, the FBI director promptly reassured puzzled Americans that there was absolutely no evidence to suggest that the Soviets were manipulating the American freeze movement, and this line was quickly echoed by the “intelligence community.” One needs neither a community nor any great degree of intelligence to see, however, that the whole idea of a “nuclear freeze” originated in the Soviet Union, specifically with the personal appeal made in 1981 by the late President Brezhnev. Apparently the local intelligence community does not read Brezhnev’s speeches; nevertheless, a community of even very low intelligence should ask itself a very simple question: Why are Soviet proposals-from the “verifiable freeze” to the “no-first-use” of nuclear weapons and the “demilitarization of outer space”-always taken up by Western “peace movements,” while those forwarded by American and West European governments are ignored and very often derided?
Most importantly, the Soviets do not even attempt to conceal the fact that they manipulate the “peace movements” in Western Europe. Indeed, they openly admit that they have given them financial assistance. Thus, in the February 1982 issue of an official Novosti Press Agency magazine, Sputnik (published in English, French, German, and Russian, and available in the bookshops of these countries), there appeared an editorial that explained, with remarkable frankness, precisely what the purpose of the Soviet Peace Fund was: to give financial support to organizations, movements, and individuals who “struggle for peace and disarmament,” and to sponsor international congresses, symposia, festivals, and exhibitions to give these organizations and individuals the opportunity to coordinate their activities an international scale.
Later, on April 30,1982, an article in Pravda, written^ the head of the official Soviet Peace Committee, Yuri Zhukov (who is also a member of the CPSU’s Central Committee), reported that the Soviet people enthusiastically contribute to the Soviet Peace Fund. According to Zhukov, over 80 million Soviet people had already made such contributions. Moreover, on May 31,1982, Pravda reported that as of that date the Soviet people were obliged to donate one day’s wages to the Soviet Peace Fund. The sum of money raised in this manner would be astronomical: the average one-day earnings of a Soviet worker is five rubles; multiplying this by the number of “donors” indicated by Zhukov-80 million-means that 400,000,000 rubles would be available to the Soviet Peace Fund.
Clearly, some of the money is used inside the Soviet Union, as Yuri Zhukov informs us, to support 120 regional peace committees across the country. Still, if we were to assume that each regional committee employed, say, a maximum of twenty full-time employees (there are nineteen employees at the headquarters of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Britain), we would have only a total of 2,400 full-time workers for the entire organization inside the Soviet Union. Multiplied by the annual earnings of the average Soviet worker, 2,000 rubles, this would amount to less than five million rubles as the total amount of money spent on wages by the Soviet Peace Fund inside the Soviet Union. Even if the expenses for travel, telephones, stationery, rents, and utilities were added to this amount, it would certainly not exceed 10 million rubles.
Let us suppose, then, that the Soviet Peace Fund sponsors trips for about 50,000 Western visitors to the Soviet Union per year. Let us also suppose that they receive royal treatment, the cost of which would unlikely be more than 5,000 rubles per trip. Even such an extremely generous estimate would account for only 250 million rubles. Adding the 10 million rubles which support the committees inside the Soviet Union gives us a total of 260 million rubles as a rough estimate of the accountable expenditures of the Soviet Peace Fund. Therefore, even if we were to computes figure based on a minimum rate of donations and a maximum amount of expenses for internal activities, we would still be left with 140 million rubles to spend outside the Soviet Union, money to be used for sponsoring international conferences, festivals and exhibitions, and for supporting the activities of peace movements in the West. Even if this amount were converted into dollars using a “black market” rate of exchange, the Soviets would have available some $35-$45 million. The official rate of exchange would bring about $233 million.
Finally, confirmation of the Soviet manipulation of the peace movement came from the leader of the European Nuclear Disarmament (END) organization himself. Professor E. P. Thompson. In a remarkable article, Thompson criticized his colleagues in the peace movement, calling them “sleepwalkers” who either do not see or refuse to worry about Soviet strategy toward the peace movement in the West. 12 As Thompson asserts: The sleepwalkers in the peace movement can see no problem in all this. The United States intervenes continually in the West European political scene, and it is all a novelty to see the Soviet Union doing the same with success. And certain immediate Soviet aims run in the same direction as the aims of the peace movement. After all, they are quite as much against cruise missiles as is the most dedicated Western activist.” He continues: • ..alongside the Soviet peace offensive, clumsy attempts are now being made to split the Western peace movement and to bring it in line with Soviet strategies. There is now a busy traffic of meddlesome peace brokers between East and West, mini-conferences (summoned by selective invitation) in Moscow, and preparations for a huge show-case ‘Peace Assembly’ in Prague.”13
In another article, E. P. Thompson writes:
We do not stand in particular need of lessons from Yuri Zhukov, the President of the Soviet peace Committee. Yet we have been receiving from him, and from several other sources in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, rather a lot of instructions in the past few months. . . And Zhukov and his friends in the World Peace Council are trying in an old fashioned 1950ish way to split our movement and bring it under the Soviet hegemony.
To the Russians, we are background music only, and music not even loud enough to swing a German election.
Our problems have been made worse in recent months by inept Soviet interventions in Western political life (including the peace movements) …
We are willing to engage in discussions with official organizations over there, provided that the discussion is on honest and equal terms, and not on terms which coopt us into some pro-Soviet theatre of propaganda.14
What Has Changed in the Peace Movement?
Clearly, these quotations from E. P. Thompson’s articles indicate a sense crisis in the West European “peace movement.” This feeling of crisis and possible split is further increased by the reports about the resignation the most prominent figure in the German Green Party, former General Gert Bastian, caused by the seizure of key party positions by members of the Marxist-Leninist Communist League. According to the New York Times report (February 10, 1984), Bastian said that situation has undercut the Greens’ commitment to non-violence and an even-handed stand between NATO and the Warsaw Pact by generating “a strong anti-American undertow.” What has happened*)
For one thing, a constant stream of criticism of the pro-soviet orientation of peace movement propaganda has forced many anti-nuclear activists to become more critical of the Soviet Union. Peace movement leaders have not, for example, been able to continue their normal practice of excluding Soviet SS-20s from their usual condemnation of nuclear weapons. Nor have they been able to remain silent about Poland and Afghanistan.
At first, this criticism of Soviet policies and the SS-20s was tolerated by Moscow. As Soviet Peace Committee head Yuri Zhukov said, “What is oar motto? No nuclear weapons in Europe-in East and West. No to nuclear weapons all over the world. We say we are against American missiles, Soviet missiles, French missiles, British missiles, and Chinese missiles. The bourgeois press totally conceals it.”15
Later, however, as criticism of the Soviet position increased in ‘Western peace movements, the Soviets began to lose patience with the more impartial position taken by moderates. It became too dangerous. Thus, the peace movement may face the possibility of splitting between more pro-Soviet elements and more impartial ones.
As E. P. Thompson wrote in June 1983, “On one side, Yuri Zhuktyv and the operators of the World Peace Council accuse some of us of being ‘antiSoviet elements’; on the other side Michael Heseltine and Monsignor Bruno Heim accuse some of us of being ‘useful idiots’ and apologists for Soviet aggression.”16
The first blow came with the imposition of martial law in Poland. As Thompson insists, quite correctly, “the unprecedented demonstrations [totaled] more than two million people in Western European capitals in October and November 1981 • And why were there not three million or four million demonstrating in the spring and summer of 1982? The answer is martial law in Poland and the repression of Solidarity.17
The second blow came from the Soviet position itself— the Soviet refusal to dismantle some of their SS-2Os as a first step toward nuclear disarmament. The American “zero-option proposal, the negotiations in Geneva, the more energetic propaganda of people committed to multilateral disarmament-all these developments have toned down the blatantly pro-Soviet position of many peace activists.
But the most devastating blow came with the persecution of the independent peace movements in Eastern Europe, primarily in East Germany the Soviet Union. As twenty leaders of the American peace movement asserted in their letter to Brezhnev in September 1982:
The double standards by which the Soviet government abides-applauding widespread debate in the West, while crushing the most benign form of free expression at home-only strengthens the complex of forces that impel the nuclear arms race.
Renewed repression in the East, in particular of independent peace voices, will weaken Western peace movements and could-if they do not take precautions-paint them into an ineffectual ‘pro-Soviet’ comer.18
In a similar vein, Thompson has asked:
put what can we do about it? To refuse to go to the conference [in Prague] might be seen as a refusal to “talk with the other side,” which everyone now wants to do. To go might be seen as condoning the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. . .as well as an acceptance of the repression of civil rights workers who have been trying to open a dialogue with the Western peace movement. This question puts us at sixes and sevens divides us more than any propaganda by President Reagan could do.19
Despite these reservations, the European “peace movement” decided to send representatives to Prague, knowing full well that, according to Thompson, “the media in the West will expose us all, without discrimination, as Soviet stooges,” and that “the event will do only harm to the cause peace and will alienate democrats in the East from Western peace forces.” He went on to say:
The principle of solidarity with unofficial and independent peace voices on the other side was endorsed by the majority of the multitude of peace organizations from Europe and the United States attending the Second European Nuclear Disarmament Convention in West Berlin last month [May]. Sadly, the official “peace committees” of the East boycotted the convention, while our independent friends in East Germany, Hungary, the Soviet Union, and Czechoslovakia were refused exist visas to attend.20
Meanwhile, personal contacts between Western peace movement activists and leaders of the independent peace groups in the Eastern bloc were developed. Now, when taking their pilgrimage to Moscow, the Western peace movers have little excuse not to visit their counterparts. They inevitably witness the KGB persecution and the generally oppressive nature of the Soviet regime, and they slowly learn what I tried to explain to them two years ago in my pamphlet: that the internal oppressiveness and external aggressiveness of the Soviet regime are inseparable. They have suddenly learned that, as Thompson asserts, “Those weeping grandmothers. who still deck with flowers the graves of the last war, have dry eyes for Afghanistan, as they had, in 1968, for Czechoslovakia. The Soviet people will support their rulers in preparations for any war which is ‘in defense of peace”21 finally, repeating almost word for word what I had written two years before, he states that “It is nonsense to try to extract something cabled ‘the nuclear arms race’ from the ideological and political context of which it is an integral part.”22
PROBLEMS FOR THE SOVIETS
The women who occupied Greenham Commons may still be a nuisance to the British government, but they have also become a problem for the Soviets. During their visit to Moscow in May 1983, they brought a member of an unofficial Russian peace group to an official meeting of the Soviet government’s peace committee, thereby forcing Soviet officials to listen to a Russian dissident in an official forum.23 Defending the arrested members of the Moscow independent peace group, the Greenham Commons women chided their hosts: “It is as easy to sit down in front of the Soviet Embassy as at the Greenham Commons.”24
Clearly, the day when peace activists in the West refuse to march i’T demonstrations with Communists, when this Soviet-inspired alliances is terminated, and when the crowds in European capitals demand the liberation of arrested peace activists in East Germany, the Soviet Union, Hungary and Czechoslovakia as vigorously as they protest against nuclear weapons-that will be the day when the Soviets’ political weapon of peace” will turn against them.
Obviously, the Soviets realize the danger of losing control over the Western “peace movement.” But what can they do? Expel all independent peace activists from the Soviet Union? If that were to happen, hundreds of thousands of Russians seeking an exit visa might then join the unofficial peace movement. Perhaps they Will try to split the peace movement in the West, as Thompson believes they are now trying to do. But who knows how many peace activists would remain to support Moscow’s policies-apart from Communist comrades?
One thing is clear: Soviet leaders cannot allow an independent peace movement to flourish in the Soviet Union, or in any of the satellites either, for they simply cannot tolerate the existence of any politically independent movement within their borders. Now that their troops are in Afghanistan, this is even more true.
Nor can the Soviet Union allow the Western “peace movements” to split up on its own, which is already happening in many countries. As a recent Moscow shortwave radio report indicated, this became a major Soviet concern and a reason for calling a special Conference of Representatives of Anti-War Movements of Europe and North America in Helsinki in October 1984:
Special attention was given to a precise definition of the goals for the anti-war movement in its activity at the present stage. Many delegates, among them from the United States, Britain, Belgium, and France, all belonging to different political trends, unanimously noted that the enemies of peace have devised sophisticated methods of undermining the anti-war movement, in a bid to force them off the course of the antinuclear struggle, and push some of them onto the road of revising the existing frontiers in Europe and meddling in the Socialist countries’ internal affairs. Speakers at the conference exposed and denounced the maneuvers of those who seek to disunite the anti-war movement by dividing them into the so-called Western and Eastern groups. 25
The Western Position
How well do Western politicians understand these new developments? Or, more precisely, how well do they understand that the questions of the arms race and disarmament do not exist outside the broader context of East-West relations? Do they understand that we are dealing with an ideological war that has very little to do with military hardware per se?
Judging by their behavior in the “nuclear debate ” I would say that they not understand it very well. Even leaving aside such questionable political actions as the recent Congressional approval of the nuclear freeze resolution , the current policy of the Western alliance in the nuclear debate is pathetic. It all consists of passive reactions to Soviet moves, proposals, and rhetorical exercises.
Of course, there were a few successes, such as President Reagan’s “zero option” proposal, and a brilliant resolution passed by the United Nations in December 1982 protecting the right of individuals to organize peace movements.
But these timid steps in the right direction were never developed into a clear strategy for the West, although the need for, and the direction of, such a strategy were quite obvious. Once a mass political movement has come being in a democratic country and is well-organized and well financed, one cannot easily eliminate it. Nor should the legitimate concern of its supporters to avoid nuclear destruction be perceived as necessarily hostile to democracy. Indeed, a concerted effort should be made to prevent the manipulation of such a movement by a foreign power. A strategy should be devised to counter Soviet efforts to penetrate and dominate Western peace movements.
As the Soviets try to unite everyone behind their “peace” drives, our effort should be aimed at thwarting them by emphasizing the most controversial aspects of their campaign. Persecution of independent peace groups in Communist countries and persistent Soviet violations of previous agreements should become targets of our counterattack. All confirmed facts of direct Soviet involvement with the peace movement in the West should be widely publicized. And, while the Soviets use the trick of the absolute value,” the “relative” horrors of Communist rule should become centerpiece of Western counter propaganda, focusing on such graphic events as Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan, mass murder in Cambodia, and famine in Ethiopia. While the Soviets channel their funds through their most loyal groups within the peace movement, ways should be found to support more moderate groups.
But, most importantly, the issues of peace and the arms race should be returned to the natural context of East-West relations, with public attention being constantly redirected to Soviet intentions instead of the sheer amount of weapons accumulated by both sides. Paradoxically, the best Western position was formulated long before the peace movement became an issue. It is the Helsinki Accords, signed in 1975 by thirty-five countries of Europe, Canada and the United States, which links respect for human rights with the problems of security. All the West needed to counter the Soviet “peace campaign of the past four years was to return to this formula, conveniently endorsed by the signature of Brezhnev and other East European rulers. The logic of this position is impeccable: How can we control the arms race without verification, and how can we achieve verification without mutual trust? For that matter, how can anyone trust a government that does not allow its people to know the truth and discuss it and that deliberately instills hostility and hatred toward other nations into the minds of its population? How can we build trust with a nation whose citizens are not allowed to have a sincere and open dialogue with foreigners, under threat of imprisonment? As Andrei Sakharov, the only Russian ever to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, writes: “As long as a country has no civil liberty, no freedom of information, and no independent press, then there exists no effective body of public opinion to control the conduct of government. Meanwhile, the [Soviet] military-industrial complex and the KGB are gaining in strength, threatening the stability of the entire world, and supermilitarization is eating up all our resources.” ‘A most important concept, which in time became a cornerstone of my position ” writes Sakharov in his letter to Anatoly Alexandrov, president of the USSR Academy of Sciences, “is the indissoluble bond between international security and trust on the one hand, and respect for human rights and an open society on the other.”
Ironically, this clear position could easily become a basis for the long coveted bi-partisan foreign policy in America, if any administration ever tried to offer it. In his Special Appeal for Peace Day, Governor Mario Cuomo, who can hardly be described as a conservative hardliner, states:
The risk of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union can be reduced if all people can express their opinions freely and without fear on domestic and world issues, including their nation’s arms policies.
The Soviet Union is a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations as signed thirty-six years ago. The Soviet Union is also a signatory of the Helsinki Agreements, which promise the facilitation of travel, uninhibited exchange of information, reunification of families, review of applications for visas, and the right of all people to enjoy personal and religious freedom.
International tension will be lessened and international stability enhanced through complete acceptance and implementation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations and the Helsinki Agreements by all signatories.
Earlier, on October 25,1984, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, which is not known to be dominated by conservative stalwarts, adopted a Resolution Urging the Soviet Union to Abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations and the Helsinki Agreements as a Means toward Reducing the Threat of Nuclear War.
Those who may doubt the possible success of using this approach will be interested to know the idea was tested in Los Angeles on June 5, 1984, when the voters were offered the following proposition:
Shall the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors transmit to the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union a communication stating that the risk of nuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union can be reduced if all people have the ability to express their opinions freely and without fear on world issues including the nations’ arms policies; therefore, the people of Los Angeles County urge all nation that signed the Helsinki Accords on Human Rights to observe the Accords’ provisions on freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and emigration for all their citizens?
Despite vehement opposition by leaders of the nuclear freeze movement. the measure was carried by nearly a two-thirds majority.26 Unfortunately. this idea has never been used on a national scale, let alone in the international arena.
Mistaken Premises of Negotiations
Instead, U.S. leaders decided to begin arms reduction negotiations Geneva-a big mistake, in my view. First of all, the idea of dragging the West into negotiations belongs to the Soviet strategists and represents considerable victory for them. (See the resolution of the Soviet-sponsored World Parliament of Peoples for Peace, which, among other things, contains the demand: “Negotiate! There is no choice!’^) It is not difficult to understand why the Soviets badly needed to bring the United States into arms control negotiations: (a) they had been placed in political isolation by the invasion of Afghanistan, a plight that would be mitigated by arms negotiations; (b) SALT II had been rejected by the Senate; and (c) the West had finally awakened to discover that the Soviets had achieved strategic superiority, and Western leaders were about to engage in a new arms buildup.
Why did the West accept the Soviet call for arms control negotiations? It was clearly against Western interests because (a) it is always bad to accept the idea of the enemy ; and (b) even worse to do so under the pressure of the Soviet-inspired peace movement; and (c) arms negotiations with the Soviets are de facto justification of two major Soviet propaganda themes: that the danger of nuclear war is greater now than ever before (a position that works against Western efforts to match the Soviet arms buildup), and that the Western doctrine of nuclear deterrence does not work (and therefore does not need to be shored up by adding more nuclear weapons); (d) it is not wise to negotiate from a position of inferiority, as the West would be doing until its arms buildup was well along; (e) negotiations have reinforced the Soviet effort to focus the world’s attention on the nuclear problem and away from Soviet aggression in Afghanistan and elsewhere1 and (f) it amounted to acceptance of the dubious notion that it is possible to have mutually advantageous agreements with the Soviet Union, and that the Kremlin can be relied upon to abide by international agreements despite the evidence on record, for example, the Helsinki Accords.
But more importantly, entering into arms negotiations with the Soviet Union means that the West has essentially accepted the Soviet proposition that the main threat in the world today comes from bombs and missiles and not from the Soviet system itself. In other words, it has amounted to an acceptance of the notion that disarmament can be discussed outside the context of East-West relations.
Al 1 in all, it was an unbelievably inconsistent and irresponsible political decision. As a result, the United States has appeared to be weak, frightened, and under constant pressure. Once again, the Soviets have scored a propaganda victory and forced the West into a defensive position, and they did this at a time when they were vulnerable~at a time when they had been caught cheating on arms control agreements and the Helsinki Accords, above all, after having committed outright aggression in Afghanistan.
One can hardly perceive as an American victory the fact that the Soviets, overestimating their influence on world public opinion, did not force the West into further concessions when they walked out of the Geneva talks deliberately increased international tensions. American foreign policy has become hostage to the idea of an inevitable arms control process, while tired Western societies are quite ready to return to the Soviet version of detente. It is a safe prediction that the Soviets will be more successful at the next stage of this vicious cycle.
Still worse, retreating further from what could be its position of advantage, the West seems to have accepted another Soviet idea and agreed to discuss “trust-building measures” with the Soviet Union separately from the issue of human rights. The Stockholm conference is probably the most vivid example of how little Western politicians understand about the nature of the problem they confront. 1 wonder what they discuss with the Soviets behind those closed doors in Stockholm: trust-building measures that are secret from the entire world but not from the Soviets? When the Helsinki Accords are so easily forgotten (without being officially repealed), who can trust any new treaty that may be concluded?
Instead of START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) or INF (Intermediate Nuclear Forces) talks, the West should propose convening a conference to negotiate a postwar peace treaty in Europe, which to this day does not exist. Such a conference would allow us to concentrate on the real issues the real threat to Western Europe and the United States, namely, the Soviet empire. Clearly, negotiating a peace treaty in Europe would be impossible without discussing Soviet postwar acquisitions and the occupation of Eastern Europe, without repealing the Hitler-Stalin Pact, and without discussing the unification of Germany and the withdrawal of foreign troops from European countries. This move would generate enormous pressure on the Soviets and force them onto the defensive.
Ideologically, the Soviet position would be untenable. They would not be able credibly to deny a referendum to countries occupied as a result of the Hitler-Stalin Pact, while at the same time posing as a champion of European peace. In addition, focusing public attention on an all-European peace conference would most likely generate unrest in the already explosive areas of the Baltic states and the Western Ukraine. It would touch on the Soviet Union’s most painful problem: the problem of nationalities.
Paradoxically, in such a conference the Soviet bloc would not be as monolithic as might be expected. Most of the East and Central European countries have numerous territorial claims on the Soviet Union and on each other, and the nationalistic feelings of all East Europeans would inevitably be stirred.
Given the current climate of peace hysteria, the Soviets could hardly refuse to participate in such a conference. Should they, nevertheless, refuse to attend, the burden of blame for the arms race, international tension, and the danger of nuclear holocaust would shift to the Kremlin, the crowds would move to our side, and Soviet influence over the Western peace movements would be lost.
Within a few years very little will be left of the “peace movement” in Europe. As soon as the new missiles are safely stationed, the current wave of aggressive pacifism will begin to subside. Most of these marchers will return to their usual pastimes: television, football, and the like. And nothing will penetrate their apathy.
Perhaps I will be the only one who will feel sorry because of it. For the first time in thirty years, the Soviets have handed us a powerful weapon which could have been turned against them to reverse the existing trend in international relations and neutralize the present source of danger in the world. Yet through our lack of understanding and wisdom, we have failed to grasp the opportunity.
Thus, it seems that we will continue to squander billions of dollars in an endless arms race. We will continue to fight Communism on the outskirts of our countries, but each time closer and closer to our homes. We will continue to deceive ourselves with the expectations that a “closet liberal” will somehow manage to make his way to the top of the Soviet ruling circles, or that the Communist dictatorship will somehow be overthrown by a military coup. We will continue “business as usual” with Moscow-and lively hope for the best.
1.Vladimir Bukovsky, The Peace Movement and the Soviet Union, (New York: Orwell Press, 1982); “Better Red than Dead is not Good Enough,” Times (London), December 4, 1981; “The Peace Movement and the Soviet Union’’ Commentary,May 1982. See, also, Les Pcicifistes conire la Paix (Paris: tuition Robert Laffont, 1982); and Pazifisten gegen den Frieden (Bern, Switzerland: Verlag SOL 1983). This pamphlet was also published in Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Greece, and Turkey, and reprinted in two collections of papers in the United States.
2. Pravda, September 23-29, 1980; Izvestia, September 23-24,27-28, 1980.
3. Los Angela Times. May 11,1983.
4. Washington Post, May 1 1, 1983.
5. The New Yorker, September 3, 1984.
8. The internal developments of the Labor Party are typical for any left-of-center political organization, especially in Europe (including the German Social Democratic party)’ they are usually taken over by the left radicals and Communists from within, unless they undergo a split. The scandals over the Communist infiltration into the British Labor Party continued for several Years, until the moderate part split off and formed the Social Democratic party a few years ago. The Labor Party in Britain today is greatly influenced by its Communist elements, and its 1984 platform includes unilateral nuclear disarmament. withdrawal from NATO, and a number of East European-type economic reforms.
9. Wall Street Journal, February 22, 1983.
10. Lord Chalfont, “The Great Unilateral Illusion,” Encounter, April 1983; and Wynfred Joshua, “Soviet Manipulation of the European Peace Movement,” Strategic Review, Winter 11.
11. See John Vinocur, “West European Foes of New U.S. Missiles Often Find KGB Men in Their Midst,” New York Times, July 26, 1983; Associated Press Dispatch, April 29, 1983; and John Barron; “The KGB’s Magical War for Peace,” Readers Digest, October 1982.
12. Guardian, February 21, 1983.
14. E. P. Thompson, “Peace and the East; New Society, June 2, 1983 , pp, 349-352.
15. Guardian, April 14, 1983.
16. Thompson, op. cit.
21. Guardian. February 21, 1983.
23. Times,(London) May 27,1983.
25. Radio Moscow report by special correspondent Alexander Pagadin from. Helsinkj, Radio Moscow, North American Service (shortwave), October 8, 1984: 4:20,8:20, 9:20, and 11:20 p m.
26. Wall Street Journal, June 11, 1984, p. 22; and The Washington Times June 8, 1984.
27. Pravda, September 26, 1980.