International Meeting
2001 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Gerald O'Brien
President of Honour, Peace Council of Aotearoa-New Zealand inc.
New Zealand

The theme of this great Conference concerns the very future of our world and its peoples.  "Nuclear weapons states must make good on their promise to abolish nuclear weapons; and international co-operation and solidarity will ensure the future of the world."

With the emergence of the Bush administration in the USA all of the pretence which has for fifty-six years obscured the reality of monopoly-capital's objectives - the proliferation of international treaties and agreements which tentatively moderate and hide the long term realities of exploitive capital's drive for world domination - can be swept away.

Like the recent Kyoto Protocols, and the ABM Treaty, nothing that has been subscribed to before by the US and its allied client governments is now considered to have been any sort of real commitment at all.  We are back to the days when German, Italian and Japanese capital, with the initial connivance of international agreements and blatantly sought subjugation of humanity in order to
exploit the earth's resources for the private profit of an elite few.

This is the new world milieu created by the selection (I say selection because election was doubtful) of the little President Bush to voice, in practise, the end of international law and equity as previously understood through signatory agreement and treaty.  No international document is now sacrosanct.

With the recent disclosures concerning the 1962 US National Security Agency's and Joint Chiefs of Staff's plan to wage terrorist war on the people of the US itself in order to justify a fully planned and prepared invasion of Cuba, our concerns, that the war to destroy Yugoslavia had an implied threat to Europe generally against opposing US capital interests, have been taken a step further.

Even the people of the USA itself are under threat, and a threat against which the historical importance for human rights of the deaths arising from capital's reaction to the 1930's Auto Workers to build rights, pales into insignificance.  We now know that the current US administration has little or no concern for international law or public opinion.

We must realise that this situation has been allowed to arise, or rather, has been created, because population, through the process of news media mind management, have been encouraged to denigrate parliaments and limit their powers and the democratic process, in a mind-boggling Orwellian Process that wraps it all up as "democracy".  Black is White!

And therein lies our problem.  In order to influence world events we must first influence our own governments.  We must imbue our governments with the will to respond to public opinion.  And to do that we must revive that public awareness and channel it into the only means elected governments understand, the ballot box.

Yet whilst our governments are in thrall to the New World Economic Order and while many of the elected representatives are believers in this New World Order, and are being made less and less democratically accountable by the removal of parliaments from the process of controlling governments, our ability to have influence must not be permitted to diminish.

We all know that the UN represents governments, not peoples.  Thus we require our governments to act in the UN.

Aware of these factors, and while we have been directing our thoughts to democratic action and participation to secure our disarmament objectives, we have noted that democracy is rapidly diminishing in all areas of human activity and may within 10 years elude us altogether, and deny us our ability to use our parliaments and our international institutions such as the UN.

The question is, are we being left behind?  Has the revolution of capitalism already outrun us, so that no matter what our decisions the long known objectives of capital will have secured their world monopoly of power from an impotent democracy?

With 50 world corporations each exercising economic power greater than that of each of over 50% of the governments of UN member states, the public are starting to ask that, if politicians don't have the power, what is the point of voting for them?

Ought we, then, whilst examining and working within existing structures for world order and international law, be at the same time planning for direct action?  The environmental movement is growing in power and remains as yet uncorrupted so that it has to be confronted by growing police force and eventual military force.

We need to study Seattle and Washington, and Okinawa, and Prague and Gothenburg and Davos and Sydney.  We need to understand the real role of those who are empowered to protect our national security but who absolve themselves from that in acting for international corporations and their world servant bodies, the IMF, the WTO, the World Bank and suchlike.

We should be fully aware of what the meaning of the disavowal of Kyoto and of, for example, the IBM Treaty is - it is a declaration that nothing will be permitted to stand in the way of the arms industry, nuclear and otherwise.

If we aim to secure Nuclear Disarmament through democratic means we have a vital task ahead of us to secure those democratic organisations and to convert others such as the UN back to the participatory democracy originally envisaged for them.

The effectiveness of diplomatic activity, as also the enforcement of international judicial rulings, is dependent upon the power of direct action to raise awareness and to force political heads to respond to the popular will.

Diplomats are not elected and not subject to popular pressure.  Politicians must be made to become involved in every level of disarmament.  Then policies can be made directly accountable.

I have some concerns over the direction of peace movements in the current state.  At the recent conference in Wellington of the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament for Asia and the Pacific which was widely attended by peace group NGO's, choice of direction for many, particularly those who on the grounds of "realism" seemed to temporise because the US was now the dominant
power.  Such individuals placed emphasis on deciding on the course to be followed if the current climate saw a reliance on nuclear weapons being reinforced or diminished.  For them the reality of Abolition had greatly receded.

This tiredness, really apathy, has crept into considerable areas of government also.  It is identifiable even in the position of the New Agenda Coalition.  CND in New Zealand are especially affronted by what they call a weakened New Agenda Coalition demand for disarmament.

"Disarmament Times, vol. 23 No. 4, Winter 2000, drew attention to certain facts.  In 1998 when the New Agenda was first proposed it was opposed by all nuclear powers, but when the same coalition proposed a further resolution this year, three NW states, (China, the UK, and the USA) voted in favour and two, (France and Russian Federation) transferred from opposition to abstention.

How did this come about?  Had we all forgotten that there was a danger in any resolution that the US and the UK supported on nuclear affairs?

The new resolution notes significant weakness from previously.  The 98 and 99 versions of the resolution made specific demands which have been dropped.  (De-alerting, separation of warheads from missiles).  Also alarmingly omitted are the words emphasizing "the importance of existing NWF-Zone treaties and the signature and ratification of the relevant protocols to these treaties.

For this Conference the greatest threat to progress through these diplomatic means lies in the replacement of the 1998 expression of alarm at "the threat to the very survival of mankind posed by the existence of nuclear weapons" by weasel words which eliminate the clear call for NWS to commit themselves to legally binding assurances not to use or threaten to use NW's against non-nuclear states in the NPT.

It is sinking into the mire of once again temporising and we must look at means to save this going any further.  I suggest that this Conference examines parallel policies for, firstly to force governments to listen to the voice of the people and to demand an end to the equivocation which makes the six or eight years of life in government conveniently easy, and makes betrayal of principal a saleable spin;
and secondly, the use of remaining resources to be applied to support diplomatic watchdog activity.

Significant speakers at the March 2001 Conference of the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Asia and the Pacific held in Wellington, especially NGO organisations, stressed the obvious need for political will in order to progress to nuclear disarmament.  From a plethora of analysis some steps for action were presented.

Of primary interest was the general acknowledgement that around the world, with the honourable exception of the Japanese Peace movement, what is now called "civil society" let lapse its former successful direct action, with attention being diverted into problems of ethnic conflict, wars, land mines, and third world debt, with general political activity concerning itself with the usurping of public authority, by privatisation, over education and health and water and electricity by foreign capital interests.

It was recognised that during the 1980's, and in fact, well before then, New Zealand led the way in direct action leading to high levels of public awareness, which made achievable the election of a Non-Nuclear law, which acceptance by all parties turned into unshakeable national policy.

A subsequent effect was the lapse of a Nuclear based alliance, the ANZUS Pact.

No other activity anywhere has yet managed to match this achievement.  There has been monumental direct action in many places, notably Greenham Common and the actions against the deployment in Europe of Cruise and Pershing Missiles, as well as the physical disruption and the education programmes conducted everywhere which have influenced diplomatic action.  New Zealand targetted political action as the primary theatre for change, making all those seeking political office accountable.  A whole anti-nuclear culture has been born, and it is understood and adopted by most youth, ensuring stability of the policy for many years.

In contrast the steps followed in international negotiations have secured little that is permanent, and even those achievements are now being demolished by the US.

This raises the issue of the need for peace movements to recognise the limitations on representations in international negotiations and thereby to commit whatever activity in which they are involved to ensure the primacy of direct action.

The negotiating processes of the last 56 years have not abolished nuclear weapons.  The agendas for such negotiations in any case are provided by the Nuclear Weapons States themselves, those agendas being basically diversionary.  But we must not discount the moral authority gained by even small progress, which becomes the primary tool for peace movements to use in bringing pressures on elected
representatives and candidates for office on every occasion.

Some grand progress on the moral front has been gained by the World Court Project and its outcome, and as Rebecca Johnson pointed out in her very valuable presentation at the UN Wellington Conference in March, legal challenges to nuclear weapons and their deployment have done much to disturb the smugness of the nuclear weapons states' governments.  Her paper refers to the growth of anti-globalisation activity and suggests that this is giving a boost to a resurgence in peace action.

We are aware, of course, that just as the nuclearists have controlled the disarmament agenda for 56 years so they can create diversions behind which politicians and candidates for public office can disport.  If we never lose sight of the primary objective for the survival of humanity, the total abolition of nuclear weapons and the immediate commencement of negotiations for a Treaty of Abolition and total ban within a firm fixed period, then all of our activities will be measured against success in achieving this objective.

When one studies the manoeuvering in the vast field of disarmament negotiations we need to be suspicious of any proposal that is agreeable to the US lest it simply presage the replacement of redundant weaponry or follow the path that Rebecca Johnson alerted the Wellington Conference to, that is, the emergence of a "change of use" doctrine.

Much negotiation hinges around mutually agreed controls of nuclear weapons as the basis for arms stability.  One cannot help but feel that acceptance of such a basis for security overlooks the inescapable fact that these weapons are for use, and that the reality lies in First Strike, and that there will be no consultation when a state decides to use these weapons.  Belief in controls and agreements as a sort of set of Marguess of Queensberry Rules are like taking Hitler at his word.

In negotiation much weight is leant, and rightly so, to the commitments made through the NPT's Article 6 obligation.  But the US abandonment of its commitments under the ABM Treaty, no matter on what spurious grounds, ought to alarm us all and alert us to the fact that no Treaty remains sacrosanct, and that when encirclement by legal means is complete, disowning becomes the way out.

Governments that are not captive to their electors but which are in thrall to capital interests, ought to be one of the first targets for the peace movements of the world.  That is, provided democracy remains strong enough to remain a factor.

For those of us who are following the legality process, the NPT Review Conference 13 Steps for Action provide a minimal Plan.  But for those of us who believe that Direct Action is urgently needed, let us look at those areas where this has been successful, as in New Zealand, and also here in Kobe, and let us establish a co-ordinated scheme to achieve urgently the election of non-nuclear governments everywhere.

New Zealand set about becoming nuclear free and did so.  But the value of that action for the world was stultified by the Lange government's unwillingness to "export" the policy, which meant that we were not to undertake the work of missionaries for the policy, we were not to encourage its emulation.

New Zealand is also part of the New Agenda Coalition and has played a leading role in setting that up.  Yet as that enlarges, its objectives become watered down, become diluted.  The disease of Incrementalism is still present, regrettably, acting as a replacement for the courage of the 1972-75 Kirk Government in New Zealand when we sent the warships in to stop the French nuclear testing and took the successful case against France to the International Court of Justice.  Stage one was a victory.  But we have not been able to advance Stage 2, which envisaged world action.

How much more so is the duty remaining now on all of us to act.

I was recently moved to read the message a renowned 83 year old former Prime Minister of France, Edourd Herriot, sent to the World Assembly for Peace in Helsinki in 1955.  Herriot said

"The crushing of this monster depends upon the will of the people.  We must struggle without respite against the atrocity of nuclear warfare.  The conscience of the peoples must eliminate the scourge which still threatens the innocent.  I implore you, on the moral plane even more than the political plane, to vanquish this foul monstrosity to assure to every nation its right to peaceful existence."

Globalisation of the Nuclear Menace threatens us all as never before.  Dr. Strangelove is now centre-stage.  A startling example of the reality of our fears lies in the fact that the US fired Cruise Missiles across Pakistani air space, at Osama bin Laden without properly notifying Pakistan.  Michael Foot in his 1999 book illustrates how they might readily have been mistaken for an Indian first strike.  If so we would have been involved in the first nuclear war, and all of our fears be realised.  But by then, as we have always said, too late for humanity.

A regime of total abolition is vital.  Let us realise that the fears currently used by the US that proliferation might equip so-called rogue terrorists with nuclear weapons is a real fundamentally based on the technology of the forties, they are thus not beyond the reach of current technology in any country, no matter what the cost in deprivation to their peoples may be.  The example of the nuclear states themselves provides the measure of lack of concern for human rights and living standards in pursuing the madness of nuclear armaments.

Proliferation is the natural consequence of Deterrence Theory.  Deterrence theory has been peddled for so long and with such ardour as a justification for the retention of nuclear weapons that any nation may see itself as having a right to protect itself by deterring others in the manner chosen by the nuclear states, no matter the mutually assured destruction.

A regime of Total Abolition is not a modern idea.  We must never forget that UN Resolution No. 1 of the United Nations, in an endeavour to overcome the consequences of the fact.  The UN Charter had been born before the Nuclear Age, laid down the urgency and the moral need.  John Foster Dulles, of Korean War fame and not one of our friends, even himself in the 1950's saw fit to propose a fundamental change in US policy to President Eisenhower.  Dulles said that "atomic power was too vast a power to be left for the military use of any one country."  He then proposed therefore "the transfer of control over nuclear forces to a vetoless United Nations Security Council."  Such a
proposal if acted upon in those days would have ended in abolition because of the then major role of the UN.  Dulles knew the importance of the Security Council veto yet was prepared to sacrifice it.

Robert McNamara, of Vietnam War Crime fame, has also been a convert to the need for abolition.  His recollection of the Cuba crisis is that both sides were misinformed about the other and that misinformation brought the world to near disaster.  From this he deduced "more surely than ever was, that human fallibility and nuclear weapons cannot survive in the same world.  Since there is no absolute fool-proof, idiot-free cure for human failings, the weapons will have to go."  McNamara, like many of us here, is of the firm opinion that the decision to abolish must be taken and that the control mechanisms will, with existing technological knowledge, be readily established.

Achievement of this absolute requirement of survival for humanity will depend upon reform of the United Nations and its reinstatement as the principle body for world organisation.

Many of us have been saying for years that Globalisation is just a euphemism for monopoly capital Imperialism, and that unless we educate and organise against it nothing we might do will bring about the removal of the greatest threat to survival of humanity that exists in the presence of nuclear weapons.

The existing structures which regulate world order have largely been colonised by the globalists, leaving the rest of us only with the moral authority but not the judicial authority to achieve disarmament.

In spite of great technological change there is nothing to establish that the nature and the aims and objectives of capitalism have in any way changed one iota.  Unchanged but now unchained it threatens the peace and social order or the world as never before, denuding the forests, poisoning the air and the sea, and striving to dehumanise people through deprivation and forced labour.

It challenges all who wish to build a world in harmony and who, through proper use of Nature's gifts, seek to halt the mad rush to the extinction that nuclear, biological and chemical war in furtherance of the greed of capital will inflict in the stampede to monopolise all resources and markets for the benefit of the few.

In this situation whatever is decided to pursue diplomatically has to be complemented by direct action.  The Environmental Movement is already well ahead of many peace groups in recognising this even though perhaps their experience does not yet match that of the Peace Movement in alerting peoples to the moral obligations involved.

It is not a question of diplomacy versus direct action but direct action supporting diplomacy; of morality providing legality.  The Environmental Movement as at Seattle and elsewhere is learning fast to erect the barricades of the mind against the unrivalled assault on humanity and morality which the new World Order is making.

In the area of diplomacy we have to face the fact of the side lining on the UN, that body which should be the paramount authority.  The Secretary General is running around trying to be effective in a world that now, under the Bush puppetry organises against, where it does not ignore the UN authority, using NATO and whatever.