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The Rosenblum Letters

anon — April 1984

Editors’ note: In the March issue of The Peace Calendar, we included a letter submitted by Simon Rosenblum of Project Ploughshares.

Subsequently, we received many letters responding to the opinions expressed in Mr. Rosenblum’s letter. Most of these responses reflected the authors’ different perspectives and we’re glad to present some of these responses here.

However, some of the respondents suggested that The Peace Calendar should not have published Mr. Rosenblum’s letter in the first place. Still other readers seemed to assume that, because we had published the letter, The Peace Calendar must approve of the opinions expressed therein.

We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that The Peace Calendar does not take a position on any issue, with the exception of the need for nuclear disarmament. The views expressed in The Peace Calendar (including the Letters column) do not represent the views of the editors, the CANDIS staff, any patrons, donors, advertisers, subscribers or whatever.

We’re not reminding our reader of this policy specifically to distance ourselves from Mr. Rosenblum’s views. but to reassure those readers who aren’t aware of our careful attention to this issue. In all our editorial decisions, we observe this principle of impartiality as faithfully as we can.

Our purpose is not to determine whose views are correct, and whose are not. Our intention is rather to permit the presentation of clearly outlined statements of opinion. In this way, we hope to help clarify the issues and to facilitate the individual process of comparison and evaluation. We’ve said this before, in other ways, but some people find it difficult to believe. For those who are interested, copies of our Editorial Policy are available from CANDIS.

And now, the responses.

It is most disappointing that an attack on the peace movement should appear in your pages. Simon Rosenblum’s diatribe against the Canadian Peace Congress is scarcely legitimate comment. It reads as a crude allempt to divide us, one which will not be successful.

The Congress – to which I do not belong – has endorsed the goals of the Peace Petition Caravan Campaign. We are united, and McCarthyism is not going to divide us.

The Soviet Union, whatever Rosenblum thinks of it, has never used ‘threats of nuclear involvement’ to ‘bully’ other countries. Not even the far right has made this charge. It seems to be Rosenblum’s own invention.

And if Rosenblum wants to see SS-20s as equivalent to the new NATO weapons, that is his business. I don’t, but some members of the groups to which I belong may see it this way. Neither of us is going to demand that the others be drummed out of the movement.

Rosenblum could try a little humility. The rest of us have progressed beyond red-baiting. .

Jeremy Agar
Toronto, On.

Simon Rosenblum’s suggestion that the Canadian Peace Congress and its affiliates should be excluded from the peace movement seems to me dangerously misguided.

He says that, “as the Canadian disarmament movement begins a major effort at national coalition-building, it is necessary to assess who are legitimate members of the peace movement.” I would think that all those who agree with the goals of the peace movement and who are willing to work within its structures are legitimate members of the movement.

The Canadian movement as a whole clearly calls for multilateral nuclear disarmament. If groups such as the Canadian Peace Congress, and indeed the Communist Party of Canada, are willing to march with us under banners calling for “Disarmament East and West,” then we should welcome them. Their presence does not mean that we agree with their support of the Soviet system; it means that they agree with our call for disarmament.

A large proportion of the freeze movement, I take it, is in general agreement with the Western economic and political system. I do not support the Western system any more than I support the Soviet system (and I am not convinced that the freeze is the correct political strategy), but certainly the “freezers “are legitimate members of the movement.

People of a wide variety of political opinion must join together if the worldwide disarmament movement is to succeed. How can we expect the governments of the US and the Soviet Union to reach agreement and to work together for disarmament if we cannot work together in the disarmament movement? ‘

Many of us would like to see substantial changes in both political systems; but it would be foolish to require or to expect such changes as a precondition – for cooperation. We were right to reject Reagan’s doctrine of linkage in arms control negotiations – we should not resurrect this obstructive approach within the movement.

Soviet government treatment of dissident and independent peace activists presents the Western movement” with a difficult question. I believe that we must support the right of ,free speech and non-violent protest, but we must also avoid adding fuel to Cold War hysteria, which has been a fundamental justification for the arms race.

Such a course, though at times difficult, is possible. In present circumstances, dramatic and public media events may well do more harm than good, but quiet diplomacy has its place, combined with an educational effort, both within the movement and without, which would place the Soviet system in the perspective of world politics and history. I do not believe that to understand is to forgive, but without an adequate level of general knowledge, our concern for political and human rights could be turned to ends for which it was never intended.

Matthew Clark
Toronto, On.

Although I am not a member of the Canadian Peace Congress, some of my friends, and members of our peace group, the. Vernon World Disarmament Coalition, are C.P.C.. members.

Our group does not collude with any other group. We all cooperate, striving towards the one immediate, prime and urgent objective – survival! Survival which will only happen if we stop the arms race and get on with disarmament. We trust each other, for without trust and faith in ourselves there cannot be peace and fair play. Enough with prejudices and bitterness.

26 Jim Foord
Vernon, B.C.

To set the record straight — the World Peace Council was initiated not by the Soviet Union but by some leading British and French scientists. They appealed to all nations and all governments. Many governments — not only the Soviet Union and its allies, but neutrals such as India, Finland, Tanzania, Panama — indeed most non-aligned countries – support the ‘World Peace Council. By contrast, the government of the U.S.A. has consistently opposed, slandered and harassed the W.P.C. and its supporters.

Mr. Rosenblum says: “In all other Western countries, the Peace Congress groups are not an integral part of the peace movement.” Does Mr Rosenblum contend that the late Pastor Martin Niemoller was not an integral part of the West German peace .movement?

I certainly agree that our movement should provide a balanced critique of both (so-called) superpowers. A balanced judgment means recognising similarities and differences for what they are.

1. Both base their security on deterrence by arms, including nuclear. 2. Both have sent armed forces into other countries to protect “vital interests.” 1. The armed forces of the USSR are in adjacent countries which at some time have served as bases for invading her territory; those of the USA in countries thousands of miles away (Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon), or quite small (Dominican Republic), or both (Grenada). 2. The USSR has never used the atom bomb in warfare; the USA has used it twice. 3. The USSR has, ever since 1945, proposed to outlaw all nuclear weapons; the USA has rejected and continues to reject this proposal. . 4. The USSR is willing to ratify SALT 11; the USA is not. 5. The USSR proposes a freeze; the USA rejects it. 6. The USSR voted for a test ban; the USA (alone in the United Nations) is against it. 7. The USSR has renounced the first-use of nuclear arms; the USA plans such use.

I could continue the list. Suffice it to say that seventy years in the peace movement have convinced me that the ..USSR sincerely wants disarmament while the USA pursues the mad dream of military superiority.

I and my friends will of course try to convince others that our interpretation is correct. We respect different interpretations held by others in the peace movement , and we feel entitled to the same respect. Only by agreeing to disagree and by concentrating on our agreed goal of universal disarmament can we hope to prevail in our difficult struggle for the survival of mankind.

Hans Blumenfeld
Toronto, On.