Due to constraints of time, I seldom write letters to newspapers or periodicals. Nevertheless, this year I am enclosing a letter in "praise of Peace Magazine," with my renewal.
As an activist, I have long regarded Peace Magazine as a necessary part of my reading. I congratulate you on your new format, which is as refreshing as the peaceful breezes that blew away the Cold War. I have a special interest in Subir Guin's articles. When Subir lived in this area, he was both an active participant in, and an informative resource for, our local Project Ploughshares group. His articles provide a unique way of maintaining a contact with this remarkable person.
I look forward to the day when journals such as Peace Magazine move from the status of alternative media to a position in Canada's mainstream media. Keep up the good work.
Jane Almond, Brantford, Ontario.
I have just returned from a conference, "Peacekeeping and the Challenge of Civil Conflict Resolution," Sponsored by the Centre for the Analysis of Conflict at the University of New Brunswick I feel strongly that the academic community represented there was missing a vital element to which Peace Magazine regularly speaks. A theme that ran through the presentations was the awkward contradictions between the international principles of sovereignty and national self-determination. Alan James of Keele University spoke on international peacekeeping operations, demonstrating that this sort of mission has a long and generally useful history, but he stopped short of advocating new international norms for peacekeeping. These I found eloquently expressed by B.G. Ramcharan, in your October 1991 issue.
The great contribution of the peace movement has been to help make aggression for political purposes unacceptable to civilized states and peoples. There is another contribution to be made. Strategists, academics and soldiers are grappling with difficult issues surrounding the employment of forces on peacekeeping and humanitarian tasks. Minds and organizations geared to war fighting must make a difficult transition to concepts of peace-building, peacekeeping and peacemaking as described by the Secretary-General in his Agenda for Peace. They need exposure to the ideas of people like Ramcharan and your other contributors. But your contributors also need to understand that we are on the same side. As long as the international community has a duty to act for the relief of human suffering, it cannot build a world without armies. It needs armies to control violence, to minimize violence, to limit the effects of violence, and those armies need the collected experiences of the
peace movement, as much as academic expertise, to help them retool for their new tasks. 1 would like to suggest that your Peace Calendar include peacekeeping conferences, and that you might run an issue addressing the new challenges of peacekeeping, the Secretary-General's ideas on peacebuilding and peacemaking, and on the challenges facing armies in the service of peace. Turning buffer-zones into peace gardens, demobilizing irregulars soldiers, and teaching nonviolent civil defence techniques to enhance the security of multi-ethnic communities are just a few of the challenges many soldiers don't even know that they face!
I have been reading Peace Magazine for two years now, and encourage my colleagues to do likewise. While we frequently find things with which to disagree, our goals are fundamentally compatible, and your contributions are to be commended.
Dr. David Last
U.N. Peacekeeping Forces,
The attack Simon Threlkeld launches on the Canadian Peace Congress and the World Peace Council (Sept/Oct issue) is worthy of comment. To write (as he does) that these bodies dedicated to peace were formed by "pro-Soviet activists on orders from Stalin" not only betrays a rather ignoble historical ignorance of those times, but merely repeats for the umpteenth time a very old canard about these bodies.
We emerged from World War II into a world aching for peace, human dignity, freedom, security, and, hopefully, a measure of prosperity. That was the promise of the United Nations. Millions of Canadians and tens of millions of citizens the world over not only shared our longing and our dreams, but were prepared to act in concert for those aims and goals. We hardly needed "instructions" from Stalin to begin the struggle against nuclear incineration on a world scale. Support cut across ideological, political, national, religious, and other boundaries or differences. The Canadian Peace Congress was founded and grew from that blood soaked soil of WWII. Formed prior to the founding of the WPC in 1950, the Canadian Peace Congress became a support group in the world-wide petition to "ban the atomic bomb" initiated from Stockholm. Leadership in the founding and activity of the Congress came from religious leaders such as James Endicott, Gordon Domm, I.G. Perkins and later, John Hanly Morgan, all ordained ministers in their respective churches.
In turn, leadership in founding and carrying on the activities of the WPC came from some of the world's most eminent scientists, political and religious leaders, including artists, Fredric Joliot Curie, J.B.S. Haldane, Pastor Niemoller, J.D. Bernal and hundreds more, including leaders from the colonial world such as Krishna Menon and Nehru. It was Pietro Nenni, leader of the majority faction of the Socialist Party of Italy who provided "the formula" for building and consolidating the WPC. He held that the deep-seated demand of the people for peace in the face of the atomizing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki would create an eventually irresistible convergence of the peace forces on a democratic basis. That was the keystone to the WPC influence in more than 130 countries, through committees and bodies such as the Canadian Peace Congress. This widespread support in turn brought recognition to the WPC as a Non-Governmental Organization of the United Nations.
Of course, those adhering to the policies of "containment" of the Soviet Union and the other socialist countries by any means necessary, including military and nuclear war, attacked the WPC and the Canadian Peace Congress. The day following the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, the Wall Street Journal, hardly a Communist admirer of Joseph Stalin, wrote editorially, "propaganda notwithstanding, the Atlantic Pact does nullify the principles of the United Nations.. It makes military might the determining factor of international relations."