Physicians Host Peace Conference

By Metta Spencer | 1985-05-01 12:00:00

TORONTO -- Canadian physicians who are affiliated with the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) were hosts to several visiting Soviet physicians in April, culminating at a conference in Toronto on April 13. Mayor Art Eggleton greeted the participants in the all-day event, and was joined by Disarmament Ambassador Douglas Roche, plus a number of physicians from several countries.

Two of the most stirring speeches were delivered in the afternoon by an industrialist, Harold Willens and by retired Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll of the US Navy

Willens' theme was the misuse of words. "Talk about military spending, not 'defence,"' he demanded. "Talk about 'the Pentagon' not the 'Department of Defence.' Because when you break down the military budget, an embarrassingly low proportion goes to defence. Call it 'Star Wars,' not 'Strategic Defense Initiative,' because people everywhere yearn for defence -- and it isn't defence any more than the MX is a 'Peacemaker ' The words we use are important."

Admiral Carroll advised the audience about what steps to take first in working towards disarmament. First, inform yourselves about the collision course the superpowers are on, he suggested.

Disarmament won't come out of Geneva, Carroll predicted, for that's the same thing they've been doing all along: Talk, test, and build new weapons. Both sides tripled the number of new weapons during the decade of the 1970s, while they were talking about arms control.

"First, stop testing. Stop it immediately," he said, waving a blueprint for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that had been virtually complete several years ago, when the superpowers stopped working toward it. Carroll works with the Center for Defense Information in Washington, which is promoting a campaign this summer to end nuclear testing by August 6 this year -- the 40th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. Already, he said, legislation has been started in Congress to cut out the budget allocated to testing.

Next, after a comprehensive test ban is in place, Car roll said that a series of mutual agreements should be concluded -- to stop flight testing, then to end deployment, and finally to end the production of fission able weapons.

Canada's responsibility is to join in the effort to make the superpowers turn from their present course. Canadians can exert great influence on their neighbour, since Canada is the main non-European member of the alliance. "You're in a unique position to argue for it," said the admiral. "You aren't bound to 'accept US programs which will not defend you. Star Wars requires early action. The proposed North Warning System is only a down payment on a program that will cost $100 billion."

But, he added, effective arms control is only a means to buy time for nations to address their real problems. Both superpowers profess a 'responsibility' to impose their economic and political systems on other sovereign nations. "There will be no peace in this world until both nations renounce the right to use force or even the threat of force to impose their will on other nations."

Peace Magazine May 1985

Peace Magazine May 1985, page 8. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by Metta Spencer here

Peace Magazine homepage