She Still Loves This Planet

Pat Dounoukos recently spoke with Dr. Helen Caldicott, who was on her Canadian tour. She still loves this planet, and is earnestly trying to make the rest of the world love it as much.

By Pat Dounoukos (interviewer) | 1988-06-01 12:00:00

Pat Dounoukos: Welcome to Canada. I understand you're on a seven-week speaking tour of fourteen cities.

Dr. Helen Caldicott: Yes. I hope to accomplish the same as we accomplished in New Zealand, that Canada this year votes in a nuclear free government.

P.D.: You're probably best remembered for the Academy-Award winning film, If You Love This Planet. Was it banned in the U.S.?

Dr. C.: The Justice Department labelled it as foreign propaganda, meaning anyone who shows the film has to register with the Justice Department.

P.D.: You predicted five years ago that we had very little time left to avert a nuclear holocaust. What is your prediction today?

Dr. C.: I still feel the same way. I mean, each day is a gift, a miracle that we're still alive when you consider the number of accidents and chances of error. We're just living on borrowed time in a way, and yet fifty per cent of the education work has been done.

P.D.: You attended the Women's Congress in Moscow. Did you meet with General-Secretary Gorbachev?

Dr. C.: No. I haven't met Gorbachev.

P.D.: What do you think of him?

Dr. C.: I think he's a miracle.

P.D.: Do you think the signing of the INF Treaty is an important turning point in the arms race?

Dr. C.: No, it's tokenism. It's almost cynicism on the part of the U.S. administration because it only gets rid of three percent of the total arsenal of 63,000 bombs. I call it a placebo. It's like giving a patient dying of cancer an aspirin tablet and saying it will make you better.

P.D.: You have analyzed the arms race as a symptom of our patriarchal society. What is the connection between war and women's equality?

Dr. C.: Matriarchal societies don't tend to fight and it's men who fight and kill each other. There's no question about that. So it's a patriarchal system.

P.D.: Meaning, if we had women leaders...?

Dr. C.: We'd stop fighting and feed the world's kids.

P.D.: Inga Thorssen of Sweden expects the arms race will bankrupt both the superpowers. Do you agree?

Dr. C.: It's already bankrupted America. Reagan spent more money than all past presidents combined. He's built 21,000 hydrogen bombs and delivery systems and it's gone from the biggest credit nation to the biggest debtor nation in his terms of office.

P.D.: What would you say has been the effect generally of the media here and in the U.S. on the peace issue?

Dr. C.: I think it has been appalling. The media are deciding whether or not we live or die and I feel very distressed about the media coverage. If they reported this upcoming holocaust like they report AIDS, within years we'd have nuclear disarmament globally. And so they decide what people know and don't know. They didn't report the last holocaust and they're not reporting the next.

P.D.: Let's touch upon peace activists. Mordechai Vanunu, for example. It seems the whole peace movement has deserted this man.

Dr. C.: Well, I know that there's so much going Oil in our own countries and so much to do locally that it's very hard to get the energy to mobilize a huge world movement to support him. But in my book, he is an international hero. He should get a Nobel Peace Prize.

P.D.: And the White Rose case?

Dr. C.: The same... that's Katya. Yes, the same.

P.D.: You were perhaps the first person to tell the public of the CIA covert intervention in the governments of other countries, including your own of Australia. More evidence about the CIA and the Secret Team is coming out now. What do you think will happen as a result of the hearings such as Contragate and the Christic Institute court proceedings, led by Daniel Sheehan?

Dr. C.: The States has changed. I can stand here and say the CIA should be disbanded, that it's a covert and illegal operation and people will clap. Whereas a year or two ago, they would have frozen me Out. It's changing but not nearly enough. People really have no idea what the CIA is doing around the world and they don't care enough to find Out. So it's a very serious situation.

P.D.: Was the U.S. behind the coup in Fiji?

Dr. C.: Yes.

P.D.: Did it have anything to do with the American fear that "nuclear allergy" might spread?

Dr. C.: Yes.

P.D.: Is the U.S. interference in Belau also related to the same American fear of "nuclear allergy"?

Dr. C.: Absolutely. They've devastate A that island and its culture, and matriarchal society, and it's obscene beyond belief what they're doing there.

P.D.: How do you view the Americans' ties to the Indonesian government and their policies toward E. Timor and Papua?

Dr. C.: Americans instigated the killing of half a million Indonesians in the sixties, got rid of a nationalistic, socialistic president and put in Suharto, who is a puppet, so they could open the Straits of Malacca for their bloody ships to go through. So once again that's a U.S. puppet government and the killing is still continuing to a degree there, too. It's absolutely criminal. Just like what Hitler did.

P.D.: What's this I've heard about a shuttle flight with plutonium on board in the near future?

Dr. C.: Yeah, well, they're going to put housekeeping platforms up in space, fueled with plutonium for nuclear power plants, 200 of them apparently. This is for Star Wars. And apparently, the next shuttle is going to be loaded with plutonium and you really have to stop that!

P.D.: What happened to the Nuclear Disarmament Party?

Dr. C.: I think it was destroyed by the CIA. It was destroyed by a group called the Socialist Workers Party, who infiltrated it, and I'm sure that's the CIA front.

P.D.: What about the Labor Party and uranium mining?

Dr. C.: They were anti-uranium and when they were elected, they were anti-uranium, and Bob Hawke almost single-handedly destroyed the anti-uranium policy and really brutalized the M.P.s. And we're now selling it to eight countries abroad. That just has to stop. I feel so deeply in my soul about this, I'm going to make sure it's stopped.

P.D.: How do people view U.S. tracking stations in Australia?

Dr. C.: Also very badly. The Labor Party promised, if it was elected, to do something about uranium, ship visits and tracking stations etc. They've done nothing and that has to be changed.

P.D.: What is the current Status of ANZUS?

Dr. C.: Americans have kicked New Zealanders out of ANZUS but they can't legally do that. New Zealanders still consider they are part of ANZUS. ANZUS is not a very big deal anyway. All it says is that Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. will consult if there is any threat and take their problem to the U.N.

P.D.: What do you think of belonging to NATO and NORAD?

Dr. C.: I think it's useless. NORAD would press the button and NATO is obsolete. You can't fight an ordinary war in Europe now because you'd melt down the reactors and Europe would be uninhabitable forever. Also, few Europeans believe the Soviet Union is a military threat. It doesn't protect you. Nothing can protect you against the Soviet ICBM so it's a farce. Any war anywhere would lead to a nuclear war in Europe within hours or days. And NATO has a policy of first use of nuclear weapons.

P.D.: What do you think of Canada and the nuclear fuel cycle?

Dr. C.: I feel the same way about Canada as I do about Australia. Except you are more guilty, because much of your uranium has gone to fuel the large stockpile of the American nuclear weapons and you've been heavily and deeply implicated in it. You set up an illegal and international cartel in the seventies to raise the price of uranium artificially. And that still goes on and you have a hell of a lot to answer for. The waste from your uranium is going to produce epidemics of cancer, leukemia, and genetic disease for the rest of time.

P.D.: The Canadian Peace Pledge Campaign asks people to pledge to vote for candidates who oppose the arms race, specifically Star Wars, nuclear testing, low level flight testing and production of nuclear weapon components and support a nuclear weapons-free Canada. How is the campaign going and what else could ordinary Canadians do?

Dr. C.: I think it's going brilliantly and I don't think you should do anything else. I think you should commit your total time to door-knocking and getting hundreds of thousands signing the Peace Pledge. You couldn't do anything more important or significant than that before the election. We've raised about $70,000 now, on this tour and 20,000 pledges have been signed. It's going really brilliantly I think. Just keep the momentum up.

P.D.: Do you think the world has changed much since you started writing and speaking? Has the INF treaty changed much?

Dr. C.: The world has changed. The majority of people in the developed countries want the arms race to stop. Not just that, they want elimination of nuclear weapons, so I think we are fifty per cent there. The education has been very successful. The next fifty per cent is going to be the more difficult and Canada is involved in that step now in your election coming up this year.

P.D.: Do you think it's important for peace groups to dialogue with and defend peace, ecology, and human rights groups, in Eastern Europe? What are your views on Petra Kelly and E.P. Thompson in their approach to human rights?

Dr. C.: They're terrific people, and we have to integrate the salvation of the planet from nuclear annihilation with salvation from global pollution, acid rain, deforestation, ozone destruction, and the like. It's all inter-related; the CIA's involved, the transnationals are involved, and that's what I want to look into in my next book, following the autobiography. I want to try and tie the whole thing together.

P.D.: What is the state of the peace movement around the world?

Dr. C.: In some countries (like New Zealand) it's extremely alive, active, sophisticated, and knowledgeable. It's gearing up again here. In Australia it's depressed because our Prime Minister has blocked all avenues for activity. Activity is therapeutic, it makes you feel good when you know you can do something. In the U.S., the peace movement is becoming more knowledgeable and sophisticated and actually helping to write legislation in Congress and the White House is coming and asking them how to lobby the Senate for ratification of the INF and for fifty per cent cuts in strategic weapons. So we've assumed a very powerful and important place in that country. But in general the movement isn't nearly strong enough for what has to happen.

P.D.: Thank you.

Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1988

Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1988, page 16. Some rights reserved.

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