No army!

By The Defence Policy Advisory Group of Science for Peace | 1994-09-01 12:00:00

A clear-headed evaluation of actual threats, including unnoticed ones, should precede the apportioning of Canada's resources. Canada has no enemies. Had we an enemy, other than the United States, our geographic inaccessibility and global goodwill could defend us. This fact combines with our relative wealth to provide scope for a uniquely constructive security policy.

Civil wars are raging, but the use of external military force to impose peace has not demonstrated its effectiveness and does not command the will of the nations supporting the U.N. Canada can contribute by developing nonviolent peace-building techniques.

1. Threats To Canada's Security

What are the threats to Canada's security? These go beyond the remote possibility of military attack by another nation. The real threats facing Canadians lie in the global ecological, economic, and social crises confronting us. War and military preparedness cannot end these crises.

Effective security requires global sustainable economic development, protection and restoration of the environment, effective democratic and human rights, and social and economic justice. Preparation for war steals the intellectual and material resources we need to face the actual threats to security.

Our planet may be dying. The imminence of ecological disaster is only dawning on us; the time for action is frighteningly short. We face converging crises: pollution, environmental destruction, a growing gap between rich and poor, intractable international debts, preventable poverty, disease and illiteracy, resource depletion, and runaway population growth. The problems feed on each other and on violence whenever it occurs. All our resources are required to deal with these problems. We now consider three of the major military threats:

a) Nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons still abound and have proliferated with the replacement of the USSR by two nuclear powers, Russia and Ukraine.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), has lost favor among non-nuclear signatories because the nuclear states have neglected their NPT obligations. The scheduled 1995 review may retire the NPT unless there exists a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The good news is that the U.S. now supports a CTBT and has extended its unilateral moratorium on testing. The bad news is the research in the U.S. on Above Ground Experiments (AGEX), with parallels in the U.K. and France, continuing the nuclear weapons development even under a CTBT. If the NPT falls, the scramble for nuclear power status will be on. A mitigating influence would be provided by a World Court advisory ruling that the use of nuclear weapons is illegal.

Accordingly, Science for Peace strongly urges that Canada:

b) Global Economic Orthodoxy

Global competitiveness has strengthened the powerful and subjugated the weak. International agreements such as GATT and NAFTA allow transnational corporations to restrict the options of weaker countries. World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) criteria for government loans block the national redistribution of wealth. "Structural Adjustment," imposed on the countries of the South, jeopardizes political stability, as in Zambia, where riots followed the elimination of a mealy meal subsidy.

The Free Trade Agreement and the NAFTA promote an unregulated market economy that benefit transnational corporations. Trade should be a means toward sustainable human development and reduction of poverty.

We recommend that social and environmental clauses be included in GATT agreements and that Canada promote the development of a U.N. code for transnational corporations.

The shrinking of development aid is unconscionable. The 1993-94 Canadian official development assistance budget dropped to 0.37% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while the defence budget was 1.72% of the GDP. The policy of "tied aid," whereby much of Canada's aid money is spent in Canada, should be replaced by concern for the receiving countries.

We therefore recommend:

c) Stress on the Environment

As we exhaust our mineral resources, destroy land fertility, and disturb the climate, we reduce the eventual level of population and comfort that can be achieved. The rich of the world become richer, overconsuming and stripping the Earth's resources; the poor become poorer; their struggle to survive overrides the protection of the environment. Today's 5.5 billion people may be joined by another 3 billion in 30 years. Meanwhile, at least one in five women in developing countries want, but lack access to, family planning services. Canada should immediately increase to 2% the fraction of its ODA (Overseas Development Aid) funds allocated to family planning services, with a view to reaching 4% in the future.

Over-consumption by the rich nations will be a focus of the U.N. Conference on Population and Development. Canada should support targets for reductions of consumption.

II. Canadian Armed Forces

a) International Peacekeeping

Classical peacekeeping" requires seven conditions:

But we have not always engaged in classical peacekeeping. Conventional military roles were played in the Gulf and Korean Wars. In the former Yugoslavia, violent acts have been approved by the Security Council.

Guaranteeing the delivery of humanitarian aid is noble work but when classical peacekeeping rules are not followed, it may be dangerous, violent, and ineffective. How can it be made less so? With the United Nations or the Red Cross, Canada can help combatants agree on a protected conduit for aid, and then help that agency.

If Canada were to continue contributing to the trend of peacekeeping, peace building, and peace enforcement as a military exercise we would reinforce the illusion of violence as a justifiable instrument for seeking peace. In fact, combat training brutalizes and is irrelevantto classical peacekeeping.

Where parties have agreed to suspend hostilities, they can be kept from combat by a corps of civilians. These peacekeepers should include women and men trained in political skills, conflict resolution, medicine, public health, and disaster relief. They should deliver humanitarian aid, food, clothing and medicine, and transport refugees.

Such a civilian-based, nonviolent peace building program has been launched by the Austrian government and the European Peace University in Stadt Schlaining. Trainees, varying in age and skills, are not governmental or military employees.

The closing of Royal Roads Military College provides an opportunity for Canada to establish its own training of civilian peacekeepers. Such a use of this magnificent facility could cost far less than its present operation. Unarmed peacekeepers must be able to look after each other and to work together. What better training could they have for mutual reliance than to run their college as a cooperative community? With provisioning, cooking, maintenance of buildings provided by the students, the operating costs will be minimal.

We therefore recommend the founding of a cooperative learning centre for civilian peacekeepers at Royal Roads.

b) Domestic Functions

Our armed forces are required to give support to the civil power. The history of violent suppression of legitimate protest argues for a change of policy. Future assignments for the maintenance of order might better be delegated to peacekeepers of a reformed United Nations. Such personnel, with no interest in the local struggle, would be seen as unbiased and more capable of finding just, nonviolent solutions. Domestic disaster relief duties should be handled by civilian peacekeepers.

c) Canada's Coasts, the Arctic, and Native Lands

At Murmansk in 1987 Mikhail Gorbachev called for "a pole of peace" in the Arctic. In 1990 an International Arctic Scientific Committee was established. The Right Honorable Joe Clark formulated Canada's intent to establish a council of Arctic nations (Canada, Denmark/Greenland, Finland, Iceland, Norway, USSR, Sweden and the U.S.) and providing for representation of indigenous peoples. In 1991 the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy (AEPS) was signed by the eight nations and reaffirmed in the Nuuk Declaration of 1993. Canada's part in this has been enlightened and commendable. Progress toward an Arctic Council seems to await the nod of the U.S.In the interim, the AEPS should be advanced to treaty status, and certain Canadian initiatives can be taken, such as requiring a pack-it-in, pack-it-out policy for all work in the Arctic.

Polluted military bases must be cleaned up. The Arctic nations must find ways of containing radioactive contamination. The Arctic must be protected against military incursions; environmental emergencies such as oil spills; illegitimate economic activity such as over-fishing; dumping of wastes; and landings by drug runners.

We therefore urge an expansion of our Coast Guard and acquisition of icebreakers, reconnaissance aircraft, helicopters, ships, and remote sensing systems. Some personnel can be transferred from the present armed forces. Members of Canada's First Nations should be given training opportunities for these roles.

Canada should contribute to circumpolar surveillance by all Arctic nations and peoples, replacing all such national systems. Following U.N. reform, this may be incorporated into a comprehensive U.N. system of international surveillance. The circumpolar system, providing data directly to participating states and to the U.N., will reduce duplication of efforts and overall expense.

Militarization harms Canada's indigenous people and calls for redress. Low-level flight training over Innu land contradicts the commitment Canada made at the Earth Summit in Rio. Such training in Nitassinan must end.

III. The Role Of The U.N.

Canada should contribute to reforming the U.N. by seeking an improvement in its democratic processes and its accountability.

This reform should include:

IV. Scientists In Defence Research

Canada maintains six defence research laboratories, costing $121 million in 1987. Their secretiveness is contrary to the principles of scientific research, so we call for their conversion to civilian research. Restructured, they should study arms control, treaty verification technology, and means of detecting weapons. The results should be published in open scientific literature.

V. Canadian Armaments Production And Trade

The Canadian government helps manufacturers develop and sell military products. The Canadian defence industry has been shaped almost totally by the component needs of the U.S.

The arms industry is always looking for buyers. Canada's guidelines allow military goods to follow the market. Few people know that 28 nuclear or nuclear-capable weapon systems are being built with Canadian components.

Canada has ignored the UNSSOD II (United Nations' Second Special Session on Disarmament) recommendation that each state carry out a study on conversion to civilian production without loss of jobs.

The DDPSA and the DIPP ensure the promotion of arms manufacture and sales. Under the former, Canada purchases equipment from the U.S., while DIPP subsidizes military production. These arrangements give the U.S. a lever to influence Canadian defence and foreign policy decisions.

Moreover, by Amnesty International estimates, 60% of the 45 Third World countries obtaining Canadian military commodities in the period 1980-84 regularly violated human rights. Our 1% share of the world arms trade is usually discounted as insignificant. However, to this 1% share can be attributed 200,000 of the 20 million deaths occurring in wars in the Third World since 1945-double the number of Canadians killed in 20th century wars. For the Gulf War, Iraq received military helicopters and planes with Canadian engines.

Science for Peace recommends the following guidelines for Canadian military production and spending:

VI. Conversion Path

We have noted the importance of two services for emergency situations: an expanded Coast Guard, and a civilian peacekeeping and disaster relief force. Many members of our present armed forces would be attracted to these services and their transfers should be encouraged.

We recommend that the Coast Guard be equipped adequately with icebreakers, planes, helicopters, and detection equipment for water surveillance and for emergency services. Probably the two services should function under a single civilian Ministry.

Science for Peace recommends that Canada move promptly towards the following goals:

a) Within Two Years:

b) At the end of seven years:

c) At the end of 22 years:

By following the path that we propose, Canada will send a message of hope throughout the world.

Science for Peace is a national organization that brings together people interested in the social and natural sciences. Its objectives are:

  1. to advance the contributions of science to global peace and justice,
  2. to conduct and encourage education and research concerning the dangers of war, and
  3. to foster the publication and dissemination of research on these matters.

If you are interested in participating or offering your financial support, contact Science for Peace, University College, University of Toronto, Ont., M5S 1A1; (416) 978-3606.

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1994

Peace Magazine Sep-Oct 1994, page 8. Some rights reserved.

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