Comments on the draft Appeal: "Peace - the most important common good of the peoples" , written 1-2 March, 2010
Take on the military-industrial complex in Europe
An appeal on "Peace - the most important common good of the peoples" is being prepared by a group of authors of the European Citizens' Network . The Appeal is a part of a wider project which aims to achieve a Pact of peoples on common goods and collective rights.
The group of authors invites the reader to contribute his or her thoughts and comments on the draft Appeal:"We suggest you to read our texts and ideas, and then think together with us about it, will make this project very soon our Common Good, which we will all have a collective right to development. Democratic participation and decision is announced."At the time of writing (March 2, 2010), the present writer is mentioned on the webpage as one of the initiators of the project, which, in effect, I am not. However, as a member and supporter of the European Citizens' Network, I shall present here some critical and, hopefully, constructive comments.
My first impression of the preliminary texts is that they are intellectually barren, because they fail to create the necessary tension between what is and what ought to be. What are good values worth, if we do not tell how to arrive to their realisation? I am all for the 'Pacte des peuples', but how do we make sure that such a treaty is adopted and that its provisions are turned into reality?
The philosophical use of 'common goods' (biens communs), which inevitably becomes the dominant one when peace is defined as a common good, or, indeed, as "le bien commun le plus essentiel des peuples", is problematical. Intuitively, I feel that my philosophy of peace differs from the philosophy of peace of the group of authors of the appeal! The idea of a peoples' compact has to be concrete and practically realisable. Therefore, I would prefer to speak about disarmament instead of peace, and also of the precise weapons systems which shall have to be scrapped and/or converted to civil purposes once the pact has been achieved. I would also insist that we must take on what the late war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his farewell speech 1961, with a warning, called 'a military-industrial complex', and which has since only continued to grow and become politically and economically dominant.
Some days ago I was reminded of the existence of a European military-industrial complex. In Finnish Lapland, a huge area (1.100 square km, according to Wikipedia) at Rovajärvi, has been reserved for the military. Originally, this facility was to serve the national defence of Finland. Nowadays, it has become a testing-ground of the European militarry-industrial complex. The French SAFRAN Group uses this space to develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and the local municipal bureaucrats are reported to have spent 1,5 million euro of their tiny community's money to support the activities of the French war-industry company Sagem!
National defence is often considered to be a 'public good' (this may equal 'a common good'). Thus the defence is seen as a national public service to make the life of the citizens more secure. I agree with this, as long as the defence system does not include ABC-weapons, or the high-tech weapons systems which are presently being built, often without our knowledge, but as often with our more or less silent consent.
Since 1945, which marked a historical turning-point, the bigger part of the new weapons systems, which have been legitimized in the name of 'national defence' as a common, or public, good, have in reality become 'common bads'. The weapons systems which are produced in the laboratories and factories of the military-industrial-academic complex almost invariably represent a stark abuse of scientific and technological research (e.g. genetics, robotics and nanotechnology) and other common resources for evil purposes. These systems threaten the life on this planet, and are therefore to be considered as 'intrinsically' bad, to use a term of academic philosophy. The high-tech military systems could also be labelled as 'superbad', in analogy with the concept of the 'superpower'.
It has been a historical error to produce such weapons systems at all.
Our Appeal must be more practical, more concrete and politically audacious. We have to continue the massive citizens' movement of the 1980s for unilateral European nuclear disarmament. Abolishing the French and British WMD, and the American nukes, which are stationed in Europe, is a realistic goal, and something that we, as a Network of European Citizens, can act on.
The dismantlement of the nuclear electricity production, which is based on the uranium fuel cycle, is a longer and more complicated process than the unilateral abolition of all nuclear weapons from Europe. Yet we should also demand a new Euratom Treaty, which is not designed to "foster progress in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy". Most citizens do not wish to see more any new nuclear power plants being constructed.* The nuclear power plants, although not intended for evil ends, simply do not find room in most people's vision of 'the common goods'. We want safe and clean, renewable energy resources! So let our appeal announce our agreement with those who went to Copenhagen in order to say: DON'T NUKE THE CLIMATE!
2The Appeal should be the starting point for an analysis and critique of the growing participation of the EU in the militarization of space through the activities of companies like the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS). It should envisage actions of a an European peoples' movement towards eliminating the European outgrowths of the global military-industrial-academic complex. The recent blockade of the nuclear bomb factory in Aldermaston, UK, on February 15, 2010, was an example of such desirable actions. Let such actions become Europe-wide, and let us set a denuclearised and free European Union as our political goal.
On the page which formulates the conception of the projected People's Pact it is said:"Radical removal of all military institutions, dissolution of any kind of military bases outside the boundaries of existing nations or ethnic communities (such as EU, ASEAN, AU, etc.)"Here, I would like to stop and to ask: On what grounds can we believe in a sudden, radical, removal of all military institutions? Personally, I would not even hope for such a miracle to happen, since I believe that it is still necessary to maintain national, or federal, standing armies for the defence of the citizens. Agreed, the time has come to question and change the military strategies and to demand the unconditional abolition of the ABC-weapons and the GNR-weapons (the genetics-, nanotech- and robotics-based weapons). An altogether different question is whether the peoples are ready to convert en masse to absolute pacifism.
On the other hand, I find the "dissolution of any kind of military bases outside the boundaries of existing nations or ethnic communities (such as EU, ASEAN, AU, etc.)" to be a very reasonable demand. I think that European should oppose, for instance, the establishment of the French military base on the Strait of Hormuz between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. However, I find it strange to call the EU "an ethnic community" and that the USA, which maintains circa one thousand (1.000) military bases abroad, is not mentioned in the quoted sentence. Everybody, starting with the American people, must oppose the grotesque global system of US military installations, which aims at full spectrum dominance."Complete destruction of existing weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological, chemical and purely technical)"How can this goal be achieved? The abolition of the WMD will not result from the multilateral arms control negotiations between the nuclear states. We must be the change we wish to see in the world, said M.K.Gandhi. The non-violent liberation movement against the British Imperialists on the Indian sub-continent has set an historical example for the peoples on European sub-continent.
And the Manifesto of Ventotene "for a free and united Europe" (1941), that original call for a European Union, continues to be the starting-point for the European liberation movement."Use [...] freed up funds for build and equip a world police force..."Let's free the national and federal police forces from corruption, let them cooperate via Interpol, and provide them with the necessary funding. But I doubt that the time for "a world police force" is here, although some American politicians may love to think that they and their military already are one.
book # kaapeli.fi, Lovisa, Finland
* Last summer, the Finnish public service broadcasting company Yle ordered a poll on the opinions of the Finns. 55 % said they are against the construction of new nuclear reactors in Finland; only 38 % stated that they are in favour.