[Mb-civic] Gorbachev Launches Global Campaign Against WMD

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Sun Sep 26 13:03:35 PDT 2004

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  Come Clean: Gorbachev Launches Global Campaign Against WMD
  By Sanjay Suri 
  Inter-Press Services

  Friday 24 September 2004

  LONDON - Mikhail Gorbachev is an ex-president going after weapons of mass
destruction. But not the way U.S. President George Bush thought he was going
after them in Iraq.

   That war on Iraq was a mistake, Gorbachev said in London this week. "It
not only undermined international law, it undermined democracy. Millions
spoke out, but the war was launched in spite of their democratic views," he
told media representatives.

   Gorbachev was in London to launch an offensive against weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) of quite another kind; he came to launch a Come Clean
campaign put together by several NGOs including Greenpeace, the Campaign of
Nuclear Disarmament (CND) in Britain and Medact, a group supporting health
issues in conflict areas.

   Mikhail Gorbachev became President of the Soviet Union in 1990, and
stepped down as head of state at the end of 1991. He was earlier one of the
key Soviet leaders as a member of the Soviet presidium. Since 1992 he has
been president of the International Nongovernmental Foundation for
Socio-Economic and Political Studies, better known as The Gorbachev

   The leader of the former Soviet Union seemed at peace with his new role.
A naïve attempt? "I have been suspected of being naïve many times," he said.

   He had been called naïve in 1986, he said, when he appealed for
elimination of nuclear weapons by 2000. "There were two reactions to that,"
he said. "One, that it was all propaganda. Two, that it was an illusion. But
we were able to eliminate whole classes of nuclear weapons."

   Gorbachev was emphatic about his campaign against WMD. "If they exist,
sooner or later there will be disastrous consequences. They can fall into
the hands of terrorists. It is not enough to safeguard them, they must be

   Anyone who supports the existence of weapons of mass destruction should
not be allowed to run for the post of president or prime minister, Gorbachev
said. "You may again think I'm naïve. But I'm not stupid, I know what I'm

   As Soviet leader Gorbachev knew what he was sitting on. His initiative
led to a joint declaration with former U.S. president Ronald Reagan that a
nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.

   Gorbachev, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1990 for helping bring the
Cold War to an end, now sees new cause for alarm. "In recent years we are
seeing a tendency to change military doctrines to declare use of nuclear
weapons more acceptable and perhaps pre-emptive strikes with nuclear weapons
more conceivable."

   The new campaign launched in London Thursday seeks to counter new
dangers. The campaign is being led in London by 96-year-old Prof Sir Joseph
Rotblat, who won the Nobel peace award in 1995. Prof Rotblat, who is Polish
by birth worked on building the atom bomb in Britain during the Second World
War. He abandoned the project when it became clear that Germany was not
building the bomb.

   He turned instead to a peace mission to avert the danger posed by nuclear
weapons. As someone who almost built the atom bomb, he too knows just what
he is talking about.

   But as a former president Gorbachev knows that peace does not mean
pacifism. Terrorism has to be countered. He believes "in traditional methods
like police methods, use of commandos against terrorist structures, and this
too with the approval of the United Nations Security Council."

   There are financial flows that need to be stopped. "There are many
well-known things happening in the financial system, and these channels need
to be cut, there needs to be a better central financial system." And with
terrorism arising from fundamentalism, "religious leaders need to speak out
against the actions of their followers".

   Finally he said there is a need to fight terrorism by fighting poverty.
"Where billions are deprived of hope and a decent life, it becomes possible
to recruit followers for terrorism."

   But was all this being naïve too? What about pragmatic solutions?

   The agreement between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bush on
reduction of weapons should be implemented. "And other members of the
nuclear club should join in the process. Otherwise there are about 30
threshold countries that can start testing and acquiring nuclear weapons."

   But is he the leader who unleashed unrest and lack of security through
his policies of glasnost (openness) and perestroika (restructuring) that led
to the break-up of the Soviet Union?

   Gorbachev had an answer to that one earlier in the day for a 13-year-old
schoolgirl of Russian origin at a London school.

   The results of perestroika as he had planned it would have taken 20 to 30
years to attain. He blamed his successor Boris Yeltsin for offering what he
could never have delivered.

   "They (the Russian people) believed the promise of a quick fix and they
felt that if Gorbachev was not delivering on a better life quickly let's
support Yeltsin," Gorbachev told the girl, according to a local news agency.

   "The result was the disintegration of the country, shock therapy in the
army and chaos," he said. "We are still feeling the consequences of this."


  For more Information: http://www.comeclean.org.uk/.



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