Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 10, 2000
Peace depends on justice
Roche argues military spending jeopardizes human security
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Ten years after the supposed end of the Cold War, 35,000 nuclear weapons remain, and weapons of mass destruction are proliferating.
This is so in part because Western powers believe in the old idea that security can be bought with enough weaponry.
To Senator Douglas Roche, the founding editor of the WCR, this idea belongs in the horse-and-buggy age.
In his latest book, Bread Not Bombs: A Political Agenda for Social Justice (University of Alberta Press), Roche writes that peace for the 21st century can only be obtained by advancing a social justice agenda.
He advocates that human security is possible, but only if the international community builds the conditions for peace through nuclear disarmament and co-operation to ensure equitable economic and social development.
"Continued excessive military spending, far from aiding security, actually jeopardizes human security in every area of the planet, rich and poor alike," he writes.
"Security today demands not more military spending to fight future wars but spending on health, education, family support, environment and crime prevention to sow the seeds of peace."
Developed nations, Roche says, must contribute, actively and credibly, to the demilitarization of life, for no state that profits from war can convincingly argue for peace.
"As a minimal first step, all governments should spend at least as much on health and education as on military programs."
Roche's theme throughout Bread Not Bombs is that in the new world of globalization, peace, security and development are inter-linked and must be advanced simultaneously through an integrated agenda.
"The military-industrial complex continues to threaten our common future," he warns. "It has been clearly established that poverty and social exclusion are one of the most important causes of modern armed conflicts. Yet the international community is doing little to build the conditions for peace."
In the book, Roche criticizes Canada's ambiguous foreign policy, especially on nuclear weapons. Though it espouses ultimate elimination, Canada supports the present retention of nuclear weapons.
"Canada continues to live under the nuclear umbrella of NATO, stays quiet when the U.S. reaffirms nuclear weapons at the heart of its military doctrine, and refuses to state that nuclear weapons have no moral or legal justification and should be completely stripped of political legitimacy."
Roche also speaks of a "weakening of the Canadian will" to play a leading role in advancing solutions to the great security problems of our time. Instead of sending planes to bomb Serbia and Kosovo, Canada should have strengthened political and diplomatic endeavours, then contributed forces to a UN-approved international force.
"It's becoming clearer that remaining in a nuclear-armed Western military alliance (NATO) is undermining Canada's ability and desires to express our yearning for peace through the United Nations."
Nevertheless, Roche sees Canada taking a crucial role, building on its international reputation as a peacemaker.
Superpower domination will lead to a new nuclear arms race in the 21st century, he warns. "Moreover, U.S. insistence on developing a ballistic missile defence system is actually stimulating more development of new nuclear weapons by the opponents of the U.S."
The danger of the use of nuclear weapons is growing as India and Pakistan have demonstrated. "The recognition of this should galvanize intelligent and committed people - in both government and civil society - to action," Roche says.