Negotiations and Diplomacy On the Agenda Again
It is time to remember some history of the movement for peace and nuclear disarmament which show how demonstrations, negotiations and diplomacy pulled us back from the brink. The US/NATO proxy war against Russia in Ukraine has the world on the edge of nuclear war again. Only this time, there are no negotiations going on between the US and Russia to end the arms race. Back in 1962 during the Cuban missile crisis, we negotiated with the Soviets and agreed to compromises that pulled us away from the brink. Now, in February, 2023, we are drawing ever closer to open war with Russia. We are in deep trouble again.
Demonstrations for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament
Sixty years ago we faced a similar real threat of nuclear war. Protests against nuclear testing began a series of demonstrations that had a real impact helping us to start negotiations and de-escalation. In the 1950s and 1960s during the Cold War, there were demonstrations against Nuclear testing and for disarmament.
During these years, 499 nuclear tests took place, 215 by the US, 219 by the USSR, 21 by the UK, and 3 by France. There was the world wide Ban the Bomb movement, including the March, 1962 San Francisco Ban the Bomb demonstration that publicly defied mainstream witch hunting, now called McCarthyism.
There were demonstrations against HUAC (House UnAmerican Activities Committee) at the same time in Los Angeles against the long American tradition of suppressing dissent. Suppressing dissent has grown stronger today including against advocates of diplomacy as a way to end the war in Ukraine.
Women for Peace Led Demonstrations for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament
In July, 1962, Women Strike for Peace went to the site of nuclear testing in Nevada to demand an end to nuclear testing. Helicopters hovered overhead trying to intimidate the women.
The Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed August 5, 1963. On September 24, 1996, 71 states signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty after the UN General Assembly adopted the treaty. By 2016, 177 states had ratified it.
On August 6, 1962 Bay Area Women for Peace led a march in San Francisco around an area the same size as the area devastated by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the US in 1945.
Cuban Missile Crisis
On October 27, 1962 during the Cuba missile crisis , a peace demonstration in San Francisco demanded no invasion of Cuba where the Soviet Union had placed nuclear weapons. The Kennedy Administration averted disaster through negotiations and diplomacy and the world breathed a sigh of relief. Soviet missiles were removed from Cuba and US missiles were taken out of Turkey. Today US and NATO missiles are on the border of Russia creating the same kind of crisis.
Disarmament in the Times of Perestroika
UN weapons inspector and former Marine Corps Officer Scott Ritter has written an account of the successful negotiations between the US and the USSR leading up to Gorbachev and Reagan signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that pulled us back from nuclear confrontation in Europe in the 1980s. He tells how it was done and what it took to make it happen. More importantly, he shows that it can be done: that people with vast differences of opinion can sit down and negotiate diplomatically. It is inspiring to read his account of how high level diplomacy between nuclear armed powers reduced tensions and downsized the nuclear arsenals of both powers.
Ending the war in Ukraine through negotiations and diplomacy is the way to peace. Restarting nuclear disarmament talks has never been more urgent. Thank you, Scott Ritter, for your role in the last successful disarmament negotiations the world has had and for your riveting personal account of your role in it.