Everyone is Responsible for World Disarmament


AVAILABLE FOR REPRINT. Copy and use freely. Please help PeaceVoice by notifying us when you use this piece: PeaceVoiceDirector@gmail.com

“In his Prague speech on April 6 2009, President Barack Obama had ‘affirmed clearly and with conviction the commitment of the United States to pursue peace and security in a world without nuclear arms.’ But he made sure to note: ‘Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary.’

“This kind of reasoning is strange because weapons will exist as long as the United States will not renounce their possession. And from the moment that the American President affirms his wish not to renounce his nuclear weapons, what right does he have to demand that others renounce their acquisition? Could they not use the same line of reasoning: ‘As long as these weapons exist, we will not renounce their acquisition.’ This is what we call a vicious circle….”

Author: Jean-Marie Muller, philosopher and national spokesperson for M.A.N. (Mouvement pour Une Alternative Nonviolente)
Published in: Huntington News Network in West Virginia (home page: http://www.huntingtonnews.net/), at ZCommunications.org (see http://zcommunications.org/), and at GilmerFreePress.net from Gilmer County, Georgia (at http://www.gilmerfreepress.net/)
Date: July 11, 14 and 19, 2010

For the full article:
Everyone is Responsible for World Disarmament
(1,191 words)
by Jean-Marie Muller

In his Prague speech on April 6 2009, President Barack Obama had “affirmed clearly and with conviction the commitment of the United States to pursue peace and security in a world without nuclear arms.” But he made sure to note: “Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary.”

This kind of reasoning is strange because weapons will exist as long as the United States will not renounce their possession. And from the moment that the American President affirms his wish not to renounce his nuclear weapons, what right does he have to demand that others renounce their acquisition? Could they not use the same line of reasoning: “ As long as these weapons exist, we will not renounce their acquisition.” This is what we call a vicious circle.

At the examination conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NNPT) held in New York from May 3-23, Brazil’s representative, who decided to use a language of truth ignoring commonalities, declared from the outset: “ The Non-Proliferation Treaty is a treaty that is intrinsically unjust, that divides the world between the haves and have-nots.” It is the expression of the imbalance of the international system. It is the product of a time when military power, nuclear weapons in particular, was the principal, if not the only source of prestige and political power. He bitterly points out that 40 years after the inception of the NNPT, the objective of a world free from nuclear weapons is nothing more than a mere “mirage.”

On May 28, the 189 signatory countries of the NNPT arrived at an agreement adopted by consensus in a final 28-page document. What rendered this consensus possible was that the states of the “haves” and “have-nots” accepted not to transcend, but to put aside their disagreements in order to save face and to avoid as such a flagrant failure of the conference. This resulted in compromises leaving the real problems without solutions.

Everyone is responsible for world disarmament and, when everyone is responsible, no one feels responsible. Paradoxically, to defend plans of universal disarmament suits very well those chiefs of state in possession of nuclear arms. In the attainment of this aim, their personal responsibility finds itself diluted in a multilateral process in which each one can pretext the armament of others in order to justify their own armament. As long as the complete eradication of nuclear weapons remains a pious wish, each one will be able to continue at his convenience to claim that he is within his rights and his duty to assure the security of his people by maintaining and modernizing his own weapons.

“France,” states Nicolas Sarkozy on March 21 2008, “applies a principle, that of strict sufficiency.” But don’t be fooled, this principle is not a factor of disarmament, rather a factor of re-armament. To seek sufficiency is to desire to satisfy all of the needs deemed necessary. Certainly quantitative needs are limited, but qualitative needs are unlimited. The development of weapons is ruled by technological advances which are without limit. It is thus always possible to “modernize,” to improve weapons.

This is how, in France’s nuclear arsenal, the M-45 missile was replaced by the M-51 missile, the ASMP by the Improved-ASMP and the SNLE by the SNLE-Next Generation. As such, by evoking the principle of sufficiency, one claims to limit oneself to what is necessary, but what is necessary is limitless.

A TRULY PACIFIC COUP D’ETAT

It is good rhetoric to claim that nuclear dissuasion would be based on a strategy of non-use. Surely, by itself, dissuasion is not usage, but it is the use of the threat, and this leads directly to the threat of usage. The logic of dissuasion implies that political decision makers would be firmly determined to resort to the act. Ideologues have constructed an irenic representation of nuclear dissuasion totally distanced from the murderous reality of the threat of nuclear bombs and of their potential usage. As long as the use of a nuclear weapon would be a crime against humanity, the threat of its usage is already criminal.

Moreover, in the domain of politico-military strategy, the moral argument not only would not be able to suffice in itself, but it is never even taken into consideration. In this domain, a so-called realism claims always to draw from a so-called moralism. However, it so happens that the intrinsic immorality of nuclear weapons goes beyond its strategic impossibility. Nuclear dissuasion is incapable of confronting eventual threats which can weigh on France, beginning with the terrorist threat.

We can maintain the illusion that dissuasion serves for something as long as we don’t have to use it.

This is precisely because nuclear dissuasion serves nothing by providing the belief that it amounts to something. It is only in the moment when we would like to use them that it is necessary to resign ourselves to the evidence that it can do nothing for us. Nuclear dissuasion serves nothing if we do not use it. Being un-usable in times of war, it is also un-usable in times of peace.

If nuclear dissuasion is immoral, unrealistic, dangerous and costly, a question arises: “Is the unilateral nuclear disarmament of France possible?” Lucidity suggests to respond: today, probably not. No, because French decision makers proclaim loud and clear their faith in nuclear weapons. Are nuclear weapons then a fatality? Certainly not. Then? Then, it returns to the French people to freely take control of their destiny. When all is said and done, the French have the freedom to decide upon the unilateral nuclear disarmament of France. This would not be impossible if the French people wanted it. For the time being, it is not possible not because the French people cannot do it, but because they do not want it. More precisely, because they never had the possibility to debate it to say whether or not they do or do not want it. Will it be possible tomorrow? That is to say, would the French want it tomorrow and will they be able to state that they want it? It is possible.

Thus, the citizenry must attain the liberty of desiring the unilateral disarmament of France. At the very least, it is necessary to affirm that the French people can desire to renounce nuclear weapons. Otherwise, history has no meaning. None. Is it probable? The only thing that we can say for sure is that probability is non-null. The great difference is that the probabilities of universal nuclear disarmament are virtual, while those of the unilateral nuclear disarmament of France are real.

It is important to realize the task at hand: to reverse the nuclear regime, it is necessary that citizens dare to organize a truly pacific coup d’etat by which they will take power. The analysis of Etienne de la Boetie fits the nuclear state perfectly: There is no power except that given by the voluntary collaboration with those who are ruled. It would suffice that they decide to no longer be ruled so that it collapses on its own.

* * *
Jean-Marie Muller is a philosopher and national spokesperson for M.A.N. (Mouvement pour Une Alternative Nonviolente. See www.nonviolence.fr). Reprinted with the author’s permission.