“Bought and Paid for by the Soviet Union”
"Gekauft und bezahlt von der Soviet Union"
Ronald Reagan once claimed that the western peace movements were, “all sponsored by a thing called the World Peace Council which is bought and paid for by the Soviet Union.” The President was repeating a common right-wing myth, that peace movements were controlled and manipulated from Moscow. This was not the case in the 1980’s, when both the Nuclear Freeze movement in the United States and the disarmament movements in Western Europe distanced themselves from the so-called Peace Councils and in most cases were critical of both Eastern and Western nuclear weapons. Indeed, one of the distinctive features of the peace movement in the 1980’s was its opposition to Cold War thinking and structures. We opposed militaristic thinking wherever it arose, in the East as well as the West.
Ronald Reagan behauptete einmal, dass die westlichen Freidensbewegungen "alle von etwas gesponsort wurden, dass sich den Welt Friedensrat nennt, der von der Soviet Union gekauft und bezahlt" würde. Der Präsident
|1) Far from being influenced by Moscow, the peace movement may have exerted influence in the opposite direction. The Nuclear Freeze and European disarmament movements altered the political culture in the West in ways that made it easier for Soviet leaders to elect a reformer like Mikhail Gorbachev. The peace movements contributed several important disarmament initiatives that eventually became official Soviet policy. Ronald Reagan had it backwards. Perhaps it was the Kremlin that was influenced by the peace movement.||1) ||2) In awarding its 1996 Peace Prize to Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash movement of scientists, the Nobel Committee acknowledged the critical role of the East-West dialogue in helping to thaw Cold War tensions. From their beginnings in the late 1950’s, the Pugwash meetings became a valuable forum for communication and dialogue between Soviet scientists and their Western counterparts. A number of valuable initiatives on arms control and weapons verification flowed from these sessions.||2) ||3) One of the most influential Soviet scientists involved in this dialogue with the West was Yevgeny Velikhov, an early pioneer in computer technology and later the head of the Soviet fusion program. In the 1970s, Velikhov was asked to provide advice to the Minister of Agriculture on how computers might be used for farming. The two established a close working relationship which continued while the Minister kept rising in the Communist Party and ended up as leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. Velikhov became his chief Science Advisor and founded the Committee of Soviet Scientists for Peace and Against the Nuclear Threat. He invited Western scientists to join with their Eastern colleagues in challenging the Star Wars strategic defense program and promoting arms control verification. It was Velikhov who proposed at a Pugwash meeting in Copenhagen in 1985 that independent Western scientific groups might play a role in verifying the Soviet nuclear testing moratorium. The ! proposal was later approved, and U.S. scientists subsequently visited a suspected ABM radar site in Central Asia and established an independent seismic monitoring post at the Soviet nuclear testing range in Kazakhstan. The Pugwash scientists provided a steady stream of creative ideas for tension reduction between West and East.||3) ||4) In the 1980’s right-wing politicians tried to claim that the Nuclear Freeze proposal was invented in Moscow. Again, the reverse was the case. The idea of a bilateral halt to the production, testing, and deployment of nuclear weapons emerged among peace activists in the United States and was later taken to the Soviet Union by a delegation of religious and peace activists. In 1979 representatives of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and other groups presented what was then called the Nuclear Moratorium proposal to Soviet officials in Moscow. The bureaucrats they met at the Soviet Foreign Ministry paid little attention to the idea at the time. Several years later, however, when the Freeze had taken off in the United States as a mass movement, Soviet officials responded more positively to the proposal. In fact, when U.S.- Soviet strategic arm negotiations finally got underway in 1982, the first Soviet offer on the table was a modified version of the Nuclear Freeze! . Moscow took an initiative of the U.S. peace movement and played it back to Washington as an official Soviet proposal. U.S. negotiators were not amused and dismissed the proposal as a propaganda stunt, which it probably was. But the episode showed how peace movement efforts helped to shape Soviet thinking.||4) ||5) A more significant example of peace movement influence was the 1985 Soviet initiative to break the deadlock and take unilateral steps without waiting for results in negotiations. On August 6, 1985, the 40th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, Mikhail Gorbachev announced a unilateral halt to nuclear testing and invited the United States to join in a mutual moratorium. In effect, this was a unilateral initiative for peace. The idea of unilateral initiatives to break the East-West deadlock had long been (and still is) central to peace movement thinking. Proposals for independent initiatives were promoted by the Nuclear Freeze campaign in the United States, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Great Britain, and the peace movements in Germany, the Netherlands and other countries. Proponents of the idea extolled the example of the test ban moratoria in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, which ultimately lead to the successful conclusion of the Atmospheric Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty in 1963. In 1982, Daniel Ellsberg, then a member of the Nuclear Freeze strategy committee, proposed the idea of a testing moratorium to Soviet officials in Moscow. Bruce Kent, national secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Great Britain, also urged Soviet leaders to announce a moratorium.||5) ||6) As the 40th anniversary of Hiroshima approached, Western suggestions for a testing moratorium multiplied. U.S. retired admirals, Gene LaRocque and Eugene Carroll of the Center for Defense Information, brought the appeal for a test ban to the White House and the Kremlin. Western peace activists also appealed to members of the Soviet-controlled World Peace Council in Helsinki. Tair Tairov, then Secretary of the Council, cabled Moscow pleading for a decision to halt testing. Tairov was initially reprimanded for trying to interfere with policy, but he persisted. As he later wrote about the incident:||6) ||7) — I sent another cable... I sent this two weeks before the moratorium was declared. I know that it was read by all the top people, the Ministry of Defense, Gorbachev. When I read in the paper that Gorbachev had announced the moratorium, I felt that I was lucky that day.
The whole world was lucky.||7) ||8) Soviet leaders had always paid close attention to Western peace movements and had indeed tried, without success, to manipulate them over the decades. In the 1980’s however, the influence clearly flowed in the other direction. Tairov and other close observers of Kremlin politics credited western peace movements with a decisive role in the evolution of Soviet thinking:||8) ||9) — If it weren’t for the peace movement in the West, there would have been no “new thinking”... Gorbachev would never have proclaimed the idea of a non-violent, non-nuclear world. He knew that the world was already fertile. The peace movements created the historical arena in which he could go ahead.||9) |