Saturday, February 02, 2019

Cruise Missiles and Back to the 80s

The US has just announced that it is withdrawing from the 1987  Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). This was the treaty signed by Reagan and Gorbachev to ban nuclear-armed cruise missiles. In the 1980s CND waged a campaign against this which attracted considerable support and debate. CND had originally been set up to ban all nuclear weapons, but at the bidding of EP Thompson and others it decided to water down this aim to just opposing nuclear-armed cruise missiles in Europe (which the US aimed at Russia, so this was enthusiastically supported by the Communist Party). The 1987 Treaty was seen as a victory for this campaign and EP Thompson hailed as a hero for almost single-handedly bringing the Cold War to an end:
We had always maintained that the only way to get rid of nuclear weapons was to get rid of capitalism by establishing socialism as a world without frontiers based on the common ownership of the Earth’s natural and industrial resources; and that even if some nuclear weapons were banned, the knowledge of how to make them would remain with the chance that they could be made again if the changing geopolitical balance between rival states required a state to do this to protect itself from a rival. 
As in this article from June 1982 Socialist Standard
"It must be obvious to anyone who is not politically naive, that no government undertaking or treaty has ever been kept for longer than it was expedient to do so. Even if it were possible to imagine a capitalist government, for their own political purposes, giving to CND some undertaking about nuclear weapons, it would not be worth the paper it was written on. (…) It is important to remember that the technology of nuclear weapons is here to stay. You cannot now erase from the human mind and experience the ability to make nuclear weapons, and there can be no doubt that stocks will continue to proliferate under capitalism."
What’s just happened has confirmed this. 

The US has denied that their withdrawal from the INF Treaty has anything to do with the fact that it was a treaty between them and Russia only and that China was not bound by it and that they wanted to develop this weapon again to counter China’s military build-up. In any event, EP Thompson’s “achievement” has lasted only twenty or so years.


No comments: