To the editors:
Harold Henderson's article about the Peace Movement [August 9] said that they are in desperate search of a new strategy. I think the one place they haven't looked is back at their own total lack of credibility. Every warning they made, every assurance they issued has been wrong so far. Why should we listen now?
As I have seen the Movement over the years, it is much more than a mere collection of pacifists. Alongside its perhaps understandable fear of nuclear war has been a consistent, unvarying position regarding the U.S.'s place in world affairs. No bit of mischief, no problem, no horror, no atrocity has been reviewed by the Peace Movement that wasn't the sole responsibility of the United States or its craven allies. People starve in Bangladesh? We must have stolen the food. Pol Pot decimated his own country's population? We made him crazy. People were shot trying to jump the Berlin Wall? West Berlin shouldn't have been there anyway.
The flip side of this anti-U.S. focus was a pro-Soviet myopia. We were always informed that we had nothing to fear from the East. The happy nations of the Warsaw Pact may not have had all the toys and cars we did, but they were marching together to build a better society. Under Socialism, just governments had at last been established.
This fantasy has not survived the last few years. When the Soviets pulled out, the slave nations went West with a shocking speed. In the mid 80s, at the height of the anti-nuclear-arms movement, deep articles in the Left press speculated on a mutually respectful neutral government combining the two Germanys, a sort of condominium with Leninist and capitalist zones. The reality was that the East German government dissolved like dog shit in the summer rain. No talks, no interlocking of the governments--the East just disappeared one afternoon.
If the Movement was just silly, we might ignore it. However, their worst sin was aiding in the cover-ups of the monstrosities that are being daily revealed from inside the Soviet Empire. While the Peace Movement complained of embargoes against the Sandinistas, the Ceausescu regime was systematically starving handicapped orphans to death. Where was SANE/FREEZE? Where was Helen Caldicott? Where was the Church of the Brethren? When the Soviets were strafing Afghani women and children, In These Times was printing articles praising the civilizing work the Red Army was doing.
I presume Mr. Henderson's story was submitted before the recent summit in Moscow. Otherwise he might have mentioned the signing of a treaty reducing U.S. and Soviet atomic warheads by nearly a third. Why have we not heard Hosanna from the churches? Why hasn't SANE/FREEZE called for a March of Celebration? Why isn't Helen Caldicott smiling? I guess because this is not the way the most significant move toward a safe world was supposed to happen. The Movement didn't really want world peace. They wanted world Marxism. The idea Henderson floats that the mid-80s FREEZE movement forced Reagan into accepting Gorbachev's peace moves is ridiculous. Gorbachev's friendliness was an admission of weakness, which is now readily apparent, even to Reagan. By supporting the reformers, we have finished Marxism. No wonder the movement is depressed.
I guess the real reason the American people never truly warmed to the Peace Movement is that we saw the alternative. The Marxist religion enslaved one-third of humanity. It inspired Hitler's death camps, Stalin's purges, Castro's island prisons and Ceausescu's murder of handicapped children. It gave the world Chernobyl, the Aral Sea desert, the Cambodian mountains of skulls and Tiananmen Square. In the face of these nightmares, no weapon was too powerful to build, no sacrifice too large to make. Marxism has been the worst thing to strike humanity since the Black Death. This enemy was worth fighting. Pacifism in the face of such an enemy is not a virtue. It is suicide.
Michael P. Walsh