International Meeting
2000 World Conference against A & H Bombs

Gerald O'Brien,
President of Honour.
Peace Council of Aotearoa-New Zealand, Inc.
New Zealand

Eminent Chairpersons, Distinguished Colleagues,

To come to Hiroshima is to confront face to face the utter evil of nuclear weapons and the warping of human minds that brought about their use on living breathing human souls. Thousands of years of human development, of the creation of moral systems which permitted civilisation to evolve appear to have all come to nothing in what took place here fifty-five years ago. An evolved science which promised a human golden age, forever besmirched its claims to moral neutrality and abandoned its power to progress humanity in benignity through its collusion in the unspeakable crime that took place here. The consequences of that corruption have remained with us to this day.

The leaders of nations had so warped civilisation that they imperiled all life itself. Rarely except in the dark ages had leaders so insanely seen themselves as wielders of the powers of God? The science that had eased humanity's burdens now threatened human survival with its greatest menace, as the American author Richard Tarnas wrote. The abolition of morality inherent in the crime of Hiroshima and Nagasaki empowered the political, military and corporate establishments to meld together and thus clear the path for the new exploitative age, which prevails today, in the guise of Globalisation.

In 1973 the New Zealand Prime Minister, Norman Kirk, who had ordered New Zealand warships into the French atomic testing site at Muroroa to prevent atmospheric testing, and whose government first used the International Court of Justice to hear a case against French nuclear testing, addressed the U.N. General Assembly. He was critical of the then new relaxed great power relationships, which he observed had brought no benefits to the smaller countries or the UN itself, the relaxation, as is the case also today, having been brought about by a concert of convenience among the powerful few, and that the other nations of our world, who need stable peace, co-operation and international order, could not rest satisfied with such a temporary fragile situation which took no account of the historical imperatives of clash of empires.

The balance of power, which had enabled the earlier relaxation, as today, is a fiction hiding the pursuance of national interests by other means. In the final analysis the continuing attempts to shift any balance in one direction alone, such as we have with the role chosen by the US on its own account as per its rogue attacks and imposition of guidelines on its client states, and its control and use of NATO as a force independent of the UN and of international agreements and commitments to the UN Charter, must inevitably lead to confrontation. The persistence of these historical realities alarms us because of the continued existence of nuclear weapons as well as their proliferation and the enormous spread of conventional weapons.

Armaments remain the world's most serious problem, nuclear weapons being the greatest threat to all life, and the diversion of resources on them and all other weaponry being the cause of the deaths of millions and the basic cause of deprivation for over 3 billion people. The governments of the major powers remain implacably opposed to disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, and they continue to assert their refusal to do anything other than duplicitously dissemble and deceive whilst clinging to these outlawed means of enforcing monopoly capital control of the world.

The demonisation of non-subservient smaller nations especially in what is euphemistically called the Third World -as if we can morally belong to anything other than One World -remains as the justification for the continuing proliferation of armaments, including nuclear weapons, which proliferate in spite of the Non-proliferation Treaty and those many other devices created to ensure that nuclear weapons may remain as a threat to all peoples. These demonised states are called paradoxically "rogue states" when in fact the threat to survival of humanity arises not from those nations seeking to acquire nuclear weapons and their so-called protection, but from the true Rogue States. The nuclear weapon states themselves, for it is they alone which have been responsible for all the deaths to date from nuclear weapons and fallout. This simple fact is always ignored and never allowed to be published anywhere at any time.

This demonisation seems paradoxical in the light of claims by the nuclear powers to be bringing democracy to the world. It is a necessary concomitant of New Right control and can only be effective in democracies themselves through orchestrated control of news media propaganda. These modern so-called spin techniques of opinion forming mind management were initially introduced in the war against Vietnam, were perfected in Bush's war against Iraq, and have been refined in their intrinsic horror in NATO's war against Yugoslavia.

It is only by awareness raising, public education and protest, dusting off the old techniques which served so well to alert a previous generation to nuclear evils, that we can use democracy while it is still available, to revitalise public opinion and resistance.

In my country, New Zealand, through last November again electing a committed anti-nuclear government, we are drawing on the residue of past struggles for anti-nuclear peace and are once more hopefully confronting the world's pro-nuclear class, taking initiatives internationally through the New Agenda Coalition aimed at beating the nuclear class at its own diplomatic game. A whole new generation is learning, through committed progressive teachers in our schools, the value and the rectitude of what we have achieved in New Zealand's anti-nuclearism and in our law.

Prime Minister Kirk said in his 1973 UN address that he was convinced that the people of every country were sick of war and the threat of war, and that they did not want nuclear weapons and their attendant threats, but they wanted much more progress towards that peace which great power government ignored.

He asked should we recognize nations as "great powers" merely because they have the capacity to inflict greater damage than others, or better perhaps, because they have failed to match power with responsibility, or that they have licensed themselves to be shepherds who can prey on their sheep? Should we not question the scale of values that puts power at the top, and ought we not to insist on a different scale of values, a human scale, a civilized scale, based on the belief that the truly great country is that which shows concern for the quality of life both of its own people and that of its neighbours?

Those challenges are to our own governments and also to the UN itself, which must now seriously dispute the existence of the Security Council veto and the continuing existence of Permanent Members. These two elements grossly distort democracy at the highest level of world order and can no longer have any justification. Our own governments must also examine their tacit acceptance of the delusion that incrementalism in negotiations means progress, whereas the dictionary defines it more aptly as "an adding of particulars without climax" which is in fact a digression or a diversion from the objective which we all demand.

That former New Zealand government of 1972-75 to which I have referred must influence the current government. New Zealanders have, since they created their own Anti-Nuclear Law, realised the basic truth about power in the nuclear age, that nuclear weapons can only be used in committing national suicide. But they remain concerned about the arrogance of the nuclear powers in the UN who brush aside requests, pleas and legalities in their insane desire to cling to nuclear arms in order to remain at the top table with unwarranted powers whilst they waste natural resources, impoverish billions of people, refuse justice to so many Hibakusha and to so many others afflicted by the existence and use or testing of nuclear weapons, and deny life to so many.

We have to confront the simple fact that international law is being ignored in the retention of nuclear weapons, and international organisations established to protect humanity have become casualties of superpower arrogance. The smaller nations in the UN have ballot box power and can exercise it if they have the courage. They have the mass of General Assembly votes. It is time that they united, ignored the threat of economic war against themselves, and exercised the power of their vote in the UN to reform that organisation and re-empower the small nations and the peoples of the world.

The New Agenda Coalition provides a vehicle to do this amongst the smaller nations and is being utilised by the New Zealand government.

As we enter the new millenium we continue to face the historic dangers to peace which stem from the nature of social and economic organisation and the driving force of greed, represented these days by the clearly discernible neo-imperialism of globalisation.

Let us look for example at the case of Japan where there are serious danger signs for peace evident in government behavior, when the largest coalition partner in government explicitly advocates the deformation of a Constitution which is the envy of progressive peoples around the world and which is one of humanity's great documents. The Prime Minister goes further in signaling a desire to return to internationally unacceptable concepts rooted in a feudal past, and offers no compensating strategy for peace, which must send shudders through neighbouring countries remembering the recent past when militarism ran riot. Globalised concepts of industrial law which destroy the human rights of people to organise in trade unions are also emerging.

In a world where governments should be striving for peace in accordance with their sworn commitments in the UN Charter and to Resolutions of the UN, if we continue with the example of Japan, we can observe that political decisions in Japan, follow willing compliance with agreed but virtually imposed "Guidelines". The policies, which arise from conformity with the guidelines, alarmingly for the world, seek to change the peaceful Constitution in order to accommodate the Corporate World's War Laws as applied to Japan, raising once again the spectre of another fearful belligerency. For all of us who see the Japanese people as truly peace-loving, the government therefore appears as being both nationally and internationally reactionary. The Japanese government position is symptomatic of governments, which have surrendered to globalised Corporate Statism. Against this cancer afflicting and depriving the world's peoples of sustenance and life itself there are signs of popular awakening as in Seattle and Washington, - the first calls of the dispossessed billions.

Yet even so, the knowledge Economy is most certainly likely to rapidly accelerate the gaps between those who can afford computers and knowledge access and that huge majority of those billions who cannot, whilst education, economic justice, and health minimums are strenuously denied to them. Those that thereafter strive for justice will undoubtedly be met by NATO or similar forces to those which made war against Iraq and Yugoslavia. That abyss looms closer day by day.

Peace is clearly and emphatically threatened by the ever looming greed of Globalisation and its backing by nuclear weapons. Little will retard the certainty of reaction to the economic policing of world organisations such as the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO, and to an enchained UN Security Council where the voices of the peoples can little be heard over those of corporate controlled governments. The cornerstone of Globalisation lies in the continuing existence and growth, modernisation and lateral proliferation of nuclear weapons. Their elimination, always seen by this World Conference as the primary task facing humanity, is decidedly still the major task.

At last Peace Movements are coming to see what many progressive people have for long understood as a fact of existence, that militarism is simply the enforcement arm of international capital and that, uncontrolled by democracy at all levels, the state becomes merely an executive committee managing the interests of the moneyed class, a policing institution for the subjection of the individual. The structures of current world order operate within this concept. Failure to comply by any people brings the direst of consequences. This is why nuclear weapons are retained and developed and laterally proliferated.

Globalisation is today's euphemism for imperialism and unless we accept this, then the third industrial revolution, the technological one, will not be available to enhance human life; it will not be available for the benefit of all, but will by its own nature divide the world as assuredly as did the introduction of slavery and the creation of the feudal system. The haves will be those and their minions who control and have access to the tools of technology; the have-nots will be those whose economic deprivation will render them, rather than the technology, the new slaves.

Military bases, military pacts and blocs, NATO wars and US wars and US Guidelines are clearly accoutrements of the globalisation process, as assuredly is the depletion of the earth's resources and the future wellbeing of humanity. When or if it is suggested that these remain separate issues and can be dealt with step by step sequentially, and thus by inference successively and successfully, this, as nuclear disarmament failure over the last fifty-five years has shown, is living in a dreamland of self-deception. Attempting to pursue a path of sequential progression infers that an objective will be attained, but the following of this approach does little other than clip the system's toe-nails.

Seattle, Washington and Okinawa have trumpeted a new born hope that recognition of glovalisation as the same old imperialism in a much more virulent form will present peace movements with the demand to confront the central system, not just its evolved consequences.

In the globalisers' campaign against these mounting reactions propaganda now being spread by the nuclear class hopes to win the young to the idea that anti-nuclear activity is no longer relevant as stability has been achieved and the nuclear threat, except for the demonised rogue states no longer exists to any great degree. Anti-nuclearism is being depicted as boring and passe. This is the new battle for the hearts and minds of the young generation. It issues us with the challenge to go back to the ideals on which opposition to the evils of nuclearism first indignantly arose.

Yet at the same time as this line is being sold to the young the new SDI proposals are proffered without the twitch of an eyelid, so confident are the nuclear class that they can manipulate public opinion. And thus now arises the reality once again of the clash of empires clearly evidenced in the profound disquiet of the G7 interests.

Governments, unless they are morally committed to disarmament, will only respond to public pressure exercised through the ballot box. Through the constant raising of public awareness by the multiplicity of techniques we all now so readily recognise and are capable of implementing, it is completely, utterly, and entirely possible to establish anti-nuclearism as public policy, rendering it untouchable by pro-nuclearist forces. We have done so in New Zealand, and before it was decided by the nuclear powers to distabilise the South Pacific we were on the verge of establishing a true nuclear free zone throughout the South Pacific.

Every region has its problems, the South Pacific especially so at the moment. The inflow of arms needs international examination, as does the overthrow of democratic government in Fiji and the Solomons, and the threats to Vanuatu. The transit of nuclear waste demands, as does the transit of nuclear-armed vessels, a revision and reformation of the UN's basic Nuclear Free Zone concept as also of the Treaty of Rarotonga, which was originally emasculated by Australian Prime Minister Hawke to propitiate US interests.

I mention these regional matters simply to illustrate the need for peace movements to have great care against merely being reactive against an agenda prepared by the foes of anti-nuclear peace, a failing to which we can become prone in the belief that any movement is capable of being construed as progress, whereas movement can also be backwards.

The first objective then, must surely be to demand the immediate start on a Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, notwithstanding that diplomats tell us that it is not feasible in the present climate. So we the ordinary people have the duty, the power and the responsibility, after fifty-five years, to change the climate. By bringing our governments to require the U.N. to enforce its Resolution No. 1, there cannot be the slightest doubt that we will have started along the pathway towards restoring life to world organisation, and to playing our part in creating a true family of Man, and of finally establishing right order in human society, that Nirvana devoutly to be wished.

Let us tell our people, our political representatives, our governments, and the United Nations, the fundamental truth stated by British historian A.J.P. Taylor, that every citizen of a free country has a duty to help rid the world of nuclear weapons and that no country, no political system, is entitled to employ mass murder in order to maintain itself.

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