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David Taras

Politicians For Peace, by Douglas Roche, Toronto, NC Press, 1983, 175 p.

Since 1980, Douglas Roche has been International Chairman of Parliamentarians for World Order (PWO), an organization of elected politicians from over fifty countries who believe that the nuclear arms race must be halted immediately and that ending disparities between rich and poor nations should be a priority in world affairs. In this capacity, Mr. Roche has travelled to world capitals, lobbied extensively at the United Nations, and has been involved in the growing international peace movement. He identifies passionately with the PWO and has been one of its principal architects.

Politicians for Peace is a manifesto describing the PWO's plan for global change. Its central theme is that mankind is facing catastrophe because of the escalating nuclear arms race and increasing deprivation in the Third World, Mr. Roche argues that the vast sums now spent on armaments must be diverted towards solving the problems of hunger and disease and towards educating the hundreds of millions of people who lack the skills to adapt to modern economic methods. The main prescriptions in the PWO's vision of a new world order are a freeze on the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons, the phased elimination of these weapons, the creation of an international inspection authority to monitor arms control agreements, a multinational police force to take up peacekeeping duties in world trouble spots, and the establishment of a new global development fund. At the heart of the PWO's strategy is the idea that values and allegiances must change. They advocate a 1ongrange survivalist system" based on a radical restructuring of the United Nations and sweeping changes in international law. In defending this bold programme, he repeats Bernard Shaw's often used quotation, "Some men see the world as it is and ask why; others see the world as it might be and ask why not."

While few would dispute the reality of the dangers described by Mr. Roche, or the genuiness of his beliefs, the tone of his writing and the nature of the globalist vision that he advocates are themselves disturbing. The book has a self congratulatory and moralistic air and gives the impression that the author sees himself as the appointed emissary of the world's people. There is little modesty. It is also the case that he appears not to have undertaken the sober reflection that he has asked of his readers.

The analysis is flawed in a number of ways. First, the manifesto does not deal in any meaningful way with the means that would be needed to achieve the ends that are advocated. Calling for global disarmament is not enough. as the Kellogg-Briand Pact and other misadventures in history have demonstrated clearly. A detailed examination of his various confidence-building measures might work, how destabilization brought by unilateral "build-downs" might be avoided, and how the system of mutual deterrence might be replaced, would have given the book greater credibility.

Second, the discussion of world development is similarly bereft of critical analysis. One is tempted to say that there has been a lack of courage on the author's part as he appears not to want to offend those in the developing nations. While many would agree that the old imperialistic system and new methods of exploitation have done grievous injury to Third World hopes, such regimes as Idi Amin's and Jean-Bedel Bokassa's cannot be absolved of some aspects of blame. Roche does not, however, hold Third World dictators, whose reigns are often based on moral corruption and economic mismanagement. responsible to any significant degree for their countries' plights. He focuses on the arms race and on the international banking and commercial systems as though there are no other important factors.

Mr. Roche's vision of a future world order must be questioned seriously. Although the United Nations system has been discredited in the minds of many people who are concerned with democratic values and human rights issues, he sees the international organization as a cornerstone for future achievements. The reasons for his optimism remain vague. How the new global order is to be brought into being and how it would be maintained are not discussed. The classical argument against a. central global authority is that if that body becomes tyrannical or unjust, then freedom is endangered everywhere. In proposing to deliver us from our many problems, Mr Roche's plan might have within it the seeds of an even more perilous future.

While one must commend the author and the PWO for their sense of humanity and high purpose, the book is, on the whole, neither particularly informative no, useful. A more practical blueprint for action is needed.

David Taras, University of Calgary

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Vol 7 no 2

Last Updated: 2020-03-03