Written in 1983 by four prominent members of the Belgian Socialist Party.
- Nuclear weapons:
- The existing nuclear capabilities are underestimated: It’s far more whatever was used in war, in tests, and goes beyond anyone’s imagination.
- The invention of nuclear weapons undermined the idea that more military spending results in more military power because the ultimate power is already achieved.
- Military nuclear tightrope walk: On the one hand, nuclear bombs are only a deterrent. On the other hand, in order to deter, the enemy should be convinced that nuclear bombs will indeed be used when needed. This results in making it practically easier to use nuclear bombs (by making them smaller and stationing them close to the border), not ruling their usage out a priori, and claiming that limited nuclear war is possible.
- Peaceful pro-armament logic fails:
- “If you want peace then prepare for war” = Arm yourself to feel safe against external powers. => Arming oneself results in unsafety for others and creates the spiral of the arms race.
- “Arm to disarm” = Become militarily superior in order to scare the opponent into reducing their armament. –> Never happened.
- International paper non-aggression agreements are mute:
- NATO is defensive: Vietnam etc.
- Warsaw Pact is defensive: Afghanistan etc.
- Briand-Kellogg-pact (1928) : WW2
- Conclusion: a non-aggression pact doesn’t keep the peace.
- Moving from negotiations to agreements and actions requires constant public pressure.
- Most politicians don’t have a clear long-term view on defense. The position on military expansion by politicians only becomes clear once a problem arises. There is no long-term view in peace times on what to do.
- AirLand Battle:
- Pre: an attack on Western Europe will be countered by conventional means up until the border. There will be no attempt to attack beyond the original borders.
- Post: An attack in Europe will be countered by attacking the supply lines on enemy territory.
- NATO’s pure defensive strategy is dropped. Any diversion from a purely defensive strategy is dangerous because reciprocation can be assumed.
- Between 1949 and 1983, the world changed from unipolar, to bipolar, and now multipolar. It’s unclear whether a Western coalition against Eastern Europe still makes sense.
- Ideas for demilitarised zones have existed since the 1950s:
- Rapacki plan
- Palme report: Common Security – A program for disarmament
- Egon Bahr proposal:
- Remove all nuclear weapons from European countries that don’t own nuclear weapons
- Align the conventional military power of NATO and the Warsaw Pact
- Keep both the NATO and the Warsaw Pact
- De Smaele proposal: Creation of a European security zone without nuclear weapons
- 6 proposals:
- Freeze all existing nuclear weapons in Europe: Before decommissioning, we need to agree that no new nuclear weapons will be added.
- Remove all nuclear weapons from countries that don’t own nuclear weapons.
- By policy, don’t be the first nuclear mover.
- Globally balance conventional military power: Avoid arms race.
- Security zone in Europe between the NATO and Warsaw Pact by moving the military units away from the border by 150km: Avoid accidents and surprise attacks
- Trust creating measures.
The book doesn’t discuss what to do with countries that are geographically in the crossfire between NATO and the Warsaw Pact but don’t belong to either of them. Therefore, the proposals are not directly relevant to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Notably, the book doesn’t advocate leaving NATO and assumes the existence of both NATO and the Warsaw Pact for many decades to come.
This is a book for peace times to reduce military spending, create military buffer zones (including around Ukraine in Russian territory), and decrease the nuclear threat. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer any guidance to socialists on how to react when a war is ongoing.
Van Miert K., Tobback L., Coolsaet R., Tuyttens B., Uit de waanzin: Een veiligheidsplan voor Europa, 1983.