Today humanity’s existence is threatened by the danger of nuclear war and the destruction of our natural environment, which is resulting in “climate chaos” and widespread pollution. The purpose of this essay is to clarify the implications of this reality, what humanity must do to preserve itself, and in particular the role that the people of the United States must play, because we are writing from the United States.
If humanity is to avoid the apocalypse of nuclear war and the destruction of civilization under the weight of “climate chaos” a whole new level of international cooperation is an urgent necessity. This cooperation must involve the removal of spiritual and material resources currently being invested into war and the redirection of these resources into peace and protecting nature. The current existence of large nuclear weapons arsenals on hair trigger alert is unstable and unsustainable. Moving back from this brink is absolutely necessary. But so long as there are nuclear weapons states who believe that they cannot be secure from conventional military attack without their nuclear weapons, there will not be agreements for complete nuclear disarmament. Thus the reduction in the threat of conventional war must go hand in hand with the reduction in the threat of nuclear war. The process of nuclear disarmament and the process of conventional disarmament are inextricably linked, and thus there is an urgent current need for a path to general disarmament.
The process of general disarmament and the process of protecting nature are linked in another way. The development of those human institutions of international cooperation that could negotiate, supervise and enforce general disarmament are also the kind of institutions that would be necessary to develop and implement a worldwide strategic plan to protect our natural world. This is because the institutions necessary for general disarmament would have to be institutions that are capable of attending to the different security concerns of each nation and integrate those concerns into an overall program and process. In other words, the kind of international institutions that could plan, supervise and enforce equitable security for all nations are the kind of international institutions that could plan, supervise and enforce the use of resources for equitable living standards for all nations, while above all protecting the natural world.
What is implied is a new system of institutions that would reflect a quantum leap in how human beings generally think about strength and security. There would be no hegemon in this system. There would be no single nation or narrow alliance of nations that would make the rules and enforce such a system. This is in keeping with the fact that no matter how powerful any nation may appear, in today’s world, no nation or narrow alliance of nations, on its own, can solve the problems it faces. What is required is a system of international cooperation and partnership, in which there is a just recognition of the needs of each nation, small as well as large, weak as well as powerful. An understanding of the necessity of such an international system and a genuine commitment to building such a system of international institutions rooted in international law must be the new notion of human strength and security.
If we return to considering the threat of nuclear war, it is possible to see how this new system could emerge. Although there are today nine nuclear weapons states, the vast majority of nuclear weapons are in the possession of the United States and Russia. As a result any progress toward nuclear disarmament must involve these two states. We have already established that nuclear disarmament and conventional disarmament are linked. Thus the United States and Russia must begin by initiating this process. They must come together as partners in survival.
The idea of a new cold war between the United States and Russia, not to mention the war currently going on in Ukraine, makes no sense in the face of the current dangers to humanity.
Unfortunately within the government of the United States there seems to be little acknowledgement by political leaders of this reality. There is a Buddhist saying, “When the people are ready, the leader will arise.” This saying would seem to imply that for the people of the United States to have the leadership they require, the people of the United States must ready themselves in some way. We would like to suggest that this readiness requires that the public generally be aware of the problem, be aware of a solution, and be organizing itself in such a fashion that its awareness can become the political will of the nation.
In addition to peace and the protection of our natural world, what we are talking about is a matter of the most basic human right, the right to life. Thus in this effort the peace movement, the environmental movement, and the human rights movement all find a common cause in insisting that the United States and Russia recognize an historic responsibility to humanity and become partners in survival.
The idea that the United States and Russia might be partners in survival is not without historical precedent. Indeed though many people are unaware of it, there was a time when the United States and Russia (the leading nation in the Soviet Union) began to embark precisely on the path that has been described above.
We are referring to an agreement that was reached between the United States and the Soviet Union that was informally called the McCloy/Zorin Agreement. After being signed by an official representative of the United States (John J. McCloy) and an official representative of the Soviet Union (Valerian Zorin) in the fall of 1961, this agreement was presented to the United Nations and was unanimously endorsed by the UN General Assembly on December 20, 1961 under the title “Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations of the Soviet Union and the United States.” [JSAPD] The text of the JSAPD is appended to the end of this essay. This text is a detailed outline of the principles and processes needed for general and complete disarmament, a complete end to war as an instrument for solving international disputes.
When one first considers the text of the JSAPD it is understandable that the reader might view this document as utopian and of no practical relevance to the situation, in which we find ourselves. We would like to challenge this idea. This document may seem utopian and not politically relevant, because at its heart is a concept that is very foreign to how many people in the United States have been encouraged to see the world. The concept at the heart of this document is a world order without a hegemon. For the people of the United States to accept a world order without a hegemon means that the people of the United States would abandon the notion of “American exceptionalism”. But it is precisely an abandonment of this notion that is the essential step that is required to move toward peace and true international cooperation.
The Project To Revive the JSAPD
Is it possible to develop a project for the revival of the JSAPD? When it comes to US participation in this process it is likely that such a project would have to begin with non-governmental organizations and with members of the public in order to awaken officials of the US government to the necessity of this project.
We would want our Russian partners to work out the best means by which the project could go forward on their side. On that basis we would coordinate our efforts. We would also welcome any and all participation and support for this project from individuals, organizations, and public officials in all nations throughout the world.
The McCloy/Zorin Agreement: Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations of the Soviet Union and the United States
[Adopted unanimously by UN General Assembly–June 20, 1961]
The United States and the U.S.S.R. have agreed to recommend the following principles as the basis for future multilateral negotiations on disarmament and to call upon other states to cooperate in reaching an early agreement on general and complete disarmament in a peaceful world in accordance with these principles:
1. Secure Disarmament and Peaceful Settlement of Disputes . . . War No Longer
The goal of negotiations is to achieve agreement on a program which will ensure:
(a) That disarmament is general and complete and war is no longer an instrument for settling international problems, and (b) That such disarmament is accompanied by the establishment of reliable procedures for the peaceful settlement of disputes and effective arrangements for the maintenance of peace in accordance with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
2. Retention of Non-Nuclear Forces for Domestic Order and a U.N. Peace Force
The program for general and complete disarmament shall ensure that States have at their disposal only such non-nuclear armaments, forces, facilities, and establishments as are agreed to be necessary to maintain internal order and protect the personal security of citizens; and that States shall support and provide manpower for a United Nations peace force.
3. All Military Forces, Bases, Stockpiles, Weapons, and Expenses to be Ended
To this end, the program for general and complete disarmament shall contain the necessary provisions, with respect to the military establishment of every nation, for:
(a) The disbanding of armed forces, the dismantling of military establishments, including bases, the cessation of the production of armaments as well as their liquidation or conversion to peaceful uses; (b) The elimination of all stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, bacteriological, and other weapons of mass destruction, and the cessation of the production of such weapons; (c) The elimination of all means of delivery of weapons of mass destruction; (d) The abolition of organizations and institutions designed to organize the military effort of States, the cessation of military training, and the closing of all military training institutions; and (e) The discontinuance of military expenditures.
4. Implementation by Timed Stages with Compliance and Verification Agreed to at Every Stage
The disarmament program should be implemented in an agreed sequence, by stages, until it is completed, with each measure and stage carried out within specified time-limits. Transition to a subsequent stage in the process of disarmament should take place upon a review of the implementation measures included in the preceding stage and upon a decision that all such measures have been implemented and verified and that any additional verification arrangements required for measures in the next stage are, when appropriate, ready to operate.
5. Equitable Balance at Every Stage So No Advantage to Anyone and Security for All
All measures of general and complete disarmament should be balanced so that at no stage of the implementation of the treaty could any State or group of States gain military advantage and that security is ensured equally for all.
6. Strict Control to Make Sure of Compliance by All Parties and Creation of an International Disarmament Organization with Inspectors having Unrestricted Access Everywhere Without Veto for Full Verification
All disarmament measures should be implemented from beginning to end under such strict and effective international control as would provide firm assurance that all parties are honoring their obligations. During and after the implementation of general and complete disarmament, the most thorough control should be exercised, the nature and extent of such control depending on the requirements for verification of the disarmament measures being carried out in each stage. To implement control over and inspection of disarmament, an international disarmament organization including all parties to the agreement should be created within the framework of the United Nations. This international disarmament organization and its inspectors should be assured unrestricted access without veto to all places, as necessary for the purpose of effective verification.
7. Disarmament Process Must be Accompanied by Measures to Maintain Peace and Security and a United Nations Peace Force Strong Enough to Deter or Suppress Any Threat or Use of Arms in Violation of the United Nations Charter
Progress in disarmament should be accompanied by measures to strengthen institutions for maintaining peace and the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means. During and after the implementation of the program of general and complete disarmament, there should be taken, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter, the necessary measures to maintain international peace and security, including the obligation of States to place at the disposal of the United Nations agreed manpower necessary for an international peace force to be equipped with agreed types of armaments. Arrangements for the use of this force should ensure that the United Nations can effectively deter or suppress any threat or use of arms in violation of the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
8. States Should Seek Widest Agreement at Earliest Date While Continuing to Seek More Limited Agreements which Will Facilitate and Form Part of the Overall Program for Secured General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World
States participating in the negotiations should seek to achieve and implement the widest possible agreement at the earliest possible date. Efforts should continue without interruption until agreement upon the total program has been achieved, and efforts to ensure early agreement on and implementation of measures of disarmament should be undertaken without prejudicing progress on agreement on the total program and in such a way that these measures would facilitate and form part of that program.
E. Martin Schotz, is a retired physician, a Board member of Traprock Center for Peace & Justice, a member of Massachusetts Peace Action. Krishen Mehta is a member of the board of ACURA and a Senior Global Justice Fellow at Yale University.