The Hidden Agenda for the U.N. Conference on Disarmament andDevelopment

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The Hidden Agenda for the U.N. Conference on Disarmament andDevelopment

August 17, 1987 17 min read Download Report
Peter F.
Senior Policy Analyst on International Economics

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598 August 17, 1987 THE HIDDEN AGE NDA FOR THE U.N. CONFERENCE ON DISARMAMENT AND DEVELOPMENT INTRODUCIION Once again the United Nations is convening to discuss disarmament. Yet when the delegates from some 80 member nations gather at U.N. headquarters in Manhattan this August 24 to Septem b er 11, the U.N. once again will avoid the most serious arms questions. Instead, the U.N. effort will be domated by a hidden agenda pushed through by the Soviet Union and endorsed by the Third World bloc that dominates the U.N. is I Despite the formal U.N. announcements, this year's real agenda almost surely will be an all-out assault on U.S. efforts to develop and deploy a defense against nuclear attack. The undeclared but true aim of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament and Development (UNCDD) will be to di s credit Ronald Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) or, as it popularly is known, Star. Wps US. Warn Reinforcing this assault will be a distortion of the way the U.N. decided to hold the UNCDD, a decision so dubious that the US. warned before it was finally taken that American delegates could not attend a conference falsely linking two separate issues-disarmament and deve1opment.l This U.S warmng, given as long ago as last year, is now being obscured by the U.N.

Undersecretary of Disarmament's office decision to stress "consensus" is the key word behind the UNCDD. The U.N.. claims that the decision to hold it was taken 1. The current U.S. position is given in U.S. Department of State, International Organizations' Bureau 1.

0. Contingency Press Guidan ce, U.N. Conference on Disarmament and Development p. 1 We are not participating because we believe disarmament and development are not issues which should be considered inter-related 2 by "consensus" and that UNCDD will arrive at "consensus" decisions. T he U.N apparently, is willing to redefine "consensus" in a way that pretends that Washington raises no objections to the conference.

The State Department should be forcefully and publicly refuting the U.N.3 anti-U.S. rhetoric and be preparing to deal with attacks on the. U.S. at the UNCDD.

The U.S. Information Agency (USIA) should be preparing an active diplomatic campaign against these attacks Ignoring Third World Arsenals. What is almost certain to happen at this month's U.N. conference is that SDI will be branded as the world's major arms problem and threat to peace. Ignored will be the massive buildup of conventional arms arsenals in Third World countries, the crucial Soviet role in support'of regional aggression and the enormous resource drain that th is represents. Ignored too will be the fact that every one of the more than 100 wars smce the U.N.'s founding in 1945 has been fought with conventional arms. And ignored will be the threat posed by the two-decade buildup of Moscow's nuclear arsenal.

Instead, the UNCDD will accept the longstanding Soviet assertion that there exists a "disarmament dividend that could fund Third World economic development if only the U.S. and its allies would accept the latest Soviet disarmament proposals.

The Soviets first e nunciated this line with their 1959 proposal for General and Complete Disarmament. Their 1987 variant will be proposals to halt the U.S. SDI program, a binding U.S. commitment to abide by a "narrow" interpretation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) T reaty, and a ban on U.S development of.Anti Satellite (ASAT) systems. Similar, but much larger Soviet programs would of course, be left free to continue their intensive buildup Soviet proposals to the U.N. Conference will identiij SDI and what Moscow call s the U.S. "militarization of space" as the chief roadblocks to disarmament and hence to Third World development. These Soviet arguments will appeal, as they are designed to do, to three groups: Western leftists, nongovernmental organizations NGOs) support ing arms control and disarmament, and Third World governments.

Reagan Administration and State Department should develop a counteroffensive built American Counteroffensive. To counter this Soviet propaganda offensive, the around three main themes: 8 1) Tha t the main arms buildup draining resources away from Third World development is the Third World's conventional arms buildup and the wars fought with them. Since 1945, this buildup has cost many hundreds of billions of Pollars and these wars have killed so m e 13.5 million Third World citizens? These costs in economic resources and human lives have been sharply increased by huge Soviet arms sales and transfers to Third World 'nations 2. For casualty estimates, see Gerard Chaliand and Jean-Pierre Rageau, Smreg i c ArIus: A Compumtivc Geopolitics of the World's Powers, second rev. ed New York Harper and Row, 1985 p. 47. -3 2) Tbat it is Soviet militarism in general, and Soviet militarization in particular, that is the real threat to world peace and to Third World d evelopment 3) That the Met ppagada argument about an alleged "disarmament dividend is not supported by--indeed is refuted by--the analytical evidence. So advocates of. this argument are simply scoring chea political. debating. points against the U.S. To d rive home this point, the U.S. shod B iden

those nongovernmental organizations or NGOs functioning as Soviet front organizations plus other NGOs and individuals with a track record of supporting Sowet disarmament positions THE THIRD WORLD a0"TIONAL ARMS B UILDUP The massive buildup and use of conventional arms in the Third World has been largely ignored in the U.N. debates about arms and disarmament. These debates mtead have focused almost exclusively on .the dangers of 'the continued buildup of nuclear we a pons by the two superpowers. In the debates, the U.S. is always blamed, wrongly, for this buildup. Here, as elsewhere, what former U.S Ambassador to the U.N. Jeane Kirkpatrick called the blame-America approach has served Third World and Soviet interests w e ll. Third World nations do not mention much less criticize, China's or India's nuclear arsenals, and only rarely are the British or French nuclear arsenals plus the reason for them noted--the need to counter the Soviet threat b Avoiding Awkward Questions. For Third World governments;i focusingiq U.N debates on the nuclear arms buildup avoids awkward questions about their conventional arms buildup, their neglect and o pression of their citizenry, and the the Soviet military buildup, the most massive and sus tained in world history.

Ignored too are Moscow's arms transfers to the Third World to further Soviet military and political objectives for the Third World's poor pace of economc development, is not only false but the reverse of the truth. To the extent th at slow Third World development can be blamed on an arms buildup, it can be blamed on the Third World conventional arms spending. This becomes clear by looking at the numbers. Third World arms outlays in 1986 amounted to an estimated $150 billi~n.~ By con t rast, U.S. spending for nuclear arms in that year was a much smaller $38 billi~n.~ The fact of the matter is that for all thew potential devastating power, nuclear weapons are much cheaper and consume much fewer resources than do conventional arms. If any t hing the West's reliance on nuclear arsenals has freed resources for economic development wars they have fought wth these arms. This P ocus also diverts attention away from This U.N. linkage, making American spending on nuclear weapons responsible 3. See S tockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRZ Yeartcw& 1986 (Oxford Oxford University Press, 1986 4. The costs of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems are difficult to calculate precisely, partly because of the accounting problems posed by d ual-capable nuclear and conventional systems. But an average of under ul percent, or less, of the U.S. defense budget is a reasonable estimate of the costs of the nuclear forces 4 More than 100 WarS: The Soviet bloc, moreover, has consumed many more resou r ces for weapons in absolute terms and as a proportion of the economy than have the U.S. and its allies. Pentapon spending for this year, for example, will be about 6.5 percent of U.S. gross national product. In contrast, Soviet defense spending is now est i mated, conservatively, by both the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelli ence .Agency. at 15 to 17 percent of Soviet- GNP.5 The Third Wo& countries not only have spent huge sums on massive conventional arms buildu s-but: have suffered the e v en larger costs, human and economic, of conventionafw The causes of wars in the Third World are the classic ones conflicts over ,etonomic and territorial assets and over ideological, national, religious and tribal differences, and they are reinforced by t h e expansionist impulses of communism and Muslim fundamentalism. A French study concluded that between 1945 and 1983, the Third World fought 100 significant conflicts, including 13 major interstate and 17 secondary conflicts, 16 conflicts over secession, a n d 37 civil wars to change regimes. Just ten of these wars accounted for over 10 million victims: the two Indochina wars (1946-1975 the Indo-Pakistan wars (1947-1949 and 1971 Bangladesh the Korean War, the Algerian war, the civil war in Sudan, the massacre s in Indonesia 1965 and the Biafran war.'d The two largest and longest running Third World conflicts currently are the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan (since 1979) and the Iran-Iraq war (since 1980 The Soviet-Afghanistan war has killed some 1 million Afgh a nistanis and displaced over 4 million more, while Soviet casualties now exceed 35,000. killed: a TheI.Soviets now spend over 15 million er day on the war The Iran-Iraq war has lasted as societies, including a combined total of 1 million killed not surpris ing that such non-elected and quasi-military Third World governments give priority to s ending on defense over spending on economic and social development.

The costs o P the Third World conventional arms buildup and wars, plus their drain on development, are so large that they can be illustrated only by some representative figures.

GNP.8 India, a leader of the Third World at the U.N. and a vocal critic of U.S arms expenditures (though nearly silent on Soviet outlays) spends about 20 ,percent real burden *' be much 1% igher r I long as World War I and rnxl 'cted proportionately comparable casualties on I both India's Huge Defense spending. In such a conflict-ridden environment, it is The Iran-Iraq War has been costing Iraq over half its entire 5. See Soviet M ilitav Power 1987 (Washington, D.C US. Government Printin6 Office, 1987 p. 108, plus the sources cited in The Militaty Balance 19861987 (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1986 6. See "Conflicts in the World Since 1945 Chaliand and Rageau, op. .cit., pp. 47-5, quoting p. 47 7. See Chatiand and R au, op. cit., pp. 136-137; Stategic Survey 198687 (London: International 8. Table 4, "Comparisons of Defense Expenditure and Military Manpower 1981-86 The Militaty Balance 1986-87, op. cit., p. 213 Institute for Stategic Stu "bf" es, 1987 p. 134. -5 of its government's bud et on defense forces, which include the third largest army in the world.9 Economic ab y anemic Vietnam fields the world's fourth largest army.

Cuban forces, meanwhile, have been dispatched far from home, to distant Angola Mozambique, and Ethiopia in a modem version of the Afrika Korps. It is near certain that the U.N. Conference on Disarmament will be silent about these Third World arms costs Th e Soviet contribution to the Third World conventional arms buildup is so huge that estimates of its total value are nearly impossible. Harvard Professor of Political Science Samuel P. Huntington calculates that Soviet arms deliveries to non-communist devel o ing countries amounted to...over 8 billion" by 1979.lO It is Moscow's more than P 5 billion per annm aid to Havana, moreover, that allows Fidel Castro to keep his troops in Africa. Soviet subsidies of 4 billitin pei amiuma also have enabled Nicaragua to create Central America's largest armed force.

Other Soviet subsidies have included 5 billion to Angola (1975-1987 1 billion to Mozambique 1975-1983 and $3.5 billion to Ethiopia 1975-1986).11 Another Moscww Forum. In a familiar phrase used in U.N. debates, if only a small fraction of the resources spent by the Third World and the Soviets on conventional arms and on conventional wars were devoted to economic development the world would be much better off. Why, then, does the U.N. choose to ignore the link be tween this conventional Third World arms buildup and development?

The answer is that the true agenda of these U.N. conferences is not to probe the relationship between economic development and global arms spending. The true agenda is to create yet one more forum at which Moscow, its allies, and:,willing Third World nations can attack the U.S.

In 1959, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev addressed the U.N. and unveiled his plan for "General and Complete Disarmament In this, he implicitly recognized the new prop aganda possibilities at the U.N. opened up by the emerging Third World composed of newly independent countries. Because most were former Western colonies, their governments often were inherently anti-Western. They were interested primarily in securing as much development aid as possible from their former colonial masters and from the U.S I I I li 9 id, p. 214 10. Samuel P. Huntington Patterns of Intervention: America and the Soviets in the Third World,"

The National Intemt, No. 7 (1987 p. 43 11. See Soviet Mlitaty Power 1987, op. cit., pp. 128, 141-142 and Table, "Major Soviet Equipment Delivered to the Third World 1981-86 p. 1

34. Soviet economic aid to Cuba has recentl averaged $4 Lexington: D.C. Heath and Co 1987 additional information provided by the a uthor. For Soviet aid to Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia, see U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, World Militmy Eqenditutes and Arnu Tmnsfers 1986, pp. 106, 116, 128, 143-146. r annum plus $1 billion er annum for military aid; Soviet aid to Nicarag u a in d udes economic billionr and m' tary aid. See Timothy As !l by, The Bear in the Back Yd Moscow's Caribbean Slrategy -6 To appeal to the Third World's anti-Western, pro-aid biases, the Soviets introduced the idea of the disarmament dividend: huge sums available for economic development in the Third World if only the West would accept the sweeping Soviet proposals for "General and Complete Disarmament." The propaganda success of this first Soviet use of the disarmament dividend led them to refine the co n cept and lobby for its acceptance as valid by the U.N. bureaucracy controlling the Bureaucraq. This was easy because the Soviets then and now control much of the U.N. bureaucracy. In addition, through inducements or coercion, Moscow has the support of man y Third World nationals working for the U.N.12 A number of West European nationals, moreover, were sympathetic to the disarmament dividend concept.

Thus in 1978, at the First U.N. Special Session on Disarmament (UNSSOD I the concept was accepted. Said Alfo nso GarciaIRobles Mexico's Permanent Representative to the U.N. Committee on Disarmament the U.N. philosophy on disarmament [asserted that there is a close relationship between disarmament and development and that any resources that may be released as a r e sult of the implementation of disarmament measures must urgently be used to reduce the economic imbalance between developed and developing countries 13 UNSSOD I accomplished nothing and, of course, avoided any scrutiny of Third World and Soviet arms outla y s. At the Special Session, predictably, the U.S. was denounced repeatedly. UNSSOD I was followed, in 1982, by UNSSOD II, which even Ambassador Robles described a4 a hopeless failure At this.. Special Session however, the Reagan Administration was much mor e forceful than the Carter Administration in defending le 'timate U.S. interests and identifying Soviet and Third World propaganda arguments r or what they really were Stacked Against the US. This more forceful U.S. approach to disarmament diplomacy served to blunt the impact of the Soviet and Third World propaganda in American public opinion. So the Soviets and the Third World sought an alternative U.N. forum for advancing the disarmament dividend idea. They devised an International Conference on the Relat ionship between Disarmament and Development (shortened to UNCDD It was authorized by the U.N. General Assembly in 1984 and originally scheduled for 19

86. It was then delayed for one year. Named Secretary-General of the UNCDD, was Undersecretary-General fo r Disarmament, Jan Martenson of Sweden, a longtime critic of the U.S. and of the Reagan Administration. He has since been replaced as Under-Secretary and Secretary-General of the UNCDD by Yasushi Akashi of Japan 12. This Soviet penetration of the U.N. has been extensively analyzed and documented in The Heritage Foundation's United Nations Assessment Pro'ect studies and by the former Soviet U.N Under-Secretary A. Knopf, Inc., 1985 especially p. 225: As former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Jeane Kirkpatrick re c ently noted Soviet bloc nationals working in the U.N. Secretariat remain employees of their own government Will the U.N. Knuckle Under Again The Washington Post, June 1, 1987, p. All 13. Alfonw Garcia Robles, Introduction to Homer A. Jack, Dbm-or Die: The Second U.N. Special Session on Dismument (New York World Conference on Religion and Peace, 1983 p.

11. Dr. Jack is Secretary-General of the WCRP and head of the New York-based NGO Committee on Disarmament General who defected to the U.S., Arkady S h evch enko. See Bwuking w'th Moscow (New York Alfred -7 Preparatory work for the UNCDD reveals that the conference will be stacked against the U.S. Example: the impressively entitled glossy pamphlet Dkmament and Development: Declaration by the Panel of Eminent P ersonalities contains not one eminent personality" from the U.S. Its theme is the alleged interrelationship between the Triad of Peace: Disarmament, Development, and Security.14 Not Borne Out by the Facts An earlier U.N. report is entitled The Relationshi p between Dkmament and Development. This study was conducted under the chairmanship of one of the "eminent personalities Sweden's longtime Ambassador to the U.N. Committee on Disarmament, Inga Thorsson, with the assistance of Undersecretary-General Martens o n. The report, endorsing the Soviet theme that Third World development depends on disarmament, has been widely circulated throu the U.N.'s global information network. Ignored liavg been the participating in the study, for instance, attached numerous reser v ations, noting repeatedl that "Statements are made which do not appear to be borne out by the The U.S. expert, Daniel Gal& added that many important findings were adopted under the majority rule procedure adopted after the yowing number of reservations by expe rts 16 Soviet bloc and Third World countnes ignored facts that conflicted with the disarmament dividend idea and then used their voting majority to make this U.N. report endorse the idea many protests t I? at the report is seriously flawed and biased . The Western experts NGOS: DISIINGUISHING SO= FRONTS FROM INDEPENDENT GROUPS Many nongovernmental organizations, widely known as NGOs, long have been involved with arms control and disarmament issues. These NGOs fall into three distinct, although overlapp i ng, categories I 1) Soviet hnt NGOs which clearly can be documented as such. The most transparent of these is the World Peace Council (WPC Others include the Afro Asian People's Solidarity Organization (AAPSO the International Association of Democratic La w yers (IADL International Organization of Journalists (IOJ Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY), World Federation of Trade Unions (WFLZJ and the Christian Peace Conference (CPC), which is associated w ith the U.N. Department of Public Information. In addition, the Women's International League. for,. Peace and Freedom WILPF) although not a direct Soviet front organization, collaborates actively with the WPC.17 14. Disarmament and Development: Declaratio n by the Panel of Eminent Personalities New York 15. The Relcrtionship between Dismament and Development, Department of Political and Security Council Affairs, U.N. Center for Disarmament, Report of the Secretary-General (New York .United Nations, 1982 App endix III Reservations pp. 181-189 United Nations, 1986 pp. 1-

2. Not surprisingly, one of the personalities was Ambassa 6 or Robles 16. hid, p. 183 17. Juliana Geran Pilon At the U.N Soviet Fronts Pose as Nongovernmental Organizations Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 549, December 1, 1986, pp. 15-17. -8 2) Genuine group of none led by le&ists. One of the most rominent of these groups is Homer Jack's World Conference on Religion and Peace Others include the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, t h e U.K. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and Physicians for Social Responsibility 3) Group of experfs that Qaw upon qualified analysts aid to make serious arguments. The most lnfluential NGO m this category is the Washington-based Arms Control Assoc iation. Others include the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Pupash Conference on Science and International Affairs and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI U.S. faces a series of problems. If U.S. delegates identi

Sov iet front 7 orgahizations for what they are, these delegates are accused of McCarthyism. The second group of NGOs, by and large, is immune to rational arguments and ignores data that undermine its preconceptions. These are emotionally committed advocates o f disarmament who will embrace nearly any movement or proposal that invokes the correct buzzwords. In dealing with NGOs in the third category, the U.S. is dealing with groups that at least listen to facts and understand how difficult, perhaps impossible, g eneral and complete disarmament is. But this third group is very reluctant to break ranks with the groups the other two categories In dealing with these NGOs at such U.N. conferences as the UNCDD, the A U.S. mTEGY FOR UNCDD Administration has pursued an e f fective strate forcibly Stress Real Problems At other United Nations conferences and gatherings, the Reagan explam the real problems of international peace and security clearly and re te Soviet propaganda claims very At the UNCDD this approach will requir e the U.S. to stress that the real arms impediments to economc and social development result from the Third World conventional arms buildup and the wars which Third World countries have been fighting. The U.S. must stress repeatedly that Third World develo p ment problems are increased by Soviet arms transfers to the Third World and Soviet. interventions including those via surrogates, in Third World conflicts. Similarly, the U.S forcefully must refute Soviet, Third World, and NGO attacks on the U.S. Strategi c Defense Initiative. No logical or plausible link can be made between U.S. spending on SDI and Third World economic problems. The U.S. should warn that it is inappropriate for SDI to be discussed at UNCDD 18. There is, it should be added, nothing amateuri s h about these non-expert NGOs' ability to conduct effective ublic relations. Homer Jack's position is ical of the genuine idealists in these NGOs blaming %e US. for escalating the arms race and positions, yet pre ared to recognize the WPC as a Soviet fron t . See John Buckman T e U.N. and 9 Soviet to work with NGOs suppor Disarmament: T i e Second Special Session Heritage Foundation Backpunder No. 186, May 26, 1982 pp. 9-10. -9 Remember Real Audience The U.S. must remember the real audience to which its argu ments are to be addressed. It is not the Soviet government, nor Third World governments, nor those NGOs committed to the disarmament dividend-for-development idea. They are not going to change their minds because of rational U.S.-arguments.

The real iudien ce for U.S. arguments are those few Third World governments seriously interested- in development and the citizens of the U.S. and its democratic allies. The citizens of industrial democracies are decent and well-meaning and want to assist Third World deve l opment in affordable, effective ways; they will want to be reassured that the U.S. is not blocking development by its refusal to accept ;Soviet and Third World disarmament proposals. For this audience, the reasonswliy the U.S. rejects the Soviet-inspired disarmament dividend will have to be spelled out, yet again. Similarly, this democratic audience will want to be reassured that the U.S.

SDI program' is not blocking Third World development, is not militarizing space and will create a more stable balance o f deterrence CONCLUSION Even though the U.S. quite rightly has declined to participate in so futile a discussion as the UNCDD, it will be important for the U.S. to refute the Soviet and Third World propaganda arguments that will be made at the conference. In particular, the U.S. will have to refute the false, but supenficially*.appealing idea that there is a disarmament dividend that is available from general and complete disarmament for use for Third World development.

The U.S. further should stress that Third World governments are poorly serving their populations and themselves by blaming their lack of development on a false problem instead of facing the real problems, particularly the Third World conventional arms bui l dup conducted at the UNCDD thus should be a public diplomacy campaign stressing seven themes 1) The UNCDD is going to unfold according to a hidden Wet agenda 2) This agenda aims to blame the West, and mainly the U.S., for the 3) The key culprit will be id e ntified by the Soviets as U.S. spending on The basic U.S. means of dealing with the anti-U.S. propaganda offensive to be economic problems of the Third World nuclear arms and U.S. plans for the Stategic Defeiue Initiative red will be massive soviet milita r y spendiog and even more massive 5) The U.S. is not prepared to accommodate what is certain to be the strong Third 4, Wor Y d conventional arms outlays anti-U.S. mood at UNCDD 10 6) If the conference really is concerned about di t, then it will look at ho w to reduce Third World and Soviet arsenals 7) And if UNCDD is reaUy concerned about economic and social development, then it will look hard at and repudiate those policies pursued by Third World nations which have impeded growth for a quarter century Prep ared for The Heritage Foundation by Robin Ranger a Washington-based consultant I 4


Peter F.

Senior Policy Analyst on International Economics