Petra Kelly and Gert Bastian interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

The European Peace Movement: Conversation with Petra K. Kelly, Member of the Green Party and Member of the Bundestag, and General Gert Bastian, Retired General and Member of the Bundestag: 10/23/84 by Harry Kreisler

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Peace Movements and Weapons Forces in the East and West

Putting aside the logic of your argument, the charge is made that you play into the hands of the eastern bloc, to the communists. In other words, that there is no effective peace movement in the Soviet Union; you couldn't do what you are doing in the East, and therefore, your actions, by leading the peace movement, play into Soviet hands.

My answer is that because it is not possible on the other side to build up an independent peace movement, we have more responsibility to do this on our side. To be active for our friends on the other side who are prevented from being active in the same way. The Western side is so much stronger than the Eastern side, if you count all together what makes power, not only the military facts, other facts in the same way, more important facts such as industry potential, the number of populations, the level of science and technology, and all these other facts -- if you count this, the Western world is much stronger and [more] powerful than the Eastern bloc. Therefore, we can do the first step to renounce more armaments and to come to a unilateral arms reduction, a controlled arms reduction, not to do away with all weapons from one day to another, but to make a beginning away from the continued arms race to a disarmament race.

The argument made on the other side, and you hear this a lot in this country, is that if the Soviets deploy the SS-20 and then the West does not respond because of the activities of the peace movement, you put Europe in the situation of being subject to pressure from the Soviet Union -- blackmailed, leading to "Finlandization" and so on. That's the other side of the argument. You say that by cutting back you are setting an example. But how do you deal with this argument on the other side?

This argument that we can be blackmailed if we give not a new answer to the SS-20 on the other side is completely wrong. We cannot be blackmailed. We have enough weapons now existing, we have the potential of French nuclear [forces], of the United Kingdom, of the United States. We have three nuclear-armed countries in the Western Alliance. And the Warsaw Pact is only the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons. There is no possibility for the Soviets to blackmail non-nuclear - armed countries in Western Europe -- the Germans or the Belgians or the Scandinavian countries. How could such blackmailing work? I couldn't see it. It is impossible to think that the Soviets can say, "If Germany is not willing to leave NATO, we will destroy Frankfurt or Hamburg with the SS-20 missile." I think it is crazy.

I think that in fact we are being blackmailed by the United States. I think nuclear blackmail does exist, because when the United States says "We are going to forfeit Hamburg and perhaps Frankfurt because we don't want to forfeit New York," we scream and say, "We don't want to be sacrificed so you don't lose your intercontinental potential." The whole idea of deterrence is an idea of keeping people hostage on both sides. In fact, we are hostages. We have no say-so over the weapons. We cannot even visit the bases. I don't want any say-so either. But we are, in fact, hostages of that system.

I think what is obvious about what you mentioned, what is argued about the other side, the Eastern side, which we've heard for five years now, is that there are many independent people in Eastern Europe that we support, that we go to, who are very suppressed and repressed. They are put in prison, they lose their jobs, and they risk much more than we do. They are not praised by their own [government]. The movement there is not praised by Mr. Honecker or Mr. Chernenko, but we are praised by Mr. Honecker and Mr. Chernenko for doing great, illegal activity against our governments. On the other hand, our government praises the independent movements like Solidarity and Charter 77. You know, something is really very logical in the "bloc logic," because both superpowers refuse to acknowledge their own peace movement, but they point to the other side and say, they are very good.

What we need to do is to learn to become loyal to one another and no longer to those military systems. That is what we have learned in the Green Party, that by going back and forth -- we've just been in Yugoslavia [for] a week, and you realize it is a different world -- but you have a way of coming in and having a dialogue. Even a non-allied country, in the Eastern European sense. And that is what we have learned, that the peace movement must be truly loyal to one another. And that is our partner, we want to fight for their rights. Pointing weapons at them is certainly no way to help them get more liberty and to get more freedom, by increasing our armaments to point at those people, who, in fact, are our friends.

What you say relates to another issue in all of this, which is the problem of Europe's inability in the postwar period to provide for its own defense. Nuclear weapons have been injected as America's way of helping to balance against the East. I want to get into this aspect of the problem. Would it be satisfactory for you if Europe were to increase its conventional defense in facing the division of Europe? Is that an answer? And if it is an answer, who pays for it? The Europeans or the Americans? These are the arguments which are raised here, which we must address.

General Rogers is saying that we can renounce a small part of the nuclear weapons existing now if we build up more conventional power. I think it is not the right step to make the nuclear armament smaller. We have enough conventional power in Europe on the NATO side; the Soviet Bloc in fact is not superior, also not in the conventional part.

You're questioning, -- you're saying that the two sides are balanced.

Yes. NATO territory in Central Europe is completely unattackable by the other side. We have enough troops and enough equipment and good, trained soldiers to defend very effectively NATO territories, and there is no chance for the other side to start a successful attack without nuclear weapons. We need not nuclear weapons for effective defense in Central Europe, and therefore we need not more conventional troops if we are to answer the nuclear, tactical weapons which are being deployed -- that are deployed in my country with nearly 6000 warheads. It is the first request of the peace movement and of the Greens that we must come to the same situation as the Scandinavian NATO countries have for themselves, to be NATO members without nuclear weapons of the United States or some others nuclear armed countries on their own soil.

We also checked what you had just mentioned in the second step. We checked this increasing tendency for European nations to say: "We must become strong within ourselves so that we can offset this problem of money, financing the NATO. And second of all, we must have our own deterrent." You cannot underestimate the French, even the Socialist French, and the British, looking for a European deterrent. I think that would be exactly the wrong step, the second step, because we don't want to have any of those weapons in Europe. So to say we want to have them and then to say yes or no to them later is a wrong solution. It is a solution of Strauss in the sixties to have a European deterrent under NATO, and saying we're sharing the burden. And then of course comes the famous counsel of Mr. Kissinger. I think that that is now the direction unfortunately being taken by even the Social Democrats to strengthen European defense. That's not the peace concept of the peace movement.

The counter argument to that would be, of course, that that's naïve. That it underestimates the Soviet system, the ideology that drives the country. One can think such thoughts in a democracy, but when you're confronting the Eastern bloc, and such an ideology, you will essentially wind up putting Europe in the situation of Finland.

Yes. The estimation of the goals of the Soviets may be naïve, but it's a not question of trust or mistrust. In my opinion, it's more a question of realistic thinking, not of anti-communistic crusade attitude, which is now the attitude of our government. Your government also. But to count the existing weapons systems and troops and divisions and armies, there is not a question of naïveté. It is only a question of a correct accounting. That is why you can account very easily for the conclusion that the other side has not such a superiority that they can start a successful attack. That's not possible.

So you're saying a military accounting leads to this conclusion.

Yes. This new study which is published by the Social Democrats, now by Alexander Von Bueller, the former secretary in the defense under Mr. Apfel, came to the same conclusion. It is a very good paper. I have no English translation, unfortunately. But it is a very good paper. We have said it in the same way and the reaction was, as Petra has said, that we are crazy and are paid by the Kremlin. Now, the top of the Social Democrats came to the same conclusion. I think it is always the impression which is given to the country in Western Europe, that the Soviets and the Warsaw are so much superior that only the availability of nuclear weapons gives a chance to prevent war. It's a manipulation, a very bad manipulation of the real facts.

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