By Julian Lewis
Freedom Today – April 1991
A British-based organisation, closely linked with the Kremlin's propaganda network, has re-emerged six years after being denounced by the Government as a "gift to Soviet propaganda".
The Independent of 12 February 1991 prominently featured a long letter on the Gulf War from retired Brigadier Michael Harbottle, in his capacity as Co-ordinator of ‘Generals for Peace and Disarmament’ – which he described as an "international group".
Generals for Peace, however, has previously been described in far more colourful terms. In September 1984, two former Ministers of State at the Foreign Office, Lord Chalfont and Sir Peter Blaker MP, together with me, issued a statement denouncing the group as posing a potential danger to Western security:
"We have convincing evidence that it is intimately linked with the World Peace Council and other organs of the Soviet propaganda machine,"
The World Peace Council is the most notorious member of the constellation of bogus pressure groups originally set up by Stalin to promote every twist and turn of Soviet foreign policy. Early in 1981, it was forced to withdraw its application for Category I Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) after a devastating attack upon it by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (see Freedom Today, December 1990):
"The grand facade of the World Peace Council is no more substantial than a Hollywood film set,"
said the FCO.
"The World Peace Council is a disguised instrument of one country's [the USSR's] foreign policy. It is a wolf in sheep's clothing and its clothing has begun to look very threadbare." (ECOSOC Report, 16th March 1981)
Just as the World Peace Council religiously aped the Soviet line, so did Generals for Peace at the height of the controversy over cruise and Pershing II deployment in Western Europe to counter the Soviet SS-20 nuclear missiles.
As the Daily Telegraph (25 September 1984) explained, the roots of Generals for Peace –
"go back to 1980, when a Dr Gerhard Kade wrote a book of that name after interviewing eight retired NATO officers, including Brigadier Harbottle ... Soon after the book was brought out in June 1981 by a Communist publishing house in Cologne, the eight founded the group. Dr Kade was its Administrator in West Berlin until Harbottle took over in London in 1983."
The linkage with the World Peace Council (WPC) is crystal clear: four of the eight original Generals' group members belonged to the WPC, including a WPC Vice-President and a member of its top-level Presidential Committee. The third WPC member in the group went on record as declaring that the Soviet deployment of the SS-20s
"decreases considerably the nuclear threat against Europe",
whilst the fourth observed:
"If the United States is in a crisis and the economies of Western Europe are in a mess, then the American economy can only benefit from the destruction of Europe."
Nor were the views of the other members of the Generals' group notably more moderate. The Chairman of the group in the early 1980s was a retired Dutch general, Michiel von Meyenfeldt. Though not formally a member of the World peace Council, he was reported in the WPC's journal as claiming that:
"the foreign strategy of the United States is aimed at reclaiming its position of strength and returning to its old plans of world domination".
Not only did half of the founder members of the Generals' group belong to the WPC, the Generals for Peace were brought together during 1980–81, and were administered as a group during 1981–83, under the aegis of a senior figure in the Soviet front network. Their first Administrator – Gerhard Kade – was for nine years Vice-President of the International Institute for Peace (IIP), a Vienna-based outfit set up by the Kremlin after the WPC was thrown out of Austria for subversion in 1957. Kade was also an activist in the WPC itself and in yet another front body, the so-called World Federation of Scientific Workers.
Small wonder then that I was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as stating:
"There is a series of direct links running from the Generals for Peace at the bottom to the Politburo at the top."
Neither Lord Chalfont, nor Sir Peter Blaker, nor I, was at any time threatened with defamation proceedings by Brigadier Harbottle or his group, despite having spoken without the protection of Parliamentary privilege. However, on 30 October 1984, Parliament did consider the issue. Speaking on behalf of the Government, Foreign Office Minister Baroness Young said that the group originated in discussions at Sofia during a Congress of the World Peace Council in 1980:
"The collective views of Generals for Peace and Disarmament are contrary to those of the Government and our allies,"
she said, adding that the group's meeting with Warsaw Pact generals in Vienna earlier in 1984 –
"was in many ways a gift to Soviet propaganda. The meeting was stage-managed by the Soviet-controlled International Institute for Peace."
Following this broadside, little was heard of the group until mid-1986 when the Daily Telegraph (30 May 1986) reported the London premiere of a three-hour film "on world peace, made by East Germans, and featuring former senior NATO officers from an organisation ... that has been closely linked to Soviet propaganda organisations" – namely, Generals for Peace.
The ubiquitous Dr Kade turned out to be the film's consultant, whilst the newspaper report revealed that the film was co-produced by 'Educational and Television Films Ltd', a company run by Stanley Forman – a former General Secretary of the British-Soviet Friendship Society.
Now, it appears – to paraphrase the slogan from the film "Jaws II" – Brigadier Harbottle feels it is safe for the Generals "to go back into the water" of self-publicity in Britain.
Yet, he has been bitten once already: confronted by Councillor Janet Todd on Radio Oxford on 21st January 1991, he was disconcerted by her broadcast account of the background and pro-Soviet connections of the Generals' group. In a letter dated 29 January, he complained that those who had denounced it in 1984 had "enjoyed Parliamentary immunity" from the libel proceedings he could otherwise have brought. He also declared that:
"Though one or maybe two of the generals had links with the World Peace Council, the group as a whole never did."
Clearly, the passage of time has dulled the Brigadier's memory – or maybe he just hopes that it has dulled everyone else's. That is why I again set on record this full account of a strange organisation of retired military men who chose to adopt Brezhnev's line when the second Cold War was at its height.
[For post-Cold War confirmation of the role of East German intelligence in controlling ‘Generals for Peace’, click here.]