Independent – 2 September 1993
Mary Kaldor acknowledges (Obituary, 30 August) E P Thompson's criticism of Soviet as well as NATO nuclear weapons. Yet, she overlooks the fact that, like CND, European Nuclear Disarmament was committed to the cancellation of cruise and Trident missiles whether or not agreement could be reached for comparable Soviet nuclear disarmament.
This stance was strongly opposed by many – probably most – of the brave East European dissidents whom END claimed to support. For instance, three Charter 77 leaders wrote to END in 1984, soon after the successful deployment of cruise in Britain, that:
"While we don't approve of the mad accumulation of weapons arsenals, we are no less opposed to attempts at unilateral disarmament and unequal concessions, which would, in the present situation, only serve to exacerbate the threat. Unlike you, we have personal experience of other, perhaps less conspicuous, but no less effective means of destroying civilisation than those represented by thermonuclear war" (Observer, 20 May 1984).
Only the failure of CND's and END's campaigns against cruise deployment enabled the Intermediate Nuclear Forces deal – trading NATO's INF for Soviet SS-20s – to be struck in 1987. As one left-of-centre newspaper conceded, on the eve of the INF deal:
"Now is the moment for those who stood firm in 1983 – the year of deployment – to enjoy the results of their resolution ... Who would now have the nerve to claim that if the prescription of the peace groups had been followed the outcome would have been as good?" (Observer editorial, 20 September 1987)
The answer is, only the "peace" groups themselves, who claim the credit for the beneficial consequences of their defeat. The Independent should not let them succeed in rewriting such recent history.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS
Policy Research Associates