Richard Falk; New paths to global disarmament
Dick Falk had just returned to Princeton from India and meetings with Asian security analysts. After a quick game of squash, he was already gearing up for another plane flight - this time to Paris to discuss the situation of Iranian exiles with former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr.Skip to next paragraph
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Miraculously, he stopped long enough to talk.
Sitting in his office, the bearded professor looks sufficiently ''ivy'' in the Princetonian mode - green tweed sport coat, yellow shirt, blue tie, and rust-brown corduroys.
At first he appears to be living rather dangerously even in his own office. Stack upon stack of precariously piled research papers and unopened letters engulf him like a white forest.
But when it comes to talking armaments, Professor Falk is anything but cluttered. He speaks with the cautious, cool-reasoned optimism of one who does not expect Utopian shifts in the arms arena, yet who refuses to stop looking for ways to establish a more stable, secure global future. Some excerpts:
What convinced you that we have to find a less militarized approach to global security?
As I looked over trends in world armaments in relation to our growing economic interdependence, I saw that the trends were leading to catastrophic confrontations, including nuclear ones. I realized that no political goal any country could pursue could justify risking another Hiroshima, or worse. The human race is not suited to handle - let alone survive - today's awesome nuclear weapons. There may be some species on some planet somewhere in the galaxy that has sufficiently infallible institutions and sensibilities, but human beings are not that species. So I think we are being compelled to find ways to evolve a less militarized, more sustainable world order.
How have you and your colleagues at the Institute for World Order in New York approached the search for alternative world order strategies?
First, we're not dreaming about any magical kind of shift in the structure of international society, a disappearance of conflict or of violence being used in the pursuit of political goals, or an end to Soviet opportunism. These are all too much a part of our political world. Instead we're asking, ''Given the way the world works, what can we do to make it less prone to catastrophic breakdowns?'' We think much can be done to reduce the global arms race while not making ourselves vulnerable.
What are the broad outlines?
First, every effort must be made to reduce tensions between the superpowers and slow their nuclear weapons race. But to bring this about in the current arms climate will require a far more energetic and politically involved citizenry.
Second, there's a need for a more adequate and coordinated global approach, with world leaders becoming far more sensitive to the implications of the most significant political development of our time: the rise of nationalism in the poverty-stricken third-world nations. Without an effective response to those aspirations, a prosperous society like ours is in danger of turning into an isolated fortress, fighting all the time to keep the less fortunate at a distance, while the possibilities for nuclear confrontations are multiplying a hundredfold.
Why do you place so much priority on the third-world factor?
I think the most serious development - even more so than the possibility of a US-Soviet nuclear exchange - is the coming together of American nuclear strategies with its renewed commitment to crush liberation movements in the third world. We seem to be moving toward a terrible dependence on nuclear weapons to uphold our influence in critical parts of the developing world - especially the Middle East and Persian Gulf. It's no secret that the potential for catalyzing a nuclear confrontation exists there.
What's the evidence for this increased dependence on nuclear weapons?