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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 13, February - March 1997

Former US Official Condemns Ex-Military Calls for NWFW

Addressing the Senate Subcommittee on International Security in mid-February (exact date unclear from report), Richard Perle, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security under President Reagan, criticised over 50 former US and international military commanders, including President Bush's Strategic Commander, General Lee Butler, who recently (December 1996 - see Disarmament Diplomacy No. 10) argued for significant and speedy progress towards a nuclear-weapon-free world (NWFW). Perle argued that it was illogical to call for such a world:

"If one assumes a serene world in which sovereign States give up their nuclear weapons, how dangerous would the weapons be in the first place? And if the world is still a dangerous place, how could one safely assume that the weapons would be given up."

Perle argued that the, as he characterised it, impetuous call of the retired military officials reflected a general tendency "on the part of military and arms control professionals to attribute to weapons themselves the properties that, in fact, derive from the political situation in which they are fielded."

Urging the Congress to disavow "goals that would make sense only in a world that does not exist, " Perle criticised the December statements for making "no reference to a defense" - particularly missile defence, which he said was the most effective way to "lessen the burden of quick response".

Report: Former Pentagon official slams call for nuclear abolition, Armed Forces Newswire Service, 18 February.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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