Cortright, continued .. . science and technology, because as they come out of their graduate training they discover that the best-paying, most exciting, frontier-related jobs are in the arms business. That’s where the action is. Butts: Do you see any way out? Cortright: It has to be a systematic and long-term approach. One of the perspectives needed in the long run is what we call economic conversion. You have to plan for the job security and the income support of those people who are now unfortunately bound up in this whole military system. . . . SANE. and the Machinists Union and other groups have been working for economic conversion over the years. We have legislative proposals which would ease the transition from a military to civilian economy, would provide income support for the workers, would provide planning grants to the communities and employees in a weapons production facility so they could look into what civilian alternatives might be developed at that particular facility using the same work force. The economic side of the peace question is critically important. Unfortunately, it’s ignored a lot of times by peace activists who tend to emphasize the moral issue. That’s not adequate; we really have to address this economic issue very seriously. It’s paramount for the peace forces to emphasize over and over again that the decline that we are now facing economicially and the problems that we face generally with inflation and declining competitiveness in the world are related to this excessive arms race, as are the budget problems. These cuts on human services are directly connected to the increases in the arms budget. . . . Reagan says he’s cutting back government spending; well, he’s not cutting it at all; he’s simply transferring it from one column to another. Butts: I’ve been thinking about language and the catch phrases that are directed towards the American public to make us think that we’ve got to spend more money on weapons. Are there any that are favorites of yours? Cortright: The most horrendous example of Newspeak today is “rearmament.” It’s absolute falsehood. . . . We’re only arming at a faster rate now than we were three or four years ago. That’s hardly rearmament. I wish there were a word I could use to capture and turn the word around hyperarmament, perhaps. It’s a gross fabrication that convolutes reality. 20 DECEMBER 4, 1981 Another word is “defense.” It’s not the defense budget, it’s the arms budget. One of the most loyal SANE members wrote to me about two years ago, quite an angry letter, and he said, “You spot the opposition fifty points every time you refer to their work as ‘defense.’ ” Butts: Do you have a recommended reading list? Cortright: Well, I think one of the most powerful documents that I’ve seen recently is Protest and Survive, which came out of Europe. It includes E. P. Thompson’s indispensable essay, “Protest and Survive.” The American edition is by Monthly Review Press. One of the best classics is Richard Barnet’s The Economy of Death very small, but hits the nail on the head with regard to the economic determinants. On the history of the arms race, I recently read Shattered Peace by Daniel Yergin. . . . It shows very well that while the Russians are not without blame, the Americans blew it in a lot of ways all along the way and got ourselves into this bind. The best single source of information on the U.S.-Soviet military policies is the Center for Defense Information in Washington. . . . People should subscribe to that newsletter. Butts: What other periodicals? Cortright: The publications that come out of the Institute for Policy,Studies are good. They’ve done a whole series of booklets. One was Counterforce Syndrome by Robert Aldridge and they had a book by Fred Kaplan called Dubious Specter: A Skeptical Look at the Soviet Nuclear Threat, in which he pierced a lot of the mythology about supposed Soviet advantage. I.P.S. is better than C.D.I. politically; they have a more radical perspective. Butts: Tell me about SANE’s “Consider the Alternatives.” Cortright: That’s something we’re very pleased with. It’s a half-hour public affairs broadcast which is distributed now to about 150 radio stations around the country and has a listenership of about a million people. It goes very widely to stations in Texas and the Southwest and South that normally peace groups can never communicate with. Butts: Einstein said that the atomic age has changed everything about people except their way of thinking. How can we change our way of thinking? Cortright: People are still in the sticks and stones mentally. I was on the radio here in Houston last night, and people were saying, well, we have forty beans and they have thirty, we have to have more not recognizing that counting beans when you come to nuclear weapons is not really where it’s at. . . . The central challenge that we all have to face is this: how do we get people to recognize how our world has been molded by these atomic weapons? We can no longer afford to think in terms of simplistic competition and military rivalries and war planning. It’s a long and painful and difficult process of political education, of talking to people about what the bomb represents the kind of message that Helen Caldicott has been sending out and that SANE presents has to be repeated over and over and over again. There can’t be too much education around the consequences of nuolear conflict and the need for a new mind set in this world. These are the organizations mentioned in the article and interview with their addresses: Center for Defense Information, 122 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington DC 20002 Ecumenical Peaceforce of Houston, 10723 Inwood Drive, Houston TX 77042 Gulf Coast Council on Foreign Affairs, 8001 Palmer Highway, Texas City TX 77591 Institute for Policy Studies, 1901 Q Street NW, Washington DC 20009 National Freeze Clearinghouse \(for the IDDS, 251 Harvard Street, Bostom MA 02146 Physicians for Social Responsibility, PO Box 144, Watertown MA 02172 \(Non-physicians may join as asSANE, 514 C Street NE, Washington DC 20002 Women’s Party for Survival \(a second MA 02178 \(Women and men are inMost of the books mentioned by David Cortright are available from the American Friends Service Committee, 1022 West 6th Street, Austin TX 78703 \(telebook, Nuclear Madness: What You Can Do, is published by both Autumn and Bantam. SANE’s “Consider the Alternatives” is broadcast on these Texas radio stations: in Austin KCSW-FM, KNOW-AM, KOKE-FM, KUT-FM; in Dallas WRR-FM, KZEW-FM; in Edinburg KVLY-FM; in Houston KILT-AM; in Paris KPLT-AM; in Prairie View KPVU-FM; in Pleasanton KBOP-AM, KBOP-FM; in Victoria KVIC-FM; in Wichita Falls KKQV-FM; in Denton KNTU-FM; and in Midland KCRS-AM, KWMJ-FM.
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