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October 12, 1982 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-10-12

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6

OPINION

;F9e 4 Tuesday, October 12, 1982The Michigan Daily

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Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

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Vol. XCIII, No. 29

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

A PA\CAGE FROM'
PRES OENT ?EA~fAN,

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

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NOW comes of age

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IT'S BEEN an awful year so far for
the National Organization for
Women. The Equal Rights Amen-
dment, the cornerstone of NOW's
political strategy, went down to defeat
in June. The proposed Helms amen-
dment and several other conservative
schemes still threaten to take away a
woman's right to abortion and con-
traception. The Reagan ad-
ministration's attitude toward
feminism continues to be neutral at,
best, openly hostile at worst.
But at its annual convention last
week, NOW seemed strangely enough
to be in better, shape than ever. In the
midst of crippling setbacks and waning
public interest, NOW is quietly coming
of age as a political organization.
NOW's failure with ERA forced the
organization to take a good-long look at
itself and at its politicalstrategy. NOW
went optimistically into battle for ERA
almost a decade ago, armed with little
more than the fact that passing an
amendment on equality was the right
thing to do. Being right, however,
didn't add up to being successful. NOW
underestimated the difficulty of
threading a constitutional amendment
through the legislative labyrinth of 34

states. NOW- and the ERA-lost a lot
of legitimacy in the process.
But the defeat forced NOW to
reevaluate its role in the future and to
put pragmatic and realistic political
goals at the top of its list. NOW is set-
ting its current sights on gaining
political clout. It plans to set up an in-
stitute to support feminist of-
ficeholders and to train female can-
didates. It still hopes to iron out
inequities toward women, but it is
narrowing its scope-next year, the
Social Security program and the in-
surance industry have been named as
its specific targets. And, most impor-
tant, NOW is supporting candidates
this year for their political and social
stands first, their feminist stands
second. NOW's prime goal, its new
president said, is to get Democrats
back in office in November, not to elect
feminist candidates.
Its reach may be less sweeping and
its platform less idealistic than in its
70s heyday, but NOW can only profit
from- its newfound practicality. By
learning a political lesson from its
failures and by dusting itself off for the
future, NOW can ensure that it
remains an effective force for social
change.

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Are major powers re..sponsible

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for

Third World

Environmental rhetoric

A HOUSE committee Sunday
released a report that, to no one's
surprise, charged that the Reagan
administration has been dangerously
negligent in enforcing basic environ-
mental laws.
;The report surprised no one because
those who agree with it say they knew
if all along and those who don't agree
with it simply cross it off as partisan
maneuvering. After all, Reagan sup-
porters point out, the committee that
wrote the report is controlled by
Democrats-congressmen who are
becoming increasingly preoccupied
with the first Tuesday in November.
What is surprising, however, is that
the committee's chairman, Michigan
Democrat John Dingell, has one of the
most deplorable environmental voting
records on Capitol Hill. Dingell has a
well-deserved reputation as a man who
will vote down almost any environ-
mental law that the auto industry finds
inconvenient.
But is this the same John Dingell
who Sunday charged that the
Republicans are "short-changing the
American people" for failing to get
tough with industrial polluters? What
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Dingell says is basically correct; the
Environmental Protection Agency's
new Republican leaders, have done a
miserable job of fighting pollution.
They have, as the reports notes, fallen
short not only of the Carter ad-
ministration's record, but of their own
projected goals as well. Of the 723 in-
spections of chemical plants the EPA
promised to conduct last year, for
example, only three have actually
been completed.
The tragic truth, however, is that
although voters can now revel in
promises from both Republicans and
Democrats that the environment will
be protected, once November 3 rolls
around much of the rhetoric will be
forgotten. The Reagan EPA will go
back to doing a remarkably
inadequate job and John Dingell will
likely retreat to his usual position as
blind advocate of "regulatory relief"
for the auto industry.
The only real hope for the environ-
ment is that voters next month will
look at the records and not the rhetoric
of candidates when deciding who to
send to Washington.

By Jon ,Stewart
War may be hell, as the general said, but
the post-World War II record indicates that
it's also a helluva habit.
What's more, despite the almost total con-
finement of war and lesser conflicts to the
Third World in the last 35 years, the major
powers of the Northern Hemisphere remain
by far' the world's most active employers of
military forces. The popular perception that
the Third World is voraciously slaughtering
itself is misguided only insofar as it fails to
recognize that the "Great Powers" at the
helm of the United Nations are egging it on
when not directly participating in it.
ACCORDING TO a new book published in
London called "War in Peace," some 35
million people have died in 130 military con-
flicts in more than 100 countries (all but a
handful in the Third World) since the end of
World War II. In the vast majority of these
conflicts, the four original major powers of
the United Nations Security Coun-
cil-Britain, France, the United States and
the Soviet Union-have played prominent
roles, direct or indirect.
One thinks especially of Korea, which
claimed more than 2 million lives and in-
volved all the great powers except France; of
Indochina, which involved all the great
powers but Britain; of France's bloody
colonial wars in Africa, which claimed
several million, and of the ongoing slaughter
between Arabs and Israelis, armed to the
teeth with American and Russian weapons.
Indeed, one of the most notable facts about
military conflict in this era of "peace" is that
peace really has reigned among the major
powers. None of the world's mightiest
military nations, all of which are nuclear
powers, has crossed swords with any other
member of the club, with the minor exception
of the 1969 border skirmishes between the
Soviet Union and China. They have made
their own worlds safe through arms
agreements so as to shadow box in the Third
World, where, as far as the major powers are
concerned, war not only is acceptable but
almost the norm.
THIS LEAVES the Western anti-nuclear
weapons movement in a slightly em-
barrassing position: It not only fails to grap-
ple with the real wars of the Third World, but
it ignores as well the conventional weapons,
which, in fact, have been used to kill people
every single day since the armistice was

signed in 1945.
The argument that these Third World
wars-which, taken together, really
represent a third World War-are mostly the
product of nation-building among backward
and bloodthirsty societies simply doesn't
wash. At least it doesn't explain why the four
great powers, sworn to uphold the principles
pf peaceful resolution of conflict at the United
Nations, have engaged in as many as 71 direct
military interventions outside their own bor-
ders in the postwar period, all but four of
which have been in the Third World.
A recent study by Professors Herbert
Tillema and John Van Wingen of the Univer-
sity of Missouri and the University of
Southern Mississippi, respectively, concludes
with an understatement: "It is obvious that
the world's major governments have not con-
sistently behaved in strict accordance with
contemporary international law."
THEY NOTE that Britain leads the list of
postwar great power military adventurists
with a total of 36 foreign military interven-
tions, up to and not including the Falklands
War. France follows with 18; the United
States with 10, not including U.S. troops in El
Salvador and Honduras, and the Soviet Union
with seven. The 71 identified great power in-
terventions since 1946 involve only those in
which regular troops actually conducted
military operations inside a foreign territorv.
This limited definition rules out some of the
more notable interventions, such as the U.S.
Bay of Pigs attack on Cuba (irregular
troops); the Britiah occupation of Northern
Ireland (;,:)t strictly a foreign territory); the
U.S. overthrow ofthe Iranian government in
1953 and the Chilean government in 1973 (CIA
operations), or the Soviet crushing of
Solidarity in Poland (achieved without actual
Russian troops).
Further, these uses of military force by the
four major Security Council members cannot
be dismissed as simply, or even mainly, cases
of reluctant decolonization, though this factor
did account in the early postwar years for
many of the interventions. More than half of
the direct military expeditions were directed
against fully independent sovereign nations;
and more than one-third of the interventions
were in countries where the invading power
had no treaty obligation or prior military
presence.
OF COURSE, even under strict inter-
pretations of United Nations law on the use of
military force, some instances of intervention
fall within the realm of legality, such as hot

9.
wars?
pursuit, self-defense, and retaliation fore
illegal acts. But United Nations law appears to
have had little impact on when or where the 6
presumed guarantors of the U.N. law have
used military force. Six out of the great power
interventions against independent states in
the postwar era were illegal by the strictest
definition of United Nations law.
Half of America's uses of military force
have been illegal. The British, ironically,
have proven themselves to be both the
quickest to the draw (responsible for fully'.
half of all great power interventions) and the
most law-abiding (84 percent legal under
U.N. law). France, the second most active of0
the great military powes, is the premiere
outlaw; 83 percent of French interventions in'
the last 20 years have been flat-out illegal. In-,
deed, only 20 percent of the post-1968 great
power interventions have been conducted un-
der circumstances which do not call for U.N.
sanctions against the invader. Thanks to the
Security Council veto procedure, no sanctions.
ever have been levied.
It may be fairly charged that statistics such
as these tell more the lie than the truth. But
the lie, if there is one, is that on the conser-
vative side; it hides the full extent of great.
power militarism. It hides the fact that the.
great powers, along with Israel, Germany,
and other Western allies, have nurtured the
world's appetite for war by making the
production and sale of weapons the world's.
leading cash commodity, surpassing food..-
Arms sales to the Third World, where the Fir,
st and Second worlds fight.atheir wars, have
nearly tripled in the last decade.
The statistics also hide another vital fact of
great power warfare in the postwar period:
Those in the Big Four do not tread on' one
another's toes. Of the 71 postwar interver
tions identified by Tillema and Van Winger,
not a single one involved a territory in which
two or more members of the club could
legitimately claim to have clear military in-
terests. In other words, the threat of any two
great powers having to actually confront one
another at the end of a nuclear gun barrel has
been sufficient to restrict them to their own
Third World "turf." They will not allow them-
selves to fight one another, except by Third
World proxy.
For this last fact, those in the great power
states may count their blessings. Those in the
Third World count their dead.
Stewart wrote this article for Pacific
News Service.

Wasserman

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