Paul Walker and Prof. George Breslauer spoke to about 40 people at “Building a World Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction”, a Massachustts Peace Action Education Fund house party at the Walkers’ Cambridge residence June 2.
Walker spoke on the Chemical Weapons Convention, which he said embraces all but 4 countries. The US and Russia have destroyed nearly all their stocks of chemical weapons, and most other nations have done the same — most recently, Syria. Walker has participated in many inspection tours of chemical weapons facilities. He attributed the success of the CWC to its universal applicability to all nations, its clear and transparent enforcement procedures, and the military’s recognition that chemical weapons are not militarily useful. Before joining Green Cross International, Walker was policy director of the House Armed Services Committee and founded the Union of Concerned Scientists’ nuclear disarmament group.
Breslauer said that the U.S. brought the Ukraine crisis on itself by trying to incorporate Ukraine into NATO. Putin had to draw a line when Russia’s lease to its naval base in Crimea was imperiled and show that there were limits to provocations. Later, Putin questioned the wisdom of U.S. Middle East policy, which seemed to consist of decapitating states with no plan for their future, and he intervened to prevent that from happening in Syria. Breslauer warned that the U.S. and Russia are now in a frightening tit-for-tat escalation cycle in which each side mistrusts the other, but Americans especially strongly mistrust Russians. According to Breslauer, U.S. foreign policy is in a missionary phase in which it does not accept the balance of power; under that framework, he asked, where do you draw the line if any small country anywhere asks for U.S. support?
The evening concluded with brief remarks by Cole Harrison on MAPA’s 2016 organizing work and by Caitlin Forbes on its development of 7 campus chapters.