Nuclear Arms and Human Rights

okay good evening everybody my name is Professor Michael Cox I’m in the Department of International Relations and I’m also one of the two co directors with my colleague and good friend professor Ernie West – who is also sitting in the audience and welcome to you all and welcome again to Professor Neil Ferguson the Philip Berman professor here at the LSE in the center ideas Neil as you know is the fourth Philippe Ramone professor the first was Paul Kennedy the second the historian of China in the Cold War and Jen and the third the French expert on Islam last year’s yield Capel the Phillip Ramon is made possible by a very generous donation by Manuel Roman the chair named after his father Philippe has brought because I’m sure you’ll find out tonight and found out over the previous few years world-class scholars to the LFC in London and by so doing made the school I’m sure you’ll agree an infinitely richer and livelier place now Neil as I’m sure you are aware takes few prisoners and in these last three lectures in this ideas series on the Cold War he as I might put it like this slashed and burned his way like a true Scotsman of course across the political and intellectual landscape thus in his first lecture we were told that we should not Locke should not look for the deeper sources at the end of the Cold War in the 1980s in moribund Europe but in emerging Asia in his second lecture we were shown why the Cold War was not the orderly long peace as claimed by some writers but rather a distinct bloody affair fought out in the third world and the third lecture a few weeks ago mounted a spirited but I’d say not on critical defense of one Henry Kissinger I think the subject of Neal’s next by so tonight in this fourth lecture in this series of your weight even more fireworks from the man who knows Davos like the back of his hand and has made PowerPoint to genuine art form it has even said that Neal does a genuinely good imitation of George the sixth or colin firth indeed he looks somewhat like him did you not see him in Los Angeles the question today was asked in the Evening Standard Neal’s paper of choice I had to get down Biden the title of the little short piece in the Evening Standard today which I picked up coming up from Clapham Neil’s nod to the King speech has Neil Ferguson been taking acting lessons the historians speaking at the intelligent squared talked last night whatever that is sponsored by the Evening Standard on the six killer apps of civilization he’ll you must avoid cliche I opened with a bout of stammering in an order to Colin Firth’s George the scenes he also did an impression of an eighteenth-century Boswell I spent much the evening parading around the Cadogan Hall stage in the spirit of bomb now I hope you don’t do all these things tonight me however I think it does give us a pretty good indication that Neil is not only a great historian but he’s great fun is in his story and a great popular historian who wants to get really important ideas across the more than a few people Neil as I said back in November when I introduced you has been fun having you here and indeed more than fun to see the real intellectual treat we look forward to hearing what you have to say on the theme of tonight’s lecture nuclear weapons in human rights LSE can we give an LSE welcome not to Neil not to Neil folks and I was neither state budget Colin Firth of George the sixth imitating Neil Ferguson in Vegas what I wasn’t going to do my stutter but this is an opportunity to do it as we are frantically load the presentation thank you very much indeed there’ll be no barnum like antics or shameless playing to the gallery this evening rather what I want to try to do is to draw together some of the threads of my previous lectures on the Cold War and to arrive at some kind of conclusion in particular I want to explore the not immediately obvious relationship between the nuclear arms race and the growth of human rights as a concern of

international relations in the era of the Cold War there is of course another purpose to this evening’s lecture and I would be entirely mendacious if I didn’t fight it out and that purpose is to encourage you to buy my new book which as it happens is published this very week copies of which are indeed for sale outside this very lecture hall and if you’re feeling impecunious then you can instead watch the accompanying television series on channel 4 which goes out on Sunday evening now at first I was a little uncertain as to how I could simultaneously conclude a lecture series on the Cold War and promote this book since it will by now have struck you that they are on entirely different subjects and then of course inspiration came to my rescue as it often does with the clock ticking in the direction of 6:00 p.m. I want to draw your attention to an article published in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1962 one of it should be said a great many publications by scientists in the late 1950s and early 1960s on the subject of what a nuclear conflict would do to civilization it’s not enough to judge solely by the probability of people being killed I wrote the author of this article another tragic aspect of nuclear war is that irreplaceable aspects of civilization be destroyed I couldn’t resist continuing if we let the symbol V represent the value of civilization destroyed by war a more meaningful question is where P is the probability that the typical person will be killed before occurs w is the probability that war will occur the index s denotes with shelters and AD denotes without a shelter program this is after all the London School of Economics and political science and that is a kind of political science rather less mathematically rather more immersive Lee Linus Pauling addressed the question would civilization survive a nuclear war in the book he published with that title in 1963 Paulin is an extraordinary was an extraordinary figure I think the only man to win two Nobel prizes in his own right neither was shared one for chemistry and one for peace he was a quantum chemist he also made major contributions to biological science but his political activism in the period after World War two led him into some difficulty he was viewed by many particularly by the McCarthy heights as a fellow traveler an apologist indeed for the Soviet Union and didn’t in fact have his passport it had been removed when he was first invited to collect a Nobel Prize though the US government hastily restored it to him Life magazine described his Peace Prize in 1962 as quote a weird insult from Norway Pauling’s is one of many similar essays I could quote from you could go back further to the mid-1950s a letter of which he was a co-signatory but which is best known as the work of Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell which called on mankind to renounce war altogether rather than run the risk of unleashing a thermonuclear war with all the catastrophic consequences that would have a kind of post-war constant consensus actually emerged even before that famous scientists letter Harry Truman confided in his own diary not very long after he himself had

authorized the use of atomic weapons the human-animal must change now or he faces absolute and complete destruction and maybe the insect age or an atmosphere less planet will succeed him just three years later Joseph Stalin himself observed atomic weapons can hardly be used without spelling the end of the world this was the man who at first had reacted the that the Americans had the bomb by describing atomic weapons as toys to frighten children but that was bravado that was a bluff and one can find similar quotations from nearly all the superpower leaders of the cold war-era event need to be a nuclear physicist or a quantum chemist to grasp that something profound had changed in the nature of war itself with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and indeed with the creation of the hydrogen bomb a weapon far more destructive than little-boy the weapon that was dropped in Japan and all an entirely new era in human civilization had begun an era in which the possibility existed that civilization could self-destruct and that’s why in fact it is an appropriate subject for me to discuss this evening not only because I believe the relationship between the nuclear weapons and human rights offers the key to understanding why the Cold War remained cold and ended as it ended but also because it helps you to understand why I’ve written a book called civilization when I was an undergraduate as many of you now are undergraduates it was extremely fashionable to be a member of the campaign for nuclear disarmament indeed my very best friend at Oxford was a member and wore proudly the badge would you see in graffiti form on this wall the membership of CND actually peaked in my second year at Oxford that was the height of its popularity and perhaps also of its influence as an organization I was not a member I have in fact to confess that I was rather opposed to CND and though I blush to admit it I still possess somewhere in my files an invitation to a party that one of my friends threw this was a party to celebrate the deployment of Cruise and Pershing missiles in Western Europe and I’m afraid to say that the illustration that we chose the invitation was a champagne bottle with the mushroom cloud emerging from its neck I tell you this only to illustrate that pure our humor is characteristic of all generations of undergraduates and it’s not something you should subsequently be embarrassed about though if this were to be posted on Facebook I’m sure it would do untold damage to my reputation for seriousness what was amazing for somebody of my generation I’ve described myself in the past is a punk Tory and I’ll talk more about the Jam Invista moment the original Punk Tories of the late 70s and early 80’s was that within just a few years even months of that party which we only threw to inflame the ire of the oxford student left which it did the only point of that party was to upset the left and they could always be relied upon to be hugely upset by that sort of thing but just within a very short space of time after that we were aghast to find that Ronald Reagan had joined the campaign for nuclear disarmament Reagan who had in the initial phase of his presidency been far more hawkish on all Cold War issues than almost any of his predecessors did a complete vault fast on this issue in one of the great judo moves of Cold War diplomacy embracing proposals for disarmament that appeared tentatively

from the Soviet side Reagan suddenly came out in favor of a solution to the problem far more radical than his advisors had imagined in their wildest nightmares he described nuclear weapons as quote totally irrational totally inhumane good for nothing but killing possibly destructive of life on Earth and civilization these days everybody is a member of CND so there’s no point in joining which is why it’s formal membership is much lower than it was in 1984 among the honorary members today are none other than Henry Kissinger not to mention Sam Nunn Bill Perry and George Shultz who as you will doubtless be aware have published a series of articles in the last three years calling for a complete abolition of nuclear weapons when I interviewed Kissinger which I did at great length over the last few years as part of the research for my biography of him he said something very arresting which was that in his view anxiety about climate change and global warming as we used to call it was the form of displacement activity distracting people’s attention from the farm war in threat of a nuclear conflict or even simply of an accidental detonation of a nuclear weapon with the breakdown of any effective ban on proliferation of nuclear weapons and I think that is what we are witnessing the dangers of their use are in fact significantly higher just in probabilistic terms than they were during the Cold War when for a time only two pars possessed them so one way of thinking about the period since the early 1980s is as a kind of triumph a trial very few people would have predicted for CND itself surely there could be no bigger triumph than to have Henry Kissinger as an honorary member but wait a minute it may seem odd to identify the a bomb as one of the greatest creations of Western civilization though it dramatically increased the capacity of man to inflict death the bombs net effect was to reduce the scale and destructiveness of war beginning by averting the need for a bloody amphibious invasion of Japan the atomic bomb and even more so the vastly more destructive hydrogen bomb tested in it in 1952 in a year later by the Soviets circumscribed that war and all subsequent conflicts by deterring the United States and the Soviet Union from colliding head-on you see an unrepentant because these words are from my newly published book civilization the west and the rest pages 235 to 6 it seems as if I am on the wrong side of this argument if sheer weight of numbers is decisive because what I try to show in civilization is that the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb were in many ways the supreme achievement of Western civilization and this is the kind of paradoxical idea from which for which I am justly notorious I think of it what exactly happened as a result of the Manhattan Project named because it began life in the Manhattan engineering district in 1942 that project which produced in all three devices that were in fact exploded one mustn’t forget the first one that was dropped or exploded rather in New Mexico had been inspired by Albert Einstein himself who had warned Roosevelt of the real danger that the Germans might be first to acquire such a weapon given of course Germany’s still meaningful lead in many fields of scientific endeavor certainly up until 1933 if you would have argued that Germany was the world’s pre-eminent the scientific power it was the bomb that is an achievement of Western civilization properly understood because it was a

multinational achievement although the Americans had the resources they did not produce the atomic bomb alone indeed if it hadn’t been for the British realization of the fissile properties of the isotope uranium-235 the whole project might never have got past first or second base if you look at the scientists who were involved in the Manhattan Project you realize that it was the most extraordinary diverse group of people Australians Britons Canadians Danes Germans and gariands Italians one Swiss and of course Americans there were Jewish refugees from Hitler otto frisch and Edward Teller among them and in that sense the Manhattan Project exemplified one of those killer applications that are so central to the arguments of my new book I was teased a moment ago by Mick who suggested it was a cliche to refer to the decisive institutional innovations of Western civilization as killer apps I’m not sure that’s quite fair make it certainly represents a deliberate attempt on my part to appeal to a youthful audience and there’s nothing wrong with that since anything we can do to interest teenagers in history seems to me to be a worthwhile step given that they know almost nothing about history thanks to the efforts of British secondary schools but the killer app which I rank is the second in importance and certainly chronologically came second was science indeed the scientific revolution personified by Newton but also in some ways personified by the much less famous figure of Benjamin Robins Robins it was who applied Newtonian physics at to ballistics and for the first time made artillery a truly scientific activity science was truly a killer app because it made Western civilization better at one of the most important aspects of modern warfare the destruction of enemy cities and nothing destroys an enemy city more completely and more efficiently than a nuclear bomb in that sense in that most stark sense we need to recognize that the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb were quintessential achievements of Western civilization that no other civilization could have produced that mutants version of Western civilization National Socialist Germany could not do it even with the brilliant scientists that remained after Hitler purged a German science of its large and brilliant Jewish community the critical question of course is whether we just got lucky whether we just got lucky that this killer application did not end up killing civilization itself the big question in other words is why there never was a hot war why these weapons we’re not used in anger at any point during the Cold War and you might legitimately say if you wish to criticize me but you are welcome to do in the question and answer session at your own risk you might well say I’m under estimating the risk just because they weren’t used doesn’t mean that at the time there was no risk of their being used we know that in the first phase of the Cold War during Harry Truman’s presidency influential figures in the United States favored the use one more time of the atomic bomb to establish American primacy in the nascent Cold War the Democratic side senator Brian McMahon was one of them general Oliver Anderson who was the commanding officer of the US air War College was another then there was General George Kenny who was the commanding officer of Strategic Air Command his successor the notorious Curtis LeMay was perhaps the most ardent enthusiast for the use of atomic weapons and enthusiasm he never lost and then there was General Douglas MacArthur who at a crucial moment in the Korean War after China’s intervention had radically changed the game to the disadvantage of the United Nations forces argued that nuclear or other atomic bombs should be used against

Chinese positions to end the war swiftly advice which Harry Truman decided not to follow but which was by no means regarded as maverick advice by ordinary Americans asked if they favored using atomic artillery shells against communist forces if Korean truce talks break down 56 percent of Americans said yes during the Korean Wars stalemate phase an arguments for the use of nuclear weapons continued through the isin her period and were on a number of occasions taken seriously by President Eisenhower himself the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Eisenhower Admiral Arthur Radford was one of those who argued for the use of nuclear weapons preemptively in order to win the third world war while the United States still had a significant lead which he’d had throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s Henry Kissinger if you’ll forgive me for reversing to the subject was one of the most influential public intellectuals of the 1950s and early 1960s after he published the book nuclear weapons and foreign policy in 1957 that book caused a stir and made his reputation because he’d argued that a system of massive retaliation a strategic doctrine based only on the notion of using nuclear weapons to bring about Armageddon made no sense and that a strategic doctrine needed if it were to be effective to include the possibility of the limited use of nuclear weapons the core argument of that book is that there should be a limited use there for nuclear weapons and that it wasn’t binary peace or Armageddon this was the book that made Kissinger’s reputation and it repays reading today to develop the point father let me take you to perhaps the most famous moment in the entire Cold War Saturday afternoon October the 27th 1962 the height or an idea of the Cuban Missile Crisis it would certainly not be a good use of our time for me to replay the entire saga that led a Khrushchev to deploy nuclear weapons on the island of Cuba suffice to say assuming that you know that broad outlines of the story there came a moment that afternoon when President John F Kennedy had to consider seriously doing something more than merely imposing a naval blockade to prevent further shipments by the Soviets to Cuba Oh plan three one six was intended to be an amphibious invasion of Cuba president and his brother joked that if this were to be done Bobby Kennedy could be the mayor of Havana Robert McNamara then the defense secretary urged that this option be considered seriously and so perhaps not entirely surprisingly did the military men including LeMay what they did not know because their intelligence though good good enough at least to identify what the Soviets were up to in Cuba was not good enough to tell them that the Soviets had already on Cuba 80 short-range missiles armed with nuclear warheads each with an explosive power between five and twelve kilotons plus six warheads for their il-28 bombers and another nine frog luna missiles suitable for use in battlefield Encounters short-range nuclear missiles if the Americans had opted to launch the invasion of Cuba Oh plan three one six it is high but at least some of those weapons would have been used to destroy the American force on the beaches as it landed Castro a hero inexplicably too many young people at the time and subsequently eagerly looked forward to what would have surely reduce the arm of Cuba to a pile of ash fortunately of course both Khrushchev and Kennedy drew back from

this nightmare scenario but the moment when the Russians shot down a u-2 spy plane over Cuba with a missile was the moment when the Cold War came closest to being a hot war one cannot say after the fact that the probability of a full-scale nuclear war was zero throughout the Cold War manifestly it was not and the participants in those key meetings that weekend on both sides subsequently acknowledged the extent of their fear or in some cases exhilaration as the world teetered on the brink of a third world war my late lamented colleague at Harvard Ernie May was a young advisor around the White House during those crucial hours and I can tell you that there really was no more informing experience to have while he was still teaching at Harvard than to hear him describe what it was like as Kennedy weighed the options weighed up the domestic political implications weighed up the military implications from thought through the diplomatic and strategic implications of what could have been the single most disastrous decision in the history of international relations funny thing is given that that was that was the closest brush with Armageddon we all appear to have worried more about a nuclear war some twenty years later it was in the early 1980s when as I mentioned CND reached its height of popularity and influence that fear in the Western world of a nuclear war reached its height I remember this vividly and it’s easy to track empirically thanks to the marvels of Google if you haven’t discovered the Google books Ngram program check it out because it allows you to check the frequency of words or phrases in any of the publications that Google has so far scanned which is a very large number of publications indeed and this blue line shows you the percentage of these documents where the words at nuclear war a car from 1945 to 2000 so the the proportion of words in effect that are the phrase at nuclear war there was not surprisingly a spike in the early 1960s but the peak came in the early 1980s when I was an undergraduate facetiously celebrating the deployment of weapons of mass destruction in my own country 1982 was the year Sir John hackers published the third world war August 1985 I suspect not a great many people in this room have read the book but it’s one of the really quite fascinating genre works of futurology which were extremely popular in the 1980s and most of which considered at least in part of the text the possibility of a nuclear war Hackett’s was perhaps the most serious of these books because he knew what he was talking about and he consulted other senior NATO military personnel in writing the book the scenario that he imagines is a war that gets started in of all places Yugoslavia how implausible wars never happen there and in the scenario that he he depicts the Soviets used this small crisis as the pretext for a massive conventional forces assault on Western Europe this assault does not go as well as the Soviets have planned Paquette was smart enough to understand the defects that were already beginning to become apparent the civil part of the intelligence services of Soviet military capability and so the Soviet forces run aground pretty much in Krefeld in desperation recognizing that their ploy has failed the Soviets tried to clinch the conflict by obliterating Birmingham as an Arsenal fan yes I can’t help being quite attracted to that idea of this week and in return

NATO obliterates Minsk I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Minsk but I would have thought it would be quite hard to tell if Vince had been destroyed by a nuclear weapon I shouldn’t be frivolous it’s too serious a subject the scenario unfolds father perhaps in plausibly with the overthrow of the war mongering Politburo of I of all people Ukrainian nationalists that was the kind of stuff we read wasn’t it it was pretty much standard fare on the op-ed pages of the Guardian and I think it’s difficult for your generation and here I address the majority of students in the room to imagine what it felt like to live under that mushroom cloud whether you did it ironically as I did or desperately earnest fears my friend did who went on those dreary marches to Alder Moscow even kiddy winks could enjoy the thrill the terror that creeping sensation of imagining what the third world war would be like Raymond Briggs’s best-selling cartoon book when the wind blows depicts an ordinary bumbling British elderly couple coping with the reality of nuclear war this was in everybody’s house I don’t know that there was any middle-class family in the entire country that didn’t possess at least one well-thumbed copy of this book usually in the downstairs loo for some reason and as I promised that was the jam there’s an a-bomb in Wardour Street where the streets are paved with blood with cataclysmic overtones fear and hate linger in the air a strictly no go deadly zone I don’t know what I’m doing here cause it’s not my scene Earl Warren there’s an a-bomb in Wardour Street they’ve called in the army they’ve called in the police too that was one of the jams hit singles 1978 vintage and very much a part of the atmosphere I’m trying to remind you of or explain to you an atmosphere in which the probability of nuclear war was regarded as high probably much higher than it really was at the time but we were scared and one of the peculiarities of life in the 1980s was how to get on with life if there was this nonzero probability do I have a tactical nuclear weapon one of the great things of the 1980s was of course that there were no mobile phones and wasn’t all bad Paul Weller was on stage thrashing it out on his Rickenbacker and nobody’s phone was going off mind you if it had gone off you wouldn’t have heard it because they did turn up those guitars pretty loud the big question is therefore why he didn’t that’s the critical question of the whole Cold War it’s that the 500 Megaton question if you like well you’ll remember that in the second lecture of this series I explored one of the most influential essays that’s been published on the Cold War by that leading authority on the subject Paul Kennedy’s colleague at Yale John Gatos in the long piece as I as I said then Gannett offers seven reasons why the Cold War did not become hot bipolarity the extent to which there was dependence as well as interdependence the domestic restraints but crucially number for deterrence paranoia and prudence Gaddis argues can coexist in a nuclear world he also emphasizes the importance of reconnaissance the increasing quality of reconnaissance by both sides meant that there was a transparency to the arms race that he Argos made it more rather than less stable then of course he comes to ideological factors the increasing moderation of ideologies and both sides and the so-called rules of the game but it’s really number four that concerns us here because it’s number four which explains according to Gatos why the nuclear war doesn’t take place what I want to do is to explore exactly what impact is paranoia and prudence meant

when they interact it question one was it mutually assured destruction that worked in Cuba we know that both Kennedy and Khrushchev had alarming estimates from their military advisors about what a nuclear war would cost in terms of human life in the early 1960s the u.s. estimates ranged from 40 to the mid 60 million mark for the United States alone fatalities and that of course was the kind of number that you would expect a normal person to be deterred by you just have to bear in mind that normal people do not become presidents of countries like the United States much less do normal people rise to the top of the Soviet Communist Party so one can simply assume that these startling numbers did the job what happened well what happened was that Khrushchev blinked twice in fact he made two offers to try to avoid a military showdown over Cuba one which came by private telegram was that he would withdraw the missiles as long as the Americans gave a guarantee not to invade Cuba which after all they had tried to do at the Bay of Pigs not so very long before the second was rather pool hardball and came in the form of a public radio broadcast on that Khrushchev said he would withdraw the missiles but only if the Americans at the same time withdrew their missiles from Turkey a NATO member where Jupiter missiles had been deployed this puts Kennedy in an awkward position it would certainly have been interpreted as softness had he agreed to the second proposal publicly in what they called the trollope ploy he and his advisors decided to ignore the radio broadcast offer and simply to treat the private telegram as the basis for a deal and to write back accepting it in highly formal language however particularly after the news of the YouTube shooting down Kelly decided to take no chances and opened up two back-channel lines of communication to make sure things did not escalate further Bobby Kennedy was sent to the Soviet ambassador Brennan and told essentially to agree to the Turkish missile cuban missile swap before that had been so much as inked a Khrushchev amazed the Americans again by accepting the softer trodden ploy deal so at first sight and this is I think how many historians interpreted this was a case where two parties came to the brink looked over it saw hundreds of millions of dead and drew back mutually assured destruction in action no except for one puzzling feature the Soviets should have been deterred at a much earlier stage from the adventure of deploying missiles to Cuba at the time that they did this the American advantage in terms of nuclear capability was a staggering nine to one the notion of mutually assured destruction presupposes some kind of parity but there was no parity if it had come to a hot war in 1962 the United States would have won it comfortably not of course without sustaining some losses in human life but to me the great puzzle of the Cuban Missile Crisis is that the Russians were prepared to go as far as they did when their position was so manifestly vulnerable in that sense I don’t buy the idea that the outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis was the result of some strategic equipoise mutually assured destruction did the attainment of parity make a difference did the system become more stable after Cuba as the Soviets caught up with the United States in terms of their nuclear arsenal well this was an argument that they’re youthful les Gelb made with paul vodka in 1971 the United States and the Soviet Union they wrote and now in a constellation of parity both sides possessing a secure second strike capability as long as neither pursues an unreachable quest for superiority in the form of NACA first strike capability there will be continued strategic stability this was the essence of the argument for parity which recent writers on the nuclear arms race have emphasized as central to American so our strategic

doctrine particularly in the 1970s the great arms agreements of 1972 among the greatest achievements of the Nixon presidency were designed to consolidate a new parity and so to speak create a static system of mutually assured destruction at sustainable levels the whole point of it was to make the system a more stable system of mutual deterrence once again however there’s a but critics of the whole strategy of default and the strategy of arms control feared and argued that the Soviets would exploit all arms control at negotiations quote to pursue a nuclear superiority that is not merely competitive but designed to produce the theoretical war winning capability in the words of Paul Nitze and my colleague at Harvard Richard pipes the great expert on the Soviet Union made exactly the same kind of argument and guess what they were right if one looks at what happens in the period of so-called parity in reality the Soviets achieved the lead and these two charts from the really magnificent three volume Cambridge history of the Cold War a Co edited by our colleague Anna Westin here tonight and Mel Leffler illustrates the point I’m trying to make these two charts which I hastily scanned in my way here today to show that the the Soviet Union the dotted line in both cases overtook the United States in terms of intercontinental ballistic missile launchers meanwhile the United States allowed its enormous lead in terms of strategic bombers to diminish and over vanish in other words there is an argument to be made that those long and my god they were long and boring and my god they were boring negotiations about nuclear arms control were not entirely entered into in good faith by the Soviet side the result of them was in fact to give the Soviets the kind of leap they’re not quite such a big lead as the Americans had enjoyed in the 1950s and early 1960s who won the arms race well if winning was just a matter of accumulating destructive capability the answer is for the Soviets now I want to suggest to you an entirely different interpretation of what went on as the Cold War moved from dead halt to the crisis of the 1980s to its de Newmont in 1989 I want to suggest to you that we cannot find the answer in the realm of strategic theory on the contrary the answer comes from an unexpected place it was the emergence much to the consternation of grand strategists like Henry Kissinger of human rights as a major concern of Cold War politics that really propelled the Cold War to its de numeral and I believe also contributed to the dealer jitan ization of nuclear conflict as an option and it’s that D legitimization which is crucial to understand and as I hope to show you it is not coincidental that the critical insight of the entire Cold War into the relationship between nuclear weapons and human rights came from a nuclear physicist he’s the hero as you’ll see of the story a lot of good stuff is being written about the history of human rights right now if you’re interested in the subject you can find not only an excellent essay in in Ana’s co-edited third volume but also in the volume of essays in the 1970s that i co-edited with Charlie Mayer and Dan sergeant which came out last year what we see beginning up I suppose with the creation of Amnesty International in 1961 is a proliferation of non-governmental organization made sense on frontiers another which focused their efforts on the human rights which was supposed to be upheld by the United Nations Charter of 1948 but which were repeatedly violated in the many Cold War conflicts that went on by proxy as I described in the second lecture in the series human rights became a slogan not only in the NGO community but also of course within the US Congress where it became a stick with which to beat the proponents of daytime’s and realpolitik

not least Kissinger and crucially Human Rights became a slogan within the Walsall path within the Eastern Bloc as well with the creation of the Moscow Human Rights Committee and sama staff Republic they’re publishing that brought Solzhenitsyn and others are to prominence within the soviet intelligentsia and abroad my hero is of course Andrei Sakharov in June 1968 Sakharov wrote what I believe was the single most important essay of the Cold War progress coexistence and intellectual freedom and it’s in this essay that Sakharov identifies the link between the danger of a nuclear war and the absolute primacy of individual freedom of human rights let me quote from it and urge you to read it all it was published incidentally on page upon page of the New York the following month July 1969 the views of the author he writes were formed in the milieu of the scientific and scientific technological intelligentsia the division of mankind threatens the world with destruction civilization is imperiled by a universal thermonuclear war catastrophic hunger for most of mankind stupefaction from the narcotic of mass culture and bureaucratized dogmatism a spreading of mass myths that put int our peoples and continents under the power of cruel and treacherous demagogues and destruction of degeneration from the unforeseeable consequences of swift changes in the conditions of life on our planet yes it does read very well today does it not in the face of these perils any action increasing the division of mankind any preaching of the incompatibility of world ideologies and nations is madness and a crime that’s the inside first phase but here is the crux intellectual freedom is essential to human society freedom to obtain and distribute information freedom for open-minded and unfearing debate and freedom from pressure bar officialdom and prejudices such a trinity of freedom of thought is the only guarantee against an infection of people by mass myths which can be transformed into bloody dictatorship freedom of thought is the only guarantee of the feasibility of a scientific democratic approach to politics economics and culture fearlessly Sakharov demanded in the conclusion of his essay the following things from the Soviet leadership the strategy of peaceful coexistence and collaboration must be deepened in every way a law on press and information must be drafted widely discussed and adopted with the aim not only of ending irresponsible and irrational censorship but also of encouraging self study in our society fearless discussion the search for truth the law must provide for the material resources of freedom of thought all anti-constitutional laws and decrees violating human rights must be abrogated political prisoners must be amnestied and some of the recent political trials must be reviewed the camp regime of political prisoners must be promptly relaxed the exposure of Stalin must be carried through to the end this was heroic indeed and it laid the foundations who planted the seeds for what proved to be the decisive turning point in the Cold War our turning point much underestimated by the administration that was responsible for it the Ford administration the whole idea of a conference and Security and Cooperation in Europe come from the Soviet side bars it was from the American side that the idea came to introduce clauses to the final act referring explicitly to human rights this act was signed by 35 Nations eight of them communists including the Soviet Union itself and incredibly published in Pravda as an official document it became the Loadstar the focal point for all the dissident movements that sprang up before during and after the Helsinki period throughout Eastern Europe if you look at the crucial part of the Helsinki final act you could see why this was the act of self sabotage that brought the Soviet Union much closer than it was realized at the time to destruction the participating states will respect human rights and fundamental freedoms

including the freedom of thought conscience religion or belief with a for all without distinction as to race sex language or religion they will promote and encourage the effective exercise of civil political economic social cultural and other rights and freedoms all of which derive from the inherent dignity of the human person and are essential for his free and full development and so forth which brings me to the plastic people of the universe you can’t really understand what went wrong in the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact countries without the plastic people of the universe and if you never heard of them and didn’t go to see Tom Stoppard’s play rock and roll well I’m here to enlighten you I wouldn’t say that the plastic people of the universe are tremendously good to listen to today in fact it’s really quite a racket however they exemplify what might be called the consequences forces to some degree the causes of Helsinki formed just after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 they sang a song called a hundred points they are afraid of freedom they’re afraid of democracy they’re afraid of the human rights charter they’re afraid of socialism so why the hell are we afraid of that they of course the new meta to Europe the commonest apparatus that ruled the country in January 1970 they’re professional musicians licenses were revoked two years later they were banned from playing in Prague and in February 1976 they were all arrested after an unofficial gig in the countryside two of them were charged with quote extreme vulgarity antisocial ISM nerdism decadence and centers to jail terms of eighteen and eight months respectively this was the case that inspired the Slav Harville to found charter 77 it’s about freedom it’s about freedom of expression it’s about freedom of thought and by acknowledging that it is important the Soviet Union had unwittingly opened the door to self-destruction it’s a little-known fact that we can’t go operate your studies at Moscow University with one of the founders of charter 77 Jeannette caminar and describes him later as quote probably the person I’m closest to he always has been when Gorbachev outlined his new thing in 1986 two Russian rather Soviet diplomats he said quote on human rights let us see what we can do we need to move this current in the opposite direction as top feel said the worst time for a bad regime is when it tries to reform itself nothing illustrates that proposition more perfectly than the career of Gorbachev whose reforms by finally letting the Helsinki genie fully out of the bottle condemned the Soviet Union and its empire in Eastern Europe to self-destruct I showed you earlier the frequency with which the phrase nuclear war appeared in publications in the post-war period now compared with the frequency with which the phrase human rights appeared in publications in the same period the blue line is nuclear war the red line is human rights and I want to propose to you the hypothesis that it was ultimately human rights a conversation about human rights that ended the Cold War and rendered the notion of its ever becoming a hot war simply unbel unsworn unacceptable let me bring you back to my crib around the argument of the book is that there are six and you need them all you need to have competition in economics and political life the multi-party system which Sakharov also called for in his great essay you need to have science the freedom to research and to publish your findings freely you need to have private property rights the freedom to own things and not have them confiscated by an arbitrary power you need to have medicine the freedom from ill health without which all these other freedoms are really rather meaningless you need to have the consumer society the freedom to go and buy and wear whatever you like and even to listen to the plastic people of the universe if that’s your bag and you need the work ethic which incidentally as this is one of I think seven lectures I’m giving this week this is just in case any representatives of the beaver

are president I have the Soviet system managed to out of six and that was not enough it didn’t give its citizens any of the freedoms that the other killer applications provide ladies and gentlemen we’ve come to the end of what tony blair calls a journey and let me offer some brief concluding reflections in my view the Cold War ended and did not become a hot war simply because and fundamentally because the Soviet system denied its citizens freedom economic freedom and political freedom and without those freedoms no society can prosper to understand the stagnation and sclerosis of the Soviet system in the 1970s you need to understand how the incentives simply were there to work in a productive creative way Helsinki exposed exposed the bogus nature of the Soviet claims claims that were spelt out in the stylus Constitution to be an agency for the uplift of workers and peasants and subject peoples destroyed its legitimacy slowly burn inexorably that has some implications for our world today today the United Nations Human Rights Council numbers among its members and I was bound to mention it sooner or later was entire Libya proud sponsor of many educational establishments in the but also Saudi Arabia not to mention China and Cuba not I think you’ll agree with me country is famous for the respect for individual human rights since that UN institution is clearly a sham and since that UN Charter achieved so very little during the Cold War one obvious conclusion that wins draw from the history of the Cold War but it is time high time we had a new Helsinki directed at today’s on free states thank you very much indeed okay thank you very much Neil I said that Nia would take a few prisoners he didn’t he slashed and burned his way across a number of people there he took us down memory lane at least for some of us to John Hackett haven’t heard that for a long time Andrei Sakharov you do have a palling taste of music neil it has to be said but so we can forgive you can I begin however with a question I have a little bit of a provocation you wouldn’t be surprised to hear you you claimed and you said that you were a punk Tory which I like I like pumps I’m not sure about that second for David now Ronald Reagan of course is a much a great hero of most tourists and most conservatives mrs Thatcher in particular but Ronald Reagan didn’t emerge as a hero in your narrative again she emerged as an honorary member of CND could I hear maybe then bring you back to another president just before Ronald Reagan and it came to my mind as you were talking about human rights you might say the most liberal of American presidents at least until Clinton and maybe Obama today namely Jimmy Carter now he’s not a hero normally of either Torres or punks and I didn’t think he’d be a hero of yours you didn’t mention him but the more you talked about it the more I came to think that you’re doing a rehabilitation of poor attacked vilified Jimmy Carter who does not rank as one of the great presidents in American story off the field a geography but nonetheless it does seem to me that as a president he at least took human rights seriously he promoted it reasonably aggressively through big knauber schinsky and I just want to kind of ask you the question is this really elected to rehabilitate Jimmy Carter wellthank that’s a good question the kind of good question one would expect from I guess if I was a punk Tory what were you a rock socialist I told you later about that I was

refreshed lexical trough I think I know man but if the music I’m trying to get at yeah yeah we were listening to the jam what were the trots into go on Motown in my case no that’s I know I even like Queen as well that’s enough protection I just you’re gumming it away from you don’t you love the idea bunch of trots singing we are the champions we’ll keep on fighting until the end of capitalism the class appoints a good one because Carter campaigned on the human rights issue and he picked that up and it was one of them as successful a parts of his his election campaign it was much harder to turn it into a reality because you couldn’t simultaneously drop all the human rights violating right way regimes that the United States was then sponsoring that would have taken too long and so what the Carter Administration found that they once they had adopted that slogan they were constantly tripping up on the contradictions of their their own position but no I wouldn’t want to rehabilitate Carter who I think was a singularly annette as well as unlucky president it’s actually Jerry full-forward who I think needs to be rehabilitated remember although Carter campaign and human rights it was the Ford administration that got the Helsinki final act and Ford remains the unsung hero I think of this phase of the Cold War that there’s an extent in which he and Kissinger didn’t realize that they had struck something close to gold at Helsinki they played it badly they played the PR of Helsinki badly because it went so much against Kissinger’s instincts which were to prioritize grant strategy and particularly as I argued last in the last lecture to prioritize avoiding nuclear war to regard human rights the distraction from that primary moral purpose so now I think it’s it’s not quite right to to portray Carter as the hero here like Carter in some ways was unlucky most obviously over Iran it was on his walk that the great Islamic Revolution began that so fundamentally altered the ideological landscape of the late 20th century but when one looks at his performance as the president overall and indeed as at bridging skis performance as a national security adviser I’d give them closer to a B whereas I think Ford Kissinger was a far more impressive team the trouble is that and this is something I’m finding as I write the biography there’s so much more interest in Nixon because of Watergate and the associated day battle that that the Ford years go almost undiscussed in most books on the subject and yet there’s a huge amount that goes on in for but they also have to grapple with the great Soviet Cuban offensive in in Africa which is an enormous source of destabilization in the mid-1970s now that’s really the kind of implicit hero I think of this story okay we are you hear there’s a roving mic yeah roving towards gentlemen and then gentlemen there would you two together okay so please could you turn on mic please or shout or sure it is like oh hello shout just shell here comes the other microphone mic I’m sure they never had this problem at meetings of charter 77 the part of my life I’ve been wondering to understand a lot more but I think it’s 1989 that’s press release Gorbachev and Reagan met what did they say to each other in that room in 1989 questionnaire job with your conclusions it’s you’re saying that because the freedoms weren’t that that the code or they become a hot war does that mean that because the freedoms aren’t there a lot of these countries in the Middle East and the Gulf a cold war there will never become a hot war okay let’s start with those two questions now I wish there had been time in in this series to talk a bit more about what

happened in 1989 because it’s it’s actually important we understand it given what’s happening in the Middle East and North Africa right now one of the important lessons I think of of 1989 is that leaders play a relatively small role when revolutions get underway once they’ve gathered a certain amount of speed there were really there was really only one act that could have stopped at the 1989 revolutions and that would have been a complete vault fast by Gorbachev and a military crack don’t know that could have happened in one of several places the moment that it nearly happened was like sick if you talked to people who were in the streets of leipzig as the demonstrations grew and grew in the in the late summer autumn of 1989 there was a time when the military capability was on the streets to kill a lot of people but the gorbachev refused to do that and famously gave Chanukah aniconic of the East German leader the kiss of death once he had made it clear that the Sinatra doctrine had taken over that that was the famous doctrine that each of the socialist republics of the Eastern Bloc could do it its way there was really no stopping this revolutionary contagion and it was a contagion if you if you just follow the sequence of events which I remember vividly I was living in Germany that at that time it began with the elections in Poland and the end really of any pretense that Poland was going to maintain a communist monopoly on power it led it followed with the the relaxation of travel restrictions in Central Europe and it be culminated with the fall of the Berlin Wall in in November 1989 and the successive revolutions and in in Prague ultimately in in Romania that chain reaction unfolded over a period of about six months and I think the role that Reagan and Gorbachev played in those events once they had begun was essentially minimal Reagan had called on Gorbachev to tear the wall down but nobody had taken that seriously at the time I mean I have a funny story about this which I can briefly tell I was writing quite regularly under a variety of assumed names for British newspapers – he cares in existence at a time when the pound is very weak relative to the deutsche mark and so I would come out of the archives I was working I would file stories to the British press usually as Alec Campbell because I didn’t want it to be revealed to my academic superiors that I was engaging in such a vile activity as journalism and one of the pieces that I filed in this summer I think it was July of of 89 was a piece which I speculatively headlined the Berlin Wall is crumbling and I said look there are people travelling across from Friedrichstrasse in the east of Berlin with me on the s-band to zoologischer garten that never happened before there are poles everywhere they’re people from all over Eastern Europe you can feel the Iron Curtain rusting away in an immortal decision for which I will never forgive them the subs or the deputy editor of that newspaper phoned me up hello Neil oh very very disappointing news I’m afraid and we’ve we’ve not been able to use the piece now we’ve not been able to use the piece the editor says you’ve been listening to one too many Ronald Reagan speeches so if if they’d only printed that piece I would be able to be the guy who predicted the fall of the Berlin Wall which no one did and I don’t even have the piece because it was written on a Tandy which if remember was a was a laptop with about as much memory as a mosquito so you filed the story and it disappeared off the my new hard drive anyway this is all a long roundabout way of describing how far those events took on a life of their own beyond the initial impetus given by Gorbachev and by Reagan I mean I think Gorbachev is the far more important figure credit though has to be given to George Bush Senior it was managing the subsequent geopolitics of the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact the reunification of Germany and that was incredibly difficult stuff and called for very very nifty food work by Bush and Jim Baker and they really performed absolutely extraordinarily well in making sure that that crisis and of course there’s a more expert person here than me Deb Manning

making sure that that crisis did not turn into the kind of major breakdown in superpower relations that it might have become the stakes were extremely high we look back on it now and we say it all ended happily it was bound to but I don’t think there was any guarantee the the various revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe would not ultimately have produced more violence and this brings me to the second question most revolutions most Imperial break dance which of course was what 1989 was do not end peacefully the surprising thing about 1989 was how little violence there was in its wake that was Yugoslavia that was nagorno-karabakh and that was about it the probability was much higher that there would be for example major ethnic conflict in other parts of Eastern Europe particularly in places where the Russians suddenly went from being the masters to being an ethnic minority and that was true of actually most of the republics that suddenly found themselves by 1991 independent of Soviet rule so I think if we look now at what is happening in the Middle East we need to bear in mind that it’s very unlikely to be 1989 and I say that for a very important reason which I I sketched in it in a piece for the dear old Evening Standard yesterday by the time 1989 came organizations like solidarity and like at charter 77 had laid a foundation of civil society and secular multi-party democratic behavior that was remarkably solid so that when the time came for the authoritarian regime to fall the next generation of leaders was ready and waiting and Harville went from being the bum playwright hippy cool cigarette smoking intellectual so being president and who was his first state visit I it was either Lou Reed Frank Zappa what you read in Frank Zappa were the first visitors to harvest presidential pallets which i think is is a wonderful I suppose a wonderful vindication of the stop art thesis that it really was about see Freddie Mercury just wasn’t I’m just beginning to see how politically unsound Queen really so I don’t think that’s true in the Middle East today in other words there isn’t that we have not helped build the kind of organizations secular openly committed to freedom that we helped build in Eastern Europe in the communist period and the work that went on by NGOs and also must be served by the CIA to encourage those pro-western Pro secular Pro democratic movements has not gone on Middle East which is why I’m much more pessimistic about what’s gonna what’s going to unfold their Soviet Union if you like was sort of a classic totalitarian for ideological reasons it wanted to control the economic sphere so had to be a political dictator which was of course the great insight of higher modern totalitarian czar sort of dropped their ideological sort of pretensions our need to control the economic and realize well hey we can still be political dictators and sort of let a degree of economic freedom happen you said tonight that ultimately you need both the economic and the political freedom for a society to be successful to continue to they can implement those color apps if you like but last night that intelligence squared you described democracies of kind of a a luxury good that had no causal implication on economic growth but shrugging democracy and it’s sort of package of political freedoms that come with there are critical to economic freedom as you said tonight and there seems to be a bit of a tension between what you said here and what you said that based on what was done to create a civic-minded culture in Eastern Europe why do you think there has been a dereliction of responsibility to do the same in the Middle East and that when we’ve been speaking about the Middle East we’ve really been speaking about the israeli-palestinian conflict which clearly we see today is not the source of all regional L’s why has the efforts not gone into across the Middle East creating that and one

final thing I can appreciate why you’re perceived as a populist because despite being very enriching you give a sense of atmosphere to the periods that you have described do you think you could add to that by perhaps singing plastic people of the universe because I usually he can do colin firth but he can’t do the plastic vehicle alright chairs ruling Neil over to you the argument of the of the book which which is is central is that democracy isn’t itself the killer app if by democracy you mean hold a multi-party elections and basing government’s on those elections and allowing all adults to vote in those elections the critical point that I try to make is that that practice only works if you have already downloaded the really important killer app which I’m calling as a kind of shorthand private property though I I nearly called it the rule of law or it could have called it representative government but it’s not democracy that’s the crucial thing there are lots of places today that hold elections Russia is one of them but these elections and not elections that are conducted in the context of the rule of law or in the context of where private property rights are secure and that kind of a liberal democracy is really very widespread in the world it’s a great mistake for us to assume that all we need to do is make people hold elections and everything will sort itself out we’ve been trying to make that happen in Iraq now since 2003 and it’s an extremely difficult thing to make succeed if you don’t have that foundation that I’m talking about now what the killer apps give you is the kind of foundation for that democratic politics that that Adam Smith had in mind when he wrote The Wealth of Nations in the Theory of Moral Sentiments it’s a combination of free-market economics in which private property rights are secure and in which people pursue their own economic self-interest without the interventions of an arbitrary state and a civil society in which free association Free Press free thoughts and all of the other freedoms that we hold dear are possible if you’ve got those things then democracy will work if you simply jump to holding elections having overthrown a dictator don’t be surprised if the winners are intolerant people who are not committed to freedom but on the contrary believe in the old principle of post-colonial politics one man one vote once and that I think is a very real a real and important point that often was lost in the discussions ten years ago in neoconservative circles I spent a lot of time trying to argue with American neocons that it was naive to think that all you had to do was privatize and hold elections which was in some ways the kind of super crude formula that came to be the basis for policy in Iraq and elsewhere you need much much more of a sustained building of the institutions of the free market and civil society before a democracy is going to work and that leads I think pretty naturally to the the second question yeah there’s a kind of Revelation here which not everybody wants to see about the nature of the greater Middle East about the nature of the problems that have linked that region it’s an extraordinary revelation and full of irony one thing that’s been revealed is that there could be a a Democratic wave in that region and and those who keep scorn on the neoconservatives eight years ago must I think now eat at least one portion of a humble pie the project of a democratization of the region was not some kind of fantasy the potential clearly exists for that however and this is really the critical point it is far from clear that the beneficiaries of this Democratic wave will ultimately be the kind of people we would like to hang out with there is an extremely serious risk that the principal beneficiaries will be as we have already seen and not least in recent months in Lebanon the proponents of radical Islam Hezbollah or for that matter Hamas all the Muslim Brotherhood in the case of Egypt oh who knows in the case of Libya so we’re witnessing a very very different sequence of events from the ones that ended the Cold War and that’s why as I said earlier I’m I’m relatively pessimistic about how this will turn the real problems of the region have to do

with low levels of literacy a very underdeveloped civil society an extremely youthful population a population that has been kept and relative economic deprivation in in many cases those social problems are not really a natural seed bed for a western-style democracy to emerge very very natural seed bed for radical Islamists however who I still fear maybe the main the main winners of this revolution we’ve got to eight o’clock now really and I think we’re gonna have to call it to a conclusion lots of hands have gone up but that’s always a good sign the lecturers evoked enthusiasm let me before I move a vote of thanks for Neil just make a few very quick announcements if you could just bear with me from just a moment tomorrow night myself professor West at O’Neill will be on a platform having a debate although Neil will be chairing although I’m sure he will get engaged and that will be tomorrow night is called out of Europe America in an Asian age and it’ll be here I think tomorrow night at 6:30 so you’re welcome to that longer term I also want to make an announcement Neil has been a wonderful fourth row mall chair of the LSC I just want to make it the announcement that the fifth Phillip Rahman chair for next year will be the Indian historian ramachandra guha an historian and biographer who lives and works in Bangalore for those of you don’t know the work of ramachandra guha his books include groundbreaking works on environmental history the unquiet woods India after Gandhi which I think she’s now seen as one of the standard histories of India and of course a corner of a foreign field a history of cricket so Rama Chandra has has some wonderful things to tell us so we really look forward as a successor to Neal I’d also like to remind you and Neal has done it again he hasn’t got enough at the moment he said could you go outside and please buy his book because he’s a bit hard up it’ll be just down here and so that’ll be there and could I have finally just called what all of us when you agree or don’t agree with Neal and as you know I kind of agree but quite II disagree I think it’s been a fantastic contribution for the LSC his lectures have been full houses every time they wouldn’t brilliant performances whatever you think I just think it’s been great having here could we say goodbye but say also thank you for this evening great presentation Neal