Statement adopted by the plenary assembly of the Central Committee of German Catholics on 14 November 1981 in Bonn-Bad Godesberg
Questions relating to the safeguarding of peace and freedom, disarmament and defense have for quite some time now played a central role in the public debate in our country. That debate is concerned with political decisions such at NATO’s “two-track” decision; the moral justification for and political impact of modern weapons of mass destruction; the prevention of war and coercion through a balance of forces and a strategy of deterrence. Ways and means are being discussed of putting an end to the arms race and creating a stable political peace order. The question is asked whether defense makes sense at all; a fundamental change in our alliance and security policy is often demanded as well.
This discussion is fueled by a passion for peace, but also by fear for one’s very existence. An increasing number of people are deeply disturbed to see that ever new and deadly weapons are being amassed on the grounds that they maintain peace and security, and that it is apparently only the threat of devastating counter- strikes which is capable of preventing political intimidation, violations of international law and the use of military force. The attempt to make peace secure by arms efforts constitutes a dilemma, moreover, that is linked with a number of grave risks: the danger, for example, of a technical failure which might trigger a war; the danger of the uncontrolled proliferation of nuclear weapons; the danger of developments in the field of arms technology that heighten the risk of war; and the danger of an irrational response by governments that face critical situations or are prisoners of their own totalitarian ideology. In addition, there is the distressing realization that the tremendous efforts in the arms field consume human and material resources that are urgently needed for other important tasks in the world, particularly for combating illness, hunger, poverty and underdevelopment.
Faced with this situation, many people speak of a race of madness and of an underlying perversion of thinking that it reflects. Such statements show that there is an increasing awareness of how precarious the situation is in which we live. And that is a good thing, because no one can afford to remain indifferent in the face of dangers such as those now threatening man and his humanity. This existential concern is not in contradiction to the need for a sober assessment of the situation. On the contrary, it is the very prerequisite for such an assessment. To be able to form an effective basis for responsible political decisions, however, this fundamental concern must not be allowed to deteriorate into paralyzing fear and panic. Rather, it must acknowledge the full dimensions of the threat to peace and search for political solutions, for which responsibility can be accepted.
The Central Committee of German Catholics has repeatedly commented upon questions relating to peace and security. The present statement contains its views on a number of crucial aspects of the issue currently under discussion.
The duty to familiarize oneself with historical and political facts
Political solutions, for which responsibility can be accepted, can only be found if one does not shirk the duty and the effort of familiarizing oneself with historical and political facts. This demand is not intended to disparage the longing for peace, nor to encourage resignation in the face of established facts. Knowledge of the facts, however, is the indispensable first step needed to translate the will for peace into political action. Where this step is omitted, the longing for peace can lead to a false perception of political reality and make it easier for people to be politically misled. Peace, however, is much too important a matter for it to be left to sentiment alone, without regard for insight into historical and political circumstances as well as the links between them.
However necessary it may be, for the sake of peace, to study military and strategic data and to inform oneself about the latest developments as regards the issues of armaments and arms control, nevertheless peace and security must not be discussed primarily from a military vantage point. This would lead to an unpolitical manner of thinking which could have a disastrous effect: it would impair the ability to recognize the political causes of conflicts and limit the range of instruments available for their settlement.
Ideological conflict – totalitarian threat
The majority of tensions in the world have more than one cause. As regards the East-West confrontation, one main cause is the incompatibility of the communist system, under the leadership of the Soviet Union, with that of those countries having a liberal, democratic constitution based on respect for human rights and human dignity, as reflected in the ideological and spiritual pluralism of their societies. This conflict has had a decisive impact on the situation in Europe for more than 35 years now and has long since had global repercussions as well. It was not caused by the fact that the adversaries have been, or are armed, but by a clash of opposing political views and interests. It is this clash and the mutual distrust which are responsible for the ever higher levels of armaments of the powers involved.
However open we Christians need to be for new developments leading towards a greater measure of freedom and self-determination, and however much we pin our hopes on them, for the present the following continues to hold good: the conflict between the communist and the democratic states is essentially due to the fact that the communist side subordinates its policy, both internally and externally, to the command of the totalitarian ideology of Marxism-Leninism. It is an ideology which, in fundamental questions, disregards the ethical norms and misuses the basic concepts that have developed in European philosophical and theological thinking and, over the last two hundred years, have given the liberal, democratic and constitutional state its shape. Marxism-Leninism knows no spiritual and social pluralism and no tolerance. It is symptomatic of this attitude that in the Soviet sphere of power an open discussion of security policy is not tolerated. Marxism-Leninism is bent on encompassing, permeating and regulating every sphere and manifestation of life. Internally, agitation and repression serve this aim. Externally, the Soviet Union pursues a policy which regards itself as the agent of a necessary world- revolutionary process and which is thus expansion- oriented. Linked to this policy is a well-nigh insatiable, outward-oriented craving for security which feels threatened by the mere demand for human rights and national self-determination.
Military power in the service of ideology
The idea of peace, too, is subordinated to the objective of world revolution. In the communist view, peaceful co-existence does not imply an end to all hostilities nor the creation of political conditions that would lead to orderly relations and stability in the long run, but simply another way of continuing the struggle leading towards world revolution. Anything that furthers the attainment of that goal is not only permitted, but practically required. This also applies to the build-up of military power. Military power does not merely serve as a legitimate defense against a potential aggressor from outside, it is also used to oppress conquered peoples and to develop an arsenal of political intimidation and coercion brought to bear against an opponent held to be weak.
In line with this doctrine, the Soviet Union has for a number of decades now been pursuing a super-power policy. In Europe it has seized political control of the area which its troops, fighting against Hitler’s war of aggression, had occupied militarily in the Second World War. In the Eastern European countries and in the other part of Germany the democratic forces and institutions were destroyed and communist regimes set up, while popular uprisings, such as in the GDR in 1953, in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968, were suppressed with brutal force. It was the firmness of the Western nations which, under the leadership of the United States, joined to form an alliance that has prevented a further expansion of the Soviet sphere of influence in Western Europe. As a result, that part of the continent has benefited over the last 36 years from a period marked by the absence of war, enabling the nations of the West to establish and develop their liberal democracies, while bringing growing prosperity and increasing social security to the people.
The Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin, the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Helsinki, as well as the treaties concluded with a number of Eastern European countries, reflecting the Western readiness for co-operation, were an attempt to give greater stability to this situation in the long run. On the basis of the territorial status quo coupled with a number of reservations under international law – the idea was to promote economic co-operation and to achieve a greater measure of freedom of movement for people and information. The partial successes achieved in the process, however, have clearly revealed and even exacerbated the weaknesses inherent in the Soviet system and that of the other Eastern European countries. New efforts at delimitation were the result. Most notably, the human rights and civil rights groups in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were crushed.
The Soviet Union has failed to reward the Western policy of peace and renunciation of force:
– It continues to use every political means at its disposal to try and sever Western Europe from the United States and thereby to destabilize the Western Alliance – even though neither side should have an interest in destabilization with its incalculable consequences.
– It has used every possible means to endeavor to gain a foothold in the Third World, up to and including the invasion of Afghanistan – even though the indivisibility of detente, too, must be one of the basic ingredients of a global peace policy.
– Since the mid-sixties it has been carrying out an arms build-up on a scale far exceeding its legitimate security requirements, particularly as regards Euro-strategic nuclear weapons – even though this runs counter to the spirit and the aims of the CSCE.
– Together with the GDR, in particular, it is carrying out a militarization of society which is reflected in the fact that people are systematically taught to hate and in the military training even of children, although the Federal Republic and its Western allies emphatically reject any such teaching of hatred in their educational and defense systems.
It is a political fight which the Soviet Union has been waging for many years at great cost. The Soviet Union wishes to spread its ideology and above all gain political dominance over the whole of Europe in order to harness all of Europe’s economic potential for the pursuit of its global designs. To that end, it is launching appeals for peace while at the same time provoking the fear of war. It speculates on the will for peace of the West European people and, completely distorting the facts, seeks to create the impression that it is the ties with the United States that constitute the real threat to peace. It is to counter that threat to peace supposedly emanating from the Americans, so it claims, that it is compelled to carry on with its gigantic arms buildup, while at the same time it exploits the fear generated by these efforts to fuel the fear of war. And it hopes that this fear of war, coupled with the hint that people might rid themselves of it by severing their ties with America, will produce the desired readiness for political capitulation.
Negotiations despite differing value concepts
When one analyzes the communist ideology and the policy of the Soviet leadership, it becomes clear that the adversaries in the East-West conflict do not proceed on the same assumptions and do not subscribe to the same ethical and political norms. The degrading nature of life under a totalitarian regime must give rise to the same fundamental concern as the possible consequences of the escalating arms race.
All the same, time and again contacts must be established between these adversaries and negotiations conducted in order to utilize every possibility for eliminating, or at least mitigating, certain conflict areas and reducing risks. Experience shows that it is particularly in those cases in which both sides can expect to benefit that such negotiations are possible and stand a chance of succeeding. One important function of these negotiations, therefore, is to define areas of benefit to both sides and to convince the Soviet Union that it only stands to gain from abandoning its course of ideological and political confrontation. The chances for them to succeed are all the greater the more realistically the Soviet partner is viewed, the more one knows about his motives and objectives and the resultant tactics, and the more clearly defined one’s own political concept is, which does not rule out trust where it is justified.
Political constraints and the realm of ethics
Questions relating to peace, security, defense and armaments very definitely have both a political and an ethical dimension. This is even more true at a time when totalitarian power poses a threat to life, and modern weapons of mass destruction are capable of destroying entire cities, regions and even countries, and of affecting the lives of each of us and annihilating large parts of humanity. Here – more than anywhere else – we become aware that political decisions must be answered for from an ethical standpoint. At the same time, however, any ethical demand made on politics must acknowledge the specific laws inherent in politics and take them into account in considering and reaching a decision. Where that is not the case, such demands remain abstract; they become divorced from reality and even inhuman, just as politics does when it turns its back on moral principles, no longer doing justice to human dignity and the standards of what is appropriate to man.
The morality of a state is demonstrated in particular by its application of the law and its policies in a manner reflecting both reason and wisdom. The Church, too, has often referred to the “laws of reason” as providing guidelines for the conduct of politics and the regulation of relations among states. Particularly as regards peace, which Christians are called upon untiringly to strive for and promote, the Church, despite its emphatic rejection of the arms race and its insistent demands for general disarmament, advocates reason, a sense of reality and the forming of a balanced judgment, which invariably includes a sound knowledge of the necessary ways and means for achieving and maintaining peace. It cautions against illusions, recklessness and a feeling of moral superiority, as well as against simple but irresponsible solutions and also blindness to mistakes in one’s own actions.
Ethics in the light of the Bible
The task of making and maintaining peace, too, must start from the assumption that the day of the Kingdom of God with its promise of peace among people has already dawned but that it will not reach completion in this world. It is a task marked by the tension which exists between the “already now” and the “not yet”, which is a distinctive feature of the history of salvation, having existed ever since Christ became man and lasting until his return at the end of all time. Jesus calls the peace-minded, the peace-makers, the children of God. Whoever allows himself to be guided by the spirit of God, a God whom the New Testament repeatedly refers to as the “God of peace”, is a child of God. Whoever believes in God, therefore, must give evidence of a spirit of peace and a readiness for peace. In so doing, however, he must not ignore reality, in which evil too exists. But he is called upon to face the existence of evil in the spirit of the Gospel, willing to treat his fellow man with conciliation and generosity and willing even to love his enemy. It is the kind of love which does not simply return enmity and violence in kind. From this inner attitude demanded of Christians, it is impossible however, directly to derive a code of conduct for every concrete situation of life. There will always be tension between the aim to which we are committed and the gradual progress towards achieving that aim through concrete action. One must constantly struggle to find the best solution here and now.
The Church is not in a position to eliminate that tension either; it must speak out against any attempt to reduce the word of God to a direct political code of action, while at the same time it must, for the political realm, too, preach that spirit of a new beginning, of love and peace that is capable of transforming enmity and hatred from within, contributing to the elimination of conflicts and creating justified confidence. In so doing, it must always make it clear that any decision with ramifications extending beyond the purely personal sphere must also take into consideration the consequences for the community as a whole, and that those bearing public responsibility must base their decisions not only on the integrity of their convictions and the related feeling that their way of thinking is right, but also on the needs of the community as a whole and on that which, in accordance with the standards of what is appropriate to man, everybody can be expected to accept. As regards those, on the other hand, who have to take such decisions, it must constantly remind them of the magnitude of the responsibility which, given today’s armaments technology, they bear before God and mankind for the security, freedom and peace of their people. It is a task whose objective is not mere survival, but a life in dignity under conditions of freedom and justice. As the Church, we must not cease to pray for the peace of Christ, which is truth, freedom, love and justice. The spirit of the gospel liberates from that fear which prevents us from seeing the paths leading towards real peace.
Elements of a peace policy
For the Christian, therefore, there is no question of an alternative between “peace and war.” His duty is to make and maintain the peace. To be able to do so he needs to be peace-loving. In the community of man this attitude has to be reflected, both internally and externally, by an order of law. It is with the establishment and maintenance of that order of law that the policy of peace is essentially concerned. As regards the relationships of states to one another, that order must especially be aimed at developing, enforcing and safeguarding, by means of reliable structures, rules of international law that, in cases of conflict, rule out confrontation involving the use of force.
For that policy to be successful, great importance attaches to respect for the principle of reciprocity, which forms the basis of international law and of all international agreements. This also includes the ability to take into consideration the specific circumstances, interests, security requirements and also fears of the other side in one’s own reflections and decisions.
In choosing the means of applying this principle and bringing into play one’s own rights and interests or seeking to deal with conflicts, attention needs to be paid to the principle of the proportionality of means. This includes the ability, depending on the particular situation and the values which are at stake, to stand firm or to give way, and it means that one should resist the tendency to allow a subject or controversy to broaden out.
And finally, a policy of peace requires that solidarity in the use of power in line with which state that are equally powerful do not expect each other to accept things which they themselves find unacceptable, and that, in the case of two states of unequal strength, the stronger party shows moderation.
However, a policy of peace also encompasses arrangement for repelling the use of force. Since no state can rule out that force might be used against it, it must have at its disposal the means needed for its security, specifically, the means enabling it to protect the peace, freedom and human dignity of its citizens. The rights to individual and collective self-defense, confirmed in the Charter of the United Nations as well, is not incompatible with the prohibition of war and of the use of force. Rather, it is the inevitable consequence of the fact that, as yet, there are no reliable international structures for safeguarding peace with the power to impose sanctions. From an ethical point of view, too, the right to self-defense is justified. The well-being of one’s fellow men and the common good, as well as the love of one’s neighbor, do not allow us to stand by idly while people’s lives are threatened and their human dignity and their human rights are violated through force, instead of being protected against unjust force. Those who are actively involved in the protection and defense of these rights, specifically as soldiers or political leaders, serve the cause of justice and peace. History teaches us that an unarmed state constitutes a power-political vacuum which practically provokes hegemonial designs and military intervention. Without the adequate ability to ward off aggression, there can be no secure peace, nor can the efforts to reduce conflicts and bring about controlled disarmament be successful.
In an era of nuclear weapons capable of bringing about mass destruction, however, the question is being asked with increasing insistency of whether such weapons can really continue to serve as an appropriate means of warding off violence. To answer that question it is vital to remind oneself that weapons have not only a military but always a political function as well. In the case of nuclear weapons, it is obviously the latter function which plays a decisive role. We can see how the danger inherent in these weapons triggers fears that have an impact on political thinking. Nuclear weapons can be used to bring pressure to bear particularly on those states which do not have them, making them politically tractable.
If it does not want to find itself in such a situation, the only course open to the Western alliance, by way of a response, is to equip itself with comparable weapons within a collective security system. Only in that way can it defend itself against political coercion and make it clear to a potential aggressor that the attempt to translate his intentions into reality by the use of force entails considerable risks for him as well. That is essentially what the policy of deterrence is all about. It aims at making it clear to an adversary that the trouble and expense of launching an attack or an attempt at coercion are out of proportion to the benefit to be derived from such an action and are therefore not advisable. The French term for this concept is dissuasion. More effectively than the German word Abschreckung, or the English equivalent deterrence, it places the issue at stake into the proper political context. Under the given circumstances, then, nuclear weapons too are a means of preventing war and thus of maintaining peace. Without a quid pro quo and without a reasonable chance of making peace secure in other ways, it is impossible to dispense with them.
Al the same, we should not fail to realize that the policy of deterrence based on such weapons does indeed constitute a major ethical problem. While this policy is aimed at never having to make use of the deterrence potential it must, in order to be credible and effective, still be ready to use it if the worst comes to the worst. Weighing the various factors involved is one of the most complex tasks in the fields of politics and ethics. There is no simple yes or no answer in the many situations which might conceivably arise in such a case. As long as salvation has not been fully achieved we will not be spared the painful experience that we often cannot attain vital goals without jeopardizing other goals that are equally important, which makes the struggle for a politically responsible solution all the more difficult. This realization compels us to complement the necessary policy of fending off violence and the strategy of deterrence, including all the attendant risks, with a policy that comprises all the elements mentioned so far and orients them to the aim of preventing war. From an ethical vantage point today’s system of deterrence can therefore be tolerated only if at the same time every effort is made to achieve substantive progress in the fields of arms limitation and arms control, thereby making effective steps towards disarmament. The prevention of war consequently implies the limitation and reduction of armaments. Hence, the first step must be an effective policy of arms control. That presupposes the readiness to negotiate as well as the determination to arrive at agreements that reduce the system of deterrence to ever lower levels of armaments, without thereby endangering stability and equilibrium. It is from these criteria that it becomes clear how seriously a policy of preventing war is meant.
For preventing war, finally, great importance attaches not least to the firm resolve of the people of a country spiritually and politically to uphold their freedom, their democratic way of life and their constitution, and to defend them against any potential aggressor. The more clearly this resolve is shown the more effectively it will help to avoid warlike conflicts and thus maintain peace, and the greater the chances of solving conflicts in a non-violent manner.
Results and problems of the peace policy
For many years now the Western alliance has been committed to the pursuit of such a comprehensive peace policy. One reason why this policy has been successful is that, against the background of bitter historical experience and on account of political sense, the large majority of people in the West European countries have become acutely aware of the value of political peace in freedom, and gained the conviction that every effort should be made to prevent this highly valued asset from falling victim to totalitarianism for the second time in the course of this century.
In protracted negotiations that peace policy has also produced results which further the aims of arms control and disarmament. These results include important agreements such as the treaty banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space and under water; the treaty prohibiting the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in outer space; the non-proliferation treaty; the agreement prohibiting the production, stockpiling and development of bacteriological weapons; the agreement of April 1981 prohibiting or limiting the use of certain conventional weapons that can be deemed to be excessively injurious or have indiscriminate effects; the SALT I agreement; and arrangements on confidence- building measures, in connection, for example, with maneuvers. Progress achieved with regard to the policy of arms control has also made agreements possible in other fields. The following examples have already been mentioned: the Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The value of all these negotiations and results must not be underestimated even though, given the persistently critical situation in the arms field, they are by no means sufficient. So far, however, the decisive break-through has foundered on the refusal of the Soviet Union to reveal its military potential and to agree to international verification of agreed arms limitation and disarmament. At the same time, however, it makes ever more resounding appeals for peace and disarmament in order to divert the intention of an insufficiently informed public from the real causes that have so far frustrated a comprehensive policy of arms control. All the same, it is by means of such a policy based on the rules of international law, on reason, prudence and perseverance, and on the idea of a balance of forces, that, in spite of everything, it continues to be possible to arrive at agreements that reduce conflicts, contain dangers, reduce mistrust and enable constructive solutions to be reached in individual areas.
Without military balance there can be no peace
Through its tremendous efforts in the arms field over the last ten years, the Soviet Union has decisively tipped the scales in its favor. On the basis of the military superiority thus achieved it is now seeking to reach its political objectives, as borne out by the invasion of Afghanistan and a number of operations in Asia, Africa and South America. One of its main objectives continues to be the achievement of hegemony over Europe.
This policy has a destabilizing impact on the international situation. If the Western states simply watch these developments without taking any action of their own, there is an increasing danger that the Soviet Union will be tempted to make demands and take initiatives which the West would ultimately be able to accept only at the price of submission. Should it at that point decide to offer resistance after all, the Soviet Union might give in to the temptation to pursue its objectives by using force as well. This would inevitably give rise to very serious conflicts and, in the worst scenario, lead to war. We must not forget that similar developments preceded the outbreak of the Second World War.
If peace is to be preserved, therefore, it is at present absolutely vital to work for and restore a balance of forces. Only from such a position of military balance do we stand a chance of reducing the level of armaments through a process of give and take and through compromise, without any of the powers involved endangering its security. As a result, major efforts are required, both in the fields of foreign and arms policy, as well as regards the arrangements for the safeguarding of peace by military means.
Confidence-building measures by the West
The member states of the North Atlantic Alliance have clearly recognized this, and by adopting the “two- track” decision of December 1979, they have taken a course in line with the peace policy the West has been pursuing to date. This decision includes an offer for negotiations which, in accordance with the principle of reciprocity, is aimed at the restoration of balance; it contains a clearly recognizable element of advance concession in the field of confidence-building measures in that, for another three years, it tolerates the existing imbalance and puts off the necessary force modernization in order to reach an agreement on the restoration of balance at the lowest possible level within those three years; finally, it leaves no doubt as to what the member states of NATO will do if that time limit passes without any agreement being concluded, which makes the policy of the West a calculable one.
NATO’s two-track decision is an example of a policy which is aimed at a reduction in armaments and at detente and peace by choosing the path of military balance. Those who consider such a policy to be inadequate or even harmful have a duty to reveal the means by which they would establish and maintain that balance.
Peace through unilateral disarmament?
At present there is a tendency, however, to consider not so much individual aspects of the peace policy but rather to call into question in general the established principles for dealing with tension and conflicts; frequently these principles are alleged to be morally questionable and to add fuel to such conflicts.
Here a radical ethic of conviction and the moral condemnation of today’s weapons technology combine with the hope that it is possible, through unilateral disarmament, to give a signal and thereby to induce the Soviet Union to follow suit. In view of the geopolitical situation of Western Europe in general and that of the Federal Republic of Germany in particular, as well as with regard to the existing potential for destruction, doubts are often expressed as to whether defense is still really possible at all. Some people consequently call for the dissolution of the defense alliance. They assume that Western Europe, or the Federal Republic alone, could in that way gain a neutral position between both super¬powers and keep out of what, in a dangerous simplification, is considered to be a rivalry between those two. And, finally, there are those who — along the lines of the slogan “better red than dead” — are willing to accept the Soviet Union’s conditions and, should the worst come to the worst, to capitulate to it militarily and politically. The latter view in particular stems from complex emotions and ideas. There is the idea of a martyr’s role, which one is not only willing to accept for oneself, but also prepared to see inflicted upon countless others. There is also something of the longing, repeatedly frustrated, but always reasserting itself, for “socialism with a human face”, as well as the hope, finally, that following a possible conquest through force there might still be the opportunity to offer what is termed “social resistance”.
The alternatives being offered to a peace policy based on a balance of forces are unconvincing. They play down the frightening consistency of totalitarian thinking; they fail to grasp the special situation in which Germany and especially Berlin find themselves with regard to their security; and they jeopardize alliance commitments and the trust placed in us by partners who have for many decades given us protection and aid. In many cases these alternatives reflect a tendency to apply private criteria and standards to the realm of politics, which makes them unpolitical.
In the final analysis, therefore, these alternatives promote a kind of thinking ultimately leading to the destruction of political peace in freedom. People who think in that way fail to realize that political peace in freedom does not merely provide us with an environment in which it is very pleasant to live, but that political peace in freedom is the very prerequisite for a life of human dignity. Where this realization is gradually disappearing and where people cannot visualize the extent to which life under a totalitarian system is devoid of human dignity, a breeding ground develops for those active minorities who merely use the word peace and the longing for peace as a vehicle for asserting their own totalitarian or anarchistic goals that are opposed to freedom. Where the fatal tendency to disregard history is combined with political ignorance, an insufficiently developed ability to make ethical distinctions, as well as the reluctance to fight actively for our common peace order, such minorities can gain an influence that far transcends their real importance.
The chances for overcoming discord
Political reason and ethical responsibility for the common good require us to establish and maintain a balance of forces. That balance is the prerequisite for any sensible efforts to achieve arms control, disarmament and hence political peace, efforts that are sensible because they take account of the interests and the power of those involved. The efforts that must be undertaken and the risks involved constitute a less heavy burden than the efforts and hazards resulting from a perpetuation, or even aggravation, of the existing imbalance to the disadvantage of the West. Furthermore, a policy conducted along such lines offers the best chance of arriving at an international community that, starting at the roots, might prove capable of mastering the dangerous dilemma of making peace secure in a long-term process of change. This objective must be pursued energetically and through credible means.
In this connection, the urgently needed co-operation with the countries of the Third World as partners takes on added significance. The greater the success of that cooperation, the greater its contribution towards stabilizing international peace will be. The more political tensions in the East-West conflict are eliminated or at least reduced, resulting in a corresponding controlled reduction in arms expenditure, the greater the chances of channeling additional funds to the developing world. The present situation, in which the Eastern bloc countries taken together spend less on development aid than the Federal Republic of Germany alone, not least because of their disproportionate arms efforts, is unacceptable and gives rise to new conflicts that pose a threat to peace. Peace research, too, should help to clarify these facts and contribute to long-term changes in international relations.
The Federal Republic of Germany has, from the very beginning, committed itself to this comprehensive peace policy aimed at maintaining freedom and the rule of law, as well as at the development of a world-wide solidarity among states excluding no one, and it has made its position clear in numerous agreements and statements. This is evidenced by the unconditional ban on any preparations for a war of aggression, laid down in Article 26 of the Basic Law; the Federal Republic’s entry into the European Community; its integration into the North Atlantic Alliance, the purely defensive character of which is borne out by its concept, structure and capabilities; its commitment to the renunciation of the use of force; its renunciation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons as set down no less than 27 year ago; and its untiring efforts to achieve detente and arms limitation. Nor must it be forgotten that it constitutes a considerable achievement towards peace to have integrated millions of expellees in a manner which did not transform them into a reservoir of revenge and violence, which would have created a factor of permanent instability in Europe.
Thus the Federal Republic of Germany, together with its allies, has laid an important foundation for a stable peace in Europe and has become an indispensable component of the Western order of peace in freedom. For many years governments and parliamentarians have time and again grappled with the principles underlying this peace order and the resultant consequences. They have taken their decisions to the best of their ability and in accordance with their conscience, working for the good of the free part of Germany and protecting it from harm. The citizens of our country have repeatedly affirmed these decisions in free elections.
Making peace secure is the joint task of all citizens
In a democracy, responsibility for making peace secure rests with all citizens. Hence, politicians must endeavor to explain their policies to the citizens of their country, constantly seeking their active co-operation. These endeavors can only be successful, however, provided that the individual citizen, including in particular the young, is aware of the following: our fatherland is worth our active support in maintaining and defending the state. Regardless of all the imperfections that exist in our country too, there are only few countries that grant their citizens so many rights and so much freedom, that show such respect for their human dignity, and that provide such a large measure of social security. However, the task of making peace secure can only be carried out successfully where the majority of citizens are politically alert and have the will to shape the political order on the basis of human dignity and our fundamental values, and to give their active support to the peace policy. A factor of great importance in this context is an education to peace commencing at an early age, which lays the basis for an effective settlement of conflicts, beginning with the private sphere of life. For peace among nations and individuals is based on each person’s being reconciled with himself and the reality in which he lives. The question of how individual aspects of the peace policy should be realized has to be examined in a comprehensive social dialogue. This dialogue, however, will only serve peace if the goals set and the means used to achieve them are in harmony with each other. Radical moralism, undifferentiated suspicions, aggressiveness instead of dialogue, the manipulation of public opinion and strategies of political coercion, directed in the name of peace towards those in a position of decision-making responsibility, discredit not only the originators of such actions, but the idea of peace in general. The road leading to peace must be travelled in peace. It is particularly in coping with the task of safe-guarding peace in freedom that the responsible use of power by those governing and the trust the people place in representative democracy must jointly prove themselves.