Matthew Evangelista and Neta C. Crawford
For Randy Forsberg, information and argument were power—the power to open and change minds, the power to build a movement. Randy is probably best known as a founder of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, a movement that acknowledged Americans’ fear of nuclear holocaust and articulated the hope that nuclear war could be averted in the 1980s. The Nuclear Freeze movement inspired one of the largest political demonstrations in US history, when up to a million participants rallied in Central Park, New York, on June 12, 1982. This was part of a larger political movement that pushed Ronald Reagan’s administration toward the negotiating table with the Soviet Union, where he collaborated with Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War. The June 12 demonstration was only surpassed in early 2003 when millions of Americans protested the imminent US attack on Iraq. Randy protested that war as well.
Randy epitomized the practice of Habermasian discourse ethics well before Jürgen Habermas theorized it. She believed in evidence, the force of the better argument, the use of reason in the search for truth, and the essential constitutive role in democracy of the commitment to non-violence. But these were more than theoretical commitments. In a life cut short by cancer at the age of 64, Randy pursued a range of interconnected activities in trying to bring about a world without war. She was an analyst of military data, engaging public speaker, prolific writer, director of a research institute, mentor to young researchers and aspiring activists, write-in candidate for the United States Senate, and university professor. In her scholarship and activism, Randy practiced a form of argumentation that engaged the other respectfully and always used her brilliance honestly, without deception, meeting the claims of the other with better arguments. Randy was persistent, precise, and clear. And she had a more than slight streak of perfectionism, which is, in part, why her carefully crafted dissertation took so long to complete and why she intended to revise it before turning it into a book (as she explains in her preface).
In 1997, Randy completed her manuscript, Toward a Theory of Peace: The Role of Moral Beliefs and submitted it as her dissertation, earning her PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Toward a Theory of Peace is an ambitious attempt to identify the conditions under which the institution of war could be brought to an end. It draws on an extensive program of research into the phenomenon that Randy called “socially-sanctioned violence” and focuses on the role of moral beliefs. Aside from excerpts published in an anthology in 2005, just two years before Randy’s death, the work has not been available until the publication of this book, although the year after her dissertation was finished Randy published a related, short pamphlet, Abolishing War, in the form of a dialogue with Elise Boulding, a sociologist and founder of the field of Peace and Conflict Studies.
In our view, this volume marks an important contribution to the literature on social change and especially to the goal of eradicating the scourge of war. It should be of interest not only to scholars but also to activists and ordinary citizens concerned about mass violence, who should welcome this thoughtful, erudite, and well-grounded book. Randy viewed the dissertation as part of a larger project, where she would develop a “theory of the conditions under which world peace might be established and maintained.” Because Randy’s theory of peace was so closely linked to her military analysis and disarmament activism, we devote much of this introduction to summarizing that career, before turning to an overview of the book. The larger theory of peace is implicit in the outline of Randy’s career and the way Randy worked.
Randall Caroline Watson was born in Huntsville, Alabama, in July 1943, which at the time of her birth was rife with racism overlaid by a veneer of Southern charm epitomized by the stately mansions that can still be seen in the center of town. Early on, Randy was taught to memorize her speeches by her father, the well-known Shakespearian and television actor, Douglass Watson. Randy usually spoke without notes and clearly loved the English language. She was educated at Barnard College in New York City, where she majored in English. In her first job after graduating college in 1965, Randy taught English, and throughout her life she was a fierce editor. Randy was always careful to say what she meant and generally meant what she said.
Randy married Gunnar Forsberg in 1967 and moved to Sweden where she began working at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, founded by the Swedish government the year before. SIPRI’s mandate was to contribute to “the understanding of the preconditions for a stable peace and for peaceful solutions of international conflicts.” In many respects that mandate became Randy’s life work. SIPRI tended to focus on data-collection and specialized studies of particular topics related to armament and disarmament, and it soon began and continues today to publish an authoritative yearbook, tracking the trends in various military forces and spending. SIPRI’s guiding principle seems to be that understanding the nature of the problem of armament and war in all its empirical detail is a precondition for doing something about it. That is a principle in which Randy also strongly believed.
Randy soon became an English-language editor at SIPRI and then one of its key researchers. Although she worked on many projects there, two stand out—both as bodies of work of which she was particularly proud, and as representative of themes that she would pursue in her subsequent scholarship and activism.
In the early 1970s Randy prepared a multicountry study of military research and development, the first attempt to assess the overall size of the worldwide military R&D effort. What were her main conclusions? She found that most of the spending on new weapons development was concentrated in some twenty advanced industrial countries, with the efforts of the United States and the Soviet Union dominating the rest. And even though those two countries were engaged in a costly nuclear arms race, the bulk of their spending on research and development—and on procurement as well—was focused on conventional, non-nuclear military forces. In studying the patterns of spending for military R&D and procurement, Randy began to recognize that most of the conventional forces of the United States and the Soviet Union were not oriented toward defense of their national territories, but toward military intervention in foreign countries—and that was their main use. The Soviet Union had launched ground invasions of members of its own alliance, the Warsaw Treaty Organization, in 1956 and 1968, and in December 1979 it invaded neighboring Afghanistan. The United States, with a powerful fleet of aircraft-carrier battle groups and tens of thousands of marines, had launched major interventions in Korea and Vietnam, many smaller invasions in Latin America, and was poised to intervene in the Persian Gulf.
The second major project that Randy pursued at SIPRI was an inventory of the world’s long-range, so-called strategic nuclear weapons, with the emphasis again on the nuclear superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union. Randy’s detailed assessment of the strategic nuclear balance became the world standard, and she continued to prepare the data for publication in the SIPRI yearbooks even after she returned to the United States. What were the main insights she drew from her analysis of the nuclear arms race? First, that it had both a quantitative and qualitative dimension, and second, that the qualitative advances in technology were making weapons more accurate and, when targeted against the weapons of the other side, potentially destabilizing in a crisis. Randy was far from alone in recognizing these features of the nuclear arms race, but she was uniquely thorough in establishing the empirical foundations for her analysis.
At this point, the mid-1970s, one might not have recognized Randy Forsberg as a peace activist. She seemed more like what is sometimes called, with a bit of a pejorative tone, a “bean-counter,” engaged in estimating the numbers, characteristics, and costs of weapons. There is no doubt, however, that Randy was already at this stage committed to the long-term goal of abolishing war, and she was beginning to develop a theory of social change that would underpin her efforts at achieving that goal.
Randy thought she could use more training and more credentials. In 1974 she returned to the United States and enrolled in the graduate program in Defense Studies in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the time it was the preeminent program for training people to go on to civilian careers in the US Defense Department. Randy’s work as a peace activist began at the same time, and thereafter her activist and intellectual careers were closely intertwined. Her application to MIT captures the beginning of what became a forty-year intellectual and activist journey: “In 1967...I took what I thought would be a temporary job at SIPRI. In half a year of typing manuscripts, I was exposed to information on international relations and on the arms race which put an end to my previous tendency to avoid politics and ignore social problems.”
Randy’s understanding of war was very much informed by her empirical research, while her prescription of what to do about it stemmed from an evolving theory of social change which was, itself, influenced by her own experience as a scholar-activist. That theory of change finds its fullest exposition in this book, but her application to MIT shows that her views were already forming:
I think that the use of physical force is a primitive and undesirable form of behavior, on the social as well as the individual level. I favor more equitable distribution of wealth, power and opportunity, both within and among nations, but I think that the use of violence in this context is also undesirable and unnecessary. I believe that constructive social change, including the rejection of the use of military force as a political tool and a greater generosity of the haves toward the have-nots, can be brought about by education, information and persuasion, over a very long time span.
A couple of years after Randy started her graduate studies at MIT, Fred Kaplan, who later became a prominent journalist of military affairs for the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and then the online magazine Slate, enrolled in the PhD program. Kaplan once described the Defense Studies approach as “entirely analytical; we learned how to do the calculations of nuclear deterrence, force requirements, that sort of thing. It offered very little in the way of history or political analysis.” Nevertheless, Randy and Fred, who shared a critical orientation toward mainstream US military policy, both valued the training they received at MIT. Randy would later recommend the program to student activists who wanted to pursue further study of military policy, including Brian Burgoon, Neta Crawford, Natalie Goldring, Laura Reed, and Taylor Seybolt (who later worked at SIPRI).
One of the more influential teachers in the MIT program was William Kaufmann, a consultant to the US Department of Defense. Kaufmann was the embodiment of US military policy. He was known to have been the main (anonymous) author of more than a decade of the annual reports of the Secretary of Defense, through both Democratic and Republican administrations. Kaufmann taught two key courses in the MIT program, one on conventional forces and one on nuclear forces.
Randy (and also Fred Kaplan) came to see the analytical separation between these two types of forces as a hindrance to understanding how US military policy actually worked. It was during this period of the second half of the 1970s that Randy developed a crucial insight into the dynamics of the arms race: that nuclear disarmament would be impossible without dramatic reductions in conventional forces, and in particular their use for long-range military intervention. Partly this insight reflected explicit US policy: In the (however unlikely) event of a possible Soviet military invasion of Europe, the United States vowed to use nuclear weapons to defend its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization if conventional forces proved inadequate. But the United States did not limit consideration of use of nuclear weapons to Europe alone; it also retained the ability to escalate to nuclear use in the course of a conventional war in Asia or the Middle East, in part as a threat to keep other powers from trying to hinder US military action in those places, and in pursuit of a policy of “extended deterrence” in defense of allies. Randy came to see that a campaign to limit or eliminate nuclear weapons would fail if it did not acknowledge how closely such weapons were intertwined with overall US military strategy.
Randy’s critique of nuclear weapons and foreign military intervention brought together two major strands of the US peace movement in the wake of the Vietnam War: the nuclear disarmers and the anti-interventionists. In 1979, in a book called The Price of Defense, she sought to bring those strands together in a practical proposal for the reform of US military forces. The book was the product of collaborative work with colleagues in the Cambridge area, known as the Boston Study Group. In a manner that was typical of Randy’s inclusive style, the Boston Study Group included a range of participants, including Philip Morrison, the Manhattan project physicist and MIT professor, and Paul Walker, a fellow MIT graduate, US Army veteran, and Harvard research scholar, who had worked at the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. The Price of Defense reflected the training Randy had received in William Kaufmann’s courses and could be read as an alternative to the annual report of the Secretary of Defense. It went carefully through each component of the US military system in order to propose major restructuring and reductions with the goal of creating a non-interventionary conventional force and a minimum nuclear deterrent. The book’s language was accessible, and its authors argued that its proposals were “not only safe, but actually safer than the present policy, even if there is no corresponding change in other countries.”
In some respects, the timing of the book could not have been better. The Vietnam War had finally ended just a few years earlier, and Americans were tired of foreign military adventures. Negotiations with the Soviet Union on strategic nuclear forces had been underway for about a decade, but they had not made much progress. There was considerable sentiment in favor of more dramatic reductions, as President Jimmy Carter had promised in his successful campaign in the 1976 elections. In another respect, however, the timing of the book’s publication could not have been worse. Nineteen seventy-nine was the year the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and the nuclear arms race took an upturn, as the United States proposed to deploy new nuclear weapons in Europe to counter a category of Soviet weapons that were not covered by the ongoing strategic arms talks. Carter lost the presidential election of 1980 in favor of Ronald Reagan, and instead of winding down the arms race, the United States embarked on a major acceleration of military spending and a more confrontational approach to the Soviet Union. The Boston Study Group project, nevertheless, had an important influence on how Randy envisioned a step-by-step approach to disarmament and it shaped her agenda for change in the coming years.
In 1980, Randy took a leave of absence from MIT to focus on the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies (IDDS), a small think tank she founded in 1979. IDDS was located in two small rooms in a modest office building on Harvard Street in Brookline, Massachusetts, just a few blocks away from her apartment on Longwood Avenue. Randy’s vision for IDDS was to “study the nature and purposes of military forces in order to identify obstacles to and opportunities for disarmament.” Its projects would “develop new types of information and analysis which are critical to the success of efforts for arms control and disarmament.” The Institute’s staff quickly grew, and so did the burden of managing the payroll and other expenses. But as hard as it was to keep a new institution afloat, the Institute embodied Randy’s theory of change: create a popular movement around the goal of confining the military to defense, cultivate new interest in new approaches to defense and disarmament among experts and journalists, and develop new curricula to help people understand military policy and prepare them to make informed choices about it.
The Reagan administration’s military programs, combined with its seemingly cavalier attitude about the consequences of nuclear war, provided an opportunity for reviving the peace movement. Randy had already been circulating among peace organizations a proposal known as “A Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race.” It became the basis for the Nuclear Freeze campaign. This was another example of Randy’s scholarship influencing her activism. From her work at SIPRI on the nuclear arms race, Randy knew that the most dynamic element of the competition was the development, testing, and deployment of new systems—activities that easily outpaced the slow course of negotiations. From her study of US military policy, she recognized that the most dangerous weapons were the ones intended to create a so-called war-fighting capability—nuclear weapons that would pose a credible threat of a nuclear first strike escalation during a conventional war, and would thus make it more likely that a conventional war could trigger a nuclear holocaust.
The bilateral US-Soviet Nuclear Freeze was an attractive intermediate goal. It was an alternative to the demand for complete and immediate nuclear disarmament, but more ambitious than a campaign to stop a particular new nuclear weapons system, such as the MX missile or the B-1 bomber.
Many of the ordinary people who came to support the Nuclear Freeze were mainly concerned about the nuclear threat, not the link between conventional and nuclear forces—and there were a lot of those people. At the height of the movement in the early 1980s, there were some 5,000 local Freeze organizations, with tens of thousands of members. The Freeze initiative appeared on ballots in 25 states, winning in all but one, and in 59 out of 62 municipal referenda. And, more important, people had to see for themselves what they could do to promote an end to the arms race.
Randy set up a clearinghouse of information about the Freeze and anti-nuclear activism at the Institute and instructed Mark Niedergang, who was then the staff person for the Freeze campaign, not to tell activists seeking advice what they should do to promote the Freeze, but to help them discover for themselves what they could do. By providing a clearinghouse for information about Freeze activism all over the country, Randy thus nourished rather than guided the movement. The flexibility allowed activists to tailor their efforts to local conditions and also to keep their sense of agency and enthusiasm high. No one had to give up a pre-existing agenda to join the effort, and the Freeze campaign thus grew from its roots in Massachusetts to a nationwide campaign with links to many older anti-nuclear organizations.
The Freeze took off politically in the early 1980s, not only as a ballot initiative but also as proposed legislation in the US Congress. The Freeze became a factor in the 1984 presidential campaign, with most of the Democratic presidential contenders, including the party’s nominee, Walter Mondale, supporting it.
Randy thought it a mistake to politicize the Freeze at such an early stage of the public campaign, to make it captive to Washington politics before a more substantial grassroots effort had developed. In retrospect, she seems to have been right. No sooner had the Freeze turned into a legislative proposal than certain politicians attacked it as an extreme position and sought to introduce more “moderate” and “responsible” alternatives. Several senators, including Albert Gore of Tennessee, endorsed the oxymoronic “build down” proposal. Instead of stopping nuclear production and deployment, as the Freeze required, the United States would build a new mobile, single-warhead missile system—the so-called Midgetman—that would ostensibly be more stabilizing. The problem was that the Reagan administration was happy to build the new system, as long as it could continue to build the destabilizing multiple-warhead MX missiles that it really wanted—and the “build down” proponents acquiesced to that deal. The efforts by Gore and others to invent a centrist position between the “extreme” of the Freeze proposal and the grandiose plans of the Reagan administration only made matters worse, as Randy had feared.
Many of the Freeze activists understandably felt a sense of urgency, and politicians were eager to capitalize on that. But Randy’s emerging vision of successful social change was a long-term one. Such change required a more fundamental transformation in people’s moral beliefs about war and weapons than could be carried out by a single campaign, even one as popular as the Freeze. The transformation had to be sufficiently robust not to be undermined by the usual machinations of opportunistic politicians.
An important component of Randy’s disarmament strategy entailed efforts to engage not only the general public but also the community of experts on military affairs. She maintained good relations with mainstream defense intellectuals at Harvard and MIT and in Washington. In the case of the Nuclear Freeze, for example, it was not only a matter of mobilizing popular support. Randy also won over establishment figures, such as John Steinbruner of the Brookings Institution, who endorsed the bilateral Freeze. She was particularly pleased at the opportunity to present the case for the Freeze in the magazine Scientific American in November 1982. With an international readership of specialists and laypeople, Scientific American maintained a tradition of presenting technical expositions of key issues related to the arms race, such as nuclear testing and antiballistic missile systems, often combined with innovative proposals for arms control. By inviting Randy to lay out the case for the Freeze, the editors were welcoming her into the ranks of such luminaries as Hans Bethe and Richard Garwin, and recognizing her credibility before both popular and expert audiences. In January 1983, arms control experts, politicians (including then members of Congress Al Gore and Ed Markey) and leaders of anti-nuclear organizations, attended a meeting at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences to discuss the Freeze proposal in technical, strategic and political terms. Randy received further acknowledgment when she was granted a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” award in 1983; funds from the award, distributed over five years, allowed her to continue to expand IDDS.
Despite the popular success of the Freeze, Randy’s scholarly analysis told her that nuclear disarmament would not be possible without dealing with conventional forces as well. In 1984 she published an article in the World Policy Journal called “The Freeze and Beyond: Confining the Military to Defense as a Route to Disarmament.” This was the most thorough statement to date of her understanding of how disarmament and an end to war could come about. At the same time, she was developing a theory of social change—the subject of this book—that informed her understanding of how the Freeze campaign and subsequent disarmament efforts should proceed. Randy wrote the first draft of what became the “Confining the Military to Defense” article in the summer of 1979, more than four years before the final version was published. The draft, much longer than the published version, is available in the IDDS archives at Cornell University, and it contains an important passage illuminating her thinking:
[A] difficult aspect of disarmament is that it cannot be accomplished in a single stroke, like the US withdrawal from Vietnam or the ending of above-ground nuclear tests. In this respect, its closest precedent is not the recent victories of the peace movement, but the nineteenth-century abolition of slavery. The abolition of slavery was an equally profound social change, which ended an ancient, pernicious, widespread institution after more than a century of protest and opposition.
There are two features of Randy’s theory of social change which are worth highlighting, as they were evident already at this early stage: First, such change takes a long time; it is measured in centuries rather than years. Second, change must be pursued in a step-by-step approach, with each step accomplishing something valuable in itself and encouraging further action.
Contrary to what some of its critics on the left implied, the Freeze was never intended to be permanent. This was also a point of misunderstanding with the European Nuclear Disarmament (END) movement, which had emerged as a major force in the early 1980s. Many European activists favored the de-nuclearization of Western Europe, by unilateral means if necessary, and viewed the Freeze proposal as a barrier to that goal. Randy worked hard to maintain good relations with European peace activists, and it helped that one of the leaders of END, Mary Kaldor, was a fellow SIPRI veteran. Randy’s European contacts extended beyond the antinuclear movement into the community of experts working on issues of conventional-force restructuring and the theory of non-offensive defense—approaches quite compatible with Randy’s way of thinking.
For Randy and its other supporters, the Freeze did not reflect a satisfaction with the status quo. It was a necessary first step towards reductions, and it was appealing in its simplicity. As Randy put it in her 1984 article, “Because people despair of ever achieving the ultimate goal of a disarmed peace, it would be extremely difficult to motivate widespread popular efforts for change without a set of powerfully attractive intermediate goals, each desirable in its own right.”
As a by-product of her work on the Freeze and her efforts to promote it, Randy helped develop an extensive network of national and international contacts. With strategic foresight and typical generosity, she devoted some of the resources of her Institute to provide a “public good”—a series of publications listing all of the known peace-related activist groups and educational programs in the United States and beyond so that activists and students could form networks and become more effective in the promotion of peace.
Highlighting the long-term objectives of Randy’s disarmament strategy is not to understate the influence of the Freeze campaign and other activist efforts. Consider the demonstration that attracted between 750,000 and a million people to Central Park in June 1982 in support of the Freeze, where Randy gave one of her most moving and effective public speeches. A strong argument can be made that the antinuclear sentiment that brought people to such events produced an impact on public policy. It probably reinforced the antinuclear tendencies in Ronald Reagan himself. It likely made him more open to the initiatives that the reformist Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev offered in the area of nuclear disarmament just a few years later. As far as Gorbachev is concerned, we have good evidence that he was emboldened by the anti-nuclear movement in the United States and Western Europe to pursue the unilateral initiatives of restraint that captured the public imagination and convinced the NATO alliance to bring the Cold War to a peaceful end.
Randy was especially active during the 1980s in promoting some of the ideas that the reformist Soviet leadership later came to champion. Take, for example, the unilateral reductions and defensive restructuring of Soviet conventional forces that Gorbachev announced at the United Nations in December 1988. They bear a strong family resemblance to Randy’s proposal for “confining the military to defense” and the kindred work that she pursued with European colleagues. She had been promoting non-offensive defense for years in her visits to the USSR and in her meetings with Soviet colleagues elsewhere, and the idea eventually found a sympathetic ear in Gorbachev and his civilian advisers on military affairs. And, as Randy predicted, the dramatic reduction in the conventional military threat from the East paved the way for reductions in the nuclear threat.
The end of the East-West arms race suggested that Randy’s scholarship over the course of two decades had produced the correct diagnosis of the problem and her activism helped to fill the prescription.
Randy was never sanguine about the risk of war, even as she recognized a secular decline in violence over time. In the 1990s, despite the peaceful end of the Cold War, she was still concerned about the persistence of war as an institution. She responded in three ways that by now should sound familiar: 1) with data collection or “bean counting;” 2) with activism; and 3) with scholarship. Running her Institute on a shoestring budget, she and her staff of mainly student interns continued collecting data on weapons and negotiations, as she published the monthly Arms Control Reporter and compiled the World Weapon Database.
Randy also launched a major multinational research project, called the International Fighter Study, which resulted in 1994 in the book, The Arms Production Dilemma. In some ways related to the earlier IDDS World Weapon Database project that had produced books on Soviet missiles and Soviet military aircraft, this initiative betrayed broader ambitions. As Randy wrote in the forward to the 1994 volume, in the wake of the end of the Cold War arms race “the industrial nations’ shared security interests have created an unprecedented opportunity to develop security policies based on cooperation instead of competition or confrontation.” Yet she recognized “serious obstacles to East-West and North-South cooperation in military security matters,” including the perceived need to maintain a military-industrial base in the event of deterioration of the international environment and the pressure on governments to continue military production in the interest of employment. Randy anticipated that even if countries could maintain adequate force levels without manufacturing new weapons, they might continue to do so to promote arms exports. By recruiting national experts to assess the state of the military aircraft industry in the main arms-producing countries—Russia, the United States, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and Sweden—Randy sought to provide the basis for realistic assessments of military requirements and to make the case that arms exports were not necessary for national defense during a period of unprecedented world peace. Moreover, given the likelihood that exporting arms to the remaining few conflict zones would only exacerbate the risk of war, she favored a moratorium on weapons exports, coupled with her by now familiar emphasis on “non-offensive defense” and limits on offensive capabilities. As she concluded the study:
The linked issues concerning reductions on forces and limits on production and trade may be more complex than the topics of other arms control agendas. But the stakes are much higher. Over a decade, several hundred billion dollars could be saved and new global and regional arms races could be prevented. The role of force in the international system could be transformed.
As we know, history took a different course. In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the United States launched two major wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq. The costs of those wars, documented in the Costs of War project, continue to mount beyond what anyone could have imagined for a world in which armed conflict between major military powers seems a thing of the past. Randy did not live long enough to lead a revived peace movement to oppose the excesses of wars launched in the name of counterterrorism. She did, however, along with Saul Mendlovitz and Jonathan Dean, develop a proposal called Global Action to Prevent War, an attempt to create a worldwide coalition to abolish war and armed conflict. And in 2002, in her first and only effort to seek electoral office, she ran a write-in campaign against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in protest against his refusal to oppose the George W. Bush administration’s rush to war against Iraq on specious grounds. Without her name even on the ballot, she garnered over 22,000 votes.
Toward a Theory of Peace is divided into two parts, the first making an argument about how to achieve the abolition of war, which Randy theorizes as an instance of a larger class of human behavior, “socially-sanctioned large group violence.” Randy argues that there were only a few other historical practices that fit in that category: human sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, slavery, and lethal corporal punishment for violations of law or custom. The second part of the book, the analysis of socially-sanctioned violence, delves into a vast secondary literature in psychology, anthropology, archeology, and history, among other disciplines. Contrary to theories that posit an innate human tendency toward aggression, she argues that most people manifest a moral revulsion against violence—a sentiment that social institutions reinforce. All of these practices, some in existence for hundreds or thousands of years, were eventually eradicated, albeit over long periods of time, as moral beliefs about them changed. Cannibalism, human sacrifice, and slavery became abhorrent and unthinkable. Randy observed that
The key aspect of these precedents for the abolition of war is the character of the moral rejection of the practice that developed not before but after each was abandoned, and the role of that much deeper moral rejection in preventing a future recurrence. In every case, once a previously sanctioned form of violence was banned, people developed an abhorrence of the practice that was deeply internalized, virtually universally shared, and constantly reinforced by a myriad of cultural signals.
These examples are both precedents for the abolition of forms of socially-sanctioned violence and illustrations of the process by which war might end, through the institutionalization of moral beliefs. Thus, Randy shows that there is nothing inherent or inevitable about war as a social practice: it is possible to limit and eventually end war. By examining past instances of socially-sanctioned violence—practices treated as normal and even beneficial at the time—Randy highlighted the role of changing moral beliefs in eventually stigmatizing those behaviors and rendering them unacceptable.
While Part II could arguably stand on its own as an important contribution to our understanding of socially-sanctioned violence in human history, most readers are likely more interested in Part I, which contains Randy’s analysis of ending war. Here Randy explains how she thinks norms change, how war as a form of socially-sanctioned violence could end, and why, by comparison to other approaches, her approach is likely to be more effective in promoting the end of war.
There are really two interrelated claims in her argument about ending war. The first is that for war to end, predominant moral beliefs about the use of force must change so that the only form of socially-sanctioned violence is for defense against aggression. She calls this a democratic commitment to non-violence, which she shortens to defensive non-violence. The second claim is about the process of change in moral beliefs over the long run, which she describes as interactive, involving feedback loops. These are rich, sophisticated arguments, and we can only highlight some of the main points in this introduction.
Randy’s arguments about the content of the moral beliefs about socially-sanctioned violence are innovative. For Randy, the key shift that would enable humans to abolish war would be the adoption of the view that the only justified and just use of deadly force is for self-defense. For international war to end, a democratic commitment to non-violence must be held by a number of core states. The commitment to defense will then gradually spread across the globe.
One of the most interesting aspects of this discussion is how it links democracy and non-violence. Specifically, Randy argues, democratic states have already internalized and institutionalized the commitment to non-violence, except in self-defense. In a sense, Randy offers a new definition of democracy, one that emphasizes its core commitment. Randy argues, “democratic institutions have prompted, or paralleled, a growing rejection of violence as a means of achieving political or economic ends within and between nations.” Democracy and a commitment to non-violence are thus mutually constitutive:
[C]ommitment to non-violence lies at the core of democratic institutions…. Commitment to non-violence protects and preserves freedom of expression and other civil liberties by precluding intimidation or coercion by violence or the threat of violence. Within democracies, wherever non-violence is not the rule...other democratic rights and freedoms are lost or severely compromised.
By tracing the link between democratic norms and non-violence, Randy shows how a commitment to non-violence is essential for democratic institutions and international peace.
But not all states have to be democratic for the transition to peace to occur. With enough states committed to democracy, they can individually, or through an international institution such the United Nations, react to aggressive states, demonstrating that offensive war will not be tolerated. This is in line with Randy’s view that the world need not be perfect for war to end. Randy theorized that the core of a moral rejection of war would come in accordance with what she called the “least-change” criterion. Start by limiting the legitimate use of military force to one purpose—defense against aggression. The iterative process would occur over a long “period of transition, in which many aspects of politics and moral belief undergo flux and change.” She assumed “that there is a continuous interaction, mutual modification among political institutions, economic organization, a culture’s ‘world view’ (general values and assumptions about the nature of the world and the important features of human life) and moral views about violent behavior.”
There are certainly aspects of the dissertation that Randy would have further developed. These were explicit in other contexts and implicit in the way she conducted her work. For instance, although Randy does not emphasize it in this book, she was keenly aware of how war undermined democratic norms and institutions. Further, her dissertation was completed before the Responsibility to Protect doctrine was articulated and ultimately adopted by the United Nations. Indeed, she anticipates some of the impulses behind the Responsibility to Protect. In some respects, the doctrine—to the extent it anticipates the use of armed force to prevent genocide and mass atrocities—offers a challenge to Randy’s proposal to “confine the military to defense.” Had she lived, she would have set herself the task of surmounting such challenges, perhaps with a proposal to create a genuine UN military force to be used only in extreme cases when populations were threatened with mass violence.
Randy also comments on the democratic peace theory as it had developed through the 1990s, suggesting her agreement with Bruce Russett’s emphasis on democratic norms of non-violent dispute resolution as an explanation for the fact that states that recognize each other as democracies rarely come into armed conflict. She was not, however, able to react to the empirical trends in the decline of war that Joshua Goldstein and Steven Pinker, among others, have described. Randy would have found much to argue with in Azar Gat’s War and Human Civilization, and much of interest in the work of Andrew Linklater, who builds on the research of Norbert Elias, someone who also influenced Randy’s thinking. Finally, Randy would have been interested to engage the work of Kwame Anthony Appiah on the role of moral beliefs. His 2010 book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen, resembles Randy’s Toward a Theory of Peace in its focus on moral beliefs and in its use of historical examples—in his case, the demise of dueling in early 19th century England; the end of foot-binding of Chinese women at the beginning of the 20th century; the abolition of slavery in the British empire; and the still-incomplete campaign against mistreatment of women in contemporary Pakistan. Randy’s emphasis on putting her scholarly efforts to the task of developing a strategy for the abolition of war distinguishes Toward a Theory of Peace from these other works, but engagement with them could have bolstered her own study. Nevertheless, this book is enormously rich as it stands.
Randy’s activism and scholarship as the director of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies also suggest how her work would have developed. It is likely that she would have, for example, further developed her theory of the process of belief change. Her own life’s work suggests she thought both practical and normative arguments were important factors, along with the mobilization of social movements and the institutionalization of small steps along the way. This is not unlike the theory Neta Crawford developed in Argument and Change in World Politics when trying to understand the end of slavery and colonialism. In fact, Crawford’s participation in the anti-nuclear movement and by then two decades of working with Randy undoubtedly inspired the analysis in her own book. Where Randy and Crawford differ is in Crawford’s more comprehensive discussion of the process of change. Both see an important role in changing normative/moral beliefs as a route to change and are attentive to long-term processes, which may play out over decades and centuries. Crawford, who paid attention to the substantive arguments of anti-slavery and anti-colonial activists and their movement tactics, is more explicit about how normative beliefs and practices change. Change occurs through processes of persuasion, social mobilization, and the institutionalization of small gains, so that arguments that recur over the longue durée can begin at new starting points that take for granted the criticisms and alternative formulations that previous generations of activists gained through their work.
Randy believed in the power of a democratic mobilization that was the consequence of public deliberation. In her own work, that deliberation was informed by the knowledge produced by all of the data-gathering, analysis, public education, and careful argumentation she pursued, and the work of IDDS was about arming the general public with information and convincing experts that there was an alternative to the way things had always been done. Indeed, much of Randy’s approach to her work and the creation of a sustainable movement for peace embodies an explicit and implicit theory of argument, deliberation, persuasion, and social change that parallels the work on communicative action and the discourse ethical approach to deliberation articulated by Jürgen Habermas, a member of the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory.
To greatly simplify, like Randy, Habermas is a theorist of democracy, and democracy is non-violent. Specifically, Habermas argues that a society which seeks to solve social problems non-violently depends on communication of a specific sort—characterized by a search for truth and consensus. There are three aspects of Habermas’ theories of communicative action, democratic deliberation, and discourse ethics that are relevant for understanding the underlying logic of Randy’s approach to change. First, Habermas sought to understand how people could, ideally, come to consensus if we take the use of force off the table and require that people come to decisions through a process of communicative action. This is an ideal typical form of discourse ethical deliberation. Second, Habermas was concerned to understand how it is that people become competent in the first place to participate in discourse ethical deliberation. Only speakers with what he described as communicative competence would be able to fully participate in discourse ethical deliberation and come to a reasoned consensus. And third, Habermas sought to explain how democracy came about and was deepened by the development of a public sphere, a space for citizens to engage in democratic deliberation outside government.
For Habermas, communicative competence is the ability of a speaker to fulfill the validity obligations of speech in communicative action: comprehensibility, truth, normative “rightness,” and truthfulness. Comprehensibility is the minimum condition, the ability to produce grammatically correct sentences. The speaker should also be saying what is true in a factual sense. Normative rightness is the idea that whatever normative claims the speaker makes are considered normatively valid by the community. This depends on a social consensus about deeper moral beliefs, such as thou shalt not kill. Finally, speakers must truthfully represent their beliefs and intentions. People engaged in an argument have to be able to back up their assertions with evidence, and when they are wrong about a fact or the logical conclusions they have drawn, they should admit it and change their position. Habermas suggests that while it is possible for some of us to lie, some of the time, a society where all lie cannot function because there is no basis for trust; communicative action presumes sincerity. The table below summarizes these claims and their relation to the content of speech.
Randy cited Habermas’ theory of communicative action in her dissertation, but more than that, she embodied it in her work. Discourse ethics takes force off the table; only the force of the better argument is allowed and force is only allowed in cases of self-defense. Randy’s theory of getting to a world without war takes offensive force off the table. More than that, her form of analysis, argument, and political mobilization also exemplified discourse ethics. The work of the Institute and Randy’s own work depended not on scaring people into agreement, or on glossing over details and dazzling audiences with incomprehensible data, but on convincing citizens, experts, and journalists with well-crafted arguments. Randy and the staff of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies sought to increase and deepen public understanding about intervention, war, military forces, budgets, and industry so that it was possible for citizens to make informed choices about US foreign policy. In this effort, she made her work comprehensible and truthful, and she sought to hold her interlocutors in the military, arms control, and disarmament communities to a high standard of comprehensibility and truthfulness. She was careful to back up her claims with evidence, and to make sure others backed up their claims. Her work to educate the general public thus helped to constitute not only communicatively competent citizens but strengthened the public sphere.
Randy Forsberg’s contributions to the cause of peace over her 40-year career were substantial. The Nuclear Freeze movement, even though it failed in its immediate goal of a bilateral halt to development, production, and deployment of new US and Soviet nuclear weapons, did influence the climate of public opinion and motivated officials in both countries to negotiate more seriously—ultimately leading to extensive nuclear reductions. Randy’s work, in collaboration with European and Soviet specialists, on non-offensive defense also contributed to the initiatives that Mikhail Gorbachev promoted to end the armed division of Europe. Despite these accomplishments, it is possible that Randy’s most enduring legacy could be as a theorist of social change, who put forward in Toward a Theory of Peace a plausible case for abolishing war as the last remaining form of large-scale, socially-sanctioned violence. When she died in October 2007, Randy had held the position as the first Anne and Bernard Spitzer Chair in Political Science at The City College of New York for barely a year. She aspired to continue the work she had carried out at the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies and to publish her dissertation and promote her theory of peace. The editors have prepared this ebook version of the dissertation in the hope that it will provide a posthumous contribution to the debate on the causes of war and how to prevent it.
1 The editors, to whom Randy Forsberg was a friend and mentor since the early 1980s, have found it difficult not to call her by her first name, as nearly everyone did. We hope readers will indulge our flouting of academic convention.
2 See Matthew Evangelista, Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999), Mary Kaldor, Global Civil Society: An Answer to War (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2003), and Lawrence S. Wittner, Toward Nuclear Abolition: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1971 to the Present (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003).
3 Jürgen Habermas, “Discourse Ethics: Notes on a Program of Philosophical Justification,” in Moral Consciousness and Communicative Action (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990), pp. 43–115; Jürgen Habermas, Justification and Application: Remarks on Discourse Ethics (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1993).
4 Randall Caroline Watson Forsberg, “Toward a Theory of Peace: The Role of Moral Beliefs,” PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, June 1997; a summary version is available as “Socially-sanctioned and non-sanctioned violence: On the role of moral beliefs in causing and preventing war and other forms of large-group violence,” in Matthew Evangelista, ed., Peace Studies: Critical Concepts in Political Science, 4 vols. (London: Routledge, 2005), vol. I, ch. 5. Elise Boulding and Randall Forsberg, Abolishing War: Dialogue with Peace Scholars Elise Boulding and Randall Forsberg (Boston, MA: Boston Research Center for the 21st Century [now the Ikeda Center], 1998). In a respectful and friendly exchange, Boulding emphasized the role of peace education, whereas Randy stressed changes in institutions and moral beliefs, as in this book.
5 Forsberg, Toward a Theory of Peace: The Role of Moral Beliefs, Preface.
6 Quoted in https://www.sipri.org/about/history.
7 Randall Forsberg, Resources Devoted to Military Research and Development (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1972). Randy’s work on Soviet military R&D set the standard for research on that secretive and difficult topic and engendered much discussion and follow-on research in the US Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Department. See, for example, Comparison of Military Research and Development Expenditures of the United States and the Soviet Union (https://www.gao.gov/assets/80/78897.pdf), a General Accounting Office staff study for the Subcommittee on Research and Development, US Senate Committee on Armed Services, 31 January 1972, which compares the Defense Department’s estimates to those in the 1969 SIPRI Yearbook.
8 Application from archives of Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, quoted in Neta Crawford’s remarks at “The End of War: A Conference in Honor of Randall Forsberg,” City College of New York, 5 May 2008.
11 Christopher Paine, “On the Beach: The Rapid Deployment Force and the Nuclear Arms Race,” MERIP Reports #111 (January 1983).
12 Other contributors were Phyllis Morrison, George Sommaripa, and Martin Moore-Ede.
13 The Boston Study Group, The Price of Defense (New York: Times Books, 1979), republished as Winding Down: The Price of Defense (San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1982).
14 The Boston Study Group, The Price of Defense, p. 11.
15 We are grateful to Judith Reppy for this point.
16 IDDS Brochure, 1984. 2001 Beacon St., Brookline, MA.
17 Lawrence S. Wittner, “The Nuclear Freeze and its Impact” (https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010_12/LookingBack), Arms Control Today, 5 December 2010; Andrew Lanham, “Lessons from the Nuclear Freeze” (https://bostonreview.net/politics/andrew-lanham-lessons-nuclear-freeze), Boston Review, 14 March 2017.
18 See David S. Meyer, A Winter of Discontent: The Nuclear Freeze and American Politics (New York: Praeger, 1990); Wittner, Toward Nuclear Abolition.
19 John Steinbruner, “Fears of War, Programs for Peace,” The Brookings Review, vol. 1, no. 1 (Fall 1982): 6–10.
20 Randall Forsberg, “A Bilateral Nuclear Weapons Freeze,” Scientific American (November 1982).
21 American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Nuclear Weapons Freeze and Arms Control: Proceedings of a Symposium held at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, January 13–15, 1983 (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1983).
22 Randall Forsberg, “The Freeze and Beyond: Confining the Military to Defense as a Route to Disarmament.” World Policy Journal, vol. 1, no. 2 (1984). For a video clip of Randy describing the relationship between nuclear and conventional forces, see http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_F6CC542AF94B434FBC7E1DBE45F07024.
23 Forsberg, “Confining the Military to Defense: A Sensible and Popular Route to Disarmament,” first draft, September 1979, Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, Brookline, MA, p. 7. Institute For Defense And Disarmament Studies Records, 1974-2007 (http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/EAD/htmldocs/RMM08588.html), Collection Number 8588, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library, Box 8, Folder 20.
24 Kaldor, then at the University of Sussex, invited Forsberg to engage in a published discussion about contradictions and compatibilities between END and the Freeze in a periodical published there. See Randall Forsberg, Matthew Evangelista, and Mark Niedergang, “END and a Nuclear Weapon Freeze,” ADIU Report [Armament and Disarmament Information Unit, Sussex, England], July/August 1981.
25 Evangelista, Unarmed Forces, pp. 310–315.
26 Forsberg, “The Freeze and Beyond,” p. 313.
27 Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, American Peace Directory 1984 (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Books, 1984), ed. by Melinda Fine and Peter M. Stevens; Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, Peace Resource Book: A Comprehensive Guide to the Issues, Organizations, and Literature (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger Books, 1986); an updated version was edited by Carl Conetta and published by Ballinger in 1988. The Institute also produced a periodical newsletter, Defense and Disarmament News, from 1985 to 1988.
28 Jeffrey W. Knopf, Domestic Society and International Cooperation: The Impact of Protest on U.S. Arms Control Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998); Knopf, “Did Reagan Win the Cold War?” Strategic Insights, vol. 3, issue 8 (August 2004); Wittner, Toward Nuclear Abolition; Meyer, A Winter of Discontent.
29 Randall Forsberg, “Parallel Cuts in Nuclear and Conventional Forces,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (August 1985).
30 Randall Forsberg, ed., The Arms Production Dilemma: Contraction and Restraint in the World Combat Aircraft Industry (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1994).
31 Barton Wright, Soviet Missiles (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1986); Neta Crawford, Soviet Military Aircraft (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1987).
32 Forsberg, Arms Production Dilemma, pp. 2–3.
33 Forsberg, Arms Production Dilemma, pp. 289–290.
35 “Global Action to Prevent War,” reprinted in Matthew Evangelista, ed., Peace Studies: Critical Concepts in Political Science, 4 vols. (London: Routledge, 2005), vol. IV, ch. 59, and in various versions on the web.
36 Dennis Hevesi, “Randall Forsberg, 64, Nuclear Freeze Advocate, Dies,” New York Times, 26 October 2007.
37 Forsberg, Toward a Theory of Peace, section 2.2.
38 Forsberg, Toward a Theory of Peace, section 2.1.
39 Forsberg, Toward a Theory of Peace, sections 2.1 and 2.2.
40 Forsberg, Toward a Theory of Peace, section 2.2.
41 Forsberg, Toward a Theory of Peace, section 2.2.
42 Forsberg, Toward a Theory of Peace, section 2.1.
43 Forsberg, Toward a Theory of Peace, section 2.2.
44 See Bruce Russett, Grasping the Democratic Peace: Principles for a Post-Cold War World (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993); Joshua S. Goldstein, Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide (http://winningthewaronwar.com/) (New York: Dutton, 2011); Steven Pinker, The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (New York: Viking, 2011).
45 Azar Gat, War and Human Civilization (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); Andrew Linklater, The Problem of Harm in World Politics: Theoretical Investigations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Andrew Linklater, Violence and Civilization in the Western States-System (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994).
46 Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen (New York: W. W. Norton, 2010).
47 Neta C. Crawford, Argument and Change in World Politics: Ethics, Decolonization and Humanitarian Intervention (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
48 Jürgen Habermas, “What is Universal Pragmatics?” in Jürgen Habermas (translated by Thomas McCarthy), Communication and the Evolution of Society (Boston: Beacon Press, 1979), pp. 1–68. Also see Jürgen Habermas, (translated by Thomas McCarthy), The Theory of Communicative Action, vols. 1 and 2 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984 and 1987), and Jürgen Habermas, Between Facts and Norms: Contributions to a Discourse Theory of Law and Democracy (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996).
49 See Habermas, “What is Universal Pragmatics?” pp. 26–29.