The Multinational Monitor


B O O K   R E V I E W

Businessmen, and Greenham Common Women

Two Approaches to Turning Back the Multinational Nuclear Weapons Industry

The Trimtab Factor: How Business Executives Can
Help Solve the Nuclear Weapons Crisis

by Harold Willens
William Morrow and Company, Inc.,
New York, 1984
reviewed by Russell Mokhiber

As a marine intelligence officer trained to speak Japanese, Harold Willens was a firsthand witness to what was left of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the early days of the American occupation of Japan. He wrote to his wife about the incredible destruction caused by the "new bomb." People simply evaporated, he said-"disappeared by suddenly becoming nothing," in the words of one survivor. Buildings were leveled-not simply reduced to rubble, but "transformed to powder I could sift through my fingers."

Willens, a California businessman who was chairman of the California bilateral nuclear freeze campaign that was supported by more than 3.800,000 voters in November 1982, puts forth his case against the nuclear arms race in The Trimtab Factor. His approach is unusual: recognizing that nuclear war would be disastrous for business profits as well as humanity, Willens calls on the business community to take the first step toward ending the nuclear weapons race.

So that his audience won't get discouraged by the task at hand, Willens brings into play Buckminster Fuller's image of a large ocean-going ship travelling at high speed through the water. "In the past, some large ships had, at the trailing edge of the main rudder, another tiny rudder-the trimtab. By exerting a small amount of pressure, one person could easily turn the trimtab. The trimtab then turned the rudder, and the rudder turned the ship. Thus, the trimtab factor demonstrates how the precise application of a small amount of leverage can produce a powerful effect."

Willens urges a step-by-step program of American initiatives aimed at slowing, stopping, and reversing the Soviet-U.S. nuclear arms race. Step one: U.S. suspension of any further testing of nuclear weapons. Step two: a moratorium on the flight testing of nuclear weapons delivery systems. Step three: a moratorium on the deployment of any new nuclear weapons systems. Step four: banning the production of fissionable materials and nuclear weapons.

Multinational corporate executives should enlighten themselves by reading this book. When thinking about nuclear weapons. the executives, and everyone else, could do well by heeding the ancient Chinese proverb quoted in the beginning of The Trim tab Factor: "If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed."

Greenhorn Common: Women at the Wire
edited by Barbara Harford and Sara Hopkins
The Women's Press, London, 1984
reviewed Russel Mokhiber

A different, more personal approach to ending the nuclear arms race is the subject of Greenhorn Common: Women at the Wire, edited by Barbara Harford and Sara Hopkins.

On August 27, 1981, 36 women and four men between the ages of 25 and 80 set out from Cardiff, Wales on a 120 mile walk to Greenham Common, England (50 miles outside London), to protest the then-proposed, now accomplished, deployment of U.S. cruise nuclear missiles at the U.S. Air Force base there. For most of the marchers, taking ten days out of their normal lives to march against nuclear weapons was a radical move, and none of them foresaw the worldwide implications of those first tentative steps they took outside Cardiff. "It just felt like something we had to do," wrote one participant.

What happened when the marchers reached Greenham is now well-known: in order to call attention to what was planned at the base, some of the marchers camped outside the gates in a form of permanent protest. They were joined by others, and the women's camp, which received widespread attention and became an example for others like it around Europe and the U.S., continued for almost three years before military police succeeded in evicting the women early this year.

Written by more than fifty members of the Greenham Common women's peace camp, this book is a celebration of the nonviolent movement that grew out of the 1981 march from Cardiff. The term "Greenham Common women" has become synonymous with direct action-taking simple, personal, direct steps to bring about major social change.

There is a peaceful beauty in this book as women speak about the experience-the initial march; planning tactics for peace, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary; the tensions that grew within the camp as media arrived in droves and as local, regional, national, and military police tried to evict the campers; and non-violent civil disobedience and prison terms.

Here, from the book, are some thoughts from the women at Greenham Common:

"I don't think disarmament is one little thing that you can achieve without other bits of society changing. You won't achieve disarmament unless you remove the desire and need for men to fight.... I think the future rests on women."

"I don't see non-violence as just a tactic. (There is an) accepted lie that violence is more powerful than non-violence and that people can somehow save themselves from violence by taking up arms. Thus, nonviolence is viewed as less valid, less desperate-a sort of liberal pasttime, to be abandoned when the serious struggle begins. I think this is wrong."

"Living at Greenham for nine months had been a political and emotional crash course and an intensive self-questioning and learning time for me. A time of rejection of old ingrained behaviour patterns, a period of gestation enabling me to build confidence in my new self. I hadn't realized what a frightening and intense experience it would be, when I decided to go to Sicily for International Women's Day to join several other women from Greenham and hundreds of women from many different countries in actions against the siting of cruise missiles there. I went because I had become very aware of the multinational nature of the nuclear war machine and my need to denationalise my own ideas about protesting against it."

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