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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 18, 1977


This document was made possible with support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY)

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    In this letter, Faber asks Boskma to write a pamphlet for the Interchurch Peace Council (IKV) about nuclear weapons and to help think about IKV’s strategy against these weapons for an upcoming campaign. Even though direct action is the new and primary strategy for the campaign, writing publications is identified by IKV president Ter Veer as "one of the most important tasks of the peace movement."
    "Letter from Mient Jan Faber to Peter Boskma of the Technical University of Twente," March 18, 1977, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, International Institute for Social History, Amersterdam, Archief Interkerkelijk Vredesberaad, Secretariaat 1977, Box 44.
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The Hague, 18 March 1977 Peter Boskma

Technical University of Twente

Drienerbeeklaan 5


Dear Peter,

Here, summarized, the two requests I presented you last Thursday in Utrecht.

  1. A pamphlet (document) about nuclear weapons

The IKV in the coming Peace Week, 18–25 September 1977, wants to put much emphasis on the issue of nuclear weapons. Incidentally, not only in the coming Peace Week, but also in the longer term; more about that in part II.

I have attached two documents, IKV/1977/23 and 32, with some information about the Peace Week. Please, handle especially IKV/1977/32[1] with confidentiality. With the NCV[2] it once happened to us that a first draft of a paper landed on the front page of NRC-Handelsblad[3] via the NIVV.[4] Hence the opening remarks: plenty of wreckers!

Furthermore I have attached a little booklet, written by Röling,[5] to illustrate what kind of brochure I am thinking about (in terms of design).

My fairly unorganized thoughts about the structure of a brochure on nuclear weapons are the following:

  1. the birth of “the bomb”:

- among other things the political situation which accelerated its realization; the use of the bomb; the subsequent trauma (including the American promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy).

  1. the acceptance of “the bomb,” militarily and morally (deterrence)

in the East-West confrontation (Cold War)

in the hands of other nations (England and France) than the two superpowers

(the dangers of) the – mutual – strategy of massive retaliation

first steps toward (negotiation over) limitation; Rapacki etc.

nuclear pacifists etc.

  1. changing conceptions [handwritten marginal comment here: heart of the brochure has to be “tactical nuclear weapons in Europe”]

technological developments (“eigengesetzlichkeit” [autonomy]),

“flexible response” with its new risks è

selective options,

treaties (legitimizing function, etc);

no-first-use discussions, reducing the role of nuclear weapons; disbelief in the factual merit of deterrence; the opposition against and concerns about nuclear weapons in the ‘60s and early ‘70s (reliving the trauma, nuclear energy),

other concepts, defensive deterrence, etc.

  1. recent and future developments (prospects)



does continuing on the current path—logically and consistently—lead to the catastrophe?

can conflicts ever be decided conventionally, as long as there are nuclear weapons around and part of the strategy (expectations of conflict, handling of conflict)

Again, these are no more than very loose ideas: they still have to be structured. Moreover, the themes depend on the material you have at your disposal or are willing still to produce.

Would you like to give it some thought and send me a proposal for an outline soon?

I am betting a little that many of these subjects have in recent years been described by you and only require a somewhat “popularized” translation. But you can tell me whether you think it is practicable or not.

Any better proposal is welcome.

The text needs to be ready for the printer at the end of May, at the latest.

  1. Strategy group nuclear weapons

Papers IKV/1977/23 and 32 show that the IKV wants to focus for a long period of time on the removal of nuclear weapons. A number of justifications have been formulated, about which I would like to hear your opinion:

    1. The Netherlands just joins the nuclear weapons strategy.
    2. There is only talk about nuclear weapons, on fixed tracks, with predetermined switching options, without prospect. Also all the talk about small steps (by Röling) in reality does not get off the fixed tracks.
    3. Specific deviating decisions by the Netherlands are necessary.
    4. The circumstances for such a deviating step are advantageous (p. 3, paper 32).[7]
  • A strategy against nuclear weapons should not be directed at the foreign ministry elite, but at the general public. Motto: “Down with the nuclear weapons, beginning in the Netherlands.”
  • A strategy group needs to be formed to give some structure to the campaign. Task of such a group could be, among other things, to:
  1. collect all possible information about nuclear weapons: where are they to be found in the Neth., what is their role in politics (national and international), etc.
  2. produce pamphlets regularly
  3. plan actions – varying from civil disobedience to lectures.
  4. join other actions (nuclear energy, atomic waste) form local support points
  5. contacts with foreign groups
  6. promote and incite people to take positions
  7. publicity

Composition of the group: people from the areas of:

  • science (physics, psychology, war and peace studies)
  • journalism
  • the peace movement
  • politics?
  • the world of activism
  • VIPs
  • ........

Would you give this idea some thought too and where possible provide specifics? I would be very happy if I got some word already before the 30th, when the working group about the Peace Week meets again.

Good luck and thank you in advance,

Mient Jan Faber

[1] This is document 10, ‘Concept for Peace Week and Peace Paper 1977’.

[2] National Information Committee Peace Issues.

[3] Dutch liberal newspaper.

[4] Dutch Institute for Peace Issues

[5] B.V.A. Röling, director of the Polemological Institute in Groningen.

[6] West European Nuclear Force.

[7] Document 10.


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