To work toward a world without nuclear weapons, how should we proceed? Should we demand the immediate elimination of these weapons, or should we proceed slowly by building trust and better international relations so that we first eliminate the mass psychological need for nuclear deterrence?
Beatrice Fihn and her organization, ICAN, believe that we should begin with a demand that all nations, regardless of their strengths, vulnerabilities and influence, should disarm immediately. They have obstinately neglected any other approach, and they have given no consideration to the views of nations that have refused to support the Nuclear Ban Treaty. They are dismissed as only recklessly endangering life on earth. Indeed they are, but the fact is that the weapons exist, and eliminating them is going to require an engagement with the root causes that motivate governments to want a nuclear deterrent. The leadership of ICAN evinces little awareness of these root causes—the messy things like colonialism, capitalism, scientific discovery, technological advancement, and the numerous wars that arose from anti-capitalist revolution and counter-revolution. The antagonism that exists now between the nuclear-armed states is rooted in this history of conflict, and it seems sensible that negotiations to eliminate nuclear arsenals should be based first on coming to a mutual understanding of history and the reasons for the present enmity between nations, especially between the US and Russia and China. From there it would be possible to negotiate a peaceful co-existence without the need for nuclear deterrence, or other forms of deterrence.
Unfortunately, no awareness of history or this complexity is on display in ICAN’s approach. This was made plainly clear in September 2018 by Beatrice Fihn’s participation in Canadian foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s Women Foreign Minister’s Meeting, in Montreal. Ms. Fihn lauded Canada’s “feminist foreign policy,” apparently referring to its support for female dissidents in Saudi Arabia, but then criticized Canada for failing to support the Nuclear Ban Treaty:
…Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has made women’s empowerment a pillar of his government from his gender-balanced cabinet to the push for a “feminist foreign policy.” … Canada’s antiquated and patriarchal policies remain when it comes to the most cataclysmic weapon of mass destruction created by man—nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate weapons of mass killing that were created specifically to target cities and civilians, and disproportionately affect women… These archaic weapons promote an outdated global order rooted in inequality and oppressive patriarchy. The existence and threatened use of these weapons are an affront to women’s rights that put women’s empowerment in peril… Instead of working to ban and abolish nuclear weapons, Canada continues to support its nuclear allies and their efforts to develop new nuclear weapons meant to last for decades… Canada will not be present as several more states sign and ratify the treaty at the UN this week. Ms. Freeland should follow their strong feminist example and stand up for women everywhere by supporting the treaty. That is the type of feminist foreign policy women of the world need to bring all of us back from the brink of nuclear devastation…. Will [Canadians] stand on the right side of history in banning these atrocious weapons, as they have with other inhumane weapons?”[1]
It is questionable that there was any need for a Women’s Foreign Minister’s Meeting in the first place, and the emphasis on “feminist foreign policy” (left vague and undefined) obscures issues of class and inequality among nations. Radical approaches to feminism see patriarchy as a by-product of capitalism, which of course implies that the patriarchy cannot be overcome without overthrowing capitalism.

The interlocking directorate of male rulers who employed the modern “First Wave” women leaders, chose Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Corazon Aquino, Benazir Bhutto, Madeline Albright, Janet Reno, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton, because they were loyal daughters, wives, and sisters of the men of the Hegemon.  These early “mothers” reveled in their power fomenting economic terrorism against the poor, wars, invasions, and occupations for the Oligarchs. These early women in power were focused on power for themselves “in solidarity” with their men. They neither represented the liberal feminists “ethic of care” or the revolutionary women’s demand for a radical reordering of society… The war crimes of all these women are many but the highlights include Thatcher in the Falklands, Gandhi against the Muslims, Meir against the Palestinians, Aquino against Muslims and communists, Bhutto for Britain over the Pakistani people, Albright against Yugoslavia and Iraq, Janet Reno at Waco, Condoleezza Rice all over the globe, and Hilary Clinton in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Haiti, Bolivia and Honduras. 

The historical record shows female politicians are no different than their male counterparts when it comes to enlightened policy, and there could be no consensus in any case about what defines enlightened policy. Ms. Fihn also cited Hillary Clinton’s record as a feminist hero, passing over her record, while Secretary of State, of bombing Libya and destroying its social fabric. The women harmed by that campaign also have to be considered as part of the achievements of “feminist foreign policy.” Hillary Clinton was not there in the room to be questioned about this record, but Ms. Fihn had a golden opportunity to mention Ms. Freeland’s enthusiasm for pushing NATO countries into a conflict with nuclear-armed Russia. For someone who is so concerned about the dangers of nuclear war, it is strange that she had nothing to say about this. Does she even know anything about the underlying issues?
Canada wholeheartedly supported the American-led interference in Ukraine that led to the 2014 Maidan revolt, and afterwards Canada supported the American narrative that it was Russia that destabilized and threatened Ukraine. Canada’s major news media also went along with this narrative, almost always refusing to look at the contrary narrative reported in the margins and discussed by historians who specialize in Russian and Eastern European history. Luciana Bohne is one of these academics, and she made this concise summary of the situation:
In the beginning, there was no such thing as “Ukraine”—Kiev was Russia, and Russia was Kiev: one language, one people, one territory; The Rus. Then, came the 20th century: a Soviet Republic of the Ukraine, and WW II, when anti-Soviet elements in the Ukraine joined Hitler’s SS and collaborated with Nazi Germany. After WW II, the US (and Britain and Canada) rescued the Ukrainian Nazis from Nuremberg Tribunal justice and settled them in the bosom of their countries as a “Soviet-persecuted minority”—in spite of these Ukrainians having been allied with their enemy, Hitler.[2]
A more detailed version of this history can be found in Professor Barry Lituchy’s 35-minute lecture The History of Fascism in Ukraine. Some of Norman Makrowitz’ notes on this lecture are quoted below:
Professor Lituchy began with a synopsis of his presentation: the facts surrounding the US backing of the coup against the democratically elected government in Kiev; a review of the 2,500 year history of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, who for most of that time lived as one people with one language, one religion, one state, one culture and history until quite recently; and the historical events that led to the splitting off of Galicia, Volynia and Bukovina from the rest of Russia and ultimately the sponsoring in Galicia of a Uniate church that served as a platform for dividing and conquering the Russian and Ukrainian peoples and then using it to subvert the Orthodox church and ultimately using it as a springboard for projecting German imperialist interests in Ukraine and Russia—such as territorial expansion—beginning with the third annexation of Poland in 1792 and continuing into the twentieth century with World Wars one and two.
This, Professor Lituchy explained, was the blueprint for the later policy of US imperialist policies against Russia and Ukraine by which western Ukrainian nationalists would be used to take over the Ukraine and then to establish a military threat against Russia.
Lituchy also gave a detailed account of the origins and history of the Ukrainian fascist movement beginning with Semyon Petliura and continuing with Bandera and the OUN and the forces used by the Nazis in the Holocaust including the SS Division Galizia blessed by the Uniate Bishop and Pope Pius XII, and then up to today, with special reference to Right Sektor, Svoboda, and the Azov Battalion and other paramilitary units committing atrocities against people in the Ukraine. Today’s atrocities are replication of the atrocities of the past.
During this historical review Lituchy pointed out that in 1919 Petliura’s forces captured the city of Zhashkovo in the Ukraine and carried out one of the worst pogroms in all of Jewish history. Lituchy’s great-grandfather and family (except for 2 members who were shot) survived the pogrom in Zhashkovo, but most of the city’s Jews were burned alive in the synagogue by Petluira. Altogether Petluira’s forces carried out 1200 pogroms between 1917 and 1921 and killed 200,000 Jews.
Lituchy then spoke about how the Ukrainian fascists were never punished but in fact were saved by British and US intelligence to serve in the Cold War as agents against the USSR and other Communist countries. Their escape through the Vatican ratlines was facilitated by the Ustashe priest Kruneslav Dragonovic, but was overseen by British and US intelligence agencies. A number of Ukrainian Nazis later held highly influential positions in the US and were even advisors to Presidents Reagan and Bush (the elder). At least 12,000 Ukrainian Nazis fled to North America and got to live out their “American dream” after butchering millions of Jews and Russians including children.
In his conclusion, Lituchy called on his fellow Americans to condemn US intervention in the Ukrainian crisis, oppose all further military aid to Kiev, and, above all, to support the partition of the Ukraine through a peaceful divorce so that the Western Ukrainians can pursue their national aspirations and the eastern Ukrainians can pursue their national aspirations which would inevitably involve rejoining Russia. Lituchy emphasized that the US position on borders is not only a case of double standards but also preposterous. Ukraine’s borders are artificial and were created during Soviet times, and artificial borders have throughout history led to wars and violent conflicts between peoples. But worse still, President Obama and the US media have falsely claimed that the main reason to sanction Russia is because we do not permit the violent change of borders. Obviously the destruction of Yugoslavia and the violent bombing that led to Kosovo’s separation from Serbia in 1999 proves the perfidious nature and lies behind US and EU policy toward the Ukraine and Russia.
Another concealed narrative of Ukrainian history is the research that reveals that, contrary to common beliefs in the West, Stalin did not orchestrate a deliberate genocidal famine in Ukraine in the 1930s. Historian Grover Furr explains:
Since the 1950s Ukrainian Nationalist organizations have been claiming that Stalin and Bolshevik leaders deliberately starved the Ukraine in order to punish Ukrainian nationalist spirit. The same Ukrainian nationalist groups entered the USSR with the Nazis and collaborated in massacring at least hundreds of thousands of Soviet citizens—mainly other Ukrainians, as the were largely confined to the Ukraine, as well as Jews. They also committed the “Volhynian massacres” of 50,000 Polish peasants in their attempt at “ethnic cleansing”—a little-known holocaust that has received attention only since the end of the USSR and Eastern bloc. Their version of the famine, which they call “Holodomor,” or “deliberate death by starvation,” is best known in the West from the 1986 book by Robert Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. Conquest has retracted his claim… The thesis of Conquest’s book, that the famine was deliberate and aimed at Ukrainians, is today’s “Holodomor” thesis, though this term was not yet used in the 1980s. Anti-communist Soviet-studies experts rejected it at the time the book was published.[3]
When Chrystia Freeland was first appointed as foreign minister, she faced questions about her maternal Ukrainian grandfather, Michael Chomiak, over his ties to the German Nazi regime before he settled in Canada after the war. She was able to brush away concerns by saying that he was a low-level figure caught up in the war, and that it was discrimination to blame children and grandchildren for the deeds of their ancestors, if indeed there had been anything to be ashamed of. This would have been a reasonable defense, if she were being truthful, if she were not so fervently anti-Russian, and if she hadn’t been such an eager supporter of the present nationalist regime in Ukraine which is supported by numerous fascist groups and militias. Canadians were ready to overlook the matter because all the major political parties were hopping on the anti-Russia bandwagon and eager to please their Ukrainian-Canadian constituents, an influential lobby in Canada. They were uninterested delving into Ukrainian history and Canada’s unpleasant ties to Nazi ratlines out of Europe. Yet for those few who were interested, there was a trail of evidence uncovered in John Helmer’s Canada and Its Ukrainian Nazi Collaborators: Chrystia Freeland’s Family Lie Grows Bigger and Blacker.[4]This article makes it quite clear that Michael Chomiak was deeply involved with German operations in Ukraine:
Chomiak’s records show he was trained in Vienna for German espionage and propaganda operations, then promoted to run the German press machine for the Galician region of Ukraine and Poland during the 4-year occupation. So high-ranking and active in the Nazi cause was Chomiak that the Polish intelligence services were actively hunting for Chomiak until the 1980s—without knowing he had fled for safety to an Alberta farm in Canada. The newly disclosed documents expose Freeland’s repeated lying that Chomiak had been a victim of World War II; an unwilling journalist overpowered by German military force; compelled to write propaganda extolling the German Army’s successes, and advocating the destruction of the Jews, Poles and Russians. As for Freeland’s claim that Chomiak had secretly aided the Ukrainian resistance, sources in Warsaw believe Chomiak was trained by the Germans as a double-agent, penetrating Ukrainian groups and spying on them. The Polish records also point to the likelihood that US Army, US intelligence and Canadian immigration records on Chomiak—concealed until now—can confirm in greater detail what Chomiak did during the war, as well as for years afterwards, which made him a target for the Polish police until not long before his death in 1984.
It is quite an achievement that this history and the foreign minister’s connections to it can remain off the front pages while her foreign policy gets branded positively as “feminist foreign policy.” Meanwhile, the press and activists like Beatrice Fihn go along with the notion that the only stain on this “feminist foreign policy” is that Canada refuses to sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty. What should be more alarming, and more well-known, is that Canada refuses to change a deeply flawed foreign policy that has increased the possibility of nuclear war with Russia.
UPDATE: Response to comments
It was predictable that this criticism of ICAN would be called divisive, rude or unfair in its demand that ICAN address issues outside its core mission. Other anti-nuclear activists might find my criticism interesting but hesitate to share it or click the “like” icon. I think critics are missing an important point about what needs to be done to make progress on nuclear disarmament, and they seem to get upset when someone tells them their task is much more complex than they had assumed. They can continue to do a victory dance every time a small Pacific island nation ratifies the nuclear ban treaty, but progress will still come to a screaming halt when it comes to the nuclear powers and their vassal states.
ICAN may want to maintain a policy of “no comment” when it comes to conflicts, sanctions and interventions in Syria, Ukraine, DPRK, Venezuela and elsewhere, but silence speaks loudly. ICAN cannot stay neutral by staying silent about aggression and infractions of the United Nations Charter, especially since ICAN has worked through the UN to advance its cause. As far as I can tell, ICAN has little representation in or dialog with the people of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. People in these nations would want to know where ICAN stands on conflicts and breaches of international law initiated by the US and NATO countries, and on the fact that the United States has all but declared war on China and Russia. The Trump administration has declared the war on terror is over, and that the battle has now shifted to these other “great power adversaries.” If ICAN does not condemn US military spending, and US aggression and economic sanctions, Russia and China will conclude that ICAN tacitly endorses and serves the policies of the United States and NATO, in which case they will not be ready to discuss parting with their nuclear deterrent. In a certain sense, just by accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, ICAN has already taken a side against China and Russia because in the list of past laureates there is a strong bias in favor of Westerners or Russian and Chinese dissidents.
Le Duc Tho and Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for negotiating a ceasefire in the Vietnam war, but the former refused the award because the Paris Peace Accords had already been broken by the time of the award ceremony. Le Duc Tho said he had little interest in any case in the “bourgeois sentimentality” behind the awards.[5]Mordechai Vanunu was another who declined to be associated with the Nobel Awards. He is a former nuclear technician who spent 18 years in prison for leaking details of Israel’s nuclear program, and he asked be removed from a list of Nobel peace prize nominees because he didn’t want “to belong to a list of laureates that also includes Shimon Peres, the man behind Israeli atomic policy.”[6]
If ICAN feels it can stay above the fray and not take a position in matters of international relations, the organization may want to consider how disputes over nuclear disarmament treaties can be used as the next excuse for military intervention. In recent decades, many noble-sounding causes have been compromised and used as cover for military intervention, and disputes over nuclear disarmament are likely to join the list. Those eager to drop bombs hide their motives behind such goals as “humanitarian interventionism,” “internationalism,” “solidarity,” “civil society activism,” “democracy-building,” “conflict resolution,” and “peace-building.” Now biased views of nuclear disarmament treaties are also being used to demonize Russia. In early October, 2018, the US “ambassador” to NATO (as if NATO were a country), Kay Bailey Hutchison, declared that since the US believes Russia is in violation of the INF treaty, the US is “prepared to consider a military strike if development of the [Russian] medium-range system continued.”[7]Thus during a week when ICAN was celebrating more non-nuclear nations signing the nuclear ban treaty, this threat by an American official to start WWIII passed without comment.
One can also stress that ICAN is a Nobel PEACE Prize laureate, and to be worthy of that status they should be ready at all times to support the cause of peace; that is, the cessation of war. It’s not enough just to speak about nuclear weapons. Strictly speaking, the nuclear ban treaty did not diminish a state of war anywhere, so we have to wonder if there might have been more appropriate award recipients in 2017—but please don’t regret that the horrible US-British propaganda operation White Helmets did not win. The fact that they were nominated is one more example of how the nomination process is used every year to promote Western interests.
Finally, if we must talk about such a concept as “female foreign policy,” I suggest one heroic female government official for Beatrice Fihn to have a chat with, someone who was not invited to the feminist foreign policy meeting in Montreal: Maria Zakharova, Director of the Information and Press Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

[1]Beatrice Fihn, “Canada’s feminist foreign policy cannot include nuclear weapons,” The Globe and Mail, September 28, 2018.
[2]Posted on social media.
[3]Grover Furr, Blood Lies: The Evidence that Every Accusation Against Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union in Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands is False (Red Star Publishers, 2014), 44-45. See also Furr’s one-hour lecture on his book for the short version of this information.
[5]Vietnam War Peace Talks,” Alpha History.
[7]Justin Raimondo, “Kay Bailey Hutchison Must Resign,”, October 4, 2018.