For nearly 40 years, a few groups on the political right have sounded the alarm over a seemingly absurd scenario — that gun control legislation was actually a key part of a plan for total national disarmament and the eventual replacement of United States troops by a United Nations army as part of the law enforcement arm of a one-world government.
The idea that such an improbable plan could exist, if only on paper — or even more improbable, that people were working behind the scenes to implement it – has always been dismissed by the mainstream media and government officials as a paranoid, right-wing delusion.
So where exactly does the truth lie in this decades-old controversy – the cause of great alarm for some, and for others, an occasion to heap ridicule and contempt?
At the center of this issue is a 20-page State Department pamphlet published in 1961, titled “Freedom From War: The United States Program for General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World” – Department of State Publication 7277. The program outlined was presented by President Kennedy to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25, 1961, and offered “specific objectives toward which nations should direct their efforts.” These included:
* The disbanding of all national armed forces and the prohibition of their re-establishment in any form whatsoever other than those required to preserve internal order and for contributions to a United Nations Peace Force.
* The elimination from national arsenals of all armaments, including all weapons of mass destruction and the means for their delivery, other than those required for a United Nations Peace Force and for maintaining order.
The disarmament process would take place in three stages:
* Stage I: Measures that would “significantly reduce” the capabilities of nations to wage war.
An International Disarmament Organization would be created within the United Nations; an inspection infrastructure would be established with observation posts set up at ports, highways, airbases and railway centers to monitor troop movements and other military activities; and — most important — States would develop arrangements for establishment of a U.N. Peace Force and U.N. peace observation groups would be “staffed with a standing cadre of observers who could be dispatched to investigate any situation which might constitute a threat to or breach of the peace.”
“A Commission of Experts would be established to report on the feasibility and means for the verified reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons stockpiles.”
“Arms and armed forces would be reduced: The armed forces of the United States and the Soviet Union would be limited to 2.1 million men.”
* Stage II: Further reductions in the armed forces, armaments, and military establishments of states would be made, including strategic nuclear weapons delivery vehicles and countering weapons; a permanent international peace force would be established within the United Nations;
“The dismantling or conversion to peaceful uses of certain military bases and facilities wherever located” would continue;
The International Disarmament Organization would be strengthened and enlarged to enable it to verify the steps taken in Stage II and to determine the transition to Stage III.
* Stage III: “During the third stage, the states of the world … would take final steps toward the goal of a world in which:
“States would retain only those forces, non-nuclear armaments, and establishments required for the purpose of maintaining order; they would also provide support and provide agreed manpower for a U.N. PeaceForce.
“The manufacturing of armaments would be prohibited except for those agreed types and quantities to be used by the U.N. Peace Force and those required to maintain internal order. All other armaments would be destroyed or converted to peaceful purposes.
“The peace-keeping capabilities of the United Nations would be sufficiently strong and the obligations of all states under such arrangements sufficiently far-reaching as to assure peace and the just settlement of differences in a disarmed world.”
Shortly after his address, President Kennedy signed Public Law 87-297 (H.R. 9118) that created the United States Arms Control Agency, a separate organization operating outside the jurisdiction of any department and charged with overseeing the disarmament agenda.According to the statute creating the agency, the terms “arms control” and “disarmament” mean “the identification, verification, inspection, limitation, control, reduction, or elimination, of armed forces and armaments of all kinds under international agreement to establish an effective system of international control…. ”
On April 18, 1962, the new Arms Control and Disarmament Agency carried the ideas in Freedom From War another step — offering a draft of a treaty entitled, “Blueprint for the Peace Race: Outline of Basic Provisions of a Treaty on General and Complete Disarmament in a Peaceful World,” which reiterated the provisions of “Freedom from War.” When word of Document 7277 got around, the State Department was deluged with requests, and after the supply was quickly depleted, the U.S. Government Printing Office didn’t print any more copies. In response to the demand, the ultraconservative John Birch Society took on the task of keeping the nation supplied with facsimile copies — exact replicas of the original, right down to its bright blue cover. The document is also on the State Department’s website in the archives section.
“This document is one of the most revolutionary and subversive proposals ever put foreword by any government official,” wrote William Jasper, senior editor of the Birch Society’s magazine, The New American, in the Nov. 22 edition. “Incredibly, the program originally introduced in this document became — and remains – official U.S. policy.”
Jasper adds, “And since no provision is made for an exemption of arms owned by private citizens (and since the U.N, itself is hardly sympathetic to private gun ownership), it is reasonable to assume that private arms are intended for destruction under the term.”
Tom Mason, a Portland, Ore. Attorney who lobbies for the National Rifle Association in the international arena, corroborates at least part of Jasper’s contention – that gun control is connected to the disarmament movement.
“In the United Nations, the movement against guns started in 1995 with two almost simultaneous efforts,” said Mason. “To this day it remains a two-pronged approach — a dynamic between two centers of action: one centered in Vienna, one in New York City.”
Vienna is home to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice — which approaches gun control as part of an effort against international crime.
“Half the action is in Vienna, where the focus is on crime prevention,” said Mason. “The other is in New York and the Department of Disarmament Affairs at the United Nations headquarters.”
David Patterson, deputy historian at the State Department, downplayed the possible significance of Freedom From War and the Blueprint for the Peace Race — identifying them as “part of the propaganda war.”
“It’s a recurring issue which conservative groups would put forward as an example of how we were willing to capitulate to the Soviet Union during the Cold War — disarm unilaterally,” Patterson said. “Of course, none of this was true, but it’s still going the rounds of right-wing publications. We get these calls.”
Asked about the draft treaty Blueprint for the Peace Race, Patterson answered, “It was submitted to the U.N. and Kennedy had talked about it in more general terms in his speech to the U.N. General Assembly in 1961. So it was a blueprint. It was an outline of what the United States was prepared to do if we could come to an agreement with the other parties, particularly the Soviet Union, on the issue of general and complete disarmament.”
“Of course,” he continued, “It was pie in the sky, because there wereso many conditions put on the proposal that the Soviet Union would never accept it. And if they had accepted it they would have had to open up their society and be prepared to have all kinds of comprehensive inspections, which at the time they were totally unprepared to do.”
“It [the proposal] met a quick death — nothing happened,” said Patterson, who added that as far as he knew it was never implemented.
“I think that it’s far-fetched to say that
the current efforts at gun control in the United Nations go back to 1961. Unless you can show some kind of linkage over the past almost 40 years between those two issues [gun control and disarmament] it would be hard to demonstrate.”
William Nary, who was with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1963 until his retirement in 1994 and historian for the agency for 20 years, described the proposal as “visionary” and said it had “not technically” been withdrawn. Total disarmament, he said, meant “exactly what the plan says: Only the police and armed forces would have arms.”
“But I know we were never going after hunters or sportsmen – despite what the plan says,” he added.
“It was advocated in part because the Russians had proposed it. They had proposed a plan calling for general and complete disarmament – but radical disarmament,” Nary said. “It seems to me it [the proposal] was idealistic and visionary, and I don’t know who would have expected that we would achieve it. But it was a bit of a plan, and many of those measures have been adopted. Specifically, test ban agreements, reductions in manpower of the armed forces, controls on the transfer of armaments — treaties like SALT I and II and START — control of nuclear weapons systems and large conventional forces.”
Asked whether, under the plan, a private citizen would be allowed to own a gun, Nary recalled: “That issue came up, and I know that our leadership made it clear to the Congress that we were not trying to disarm private citizens in that sense — not just the precise wording of the plan. I know that our leadership testified to the Congress that we weren’t about to completely do in the National Rifle Association. That wasn’t part of the design — at least we interpreted it as not to include disarming the citizens or hunters.” Natalie Goldring is director of the newly-established Program on General Disarmament at the University of Maryland, a founder of the International Action Network on Small Arms, and director of the Security and Disarmament Program at the National Center for Economics and Security Alternatives, a non-governmental organization. This last, she says, is useful when she wishes “to take off my academic hat” and work on issues through IANSA as a representative of a non-governmental organization. WorldNetDaily documented recently how such groups are lobbying hard at the United Nations – and being heard – in their efforts to bring about international gun control.
Goldring is familiar with Kennedy’s Blueprint for the Peace Race and Freedom from War proposals, and told WorldNetDaily how far the proposals had come toward being implemented.
According to Goldring, the term “general disarmament,” as used in U.N. circles and by non-governmental groups, does indeed encompass smallarms – including rifles, shotguns and handguns.
“The idea is that we’re opening the discussion,” she said, explaining the current emphasis at the United Nations on disarmament and its focus on light weapons and small arms — which she sees as a revival of interest, rather than a completely new issue.
“There hasn’t been any public discussion on this in 35 years — the last hearings were in the 1960s,” she explained. “I think that during the Kennedy administration you had a lot of actual research being done on broader disarmament programs. Some of that was purely political in nature and wasn’t very practical even then — and it was a fairly idealistic time. But a lot of the principles that were enunciated are still relevant today.”
“People talked about three stages of disarmament a lot in the early ’60s, but in the decades since then we’ve done much of Stage One, bits of Stage Two, and maybe a little bit of Stage Three,” she said. For example, “We’ve got a non-proliferation treaty. We more or less have a comprehensive test ban. We’ve got a treaty banning national missile defense. Since that time we’ve had a significant buildup of strategic weapons, but we’ve also had a dismantling and a destruction of a great number of nuclear weapons. So a lot of things have happened that are on the positive side of the measure.”
Other parts of the program required by Stage II in the plan have also been realized, Goldring said, notably the dismantling of certain military bases, the reduction of military forces and the buildup of the U.N. peace-keeping forces — though as she sees it, the balance between U.S. military infrastructure and force levels is “completely skewed.”
Addressing the issue of base closures, “We need to do more,” she said. Specifically, “at least one and probably several more rounds of base closures. They’re still implementing the last round of base closures, but if they don’t keep going, you’ll have a very inefficient set-up, because a disproportionate percent of the defense budget will go towards facilities and infrastructure.”
“That’s happening now,” she continued, “But we’re getting the annual Army whining about how they don’t have enough people. They’re telling Congress the units aren’t ready to go to war — and it turns out that many of the people in those units are currently on peacekeeping missions — it’s not as though they’ve left the military.”
“So there has been a reduction in military forces — but not to my mind as much as needs to,” Goldring said.
Earlier story: U.N. coming for your guns
Stephan Archer contributed to this report.