Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“The Craftsmanship of Peace: Moving to Global Demilitarization,” President Óscar Arias Sánchez

October 28, 1992

Video: “The Craftsmanship of Peace: Moving to Global Demilitarization” 

1:05:19 - Abstract | Biography


Bill Wilkins: For eleven years, it has been our pleasure to sponsor the Ava Helen Pauling Lectureship for World Peace. As always, tonight we honor both a concept, peace throughout the world, and a person, Ava Helen Pauling, a woman who dedicated much of her life to that concept and made it, along with human rights and environmental protection, a personal crusade. Mrs. Pauling did not live to see the establishment of this lecture or see a world that is relatively free of war. We have wars today. They continue in the form of a number of tragic regional conflicts, such as those now raging in Bosnia and Somalia, and elsewhere, and there are threats of many more. In spite of the end, or the so-called "end" of the Cold War, the need to focus a great university on world peace remains. This lecture, a legacy of Ava Helen Pauling, continues our resolve to make peace an Oregon State University priority. The person who knew Ava Helen Pauling better than anyone else provides our link to her. Dr. Linus Pauling, the only winner of two Nobel prizes - one for peace, and the other for chemistry - and OSU's most distinguished alumnus, cannot be with us tonight, as he has been for most of the lectures. Since we are taping this - making a videotape of this tonight - and we will be sending a tape to him, I ask you to join with me in sending Dr. Pauling our very best wishes with a round of rousing applause.

Please remain standing for just a moment, please, for just a moment longer. This is in solemn tribute to last year's Pauling speaker, Petra Kelly, whose tragic death, along with that of her companion who joined her here during her visit at Oregon State University, Gert Bastian. Those deaths have saddened us all. Would you give us a moment of silent reflection?

Peace be with you. Thank you.

Now it's my pleasure to introduce George Keller, Oregon State University's vice President for research, graduate studies, and international programs, who will introduce our speaker tonight. Dr. Keller.

George Keller: Again, I welcome you also to this eventful evening. I'm honored to have the opportunity to introduce our speaker this evening. He's a person of truly remarkable determination and dedication. He earned degrees in law and economics from the University of Costa Rica and received his Ph.D. from Essex University in political science. Many will tell you that he, as a student, was studying to become the President of Costa Rica. [That] tells you about his determination. [4:41]

At the age of twenty-eight, while a professor of political science at the University of Costa Rica, he served as a financial advisor to the then-President of Costa Rica. He went on to become the minister of national planning and economic policy, then [moved] on to become a congressman in the legislature and secretary general of the National Liberation Party. Perhaps believing he was yet too young to be the party's nominee for the presidency, his party would not support his nomination, on more than one occasion. In 1986, being determined as he is, and with his dedication to bringing peace to Central America, he struck out on his own with an extensive Presidential campaign throughout the country. His campaign focused on peace and the slogan, "Economic Growth with Stability and Social Justice." That year, at the age of forty-four, he became the youngest President in the history of Costa Rica.

Being determined to work out a way to end the regional turmoil provoked mainly by the war between Nicaragua's Sandinista government and the Contras, he began to develop a peace plan long before he became President. Within the first year in his office in 1987, a full scale conference of diplomats from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica were brought together in Guatemala City. As often is the case where there is jockeying for political position, little progress was being made. With increased frustration, our speaker arranged a private meeting of his counterparts among the countries. He convinced the other Presidents to give peace a chance, and within three hours, paved the way to a ceasefire between the Sandinistas and the Contras. This was a process, beforehand, that had gone on for some eight years, and still not resolving the issue. For his [innovativeness] and leadership of gaining what became known as the "Guatemala accord," he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

Costa Rica has set a tremendous example not only for Latin America, but for much of the world, through its progressive ways. For more than 120 years, education has been free and compulsory. In 1948, its army was abolished in favor of a civilian democracy, and a desire to dedicate the country's resources to a higher standard of living for its people. It's really remarkable when you stop and think about that in this day and age - that here's a country without an army, who stands alone, in that sense, in many cases, but [also in] an honored position among many of its neighbors. One, December has become a national holiday to recall the abolition of the army. Also of particular note is the environment and the concern for the environment. Eleven percent of the country is set aside for parks.

I'm honored to introduce President Óscar Arias, a world leader dedicated to peace and the betterment of mankind who will speak to us on the subject of "The Craftsmanship of Peace: Moving to Global Demilitarization." Dr. Arias. [8:49]

Óscar Arias Sánchez: Gracias. Queridos amigos [dear friends]:

I would like to express my gratitude for your invitation to address the students and faculty of Oregon State University. I am very honored to have been selected for the Ava Helen Pauling Lecture. I hope to contribute in some way to the civic-minded proposals of this program.

It is a pleasure for me to remember my days as a college student and my later years as a university professor. Before assuming the presidency of Costa Rica, I had the satisfaction of sharing my ideas and hopes with many students of Costa Rica and Central America. Before that, I had the opportunity to study in the United Kingdom in an environment and conditions that were, perhaps, similar to those which you enjoy. Thus, I am sure that I can communicate with you, students of a rich and developed country, as easily as I do with the youth of Central America.

I want to speak with you about one of my greatest concerns: the necessity that human beings abandon...the culture of violence. In the past three years, I have communicated frequently with groups of students from the United States....to assume the responsibility of bringing peace to our region. I've also spoken of my efforts in favor of democracy and, in particular, in favor of demilitarization.

The most important chapter has been the encouragement of the Panamanian people to constitutionally abolish their army the same way Costa Rica did more than 40 years ago. Some of you may not be aware that within a few days, the Panamanian people will vote [on] a referendum on a great number of reforms to their constitution. Among these amendments, one will prohibit the existence of a national army. There exists the possibility that the complexity of the reforms will compel the Panamanians to reject them, but this does not mean that they refuse to demilitarize their country. In fact, this country has already taken steps to dismantle its armed forces. However, by outlawing the military in the constitution, Panamanians will be able to invest in human development, the resources that have previously been squandered by their country's war machine. I hope that the Panamanian people understand the importance of this great act of peace and vote affirmatively on the referendum.

Other events in Central America indicate that a respectful law and order is now transcended in preoccupation with violence. A few weeks ago, the authorities of El Salvador and Honduras met to listen to the verdict of the International Court of Justice. This decision ended the border contentions that, at one moment, provoked a war between these two neighbors. In El Salvador, many slow but steady steps were taken to achieve the agreements that put an end to twelve years of bloody civil war. Efforts to protect human rights in Guatemala have been only recently recognized by the international community. A few days ago, Rigoberta Menchú, a fellow Central American, was awarded the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle against the repressive Guatemalan military and the mistreatment of indigenous people in her country. This is good news for those who seek peace.

In contrast, in the Balkans, war and genocide continue. In Somalia, an entire people is dying of hunger because of prolonged war. In Angola, the battle lines are opened, and in the Caspian region another armed fight has broken out between ethnic groups. This is bad news, but we should be optimistic. In Central America, we are setting an example. Perhaps the world will want to follow it. [14:22]

A great Latin American Poet, Jorge Luis Borges, in his poem, "The Connection," reflecting upon the continuity of history, wrote: "The immigrations that the historian attempts to map, guided by bronze and ceramic relics, were not understood by the people who undertook them." It is very possible that our descendants, while they study events that now confuse and overwhelm us, will conclude that the four preceding decades were not primarily correct to rise by confrontation between capitalism and communism. When they examine the archive and library relics, they may wrongly interpret that the Cold War was driven by two ideological and military blocs' attempts to postpone settling the disputes between North and South for half a century. It would not be strange, then, if a future poet speculates about two blocs of rich nations that unknowingly stimulated the almost poetically named Cold War for many years, impeding many poor countries from realizing the advantages of peace and prosperity.

In the past, the members of a horde did not have to know how disgraceful it was to demolish lives and civilizations in order to build empires. This historical reflection may lessen the responsibility of the individuals who took up arms and participated in killings in less enlightened ages, but in our times, a sense of justice, ethics, advancement of law, and a wealth of information forces us to assume responsibility for our actions and our inactions. Do the industrial...of Massachusetts or Flanders not consider that the military artifacts to which they dedicate all of their talents might be converted into a rain of death in a Third World village? In New York or London, [a] banker cannot ignore the fact that his or her virtues may impoverish a million Brazilians or Africans.

I do not share the oversimplified belief that the great economic and military powers, who were set to the most diverse positions in the Cold War, have already settled all of their disputes. We continue to face new evidence that the jubilation over the fall of communism, the dismantlement of the Soviet Union, and the liberation of the Eastern European nations will be temporarily followed by chaos.

No generation writes its own history, yet we can speculate about how future humanity will view our society. Just as the end of the Cold War did not immunize its protagonists from uncertainty, if we now postpone a search for the solutions to our problems, we will contaminate our entire planet with unrest and extreme poverty. At this moment, millions of people can barely dream of the most basic conditions for peace: food, education, and health. They are far from even pretending to seek access to such institutions of higher learning as this one. The greatest goal will be to attain living conditions that would seem intolerable to any of us. I hope that it is this concern that has brought us here today to praise the future of the Third World now that the Cold War has ended. For more than forty years, the world experienced a dangerous confrontation between two ideological and military blocs endowed with an insanely destructive capacity. This confrontation created a sense of threat and insecurity within humanity from which we feel happy to be free today.

In lieu of the surprising events of the last decade...would have expected to see the most fundamental components of East-West tension disappear in our lifetimes, nor would we have expected to witness the opening of the road to collaboration between the members of the two former blocs of the Cold War. Today, after the official dissolution of the Soviet Union, we should feel extremely optimistic, not because humanity wanted that political superstructure to disappear, but because that event was triggered by the people's desire for peace and freedom. It is merely an academic exercise to wonder if it would have been better to encourage these people to construct a more just and peaceful international order in a more gradual manner. Reality overpowers all arguments. In the interest of political certainty, no one could have restrained the people's decision to break the immediate bonds of totalitarianism and to make this their highest aspiration. [19:59]

The disappearance of the threat of a catastrophic confrontation between the two most powerful military blocs in history signifies a great conquest for humanity. We have reason to be pleased that the many European nations have recovered the liberty to choose their own destinies. We should rejoice in the possibility that the youth of the world will never be told to sacrifice themselves in war again. These are adequate reasons to declare ourselves optimists.

However, in our enthusiasm, we must not mislead ourselves that these achievements are ends in themselves. The greatest advantage of the dismantlement of the Cold War has been to enable all of humanity to focus its attention upon other problems as hideous as the danger of nuclear confrontation. Certainly, the past few months have extinguished the notion that the end of the East-West confrontation would ensure the construction of a new world order of peace and prosperity. These events have confirmed what we in the Third World have been saying incessantly. The military buildup and ideological struggle staged by the great powers of the North has postponed the solution of humanity's most profound problems. It is not an exaggeration to state that the cost of their arms race would have, in the last few decades, been sufficient to eliminate all of the world's poverty. Similarly, the ideological manipulation and organized intolerance of this confrontation delayed political development and democracy in many Third World nations.

The situation created by the recent political changes may lead some to believe that we will surely enjoy a future of peace, welfare, and security. However, the danger of nuclear proliferation remains. The malady of drug addiction advances uncontrollably. The effects of environmental destruction grow. National and regional economies once again plunge into recessions. Ethnic conflicts reappear and aggravate. Increasing poverty in the poorest countries generates migration pressures that, among other things, revive racism, produce uncontrollable epidemics, and renew the most detestable expressions of nationalism. This is not an apoplectic enumeration of the horrors that await us. It is a list of some of the most serious obstacles that we already face. Although the principle effects of these evils seem to unravel only within specific regions or countries, they will soon affect all societies. As economies and trade become increasingly globalized, so shall conflict and instability acquire universal dimensions. Thus, everyone has the obligation to participate in the resolution.

In the past, the global nature of our problems was neither understood, nor accepted. Prosperous societies were solely concerned with the poverty and backwardness of the Third World on ethical or moral grounds. This attitude conveys pity rather than solidarity. This attitude cannot be held any longer.

The collapse of communism throughout the world reveals a temporary and, perhaps, only apparent failure of revolutionary movements. It may cause wealthy societies to believe that they can build a new international order only on ethical and moral imperatives. Moreover, the military efficiency of the great economic powers in the Cold War undoubtedly persuaded many in the developed world that a more than planetary Pax Romana is viable. These false perceptions can generate a dangerous interpretation of the post-Cold War situation. They can stimulate the belief that peace is compatible with injustice and poverty. [24:47]

Our incapacity to stop the war in the Balkans suggests that the end of the Cold War has becoming a "hot peace." This "hot peace" is not limited to the [dimensions] of regional conflicts. It also prevents a great part of humanity from fulfilling its aspirations for a better life. Forcing a country to lower the quality of its citizens' lives to levels of extreme poverty is not different than subjecting it to relentless military aggression. What may seem a simple play on words between "Cold War" and "hot peace" indicates a real possibility. No nation or group of nations can advance peaceful solutions to contemporary problems until the problems of the Third World are effectively resolved.

I am not denying the importance of the ideological component of the Cold War. It was indeed a confrontation between democracy and totalitarianism. Democracy has achieved a splendid victory within the confidence of all nations. This is especially important for the people of the Third World. I do not tire of repeating that this is a crucial moment for Latin America. For the first time in history, with the sole exceptions of Cuba, Peru, and Haiti, all ruling governments in this hemisphere were chosen through democratic elections. Similar democratic tendencies are found in other underdeveloped regions of the world.

However, we must not forget that when confronting totalitarianism, democracy is more capable of guaranteeing the double benefit of liberty and material well-being. This assertion also implies that political and economic relations between democratic nations must be both peaceful and just.

This historical moment is unique because, as never before, almost the entire world recognizes that democracy faces a crucial challenge. If it fails to meet this challenge, we will endure chaos, distrust, poverty, and totalitarianism. The impoverishment and deterioration of the quality of life are generalized phenomena from which almost no modern society can escape. Similar to the planetary and atmospheric changes, the duration of the social climate transcends national and regional boundaries. Studies of global impoverishment suggest that some political and economic policies of industrialized countries and international financial organizations tend to produce negative effects in the Third World. These effects, however, ultimately have an undesirable impact upon the developed countries as well. These policies truly act against the lives of millions of human beings, and against peace and democracy in the Third World. They also reveal the dynamic process through which the social, political, and economic deterioration of the Third World will eventually threaten developed societies.

The drug traffic problem is linked to the debt problem. In the most indebted countries of South America, thousands of poor people dedicate themselves to the cultivation of coca leaves as soon as governmental programs condemn them to unemployment. At the same time, the flow of dollars generated by drug trafficking is swiftly converted into a means of debt servicing.

The galloping ecological destruction that is taking place in the countries of the South greatly worries the North. The developed nations, led by the United States, are clearly exacting political oppression upon countries such as Brazil and Costa Rica to halt deforestation, one of the most important contributors to global warming. It is now generally accepted that poverty is indeed the greatest polluter. To survive, poor people are forced to destroy their forests and other natural resources. However, the policies that our countries feel obliged to impose because of the debt increase poverty and stimulate ecological destruction. Furthermore, forced to export to repay those debts, our countries cannot discriminate among those economic activities which destroy the environment. [29:39]

Recent studies by the World Resources Institute reveal that in the case of Costa Rica, the depreciation of natural resources - forests, soil, and fish and resources - grew, between 1970 and 1990, to $4.1 billion. This is the equivalent of an average annual deduction of between 1.5 to 2 percent of the growth potential of GNP. Eighty-five percent of this depreciation corresponds to deforestation. The pressures on our economy compel us to sacrifice enormous regions of tropical forest for the sake of accelerated export growth. There are no reasons to believe that the situation is different in Brazil, or in any other tropical country. As a negative consequence of debt mismanagement, the problem is translated into a globally shared disaster.

We need a new global partnership for sustainable development, but this will not be possible if the tourist countries must continue to use most of their export earnings to service the debt. It would be a mistake to consider that the solution of the debt problem would be enough to eliminate totalitarianism, war, the wave of migration, environmental deterioration, and drug trafficking. I only want to emphasize that mismanagement of the debt problem harms all societies. It would do so as much as would a generalized war. To facilitate peace and sustainable development throughout the world, we must work together to confront and resolve these and other great challenges, including demilitarization.

The disappearance of the most important source of international tension should dramatically reduce the amount of resources dedicated to military endeavors. Unfortunately, until now, this generalized reduction has been merely symbolic. Some countries seem even more interested in pursuing a new arms race. The continued acquisition of arms recently negotiated by many Third World governments threatens, certainly, world peace and impedes their development. Ironically, the five permanent member of the United Nations Security Council are the principal suppliers of these arms.

It is certain that the recent political changes have opened the doors to peace and lasting security. When I speak of lasting security, I refer to the intimate link between sustainable development and the construction of a more secure world for present and future generations. Lasting security will not be possible unless we stabilize the societies in which we live. Lasting security requires that we eliminate militarism. It also involves the generation of greater resources for sustainable development in our countries to build more secure, more just, and more peaceful societies.

The resources that had been dedicated to arms and war until now should be converted into dividends of peace. They should be devoted to improving the living conditions of all human beings. These peace dividends are the world from which humanity can draw the means to consolidate democracy and human understanding throughout the planet. The transfer of arms to the Third World indicates a failure to create and use peace dividends to force the sustainable human development. If industrialized nations continue to follow this path, they will force themselves to face the most dangerous threats imaginable: terrorism, insecurity, and global war. You will discover that we are correct when we assert that unless we now proceed together with imagination and in the spirit of justice and solidarity, the future of the Third World and that of the rest of humanity will progress as if the Cold War had never ended. We believe the democratic experience will foster the search for solutions. I hope that this talented academic community can direct part of its notable influence toward that end. [34:36]

Amigos, Jorge Luis Borges, the Latin American poet I cited at the beginning of this lecture, wrote a beautiful poem, entitled, "Juan Lopez and John Ward." Although he alluded to the bloody armed conflict that we know as "La Guerra de las Malvinas," or the Falkland Islands War, I believe it was his pretext to refer to old wars, whether military or economic. These are the lines from that sincere and beautiful poem:

"They happened to live during a strange time. The planet had been parceled into distinct countries, each one filled with loyalties, dear memories, and, undoubtedly, heroic pasts, loss, injustice, unique mythologies, bronze medals, anniversaries, demagogues, and symbols. That division, dear to the mapmakers, underlaid all wars. Lopez was born in the city of Buenos Aires; Ward, on the outskirts of London. Ward had studied Spanish in order to read Don Quixote. Lopez professed his love for Conrad. They would have been friends, but they saw each other's faces only once, on some very well known islands, and each one of them was Cain, and each one Abel. They were buried together. They knew snow and decay. The fact to which I referred occurred during a time that we cannot understand."

As the poet has said, we live at a time that will not be understood in the future. All over the planet, we continue to bury the Juan Lopezes and the John Wards together, some killed by the bullets of war, others assassinated in the battles of poverty. We are making it necessary that, in effect, our descendants will know that this was indeed a strange era. Thank you. [37:25]

Bill Wilkins: President Arias has agreed to answer some questions. Because of the size of the room, we will proceed as follows: I will try to recognize people spread around the auditorium and take your question, and repeat it in the microphone so that everyone can hear it, and then give President Arias a chance to answer it.

Audience Member: Yes, I'd like to know what you think if the United States would demilitarize now, and, second, what do you think of the incident between the United States and Noriega.

Bill Wilkins: Two part question: what does he think about what would happen if the United States demilitarized now, and what does he think about the incident between the United States and Noriega.

Óscar Arias Sánchez: I think it is very important for this country and for the government of this great nation to understand that if we want to live in the 21st century in peace, we need to redefine security. That peace will not depend, as it was the case during the Cold War, on a military balance of differing countries of differing powers. We need to understand that in order to be a military superpower, you also need to be an economic superpower, and the Soviet Union - or Russia, now - is no longer an economic superpower; it is a Third World country. So they can't afford to be a military superpower. If that is the case and if we have the knowledge and wisdom to redefine security - as I just mentioned now, security of employment, security of food, ecological security - then we should rely more and more on international organizations for peacekeeping and peacemaking. And I have in mind, mainly, the UN. I think we should draft a new charter for the UN, now that it's going to become fifty years old in three years' time. If we rely more on the UN, not only to solve conflicts and solve wars, but to prevent them, then you don't need to keep on spending what you have been spending in the past in defense. I don't think the people of this country deserve a Pentagon budget of $280 billion.

Concerning Noriega, I think that the OAS failed, and the OAS, in the case of the conflict in Panama, proved to us Latin Americans again that it doesn't work. At that time at the OAS, many countries invoked the pretext of non-intervention and self-determination. It was an excuse, because there are many governments in Latin America which are quite hypocritical and cynical, and they were not prepared to adopt sanctions - economic sanctions - that the OAS introduced by my government. We wanted to punish Noriega at that time, and we failed to get the support of many South American governments. Noriega was not popular in Panama, and that's why the Panamanian people were quite pleased with invasion. So I think, in the end, that it was our own fault. We Latin Americans failed to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Panama.

Bill Wilkins: The question is: "How does he think the United Nations should have reacted to Saddam Hussein entering into Kuwait?"

Óscar Arias Sánchez: Well... my complaint was, at that time, that the effort.... Let me see if I can find the words because my English is not very good. I, frankly, believe that President Bush and Mr. Baker played a very significant role in gathering support from most countries in order to form this military coalition and force Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait. It was an extraordinary job. [45:13]

But I deplore the fact that they didn't try hard enough to find a diplomatic solution, and the time spent in bringing this military coalition together could have been used in finding a diplomatic solution. I knew when - at the end of November, I think it was, on the thirtieth of November - the security council adopted the resolution asking Saddam Hussein to withdraw in six weeks that war was going to be inevitable, because in six weeks, you cannot find peace. You cannot reach a diplomatic solution in a matter of six weeks if they've been fighting in the Persian Gulf for years.

It's like when I used to introduce timetables into the conflicts in Central America, and every time someone failed to comply, I was forced to accept that the peace plan had failed, and I refused to accept that the peace plan had failed. And, you know, I had to read editorials telling me that I should bury the peace plan and forget about the Sandinistas [and] how could I be so naïve and stupid to accept the fact that they could ever comply one day?

Well, after so many years of war in the Persian Gulf, how could you expect to find a diplomatic solution in six weeks? My feeling, and to be very honest with you, is that the war that wasn't fought in Nicaragua, the U.S. government wanted to fight it in the Persian Gulf. It was something really important to this country because of the Vietnam syndrome and many other reasons. But certainly, there were many reasons, and of them - very important - is that this country wanted to try many weapons, many sophisticated, new weapons, and they wanted a war. So you had the war; you won it. I think it was a good lesson to Saddam Hussein. He was extremely arrogant, extremely stupid. And perhaps the lesson that we should learn from that war and from having supported Saddam Hussein in the past - by the Russians and by the French and by the Germans and by everybody - is that in the world, there are no good dictators.

In the case of Latin America, we have had many dictators in our history, and if those dictators were friendly to the U.S., if they were anti-communist, then they were always supported. Even though they were very criminal, even though they were very corrupt, Washington kept supporting the Trujillos, the Somozas, the Shah Pahlavis, the Ferdinand Marcoses - so many dictators all over the world. And when, today, Washington, as well as other industrialized countries, [keeps] selling arms - sophisticated weapons - to totalitarian governments and autocracies, like Saudia Arabia for instance, eventually, when that autocracy is removed and a new democracy emerges, I don't know how friendly that new democratic government is going to be with Washington. And here again, this distinction between good dictators and bad dictators is wrong. All dictators are bad, and we should never support dictators even though they are friendly to us. [49:34]

Audience Member: In 1977, Henry Kissinger said the U.S. needed a buffer zone for democracy, by which he meant, at that time, that we need to keep the Third World countries poor in order to maintain our standard of living. And the question is: Noam Chomsky asserts that, in fact, the USSR was holding the U.S. back from terrorizing, colonizing, and exploiting the planet. What do you think about those views of our foreign policy?

Bill Wilkins: Let me see if I can put that together. The assertion is that the United States needed a buffer zone, essentially, of poverty and that the Soviet Union was holding back the United States through its assertion of power.

Óscar Arias Sánchez: Well, I entirely disagree with that in the sense that, you know, we all recognize, now, that the world is much more interdependent, that the world is smaller, and that whatever happens in Africa or Asia or Latin America will affect this country. There is a need in this country to understand, for you to understand, for the people of this country to understand that poverty needs no passport to travel.

You know, I think it's almost inevitable that we are going to form, in the years ahead, three very important and large trade blocs - trade fortresses: one in Asia with Japan as a leader, one in Europe with Germany as a leader - in five years time, they'll have a single currency, one single monetary policy - not only of 11 countries, like the European Community now, but eventually of 20 countries or more, including all of Eastern Europe, including the former Soviet republics, including the Baltic countries, etc., and that here, in this hemisphere, we need also not only to create NAFTA, but AFTA: an American Free Trade Agreement including the three Americas - North, Central, and South America. And then we might move toward a globalized economy in many senses - not only trade, but financial markets and politically. Why not? The day will come when only democracies will exist in this planet, I hope.

So, what I find is the lack of leadership here, to tell the American people what you should know and not necessarily what you want to hear. The point is that only in eight years time, there will be eight billion people living in this planet - 80 percent in the developing world. The truth is that the East-West conflict has ended and the North-South conflict is emerging, or is increasing, and this is indeed very sad.

The boomerang, if poverty increases in the developing world, because of many factors and because of many reasons, and the debt issue is one of them: I don't see Latin America being able to create more wealth if there are countries punished to pay six percent or seven percent of the GNP in debt services or thirty-five percent of the export earnings in servicing our debts. It is simply impossible to satisfy the basic needs of education, health care, housing, etc. So, as long as poverty increases, the solution is not to keep on building walls like the wall in San Diego, California, because that is no solution. [55:04]

You know, the boomerang for a rich nation like this one will be, certainly, more drugs being exported to this country, [and] more conflicts. And if the UN fails to solve that conflict, that gives a very good excuse to the manufacturers of weapons in this country to put some pressure on the White House and keep on with the increasing expenditures in defense. Another boomerang, certainly, will be more terrorism. Why not?

So, unless we understand that the world is so small that whatever happens in any part of this planet will affect you, we're not going to cure the main evils that still prevail in the developing world, and I would say that the main evil is increasing poverty.

And then I find, to be very honest, some double standards in how you treat immigrants from different countries. I find, for instance, that the Cubans who reach the shores of Miami are quite well accepted, but not the Haitians.

So, in short, unless we understand that poverty needs no passport to travel, we certainly need to help the developing world. It is very ironic, for instance, and this is something that has never been mentioned in this campaign in this country: foreign aid. No one dares to pronounce those two words: foreign aid. But the OECD countries spent about $55 billion in foreign aid, while only the West Germans had invested, every year, more than $100 billion in Eastern Germany - that is, in 60 million people. But let me give you another example. The OECD countries spent, more or less, about $300 billion in subsidies to the farmers of Europe, the United States - or North America, to be more precise - and Japan. $300 billion are being given to 12 million farmers in the rich countries vis-à-vis $55 billion to 40 billion people in the Third World. One sixth is given in foreign aid to the Third World, and six times more is being offered to rich farmers because those farmers in the OECD countries are not poor people. So, if we don't change this trend, I think that we definitely won't be able to live in 21st century in the new world order that we all dreamed we could easily build. If we have the courage to tell the people what they should know and not what they want to hear, because, after all, to govern, to rule, is to educate.

Bill Wilkins: The very real observation is that we are very fortunate here in Oregon State University to have, once again, a Nobel Peace Prize winner with us, and the opportunity to ask a peace prize winner, "What is your definition of peace?" [59:53]

Óscar Arias Sánchez: Well, I could give you a few definitions, but if you allow me - and this is a fellow Costa Rican, whom I know - if you allow me.... Well, first of all, I want to thank you for your invitation and for sharing with me my concern with the future of the world. I certainly deplore the fact that such a historic decision like the one that the Panamanian people will be taking on the 15th of November, when they would have to decide in a referendum if they want to get rid of the armed forces, is not even mentioned in this country. It hasn't.... Not a single line has been published about that, and people ignore that because, simply, no one has paid any attention to the fact that we could, if Panama succeeds with the abolition of the army, build in that part of the world, Central America, the first demilitarized zone in this planet.

When I see the many needs that we have to satisfy in the world, not only in poor countries, but in this country, I sincerely refuse to accept the fact that none of the candidates, for instance, have committed themselves to cut military expenditures, as this country deserves. Because, certainly, you are the most powerful nation on Earth, and if the 19th century was the century of Great Britain and the 20th century, in a way, was the century of the United States and, in the feel of military power, you had to share with the Soviet Union the fact that there were two superpowers, militarily speaking, but in the 21st century, you won't have any enemies. Democracy won't have any enemies. Capitalism won't have, free enterprise won't have any enemies, adversaries - no competition. So I don't see [why] it is impossible to reduce, drastically, military expenditures. We are spending about $950 billion a year in military expenditures in the world, and, certainly, if we don't take advantage of the peace dividends now with the end of the Cold War, I think it is really tragic and painful not to be able to inherit, to our children and to the children of our children, a peaceful 21st century.

But this depends on us. If we are incapable of using our knowledge, our talent, our education to change ideals, principles, and values in our own countries - just like Linus Pauling has been doing for almost 80 years? 70 years? I don't know, since he was a college student - we have missed a great opportunity. So, I beg to you, university people, that in this struggle I feel very lonely, as well [as], I'm sure, Linus Pauling also feels very lonely.

My impression is that you value just too much your heroes of war. And when they come back from a war, you receive them with a tremendous parade on Fifth Avenue in New York, but there are no parades for the heroes of peace. This is a country where John Wayne is a hero and Rambo is a hero, Mr. Norman Schwarzkopf is a hero and Colin Powell is a hero, but Linus Pauling isn't a hero. That must be changed. Thank you. [1:05:19]


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