There is a long tradition of opposition to war and organized peace campaigns date from 1815. Since 1945, however, modern weapons technology has threatened world wide destruction and has stimulated widespread protests. This book sketches in the background of thinking about peace and resistance to war before 1945, and then examines how public opposition to nuclear weapons and testing grew in the 1950s and early 1960s. Later chapters cover the major ressurgence of nuclear disarmament campaigns in the 1980s. The book also looks at how peace protest has spread from its origins in North America and North West Europe to embrace many parts of the world; opposition to nuclear testing has indeed been particularly strong in Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands. The period 1945 to 1990 was dominated by the Cold War between the USA and USSR, and the role of the Soviet-sponsored World Peace Council caused difficulties for indeptendent peace groups in the West.
During the 1980s the emergence of autonomous peace activity in a number of East European countries, and even on a very small scale in the USSR itself, transformed the possibilities for East-West co-operation between citizens to urge disarmament and political change. A chapter examines these developments. Opposition to all forms of militarism has spread in the last 30 years. This book charts the struggles to extend the right to conscientious objection to military service, and draft resistance to particular wars - for example in Southern Africa and Israel. It also looks in some detail at the growing opposition to the war in the Vietnam. The recent protests against the Gulf War are surveyed briefly in an epilogue.