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Dr. Randall Forsberg, In Memoriam

The Middle Powers Initiative expresses its heartfelt condolences on the death of Randy Forsberg, an indomitable strategist and campaigner against nuclear weapons.  Randy's leadership during the SANE/Freeze movements of the 1980s inspired a generation of abolition activists.  

Her writings, speeches and unstoppable passion to free the world of  the ultimate evil made her a preeminent figure in the civil society movements that developed over the past quarter-century. 

Randy's work in instituting Global Action to Prevent War, integrating the work of conflict prevention, peacekeeping and disarmament, showed her vision and hope that will guide generations yet to come.  All who strive for peace owe a great debt of gratitude for the life of Randy Forsberg.

- Hon. Douglas Roche, O.C.
Chairman, Middle Powers Initiative

Dear Friends Who Love Peace,

Randall Forsberg devoted her considerable intellectual gifts and a heart filled with passion to the service of others. Her years of scholarly endeavors, inspiring leadership, and simply hard work were never dedicated to herself. When one thinks of a person who lives like this one cannot but think of the highest human value - pure selfless love.

Did Randall pursue titles and honors? Did Randall pursue recognition and wealth? Randall Forsberg pursued peace and security for the entire world. She never approached her service just for her family, her gender, her race, religion or community. This level of endeavor is justice in action.

Randall Forsberg looked ahead and worked knowing she was a step ahead. For this many did not appreciate her appropriately. Imagine if she had been in a position of state power, an appropriate position for her skills, knowledge and commitment. She chose to be in a position of inspiring leadership in the realm of ideas and activism that the world critically needs. Such an approach is based on doing that needs to be done, not because it will be recognized or visible immediately. This is real faith in action.

One hears so much nowadays about spirituality and values as the new and needed currency in public affairs. One can see how much the world needs to eliminate nuclear weapons and render the institution of war an unacceptable impractical vanity of the fearful, foolish and greedy. One can see that ending the institution of war is a majestic way of honoring peace.

Randall Forsberg demonstrated love, justice, faith, sacrifice, and honored peace in the highest. How precious is such a person? Let the source of such beautiful qualities enliven us to honor her legacy with our actions. Let our prayers reach that source with appreciation that we knew a truly good person who lived with truly good values, accomplished much and planted seeds which will surely bear more fruit in the future. May the mystery that gives all life bless her with unending love and peace. Amen.


Jonathan Granoff
President, Global Security Institute

Dr. Randall Forsberg, An Appreciation

Dr. Randall Caroline Forsberg was Director of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies (IDDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, newly designated Ann and Bernard Spitzer Professor of Political Science at the City College of New York, and Co-Founder of Global Action to Prevent War. From the outset of her productive career, she was an astonishingly effective, inspiring leader in the struggle to end war and armed violence - charismatic and empathetic in her wide appeal yet highly self-disciplined, analytical and dispassionate, searching with surprising success for the key to mobilizing action in the American political system.

From its beginning in 1968 with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Randy's remarkable career was imbued with SIPRI's principled approach of opposing war but analyzing it pragmatically. Randy was born July 23, 1945. She married while in Stockholm and had a daughter Katarina, with whom she had remained very close throughout her life.

Randy returned to the United States during the turmoil of the Vietnam War and the Cold War with the Soviet Union . Her knowledge of nuclear weapons, her empathy with the fears and pain of those touched by war, and her intellectual creativity rapidly made her a respected leader in the anti-nuclear movement. In 1979, she led the team that drafted the "Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race" which became the manifesto of the nationwide Nuclear Freeze Campaign, advocating a mutual freeze with the Soviet Union of the level of nuclear weapons and delivery systems; she spoke with passion at hundreds of meetings throughout the country, directly influencing the lives of thousands of people to work for peace, and she came to personify the freeze movement with its message of "Go No Further." These meetings culminated in the giant June 12, 1982 rally in Central Park, New York City, still the largest political demonstration in American history and in a successful freeze resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives, the high-water mark of peace protests in the United States.

Realizing that the struggle for peace was an ongoing one, Randy founded the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies in 1980. Her first project was the Arms Control Reporter, a monthly journal that was the country's most lucid, informative guide to current arms control negotiations. Randy and a single devoted colleague kept it going for nearly 30 years, and the project now lives on in her spirit. At the Institute, Randy issued a series of professional manuals on the world's armed forces, including the annually updated IDDS Database of World Arms Holdings, Production and Trade. That publication was bought and closely studied by defense establishments throughout the world.

This exacting work was performed on a shoestring. Books like these are not moneymakers. Randy was a gifted fundraiser, but too engrossed in substance to be an energetic one. With her mother's full support, Randy mortgaged the family home to raise money for the Institute's daily operations and cut off her own salary and income. Katarina and friends pitched in to keep things moving in crisis after crisis. Randy applied her charisma and superlative teaching ability to recruit and to train college student interns with the
knowledge and analytical skills to research the Institute's professional publications and to set the interns themselves on the path to a new career in arms control and defense analysis.

Randy at times had a legendary temper, which occasionally escaped control and revealed the intensity of the forces that impelled her to work for peace. Paradoxically, this quality only enhanced her authority and the respect paid her leadership.

Randy's other great talent was her ability to talk with government leaders, including President Clinton, as equals in terms they understood. Perhaps the high point of these activities was her discussions with Soviet President Gorbachev in 1988. Randy advanced ideas on conventional disarmament which Gorbachev later promoted in talks which led to the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE), the largest disarmament agreement in history.

Randy was the founder of Global Action to Prevent War, calling on Saul Mendlovitz and Jonathan Dean to assist, but supplying the concept and the drive. Beginning in 1997, she gave the organization its name and pressed for establishment of a lasting structure. Randy worked day after day, word for word, sentence on sentence in hammering out the text of the Global Action Program Statement, the credo of Global Action, straining in each proposed measure to get the precise balance between aspiration and realism. Like us, Randy believed that, if the measures described in the Global Action Program Statement are carried out, this will fulfill the cautious, but triumphant culminating sentence of the statement, "At this point, we could reasonably say that war has been abolished."

Randy passed away on the evening of October 19, 2007. We in Global Action believe that Randy Forsberg has, in her full life of leadership for peace, shown us a practical route to reach that goal. With many, many others, we are deeply grateful to her.

--Ambassador (ret.) Jonathan Dean