Henk Glimmerveen Before His Death: Europe On Collision Course; Dangers Not Sufficiently Recognized

Sent On: 
Wed, 2020-05-06
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Henk Glimmerveen


On May 1, AWR friend Henk Glimmerveen passed away at 96 years of age. I knew Henk for 39 years since my student days. Henk showed that engaged citizens can make a difference. He inspired me in many ways, which I have described in my in-memoriam. Henk was a keen observer and a critical one, not just accepting any story of persecution at face value as he showed in his comments about death threats against a Coptic Evangelical pastor and his family during the days of President Muhammad Mursi [Muḥammad Mursī].


When I heard Henk had not much time to live, I worked on these two essays as well as on a report titled “The Worldwide Threat of Nuclear Weaponry,” a subject so close to his heart,  in honor of all of his work. It is remarkable that a man of his age would write his last article as a warning: “Europa op ramkoers; gevaren niet genoeg onderkend,” (Europe on collision course; dangers not sufficiently recognized). It was his last exhortation to humanity to protect itself and indeed all life on our beautiful earth from this deadly threat.


My paper describes the rapid development of nuclear weapons between 1945 and 1970, and the 1979 NATO decision to deploy 572 medium-range missiles with nuclear warheads in Western Europe. This decision resulted in massive anti-nuclear weapon demonstrations in the Netherlands in which both Henk and I participated. The INF Treaty of 1987 and the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with Iran greatly diminished the risk of a nuclear war, but with the US pulling out of the treaties with Iran (2018) and Russia (2019), the threat of a nuclear disaster has increased. Chillingly, Lord Howell of Guildford, chairman of the International Relations Committee of the UK House of Lords, commented in April 2019, “We are now dangerously close to a world without arms control agreements, paving the way for a new arms race and for increased risk of nuclear weapons use.”


More and more countries have built nuclear reactors including Israel, Iran, Egypt and Jordan. Four other countries, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea, have nuclear weapons but have not submitted to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and thus their arsenals cannot be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), increasing the dangers of the proliferation and use of these weapons.


We are living in a word where a surprising number of strategists and politicians still believe that we can survive a nuclear war. On April 27, Henk Glimmerveen sent me his last email with an animation made in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross showing how disastrous even a “small” nuclear war would be:  prolonged dust and smoke would cause an abrupt drop in Earth's temperatures resulting in a widespread failure of crops leading to a massive worldwide famine. The effects are beyond most people’s comprehension, and they also believe they have no chance to influence these developments, so they affect apathy and live in denial. The fact that, even just days before he passed away, Henk Glimmerveen was concerned about the dangers of nuclear weapons is significant. He still felt the need to offer an urgent wake-up call to make the public aware of the dangers of nuclear weapons. I was very pleased he was able to read this report before he passed away and generously called it “een gedegen, uitgebreid en indrukwekkend rapport,” (a thorough, extensive and impressive report). Please read more here.



May 6, 2020


Cornelis Hulsman, Editor-in-Chief Arab West Report