Points of Disagreement


There are two major areas provoking current argument within the peace movement.  These are the award of the Nobel Peace prize to an environmentalist, and whether our troops should be withdrawn at once from Iraq.


  1. Nobel Peace Prize award to Al Gore.

There are many people who have devoted their lives to promoting the cause of peace.  We all know several whom we could nominate for the peace prize.  Out of the possible thousands of contenders, only one is chosen, and sometimes that one is a controversial figure.  Remember Henry Kissinger?  When that wily, pragmatic eminance gris, National Security Adviser to Nixon and the power behind US involvement in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Chile was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, US satirist Tom Lehrer famously declared that satire was now dead.

Al Gore, former US vice-president and no Kissinger, has worked hard promoting an inconvenient truth, that we must make our peace with the environment or it will kill us.  Some peace campaigners say this is not direct work for peace.  Others say that conventional thinking, which has adopted militarism and has resulted in today’s world where all powerful nations are spending huge amounts of their budgets on war preparations (‘defence’:  the war in Iraq will cost the US taxpayer around $200 billion), has legitimised a way of thinking that will lead surely to environmental destruction.  So the link between preserving the environment and peace ought to be highlighted.  KPC’s Mary Holmes says in an email: 

I can understand people feeling this is not what the Nobel Peace Prize is meant for but        personally I feel it does emphasize that peace is about more than just the absence of fighting.  Also I feel it's good that the world should praise an American who is behaving in a cooperative way in contrast to American leaders who are behaving in a very antisocial way. But probably that doesn't answer the objections.


  1. Troops out of Iraq.

Several KPC members attended the big and important demonstration in London on 8th October, calling for an immediate withdrawal of our troops from war-torn Iraq.  The demonstration was particularly important as the march down Whitehall to Parliament Square had been forbidden by the police.  This proscription of a peaceful demonstration was regarded as a dangerous precedent, an infringement of our civil liberties – the march then had a twofold purpose.  The events of the march were reported in last month’s KPN by Gill Hurle.

Speeches before the march down Whitehall focused on the idea that the troops were part of the problem, and that Iraqis would be better off when the invaders had withdrawn.  However the question is not simple.  The war unleashed by the coalition of the great democracies, the ‘coalition of the willing’, has caused massive death and destruction.  Do we now simply withdraw, and leave the mess of the shattered country to the Iraqis?  KPC’s Hilary Evans commented:


Seems a reasonable summary but I felt very unhappy that there wasn't a much stronger call at the demo for this government to provide full financial support for reconstruction and rehabilitation on Iraq's terms.  Yes, we want the troops out, but to imply that this is all smacked of rats abandoning a sinking ship.  The government must not be allowed to forget its tremendous obligations - it can't just 'move on'.

The kind of reparations described by Hilary seem to be the least we can now do.  We can’t restore the lives, or heal the shattered families, but we can pay for the damage we have caused in a war that has been widely seen as, and indeed declared by the UN Secretary General to be, illegal.  Such reparations would also be seen as an apology, and an admission, and a deterrent for us if we ever contemplate doing the same thing again.

Let us have your views.  To Gill Hurle, email gill.hurle@ukonline.co.uk, who will be doing the February KPN.

H. D.