Of course most if not all readers of this newsletter will hope it will be consigned to the dustbin of history. One place we can confidently be sure it will not go is into the Thames estuary or indeed into any river in England. The population of Wales is very concerned they may have the doubtful honour of being chosen. A few may welcome the idea of jobs it will bring.
Peter Le Mare of Penzance has another fear. He writes:-
“According to several sources including Private Eye, George Osborne is urging Cornwall Council to spend over £60 million (1/3 from Government), to dredge a more than mile long deep channel out of Falmouth harbour. The excuse is to enable larger liners into Falmouth. From my experience of sailing into Falmouth there is little if any more quay space for larger liners. Surely the Government will not build new quays for private passenger sea traffic?
The dredging will have a severe effect on an important and delicate marine environment. So why is the Government urging the spending of large sums of money, when they have demanded some £300 million of cuts in Cornwall? I can only suspect there is some ulterior motive and the only reason I can think of is that they want to be prepared to move Trident to Falmouth if the Scots manage to get rid of it from Faslane.
Falmouth was not only the first choice for Polaris, but it is the ideal spot. It has easy access to the Atlantic (South and North) with few to notice comings and goings (especially if they can submerge in a deep trench). There is plenty of land around to rebuild Coulport and Faslane facilities. Devonport has been mentioned but the channel there is much smaller in depth and less than 1/3 of the width, with 4 extreme tidal races a day. It is also some way down the channel in an extremely busy shipping lane.
I raised this matter through Andrew George MP with Nick Harvey, Minister for Armed Forces (Lib.Dem supporter of FOE and Greenpeace!) He replied that “We keep nuclear weapons because of the significant risk from nuclear weapons held by others and pressures of proliferation” Such nonsense!
Deterrence cannot and never has worked – it is a myth. Well over £100 billion for this useless and illegal ‘weapon’ is complete madness. “
(Thanks Peter. Of course if Scotland joins NATO they will probably be forced to keep Trident anyway unless WE can stop it! – Ed.)
This year the Bomb was relegated to the stalls outside the auditorium. Any mention inside might have disturbed the flow of self-congratulation and careful build-up promoting Labour’s image, and the image of the new leader, to the world. No doubt there were delegates who might have asked whether England should retain, or even, given the current climate and the impending cost of replacement, could afford to retain, the English nuclear weapon, but whether by accident or design, they were not asked to give their opinion.
Outside, only our stall, Uniting for Peace/Labour Action for Peace, and the CND stall, dared to ask the question. In previous years our stall was permitted free of charge – this year we had to pay around £600 for the privilege of informing the passing delegates of the danger they, and the rest of us, face. Was it worth it?
A peripheral meeting arranged by CND was well attended. The speakers were excellent, Jeremy Corbyn, Kate Hudson, Nick Brown amongst others less well known, and the meeting was packed out. Already well converted, I almost did not go, but I’m glad I did. It is always a boost to see and hear dedicated, talented people explaining the urgency of starting to deal with the threat of the Bomb.
Our stall was located near the coffee, and so there was a good flow of delegates, some of whom were curious enough to ask what we were doing there. A last-minute decision, I had decided on a survey, asking What Shall We do With Britain’s Nuclear Weapon? The question could be answered in three ways. Should we 1. Keep it, or 2. Negotiate it away or 3. Give it up unilaterally. There was another column, Why?, where a reason for the choice must be given. Those coming to the stall were already probably of our mind, so we got a lot of ticks in the unilateral box, plus some excellent reasons why. However, most names were recorded by approaching the long queue to get in to hear the Leader’s speech. To be sure of a seat, delegates queued for an hour and a half beforehand. Comments were readily given –about a hundred names and opinions were obtained before the doors were opened. For the first time, some ticks appeared in the Keep It box.
Impressive were the reasons given. The decision as to whether to keep or get rid of our weapon of mass destruction is complex, so the reasons given were evidence of pre-existing careful thought in most cases.
Some reasons were rudimentary, especially for the Keep It box. Usually a single word‘Security’, and one added, ‘from terrorists’, though how the Bomb could deter terrorists is impossible to imagine. Sometimes I asked the reason for the comment, but really the object was to obtain vox populi opinions, not to attempt conversion on the spot to sanity. Yet there was much friendly discussion by the way. I had the impression that delegates wanted to discuss the subject that was verboten on the main menu.
While waiting at the stall, I read again Jim McClusky’s booklet The Nuclear Threat, which contains so much subtle, detailed analysis in addition to giving the horrifying facts. If only those taking part in decisions for replacing Trident would acquaint themselves with these facts and this analysis!
It might be interesting for KPN readers to read the best of the responses to this survey sometime, but meanwhile, the results were: Keep it 14, Give it up by agreement 48, and for Give it up unilaterally 54.
Harry Davis – October 2012
 See last month’s issue of KPN as to why only the English want Trident.
 Uniting for Peace being World Disarmament Campaign and Action for UN Renewal
The annual parades of military uniforms and ceremonial wreath laying have their origin in Armistice Day and the slogan “never again”. The 11th hour of 11th day of 11th month, 1918 is when the German army capitulated, largely because the disabling flu pandemic prevented it fighting on. (The flu killed an estimated 50 million plus, worldwide.) There were two minutes of silence. The first to remember the 20 million killed; the second to remember those left behind. It was a national holiday, as it still is in France and Belgium, but in 1939 the UK moved it to the nearest Sunday to 11 November and renamed it Remembrance Sunday in order not to interfere with war preparations. A secular event was ‘taken over’ by the Church.
There was some dissatisfaction with the militaristic emphasis. Some of the ‘left behind’, bereaved mothers, widows, sisters, and fatherless children objected to the subversion of the WWI commitment “never again”. Men had been enlisted as ‘cannon fodder’ to be slaughtered by machine guns in Flanders. Recriminations and Red Poppy campaigns after the event are no substitute for finding an adequate mechanism for resolving international dispute. Many recognised that war was simply a bloody cul-de-sac. After WWI experiences many concluded war was an uncivilised crime against humanity, including Revd Dick Sheppard who was Chaplain at a military hospital in France and wrote a book about it. He had discovered for himself that “war was worse than you can ever imagine” and became a pacifist.
The Co-operative Women’s Guild supported a motion at a Hague conference condemning war as a method of settling disputes and seeking “the creation of a ‘partnership of nations’ committed to finding peaceful solutions.” The British Legion’s Earl Hague Red Poppy appeal was several times approached with suggestions for slogans like “no more war” or “peace” for the poppy centre but declined. The Cooperative Women’s’ Guild began producing their own white poppy in 1933 with “Peace” at its centre, as a means of acknowledging everyone who had been killed or injured by war – not just the servicemen.
As Hitler was elbowing his way to ‘legal dictatorship’ in Germany, people in this country became increasingly alarmed at the militaristic atmosphere. Dick Sheppard wrote his famous letter to the newspapers (declined by The Times) which sought support from others who believed war a poor means of dispute resolution, quoting Dr Fosdick, Free Church Minister, New York:
“I renounce war. I renounce war because of what it does to our own men ... I renounce war because of what it compels us to do to our enemies ... I renounce war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates, for the undying hatreds it arouses, for the dictatorships it puts in place of democracy, for the starvation that stalks after it. I renounce war and never again, directly or indirectly, will I sanction or support another.”
Within a few days 30,000 replies arrived. In 1935 there was a mass-meeting in the Albert Hall. Dick Sheppard wrote a book, “The plain Man’s Guide to Pacifism”, and with the support of Donald Soper and George Lansbury the Peace Pledge Union was founded, adopting the White Poppy. They arranged an alternative remembrance event in 1937 but Dick Sheppard died just days before.
By coincidence 2012 is supposedly a special year for peace. The Olympics in 9BC Greece reputedly allowed young virile men to display their prowess in friendly competition, defusing the urge for repeated inter-state wars that beset the region. The International Olympic Committee revived the idea, calling for a truce during Olympic Games, enshrined in UN resolution 48/11, 1993. The UK was the first to get all 193 UN members to sign a resolution: “Building a Peaceful and Better World through Sport and the Olympic Ideal”, requiring signatories to observe a truce lasting from 7 days before the start of the 2012 Olympics to 7 days after the close. In over 25 years it hasn’t been observed and, if Afghanistan is our example of commitment, there is little chance of it being so.
Sherard Cowper-Coles, (former UK ambassador to Afghanistan,) writing in the New Statesman, urges that the most be made of the time remaining in Afghanistan before withdrawal to try to establish a lasting peaceful solution by talking to all parties and convening a jirga. He says that would be the best tribute to the dead, injured and bereaved. He cites the unresolved examples of Kashmir and Palestine left after hasty British withdrawal. He isn’t optimistic.
Despite this month’s talk of remembrance I wonder just what it is that is remembered.
Incidentally, when elected, William Hague told US counterparts not to worry as “we are all Thatcher’s children”. Margaret regarded the White Poppy with “utter distaste” and during her ‘reign’ a dedicated team of ‘double agents’ infiltrated Peace Groups – so maybe we had better look out!
Noel Hamel – September 2012
The US Campaign is thrilled to announce that the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation (FFC) has become the first U.S. national fund to divest from Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Veolia Environment following concerns expressed by Palestinian rights advocates about the companies' involvement in the Israeli occupation. At last count, FFC held investments of more than $250,000 in HP and more than $140,000 in Veolia.
FFC handles investments for over 300 Quaker meetings, schools, organizations, trusts, and endowments around the US, with over $200 million in assets. According to the Executive Director of FFC, Hewlett Packard was dropped for providing information technology consulting services to the Israeli Navy, while Veolia Environment was removed due to "environmental and social concerns."
The decision followed advocacy from member group Palestine Israel Action Group of the Ann Arbor Friends Meeting (AAFM), which also successfully urged FFC to divest its $900,000 in Caterpillar shares in May. FFC has a "zero tolerance for weapons and weapons components" and said, "We are uncomfortable defending our position on this stock." Caterpillar produces and sells bulldozers to Israel that are weaponized and used to violate Palestinian rights and destroy Palestinian homes, schools, hospitals, olive groves, and lives.
The US Campaign commends AAFM and FFC, which made its recent decision, in line with FFC's principled commitment to investment in companies that "contribute positively to a peaceful, sustainable world."
Earlier this month, 15 prominent church leaders sent Members of Congress an historic letter in which they decried “widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians.”
The church leaders wrote that “unconditional U.S. military assistance to Israel has contributed to this deterioration, sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Pro-Israel organizations issued harsh denunciations against the church leaders who signed the letter and are trying to pressure them to rescind it by canceling an interfaith dialogue.
We can’t let this “interfaith bullying” succeed in stifling conversation about holding Israel accountable for misusing US weapons to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians. Let’s show these church leaders that there are thousands of people from all backgrounds who support them!
*We fully support their call for “an immediate investigation into possible violations by Israel of the US Foreign Assistance Act and the US Arms Export Control Act” and for the “withholding of military aid for non-compliance” with these laws.
CND’s conference this year was held over two days – on Saturday 13 October an open international public conference “Building towards a nuclear weapons-free Middle East” and on Sunday 14 October the CND AGM and policy conference.
The aim of the Saturday conference was to discuss civil society input for the Helsinki Conference on a Middle East Zone free of WMD, to be hosted by the Finnish Government in December. The establishment of a nuclear weapons-free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East was first proposed by Iran in 1974. In 1990 this was extended by Egypt to include other WMD. A resolution on achieving a WMD-free zone was adopted at the 1995 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Conference, and the 2010 NPT Review Conference identified five steps necessary towards the goal, including convening a regional conference in 2012.
The key speaker at CND’s Conference was Pekka Huhtaniemi, the Finnish ambassador to Britain, who outlined his hopes for the talks which he said had received a broadly positive response from the key players in the region. But when asked whether the US and Israel had signed up, he responded: "Both countries have not said they would not participate". While there was agreement over making the Middle East a WMD free zone, views differed. "Some regard peace as a prerequisite while others see the establishment of a WMD-free zone as paving the way for peace," he said. Other speakers were Rebecca Johnson, CND Vice-President and Co-chair of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons (ICAN); Ahmed Sa’ada, Egyptian physician and activist; Ghassan Shahrour of the Arab Human Security Network; and Elaheh Rostami-Povey of the School of Oriental and African Studies. A feeling was expressed that it would be better to postpone the Helsinki Conference because elections in the US and Israel would decrease the likelihood of these countries attending, as there would be insufficient time for them to organise policies and delegates.
Attendees split into four workshops, and after lunch reported back on these. Some of the issues raised were:
Civil society input for the Helsinki Middle East Conference
The people of the middle East should take the lead at Helsinki – we must listen to them, but there is a lack of information about nuclear weapons and the consequences of radiation. Stressing the humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons is most likely to be successful.
A draft document summarising the key points was composed and the final version to be taken forward to Helsinki will be posted on the CND website www.cnduk.org
If a lie is sufficiently vast it freezes our ability to think. We are left wondering ‘How can they say this? Am I going mad? Do I not understand anything? Why is there not massive protest?’
There are around 2000 nuclear weapons (shared by US and Russia) held on hair-trigger alert, ready to be launched in minutes by accident, misjudgement or lunatic malevolence.
This is not Russian Roulette. Here there are bullets in all the chambers of the revolver the nuclear weapons states are holding to the head of humanity. And we have no control over the finger on the trigger. This is the posture of a species of sentient beings which has lost the will to live. This is the stance of a species on the verge of mass suicide - self induced extinction.
This posture of incipient suicide is defended by the perpetrators with the plea ‘It is maintained to keep us safe’. It is impossible to imagine a more colossal lie. This lie is so vast and omnipresent that we cannot get far enough away from it to see it for what it is. What could possibly keep us less safe than creating and priming the means of Armageddon and delegating the button-pressing omnicidal act to whoever happens to have temporarily clawed to the top of the power-elite pack at any particular time?
So we have an imminent threat of extinction in operation every minute of every day.
It is the monstrous and blatant in-your-face nature and scale of the lie which makes focusing on it and relating to it so difficult. This lie is like a vast amorphous Teflon-shielded thing with neither orifice or extrusion – no way in and no way to get a grip on it. Who do you approach about such a lie? Where do you start? If this monstrous lie really exists why are there not major articles about it in the media? Where are the outraged talking heads on television? Where are the thunderous denunciations from the Think Tanks or from the ‘quality press’?
One thinks, perhaps I am missing something. Maybe the Colossal Lie is just a figment of my fevered imagination. Then someone mentions Stanislav Petrov – The Man Who Saved the World.
One of the major features of this Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) posture is that the incoming nuclear warheads cannot be detected by our human senses since they travel at over 1000 miles every 4 minutes – and in the stratosphere. They can only be detected by electronic sensors. We have created a species-destroying monster which we are unable to directly control. All electronic systems are subject to failure – catastrophic failure in these circumstances. When the claxons went off in Petrov’s early-warning command centre he had to decide - Should he alert the owners of the fingers on the button and probably ensure that the other half of humanity perished, or should he keep quiet. He kept quiet (it was an electronic malfunction). Would Mr Bush or Mr Cheney, or Mr Rumsfeld or Mr Blair have done the same? The drunkard President Yeltsin had his finger hovering over the button in similar circumstance but, fortunately, refrained from pressing it.
Well perhaps it is that today we have very wise and very clever people in charge who know that they have devised a system which is absolutely one hundred percent foolproof. After all if it was not one hundred percent foolproof it would surely be absolutely clear that this system, ‘for ensuring our safety’, is completely off-the-wall insane.
But, hang on, we all know that human beings are not creatures capable of making anything one hundred per cent predictable. We all know that mistakes are an endemic - part of the human condition. After all if it was possible to make anything one hundred per cent safe wouldn’t we have made nuclear power stations one hundred percent safe. Presumable we tried. And ended up with three simultaneous complete meltdowns at Fukushima which we can’t bring under control.
So where does that leave me in the face of this terminal Colossal Lie? I have decided to reaffirm, to myself, my own sanity. And what that means is that this omnicidal stance is either not sane or that its supporters are in a life-denying state of total despair. What other conclusion is possible when there is a simple remedy - when we could all be rendered safe from this appalling threat of annihilation? The world leaders could simply ban nuclear weapons (as we have banned chemical and biological weapons and land mines and cluster bombs) and create a UN force to ensure adherence to the ban.
O.K. but there is no particular hurry, is there?
Well, there is, actually. The relatively new nuclear weapons states, India and Pakistan, have already been close to war on two occasions on which the use of nuclear weapons was considered. Now a state of international hysteria is being whipped up by Israel and powerful elements in the US threatening war with Iran because it is considered by some that the Iranians might be planning to create their own nuclear weapons.
The Colossal Lie breeds concomitant lies. One of these is that Israel is justified in its posture despite the fact that it is common knowledge that it has 80-100 nuclear weapons of its own. We are told it is ‘opaque’ about this. Obfuscation and lies.
Oh, yes. It is urgent. We must, for our own sanity, for our own survival, find a way to expose the Colossal Lie and remove this terminal threat.
Jim McCluskey October 2012
(Jim has just had this article published online in OpEdNews and 2 other online publications. He tells me OpEdNews articles, if accepted, receive 70 Million hits a month. So, other budding authors out there, why not have a go?)
STOP PRESS – from Morning Star 26th October.
About 200,000 tons of radioactive cooling water are being stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks built around the plant. Operator Tepco has already chopped down trees to make room for more tanks and predicts the volume will more than triple within 3 years. The tanks are filling up partly because leaks in reactor facilities are allowing groundwater to pour in. Nuclear engineer Masashi Goto also said that the radioactive water in the basements may already be getting into the underground water system where it could reach far beyond the plant. “You never know where it’s leaking and once it’s out you can’t put it back” he said, and added that the Tepco roadmap for dealing with the problem was “wishful thinking”
On our regular Saturday stalls, held outside Kingston Parish Church on 1st and 3rd Saturdays of each month.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND