Kingston Peace News - March 2014

The Great Trident Debate

Hints to MPs who will vote after the election next year to determine the fate of the British nuclear weapon

There are hopeful signs that the ‘main gate’ debate in parliament on Trident renewal after the elections next year will not be a foregone conclusion. This time simplistic talk about ‘deterrence’ or of not going naked into conference chambers may not dominate, and there will be a rational debate that reflects the growing international pressure to abolish these deadly weapons worldwide.

As Martin Birdseye noted in the February issue of KPN, a high-level meeting of the General Assembly on Nuclear Disarmament, ‘The United Nations and Security in a nuclear-weapon-free world’ was held on 26 September 2013. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon addressed the meeting:

Some might complain that nuclear disarmament is little more than a dream. But that ignores the very tangible benefits disarmament would bring for all humankind.

Its success would strengthen international peace and security. It would free up vast and much-needed resources for social and economic development. It would advance the rule of law.

It would spare the environment and help keep nuclear materials from terrorist or extremist groups. Let us also remember that failure carries a heavy price . . .

Well said! At the meeting there were statements on behalf of 74 nations, and in addition from the International Red Cross, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and the American Friends Service Committee on behalf of civil society. The statements can be read at the UN web site.

Of special interest to those of us in Britain is the statement from the United Kingdom. It is so optimistic that the world will soon be free of nuclear weapons! Giant strides have been taken, and the UK is at the forefront. Perhaps Mr Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, who gave the British statement, has advance knowledge of the result of the coming debate in UK’s parliament. His opening sentence, ‘The journey to nuclear zero is a long and difficult one, but we are already well on the way’ set the tone for the rest of the short statement.

Other speakers told the General Assembly that disarmament of these most loathsome weapons would ‘ease the fear clouding human existence’.

Heinz Fischer, President of Austria, quoted United States President John F. Kennedy from 1961 on his notion of a nuclear sword of Damocles ‘hanging by the slenderest of threads capable of being cut at any moment by accident, or miscalculation, or by madness’, underlining that the nuclear weapons still posed an existential threat to humanity.  To those who claimed that those weapons were ultimate guarantors of security, he said that relying on mutually assured destruction as the foundation of international relations and stability was neither responsible nor sustainable.

There were many constructive suggestions too, he said, citing calls for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’s entry into force and the start of negotiations on a fissile material treaty.

The International Red Cross has also recently taken a firm stand. At a conference in Sydney on 17th November 2013, the global Red Cross and Red Crescent movement stated its ‘deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons’, and adopted a four-year action plan towards ensuring that nuclear weapons are never used again. The world’s largest humanitarian organisation confirmed its objective to prohibit the use of, and completely eliminate, nuclear weapons. The resolution was adopted unanimously at the Council of Delegates meeting, the highest governing body of the movement.


The First World War of Words - Part 1

By Phillip Cooper

The phoney war over how to mark the centenary of WW1 has finally been replaced with out and out hostilities. After months of mutterings from right wing historians about the need to ensure that the centenary doesn’t overlook the fact that (in their fevered opinion) it was Germany’s fault, the politicians have finally uncovered their howitzers and let fly.

Michael Gove (would it have been anybody else?) launches a thunderously party political assault on the “left wing” for denigrating patriotism and heroism through such traitorous fifth columnists as Blackadder and Oh What a Lovely War. His Labour shadow (and noted historian) Tristram Hunt responds denouncing Gove’s fusillade as “crass” and “foolhardy”. The right wing then launches its ground offensive aka Boris Johnson (whose specialism is being offensive). He calls Hunt’s view that Germany was not the cause of the war  “fatuous”, says Hunt was not fit to hold the post of shadow education secretary and should resign. Senior academics have also been deployed with Sir Richard Evans, Regius Professor of History at Cambridge, saying that Gove should be ashamed of himself for his comments. Gove’s verdict on Sir Richard? He was, he wrote, “adopting the attitude of an undergraduate cynic.”

And so it will go on and on as we lurch through the next four years of commemoration (or in the view of some on the right ‘celebration’.)  Fading farther into the background of this burgeoning political and academic tit for tat is the death of more than 15,000,000 combatants in a conflict that WAS eminently avoidable.

What is striking in this brouhaha is the right wing’s obsession with blaming the war on the Germans. Sir Max Hastings in his book Catastrophe: Europe Goes to War 1914 maintains that the Germans had a “voracious appetite for dominance” and that it was “imperative” that Britain defeated them. Even the most cursory understanding of the sequence of events leading up to the outbreak of hostilities on July 28, 1914, relegates this view to one of simplistic nonsense.

In Sleepwalkers, his excellent – and incredibly detailed – account of the circumstances leading up to the war historian Christopher Clark comprehensively rebukes the theory that the Germans were the pre-meditated architects of the conflict and the principal aggressors. The responsibility for war rests just as heavily on the shoulders of the French, the Russians, Austria-Hungary and the British. 

Clark points out that British foreign policy from the late 19th century onwards laid blame for any aggression at the door of Germany. In late 1909 Sir Charles Hardinge, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office in Whitehall, was routinely referring to Germany as the “only aggressive power in Europe”; a mantra that was repeated in every possible diplomatic dispatch, letter and departmental minute. The anti-German mindset had also been bolstered by the arrival of Sir Edward Grey as Foreign Secretary in 1905. He expounded the view that Britain was bound by “a law of nature” to oppose any state that opposed British hegemony over as much of the world as possible. Grey was a man who distrusted foreigners in general and who once commented: “Foreign statesmen ought to receive their education at an English public school.” He did not know most of his European counterparts and therefore was not in a position to guess what they might be thinking and how they could be expected to react as the days and hours ticked away in the run up to war. In his equally excellent book The Twelve Days George Malcolm Thomson writes: “The most remarkable fact about the British Foreign Secretary was that – apart from a non-stop journey through the Continent long ago, on his way to India, and a brief state visit to Paris in the retinue of King George V – he had never visited Europe. His was a strangely incurious mind.”

Interestingly, Grey’s decidedly anti-German views were not shared by the Liberal Government’s cabinet which accused the Foreign Office of being unnecessarily provocative towards Germany.

We are used today to strident headlines attacking everything foreign in the tabloid media and from the Boer War to the First World War the Daily Mail in particular fed its readers with a “rich diet of jingoism, xenophobia, security scares and war fever.”  (Nothing changes!) In 1909 it was the German Chancellor Bernhard von Bulow who told the German Parliament: “Most of the conflicts the world has seen in the past ten decades have not been called forth by princely ambition or ministerial conspiracy but through the passionate agitation of public opinion, which through the press and parliament has swept along the executive.”

But despite such realization there was still, throughout Europe’s educated elites, a growing fatalistic belief that a war was inevitable even though against whom and over what was not spelled out. Some called for a “defensive patriotism”; a belief that conflict was a natural feature of international politics. Viscount Esher told a Cambridge audience in 1912 that they should not underestimate the “poetic and romantic aspects of a clash of arms” and that to do so would be to “display enfeebled spirit and impoverished imagination.” Others cited Darwin in support of a view that their respective energies meant that England and Germany were bound to come to blows before long.

(Next time we consider in more detail how Serbia, France and Russia contributed to the outbreak of an “inevitable” war and how the German Kaiser tried to prevent one)

Navigating Trident

Our nuclear weapon is independent, provided we are allowed to use US Satnav system

Trident needs a guidance systemIn the great debate in parliament on the future of Trident, one obviously important question is bound to arise: is the British nuclear weapon independent, or must we ask US permission before firing off a missile?

The first ballistic missile was the German V2, used against Britain towards the end of the second world war. It could not be accurately targeted. It had an on-board navigation system that was good enough to ensure that the missile hit somewhere near London. But a better guidance system became necessary with the advent of nuclear weapons. Pin point accuracy became essential, if the missiles were to take out multiple enemy missile silos, to prevent a counterattack – this was all part of the MAD, deterrent thinking.

Putting satellites into orbit solved the problem. Now the missiles could be delivered halfway across the world to within a few metres of the target. Eventually such precise guidance was obtained by putting into orbit from twenty to thirty satellites, whose electronic receivers were capable of determining location (longitude, latitude, and altitude) to high precision.

But a problem remained: the guidance system must remain exclusive. Otherwise, enemy missiles could use the US satellites to guide them to US cities.

As of April 2013, only the United States NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) and the Russian GLONASS are global operational navigation systems. As these systems can be closed to other users, nations with aspiration to be nuclear powers must put their own satellites into orbit, to guide their own missiles. China is currently expanding its regional Beidou the global Compass navigation system by 2020. The European Union’s Galileo positioning system is in initial deployment phase, scheduled to be fully operational by 2020 at the earliest.

(Information from Wikipedia)H.D.


David Cameron announced a £50 million commemoration of World War 1, to rival the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. To celebrate Britishness he wants to capture “our national spirit ... that says something about who we are as a people”. Throngs mobbing Buckingham Palace, waving flags, singing “God save the Queen”? Surely not! Baroness Warsi claims British Empire soldiers fought the war for freedom. Puzzling from someone whose ancestors were illegally occupied at gun point and weren’t liberated for another 33 years. Will someone pop up and declare the war was for peace, justice and human rights?

High Spirits

In 1914 the nation was in high spirits at the declaration of war. Like a shot in the arm enthusiasm grew to a veritable torrent as so many eager young men volunteered, over-whelming recruitment offices. They were excited to be part of the action to fight for King and Country, God and Empire, for good and righteousness; and against barbarism and inhumanity. Britain did not go to the aid of France. Agreements with Russia and France had a very different purpose; to stop squabbles in the scramble for colonies in Africa and Asia, and hence reduce the risk of conflict and war.


In the Franco-Prussian war France ceded Alsace-Lorraine after resounding German victory. France coveted Alsace Lorraine and Germany feared a French attempt to recover it. The First World War created conditions for conflict between the two to resume. Germany planned to attack France via Belgium and by-pass French fortifications. On August 2nd Germany invaded Luxembourg but no one cared. On August 3rd Germany declared war on France and Britain vowed to protect channel shipping lanes. On August 4th Germany invaded Belgium which had refused the Germans entry; and we declared war on Germany to defend the Belgians. Posters went up denouncing the German monster with Belgium the defenceless victim, like King Kong and Fay Wray. ‘Poor little Belgium’, guilty of truly, truly obscene crimes in the Congo.

Our navy had amicably docked in Germany’s Kiel harbour days before and relations with Germany had improved greatly since an earlier shipping incident. A friendship deal seemed likely and France was perturbed at the prospect. Our entry into the war was voluntary.

Britain wanted to maintain naval supremacy and prevent Germany getting a foothold in Belgian channel ports. Our navy was the essential lifeline for our empire which was an essential lifeline to exploitation for British economic and industrial advantage. Did those eager young men understand this ruling class agenda? Would they have gone like lambs to the slaughter if they had?

My Message

For David Cameron my message is this: for my money the real heroes were the men who endured the mud and blood and guts of the war; who were shot at continuously; who were wounded and disabled; who were so traumatised they never spoke of their experiences; who stuck it out believing it a noble cause and those who did not through fear and terror and were shot by their own comrades for desertion; who went “over the top” in the face of machine gun fire and those who went mad; those who tended the wounded and dying; and those who knew the war was wrong and were shamed and beaten for their stand; those who were conscientious objectors and were abused and beaten by prison authorities. Namely the ordinary people of Britain, deliberately misled by government propaganda, many of whom couldn’t vote as Britain was not a democracy.

Those who sent naive, trusting souls to be killed and to be subjected to unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity, should forever be shamed and be denounced for their callousness.

Those who were led to fight and those who fought the very idea of fighting should be remembered with sorrow and national remorse, for eternity.

It was a catastrophe. Forget jamborees, remember the mass deprivation of the right to happy, fulfilled lives and vow never again.

If that is the kind of commemoration you have in mind, David Cameron, then I am with you all the way.

Noel Hamel, January 2014

How the Nuclear Arms Race Began

The early mistakes, made when the nuclear arms race was still preventable

It is easy to see the mistakes that have been made, that have led to the present uncertain state of the nuclear standoff. When we put on our hindsight glasses, we can see glaring misjudgements that have had disastrous consequences. However important it is to examine these mistakes, it is worth observing that those who made the fateful decisions were not stupid. (Quite the contrary – one of them was Einstein.) They were in the hot seat, and had to decide in the circumstances of the time. In looking at how the nuclear threat has escalated until it has reached today’s proportions, where the technology has spread to eight nations, where the power of nuclear weapons has increased exponentially and their means of delivery have become so swift and accurate that there is no hope of defending against a strike once launched, a dangerous state which today’s nuclear states have made no credible efforts to change, it is necessary to look at those early mistakes in the hope that the nuclear future might be handled more safely, yet without assigning blame to those whose decisions have caused the crisis.

That said, is it possible to identify those critical mistakes that have led to today’s precarious militarised world? What were the crucial errors that have resulted in the citizens worldwide being threatened en masse and having to live in fear?

The first mistake must be Einstein’s decision to alert president Roosevelt to the possibility of an atom bomb through the splitting of the uranium 235 atom. Einstein was a pacifist, hated war, yet he knew that German scientists were working on a uranium atom bomb, and understood the theoretical possibility that might enable them to succeed. Hitler in possession of an atom bomb did not bear thinking about. The only chance to deter Hitler from using such a weapon of mass destruction was the threat of retaliation in kind.

Einstein was the greatest physicist of his time, whose advice could not be ignored. So the Manhattan project was born, a vast, expensive enterprise with no guarantee of success, one that would scarcely have been considered in time of peace. Driven by a sense of survival, with a bill that only an economic superpower could have afforded in time of war, after some five years the Manhattan project achieved its aim of creating the first nuclear weapon. The Manhattan Project began modestly in 1939, but grew to employ more than 130,000 people and cost nearly US$2 billion (about $26 billion in 2013 dollars).

As it turned out, the German scientists failed. Their failure, when it became known, might well have deterred further attempts to unlock the power of the atom as not possible, had the Manhattan project not been initiated. Without the prompt of war, without the Manhattan project, with the prospects of success unknown and the cost of finding out prohibitive in the postwar climate where peace and rebuilding was the priority, the invention of atomic power might have had to wait for decades, perhaps centuries.

Next month: the next mistakeH. D.

Chairman’s Annual Review, 2013/14

With government austerity being such a prominent theme CND decided to build a campaign reminding the public that not everything was being cut. Military expenditure is continuing much as if there were no national debt, and spending on Trident replacement doesn’t pause for breath though a decision to renew or not won’t happen till 2016. A report to help inform government about options forgot the simplest and least costly option; simply to scrap it. We joined the campaign with a purpose-made banner showing a greedy Trident swallowing our public services. As a follow-up to Think in Kingston in 2012 we went out on the street again to take our message to the public with a ‘cutometer’ machine explaining the costs to services of cutting even modest sums. The Chancellor plans yet more cuts.

Bruce Kent visited and we took to the streets again, debated with Richard Challonor 6th form and had a Mayor’s reception at the Guildhall with faith leaders and dignitaries. Our banner joined a mass demonstration at Parliament on Budget Day.


We gave our banners an outing to Aldermaston at Easter to reinforce the message, “Stop Fooling with Nuclear Weapons” and to RAF Waddington to protest at drones which are flown from there. Others made very early morning visits to Aldermaston to give a polite nudge to the consciences of staff as they entered.


A particularly important local initiative to engage directly with Vince Cable over weapons’ sales policy and practices. Kingston Peace Council is joined by Amnesty, Green groups, PSC and World Poverty groups to call attention to the continuing sales of weapons to dodgy regimes despite a supposed ‘blacklist’ and aided by a lack of transparency and control over delegated responsibility to arms traders. There seems to be a policy of selling to our friends no matter what and bending rules to suit. There is disregard for criteria about developing national economies where schools and health are cut to pay for weapons. And the cost to UK taxpayers is a substantial subsidy for arms companies. TRAKNAT picketed Vince Cable’s surgery office in Twickenham periodically, has had regular correspondence and constituents have had face-to-face interviews. There is so much dissatisfaction that we picketed the Twickenham LibDem Party AGM. Greater transparency was promised and the promise promptly withdrawn.


Despite an Obama promise of closure the prison camp survives and innocent people cleared for release remain. Members supported 11th anniversary demo and demos for Shaker Aamer, Battersea charity worker whom many thought would be released before 12 years inside but he remains, quite absurdly. He issued a statement, following the Woolwich murder of Lee Rigby, condemning violence. Some joined the demo on International Anti-Torture Day. The flagrant breaches of justice and human rights committed by the USA with UK collusion is a potent symbol of decline since we are amongst those supposedly blazing a trail for international standards of justice and human rights.


This was more contentious as the carnage escalated but we demonstrated against involvement in the firm belief that increased outside interference makes things worse and would inevitably cause friction with Mid East States already butting in, and Russia shipping weapons. As a signatory to the Arms Trade Treaty the UK cannot supply arms where the end user is uncertain and rebels in Syria include some radical terror-allied groups.


Demonstrations at the Japan Embassy continue and we have made an occasional appearance as the issue remains dangerously unresolved, and we are concerned at UK plans for further nuclear power plants.

Hiroshima Day

I attended the Tavistock Square event and stood next to Hetty Bower who at 108 refused to sit, making her son do so. She died recently. In the evening we had our Kingston Riverside event with lighted boats on the Thames and the Deputy Mayor, wife and daughter, and the Woodcraft Folk. I reminded everyone that nuclear weapons were designed to kill large numbers of defenceless civilians and that remains their sole purpose.

International Day of Peace

This brainwave of Jeremy Gilley, a local man from Richmond, is the universally recognised day when ceasefires can allow for medical and humanitarian access to conflict areas and, with record achievements in many places, it is becoming established and recognised around the world. In places like south London it is marked by stalls and campaigns, and in schools. Kingston Peace Council reached 3,000 local schoolchildren through assemblies dedicated to thoughts about conflict, friendship and interaction. We had our dedicated peace stall in Kingston and spread the word including getting the public to leave messages of peace and goodwill on our peace tree. I am negotiating with MP Zac Goldsmith and look forward to his involvement with this very enterprising and constructive initiative in 2014.


Stalls at fetes and fairs remains an important part of what we do, led by Maggie Rees with an army of helpers. It is a good way of putting ourselves about and getting our name and purpose known. We are always on the look-out for interesting and serviceable items to sell. We still maintain our twice-monthly stall at the church gates in Kingston Market despite building works and difficulties of storage.

World War 1

The commemoration is the big issue this year. 2013 was simply the warm up. Cameron’s idea of an event to rival the Queen’s Jubilee Party is offensive to many and suggests he doesn’t comprehend the gravity of the catastrophe of 1914/18 when the political and ruling classes led innocent young men, eager to do their bit for God and country, unknowingly into a murderous Armageddon without any good reason. I foresee much friction as the official line of celebrating Britishness is played out and argued over.


This is the year British troops finally withdraw having been engaged in virtually holding the line between an unrepresentative, hyper-corrupt, Northern Alliance dominated government and excluded Pashtuns allied to a resurgent Taliban. It looks to me extremely precarious and nothing like the soothing reassurances of Cameron. We had a visit from Maya Evans, an insider from Voices for Creative Non-Violence who is working overtime on women’s rights there. Seems there is a very long way to go. She is collaborating in the making of a film and in touch with local Afghan peace groups who are increasingly seen on the streets of Kabul spreading their message that it is to everyone’s advantage to avoid conflict and violence by finding alternative ways of settling dispute.

KPC Army

We should get nowhere without an army of helpers from those manning the stall roster to helpers at summer fetes. We have a roster of editors for our revitalised Kingston Peace News which maintains an excellent and informative standard of articles and news. Others help with agendas, minutes, email lists, the website, accounts, newsletter distribution, maintaining our literature sources, etc ...

Very many thanks to them all.

Now for 2014/15! Whatever it may hold!

Noel Hamel, January 2014


Reporting the crime of TridentThree members of Kingston Peace Council - Rosemary Addington, Gill Hurle and Maggie Rees - arrived at Reading Police Station on Saturday 8 February at midday to report crimes associated with Trident. Kingston’s Scrap Trident banner was tied to the railings amongst the many others which were already there. For the next couple of hours we waited in the queue - and rain, wind and hail - to report the crime we had chosen to report, cheered on by the singing of the group “Raised Voices”.

Briefing papers issued to those attending were very helpful and informative. The police were asked that the crimes are properly investigated, to grant a crime number and to inform us as soon as possible of the result of the investigation. There would be insistence that the crimes be investigated impartially and thoroughly because they are of such seriousness.

In small groups people were let into the police station. At the counter, each person was handed a crime sheet on which to record our crime numbers and a phone on which to speak to the crime officer. Personal details were given (except by Rosemary as the police seem to know her details already!) and we were asked what we wished to report.

The briefing papers we had been given gave us a large choice as the threat or use of the nuclear warheads on the UK Trident weapon system that is currently deployed, is criminal under international law. The UK’s reliance on Trident in its military posture amounts to a criminal conspiracy to carry out war crimes and crimes against peace in contravention of international humanitarian law. Nuclear weapons generally breach many laws and customs of war. These were listed on the briefing papers and we were able to choose any or all of these contraventions of international law to report on. In addition The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) 1968 is being violated now, in that the United Kingdom is not fulfilling its obligation to negotiate - in good faith - for nuclear disarmament but instead, is seeking to replace Trident with an updated new nuclear weapon system.

Each of the sixty people at Reading Police Station was given a crime number, but as the wheels of justice run very slowly we are not expecting any follow-up yet. We shall keep you informed!

Maggie Rees

Stop The War International Conference – Part 2 – Syria

Syria was understandably a divisive subject at the conference last November. There was a demonstration outside of people accusing Stop the War members and sympathisers of not supporting the Syrian people – by this they seemed to mean that we were not sufficiently opposed to the Assad regime. Some of them at least definitely felt that ”we – The West” should have intervened militarily. Some members of this group inside the conference were actively haranguing the 3 speakers – Jonathan Steele, Guardian journalist, Iraqi activist Sami Ramadani, and Kevin Ovenden, Respect party member and journalist.

Both Jonathan and Sami referred to a Syrian pacifist nun, Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix, who had apparently withdrawn from attending the conference. It wasn’t clear to me at the time why this was so, but both said she would have been a very welcome speaker. Later I looked her up on the Web and find that her “crime” is writing to throw severe doubts on the truth of Assad’s chemical weapons attack, calling reports of it “fraudulent” (her Convent home is very near to the site of this attack). For this reason Jeremy Scahill, the keynote speaker, apparently said he would withdraw if she came. I do recommend anyone with the time to check out Mother Agnes, she is certainly a very interesting person!

Unfortunately I did not hear Jeremy Scahill’s initial keynote speech, so let’s get on with what I did hear! First, Jonathan Steele. He started by stating the obvious, that Syria is the worst humanitarian disaster at the present time. Six million homeless and rising. But he made an interesting point that, unlike most of the late 20th and 21st century wars, most of the deaths in this one have been soldiers and armed rebels: 44,000 government soldiers, 15,000 armed rebels, 38,000 civilians. Many of the government forces are young conscripts manning checkpoints, they are often massacred wholesale by rebel forces. The media don’t reflect this. Neither do they accurately reflect the large number of sieges of civilians being carried out by various rebel forces.

He made 4 points of marginally good news:-

1. Our historic Parliamentary vote. This prevented a disastrous attack, and also stopped the USA in its tracks – Obama could not count on his government supporting intervention after that.

2. USA and Russia have begun to get together over the crisis. This is essential, and would hopefully lead to

3. The Geneva 2 conference that would soon take place to try and bring the sides together. (It has now taken place, of course.)

4. He was in Syria in September and found that more Syrians are now seeing that armed intervention is not the way forward. Many don’t like either side. Pushing for cease-fires is seen as the best course, but wars are easier to start than to finish.

Sami Ramadani is an Iraqi who has lived in this country for many years, and travels widely in the Middle East. He quoted retired US and Nato General Wesley Clark’s speech of 2001, listing 7 countries the USA wanted to attack/destroy. These were Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Iran. Most readers of this newsletter should be able to understand why. If not, you can see a video of his speech by googling General Wesley Clark. The attack on the Twin Towers legitimized USA aggression.

He said Syria was previously a very peaceful country, but virtually the only Arab country not under USA’s thumb. He gave 5 further reasons why Syria became a target. Since 1967 large parts are occupied by Israel, including the Golan Heights. They support the Lebanon, whose airspace is constantly overflown by Israel. They opposed the Iraq war. They support Palestine resistance and its claim to statehood, and they are allied with Iran.

He mentioned the democratic opposition there, but they have failed to make progress as they don’t support American/Western intervention either. Now there are many Jihadist /Islamist fighters who are not supported by Syrian civilians. Many of the middle classes do support Assad as a strong, secular ruler, and fear the opposition groups greatly. And of course very many have fled the country to neighbouring states barely able to cope.

The last speaker Kevin Ovenden mentioned the role of Saudi Arabia, an unlikely ally for USA and Britain if you think of human rights – but otherwise useful to the West. He too welcomed our Parliamentary vote, and drew attention to the situation in Libya – thousands have died in Bengazi but the media barely report on this, and the new regime we helped to facilitate is very corrupt.

These speeches can still be played on

Rosemary Addington

Chelsea Manning convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

More than three years after arrest and torturous imprisonment, whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was sentenced on 21st August to 35 years in prison at a Court Martial. Manning will be eligible to seek parole after serving 10 years, so having already served more than three years, and with 112 days credit for the ‘cruel and degrading’ conditions of solitary confinement, Manning could be free in a little over six years.

Manning’s motivation was quite clear. She wanted the public to observe the true conduct of war and superpower diplomacy.

Chelsea’s legal defence team are preparing an appeal, which if successful would of course mean an immediate release.

(These details from The Nuclear Resister)

Newsletter Editor for this issue: Harry Davis

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND