As I am starting to write this a few days after the Paris attacks, I am nervous, everyone is nervous, the football match at Wembley is about to start, I am sure the audience is nervous. But they are there, the French players are there, and they are all showing that terrorists cannot destroy our communal will to live together as friends, whatever our ethnicity,beliefs or lack of them.
It is good to see the CND symbol incorporating the Eiffel Tower being used all over Paris, including a banner here at Wembley. But not so good to realise that French planes are bombing in Syria together with the Russians, causing massive fear and destruction, causing yet more refugees to decide they have to flee their homes. Maybe our MP's will vote soon to join in this. Would the UN authorise it? Surely if our leaders have learnt anything from Iraq it should be how essential it is to have UN backing for any military action.
To me, overlying everything is the dreadful problem of the arms trade and the huge numbers of small arms everywhere, often easily and very cheaply purchased. (See Paul's article "Stopping the Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons" below)
Other awful worries are the probable rise of right-wing parties in France, likely demonisation and violence against Muslim populations, where are the refugees going to live?- it seems never-ending. - I have no idea. what can be done about ISIS. Usually I would say to talk is the only way - but even that seems impossible when they are so completely certain of the rightness of their terrible murderous ideas and only too ready to die for them.
One thing I am absolutely sure about though is that Trident Nuclear Submarines have no place in all this - totally useless - a cold war white-elephant. When will our leaders realise this?
Fantastic News - Shaker Aamer finally released and has been returned to the UK.
Many thanks to everyone who has campaigned for this.
But there are still 107 prisoners in Guantanamo Bay - around 50 have also been cleared for release for around 6 years, but still they are imprisoned.
So the Guantanamo campaign continues - 1st Thursday in the month, Noon - 1pm US Embassy Grosvenor Square and 1.15-2pm, Marble Arch.
Stop Press - just found on SSAC email:-
"I can’t tell you how much I want to speak to all of you and stand with all of you, carrying on the struggle for justice for everybody who has been oppressed and needs our help. If there is one thing we can do to save the whole world it is to fight for justice. We will work hard together to close Guantánamo and every unlawful facility run by any government worldwide. Justice has no colour or religion or race. I promise all of you good people — those whose names I know, and those whose names I do not know — that my heart and my spirit feel your thoughts of justice. I care for you all.
Yours sincerely, Shaker Aamer ISN 239"
It was very sad to hear that Michael had died following a short illness. He was an outstanding MP, a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, and one of those who nominated Jeremy Corbyn as leadership candidate. Thanks to David Lowry for the following:_
I worked as a specialist researcher for Michael in the nine months running up to the 1997 general election landslide win for Labour, preparing policy papers as he advanced the cause of sustainability as shadow environmental protection secretary.Tony Blair chose to break Labour party rules in denying Michael his rightful place as a cabinet minister. Nonetheless, as one of several junior ministers in John Prescott’s super-ministry covering environment, transport and regional government, Michael de facto led the environmental brief for several years until Margaret Beckett was appointed as the full environment secretary. Barely days after the attacks on 9/11 in the US, he had a stand-up fight in the environment department with Mrs Beckett, who was pushing through the Blair-backed plan to trade globally with nuclear explosives in opening a plutonium-fuels fabrication plant at Sellafield, costing several billion pounds of taxpayers’ money. Blair won, but Meacher was right, as the plant has proved a technical failure and economic disaster .After that, Michael decided his own advisers could not be trusted as objective (as his friend and political fellow traveller on the left, Tony Benn, had done in the late 1970s when energy secretary, again over dodgy nuclear advice), and he created a shadow advice panel on radioactive waste, including me, which did its best to present him with more objective evidence-based advice than his own departmental officials were providing him. Time has proved our independent advice significantly more accurate, as the nuclear waste disposal strategy finally collapsed too. Time will show Michael Meacher was the best environment secretary we never had.
NB Michael was also an excellent economist and opposed the policies of the previous and current Governments. I have his book The State We Need 2013. Let me know if you would like to borrow this. Rosemary.
KPC/CND is an associate member of Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), and I attended their conference on 31 October. With the forthcoming climate change negotiations in Paris in mind, they wanted to look at some of the broader and deeper issues that are not being discussed – how to keep fossil fuels in the ground, and the links between climate change and the military.
Prof Keith Barnham, from Imperial College London, looked at progress made in recent years in Germany, where wholesale electricity prices fell by 20% between 2007 and 2011 and have continued to fall since. He was able to show that solar energy, wind energy – fairly reliable on a national scale – and biogas, volumes of which can be adjusted as necessary, would constitute a renewable energy system requiring only 5% back-up from electricity storage. He then showed that the UK could achieve similar results by reversing currently proposed subsidy cuts and speeding up expansion of biogas energy. The average wholesale price could fall to zero soon after 2020, rather than doubling as would happen with the level of subsidy agreed for the planned Hinckley Point C nuclear power station.
The second speaker was Dr Laurence Matthews from Cap and Share UK. He gave a very encouraging presentation in which he said that we are looking at climate change problems in terms of reducing emissions, but this ‘frame’ prevents us from seeing the ‘bigger picture’. We should be addressing the root cause - fossil fuels. Also, we should not be concentrating on nations, because wealthy nations are reluctant to pay, but targeting fossil fuel companies and requiring them to pay for permits to extract.
The third speaker was SGR’s Chair, Dr Philip Webber. Climate models have been updated in recent years and studies show that the ‘nuclear winter’ caused by detonation of nuclear weapons would last significantly longer than previously thought. The studies show that a regional conflict (eg India/Pakistan) using the equivalent of a third of a UK Trident submarine’s payload could result in 20 million people being killed by the blast, fires, radiation etc., the indefinite abandonment of many cities, and key agricultural areas being affected by cooling and drought for a decade. He added that we have been lucky to avoid an accidental nuclear disaster for 70 years – there have been numerous close calls. Thus the current nuclear arsenals risk massive climate impacts.
Finally Tamara Lorincz of the International Peace Bureau gave a pre-recorded presentation on the need for demilitarisation to help tackle climate change. Decarbonisation plans generally exclude military emissions, despite their being the major consumers of fossil fuels. Global military spending is estimated at $1.7 trillion, yet only a fraction of this is spent on research and development into renewable energy. She stressed the need for disarmament alongside climate change mitigation and adaption and recommended the report ‘Arms to Renewables’ which shows how a transition is possible.
See http://www.sgr.org.uk/events/messages-paris-conference-forgotten-dimensions-climate-change to download the presentations.
Gill Hurle (with help from SGR website)
These will be brief due to lack of space. Two of the events were organised by Uniting for Peace www.unitingforpeace.org. First was the Annual Erskine Childers Lecture in September entitled "The United Nations at 70 - what prospects for Peace? The Speaker was Clare Short, (former UK Secretary of State for International Development). She resigned in 2003 over the Gulf War. Throughout the talk she stressed the importance of the UN, not only the flawed Security Council but all the UN Agencies which keep going despite underfunding . She quoted Dag Hammarskjold "The UN was created not to lead mankind to heaven but to save it from hell". She also referred several times to the running sore of Israel/Palestine, the only major unsolved territorial conflict not improved but worsened since WW2. This seems unsolvable due to the veto, constantly used by USA to prevent progress. The reform of this always proves to be impossible. and Prospects for Peace uncertain at best.
Another Uniting for Peace event I attended which will also be on their website was a conference "Britain in/out of EU - what is best for Peace?" Many very interesting speakers gave us a lot to think about before this referendum is announced. Generally the consensus was that the EU is good but needs reform - not necessarily those called for by David Cameron.
Thirdly I went to the WILPF conference Climate Change, the Environment and Militarism. This covered very similar issues to those in Gill's preceding report. Two speakers Margrethe Tingstad from Norway and April Humble from Earth League gave powerpoint presentations which I can forward to you if you email me (Rosemary).
Jonathan Steele, Guardian Journalist and Author, spoke at the November London Region CND meeting, the subject was The New Cold War in Europe. I found this talk excellent, and luckily he has supplied it to David Polden. Therefore I am reprinting the first part here, and if you would like to read more please email me (Rosemary) and I will send you the whole talk.
Just over a month ago, when the Russian air force started bombing radical Islamist forces in Syria, the US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter made an extraordinary series of statements The airstrikes were “doomed to failure”, he said. They would “have consequences for Russia itself, which is rightly fearful of attacks. In coming days, the Russians will begin to suffer from casualties.” It was as though the Pentagon’s boss was actively hoping Russia would soon be hit by revenge attacks from suicide bombers. This, he implied, would be well-deserved punishment for Russia’s intervention. In the ensuing days several Western commentators in newspapers and on TV stations elaborated on the point predicting that Sunni Arabs would be inflamed by Russia's actions. Because Russia was defending the Assad government, which is largely led by Alawites who represent a branch of Shi’ism, " Sunnis would see Russia as an enemy and a legitimate target", they wrote. In their enthusiasm for giving Russia a bloody-nose, these commentators seemed to be deliberately inciting sectarianism. How have we come to this? How is it possible that when a major power takes a controversial foreign policy decision, the reaction of Western governments is so hostile, petty and vindictive?
Now take the European Union’s response to the Russian intervention in Syria. On October 12 EU foreign ministers came out with a statement just as astonishing as Ashton.Carter's. “The recent Russian military attacks in Syria... are of deep concern and must cease immediately”, they thundered.
“Must cease immediately”. Didn’t even one of the 28 foreign ministers stop to think of the hypocrisy of their position? The United States has been bombing targets in Syria for over a year. France started doing the same two months ago. The British government is eager to follow suit. How is it legitimate for Western governments to bomb Syria but not for Russia to do it? Couldn’t one of the EU ministers have paused for a moment before signing up to their joint statement? Could they not have seen there were incredible double standards? Did none of them reflect that the Syrian government invited Vladimir Putin to intervene, which means Russia’s actions conform to international law, whereas the US and French interventions have no such legal basis. They are bombing a sovereign state without either co-ordinating their actions with that country’s government or asking for permission. No, says the EU. “Russia must cease its bombing immediately”.
Something is rotten here. The EU statement demonstrates a kind of blindness. Just because Russia does something, the West resorts to knee-jerk opposition. Don’t bother to analyse what Russia’s motives are, or whether there might not be a chance of working with Russia and that there could be a convergence of interest between Russia and the West. Whatever Putin does, it must be condemned. This is not sophisticated international relations. It’s juvenile, playground stuff.
As for the US Defence Secretary’s position, this is worse. It’s actually treating Russia not just as an opponent, but an enemy, to whom one wishes maximum harm.
The grim fact is that a quarter of a century after the Cold War ended we are on the threshold of a new Cold War, and it may well be more dangerous than the one which lasted from 1945 to 1989. This may sound harsh but let me explain:-
The New Cold War is of course different from the old one. It is not deeply embedded in a system of opposing military alliances with a clearly defined frontier along the borders of various nation-states, what use to be called the Iron Curtain. Nor is it a confrontation between two ideological systems in which each side plans and hopes to replace the other.
Under Boris Yeltsin as well as Vladimir Putin Russia is essentially a capitalist economy, committed to security of property rights, freedom of markets, a thriving stock exchange and an open door to foreign investment.
So the New Cold War between Russia and the West is not about territory or ideological rivalry. It’s about international power and influence. It’s a struggle in which no rules have been established and the terrain of struggle is fluent. This makes it less predictable and more volatile, and hence more risky than the old Cold War.
We also have a climate of hysteria and demonisation which never existed in the first Cold War. In the 1960s and 1970s Western governments never treated Leonid Brezhnev, who served as Soviet leader for 18 years, to the kind of public insults and crude stereotypes with which Putin is attacked today. There has been an almost total collapse of diplomatic courtesy and of the sense that you have to do business with powerful foreign leaders however much you dislike their system of government. This creates a climate in which it is much easier to justify war.
Finally we have a generation of politicians who do not have the experience of living with the overarching danger of nuclear weapons. During the original Cold War politicians on both sides of the East-West divide were well aware that the slightest miscalculation could lead to a nuclear exchange. This acted as a kind of restraining factor on everyone. It was a form of self-deterrence. That has now gone...
(To read more of this speech email me (Rosemary) and I will forward it to you)
“Within the past decade, over 250 conflicts have affected all parts of the world. About 55,000 people perish annually as a direct consequence of armed conflict. The number of those displaced by conflict has reached levels not seen since the Second World War: currently, more than 33 million.. Chillingly, children have been recruited and used by armed forces and groups, killed and maimed, forced into displacement and made victims of sexual violence in 23 conflict situations around the world.
Armed conflict is the main cause of people fleeing their homes and of food insecurity. It undermines our work for social justice, the rule of law and the Millennium Development Goals. ” ...The UN Secretary General in his 27 April 2015 report on small arms and light weapons
Small arms and light weapons are responsible for the majority—between 60 and 90%, depending on the conflict—of direct conflict deaths, of which there were between 80,000 and 108,000 world wide in 2003...........).
"Contemporary conflicts also cause a possibly larger but unquantifiable number of indirect deaths due to conflict-related social disruption, which leads to malnutrition and deaths from preventable diseases. Research shows that small arms also play an important role in these deaths, by restricting the access of humanitarian and relief organizations to vulnerable populations". (Source: Small Arms Survey 2005).
For instance, according to the British medical journal, The Lancet (January 2006), and the International Rescue Committee, 3.9 million people have died as a result of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1998.
After nearly 5 years of intense lobbying, TRAKNAT was able to get Vince Cable to introduce vetting of arms exporters including brokers. He was Secretary of State for Business and had responsibility for arms export control, including implementation of the UN Arms Trade Treaty. Alarmingly brokers could be issued export licences without any background checks for illegal arms brokering including past convictions, current investigations, communication with foreign governments to access to their records etc. Several brokers were issued with licences whist undergoing investigation for illegal activity both here and in the US. Our efforts have led to a significant change in arms transfer control.
Several members of TRAKNAT have started to look at ways in which we can encourage groups in other constituencies to get together and lobby their MPs as we have. We are trying to contact Amnesty, UNA, Quaker, WDM, Peace Groups etc in key constituencies starting with the Arms Export Control Minister, Anna Soubury, MP for Broxtowe,
Full implementation by the UK of the UN International Instrument to Enable States to Identify and Trace, in a Timely and Reliable Manner, Illicit Small Arms and Light Weapons . This will require the marking of all small arms and light weapons at manufacture and on import. We want to see the UK require that all arms brokers record weapon marks and source and destination countries for all brokered weapons. The UK must create an effective database to enable these weapons to be traced.
Greater transparency on the supply and brokering of weapons by UK arms dealers. At the moment the UK Government has no information on the number of weapons brokered by dealers it has licensed.
A Public Register of Arms Brokers.
The UK has not implemented this key requirement of the UN Arms Trade Treaty.
Review of the Arms Export Licensing Process
In 2012 Vince Cable promised a full external review of the process used by the Export Control Department when licensing weapons. Unfortunately he reneged on this.
The need for such a review was dramatically demonstrated by the consequences of the Arab Spring uprisings and more recently by the very worrying decision not to suspend specific export licences to the Israeli military following the recent horrific escalation of conflict in Gaza
Please contact me, Paul (below) if you can spare some time to help with this campaign.
Paul Tippell, Coordinator, TRAKNAT (Twickenham, Richmond and Kingston Network Against the Arms Trade), 07970868508 or by email via Charles at email@example.com .
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent trip to DC was designed to be low-key and, above all else, normal. But in some ways this trip was anything but.
Netanyahu’s trip had a clear aim-: mending ties with progressives. And with good reason. In just the past year, Netanyahu has tried to march the U.S. into war with Iran, race-baited in order to win re-election, and, at every opportunity, trampled on the civil and human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, inside Israel, and in the diaspora.
So we worked flat-out all week to give Netanyahu the dishonor and un-welcome he deserved. And we have some real results to show for it:
On the Monday morning as he met with President Obama, we launched our new call-in software, and generated over 1,000 calls in 24 hours from grassroots JVP activists, demanding that President Obama hold the Israeli government accountable to international and US law.
Later that day, he was honored as a humanitarian (I’m not kidding!) by the American Enterprise Institute -- one of the top neo-conservative think- tanks in town. But a 39-member coalition including our DC-Metro chapter met him with a huge street protest.
But his most jarring appearance came on the Tuesday. After a well documented pressure campaign by AIPAC, the Center for American Progress, a leading liberal think-tank, invited Netanyahu to give an exclusive address. And I’m sure neither Netanyahu nor CAP expected the response we helped channel.
Our allies at the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation initiated a petition calling on CAP to cancel the event. We joined in and helped deliver over 26,000 signatures calling on CAP to cancel the event. Simultaneously, we launched an open letter with the Arab American Institute highlighting our shock at CAP’s decision, which over 100 progressive leaders and organizations signed, including Naomi Klein, Noura Erekat, Avaaz, and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The letter, and the growing controversy we helped generate, were covered by the Washington Post, CNN, Foreign Policy magazine, and several others.
The talk went ahead, but we seized control of the story. We demonstrated the growing and increasingly vocal demand by progressive leaders that our peers take Israeli human rights abuses seriously - and showed that we’re going to hold allies accountable if they refuse to get with the times.
U.S. Wants More “Usable” Nuclear Weapons in Europe
The United States keeps nuclear weapons in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey, in violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which bans the transfer of nuclear weapons from a nuclear weapon state to a non-nuclear weapon state. Now, the U.S. wants to upgrade its nukes in Europe, to make them “precision” and “guided,” and therefore more likely to be used, even as tensions build between the United States and Russia.
The U.S. plans to deploy newly designed type B 61-12 nuclear bombs. Instead it should remove existing nuclear bombs. The NATO strategy of so-called “nuclear sharing” is a violation of Articles 1 and 2 of the NPT. Those provisions state that every party to the treaty promises “not to transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly, or indirectly” and also promises that every “non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to receive the transfer from any State whatsoever of nuclear weapons.”
The policy of placing U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe also violates local laws. For example, the German Parliament (the Bundestag) voted in March 2010, by a large majority, that the German Government should “press for the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from Germany.”
People in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, the United States, and elsewhere have signed this petition:
To: The Governments of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Turkey
Do not upgrade the U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe. Remove them. People in the United States and around the world do not want them.
To hear more about this important subject come to the London Region CND AGM on Saturday January 9th 2016 when Ted Seay of Basic will be holding a workshop about this.
A life-long communist, he worked for decades as a dedicated GP in Glasgow. He also worked for Medecins sans Frontieres in Sierra Leone after "retiring" following a diagnosis of cancer.
Alan played a key role in the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) over several decades. He was chair of the organisation between 1989 and 1992. During this period he worked with a wide range of groups to co-ordinate vigils and protests against the Gulf war.
He resumed the position of Chair of Scottish CND in 2000 and continued until 2011.
Shortly after the attack on the twin towers in New York in September 2001, Alan established the Scottish Coalition for Justice not War Through the coalition, he brought together representatives of political parties, trade unions, religious organisations and peace groups to mobilise public opposition to military action in Afghanistan and Iraq. He coordinated protests, emphasising the breadth of opposition to nuclear weapons, and he presented powerful arguments against Trident through his writing, assuming a central role in analysing the consequences of Trident cancellation for employment in Scotland and in producing the authoritative report, co-sponsored by the STUC in 2007, which demonstrated that very few, if any, jobs would be lost and that an active policy of arms conversion would open major opportunities for new areas of employment and industry.
With backing from leading figures in the SNP and the Labour Party, this became the basis for policy discussion at Scottish government level. In subsequent years he co-authored further studies on Trident and arms diversification for British CND.
His pamphlet "Nato is the biggest threat to Peace" is £2 from Scottish CND, 77 Southpark Ave, Glasgow, G12 8LE
Letter in The Evening Standard 28/10
I thought red poppies were optional, but BBC presenters don't seem to have the freedom to choose not to wear them. Ironic isn't it?
Does anyone remember what the red poppy actually represents? The original meaning has been ambushed by the military public-relations machine, which has turned the symbol into a way of manipulating the public into "supporting the troops" and, by extension, backing current, sometimes illegal and unnecessary, conflicts.
In the First World War the vast majorities of fatalities were military. A hundred years on, around 90% of war deaths are civilian. The white poppy is a far more fitting symbol because it represents everyone who dies in war, not just "our boys"
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND