Paul Ingram of BASIC (British American Security Information Council) said:-“We are on the verge of the emergence of several key technologies, including swarming drones in large quantities covering large areas of ocean, massive expansion in the capability of computers, abilities to sense and communicate underwater that will sooner or later render the stealth of submarines inoperable. And when that happens, the very worst place to put your nuclear weapons is in slow submarines in international waters – not least because they can be taken out with far less strategic come-back. So the British commitment to putting all their warheads onto an extraordinarily expensive system could be the biggest white elephant possible, giving us an illusion of a nuclear deterrent that could be easily removed from the strategic equation”.
Former Defence Secretary Lord Browne warned in 2015 that Trident could be rendered obsolete by cyber-attack – and he cited a ‘cyber resilience’ report from the USA's Department of Defence in evidence. Since then, some experts have observed that no system can be made totally immune to cyber-attack. Scathing comments have also been made about the computer systems used on the Trident subs, dubbed ‘Windows for submarines’. What, as Lord Browne points out, would be the point of spending a lot of money on submarines which didn’t work when you wanted them? Worse still, what if someone could hack and use them?
Another technological challenge is the development of underwater drones, as mentioned above. One of the big arguments in favour of submarines as a ‘platform’ for carrying round our nuclear weapons has been that they are undetectable under water. When the current system was being built in the 1980s and 1990s, no doubt that was the case. But in the 21st century, how can anyone imagine that a massive metal submarine can remain undetected? Trident is a 20th century concept, technology has moved on.
(Extracts from CND's latest Security report)
As usual the emphasis of the conference was on working to reduce and hopefully eventually eliminate coal power generation. But the Don't Nuke the Climate Alliance which was set up in 2015 issued the following statement:-
The solutions to the climate crisis are clear: A rapid, just transition to a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system. The only sure way to stop the global warming impacts of energy use is to transition as quickly as possible from antiquated energy models of the 20th Century and their polluting nuclear power and fossil fuel technologies to the safe, clean, affordable and sustainable renewable, efficient, and smart technologies of the 21st Century.
Nuclear power in particular cannot solve the climate crisis. Indeed, its continued use exacerbates global warming by preventing the deployment of clean energy systems.
Among a myriad of other problems, nuclear power is:
Clean energy, including solar, wind, geothermal, energy efficiency, distributed generation, electricity storage and other advanced technologies can meet the world’s energy needs without carbon and methane emissions, radioactive waste, and other pollutants.
With the above in mind, please make a note in your diaries now:-
Our member Louis Sheldon-Williams will be exhibiting paintings by his father, known as Oscar, in response to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in All Saint's Church Kingston in September, from Sunday 2nd to Friday 14th September 2018. The paintings will be available to buy, and Kingston Peace Council/CND will provide accompanying information.
...asked for permission to hold a fringe meeting at the recent Church of England Synod but was refused. She wouldn’t take no for an answer and was eventually told that it could go ahead if she could get a priest to sponsor it. The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, agreed to sponsor and, probably as a result, wrote an article published in the Church Times (see Break the Silence on Nuclear Weapons at www.churchtimes.co.uk).
When the time came for the meeting, the organisers expected about ten to turn up but had to keep getting more and more chairs! And who should come in but the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby himself, who later said that there should be a debate on the matter at the next Synod.
[An extract from Stephen Cottrell's article appears in the paper version of Kingston Peace News]
It is important to note the following when discussing the treaty. We can maintain that nuclear weapons have been banned, because an international treaty has been agreed on this - it is not yet in effect, but the work of negotiating the treaty has been completed, so this point holds for the public messaging.
The treaty has entered into International Law - it is an internationally agreed treaty and the UN is its depository for signatures and ratifications - but like all treaties it is only legally binding on its states parties. So it is not law for the UK if it does not become party.
Though the obligations won’t be binding on the UK unless it joins, this change in the international legal environment puts increasing (political) pressure on the UK’s continued possession of nuclear weapons, as the majority of the world’s countries consider the possession of nuclear weapons by any state to be illegitimate and illegal, putting our government in the minority and outside generally agreed bounds of acceptability.
North Korea originally offered in 2015 to stop nuclear tests if the USA suspended joint military exercises in areas adjacent to South Korea. This has actually come about "until after the Olympics" and there have been other encouraging developments, such as the joint North and South women's ice-hockey team.
But would the USA be prepared to suspend their belligerent activities for longer?
And what does our so-called liberal media say about it?
According to Milan Rai, writing in the March edition of Peace News, they are not really saying much at all, and this is a pity. He tells us that he has studied Guardian and Observer articles and editorials between 1st December 2017 and 8 February 2018 and has found only a tiny proportion even mention the possibility of a double-freeze.
The paralympics ends on 18 March and joint military exercises between South Korea and the USA are scheduled to begin in April, so it seems the window of opportunity will close.
Write to your MP to say you don't want this to happen? Ed.
the inside story of how the CIA, Pentagon and US government conspired to torture
by Mark Fallon, Naval Intelligence ISBN 9781942872795
This recently published book leaves no doubt that torture was an intentional and integral part of the war-on-terror, sanctioned and designed at the very top of the Bush White House. Mark Fallon was of the tradition of intelligence officers using dialogue and social interaction with detainees to glean valuable information, a technique successfully used to begin to fill the gaps in US intelligence, understanding of Osama bin Laden’s al Qaida, the 9/11 plot and key individual players. It was common knowledge then that extreme violence and torture were more likely to obtain fictitious responses as victims sought to ease their suffering. But the US administration was stupefied by the 9/11 attacks and struggled to find ideas for appropriate response. The realisation that the greatest military power in history was no defence unnerved everyone. The terrible crime was quickly declared an act of war.
Plans were made for bombardment and invasion of Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden was believed to reside. The Taliban and the Afghan people were as surprised as the rest of the world but that didn’t deter the USA. George Bush signed what was dubbed “the gloves came off” memo. In the rush to seek retribution, everyone whom the US military encountered was fair game for brutality and torture. Rewards of $5000 were offered for anyone ‘handed in’ to the military with leaflets advertising – “wealth and power beyond your dreams … take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life”. In the insanely dysfunctional 'screening' there was no evidence save trivia like beards and Casio watches. The CIA was instructed to capture Osama bin Laden and al Qaida members and interrogate them using the harshest means. Osama escaped and unlucky kidnap victims were flown around the world (with international connivance) and taken to Guantanamo, a legal outlier occupied by the USA where it was claimed international law did not reach. Donald Rumsfeld recruited an administration committed to torture and ill-treatment including doctors and psychiatrists prepared to refine sadistic treatments, the aim being to “break” prisoners despite it quickly being understood that overwhelmingly the 800 were innocent and had nothing to tell. Guantanamo was designated “America’s Battle Lab” where prisoners were experimented on. Getting no useful intelligence, harsher methods were used, and approved. Some, ‘un-cooperatives’, were flown to Egypt, Jordan, Poland and other secret sites for sadistic violent torture where deliberate permanent injury was not uncommon and life-long psychological damage almost certain. No useful intelligence resulted and hyped claims of success usually turned out to be prisoner-invention to avoid more pain and suffering.
Undeterred the invasion of Iraq was authorised on the basis of uncorroborated PR hype and Rumsfeld’s team of torturers were installed to globalise US torture at places such as Abu Ghraib, Bagram airbase and elsewhere. Phobias were exploited, dogs used, also temperature excesses, light and dark, isolation and sleep prevention, physical abuse and contact, stress positions and suspension from the ceiling, hooding, mock execution, threats against families, waterboarding and other ghoulish methods were used.
The wheels started to come off Rumsfeld’s reign of torture and abuse when photographs of Abu Ghraib went viral. Other voices began advising that the White House lawyers’ reinterpretation of torture was “unreliable” and some superficial enquiry began. Mark and his boss in Naval Intelligence, Alberto Mora had fought inside the Pentagon since early days to try to stop torture, advising that it was not legal and not a useful way to gather intelligence, but to no avail.
Prisoners began to be released for lack of evidence and stories of the depravity and officially sanctioned sadism and torture leaked out. But not until 2014 did the Senate Report unearth the fuller extent of the Bush administration’s torturing programmes. This remains secret till 2028, mostly unread, recently ordered destroyed, and now only available in the Obama library where one copy survives. I have a copy of the Open Society Foundations Report “GLOBALIZING TORTURE”, drawing on the Senate Report's executive summary. It doesn’t provide details of torture and mistreatment by other agencies and states to which prisoners were sent and it doesn’t name individuals culpable. Mark has done so, which is why this important book marks a turning point in the understanding of the entire episode. The individuals deemed culpable have so far escaped everything but the mildest censure, many retired comfortably whilst others remain in positions of responsibility or have been promoted.
The nation that stood beside others in 1945 after the defeat of Fascism, and helped codify humane behaviour for warfare and treatment of prisoners, justice and human rights, has shown itself to be no better than the very worst. Guantanamo remains open despite frequent high-level calls for closure, including from the Red Cross, the United Nations, politicians and leaders of all kinds. 41 prisoners remain of the original 800. Some are cleared for release but nevertheless remain, but most are known as “forever-prisoners” because of fear that what has been done to them would be reported to the outside world. Donald Trump supports Guantanamo and torture and plans more of both.
It is uncertain what will happen next. The UK Government has not held an enquiry into UK complicity. Our forces and secret services sent our citizens to Guantanamo and sanctioned illegal flights transporting kidnapped victims and our Government has not condemned the continuation of torture and other illegal practices there nor the on-going existence of the camp. The stakes are high if our integrity and respect for the rule of law are valued.
Mark Fallon believes the CIA covenant opened the way for torture and ill-treatment and he continues to try to educate the public and help regain some lost moral ground. This book makes clear that none of the illegality, torture, brutality, sadism and injustice was an oversight or accidental.
Some critical sections of text are redacted, presumably to shield individuals and wrong doing.
Noel Hamel, February 2018
NB -I am disappointed our Government has taken so little interest and with current discussion about the possible fate of captured Daesh jihadis I have written to some forthright women politicians, including Jess Philips and Emily Thornberry
Why not write to your own MP about the issues in this book? Find more details by googling "Mark Fallon Author" Ed.
Centenary Celebrations in 2018 of the granting of the vote in 1918 to some women and also to working-class men are to be welcomed, but where, in all the chatter about Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst’s achievements, is mention of that doughty social reformer, suffragette and opponent of WW1, Sylvia Pankhurst?
I have heard and read very little about her, and I'm sure there is a reason - she was predominantly a Socialist, and worse still a Communist! So here's a mini biography, aimed to restore the balance somewhat.
She was born in Manchester in 1882. Her father was a radical socialist and she never forgot his teachings. She attended the Royal College of Art and became a very fine painter; of women working in various trades, also of portraits, two of which are in the National Gallery.
In 1906 she became a fulltime worker for her mother and sisters' Women's Social and Political Union and was imprisoned and force-fed many times. But she soon fell out with them over the middle-class direction of their movement, and founded her own Women's Suffrage Federation. The composer Ethel Smythe and her daughter Nora joined this organisation. They also opposed the war.
By this time she was very active in the East End amongst the poorest of women, starting workplaces, and a two-penny restaurant at the start of WW1. She even founded a toy factory, though this was short-lived. She travelled to the USA, joined in a laundry workers’ strike there, and spoke on a black campus in Tennessee. She also went to Russia and met Lenin, but they didn't get on well!
Here she started a newspaper Women's Dreadnought (later called Workers' Dreadnought), which carried Siegfried Sassoon's famous anti-war statement, and joined the Communist Party. Now you will begin to see why we don't hear so much about her as we do of her mother and sister. They finally expelled her from the WSPU after she held a huge rally in the Royal Albert Hall. They had suspended their universal suffrage campaign during WW1 but Sylvia continued it and was supported by George Lansbury.
She never married but had a son Richard in 1927 thus upsetting her mother Emmeline even more. Richard has just died in Ethiopia in 2017, where he has lived since being taken there by Sylvia in the mid 1930's where she went to campaign against the Italian invasion under Mussolini. She lived there until she died in 1960. She was given a state funeral attended by thousands and is buried in the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa.
You will probably have heard of this Palestinian teenager, as there has for once been a lot of media coverage about her. She was arrested after slapping and kicking an Israeli soldier in full military gear, after her cousin had been shot in the head by another Israeli soldier.
Despite being only 16 at the time, she was taken to Israel and imprisoned (this is common treatment of Palestinian children although illegal as Palestine is an occupied country). She was brought to her trial shackled hands and feet, and the trial is being conducted in closed court. She is allowed no family there, nor legal representation.
[The paper version of Kingston Peace News contains extracts from two Guardian articles:]
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND