President Trump has announced plans to withdraw the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). This is a hugely destabilising development that threatens global and - in particular - European security.
Signed by Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987, the treaty banned ground-launched nuclear missiles and led to nearly 2,700 missiles being eliminated. It meant that the cruise missiles sited at Greenham and Molesworth were removed and countless more across Europe.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has stated:
Tearing up the INF Treaty will end the restraints on nuclear arsenals achieved in the 1980s. It will open the way for the return of cruise-type missiles to Europe: they have only one purpose - that a US nuclear war against Russia will be fought in Europe. We understood that in the 1980s and we mobilised against it - and the INF Treaty was in large part the result of that. Hundreds of thousands protested against cruise missiles; the iconic Greenham peace camp was part of that movement.
We stand resolutely against this return to the nuclear escalation of the Cold War and we call on all peoples once again to reject these moves.
We condemn the Defence Secretary's support for Trump's action and call on our government to express strong opposition to this dangerous move.
This is just the latest in a growing list of rash US positions: trashing the Iranian nuclear deal, planning to build 'usable' nuclear weapons and outlining a greater range of scenarios in which to use them.
From an article by Bruce Kent in Peace News
It is now well over a hundred years since Czar Nicholas II of Russia invited other states to come to The Hague, in the Netherlands, in 1899, to discuss possibilities for world peace. It is almost 20 years since thousands of individuals and peace groups came also to The Hague, in 1999, for an event to plan progress in the direction that the first Hague pointed to. I still have the booklet with ideas that came from that centenary meeting.
In 1999, we believed that we could challenge an anachronistic mindset and move towards a new understanding of human security. I used the term ‘castles and boarding houses’ to describe two very different points of view about the organisation of world society.
The castle is the old model of security. Of course, we liked to live at peace with our neighbours, but, just in case they turned nasty, we kept the chains of the drawbridge well-greased; the cannonballs were stacked up neatly under the ramparts; the boiling oil was kept simmering on the fire.
That image has lasted for a long time. But now there are new notions about security. They are not yet strong enough to change government policy in the most powerful states but they are influential nevertheless. For want of a better word, I describe this new view of security in terms of the boarding house image.
We, the seven-and-a-half billion inhabitants of this fragile planet, are living together in a rather run-down boarding house. Inside the boarding house, there are different standards of comfort. We who happen to live in the west wing enjoy all sorts of privileges, from lighting and central heating to regular meals and a resident doctor. Conditions in the rest of the boarding house are mainly deplorable.
Nevertheless, all of us live under the same dilapidated roof, all rely on electrical wiring which is highly defective and sanitary systems which are cracked and leaking, and all of us know that the floorboards are riddled with dry rot. There are no fire escapes. The idea that residents of the west wing can improve their security by being prepared to attack other residents in their east wing rooms makes no sense at all.
I was brought up in the castle tradition. My childhood was one of First World War memories from my father; of total silence and the booming of the guns on 11 November, and of cigarette cards glorious with pictures of our wonderful regiments and magnificent battleships. At school, solemn portraits of old boys who had become military heroes looked down on us in the dining room. National Service was an honourable duty. Conscientious objection meant cowardice. For us, the war ended too soon in 1945. Well-trained in Christian ethics as I was, there was never a suggestion that the dropping of atomic bombs on 6 and 9 August 1945 was anything but an entirely legitimate use of force against a ruthless enemy.
Cultures do change and it is our business to move them in the right – and peaceful – direction. We created the Movement for the Abolition of War to focus specifically on the mechanisms for abolishing war: international law, strengthening the UN, abolishing the arms trade and nuclear weapons, public peace education, mediation and peacekeeping, abolishing war by establishing justice and human rights, citizens’ action and campaigning, and so on. I’m afraid we still have a lot of work to get this understanding across.
Nationalism may still be the dominant world religion, but its days are numbered. People can see that the hurricanes brought by climate change do not respect national borders. Another more international and just world society is perfectly possible. This was The Hague dream and we still need to make it a reality.
KPC members will be very sad to learn of the death on 5 October of Joanna Bazley, the secretary of Wimbledon Disarmament Coalition/CND (WDC). She and other WDC members supported many of the events organised by Kingston Peace Council/CND.
Joanna was a tireless campaigner for peace, as well as being active in her community, and organising the annual ‘Fete of the Earth’.
Here we see her (in red) laying a wreath on behalf of WDC at Wimbledon war memorial as part of the Merton civic ceremony.
She will be greatly missed.
On Monday 10 September Mary Holmes and Maggie Rees did the first assembly to mark Peace Day this year and finished with the seventeenth on 26 September. They had visited fifteen primary schools in the boroughs of Richmond and Kingston. This series of assemblies was undertaken, as it has been for the last ten years, to mark Peace Day on 21 September. Children in every school listened attentively as Mary told the children of the origins of this day and spoke, with slides, about the importance of listening to get to know each other and to realise that they can make a difference, if not in the world today then in their schools and homes. Maggie followed this with stories to emphasise cooperation, controlling anger, respect and forgiveness.
It is our belief that children can develop a non-aggressive attitude at a young age and will realise that living in peace and harmony is a way to happiness in themselves and in their immediate environment. Hopefully this will stay with them as they grow.
These assemblies are arranged by Mary months in advance as she emails schools in the previous summer term asking whether they would like an assembly. Positive responses are followed up by complex arrangements of dates and times so as to fit in with other schools as well as the more mundane issues of where to park etc. Two primary assemblies were held in 2008. Some schools now book up a year in advance!
Marshgate Primary School in Richmond have over the years developed their contribution to Peace Day in many ways. They do a sponsored walk to support a family in Africa and all wear white t-shirts for peace. Other schools spend the whole day undertaking different activities including researching the lives and contribution of international peace makers.
We have also had enquiries from three secondary schools and are currently following these up with meetings with teachers to discuss what aspects of the subject would be most appropriate for the groups concerned.
More than 4,000 children have heard Mary and Maggie over these few weeks. We hope that some at least will have taken away the message that cooperation is better than conflict and that this message will stay with them throughout their lives.
It’s based on a successful Canadian model, in which community groups accept major responsibility for sponsoring and resettling a refugee family into a local area. Backed by a government initiative, the local community group raises the necessary funds and is hands-on in helping the family settle in the community, learn English and find work.
The government is encouraging communities to sponsor families selected by the UNHCR and approved by the Home Office to resettle in the UK. The Home Office Document “Community Sponsorship - Guidance for prospective sponsors” describes the scheme.
Sponsors accept major responsibilities for the resettled family – finding and preparing suitable accommodation for them, befriending them and supporting them for two years whilst they integrate into the local community. The resettled family have refugee status and “right to remain” as soon as they arrive. This entitles them to UK benefits, e.g. housing benefit, and gives them the right to work. Where their resettlement encounters costs, e.g. English language classes, use of interpreters, initial spending money before benefits begin, etc. then the sponsoring group covers these costs.
The SVPRS scheme, which was launched in 2014 and has since been re-labelled VPRS, has many similar features. Under VPRS a local authority arranges for the support of a resettled family and central government covers most of the costs. In the Community Sponsorship scheme a sponsoring charity raises funds to cover the costs.
The Community Sponsorship scheme is modelled on a highly successful programme that the Canadian government has run for several decades. Community sponsorship leads to much faster settling in and integration of the new families.
A group of Kingston faith bodies has collaborated to launch a charity called Kingston Community Refugee Sponsorship (KCRS). KCRS will be applying to the Home Office for permission to resettle families in the Kingston area. KCRS plans to collaborate with Refugee Action Kingston who have in-depth experience of supporting refugees. The faith bodies are (at present) Kingston Liberal Synagogue; All Saints Kingston; Kingston Methodists; St John the Evangelist, Kingston; Kingston Quakers. Secular organisations are welcome as members; good will and commitment are key.
Kingston Council will have a role in approving a sponsor organisation and its proposals. The proposed accommodation will be checked by the local council to make sure it’s up to standard.
The Home Office will evaluate KCRS’s preparedness on the basis of a written plan submitted to them.
UNHCR will help match a family to the proposed accommodation.
The sponsor commits to find and prepare housing and support the incoming family from arrival onwards. The Home Office requires that the sponsor raises an initial fund of £9,000 towards the likely costs. The sponsor’s written plan must demonstrate that they can access relevant skills – e.g. interpreting, either by paying for this or by having competent volunteers.
The sponsor undertakes to find housing for 2 years and to provide general support for at least one year. Experience from the existing VPRS scheme suggests that some level of support may be required for longer than one year until the family are able to support themselves.
Contact KCRS via their web site to arrange to talk to a KCRS trustee.
The Canadian experience shows that Community Sponsorship leads to faster settling in and integration of refugee families. Several faith communities are working together in our borough to set up a new charitable organisation, Kingston Community Refugee Sponsorship (KCRS), to make this happen in our area.
Update: At our October meeting we decided that KPC should become an organisational member of Kingston Community Refugee Sponsorship.
29th September 2018
Middle East Monitor is a research institute that focuses primarily on the Palestine-Israel conflict. It holds a conference every year - this one was entitled ‘Oslo at 25’ - a legacy of broken promises.
Ilan Pappé gave the introductory address describing Zionism as a ‘settler colonial movement’ and Israel as a ‘settler colonial state’. Israel, being a completely international law-free zone, has now come into the open - it no longer tries to cover up its ultimate aim - to gain as much of the land as possible and to persuade as many of the indigenous population as possible to leave. Geographically this plan is going well, demographically not so well – the populations are almost equal at present. Israel has never engaged in any peace process honestly or positively and sees no need to engage at all any more.
The US has always been a biased mediator and is now no longer even pretending to be that - Jared Kushner has given money towards settlement development. There is at present no mediator and the only solution is the removal of the Israeli regime and the structures that it has put in place to enforce separation.
The second panel discussed how the Oslo framework had entrenched the Israeli occupation. Israel’s security was out-sourced to the Palestinians and Israel took total control of the Palestinian economy. As a result the economy collapsed and the cost of this, and the cost of Israel’s security, is now primarily borne by the international community. The result of the Oslo framework was to set the Palestinians against each other, and their leaders, and to leave them with no hope. Freedom fighting has been criminalised and no gatherings are allowed unless for weddings or funerals. There is one security person for every 48 Palestinians. 20% of the population is considered to be a security threat and 40% have been imprisoned at some time. 80% of the Palestinians reject this co-operation with Israel. Many settlers are judges, involved in the prison system.
How long can the international community, NGOs etc. maintain the theatre of the Palestine Authority’s performance in the West Bank?
The conference speakers were refreshingly honest about what they believed needed to happen - politicians will never produce an answer (Ilan Pappé) - one-state solution is the only option - settler domination/racial discrimination has to be eliminated - the Palestinians must re-aquire their own territory and the Jewish state must be ended. Action has to come from civil society, in Palestine and around the world.
The Palestinian village of Khan al-Ahmar has been threatened with demolition for several months. Palestinians submitted three petitions to save the West Bank village, all of which were rejected by the Supreme Court. At the end of September Israel issued an order for the 180 residents to destroy their own homes, and evacuate the village.
In the week beginning 15 October, Israeli bulldozers stormed the village accompanied by soldiers and police. Activists protesting against the imminent demolition of the community were violently removed, and several arrested. (see www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZQ0JCw7guI)
A nearby illegal Israeli settlement flooded Khan al-Ahmar with waste water and sewage in an attempt to drive out residents and activists, but this did not work.
On Sunday 21 October, Israel announced that it was putting on hold the demolition order of the village for a "short, fixed period of time", probably as a result of global condemnation of Israel's actions. Both the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Amnesty International and have warned Israel that the demolition of Khan Al-Ahmar would constitute a war crime. Amnesty stated “With this shameful and manifestly unlawful ruling the Supreme Court has confirmed a pattern of complicity in the crime of forcible transfer of Palestinian communities for the expansion of Jewish only settlements.”
The issue was raised during Prime Minister’s Questions on 17 October by Alistair Carmichael MP, who told the House of Commons that the “forcible removal” of those deemed a protected people by the United Nations would “constitute a war crime”. In response, the prime minister said: “I once again call on the Israeli government not to go ahead with the demolition of the village, including its school, and displacing its residents.” Mrs May confirmed that Alistair Burt, the minister for the Middle East, had met with the Israeli ambassador to discuss the issue on 11 October, and she described Israel’s planned demolition of the community as a “major blow for the prospects of a two-state solution with Jerusalem as a shared capital”.
Khan al-Ahmar is only one of 46 communities in central West Bank that Israel wants to forcibly transfer to make way for illegal Jewish-only settlements. Israel's ethnic cleansing of this area is designed to fragment the West Bank and further cut Palestinians off from their capital - Jerusalem.
20-21 October 2018
I attended CND Conference in Bristol as delegate of Kingston Peace Council/CND.
General Secretary Kate Hudson reported on campaigning in the 60th anniversary year, when CND has continued to make the case for cancellation of Trident replacement, lobbying government and also attempting to move Labour Party policy on Trident and to get them to back the global ban. CND also participated in the NPT PrepCom (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) in Geneva, attended numerous international events and collected thousands of signatures calling for UK participation in the global ban. The CND symbol tour and other anniversary events aimed to raise the CND profile.
Treasurer Linda Hugl reported on the accounts for the year ending 31 December 2017. Income in 2017 was down on that for 2016 by about £90,000, but expenditure was also reduced by about £21,500.
Policy resolutions on the US/UK nuclear ‘special relationship’, the global ban, risks of nuclear confrontation, F-35 ‘stealth’ fighter jets, NATO expansion, nuclear power, defence diversification and military bases were all carried (mostly unanimously).
Results of the CND Council elections may be seen at https://cnduk.org/resources/full-list-of-council-members-2018-2019/
It started with a welcome from Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party MEP for the South West, followed by a series of plenaries and workshops.
Dr Lois Bibbings and Colin Thomas of Bristol’s ‘Remembering The Real World War 1’ history group gave a talk, illustrated with video, photo-graphs and re-enactment, telling the stories of Walter Ayles, Bristol’s most prominent opponent of WW1, and Harry Patch, the last surviving soldier to have fought in the WW1 trenches. This was followed by a puppet show about resistance to the war. Dr Bibbings is Professor of Law, Gender and History at Bristol University, and was officially hosting the Conference.
I attended this workshop.
Molly Scott Cato told us of the report on Devonport, in her constituency, which shows that we can abandon Trident replacement while maintaining employment and start transferring investment and the fantastic skills available into socially useful and sustainable jobs, for far less public money. This would result in an increase in employment of 4.5% across the region. See http://mollymep.org.uk/2016/11/16/devonport
Alex Kempshall (Trade Union Liaison Officer, Bristol CND) said that his union, Unite, had supported a defence diversification policy at its Conference in July, but GMB union is cynical. Alison Allan, a Labour Party activist, said that she had persuaded her local party to back a motion supporting diversification, and had then taken it to her Constituency Labour Party (CLP), which had also backed the motion. She thought that it should not be difficult to get other CLPs to back diversification – now is the time!
Thoughts from the floor were that if a future Labour government is to set up a defence diversification agency it must have a detailed plan and address the issue of direction and control, because there is a lack of credibility in the eyes of workers.
The newly formed Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases has organised an International Conference, November 16-18 2018 in Dublin. They say “This is an important first step to unify and mobilize anti-war movements around the world within a united front. The military bases, numbering more than 1,000 in over 170 countries, have been used as pillars of US/NATO wars of aggression around the world and have been responsible for tremendous environmental destruction in the areas where they are located.” See http://nousnatobases.org/
As we go to press, we have just heard the sad news that KPC member Kit Harrap has passed away. Apparently Kit hadn't been well since the beginning of the year but became very ill in September. Her funeral will be at 12pm on Monday 12 November 2018 at Clandon Wood natural burial ground. For more details, please ‘phone Gill Hurle on 01428 642045.
It is difficult to produce a newsletter every month with only three regular editors. If you feel able to edit an occasional edition on an ad hoc basis, please contact us.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Gill Hurle
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND