Veterans For Peace marked Remembrance Sunday 2019 in their traditional way, walking to the Cenotaph behind a banner saying “Never Again” and wearing sweaters bearing the words: “War is not the solution to the problems we face in the 21st Century”.
The poem “Suicide in the Trenches" was read by James Florey and the song "1916" was sung by Jim Radford.
The wreath was laid by Ben Griffin.
Here are a couple of comments from their website:-
Paul Steele: It was a honour to have been among the group of supporters following you again. Thank you for making it possible for us to show our remembrance in this way, respecting the original and proper message of “Never Again ”. Mary Brown: Thank you to the Veterans for Peace who, again, show us the true meaning of Remembrance. We owe you a great deal. We would be a better society if we listened more to you and stopped the everyday militarism that is creeping like a disease in this country. I think it is shameful how Armistice Day has been hijacked by those funding and supporting war.
Part three of the essay on the history of protest against nuclear weapons by our Australian correspondent and life-member Harry Davis.
In the early 1980s the threat of an escalating Cold War returned strongly with the election of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in Britain. Actively encouraged by the British prime minister, Reagan spoke of the Soviet Union as an ‘evil empire’, hugely increased US defence spending, and launched his Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI), dubbed ‘Star Wars’, designed to provide a shield in space to protect the United States from an initial or a retaliatory nuclear strike. With the threat of Cruise and Pershing intermediate range nuclear missiles coming to be stationed in Europe, CND membership increased greatly.
The arrival in Britain and the Continent of Cruise and Pershing nuclear missiles, of shorter range than the intercontinental ballistic missiles stationed on the soil of the superpowers, awoke strong grass roots protest. In Britain the main base of these missiles was at Greenham Common, and in 1981 a group of women marched on the base from Wales. When the base commander refused to see the women, they set up a camp. Greenham Common became the site of a powerful protest. Thousands of women came, remained in tents throughout the bitter winters, blocked entrances to the base, cut through the perimeter fences in actions to invade the base. One protester, Helen Thomas, was struck by a police vehicle and killed. This powerful protest was carried out exclusively by women. The pressure continued until the missiles were withdrawn after the signing of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 1987 by Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and US president Ronald Reagan. It is generally conceded that the grass roots Greenham Common protest was a major influence in the creation of the treaty.
Huge demonstrations were also held in Europe. In Britain CND staged a demonstration on 22nd October 1983 that blocked London’s streets with a million protestors .The government produced a booklet of advice as to what families should do in the event of a nuclear attack,' Protect and Survive.' It began with this warning: Everything within a certain distance of a nuclear explosion will be totally destroyed. Even people living outside this area will be in danger from FALLOUT and HEAT and BLAST so severe that buildings in up to a five-mile radius can be destroyed. Fallout is radioactive dust that will be carried by the wind for hundreds of miles, when it falls in rain people will die slowly. The tone of Protect and Survive was calm. Simple diagrams showed how to construct an ‘inner sanctum’ within the home, with details of how to remove a door, place it at a specified angle to the wall and secure it, and then pile heavy objects around and on top of it for protection against blast and subsequent fallout. The windows of the house should be bricked up, or covered with any solid material available. Then followed advice on the storage of water and food for 14 days, the use of sanitary buckets, where to store bodies and to remember to put name tags on them, and so on. (See Protect and Survive at www.atomica.co.uk/main.htm)
However CND saw the nonsense of all this and published their own booklet 'Protest and Survive' which was widely read, and in her book 'Missile Envy: The arms race and nuclear war' Dr Helen Caldicott gave a more realistic picture of survivors huddled together in an ‘inner sanctum’ dying messily of radiation sickness.
The Soviet nuclear scientist Andrei Sakharov, in his 'Memoirs', described the likely scene after a nuclear exchange: "A complete destruction of cities, industry, transport and systems of education, a poisoning of fields, water and air by radioactivity, a physical destruction of the larger part of mankind, poverty, barbarism, a return to savagery, and a genetic degeneracy of the survivors under the impact of radiation, a destruction of the material and information basis of civilisation – this is the measure of the peril that threatens the world as a result of the estrangement of the world’s two superpowers". In addition to local CND groups all over Britain, there exist other grass-roots anti-nuclear organisations. We will briefly mention three of these, all of which have at different times received the Nobel Peace prize.
to be continued next newsletter.
Assemble at 4pm in Trafalgar Sq on 3 December 2019 for music and speeches before we march to Buckingham Palace saying loud and clear:- NO to Trump, NO to NATO!
Organised by: Stop the War Coalition & CND
Donald Trump is coming to London in December for the NATO Heads of State summit. On Tuesday 3rd December, the Queen will be hosting a reception for NATO leaders at Buckingham Palace and it's crucial we raise our voices against the world's largest nuclear-armed military alliance which is overseen by one of the most reckless US Presidents in history. Donald Trump is a racist, a misogynist and a climate change denier who threatens communities at home while destabilising the rest of the globe. NATO, as an aggressive and expansionist nuclear and military alliance, plays a dangerous global role – it’s still in Afghanistan 18 years on and is expanding further into Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Latin America.
The summit is a crucial opportunity for our movement to oppose Trump, his nuclear warmongering, interventionism and destructive social and political agenda. Let’s unite against war and military aggression and ensure President Trump's visit to Britain will be met with the response that it deserves.
When some members of KPC/CND went to the Extinction Rebellion demo outside the Ministry of Defence in October, part of the main big Extinction Rebellion’s two weeks of actions, we stood on a traffic island on the Victoria Embankment displaying our smaller Kingston Peace Council/CND banner.
And who should come along and see this but three students from Kingston College, Jack, Era and Neha who introduced themselves and explained they are making a film about the Climate Emergency including the dreadful contribution of military activities and war to this.
They were very pleased to meet us and to find out about our peace-group and are planning to film a debate in which some of us will be invited to take part, and also film an interview with one of us, probably Hilary.
It was also lucky that Bruce Kent came across to speak to us, and they were able to interview him also.
They will be organising all this and finalising production of the film around the 13 - 16 January, and soon after this our members will be invited to the College to see the film.
At some time in 2020 we will be able to borrow the film to have a showing to our Members and members of the public in the Quaker Centre, so look out for news of this soon.
We were delighted to welcome journalist and campaigner Victoria Brittain to speak to us late in October. Her talk was part of the CND series on Global Dangers and she named the talk "The New Abnormal - from nuclear weapons to extreme nationalism and intolerance."
In this issue we report on Victoria's thoughts on all things nuclear, the next KPC News will cover what she said about other dangers that confront us.
‘Today the entire future of our planet is threatened, and dark shadows are over the lives of our children and grandchildren. These are the twin existential threats: nuclear war and climate change. For 74 years since the US nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki we have lived under the threat of nuclear blackmail and the annihilation of life on earth. The tortured ghosts of those cities must never be forgotten. Earlier this year the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists unveiled the most recent Doomsday Clock – the hands again were at two minutes to midnight. The hands have never been closer, even at the height of the Cold War. The scientists described the global situation as “the new abnormal” – hence my title.
‘Our new abnormal is the general acceptance of nuclear weapons". How far our civilization has come in the wrong direction since the searing words of four decades ago when the great Sean McBride, winner of both the Lenin and Nobel Peace prizes, spoke of the “absolutely obscene arms race”!
‘Nuclear weapons are illegal on the basis of targeting civilians and of causing indiscriminate damage. No-one can remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki without condemning these weapons as utterly immoral. Like chemical and biological weapons, they must be stigmatised and outlawed.
‘It is just a month since the UN’s International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. Next year it will be 50 years since the UK ratified the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Yet, far from disarming, here we are with the UK in the deep hypocrisy of planning to update Trident – the continuous at-sea presence of our nuclear submarines, armed with US missiles – which every sane person believes fervently will never be used. The estimated cost of this - £205 billion - is indeed obscene. Our years of austerity have seen our schools, hospitals, local government starved of resources and our society frayed as a result – look no further than the homeless on our streets, the escalating child victims of knife crime and the scourge of child exploitation by “county lines” drug gangs.
‘Next month when NATO meets in London we have an opportunity for civil society – that is US- to demonstrate that we have had enough of hypocrisy and want action from European governments to support the 2017 UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. It is time to stop leaving that responsibility to local governments, and cities – like Manchester, the first city in Europe to back the Treaty.
‘Today we are already – unbelievably - into a new nuclear arms race, the scientists warn. All nine nuclear weapons holding states are now developing new weapons – including the appallingly named “mini nukes”, which are quick and easy to move.
‘Five decades of arms control architecture is being systematically dismantled. Three months ago, the US withdrew from the INF Treaty (Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty). Another treaty, New Start, which limits the number of warheads, is due to expire in 2021. Meanwhile, new US nuclear bombs are due to be installed in Europe next year – in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands – and in Turkey.
‘And other states, with ruthless, unpredictable leaders – Turkey and Saudi Arabia – now want their very own nuclear bombs. Just last week President Erdogan announced his desire for Turkey to have its own nuclear weapons. Turkey has actually had US nuclear weapons secretly stored in the country for six decades, in a bunker guarded by US soldiers. These are a left-over from the Cold War years and were unacknowledged until just recently when President Trump boasted publicly about how safe they were there in Turkey. He said this just as Turkey launched an invasion of northern Syria which undercut years of US policy in Syria fighting ISIS side by side with the Kurds, who are Erdogan’s target. A new and unpredictable front has opened in the eight-year war in Syria which has ruined the country, sparked a million-strong refugee tide and fired insecurity across the region and beyond.
‘As far as Saudi Arabia is concerned, last summer multiple whistle-blowers came forward to warn US Congressional leaders about efforts inside the White House, by the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, for the transfer of highly sensitive US nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia – whose effective leader is his friend.
‘How abnormal and dangerous is this? Amateur politicking at the highest level. A clueless and ruthless businessman making US policy on behalf of his erratic father-in-law – the most powerful man in the world. And Mr Kushner’s other close personal friend, Benjamin Netanyahu, has worked successfully to make sure that Israel’s policies became America’s through this relationship.
‘* Mr Kushner has pursued policy – including nuclear proliferation and ignoring US official policy channels - on behalf of a rogue regime already spreading war and instability in the whole region against real US interests. Here I mean Saudi Arabia, whose greatest regional rival is of course Iran.
‘Tehran has come in for obsessive and unprecedented provocation of Iran by the US. Over a year ago President Trump reneged completely on US commitments under the Iran nuclear deal – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This 2015 multilateral agreement involved years of painstaking diplomatic work by the EU and the Obama administration in Washington with the Iranian government. It restricted Iran’s nuclear programme and closed all possible paths to a nuclear weapon. It was a landmark achievement for world nuclear security and its breaking is another of the scientists’ danger warnings.
‘In return for accepting the restriction Iran was promised relief from US economic sanctions. But in May last year the US unilaterally re-imposed oil and financial sanctions on Iran, and make it almost impossible for European or any other world business to reopen their links as promised under the treaty, because the US sanctions threatened those companies and banks concerned.
‘Ever since, the US administration has waged what can only be called economic warfare on Iran. Tehran for a whole year nonetheless observed its obligations under the JCPOA.
‘But Iran’s reaction in the last months has been to resume some enrichment over the 300kg limit for low-enriched uranium stockpiles, and threatened to do more. It’s a signal to the EU that Iranian patience has an end, and it is up to the EU to save the international treaty their American ally has tried to sabotage. It is important to notice this (as few Western media did).
‘The Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Zarif provided an important insight into the treaty when he explained recently, “JCPOA was not, as is often said, built on trust – it was indeed based on explicit recognition of mutual mistrust. That is why it is so long and detailed.” He cited the provision of Paragraph 36 of the treaty which provided for a move such as the restarting of enrichment if one party broke the treaty. As the US did.
‘Now, where is our government's response and the popular outrage and fear at the US’s reckless sabotage of successful years of international diplomatic effort towards maintaining peace and heading off nuclear confrontations? In the Cold War days fear of nuclear war was everywhere. It was a priority preoccupation for any thinking person. That is just no longer true – and I’ll touch on some reasons for this dangerous oblivion when I talk next about media.’ to be continued next newsletter.
Existing Officers and Council members were endorsed, Dave Webb remains as Chair.
The Treasurer Linda Hugl reported on the accounts for 2018. Compared to 2017, income was down, due to no grants and lower donations, and expenditure was slightly up, mainly due to increased staff costs, so an overall loss of nearly £72,000. Total reserves at end of 2018 were £555,244 The Fundraising appeal, as usual by Bruce Kent, raised £700.
Policy debates mainly confirmed current policy regarding Intermediate range missiles after termination of the INF; Arms control (averting a new cold war arms race / support for 2020 NPT Review Conference / keeping abreast of new technologies); Links with campaigners in Europe; Militarisation of space; NATO; Military hardware, warfare and climate change; Nuclear power; Radiation and women’s health; Defence diversification.
The conference was followed in the evening by a reception at which Bruce Kent, CND Vice-President, was presented with the International Peace Bureau Sean MacBride Peace Prize.
A Report of the second day's International Conference will follow next newsletter.
This conference took place on the 16th of November at The Gallery, (Alan Baxter Ltd), near Farringdon, writes Carol Clisby. It was devoted entirely to the climate emergency, and was entitled:
‘Should science walk the talk on climate breakdown?’ meaning, effectively, should science tell it like it is, and should the rest of us act accordingly? The answer to both these questions was, of course, a resounding ‘yes’.
There were frequent references to the various International Panel on Climate Change reports that have been produced; the latest in 2018. It was generally recognised that these reports, responding to the need for consensus, generally understate the problems and the actions needed to mitigate these. The suggested actions also frequently rely on ‘negative emissions technologies’——-technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere——-which are in the main hypothetical and untested.
Summits have come and gone, but because no really meaningful change has occurred during the last 30 years, particularly in the rich world, the situation has now become an emergency—immediate system change and behaviour change is now needed. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 67% higher than in 1990 and still rising—1.5 deg. temperature rise restriction is now no longer possible —2 deg. might be possible, but this will depend on such things as tipping points (for example the collapse of the Greenland or Antarctic ice-sheets,) and feedback loops i.e such things as the release of methane if the permafrost melts in Siberia, as is already becoming apparent. These changes would greatly alter the speed at which the situation could spiral out of control.
Significant personal choices can be made—the four main areas in which these should be made, are outlined below:-
The two largest factors are flying and car ownership and use——buying a more efficient vehicle, for example, can reduce personal emissions by about 1.2 tonnes/year.
The largest factor here is the amount of animal products in the diet. At the moment the average UK diet contains nearly 50% animal products——reducing this to zero, i.e. becoming vegan, would reduce emissions by around 80%——1.6 tonnes/person. Just avoiding beef, lamb, cheese and butter would help considerably——next pork, chicken, fish, eggs and milk. Also of course, buying locally grown food and not food shipped half-way round the world would help.
Here the greatest savings can be made by moving to renewable energy, having good insulation and efficient appliances
China is at present the workshop of the world——huge amounts of emissions are produced in making the products to which the rich west is addicted, but should these emissions be considered to be caused by China or caused by the rich west?
Great savings could be made if we bought less, bought second-hand, repaired more etc.
Sea level rise—-probably around 300cm by 2050
Extreme heat—-most risk is in India, China and the Persian Gulf—-humans can only live for 6 hours in a 35 deg. humid heat wave——-these conditions were almost met in Iran (July 2015)
Gulf Stream slowdown—the gulf stream has already slowed by 15%—-it is the weakest that it has been for 11,500 years and could collapse this century—-once the collapse starts, it could shut down completely in 1-2 years
Solid earth response——following ice melt the earth’s crust comes up and this is frequently followed by landslides and earthquakes
Changes are needed:- 75% of these depend on our personal behaviour, in food, travel, material consumption, and increased use of green energy, and 25% by technological changes, for example government action to build more solar and wind farms.
see footprint.wwf.org.uk to calculate your own carbon footprint
The government target is 10.5 tonnes per person per year. This was thought to be far too high. We should be aiming for 1 tonne in each of the four categories - a total each of 4 tonnes.
(as reported by Ben Morgan in the Evening Standard recently)
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has said nuclear weapons pose a colossal danger amid tensions between Russia and the West.
He urged all nations to declare that the weapons should be destroyed in order to "save ourselves and our planet"
Mr. Gorbachev, now 88, led the Soviet Union from 1985 until its collapse in 1991and was instrumental in ending the Cold War with the US, In recent years he has been a vocal advocate for denuclearisation. Last year he criticised US president Donald Trump for pulling out of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which he and Ronald Reagan signed in 1987.
Speaking to the BBC Mr. Gorbachev said "As long as weapons of mass destruction exist, primarily nuclear weapons, the danger is colossal.
"All nations should declare that nuclear weapons should be destroyed. This is to save ourselves and our planet."
Asked to describe relations between Russia and the US, he said they were "chilly, but still a war". He added "Look at what is happening. In different places there are skirmishes, there is shooting. Aircraft and ships are being sent here there and everywhere."
He also spoke of the Soviet Union's reaction to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 which led to the reunification of Germany. "There mustn't be bloodshed. We couldn't allow that, over an issue of such magnitude for Germany, for us, Europe, the whole world. So we declared we would not interfere
Very sad to hear Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson say solemnly that she would press the nuclear button. Also sad that Jeremy Corbyn said that not only would Labour retain Trident it would also continue with its replacement.
So delighted to hear on R4 Today (25th Nov.) that the SNP has said they would not go into any coalition with Labour unless they commit to getting rid of Trident and cancelling its renewal.
This held in Wimbledon Library for one day in November. There were many wonderful exhibits, posters, photos and banners, also cards and refreshments for sale. Many congratulations to everyone involved in this impressive venture. It is hoped that Kingston Peace Council/CND will be able to borrow this exhibition soon, for display possibly in the Quaker Centre, Fairfield East.
Here are three posters made by Edwin Cluer. His posters are on polystyrene, so they are rigid but lightweight enough to be taken on demos.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND