Stop the War Coalition says
Just days after the US and Britain made their humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of tragic war, they announced a pact with Australia and set their sights on ramping up the new cold war with China. The Aukus pact, as it is known, will see Australia become the key US ally in the region, armed with US-built nuclear-powered submarines. The agreement also includes cooperation on cyber warfare, AI and weapons development.
This alliance is designed to threaten China by surrounding it with yet more military facilities, despite the fact that the US already has around 400 bases encircling the country.
Our Government has been pushing hard for strong military involvement in the Oceania region as part of its "Global Britain" agenda, no matter the vast cost needed for such operations. Boris Johnson wants to prioritise military showboating above the needs of his citizens. There appear to be unlimited funds for weapons of mass destruction whilst the Government claims it can't afford to keep the £20 boost to Universal Credit or give nurses a decent pay rise.
This deal is also likely to lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons as the material used in nuclear powered submarines is not monitored under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and so can easily be diverted to military ends. This is a breach of international law by our Government.
Stop The War condemns the new partnership as an unnecessary and provocative step which will heighten tensions with China and increase the possibility of hostilities breaking out in the region.
Join us as we work with Stop the War and CND to call for de-escalation and a more peaceful foreign policy. With the climate crisis raging and the world battling a pandemic we must put our resources towards peace not war.
More info :- www.stopwar.org.uk
This year we again gave out white poppies from our stall in Kingston Market Place at the end of October and beginning of November, together with a leaflet explaining the history and significance of the white poppy (introduced by the Women’s Co-operative Guild in 1933 and now made and distributed by the Peace Pledge Union, to remember all those killed in war, of whom nowadays over 90% are civilians).
Mostly this was well-received by passers-by, though possibly slightly fewer people were interested than in the previous two years we have done this.
I feel this was probably a combination of nervousness about Covid and general preoccupation with other issues by members of the public. However the conversations we had with those who were genuinely interested made it worth-while, so I am sure we should do this every year.
More info www.ppu.org.uk
Are we in the developed world just watching on TV as the fires burn?
I was only in Glasgow for a few days as COP26 was taking place, but for me it was as if the scales had suddenly fallen from my eyes. I saw the issue of climate change as absolutely one of justice, or rather injustice. I felt this in a way that I had never felt it before.
We arrived at midday as a huge march of young people, with activists from across the world, began to reach the main square in Glasgow. They filled the square so there was just room to stand, and then listened to impassioned speeches from people whose communities were experiencing drought, wildfires and devastating floods. We were there for two hours and the speeches were continuing as we left. I was so impressed by the atmosphere of total concentration, as young people took in what was being said about their world and its future. I think everyone there knew this was our problem too.
There was a second huge march the next day. In spite of a deluge as the marchers set out, everyone continued as planned with spirits undimmed. People wanted to be there to tell their story and to call for change. Farmers experiencing nightmare weather conditions, indigenous people whose forest homes were being destroyed, young people facing a bleak future and campaigners calling for the developed world to leave fossil fuels in the ground.
Sometimes climate change is presented as an issue where we all need to do our bit: use a bit less, recycle a bit more, offer help to some far away islands and fly less. Of course, too, countries like China and India need to be persuaded - somehow - to do more.
Actually that simply doesn’t explain the current situation. The developed world started using steam power, with coal as the source of heat, in the 18th Century. Steam, electricity and later oil and gas, transformed many human activities and enabled some of us to have more comfortable and interesting lives. These benefits spread across the world but mainly to the rich.
Even today Google suggests that only 18% of households in the world have a car and only 5% of people have flown in an aeroplane. I’m sure these figures are too low but it’s worth reminding ourselves that what we think of as aspects of modern life are remote from the majority of the planet’s inhabitants.
Earlier we didn’t know about global warming but we do now and we need to understand this - and change. Climate change was, and is, mainly caused by the developed world. Yet it’s people in developing countries in Africa, Asia, South America and island states who suffer most from the effects of global warming.
As marchers chant: ‘Global warming is a war, Of the rich against the poor’
We in the developed world have to stop pumping oil and gas out of the ground, help countries replace coal and other fossil fuels with renewables, and work in cooperation with all countries as we transition to a more sustainable world. We are not just watching fires and floods that happen to people in ‘far away countries’ on our TV screens. Their difficulties were caused by us. We didn’t realise it at first but we do now. It’s our problem too.
In 2009 the developed world promised to provide $100 billion per year for developing countries to help with climate adaptation and mitigation. We have never managed to raise this sum and are currently only reaching $80 billion per year. And yet the world seems to find no difficulty in raising nearly $2 trillion to spend on weapons and the military every year.
A number of developing countries have already suffered damage as a result of, for example, hurricanes and cyclones, and are calling for a special Loss and Damage fund as reparation. Although it sounds pretty justified this has sent rich countries into a complete panic. Could that be because they know it’s only about taking responsibility for their actions?
KPN readers will be familiar with the fact that carbon emissions caused by the military, weapons manufacture and warfare are not included in the reports governments make of their total emissions. The USA insisted on this at Kyoto in 1997. I joined the group from the Movement for the Abolition of War calling for a change in this, and also, of course, for a reduction in military activity itself. We handed out lots of leaflets to folk entering the Blue Zone where the conference negotiations were taking place. There was a well-attended presentation on the carbon bootprint of the military, including an excellent contribution from Hilary Evans. (See Hilary’s article on Page 4.)
Views on the results of COP26 are mixed, with lots of discussion about how full/empty the glass is. There were hopeful initiatives on keeping 1.5C alive, yearly reassessments of each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions and greater protection of forests. All good, but the world needs climate justice and that’s what was being called for in Glasgow.
As Mary has said, she and I and other members of Movement for the Abolition of War (MAW) were in Glasgow to publicise the surprising and shocking fact that there is no obligation on governments to declare their military-related greenhouse gas emissions nor to include them in reduction targets. As readers of KPN will know, these emissions are estimated by Scientists for Responsibility Global www.sgr.org.uk to account for around 6% of all emissions globally.
A letter signed by around fifty organisations including KPC/CND had previously gone to Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, deploring the fact that such emissions were not on this year’s conference agenda and calling for them to be included at COP27. In his reply, Topping invited us to contact his assistant to discuss the matter further.
In Glasgow we spent several early mornings displaying our big ‘War causes climate change / Climate change causes war’ banner at the entrance to the conference centre, handing out leaflets and talking to the thousands of delegates as they arrived. We also leafletted at a youth climate rally and at a peace vigil, both in the city centre, and participated in the 100,000 strong climate march through Glasgow on the middle Saturday. Our message aroused a lot of interest and our banner was much photographed. It’s surprising just how few, even among committed and active environmentalists, have given any thought to this one sector of the economy whose emissions are not required to be out in the open.
We attended the launch of a new website: https://militaryemissions.org , the initiative of academics from Lancaster and Durham Universities in partnership with the Climate and Environment Observatory (CEOBS), focusing on this military emissions gap and bringing together the work done so far on the issue.
The Arms, Militarism and Climate Change Working Group, of which MAW is a member, put on a public meeting ‘The Carbon Bootprint of the Military’, one of many interesting fringe events in Glasgow city centre organised as part of the People’s Summit. At ours, Dr Stuart Parkinson, Director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, was the keynote speaker with contributions from six others: a Nigerian speaking on militarisation and the cost of oil, a West Papuan on the brutal neocolonial plunder of his homeland, and speakers from Codepink US, World Beyond War US and the Transnational Institute. I spoke on behalf of MAW, focusing on alternatives to the MoD plans to reduce their GHG emissions (a green military?) ie the feasibility of reducing military-related emissions by reducing warfare. Starting points should include:
So what did we achieve? Hard to know but it seemed a worthwhile exercise and I do feel we are opening eyes one by one. There is still a surprising lack of awareness but on the other hand there are a lot more spots of light than at the time of COP 25: more and more campaigning organisations are combining to push the message; The Guardian covered the issue with a fair sized article during the Glasgow conference; someone pointed out to me a tweet from US politician Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who had brought the anomaly to the attention of Nancy Pelosi. Even our MoD is talking about the urgent need to cut its emissions, even if its methods are rather different from the ones we would advocate! And that means it’s now time to give greater prominence to where we diverge from MoD plans and start a conversation on what ‘security’ really means.
Hilary Evans 26/11/2021
Many thanks are due from all of us to Mary and Hilary for making the trip to Glasgow on our behalf. Ed.
News from the Villages Group sent in early November. (This is sent by Erella, a Jewish Israeli woman who regularly helps Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills.)
Approximately 1,300 Palestinian residents are at risk of eviction from their homes and forced transfer in a Supreme Court hearing scheduled for March 2022, which would be one of the largest mass expulsions in decades.
Dozens of giant photographs depicting Palestinian residents of the communities of Massafer Yatta in the southern West Bank were hung across Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and the South Hebron Hills as Israeli, Palestinian and International Jewish activists declared a ‘Global Week of Action’ in protest at the Israeli government’s attempts to turn the area into a military firing zone. Commuters and local residents were greeted with the images as they travelled to work, with the posters filling the area surrounding Bialik Square and Nachlat Binyamin in Tel Aviv, and Rechavia, Nachlaot and downtown Jerusalem.
Posters were also hung in a Palestinian village in Massafer Yatta. QR codes attached to the photographs directed observers to a website with testimonies of those depicted in the photographs: https://savemasaferyatta.com/en/
The Israeli Supreme Court hearing in March will determine whether the Palestinian residents will be forcibly transferred from their homes. Organised by Palestinian, Israeli, and international Jewish activists, the campaign hopes to draw the world’s attention to the life and struggle of the residents who live in the South Hebron Hills. After a twenty year legal battle to remain on their land, the case, which will be decided by the Israeli Supreme Court in March 2022, will be a decisive moment in the future of the region. More actions by activists are expected to take place in the months ahead.
The striking portraits of different residents of Masafer Yatta highlight the plight of those facing eviction from their homes. One of those stories is Ali Awad, a 23 year old resident of the village of Tuba:
“In the past 21 years, we have lived in fear of being evicted while simultaneously watching the settlements and outposts around us take over more and more of our roads and pasture lands. I keep remembering the questions I asked as a child: Why is this our life? Why is this my life? And now, I am watching another generation of Palestinian children be traumatized by stone-throwing, arsonist settlers. They are growing up under the same shadow, their childhoods being defined by settler violence just as mine was.”
Were the Supreme Court to rule on the side of the army, the forced evictions of Palestinian families in Israeli controlled territory would stand in stark contrast to the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the area. The residents of the area have been engaged in a 20 year long legal battle to save their homes after the army initially declared the area Firing Zone 918 in the late 1990s.
Basil Adra, a Palestinian activist and resident in Masaffer Yatta, says:
“We need to gather together to stand against the forces of occupation. We cannot let them evict thousands of people for training or for any reason. The army has barely used this land and when they have been there, they destroy Palestinian land and harass shepherds. They only declared it as a firing zone as an excuse to kick the Palestinians out of their communities. For us, the game they are playing is clear: With no right, they use Palestinian land for these trainings in order to displace us, but they would never dream of doing this to illegal Israeli outposts or cities.”
A Jewish activist, who wished to remain anonymous, took part in the poster action because they felt they could not stay silent whilst Israel uses state institutions to enact ethnic cleansing in the Occupied Territories.
“While Israeli policies of depopulation and ethnic cleansing are veiled behind ‘military and security needs’ we refuse to accept this. We came to show the world who the faces are behind these policies, over a thousand residents who are facing imminent, forced transfer from their homes. We stand in solidarity with the residents of Masaffer Yatta.”
The South Hebron Hills are located in Area C of the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian residents are subject to Israeli military rule. The designation of areas of the West Bank as ‘firing zones,’ or military training zones, is a technique used by the Israeli government to take over Palestinian land.
In the past year, three new illegal outposts have been established in the Masafer Yatta region, bringing with them an increase in violence from settlers towards Palestinian residents. In September 2021, a pogrom perpetrated by settlers from the Chavat Maon and Avigail outposts against the village of al-Mufaqara in Masafer Yatta led to the hospitalization of a three year old boy, whose skull was cracked in the attack.
The Israeli government has faced significant international outcry over its continual expansion of settlement building and de-facto annexation, most notably this year with the attempted eviction of residents of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem.
If you wish to receive emails from Erella and the Villages Group let me know, and I will send on to you. A warning - they are often very distressing reading. Rosemary (Ed)
Speaker: Asad Rehman, the Executive Director of the anti-poverty charity War on Want https://waronwant.org/
Speaking the day after the end of the COP26 climate conference, Asad traced the links between colonialism, militarism and climate change, and made a forceful case for a radical, anti-imperialist Global Green New Deal.
He began with a brief introduction to War on Want - it was set up in opposition to the war in Korea and they work with existing movements around the world. All inequalities are magnified by the climate crisis and by Covid - less than 1% of Global South dwellers are vaccinated. These inequalities go back to racist imperialism, ie extraction of resources and exploitation of people, slavery which built up our wealth and the beautiful cities we have today. He mentioned some claim that Britain never funded a war itself - wars were always paid for by our colonies and conquered peoples. War on Want is strongly anti-militarism and opposes the arms trade.
Asad mentioned that one of the Global North's proposals to tackle climate change is the use of carbon capture and storage - but even if this could be developed quickly enough - storage where? He claimed the land mass required would be three times the size of India - and this just to try and keep to the inadequate 1.5oC hopefully promised. Also the relative poverty of Global South countries is fuelled by unsustainable debt repayments - reckoned to be $800 billion.
Further points made:- people are already being displaced by changing climate in many areas - this will only get worse as the Global North countries demand and get more resources to try and put their own situation first. We can't JUST change to renewable energy, we must reduce our own consumption, and the military is one of the biggest consumer.
How do we rebuild global solidarity? The populist far right say “what we need are walls and fences”. We have said “Europe will never allow the killing of migrants”, but this is already happening - look at recent events on the Belarussian/Polish border, and in the English Channel.
So what should we do?
Support organisations like War on Want.
Resist the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill - this is a great danger to our rights to protest - if they are too noisy or cause “serious annoyance” to the surrounding community, organisations and businesses, the police will be able to shut them down.
We must support refugees - those already here and those trying to get here to claim asylum.
And of course join or at least support Movement for the Abolition of War – the lecture can be found on their website https://abolishwar.net/2021-remembrance-lecture/
Harry sends this letter which was recently published in the Canberra Times:-
The Pentagon is concerned about China’s fast growing military strength (Pentagon rattled by China advances, Canberra Times 2nd November), and in particular about China’s hypersonic nuclear weapon, capable of orbiting and with a controllable gliding trajectory.
The statement of a general that the weapon ‘does not pose a direct threat to the United States’, and that the glider-missile is ‘just one weapon system’ is disingenuous, to say the least. The weapons are an escalation. Three nations have developed them, the United States (Waverider), Russia (Avangard) and now China. They are not as fast as an intercontinental ballistic missile (8 kilometres per second), but they are fast (3 kilometres per second). Because they are manoeuvrable, and so have an unpredictable trajectory, they cannot be intercepted.
If you believe in deterrence theory, the glider-missile is a great advance: if you do not, the nuclear-armed glider-missile is a potentially catastrophic development.
"The Times publishes pretty well everything I send to them, with the exception of anything on the link between global warming and the huge carbon footprint of the military. I don't know why this is, as they are very keen on combatting global warming, and are always publishing articles on it, and condemning our appalling prime minister. They headed my letter with the title 'We should be afraid of glider missiles', showing they were not pro-deterrence at least. "
Most readers will know that in 2010 Julian started Wikileaks, whose publications have exposed war crimes and corruption and have been used in evidence in court cases all over the world. It has been so successful it has upset some of the most powerful figures in the world - thus causing huge attempts to silence Julian and discredit and close down Wikileaks.
I recently attended a Zoom meeting put on by the Frontline Club (an organisation mainly of journalists based in Paddington).
It was a panel meeting intended to have three participants, though on the day one was ill so unfortunately could not attend. So the two platform speakers were Stella Moris and Rebecca Vincent. Stella is a journalist and Julian's fiancée - they met when Stella was hired to fight a Swedish extradition application. They have two children. Rebecca is the UK Bureau Director for Reporters Without Borders. She is an American-British human rights campaigner, writer and former diplomat in Turkey.
Stella is hugely worried about Julian's health as he has been confined for so long. She says he sustains his mental health through knowledge of his huge support worldwide. For example he has just won an Austrian prize - the Karl Renner Austrian Pen Club award 2021.
Both speakers agreed that all the attacks on Julian, including his long detention in Belmarsh prison awaiting the outcome of a US extradition appeal at the High Court*, is really an attack on the freedom of journalists, and should be strenuously resisted by all journalists everywhere. An audience member asked why this does not happen, and the answer was fear - fear of individual journalists for their careers, and fear, mainly by the US authorities, of more being revealed of their dubious tactics around the world. (For example, enormous attempts are made to restrict the access of NGOs to Julian's trial hearings and appeals, and many dirty tricks occurred under Trump, such as spy cameras being secretly installed in the Ecuadorian Embassy without their knowledge when he was claiming asylum there.)
Luckily he has some high-level supporters - for example Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame - now aged 90) and Craig Murray, former British diplomat and journalist.
Stella said "This case is precedent-setting and extremely dangerous. He is being prosecuted as a journalist, not as a source. It is establishing a principle - that journalists who publish the most inconvenient truths can be prosecuted.
*STOP PRESS The High Court has ruled that Julian can be extradited to the US. Amnesty International described the ruling as a "travesty of justice" and the US assurances as "deeply flawed".
A coalition of local organisations is planning some action outside this event. Mary is representing KPC - please contact her in the new year to find out more.
[I don't usually include Forthcoming Events in the web version, but this one has a photo. Ed (web version)]
Best wishes to all our members and readers for the festive season!
Let us hope that in the new year we can make some progress to a more peaceful world.
Newsletter Editor for this issue: Rosemary Addington
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this edition are not necessarily those of Kingston Peace Council/CND