Category Archives: Warfare

A different kind of life is possible: Bruce Kent

After a US commander revealed the information to the Senate, the Ministry of Defence confirmed on Sunday that it has committed the taxpayer to fund a multi billion pound replacement of Trident, with nuclear warheads based on US technology.

Colin Archer and Dave Webb point out that, given the importance of finding large sums of public money to fund the now-urgent green transition, this is the right time to highlight the huge sums devoted to the military sector and top of the list is the UK’s commitment to nuclear weapons. The proposed slogan for Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) is ‘Military spending costs the Earth’. 

Amongst the articles listed on the GDAMS international campaign website was one by Bruce Kent originally published in Peace News. The article opens with his tribute to the readable, international and interesting Peace News, before signing off, at least for a time. He thanked all on the team, especially the very modest editor and continued:

Hospital is always an eye-opening experience. Any London hospital is an international community on its own: a Portuguese doctor, nurses from the Philippines and all parts of Africa – all helpful and concerned even if very over-worked. My biggest shock came in a chat with a young trainee nurse. I asked if she did an eight-hour day. She just smiled. Her working day runs for 12½ hours. She lives at least an hour away in South London. So she has about eight or nine hours at home to sleep, cook, eat and have any kind of social life. Not fair. It’s not just money that the NHS needs but good working conditions as well.

In the run-up to the general election, both main parties promised many millions to be spent on increased NHS funding. Why did they not say this and do it long ago?

We can apparently afford £200 billion for a new set of very non-independent nuclear missile submarines. Missiles are on rotating loan from the US, which no one seems to notice. Not a word so far, in all the electioneering that I have heard, about nuclear bombs except for a contemptuous mention that Jeremy Corbyn would not ‘press the button’ – and so kill tens of thousands of innocent civilians far away.

Our concern about military expenditure is clearly a global one. Only recently a report came through my letterbox from the Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS) started by the International Peace Bureau in 2011.

(Right: Bruce and other campaigners attended a GDAMS protest and letter hand-in at the MoD in April 2019)

GCOMS concentrates every April-May on actions all around the world, highlighting the connection between military expenditure and the lack of money for real human needs. Last time, there were 110 events in 27 countries – with UK events in York, Bradford and London. Have a look at the work in progress on www.demilitarize.org.

The need is obvious. The money spent on war and the preparations for war is a scandal and ought to be commonly recognised as such. The global military budget is now not far off two trillion dollars a year. We now have the climate change campaigners with us.

To read the small print click here and use the magnifying glass symbol to read the data from SIPRI’s Arms Transfers Database (March 2019)

Military production involves the release of CO2 in massive quantities. The two great current perils, war and climate change, are dangerous twins.

Many of the events are fun to organise, such as the ‘Move the money’ selfie project, or stalls offering passers-by the opportunity to indicate their alternative budget choices (buttons in jam jars or buckets work well, labelled ‘education’, ‘green energy’, etc). We need a group campaigning on military expenditure to be active in every part of this country, but that means hard and imaginative work and energy. We need an enthusiastic volunteer to coordinate and encourage more GCOMS events next spring. How about you?

From “The Chance for Peace,” a speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953

The best quote that I can end with comes, rather surprisingly, from a US general. Dwight Eisenhower was never a hawk. He can’t have been popular in his world for saying that the nuclear bombs on Japan in 1945 were never necessary. He had this to say in 1953 and you may well recognise the quotation: Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who are hungry and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This is not a way of life. Under the cloud of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron….’

Bruce ends: “A different kind of life is possible. Let’s together make it happen”.

 

 

 

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Britain could transform its role from military aggressor to one of conflict prevention and conflict resolution: John McDonnell

awp-coverExtracts from A WORLD OF PEACE, a chapter in ‘Another World is Possible’ by MP John McDonnell, 2007. As readers valued and kept their copies, none are available online. He writes:

The British and US governments have taken on the role of self-appointed global enforcers of the new world order, or rather disorder, that has emerged since the end of the Cold War. Far from solving issues like terrorism, their approach has more often than not made them more intractable.

“Britain was committed by New Labour to a perpetual ‘war on terror’ now rebranded by Washington as ‘The Long War’ that is based on simplistic notions of ‘good and evil’ and the imperial concept of a ‘clash of civilisations’ “.  (Ed: following Conservative governments have made the same commitment).

After listing the number of Iraqi civilian deaths McDonnell ends, “Some 55% in Britain say they feel the government’s policies have made the country a more dangerous place” (link added). A radical new approach is needed, John McDonnell’s recommendations for a new policy framework included,

  • The development of a principled foreign policy based on co-operation, mutual respect, fair trade and adherence to international law.
  • The establishment of a Ministry for Peace at the heart of government.

Based on its experience of securing peace in Northern Ireland, Britain could transform its role in the world from military aggressor to one of conflict prevention and conflict resolution.

NLW logoThe European Working Group on Nonlethal Weapons (EWG-NLW) has members from many countries, drawn from NATO and the naval, scientific, technical, policing and defence research sectors. Its mission statement follows:

nlw leaflet

Could it go a step further and work towards the use of these technologies to halt armed conflict and enter mediation, followed by long-term economic and cultural peacebuilding?

And, George MacPherson urges (paywall): “redirect our spending towards, for example, disaster relief; housing and services; renewable energy; rapid response to pandemics; the United Nations and international law and order; and environmental conservation.

As John McDonnell says:another world is possible’

 

 

 

 

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