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The Peace News log
From the 30 September – 3 October, MAW Youth (Jen Harrison, Becky Garnault, Maddy Ridgley) plus 2 competition winners (Ella Johnson and Khem Rogaly) attended the International Peace Bureau world congress in Berlin.
For 4 days we were immersed in fascinating panel discussions and workshops delivered by an impressive collection of academics, activists, writers, politicians and economists. In our spare time we engaged in stimulating, nuanced and informative discussions with fellow attendees of diverse ages and nationalities. Together, we created a breeding ground for progressive ideas and fostered a community intent on building a climate of peace, reducing military spending and challenging the destructive power structures pervasive to our world.
A theme common to many of the plenaries and workshops was the effects and causes of global military spending. Though the strapline to the conference was the “the world is over armed and peace is underfunded” (Ban-ki Moon), the economist Samir Amin pointed out that it would be more appropriate to say that “the West is over armed”, as Western countries account for 75% of the total global military spending ($1.7trillion). This shocking figure is made worse when the huge cuts to social and public services across Europe and the USA in recent years are considered. The speakers emphasised the extent to which war is a systemic problem intimately connected to global capitalism, European colonialism and patriarchy. Over the course of the conference, the nature of militarism as a metastatic cancer, infecting different levels of thought became ever clearer....Read More
PN: What is Senzatomica?
Daniele Santi: Our aim is to raise public awareness about the threats of nuclear weapons and to empower each individual to speak out for a world free of nuclear weapons. In order to create an unstoppable force for peace, we launched a touring exhibition, believing that it is people’s right and duty to speak out.
Since we started in 2011, hundreds of thousands of people have visited over 70 exhibitions organized in towns and cities across Italy. We have also organized concerts, TV shows, flash mobs and so on. We really want to achieve a process whereby people can act and show that such a far-reaching goal is not beyond the grasp of ordinary people. Men and women have stood up for peace, countless people have done so. There are equivalent movements such as ICAN, Pugwash conferences and many others. We want to show that each individual has the power to change the world, to transform our behaviour and to share our humanity at its deepest level. We believe that if we campaign against nuclear weapons, we are fighting the root of powerlessness.
PN: How did Senzatomica start?
DS: We read the 2009 proposal, 'Building Global Solidarity for Nuclear Weapons Abolition' by Japanese philosopher Daisaku Ikeda. It suggests five points for action. We felt we, as ordinary citizens, rather than politicians, could act on the fifth point which addresses empowerment. In order to empower people, we needed a shift of public opinion. In our Senzatomica campaign we reached out to up to a million people. Over 300,000 people have visited our exhibitions and 40,000 are signed up to our website....Read More
On June 16, the New York Times reported :
'More than 50 State Department diplomats have signed an internal memo sharply critical of the Obama administration’s policy in Syria, urging the United States to carry out military strikes against the government of President Bashar al-Assad to stop its persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war.
The memo, a draft of which was provided to The New York Times by a State Department official, says American policy has been "overwhelmed" by the unrelenting violence in Syria. It calls for "a judicious use of stand-off and air weapons, which would undergird and drive a more focused and hard-nosed U.S.-led diplomatic process".'
We are a group of concerned U.S. citizens currently (20 June) visiting Russia with the goal of increasing understanding and reducing international tension and conflict. We are appalled by this call for direct U.S. aggression against Syria, and believe it points to the urgent need for open public debate on U.S. foreign policy....Read More
It sure is strong. Brexit pulls us in. My first response to the vote was to be glad – because we have been fighting for local power for decades here in New York. But Washington is not the same as Brussels. I got my localism confused with the complex struggle of the people the EU left out long ago. And I was (and am) moved by the UK youth who voted three to one to stay in, which has its parallel con-job here in the states. And then from there I exploded into 50 positions. Brexit is a potent tabula rasa.
It has succeeded as a pop phenomenon because it teases up in our souls the idea that we are facing a life-and-death question; except that the debate is led by clowns speaking in tongues. It turns us into over-heated Hamlets who go up on our lines at the point of 'To Be…' We’re doing this everywhere, repeating the question – 'Where do I live and where do you live?' but we know we’re getting it wrong. We sense that there is a far more crucial vote that we know we must soon face… Spoiler alert: The fact is that we can’t stay and we can’t leave.
Brexit has been fun to watch; has it out-polled the Game of Thrones? The nationalists love the sensation of being over-prepared for war, or even minor insults, while the EU business suits create blast-zones of identical details, all humor and music smoothed to consume. The Leaves want a wall to exercise their paranoia and they use that wall like a mirror preening like puffed-up Trumpish drag queens whiles the Remains use walls for 70 ft tall supermodels who look back at you like you just had nasty sex with them or are about to. Borders....Read More
The Truth About Trident sets out a blow-by-blow detailed analysis in advance of the forthcoming parliamentary debate about the renewal of Britain’s nuclear weapons’ system known as the ‘main gate’ decision later this year.
Despite the slightly disingenuous claim of the book that it will act as an objective ‘trial’ of the 30-year-old weapons system, Tim Wallis’s credentials as a leading peace activist reverses this expectation. As he states his intention is that ‘the moral case [will] outweigh lesser arguments based on finances, jobs, politics, strategic interests and deterrence and so on.’
Laid out in a reader-friendly way, the book steers us through key headings such as, What is Trident? What is Radiation? Have Nuclear Weapons kept the peace? Is Trident Affordable? But Wallis does sum up the conclusion of the book in the introduction. ‘What we are left with is a weapon system that is not powerful at all but is extremely dangerous.’
Wallis’ approach is to pick apart the main shibboleths of the Trident argument and in doing so, he hopes to reveal the irrationality of arguing, for instance, that nuclear weapons have kept the peace for the past 70 years....Read More
June 2016 will see a month of disarmament action against Trident at AWE Burghfield. Situated a few miles south-west of Reading, this is at the heart of the UK's nuclear weapons system. It is the final assembly line for the UK's nuclear warheads, and they return here for major maintenance work.
Opposition to Trident has spiralled rapidly in recent years. In Scotland, polls consistently show 85% opposed to the presence of Trident submarines, the country has elected an anti-Trident government, and blockades of the country's submarine bases are so frequent and popular that blockaders are rarely prosecuted.
It may seem that we are nowhere near this in England, but we should take comfort from the fact the Scotland's anti-Trident consensus has been achieved by ordinary people deciding what they believed in and acting on it. And even in the England, a larger and broader group of people are questioning the planned renewal of Trident. When the lifetime costs of a new Trident system were revised upwards, to £180bn, the veteran Conservative MP Crispin Blunt went on record to say that this couldn't be justified. Since then, they have risen again, to a staggering £205bn....Read More
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