Rai, Milan

Milan Rai
1 October 2021Feature

Milan Rai reviews a flawed, fascinating, worm’s eye view of history

Why exactly was there a Cuban Missile Crisis 60 years ago?

When the US signed an agreement in 1959 to put Jupiter nuclear missiles into a non-nuclear weapon state neighbouring the Soviet Union, there wasn’t a ‘Turkish Missile Crisis’.

From their Turkish base, the Jupiters could easily reach Moscow – and deliver warheads 100 times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Despite this provocation, the USSR didn’t start a military confrontation with US forces…

1 October 2021Comment

Milan Rai pieces together the story of a crucial moment in the Cuban Missile Crisis

Nine years ago, we wrote about a Russian naval officer named Vasili Arkhipov who saved the world.

We’ve learned since then that the story of Arkhipov’s role in the Cuban Missile Crisis was a little more complicated than we thought. Even so, it is clear that Arkhipov played a key role in preventing a confrontation at sea turning into global nuclear war.

On 27 October 1962, 12 US warships surrounded a submerged Soviet submarine, the _ B-59_, a began dropping hand grenades and…

1 August 2021Comment

Stop the spread of speedy, more lethal, vaccine-resistant variants

England is entering a dangerous period. British prime minister Boris Johnson is knowingly creating the perfect conditions to breed stronger variants of COVID-19 that can overcome the vaccine.

A group of experts warned in a letter to the medical journal, the Lancet on 7 July that the complete lifting of almost all COVID restrictions in England on 19 July was ‘dangerous and premature’.

One of the concerns of the expert group was the long-term health of the millions of…

1 August 2021Review

BenBella Books, 2020; 335pp; £19.99

The Button is terrifying – and very mainstream, reinforcing lots of US propaganda. However, it should be just the ticket for shaking the confidence of even the most deterrence-minded relative.

One of the authors, William Perry, was undersecretary of defence under US president Jimmy Carter.

Perry tells the story of how he was called at 3am on 3 June 1980 and told the US air defence system (NORAD) had detected 2,200 Soviet missiles on their way to the US.

He was…

1 August 2021Feature

How Britain’s wartime prime minister urged alternatives to using the atom bomb

In a month-long phone-and-email BBC poll of the UK in 2002, Winston Churchill was named the greatest Briton of all time.

In 2018, in a YouGov poll, Churchill was …

1 August 2021News

No action to be taken against British-Yemeni war resister

Do you remember the case of Ahmed Al-Batati, the British-Yemeni soldier who was arrested across the road from Downing Street on 24 August last year? (PN 2646 – 2647)

We have only just discovered Ahmed’s fate from the very wonderful Declassified UK group, who interviewed Ahmed last December.

It turns out that the authorities decided not to take action against Ahmed, and he was allowed to leave the army in December.

If you remember, Ahmed stood in his uniform next…

1 August 2021Comment

If we want a safer country, we need a less violent foreign policy, argues Milan Rai

As the world reflects on the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks in Washington DC and New York, we face a choice. We can try to understand what motivates people to carry out jihadist attacks, which might give us a chance of preventing them from happening again. Alternatively, we can close our eyes and refuse to discuss possible causes, which rules out the possibility of effective preventive action – which means more people will die.

Here in Britain, there is a sort of secret…

1 August 2021News

No Faith in War Four acquittal confirmed

On 25 June, Britain’s supreme court set an important legal precedent when it ruled that protesting can be a ‘lawful excuse’ for deliberately disruptive action that obstructs the highway. It made this ruling as it confirmed the acquittal of four Christian anti-arms trade campaigners.

The case dates back to the 2017 DSEI arms fair in East London, when Chris Cole, Henrietta Cullinan, Joanna Frew and Nora Ziegler were arrested (while locked-on to each other in pairs) on the ‘No Faith in…

1 August 2021Comment

Britain has sold £20bn of arms to Saudi Arabia since 2015

Yemen continues to suffer the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the UN, with half the population going hungry and hundreds of thousands of people on the brink of famine. 

A dramatic fall in the value of Yemen’s currency, the riyal, has only worsened the situation, while peace negotiations drag on without an end in sight.

Britain’s response to Yemen’s suffering has been to worsen the crisis, not just by supporting but by joining in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen.…

20 July 2021Comment

'If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time.'

I’m writing this as we’re approaching the first anniversary of the killing of George Floyd, and I’m thinking about racism and anti-racism and solidarity.

There’s a thing that a lot of activists call ‘being an ally’ or ‘allyship’. What this means is that you’re not the target of a particular oppression, but you want to challenge that oppression and be actively on the side of people who are the direct targets of that oppression.

So, for example, there was a wave of solidarity…

20 July 2021Feature

Being ‘colourblind’ on race is a problem

Last autumn, PN ran a survey asking peace activists how they had responded to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) uprising of the summer. I was deeply impressed by the wealth of constructive actions that people had taken in the previous few months. (PN 2646 – 2647)

It was clear that, for many people, the death of George Floyd and the massive protests that followed, had been huge events.

I remember the white person who wrote: ‘I thought there were virtually no black…

20 July 2021Feature

What’s the worst that can happen on a street stall?

Maddie is on a street stall in her town centre on Hiroshima Day, 6 August, wearing a placard and handing out leaflets about the atomic bombings. Every so often, someone stops to argue. Sometimes Maddie can’t get a word in edgeways ...

Passerby: You should be ashamed of yourself.

Maddie: Excuse me?

Passerby: My granddad would have died if we’d listened to people like you.

Maddie: Was he a …

5 July 2021Feature

An interview with Adam Elliott-Cooper, a co-founder of one of Britain’s leading anti-racist groups

Coming to the end of a long and fascinating conversation about Black Lives Matter UK, I asked Adam Elliott-Cooper what parts of the history of UKBLM he was most proud of, as a co-founder.

Adam answered: ‘One of the things I’m really proud of is that one of the things that the movement has done is the mainstreaming of questions of abolition and defunding the police.

‘Whilst previous generations demanded enquiries and inquests, or democratic control over the police, or community…

5 July 2021Feature

Let’s stop more lethal, vaccine-resistant COVID-19 variants developing anywhere

There is a powerful case, both on moral grounds and out of pure self-interest, for the rich nations of the Global North to ensure that everyone on the planet receives publicly-funded tests, treatments, and effective vaccines, free at the point of delivery: the People’s Vaccine.

Otherwise, the global population will continue to breed dangerous variants of the virus that might threaten even people who’ve been vaccinated, for reasons explained below.

On 17 February, the UN…

4 July 2021Review

The New Press, 2019; 240pp; £22.50

Ian Haney López starts this fascinating and important book by describing his struggle to persuade (older, overwhelmingly white) trade union leaders and racial justice activists (mostly young women of colour) – all in the US – of the need for a cross-racial class fight for economic and racial justice. 

Trade union leaders are easier to persuade. Right-wing politicians have used racist appeals to get white people to elect governments that have attacked working-class people. It’…