Anti-war movement

1 June 2018Feature

An interview with one of the anti-nuclear campaign's regional branches

We decided to celebrate the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s 60th anniversary with a profile of one of its regional branches. The Yorkshire CND office is in Bradford, opposite the university. One of the branch’s contributions to the peace movement is its fundraising ‘Day of Dance’, which in Saltaire this April had 30 workshops at the event’s 46th outing. Benjamin Kaplan (BK) interviewed Matt Fawcett (MF) of Yorkshire CND more generally, on behalf of PN.

BK: How did Yorkshire CND…

1 December 2016Feature

An interview with the co-founder of the women-led US peace group CODEPINK.

CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin at a protest on Wall Street, 2008. Photo: Thomas Good/Next Left Notes [GFDL] via Wikimedia Commons

Having become one of the most prominent US anti-war activists protesting against the US-led ‘war on terror’, Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the group CODEPINK, has now turned her attention to her nation’s close relationship with Saudi Arabia.

‘I’ve been doing a lot of work around the Middle East conflicts since the 9/11 attacks’, Benjamin, 64, tells…

1 October 2013Feature

Obama and Cameron have been forced to bow to their populations' anti-war sentiments

On 14 September, instead of launching air strikes on Damascus, US president Barack Obama was forced to agree to a Russian plan for disarming Syria’s chemical weapons under the supervision of a UN agency, the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons (OPCW). The resolution of the Syrian chemical weapons crisis by diplomacy was a triumph for what the New York Times in…

28 August 2012Review

Biteback, 2011; 384pp; £12.99

I cannot recommend this book too highly. It is an excellent compilation of all the myths, lies, nationalisms and vanities which have led us into wars past and present.

Swanson, who must be a bit older than his website picture suggests, has been active in the United States peace world for many years. He was at one stage the press secretary during Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign in 2004.

The book is self-published and a fund has now been created to enable it to be given…

2 July 2012Review

Pluto Press, 2012; 320pp; £19.99  

I’ve never been that drawn to reading histories of the peace movement but this book, with its particular perspective, has been an exception. I do like a bit of theory and this book has just enough of it, accessibly written, to provide a framework for analysing and understanding the diverse cross-national case studies offered.

The framework is a feminist one which, as Cynthia Cockburn argues, ‘has opened up a pathway for the left’, and is a necessary rather than optional tool for…

24 January 2012Letter

I have been struck lately by what seems to me mission creep within CND. For example, the conference that followed the London region AGM in January included a session entitled “Why are we war-mongering in the Middle East?” The public forum held after the region’s quarterly meeting on 2 November was a talk with an identical title.

The two presentations were admittedly very different. At the AGM, Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire, while not answering the question posed, gave a…

13 August 2011Feature

An open letter to the Brighton anti-arms trade group Smash EDO.

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for writing in last month’s PN on Smash EDO’s outlook on strategy and movement-building. As I’d thought, Peace News and Smash EDO have a great deal in common, much more than divides us. There are differences in our thinking, but, after reading your article, I’ve come to the conclusion that you/Smash EDO aren’t so much in disagreement with “the Peace News approach”, as unaware of the position that PN represents.

There are all kinds of mixes in the…

13 August 2011Feature

The 15 February 2003 demonstrations, showed, as The New York Times observed, that “there may still be two super- powers on the planet: the United States and world public opinion.”

On the other hand, the grassroots mobilisation failed to prevent the invasion of Iraq. Media support? The heavy reporting of the British demonstration on 15 February seems to disprove the idea that the mainstream media opposes, under-reports or belittles grassroots movements. A Daily Telegraph columnist was…

1 March 2009Feature

Two academics survey the British peace movement

British anti-war groups active in the first years of the new century, in the era of the “war on terror”, are united predominantly by opposition to particular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Protest events have been composed of a great array of activists, from feminists to Islamic patriarchs, the Liberal Democrats to Socialist Workers Party, from the deeply religious to the entirely secular, and from bereaved military families to supporters of the Palestinian cause.

So anti-war…

1 December 2008Review

Cambridge University Press, 2008; ISBN 978-0521670005; 392pp; £17.99

The title of this book, and the reputation of its author, suggests it could be a welcome addition to a peace activist’s bookshelf. However for anyone interested specifically in pacifism, rather than just peace, it is a profoundly annoying and disappointing book. Perhaps the stark use of a nuclear disarmament symbol on the cover, when much of the book is nothing to do with nuclear weapons specifically, should have been a warning of the muddle inside.

Another clue – for people who…

1 December 2007Feature

At the end of August, the Respect Unity Coalition MP, George Galloway, circulated a document to the party leadership, which seems to have precipitated the disintegration of the organisation.

Galloway's paper, entitled It was the best of times, it was the worst of times brought to a head long-simmering tensions within the party.

The document sharply criticised the Respect national office (largely staffed by SWP members) for the party's failure to fulfil its potential “in…

3 March 2007Comment

In equal measures: hope and despair

This March marks the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq and the start of the long-term military and economic occupation.

Tens of thousands of civilians and more than 3,000 coalition soldiers have been killed; thousands more have been horrifically wounded. Over the past four years people have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their families and their minds. Iraqi society is in ruins and the occupiers' political stability is on a…

1 December 2006News

A new nation-wide survey of the anti-war movement reveals the municipal character of locally based anti-war groups. Researcher Ian Taylor explains the report's findings.

In what is perhaps the first academic survey of locally based anti-war groups in this country, a picture emerges of a movement which, whilst primarily concerned with international conflict, is very much rooted in local people, local politics, local activism and local media, to a possibly surprising degree.

Based on survey responses from 105 local groups and 27 follow-up interviews with activists, the municipal character of the movement shone through. Indeed this may even be one of…

3 November 2006Comment

Here's a quiz: who said this? “It is also a time when XXX - totally united around its goals and in support of its leadership - has an increasingly high profile ...” That's the second sentence of a recent press release (from organisation XXX). The language is reminiscent of that in the news-sheets of the (greatly missed) Workers Institute of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism which had several members in South London 25 years ago.

Clearly this is from some throwback to an earlier era, when…

1 April 2006Feature


The soldiers

“Before I went to Iraq I was concerned about the legality of the invasion and the occupation. But whilst I was there, what I saw - the conduct of the war - was wrong, a lot of things were going wrong ... and my views became clearer and stronger, until it reached a point where I couldn't separate them from my job and I could no longer serve in Iraq.” - Former SAS trooper Ben Griffin speaking in mid-March about his decision to leave the military for reasons of…