1 June 2024Feature

A view from the island of Ireland

‘Bellicosity’ is perhaps an old-fashioned word, and comes from the Latin word for war or warlike, ‘bellum’, and perhaps ‘warlike’ is more prosaic English. But, whatever word you prefer, the European Union (EU) is gearing up for a fight with Russia, and unspecified others, along with supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia.

The mind boggles.

The EU, along with its NATO allies, the US and UK, and Russia are all nuclear-armed. It is crazy to continue to push forward…

1 June 2024News

Groups condemn attempt 'to whip up everyday militarism and nationalist fervour'

The first major policy announcement of the British general election campaign came from the Conservative prime minister. Rishi Sunak announced his intention, if re-elected, to set up compulsory ‘National Service’ for 18-year-olds.

This would involve either 12 months’ full-time military service (for perhaps 30,000 young people, who would be selected) or 25 days’ voluntary work in the community over a year for the other 90 percent of 18-year-olds.

The plan, which seems aimed at…

1 December 2021Review

Transnational Institute, 2021; 37pp; free, available at

The vast carbon emissions produced by the military are coming under increasing scrutiny. The UK ministry of defence (MoD) published a strategy on climate change earlier this year, outlining how it will reduce the carbon impact of 'defence' up to 2050.

However, there will still be no external or independent scrutiny of greenhouse gases produced by the military, as COP26 failed to ensure that they will be included in emissions targets.

Emissions are only one issue in terms of the…

1 August 2019News in Brief

The British military emits more carbon than the whole of Iceland. The annual emissions from the ministry of defence are equivalent to 3.2 million tonnes of CO2.

That was one of the revelations from Dr Stuart Parkinson, executive director of Scientists for Global Responsibility, at 'Save the Earth, Abolish War' on 29 June.

The London conference, organised by the Movement for the Abolition of War, also heard from Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and others.

1 August 2019News

UK condemned as international outlier on child recruitment

In June, members of Denbighshire council’s committee on religious education discussed a Denbighshire Quaker charter calling for a stop to armed forces recruitment in schools.

Chair Dominic Oakes said: ‘If a child wants to go to a cadet event and enjoys it, then our responsibility through their schooling is that they at least come across ideas of the problems with the fact that we have cadets and arms and wars.’

It was agreed to present something to the council in the future.…

1 August 2019Comment

Rebecca Elson-Watkins takes at look at Mic Dixon's new film War School


Militarism. The word means nothing to much of the population, but it's everywhere; almost every place in the UK has a war memorial,

During Remembrance, you can't avoid it: red poppies, cenotaphs, the 'Last Post', and cadets everywhere. These scenes open War School, a film by Mic Dixon about the battle for the hearts and minds of Britain's children, a battle that is fought with militarism.

'There is no remembrance. Opposite of remembrance. Concealment.…

1 June 2019Feature

A ForcesWatch report on selling the military

Many of us have seen recruitment adverts for the armed forces popping up on our social media feeds, on TV and on the radio.

Others will have come across recruitment stalls in their local town centres, perhaps with weapons on display for passersby – especially young children – to admire and handle.

If you are 16–24 years old, and from a low-income background, you are especially likely to be targeted with various kinds of military recruitment advertising in your daily life.…

1 February 2019Feature

Responses from peace activists to the BBC’s 2018 Reith Lectures on war

Noted historian Margaret MacMillan took war as her theme in five Reith Lectures she delivered for the BBC in mid-2018.

The overall title of the lecture series was ‘The Mark of Cain’, referring to the story in the Hebrew Bible of the first murderer. Cain, the oldest child of Adam and Eve, murdered his brother Abel, then denied his crime. According to scripture, God cursed Cain and put a mark on him – the Hebrew is not clear whether this was a physical mark on his body or some kind…

16 November 2018Blog

A film that uses humour to convey the absurdity of armed conflict.

Sands Films is a unique gem; snuggled up against the south bank of the Thames, it is one of those little secrets that Londoners cherish. Not usually known for their events – it’s normally a fully functional film studio – they felt they couldn’t let the centenary of the First World War Armistice pass unmarked. I’m very glad they didn’t, and judging by the packed house, I’m not alone.

Schwejk (pronounced Sh-wei-ck) is Sands’ own project, shot…

1 October 2018News in Brief

The British army is targeting young working-class people for recruitment, an internal marketing document has revealed.

According to the briefing paper, the ‘This is Belonging’ advertising campaign is focused on ‘16-24 C2DE’, meaning 16- to 24-year-olds who are: skilled manual workers (C2); semi-skilled and unskilled manual workers (D); and casual workers and benefit claimants (E).

The document, obtained by Child Soldiers International through a freedom of information…

1 June 2018News

Six arrested at Cardiff arms fair

Adam Johannes arrested at the Motorpoint Arena Cardiff Arms Fair. Photo: Ann Bateman

On 27 March, I was arrested, handcuffed and placed in a police cell for over 12 hours. My crime? Nonviolently protesting at an event glorifying violence: the Cardiff Arms Fair (officially ‘Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability 2018’).

The Welsh government has built links between Wales and arms industries – selling it as job creation. The arms fair, in the Motorpoint Arena…

1 April 2018News

Military police blame 'more urgent enquiries' for 'unacceptable delay' in bringing case to trial

On 23 March, it was revealed that 16- and 17-year-old recruits at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate made 50 allegations of abusive and violent behaviour by army instructors between 2014 and 2017. The Freedom of Information requests by Child Soldiers International and Liz Saville Roberts MP also revealed that there had been around 50 investigations by royal military police into staff at the college over the last decade, with allegations declared to have been proven in about 15 cases.…

1 February 2018News

Activists from across world meet to share insights

Activists and curious members of the public gathered in the comfortable confines of Housmans Bookshop in central London on 5 February to discuss the indoctrination of young people into the military, and how to prevent it.

During the War Resisters’ International (WRI) forum, representatives from WRI-affiliated groups in Turkey, Finland, the Czech Republic and the UK shared their experiences in countering conscription, militarised culture, and media controlled by authoritarian…

1 August 2017News

Tony Young visits Wales' 'National Air Show'

On 1 July, I attended the so-called ‘Wales National Air Show’ in Swansea. It is marketed as a fun day out for all the family but, moving beyond the massive funfair, you find what the occasion is really about. Military hardware of every description, and information points that tell you about the delights of a career in the armed forces, with huge banners carrying the message ‘RAF: recruiting now’.

Teenagers and small children are invited aboard the tanks and troop carriers,…

1 April 2017Review

Pluto Press, 2015; 288pp; £18.99

With its black and yellow cover, featuring silhouettes of security cameras and other paraphernalia, at first glance this book looks intent on scaring the reader. Even the word ‘dispossessed’ in the title has classic horror film connotations. And perhaps this was the intention of the contributors, academics and activists who, in dismay at the failure of climate talks in 2009, came together for a seminar to discuss what should be done. The resulting papers comprise this volume, with…