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 lucid and well-informed account of the oil interests behind the invasion of Iraq and subsequent developments.
The speaker in November was so incoherent she had better stay nameless; she appeared to be claiming that all the uprisings in the Arab spring, and certainly that in Syria, were the work of the CIA.
Similarly, the autumn issue of national CND’s quarterly Campaign contained an article headed “Liberal interventionism: an excuse for yet another war.” No mention in the text that intervention in Libya followed a UN resolution, or that it arose from a popular uprising against a crazed dictator. As a member of CND, I supported intervention there, and have not changed my mind.
I imagine most Peace News readers will take a different view. However my point is a different one. It is that this sort of issue lies outside CND’s core mission, which is to campaign against nuclear weapons. As such, it’s a distraction and an irrelevance that should be left to bodies like the Stop the War Coalition.
The shifty phrase in the Campaign article that covers this slippage is “peace movement”.
The movement exists, of course, but it’s a very broad alliance extending from utopian and religious pacifists, through campaigners against the arms trade and CND, to the Stop the War Coalition on the hard Left; with overlap between them and many independent floaters like myself.
My point is that CND should stick to its own nuclear remit and not stray into into the territory of others, or allow itself to be used to promote other issues and agendas.
This seems to me absolutely vital since no-one else is doing what CND does so well – but needs to do more effectively still. That’s what I give my money and support for.
Incidentally, it’s remarkable that the Arab League and the UN have done more to stand up for the brutalised people of Syria than the Stop the War Coalition and other protesters on the Left. They have not uttered a word, as far as I’m aware, let alone demonstrated. (No peace convoys either.) Is that perhaps because Assad is anti-American and defined, in some perverse way, as “a socialist”?
Thanks for your letter, John.
We will invite CND to respond
in our next issue. – Eds