Editorial

1 February 2023Comment

The current framing of XR's mass protest on 21 April risks setting people up for disappointment and exhaustion, argues Milan Rai

Do I support mobilising large numbers of people to join in the climate protest in Central London taking place on 21 April, organised by Extinction Rebellion (XR)?

Yes.

Do I think it will have a positive effect on the political debate in Britain and maybe elsewhere?

Yes.

Do I agree with how XR are describing and explaining this protest?

No. Definitely not.

I think that XR has taken ‘talking big’ to a whole new level that is damaging to their own…

1 February 2023Comment

The Bomb has, to a large extent, been a racist weapon, argues Milan Rai

What has anti-racism got to do with nuclear weapons? They seem to belong in different worlds.

When we hear the word ‘anti-racism’, we might think about police violence, like the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba, the unarmed black 24-year-old killed by the Metropolitan police in South London last September.

Or we might think about brutal anti-immigrant policies, like the way the government crowded 4,000 asylum-seekers into Manston detention centre, built for 1,600 people.

1 December 2022Comment

The West applies different standards to Russia than to itself

‘The deepest power is that of determining what people consider normal,’ British historian Timothy Garton Ash wrote in the Financial Times on 13 November.

The next day, British prime minister Rishi Sunak condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with these words: ‘There can be no normalisation of [Russian president Vladimir] Putin’s behaviour, which has no place in the international community.’

Perhaps Sunak was referring to the massive waves of Russian missile attacks on…

1 October 2022Comment

A failing Prime Minister may be tempted to rally support around a military crusade

‘I did not come into politics to be a member of the Kamikaze Pilots’ Association.’

Yes, that is a Tory MP responding to the disastrous political impact of an unpopular and destabilising budget announcement from a Conservative government.

No, it’s not from September 2022.

It’s from March 1981.

Those are the words of liberal Conservative MP Cyril Townsend, making clear his opposition to chancellor Geoffrey Howe’s economy-shrinking, austerity budget. Inflation was…

1 October 2022Comment

The war in Ukraine is deepening the grave threat to future generations, argues Milan Rai

Every time the US has increased its military support for Ukraine, Russia has responded by escalating in some way.

We’re approaching a very dangerous point now, where a Russian nuclear attack starts to become a real possibility (see p7), with catastrophic consequences not just for Ukraine, but almost certainly for the world.

However, as Noam Chomsky recently pointed out to Truthout: ‘The impact of the war goes far beyond: to the millions facing starvation with the…

2 August 2022Comment

Johnson was an international criminal, not just a liar, argues Milan Rai

All year, it has been infuriating to watch the debate about Boris Johnson as pressure built up against the British prime minister until he was finally forced from office on 7 July by his own party – which believed he would damage its chances of winning the next election.

Johnson was sacked by the Conservatives for his personal weaknesses, such as dishonesty and irresponsibility. This was what the media also focused on. Near the liberal extreme, the Guardian editorial on his…

2 August 2022Comment

Milan Rai remembers a campaigner who was 'human decency turned into a human being'

There are activists who are respected or admired, and there are activists who are loved. Bruce was loved, he was beloved.

Bruce Kent was human decency turned into a human being.

For people of my generation, who came of age in the 1980s, Bruce was a beacon of sanity in a terrifying world. He was the voice of the peace movement: direct, honest and completely fearless.

He has continued to be that beacon of sanity and common sense.

Pat Gaffney, one of Bruce’s close…

1 June 2022Comment

Recent events confirm that peace activism is the real counter-terrorism, argues Milan Rai

This may be a little difficult to believe. In the latest terror trial in the UK, the defendant put forward the kind of legal argument that we often see in peace movement nonviolent direct action cases: he was trying to prevent a greater crime... with his crime.

Since the 7/7 atrocities in London on 7 July 2005, there has been a string of terror attacks in the UK inspired by al-Qa’eda and/or Islamic State.

These attacks tend to have three features in common that aren’t often…

1 April 2022Comment

It's past time to ban the use of nuclear threats, argues Milan Rai

29 March: Over the last month, the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine has cost tens of thousands of lives, forced millions of Ukrainians to become refugees – and created a world crisis. As we go to press, there are reports that there may be a ceasefire soon.

That seems unlikely until after Russia has captured Mariupol. The besieged and much-battered coastal city is the key to the land corridor linking Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014, and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian…

1 February 2022Comment

International sanctions are starving ordinary Afghans

Some 23 million people in extreme hunger. A million children under five in immediate danger of starvation.

This is not a natural disaster. It is a horrifying case of the United States taking an entire nation hostage and torturing an entire people.

Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, told Agence France-Presse last November that the economic sanctions ‘meant to punish those in power in Kabul are instead freezing millions of…

1 December 2021Comment

You may not know this, but there was a whole 14-paragraph section of the Glasgow agreement dealing with climate-related ‘loss and damage’.

The Guardian reported that this was ‘perhaps the most bitterly fought section of all’.

The phrase ‘loss and damage’ first appeared when the original UN Framework Convention on Climate Change was being drawn up in 1991.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) asked for an international insurance pool to be created to ‘…

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…

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…

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…

4 July 2021Comment

How can white anti-racists stay motivated for the long struggle ahead?

I hope that you found the Whiteness issue useful. I have one more thing to say to white readers, to folk who want to prioritise anti-racism.

If you are a white person who aims to be in this for the long haul, then you may need to dig deep and find some ways that you personally can benefit from the rooting out of racism.

White US philosopher Shannon Sullivan ends her thought-provoking book on White Privilege by pointing out that there are problems with white people…