Features

1 February 2023 PN

A window poster for 1 February

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1 February 2023 Milan Rai

What Stop the War and the direct actionists missed in 2003

Could the anti-war movement have prevented the US-UK invasion of Iraq in March 2003? I think there was a real possibility, slim though it was.

In my view, the British anti-war movement came very close to halting British participation in the invasion – and derailing the war entirely.

Well, that’s not only my view. Just days before the war began, the British government told the US government that it might be forced to pull out of the invasion force. Britain’s ministry of defence…

1 February 2023 Pádraig McCarrick

Chatham House, RUSI and IISS all accept funding from nuclear-weapons linked firms

The independence of Britain’s top thinktanks working in the area of nuclear weapons policy has been brought into question, after an academic survey found they had accepted funding from companies who manufacture or maintain nuclear weapons.

Researchers from an elite French university, Sciences Po, surveyed 45 of the world’s leading thinktanks specialising in foreign policy and national security. They all admitted that they received financing from nuclear arms contractors and/or from…

1 February 2023 Pat Gaffney

The latest meeting of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative brought together people from around the world

In 2016, I met many inspiring peacemakers in Rome when Pax Christi International launched the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative (see PN 2622 – 2623). It set in motion a process to engage with the Vatican, and the global Catholic family, in the practice of nonviolence as a way of life, a spirituality and a method for change. In December 2022, another encounter took place with 75 participants from 28 nations. It was entitled: ‘Pope Francis, Nonviolence and the Fullness of Pacem in…

1 February 2023 Brian Jones

Brian Jones reflects on the legacy of one of the most successful disarmament agreements in history

On 3 December 1997, the representatives of 122 nations met in Ottawa, Canada, to sign the Mine Ban Treaty or, to use its formal name, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.

This treaty is regarded as one of the most successful disarmament agreements in history, with 164 nations signed up.

The trade in anti-personnel landmines has virtually stopped, millions of mines have been destroyed…

1 February 2023 PN staff

Call for groups to join 100,000-strong protest, beginning 21 April

On 1 January, the direct action climate group Extinction Rebellion (XR) UK announced that it was making a ‘controversial’ New Year’s resolution to ‘temporarily shift away from public disruption as a primary tactic’. The move seems to have been partly motivated by a fear of the new public order legislation the government has brought in to suppress disruptive direct action.

The XR statement, headed ‘We Quit’, ended by promoting ‘The Big One’, a massive multi-day action that XR plans to…

1 February 2023 Milan Rai

Nuclear bullying of non-nuclear states is a core part of Britain's nuclear doctrine

Sometimes, Western nuclear threats against non-nuclear weapon states have been covert operations, signalled secretly by mobilising strategic nuclear weapon systems (like the British V-bombers sent out to Singapore during the Malaysian Confrontation – see PN 2659).

Sometimes, Western nuclear threats have been very, very public.

Such was the case in the run-up to the March 2003 US-UK assault on Iraq.

It was a very long run-up to war, for reasons discussed…

1 February 2023 Liam Doherty

Liam Doherty reports on the students challenging arms-trade sponsored research at UK universities

Universities across the UK draw millions of pounds of revenue from arms-trade-sponsored research, sometimes with explicit weapon-development research aims. Universities turn to the arms industry to make quick profits from consultancy work, while arms companies use universities as a base for recruitment and PR. British universities also have funds – sometimes tens of millions of pounds – invested in arms companies either directly or indirectly through fund managers and banks.

This is…

1 February 2023 Forces Watch

Strike-breaking: using the armed forces to undermine workers’ rights

The UK is in the midst of industrial action on a scale not seen since the 1970s. With key public sector workers walking out over below-inflation pay offers, the government have asked the military to plug the gap. Drafting in the armed forces may keep some basic services running but it is also designed to weaken the power of unions. With the government threatening new anti-strike legislation, we should remember how military confrontation with strikers was the weapon of choice until the Second…

1 February 2023 Gabriel Carlyle

Staughton Lynd, 22 November 1929 – 17 November 2022

Staughton Lynd, who died last year, aged 92, may be one of the most important US activists you’ve never heard of.

A historian by training, Lynd played important roles in both the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, before spending decades nurturing grassroots labour organisations and working in solidarity with prisoners locked up in so-called ‘supermax’ prisons.

“Perhaps the only person who could unite the New Left and Old Left, speak truth to power, and also be a…

1 December 2022 George Lakey

As George Lakey publishes his brilliant memoir, Dancing with History: A Life for Peace and Justice, here are some wonderful stories from his life of committed nonviolence.

Quaker activist and master storyteller George Lakey chose these two pieces of writing for PN to show how stories from the past can stimulate today’s strategies. The first piece is an extract from his new memoir, Dancing with History: A Life for Peace and Justice (Seven Stories, December 2022). The second account adds to a campaign history included in Dancing with History.

Our baby had a fever. She lay in bed crying, turning her head from side to side, trying…

1 December 2022 Gabriel Carlyle

Three possible joint campaigns for the peace and climate movements  

Should the peace and climate movements be trying to work more together and, if so, how?

These were two of the key questions posed at the recent ‘War and the climate emergency’ dayschool in Oxford that brought climate and peace campaigners together to learn and reflect in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

It’s not hard to find common ground shared by the two movements.

For example, as PN’s editor, Milan Rai, has noted, Russia’s criminal invasion of…

1 December 2022 PN staff

The peace movement has a window of opportunity to press the government

Despite pleading from defence secretary Ben Wallace, there was no increase in British military spending in the government’s November budget (officially an ‘autumn statement’).

Wallace, a popular Conservative MP, had previously warned that he would resign if the government did not commit itself to increasing military spending to three percent of GDP. (British spending has been at the NATO target of two percent of GDP.)

Chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt instead said on 17…

1 December 2022 Milan Rai

The £55bn ‘fiscal black hole’ is not a real thing

Joan Robinson, the great economist, once wrote: ‘The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.’

British politics in recent months has all been about ‘the fiscal hole’, said to be a gigantic £55bn gap in the government’s finances. Journalists and politicians talk about it as though it is a real thing.

It is not.

The ‘fiscal hole’ sounds like it’s a £55bn gap…

1 December 2022 Mia Mottley

These are excerpts from the speech of Mia Mottley, the prime minister of Barbados, at the opening of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

I came here to say a few things. I don’t need to repeat the horror and the devastation wrecked upon this earth over the course of the last 12 months since we met in Glasgow.

Whether the apocalyptic floods in Pakistan, or the heat waves from Europe to China, or in the last few days my own region, the devastation caused in Belize, with tropical storm Lisa, or the torrential floods a few days ago in St Lucia. We don’t need to repeat it because the pictures are worth a thousand words.…

1 December 2022 Gabriel Carlyle

Head-on confrontation is not always the way to win

‘The trouble with you people is that you target ordinary people’s lives!’

The man with the white beard was angry. It was 3.50pm and he’d just showed up to his local branch of Barclays bank, only find it closed ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’.

‘Unforeseen circumstances! That’s you, isn’t it?’ he raged.

Barclays is Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuels, having provided over $166bn to the oil, coal and gas industries since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. So, as…

1 October 2022 Don't Extradite Assange

Julian Assange must not be extradited from the UK

WikiLeaks editor and publisher Julian Assange is facing a 175-year sentence for publishing truthful information in the public interest.

Julian Assange is being sought by the current US administration for publishing US government documents which exposed war crimes and human rights abuses. The politically-motivated charges represent an unprecedented attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know – seeking to criminalise basic journalistic activity.

If convicted Julian…

1 October 2022 Milan Rai

A tribute to Barbara Ehrenreich (26 August 1941 – 1 September 2022)

When I came into the peace movement as a teenager, back in the time of the dinosaurs, I somehow picked up a Very Wrong Idea. I came to believe that We (peace people) were completely different from, and so much better than, Them (war-supporters). We were more intelligent, more noble, better-informed. They... well, they were different.

In my case, picking up this belief flew in the face of my own experience, if I had only had eyes to see. I grew up in a…

1 October 2022 John Cooper

'Rights of those opposed to war should not be discarded once the bombs start falling'

A European-wide petition calling to protect the rights of conscientious objectors (COs) on all sides of the Ukraine conflict was launched on 21 September, the UN International Day of Peace.

The petition calls for protection and asylum for deserters and conscientious objectors from Belarus and the Russian Federation. It urges the Ukrainian government to stop prosecuting conscientious objectors, instead granting them internationally-guaranteed rights.

It challenges all nations…

1 October 2022 PN staff

New call-up prompts mass protests

Anti-war campaigners took to Russia’s streets on 21 September after the government there announced that it would be calling up 300,000 reservists to fight in its ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine. Brutal repression had put a stop to mass protests earlier in the year (see PN 2659), but the new announcement led to a new surge in protests.

It was reported that, in the hours after president Vladimir Putin’s speech on television launching the new policy, at least 300 people…