The British government attempts to mitigate the effects of yet another disastrous military adventure

April 19, 2016

blair gaddafiIn September 2004, Col Muammar Gaddafi was finally considered to be “on side”. Oil and infrastructure deals were struck with Britain & other countries. Excited by the Arab Spring, in 2011, the UK and France (aka ‘NATO-backed forces’) led efforts to back rebels fighting to overthrow Gaddafi. The country has since descended into chaos, with two rival governments and the formation of hundreds of militias, some allied to the so-called Islamic State (IS).

One step forward

hammond libyan pmForeign secretary Philip Hammond has visited a Libya exhausted by five years of fighting. Speculation about UK involvement in a possible international military force is rife; the stated intention is to provide £10m for training support to the Libyan administration’s armed forces.

But a Moseley reader alerts us to another step backwards

In 2006, when he was opposition leader, David Cameron said trust in politics could only be restored if MPs had the final say on committing British troops to war – instead of the prime minister making the decision using royal prerogative powers.

Ministers have abandoned plans to introduce a war powers act that would institute a legal commitment to seek parliamentary approval before deploying British troops in combat.

Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, told MPs that such a measure would ”constrain the operational flexibility of the armed forces and prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of those forces” and that there could be accusations of acting in bad faith if unexpected developments were to require a different course of action.

However he later told MPs that ministers would “keep parliament informed and we will of course seek its approval before deploying British forces in combat roles into a conflict situation . . . This convention would not apply to British military personnel embedded in the armed forces of other nations”.

revolving door peopleDavid Cameron said trust in (defence?) politics could only be restored if MPs had the final say.

We add to this the need to close the revolving door between oil and armaments corporations.

Total trust would require many more reforms – Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn could do it.


Vatican conference: there is no justification for war – prioritise work for a just peace

April 15, 2016

 

Western media – apart from the Catholic Press – appear to be in a state of shock judging from their absence from first 100 entries brought up by a Google search. The only coverage found was one Machiavellian reaction from the BBC, by implication upholding the current devastating military aggressions, regurgitating Just War doctrine and giving no indication that the Vatican conference had rejected it. Later, another rear-guard action was found in Providence, ‘a journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy’ – its only redeeming feature being this photograph:

vatican ceiling

The participants of the conference stated that there is no ‘just war’ in a press release on Thursday morning.

Joshua J. McElwee, NCR’s Vatican correspondent reports that the Vatican’s first conference – to reevaluate just war theory, justifications for violence and re-examine the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, was cohosted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International on April 11-13.

The conference was organized around four themes: Experiences of Nonviolence, Jesus’ Way of Nonviolence, Nonviolence and Just Peace, and Moving Beyond Unending War, led by experts in the separate topic areas.

The eighty attenders included participants engaged in global nonviolent struggles in countries such as Chile, Japan, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya, Palestine and Burundi. They have developed a new moral framework rejecting ethical justifications for war and displacing the centuries-old just war theory as the main Catholic response to violence. Also taking part were a senior policy fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, several noted theologians, and Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire.

Just War theory uses a series of criteria to evaluate whether use of violence can be considered morally justifiable. First referred to by fourth century bishop St. Augustine of Hippo, it was later articulated in depth by 13th century theologian St.Thomas Aquinas and is today outlined by four conditions in the formal Catechism of the Catholic Church.

One criteria for the moral justification of war in the Catechism is that “the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated” and notes that “the power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.” Below: killed by widely used ‘modern means’ – the armed drone.

children drone killed

Conference organizers said in a note to participants: “After more than 1,500 years and repeated use of the just war criteria to sanction war rather than to prevent war, the Catholic Church, like many other Christian communities, is rereading the text of Jesus’ life and re-appropriating the Christian vocation of pro-active peacemaking . . . Emphasizing the need to work for a Catholic Church, the Church is moving away from the acceptability of calling war ‘just’ . . . because that language undermines the moral imperative to develop tools and capacity for nonviolent conflict.”

As part of their goals for the conference, organizers stated they sought a “new articulation of Catholic teaching on war and peace, including explicit rejection of ‘just war’ language” and “an alternative ethical framework for engaging acute conflict and atrocities by developing the themes and practices of nonviolent conflict transformation and just peace.”

The outcome

The Catholic Church’s long-held teachings on just war theory were ‘bluntly rejected’, as having too often been used to justify violent conflicts and it was stated that the global church must reconsider Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence.

The group’s final appeal states: “The time has come for our Church to be a living witness and to invest far greater human and financial resources in promoting a spirituality and practice of active non-violence . . . In all of this, Jesus is our inspiration and model, neither passive nor weak, Jesus’ nonviolence was the power of love in action.”

ugandans need peaceUgandans plead for peace: http://chrisblattman.com/projects/sway/

“I came a long distance for this conference, with a very clear mind that violence is outlived,” said Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, Uganda. “It is out of date for our world of today. We have to sound this with a strong voice. Any war is a destruction. There is no justice in destruction . . . It is outdated.”


Pope Francis: the cynical will mock, the inhibited, cringe and those ‘beholden to the weapons industry’ will do their utmost to undermine

March 25, 2016
pope2http://aleteia.org/2016/03/24/gesture-of-brotherhood-pope-washes-feet-of-muslim-christian-refugees-as-brussels-recovers/

Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of Muslim, Orthodox, Hindu and Catholic refugees during Holy Thursday Mass at a refugee centre on the outskirts of Rome.

Nicole Winfield reported from Rome in The Washington Post that in Castelnuovo di Porto, Pope Francis declared Muslim, Christian and Hindu refugees children of the same God, as he performed a gesture of welcome and brotherhood at a time of increased anti-Muslim sentiment following the Brussels attacks.

Francis denounced the carnage as a “gesture of war” carried out by blood-thirsty people beholden to the weapons industry.

“We have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace,” the pope said in his off-the-cuff homily, delivered in the windy courtyard of the center.

Francis shocked many Catholics within weeks of his 2013 election by performing the ritual on women and Muslims at a juvenile detention center. After years of violating the rules, in January he changed the regulations to explicitly allow women and girls to participate.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, explained that the Vatican norms are meant for traditional liturgies in Catholic communities, not necessarily a unique papal Mass where the overall message is one of universal brotherhood and the love of God for all his children. He added that Francis clearly intended the message to be universal. “All of us, together: Muslims, Hindu, Catholics, Copts, Evangelicals. But brothers, children of the same God.

“We want to live in peace, integrated.”

 

 

 

 


The Peace Museum in Bradford

February 26, 2016

peace museum leaflet


Iraq and Libya and semi-destruction of Syria — western foreign policy disasters

February 16, 2016

In 2002 a state visit: – welcomed by Queen Elizabeth and the Blairs:

syria assad queen

Truth in the words of a ‘prophet without honour’

“Whatever one thinks of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, might we agree that the destruction of two states — Iraq and Libya and semi-destruction of Syria — have been western foreign policy disasters?

“When you destroy a state the gates to every corner of hell are opened — no frontiers, no police, no law, no education, no infrastructure, no government, a Hobbesian war of all against all. After Iraq one might have thought western policymakers would have paused before turning Libya into a 1000km breach in the previously reasonably solid southern Mediterranean border through which refugees and Islamist jihadis now pour or export weapons and Islamist ideology”.

And now:

alleppo destruction

The Times reports that the five year conflict in Syria has claimed at least 250,000 lives.

Continued (minus anti-Russian bias):

“Of course we all celebrate an uprising against nasty authoritarians and there are no end of them to chose from in the Middle East, the Gulf, parts of Africa and further afield. It is so easy to start fuelling a conflict but so hard to say it is time to end it, hold our noses and let death and internal politics take the place of external intervention. Restoring state authority in Iraq, Libya and Syria should now be the supreme object of statecraft . . . “

Instead of the destroyed or semi-destroyed states and tsunamis of refugees that have been the main fruits of western policy this decade, we could build a stable Euro-Mediterranean region where investment can replace intervention on its southern and eastern littorals and return the EU to growth, prosperity and confidence.

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d7db9bc6-d18b-11e5-92a1-c5e23ef99c77.html#ixzz40KQVHPTg

 

 


The cause of peace is not helped by sub-headline sensation-mongering

February 4, 2016

“President Assad’s army cut the last supply line for rebel forces in the northern city of Aleppo yesterday as peace talks in Switzerland collapsed”.

Not so.

alleppo destruction

It was a relief to read in the actual report by the Times’ Bel Trew in Cairo, that the Syrian army said it had broken a three-year rebel siege of two government-held Shia villages and the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, had merely announced a pause in peace talks in Geneva: “I have already fixed a date for the next talks of February 25.”

Most comments were well worth reading:

  • It’s worth remembering that Assad was nominated for an honorary knighthood by Tony Blair’s government, and was a guest of the Queen at Buckingham Palace at the same time. Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have been entirely consistent in where their loyalties lie. It’s “our” foreign policy which is in total disarray.
  • We need a better foreign policy. We are now supporting the insupportable, as the lesser of two evils.
  • The west, Qatar, Turkey and Saudi back the rebels, the rebels fight each other, the Russians, Hezbollah and the Iranians back Assad. Good luck to anyone trying to sort out that mess.
  • And how do you rationalise the behaviour of providing weapons to these so-called rebels which has caused this crisis? Are we humanitarian in our desire to determine the destiny of another nation that is no threat to us?
  • My kids cannot understand why Blair got involved in Iraq and Afghanistan or why Cameron got involved in Libya and Syria. Nor can I. Having correctly predicted the outcome in all four countries, I await any valid excuse for the stupidity of our politicians.


Max Hastings: the military historian who hates war

January 23, 2016

Sir Max Hastings has been called the leading voice in the anti-war sentiment: “(War) can cost an enormous number of lives and a lot of those people haven’t been killed by al-Qaeda or the Taliban but by our bombs and our guns.”

max hastings 2He describes the drone strikes as ‘pred porn’. “The military get seduced by watching live images and being able to say ‘take him out’ from their armchairs.

Everyone seems to think that the First World War in the trenches were awful but all wars are ghastly; the drone business can kid people there is a clean nice way of winning but there isn’t. You have to go in, get your hands dirty, see young men being maimed if you want war, the idea that you can push a few buttons in Lincolnshire and fire a few missiles from a drone is insane.”

Both his parents were journalists and he was determined to succeed in their world, becoming editor of two newspapers and author of 25 books.

“I was brought up to believe that the first duty of a journalist is to be a troublemaker, though I hope one is never an iconoclast doing it for the sake of doing it.”

Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester writing for the Times, see him as the leading voice in the anti-war sentiment.

He believes the prime minister was wrong to join the bombing campaign in Syria: “People like me have a responsibility to say, ‘Look there is no plan here, there is no coherent strategy.’ If we don’t say it, who will? . . . I’ve seen so many wars it makes me very wary that military action without purpose is a good idea.

“Cameron is not being correct to say it will keep our streets safe, this isn’t part of a coherent policy, we are making it up as we go along. I would focus far harder on what to do about Islamic radicalisation in this country and not just be thinking about making a gesture by dropping bombs in Syria . . .

“What worries me is his short-termism — his idea of strategy is how to get through until Tuesday. He doesn’t think through what he says, he once described Isis as an existential threat. He’s a clever man, he ought to know better”.

He also believes it is “nonsense” for the prime minister to suggest that 70,000 moderate Syrians are ready to fight. “We just don’t know. The prime minister should be leading a proper debate rather than chucking out spurious figures. There are three threats, Isis, migration and the Syrian war. We can try to combat Isis and treat the refugee crisis seriously but we should not take sides in Syria. There is no point in getting rid of tyrants if we replace them with anarchy or something worse.”

Sir Max, who has just written his first book on military intelligence, The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas, 1939-1945, says: “It has been a huge mistake to run down our Foreign Office so our diplomatic presence is weakened. A lot of our best information has come not from spies with moustaches but diplomats in suits . . .In peacetime the best brains don’t need to waste their minds in intelligence but during difficult times and wars intelligence is the front line. Instead of buying the F-35 [fighter jet] we would do much better to spend a fraction of that money identifying and employing really clever people to work in analysis and cybersecurity . . . we need to give up some freedom so we can monitor these people.”

On social media Isis is winning, he thinks: “I would love to scrap the aircraft carriers and run a social media offensive against Isis that destroyed their propaganda machine. Isis is just a ludicrous death cult with no coherent vision to offer rational people. They are absurd.”

What is lacking is people who understand the nuances of battle. “The recent debate in the Commons was preposterous . . . Hilary Benn’s speech was passionate but juvenile, we need to be pragmatic. Politicians can’t give all the answers but they have to pose the questions. The public aren’t as stupid as most politicians think.”


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