Towards the birth of a civilised society . . .

Decision time for UK’s military role

As the Comment column of the Financial Times says: “Britain is approaching a moment of decision about its place in the world . . . a vigorous debate must begin now . . . There must be far more coherence to British defence strategy in the second decade of the 21st century than there was in the first. 

Advice to government given by Professor Frank Barnaby and Commander Robert Green

 A non-provocative defence system would enable a nation to defend itself lawfully and without long-range weapons. It would curb the arms trade and encourage professionalism and restraint in the military.

New technology offers much improved reconnaissance and targeting systems  and less destructive, short-range missiles able to home much more accurately on to a target. It is cheaper to destroy an invader’s main weapons (large warships, long-range strike aircraft and tanks) than to buy such weapons oneself. 

This system can, and should, be more open to inspection – helping to build mutual trust between neighbouring nations, which would then no longer fear invasion. 

Adoption of a non-provocative defence policy, would lead to huge savings; Trident, nuclear attack submarines or battle tanks would no longer be needed. Some of these savings could be used to help the arms industry to switch to peaceful products or services employing more people, such as energy conservation, renewable energy, waste disposal . . . 

The role of the armed forces should be to deter and prevent war by building peace. If war does break out, their aim should be to limit and then halt it . . . working through the UN and a revived Military Staff Committee. 

Britain could gain new respect by helping the birth of a civilised society, rather than persisting in the self-defeating game of power politics. 

Common security recognises the world with all its imperfections. It does not have all the answers. Every day that passes the urgent need is shown for resources to be released from outdated tasks and applied to the real threats to our security. 

We urge the government to lead the way, giving hope to present and future generations. 


Deterring War Responsibly: A New Defence Policy for Britain: by Dr Frank Barnaby & Cdr Robert Green, 1995 

Extracts from the second section: Transforming Britain’s thinking on security, pp19-28.

Professor Frank Barnaby worked as a a nuclear physicist at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaston (1951-57), for the Medical Research Council, London (1957-67), and for the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (1967-70). He was Director of SIPRI, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (1971-81), Professor at the Free University, Amsterdam (1981-85), and Visiting Professor at the University of Minnesota (1985). He is now consultant to the Oxford Research Group on nuclear issues.

 Commander Robert Green, Royal Navy (Ret’d) was the Chair of the World Court Project UK 1991-2001 and now lives and works in New Zealand at the Disarmament & Security Centre, promoting safer, non-provocative alternative security strategies to nuclear deterrence.


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