Trident: Bruce Kent and the Bishop of Chelmsford are ‘wise as serpents and (hopefully) as harmless as doves.’

April 8, 2019

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Renowned peace campaigner, Bruce Kent, has called on the Catholic bishops of England and Wales to condemn the Trident replacement plans.

Speaking to The Tablet at the 27th Ash Wednesday Witness at the Ministry of Defence, at the start of Lent, Mr Kent said: “It’s a time of penance, and prayer. And here is the most awful thing in the world, weapons that can destroy whole cities and thousands of people” (below) and that triggering a nuclear attack is “absolutely impossible, morally”.

He acknowledged that the bishops have condemned nuclear weapons in general, and singled out Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, for his stance on nuclear weapons. 

After urging the Bishops’ Conference to speak out about Trident replacement, that Christian CND has estimated will cost more than £200 billion, he continued: “Now that we’re going to spend £200 billion on more nuclear weapons, I would expect a statement from the bishops about the immorality of it. And I’m still waiting”.

On April 5th, The Times reported that senior clergy are calling on Westminster Abbey to cancel a ceremony to honour Trident submarine crews, planned for May 3, to mark 50 years of Britain’s “continuous at-sea deterrent”, because it appears to “celebrate” nuclear weapons.

Today Dr Julian Lewis, MP, Chairman, defence committee, countered one assertion in a letter:

“Far from being “designed to indiscriminately kill and destroy thousands of innocent civilians”, as (the Bishop of Colchester) asserts, these weapons have been created — and for 50 years successfully deployed by the Royal Navy — to eliminate any realistic possibility of hostile powers threatening to kill millions of British civilians with impunity”. He did not cite the Bishop of Chelmsford’s more accurate reference to an affirmation in July last year by the church’s General Synod, that (emphasis added):

“(N)uclear weapons, through their indiscriminate and destructive potential, present a distinct category of weaponry that requires Christians to work tirelessly for their elimination”.

Lambeth Palace said that there were no plans for the Bishop to the Armed Forces or the Archbishop of Canterbury to attend the invitation-only ceremony, which will be attended by Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, Earl Howe, the defence minister, and Admiral Sir Philip Jones, the First Sea Lord.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, Stephen Cottrell, also said that he did not doubt Westminster Abbey’s good intentions in celebrating those men and women who serve in the Royal Navy on these nuclear submarines, but saw this service as appearing also to celebrate the weapons, adding:

“I hope the abbey will include other voices in this service which can bear witness to the horror of nuclear weapons and the growing consensus . . . to work for their elimination.”

 

 

 

 

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Legal charge: the US “global war on terrorism” is not justifiable under German law

March 21, 2019

 

In 2010 a C3000 post quoted the Wall Street Journal’s report (link no longer active) that opinion polls in Germany reported the opposition of a ‘solid majority’ of Germans to their country’s military role in Afghanistan. Many were aware that this war was contrary to their law as it stands, set out in Article 24 [International organizations] and Article 26 [Ban on preparations for war of aggression].

Earlier this month, a report by the Open Society’s Justice Initiative highlights how, with German support, the United States has carried out illegal killings as part of its “War on Terror” doctrine—which represents a threat to the rule of law everywhere.

On March 13th, the Higher Administrative Court of North Rhine-Westphalia in Münster heard arguments from lawyers representing a Somali herdsman whose father was killed in a U.S. drone strike in February 2012. The charge argues that allowing U.S. bases on German territory to support such drone strikes violates both the German constitution and Germany’s Status of Forces Agreements with NATO, under which U.S. forces are granted the right to operate on its territory while respecting German law.

The legal team earlier filed an application to the Higher Regional Court of Zweibrücken arguing that that the United States’ so-called “global war on terrorism” is not justifiable under German law, (Articles 24 & 26) and that the German government has a duty to prevent any U.S. military action under that category that is supported from German territory.

The complaint asserted that German officials are jointly responsible for the deaths of the two men because Germany hosts two U.S. military facilities indispensable for planning and operating drone strikes in Africa: the U.S. Air Force base at Ramstein, which plays a crucial role in conducting U.S. drone operations worldwide, and the U.S. military’s African command headquarters (AFRICOM) in Stuttgart, which is responsible for all military operations in Africa.

The application seeks a judicial declaration that Germany has committed these violations and an order directing the prosecution to conduct the necessary investigations into this case.

 

 

 

 

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Is XR aware of the impact of the world’s military industry on climate change?

February 23, 2019

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A video comment by Bruce Kent about military production increasing climate change prompted the writer to search archives and online sources – finding that preparation for war is as harmful to the environment as war itself.

Earlier references on this site to the important but hampered work of former naval officer Louise Say may be seen here.  She spent four years investigating environmental security, deflected to a considerable extent by an information lock-down in this country.

As she pointed out “During both time of conflict and in peacetime, military operations have caused and continue to cause varying degrees of ecological destruction” (doctoral thesis, Department of Peace Studies, University of Bradford.1998, now lodged with the Peace Museum). The only easily accessible reference to her time there is her rarely used Twitter page. Prophetically, over 20 years ago, Louise Say wrote:

“In the light of the increasing evidence of the environmental damage caused by military forces and the extent of environmental decline in general, it is debatable whether it will continue to be acceptable for defence policy to give environmental issues a low priority or for military forces”

StudentEnergy.org, a site built using the input and recommendations of hundreds of young people from all over the world, focusses on this subject, asserting that worldwide militarism is responsible for substantial greenhouse emissions (Louise quoted a figure of 10%) and waste of energy. It continues, “How much harm is done to our natural environment can only be estimated, but there are voices that regard militarism as the largest polluter on the planet”.

One example quoted is that of depleted uranium (DU) penetrators manufactured in Colonie, NY state, from 1958-1984 and waste DU from the manufacturing process incinerated in the plant’s furnace, which led to prolonged releases of DU aerosols. According to the Met Office (2016) the gases used as propellants in spray cans were damaging to the ozone layer and, under the Montreal Protocol, these have been replaced by non-ozone depleting substitutes. However, these gas replacements are greenhouse gases and do add to the global warming problem.

The Economic Times reports fears that the US High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programme (HAARP), which heats the upper atmosphere with a focussed and steerable electromagnetic beam, might have contributed to global warming (Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave). Many other charges are dismissed as conspiracy theory in an article in the Scientific American.

The U.S. military is the single greatest institutional contributor to the growing natural disasters intensified by global climate change

So writes H. Patricia Hynes, a former professor of environmental health at the Boston University School of Public Health, who now directs the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice. She forthrightly states “Eco-socialism or barbarism: there is no third way”. She wrote in detail about the ‘military assault on the global climate’ in 2015, focussing on the exclusion of the environmental impact of the Pentagon’s global operations which makes U.S. carbon dioxide emissions appear far less than they in fact are. 

Physicist Dr Philip Webber focusses on the longer-term effects of a nuclear war, in particular, disruption to the global climate, the ozone layer, ecosystems and food supplies and says: “It has to be regarded a shocking indictment of our ‘civilisation’ that current stockpiles of nuclear weapons are sufficient to cause such a global catastrophe”. 

One paragraph:

“Exploding nuclear warheads over ‘combustible targets’ such as cities and factories would lead to widespread, intense fires that would inject massive amounts of smoke into the atmosphere leading to the formation of extensive high-altitude smoke clouds. These would cause cooling of the climate in a similar fashion to that observed after very large volcanic eruptions (for example, Krakatoa in 1883), but on a rather larger scale, threatening agriculture and hence food supplies across the world. Other effects included major damage to the ozone layer – which protects humans and ecosystems from damaging ultra-violet rays from the Sun – and the long-lived effects of radioactivity”. The fully referenced report may be read here. 

In the words of Patricia Hynes: “To sum up, it seems neither equitable, nor just or fair for the world’s militaries to consume fuel and energy without scrutiny, to discharge tremendous amounts of greenhouse and highly toxic emissions without regulation, to divert financial resources needed for climate mitigation as well as adaption and to continue unchecked on a path toward catastrophic climate change”.

 

 

 

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Korean update

January 30, 2019

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The last reference on this site was the cheering April declaration by the two Korean leaders that there will be no more war on the Korean peninsula.

Read [FULL TEXT] Panmunjeon Declaration

In a September agreement, the Koreas pledged gradually to withdraw all guard posts within the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone. They also agreed to create buffer zones along their land and sea boundaries, as well as a no-fly zone above the border. South Korean President Moon Jae-in described the agreement as an important trust-building step that will reduce border tensions.

Associated Press reported in October that the North and South Korean militaries agreed to destroy 22 front-line guard posts by the end of November as they discussed their next steps in implementing the September agreement. In a statement released after the general-level talks at the border village of Panmunjom they agreed to conduct a November joint survey of a 70km waterway near their western border which will eventually be used by civilian vessels from both countries.

The Koreas and the U.S.-led U.N. Command completed removing firearms and troops from a jointly controlled area at the border village and have been clearing mines from front-line areas. They plan to start their first joint search for remains of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War in April. South Korea’s Defence Ministry issued a statement that the Koreas plan to jointly verify that all these measures have been carried out in December.

November: the road built across the military demarcation line inside the Demilitarized Zone in South Korea.

Seoul’s defence ministry announced that North and South Korea have connected a road across their shared border for the first time in 14 years, in the latest reconciliation gesture. The dirt road, which is wholly within the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, will be used for joint operations next year to recover remains from the 1950-53 Korean War as agreed at the Pyongyang summit between the South’s President Moon Jae-in and the North’s leader Kim Jong Un in September.

The BBC reported that in November, for the first time in more than a decade, a train travelled from South Korea across the heavily guarded border into North Korea.

When the leaders of North and South Korea had their historic meeting in April, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un asked for help with updating his country’s railways, which he said were in an “embarrassing” state.

South Korean engineers boarded the train in Dorasan, just north of Seoul, on Friday morning for the short journey to the Demilitarised Zone which has divided the Korean peninsula since the Korean War in the 1950s. They will live on the train for the next 18 days while inspecting 1,200km (745 miles) of track and railway infrastructure.

In December, the Koreas jointly verified the removal of the border Armed Guard Posts. Voice of America reports that a South Korean delegation left for North Korea on to attend a ground-breaking ceremony for reconnecting roads and railways across the divided peninsula despite stalled denuclearization talks. Joint railway and road inspections are to take place this month in preparation for this project.

In January, following a visit by Mr Kim’s top aide to Washington, the FT reported that the White House has confirmed that a second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump will take place at the end of February.

 

 

 

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Will North and South Korea build their own path to peace?

September 19, 2018

Today’s news that Kim Jong-un has agreed to shut down one of North Korea’s main missile testing and launch sites and the two Korean leaders “agreed on a way to achieve denuclearisation” is the third step towards reconciliation and peace taken by President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Read [FULL TEXT] Panmunjeon Declaration

In April the Korea Times reported that the leaders had signed the “Panmunjeom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula,” in which they made it clear there would be no more war on the peninsula and that a new era of peace has begun (read on here)..

CNN reported New US sanctions against North Korea on September 13th. They were aimed at two Chinese information technology companies, which are North Korean-controlled, according to the US Treasury Department, which alleged that the Russia-based company Volasys Silver Star and China-based China Silver Star had been violating US sanctions.

Despite this and other tensions, on September 12th, the Straits Times reported that North and South Korea will open a joint liaison office at the site of the Kaesong industrial complex, where for about a decade, South Korean companies ran production lines staffed by North Korean workers at the industrial park. A South Korean delegation discussed this in June with North Korean officials at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Seoul said the office will become operational –  working to improve cross-border communications and exchanges – immediately after the opening ceremony on Friday, September 14th. Ri Son Gwon, the head of North Korea’s delegation said, “The two sides are now able to take a large step toward peace, prosperity and unification of the Korean peninsula by quickly and frankly discussing issues arising from inter-Korean relations”.

The office is a significant move in thawing relations between the two countries, and follows a meeting this month between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and a South Korean presidential envoy and Mr Trump’s warm reaction to a personal letter from Mr Kim offering a second summit with the US.

The two Koreas previously communicated by fax and special telephone lines, which were often severed when their relations took a turn for the worse. Seoul’s patient and persistent unification ministry said the office would become a “round-the-clock consultation and communication channel” for advancing inter-Korean relations, improving ties between the US and the North, and easing military tensions.

If North and South Korea succeed in building their path to peace they could encourage other fractured regions to do so.

Will the Indian sub-continent also begin to act in its people’s best interests?

 

 

 

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IALANA’s work includes developing mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of international disputes

May 3, 2018

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The International Association Of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms (IALANA) attended the  UN’s second Preparatory Committee for the 2020 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (23 April -4 May 2018) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Its presentation on the nuclear arms race may be read here:  https://www.ialana.info/2018/04/nuclear-arms-racing-is-antithetical-to-the-npt/.

The Chair-designate of the first session is Ambassador Adam Bugajski of Poland (right). Read more here.

IALANA is an international association of lawyers and lawyers’ organisations working for the elimination of nuclear arms, the strengthening of international law and the development of effective mechanisms for the peaceful settlement of international disputes.

  • Founded in 1988 in Stockholm IALANA has grown into a fully-fledged international citizens’ organization with consultative status with the United Nations. IALANA has also expanded its scope of action to include:
  • efforts to abolish all types of inhumane weapons and to control the international arms trade,
  • advancing concepts of security based on the application of law and legal mechanisms, development of non-offensive defence and implementation of confidence building measures,
  • encouraging the establishment and use of the International Criminal Court and other legal procedures to address crimes against international humanitarian law.

IALANA has affiliates all over the world including: Costa Rica, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, and the United States of America. Its international offices are in Berlin, Germany (Head Office), Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand (Pacific Office) and New York (United Nations Office)

 

 

 

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Pope Francis’ Easter message – summary and link to full text

April 3, 2018

On Easter Sunday, Pope Francis implored the world to seek out solutions to its geopolitical conflicts.

Excerpts from Ana Campoy’s summary:

He first addressed the “beloved and long-suffering land of Syria” in his traditional Urbi et Orbi (“to the City and the World”) address. “May the light of the risen Christ illumine the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course”.

Then he asked that the warring parties respect humanitarian laws and open access to the country so aid could be delivered to the millions of Syrians whose lives have been ravaged by civil war.

The Pope cast a blessing on the rest of the Middle East, too, “so that dialogue and mutual respect may prevail over division and violence.”

In addition, he addressed conflict in South Sudan, pleading that the world “not forget the victims of that conflict, especially the children!”, and Venezuela, where he hoped for “a just, peaceful and humane way to surmount quickly the political and humanitarian crises that grip it.”

Francis also offered a blessing for those trying to ratchet down tensions in the Korean Peninsula. South and North Korea’s current leaders are set to meet at the end of April for the first time; US president Donald Trump has said he will sit down with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un by May, saying:

“May those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment.”

We invoke on this day fruits of hope for those who yearn for a more dignified life, above all in those areas of the African continent deeply affected by hunger, endemic conflicts and terrorism. May the peace of the risen Lord heal wounds in South Sudan and open hearts to dialogue and mutual understanding. Let us not forget the victims of that conflict, especially the children! May there be no lack of solidarity with all those forced to abandon leave their native lands and lacking the bare essentials for living.

We implore fruits of dialogue for the Korean peninsula, that the discussions under way may advance harmony and peace within the region. May those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people and to build relationships of trust within the international community.

We pray for the fruits of new life for those children, who as a result of wars and hunger, grow up without hope, lacking education and health care; and to those elderly persons who are cast off by a selfish culture that ostracizes those who are not “productive”.

We also implore fruits of wisdom for those who have political responsibilities in our world, that they may always respect human dignity, devote themselves actively to the pursuit of the common good, and ensure the development and security of their own citizens.

The love of God “dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord and brings down the mighty” (Easter Proclamation).

Happy Easter to all!

 

 

The full text of the pope’s 2018 Sunday Easter address: https://qz.com/1242396/on-easter-sunday-pope-francis-doled-out-blessings-to-syria-and-other-geopolitical-hotspots/

 

 

 

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