Proper soldiering: developing a different view of security

September 3, 2016

Amid appalling news of man-made brutality from Yemen, Syria and other conutries a ray of humanity penetrates, recalling senior military figures who have advocated a constructive use of military skills, in environmental work, emergencies, peacekeeping, peace building and – first and foremost they would say – defence of their country’s border.

Michael Harbottle, a former chief of peacekeeping forces in Cyprus, pointed out the advantages of using military skills and equipment in What is Proper Soldiering? p15:

“From time immemorial armies and navies have responded to calls for help in peacetime. Now the air forces can provide an additional dimension to that help by being able to transport aid and rescue teams into remote and isolated areas not easily accessible by land. Flooding and earthquakes have been the more prevalent disasters for which all three services of the armed forces have been required. The navy with their small craft have provided a means of reaching and bringing to safety stranded victims of cyclone disasters”.

General Eustace D’Souza (Mumbai) gave a memorable and well-received One World Trust lecture in the House of Commons in 2001.

He spoke about his work promoting the creation of a structure for environmental protection within the three Indian armed services, so that today every unit has a specific environmental role to play. He regarded this as central to global security and part of the whole ‘web of life’.

The San Diego UnionTribune reports that in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen and Federal Labour Agency chief Frank-Juergen Weise formally initiated a pilot project on Thursday.

german troops help refugees

Refugees from the Syrian bombardment are learning how to reconstruct houses and acquiring other civil reconstruction skills at a German military education centre where, for 12 weeks, military experts are teaching 120 refugees engineering, construction, sanitation and other skills in three four-week courses. “The goal is for these young people to get good basic training,” the defense minister told reporters.

Von der Leyen said the idea is that the eventual rebuilding of Syria will need “more than just new stones, it will take people with confidence and diverse skills.” Even if the refugees decide not to return home, the programme will help them to acquire the skills they need to work in Germany. Ali Sharqi, a Syrian refugee, took time out from learning how to repair a damaged house to talk with reporters; his primary goal is to learn a marketable skill. As the minister, Ursula von der Leyen said, “We don’t know how long it will take until they can return, so they have to be able to make a living while they are here”.

Eirwen Harbottle recalls meeting Dr (later Prof) Ewan Anderson (geopolitics, Durham University), who has carried out research and practical studies in the Middle East on water and minerals resources issues, international boundary disputes, particularly relating to water, refugee movements, development, minerals and strategic resources. He discussed a joint project in which he would analyse the scientific research presently carried out by different armed forces into environmental/climate issues, while Michael Harbottle would concentrate on the psychological impact on military thinking.

She added that it was clear that individuals in the armed forces who were engaged in environmental protection and allied research, were developing a very different mindset from the old, traditional ideas about ‘expertise in warfighting’ being the basis of security.

More from Michael Harbottle:



Roslyn Cook sends good news

December 15, 2015


Roslyn continues to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons – and a treaty to ban them – wearing more than one ‘hat’.

roslyn cook 2 world court projectShe is an active member of ICAN, a global campaign coalition launched in 2007 by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, which works to mobilize people in all countries to inspire, persuade and pressure their governments to initiate and support negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons. ICAN now has more than 400 partner organizations in 95 countries.

Next year, governments will start substantive discussions on creating new law on nuclear weapons in Geneva.

un_general_assembly_hall3 best

An ICAN press release informs us that on December 7th at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, governments adopted a resolution that will convene talks in Geneva in 2016 to develop new law on nuclear weapons. The resolution presented by Mexico received the support of two-thirds of the governments of the world and is a response to the growing demand for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

Following the failure of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May 2015, the desire for launching a new process on nuclear disarmament has grown significantly. 121 governments have signed the “Humanitarian Pledge”: a commitment to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons. The talks in Geneva will be an opportunity to start working on the elements of a new prohibition treaty.

The nuclear-armed states strongly opposed this resolution and exerted pressure on allies and other governments to prevent these talks from happening . . .

The misuse of the consensus rule contributed to the deadlock of the Conference on Disarmament and the collapse of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. This new working group will not be bound by strict consensus rules, which means that nuclear weapon states and their allies will not be able to veto any concrete outcome.

ICAN will be there to monitor these talks, coordinate civil society and make governments take the next step towards a new treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.

In commending ICAN, Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General said: “The world is over-armed and peace is under-funded”. Readers are asked to consider sending a donation for ICAN – and help to make peace history:


Corbyn’s stance on defence? Read James Hirst on ForcesTV website

September 23, 2015

forces tv logo

Like people on the Civilisation 3000 mailing list, Jeremy Corbyn believes in defence – not attack.

His proposed Defence Diversification Agency will redeploy defence workers and diversify their skills in accordance with the Vision For Britain 2020 – rebalancing the economy and promoting growth, not austerity and cuts.

jeremy corbyn (2)The closest external agency found which reflected his thinking comes – pleasingly – from the Forces TV website in an article headed by a larger version of this picture of the Labour leader.

Forces TV is an independent news organisation, owned and operated by the Services Sound and Vision Corporation. It was launched in the U.K. on June 10th 2014 and may be viewed here:

  • Sky Channel 264
  • Virgin 277
  • Freesat 652

James Hirst opens:

“Going to war creates a legacy of bitterness and problems. Let us be a force for change in the world, a force for humanity in the world, a force for peace in the world”. It was classic Jeremy Corbyn.

“These words came in the victory speech of the most important figure in Parliament’s second largest party.

“The Party which sent British troops into long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has just chosen its most outspoken opponent of those wars as its new leader.

“Mr Corbyn’s election gives the Government an immediate headache. It leaves their hopes of getting cross-party agreement to extend airstrikes against IS into Syria looking forlorn.

“Among his friends he counts the Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Committee. Dr Julian Lewis, who supports replacing Trident, told Forces TV this week how he has worked with Mr Corbyn to secure debates on the nuclear deterrent because they are both driven by strong beliefs, even though their beliefs are polar opposites.

“On his website the new Labour leader says he argues for “a different type of foreign policy based on political not military solutions; on genuine internationalism that recognises that all human life is precious, no matter what nationality.”

james hirst

Hirst (above, left) ends: “For the first time in years there is a significant gulf between the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition on how Britain should relate to the rest of the world. David Cameron will now have to face Jeremy Corbyn’s alternative ideology head on at the despatch box, not from a far corner of the Commons”.

We welcome American visitors to the site and to that of Drone Warfare

August 26, 2015

1 c3Four times as many Americans visited last week compared with random visitors from other regions – see top five of the twenty-three countries shown on site statistics. A sceptical friend attributes this to the relative size of its population, but this does not hold true as we only had two visitors from India.

Top post by far, as usual, is  Countries without armed forces or no standing army.

Japanese prime minister ‘keeps a commitment to his US ally’ – building an Asia-Pacific community stretching from the U.S. to India?

July 16, 2015

A million protested against the Iraq war in Britain, what hope for 20,000?

japan2 vote 20,000

About 20,000 protesters took to the streets of Tokyo on Wednesday against the proposed law which would enable Japan to exercise “collective self-defence”- allowing its armed forces to fight alongside allies such as the US.

Nevertheless, amid protests in Japan’s Diet, and after 110 hours of debate, security bill legislation passed through a House of Representatives panel on Wednesday morning.

Yasukazu Hamada committee chairman (center) is surrounded by opposition politicians shouting and waving placards in protest against the special security bill.

Yasukazu Hamada committee chairman (center) is surrounded by opposition politicians shouting and waving placards in protest against the special security bill.

Conservatives such as Mr Abe are determined to revise the country’s pacifist constitution and ‘increase Japan’s role on the international stage’.

The bill is now set for a vote in the full lower house on Thursday where it is almost certain to pass, given the government majority. If the bill does not pass the upper house within 60 days, the lower house can push it through with another vote so it is likely to become law by the end of September. The bill will then head to the upper house for another protracted debate, keeping it in the public eye, and sapping Mr Abe’s popularity further.

A survey by Asahi Shimbun, conducted on Saturday and Sunday, found a 42% disapproval rate for the Cabinet, exceeding the approval rating for the first time since November. The planned reactivation of the nuclear reactor in Kagoshima Prefecture could further eat away at the Cabinet’s ratings.

The vision?

In April Gerald Curtis (WSJ) professor of political science at Columbia, wrote:

“The U.S. is and will remain for years to come the dominant power in East Asia, but it no longer enjoys the position of unchallengeable supremacy that it had in years past. This reality was made all too evident in recent days by the rush of its allies, excepting Japan, to sign up as founding members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, despite U.S. entreaties not to do so . . .

“Mr. Abe can offer a fitting commemoration of the end of the war by spelling out his view of the past. He can give his vision of the future and how he believes Japan can contribute to building an Asia-Pacific community stretching from the U.S. to India”.


Will a country with a stellar post-war record of peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights ‘lose out’?

July 2, 2015

gaza-tokyo-candlesa silent protest in Tokyo against the bloodshed in Gaza

Updating our news from Japan in November last year, Robin Harding reports in the FT that Japan’s politicians are “trapped in the capital for a long, hot summer”, as the current session of the Diet has been extended by 95 days until the end of September.

Shinzo Abe is devoting a great deal of political energy in seeking to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution by trying to pass a security reform bill which – says Harding – “threatens to turn the summer into a season of torment for the Japanese prime minister”.

Mr Abe aims to reinterpret the constitution, allowing it to exercise “collective” self-defence – coming to the military aid of an ally, instead of merely defending itself. Harding alleges that Abe has made the taking of this step a personal commitment to the US.

japan demo may peace clause

Early signs suggest it is causing Mr Abe significant political damage. His popularity has slid to a record low of 39%. Only 29% of the public support the security bills; 53% oppose them.

Harding reports the risk that the proposed reinterpretation of the constitution will violate it. Mr Abe’s Liberal Democratic party invited a law professor to testify in parliament, only to have him declare that their bill is unconstitutional.

The Japan Times reports that an ‘anti-amendment rally’ of grass-roots movements opposing revision of the pacifist national charter was held in Yokohama on May 3, the Constitution Day holiday [above]. The participants, estimated at some 30,000, included politicians such as the Democratic Party of Japan Acting President Akira Nagatsuma and the Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii.

Political opponents are describing this move as opening the door to involvement in American wars and a Japan Times reader said: “It is a shame that the country with the most stellar record of peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights is losing out to a political leadership so nostalgic for the Japan of militarism and imperialism”.

Peace and prosperity, built with a post-war constitution as the cornerstone

March 30, 2015


The Mainichi Shimbun recently reported that Crown Prince Naruhito, at a press conference on his 55th birthday on Monday, called for handing down history correctly, ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II later this year: prince naruhito“I myself have not experienced the war, but it is important to look back to the past humbly and correctly pass down tragic experiences and the history behind Japan to the generations who have no direct knowledge of the war, at a time memories of the war is about to fade”. He described postwar Japan: “enjoying peace and prosperity after it was built with the Japanese Constitution as the cornerstone.”

“I hope this year will be an opportunity to take the preciousness of peace to heart and renew our determination to pursue peace,” he said.

He added that he was “deeply hurt” by the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East and terrorism that has taken lives including those of Japanese.

As we have noted before on this site, the constitution, which has been taken to heart by the Japanese people, includes the radical Article 9:

The official English translation of the article is:

ARTICLE 9. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.(2) To accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.