John Bickersteth died on January 29th, 2018

March 3, 2018

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I heard of the death of John Bickersteth in January with regret. He was one of the signatories of the 1980s Just Defence Charter who reaffirmed support for Just Defence and agreed to be placed on the Civilisation 3000 mailing list in 2009.

Looking back over the message in which he asked for the purpose of the website made me realise how poorly the undertaking given to him had been carried out in recent years.

John Bickersteth was an actively ecumenical Anglican clergyman who served as the Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1975 to 1986, and Clerk of the Closet from 1979-1989.

His earlier military service is documented here and in the archives of the Imperial War Museum. He also edited The Bickersteth Diaries,1914-1918, which were compiled from 11 volumes written by his grandmother Ella. They tell the story of his three uncles who fought in the trenches and whose letters brought the horrors of the First World War vividly to life.

JUST DEFENCE CHARTER 

As those who seek to contribute to our national security in Parliament or other positions in public and professional life, the signatories of this Charter agree:

  1. The defence of our country and of our way of life must be strong and effective. This is the right of the British people and nothing less will enjoy their support. 
  2. Defence policy must be for defence only, and clearly seen as non-provocative to others. Modern technology, which has changed so much of our industrial and social life, has also transformed the nature of warfare. Conventional defence can now become doubly powerful to deny success to an aggressor through the intelligent use of new and cost-effective technology. 
  3. A non-provocative doctrine of ‘defence only’, will reduce international tension and substitute policies of political detente for those of political confrontation. 
  4. Those who are clearly non-provocative in their policies will be best placed to stabilise any crisis and prevent it escalating into major conflict either through fear or misunderstanding. 
  5. Since weapons of mass destruction are, by their nature, threatening and provocative, British defence policy should not depend on the use of nuclear weapons. To this end Britain should phase out the storage or operation of such weapons. 
  6. The early reduction to a strict minimum of strategic nuclear weapons confined to the two superpowers would be a major and welcome step towards creating the conditions of detente and mutual security which will allow for the ultimate elimination of all such weapons. 
  7. World security depends on the progressive reduction of all offensive weaponry, whether nuclear or non-nuclear. A ‘Just Defence’ policy for Britain would be a significant contribution to that end; and we should seek to persuade other countries with whom we are allied or associated to adopt a similar policy.
  8. ‘Just Defence’ must accord with the principles of international justice, as defined in the Charter of the United Nations and the judgments of the International Court of Justice. 
  1. Non-provocative defence and progressive disarmament could release very large resources for the support of social, educational, and health services, and the relief of poverty and hunger in the Third World. 

We, the signatories, look forward to the emergence of a new consensus on Defence Policy in Britain whereby – whatever the differences in their detailed proposals – all political parties will construct their policies within the framework of the principles of ‘Just Defence,.

Published by ‘Just Defence’: 7 Pound Place, Eltham, London SE9 5DN.  (Address no longer in use)

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John Bickersteth retired in 1987 to dedicate more time to environmental issues and became involved in the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. He organised the Creation Festival at Salisbury Cathedral in 1990 that championed conservation and waste reduction and campaigned to ban straw-burning by farmers because of carbon emissions and spoke about the issue in the House of Lords. (left, at Glastonbury)

In 2007 he campaigned to banish plastic bags in Tisbury, a Wiltshire village, thought to be the first place in the West to bringing in such a rule to try to reduce plastic waste. Residents agreed to use their own bags when shopping from 1 January 2008. He told BBC News: “The breakthrough came when the Co-op said they’d play ball and I think it’s catching on, although it won’t happen overnight.” He said he wanted to preserve the earth and was delighted to have convinced the traders to help him.

He later joined the protest against the Newbury bypass in the mid-1990s, alongside “Swampy”, who tried to block construction of the trunk road by building tunnels, voicing his disapproval of a project that would lead to the destruction of woodland.

The best memorial which could be given here is to reactivate the undertaking given to him – unwittingly overlooked in recent years.

 

 

 

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Japanese people are proud that their defence forces have not fired a shot to kill the citizens of other countries: Tatsumi

May 9, 2017

Earlier in May, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe cited regional security concerns as one reason to revise the country’s war-constitution. He spoke at a rally on Constitution Memorial day, the national holiday marking the 70th anniversary of the US-drafted and imposed document that has shaped Japan’s domestic and international politics since 1947. He hopes to effect this change by 2020, when the Olympic Summer Games will be held in Tokyo.

In 2015, when changes were made to Japan’s Self-Defence Forces (JSDF) by laws passed permitting the force to fight overseas for the first time since the second world war, there were reports of 100,000 protesters in the streets outside Japan’s parliament (above). An estimated 25,000 people also gathered at the Shibuya crossing in central Tokyo. The most recent polls on the issue, conducted by Nikkei, showed 46% against change versus 45%.

Will Japanese forces ever conduct the types of operations that the United States undertakes in the Middle East?

Defenders of the post-war constitution cite the positive role Article 9 has played in ensuring 70 years of peace and increasing prosperity since the end of World War II. Yuki Tatsumi, a senior associate and director of the Japan program at the Stimson Centre in Washington DC says that ‘red line’ is whether to allow the JSDF to conduct the types of operations that the United States undertakes in the Middle East, which may require them to use force. “Japanese people have been proud that their defence forces have not had to fire a shot to kill the citizens of other countries up to this point, even with their participation in UN peacekeeping operations,” she said

“I think they would very much like to continue to keep it that way.”

The editor of Japan’s Asahi Shimbun emphasises that Article 9 in no way bans the government from using armed force to protect the lives and freedom of its people from foreign attacks, which is its most important responsibility, according to the government’s traditional interpretation of the Constitution.

He stresses due process: in the first place a formal debate on an amendment to the Constitution should have been held at the Commissions on the Constitution in both houses of the Diet and ends, after hearing Shinzo Abe’s announcement:

“We cannot support his proposal, which could fundamentally change Japan’s identity as a pacifist nation”.

 

Sources include:

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705090021.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-03/japans-anti-war-constitution-to-be-debated-amid-korea-tensions/8491834

https://www.ft.com/content/a4d2aaa0-2fd9-11e7-9555-23ef563ecf9a


2016 top post: neutral or non-aggressive countries and states; most readers: American

December 16, 2016

c3-2-top-tenSource:  Neutrality [international relations] 

Austria (now a member of EU, see below): neutral country since 1955, maintain external independence and inviolability of borders (expressly modelled on the Swiss neutrality).

Costa Rica: neutral country since 1949, after abolishing its military.

Finland (now EU): military doctrine of competent, “credible” independent defence, not depending on any outside support, and the desire to remain outside international conflicts. In 2006, Finland’s neutrality was brought into question by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen during the inauguration of the Finnish EU presidency.

Ireland (now EU): a traditional policy of military neutrality defined as non-membership of mutual defence alliances.

Japanconstitutionally forbidden from participating in wars, but maintains heavily-armed self-defence forces and a military alliance. Constitution recently modified in the face of vigorous public opposition, to permit Japan to come to the aid of its ally or allies.

Liechtenstein: since its army was dissolved in 1868.

Malta (now EU): policy of neutrality since 1980, guaranteed in a treaty with Italy concluded in 1983

Panama: neutral country since 1989

Sweden (now EU): has not fought a war since ending its involvement in the Napoleonic Wars in 1814 with a short war with Norway, making it the oldest neutral country in the world.

Switzerland: self-imposed, permanent, and armed, designed to ensure external security. Switzerland is the second oldest neutral country in the world; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

Turkmenistan: declared its permanent neutrality and had it formally recognised by the U.N. in 1995.

Ukraine: Declared policy of state non-alignment in 2010. We are now informed – see comment – that Ukraine has voted to drop non-aligned status and work towards NATO membership.

Vatican City: the Lateran Treaty signed in 1929 with Italy imposed that “The Pope was pledged to perpetual neutrality in international relations and to abstention from mediation in a controversy unless specifically requested by all parties” thus making Vatican City neutral since then.

 

 

 


Neutral or non-aggressive countries and states

December 11, 2015

 

This is the title of the most widely read page on this site, published four years ago and reproduced below. Readers from the United States had 10,540 ‘views’ and below is a snapshot of the first twelve countries out of 177 listed.

 

c3 2 stats

 

Today, after a reader pointed out that Japan was not widely recognised as neutral, the title has been altered from Countries or states recognised as neutral, to ‘Neutral or non-aggressive countries and states’ – the link remains unaltered – and we reproduce it on the site this week.

Does the preference of so many readers not on our mailing list indicate a greater desire for stability and peace than for contemporary news?

And what is the significance of the larger numbers from USA – who also read our drone warfare and pharmaceutical sites in large numbers?

One reader said this was just due to its size – but US readers show little interest in our political, environmental or food-related sites – so?

The hope is that one day peace loving American people will reassert themselves, rid themselves of the ‘gun culture’ and select leaders who will prioritise the well-being of their own people and offer that fine example to the rest of the world.

C3000 logo 3 medium

Neutral or non-aggressive countries and states

Source:  Neutrality [international relations]

Austria (now a member of EU, see below): neutral country since 1955, maintain external independence and inviolability of borders (expressly modelled on the Swiss neutrality).

Costa Rica: neutral country since 1949, after abolishing its military.

Finland (now EU): military doctrine of competent, “credible” independent defence, not depending on any outside support, and the desire to remain outside international conflicts. In 2006, Finland’s neutrality was brought into question by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen during the inauguration of the Finnish EU presidency.

Ireland (now EU): a traditional policy of military neutrality defined as non-membership of mutual defence alliances.

Japanconstitutionally forbidden from participating in wars, but maintains heavily-armed self-defence forces and a military alliance.

Liechtenstein: since its army was dissolved in 1868.

Malta (now EU): policy of neutrality since 1980, guaranteed in a treaty with Italy concluded in 1983

Panama: neutral country since 1989

Sweden (now EU): has not fought a war since ending its involvement in the Napoleonic Wars in 1814 with a short war with Norway, making it the oldest neutral country in the world.

Switzerland: self-imposed, permanent, and armed, designed to ensure external security. Switzerland is the second oldest neutral country in the world; it has not fought a foreign war since its neutrality was established by the Congress of Vienna in 1815.

Turkmenistan: declared its permanent neutrality and had it formally recognised by the U.N. in 1995.

Ukraine: Declared policy of state non-alignment in 2010.

Vatican City: the Lateran Treaty signed in 1929 with Italy imposed that “The Pope was pledged to perpetual neutrality in international relations and to abstention from mediation in a controversy unless specifically requested by all parties” thus making Vatican City neutral since then.

Link: https://civilisation3000.wordpress.com/about-countries/countries-or-states-recognised-as-neutral/

 

 

 

 


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.


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”.


Irish peacekeeping commitment and neutrality maintained: no membership of NATO

January 20, 2015
irish uk mou signedMichael Fallon, UK defence secretary (left) and Simon Coveney, the Irish defence minister

On Monday, Ireland and the UK signed a memorandum of understanding at historic Dublin Castle – a medieval tower (below). The MOU will allow soldiers from both countries to co-operate on peacekeeping in conflict zones.

The press release states that the agreement “provides opportunities for more joint and collaborative work in support of international peace and security.

The Irish Army will train their British counterparts in peacekeeping operations.

dublin castle

Irish and British soldiers recently served together in an operation in Mali and the Irish defence force has extensive peacekeeping experience in Lebanon.

Relations between Dublin and London have improved following the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended three decades of violence in Northern Ireland.

Simon Coveney, the Irish defence minister, said the agreement was “voluntary and non-binding” and did not have any impact on Ireland’s official stance of military neutrality.

For many years Ireland’s peacekeepers have a maintained fine reputation for peacebuilding, due to their courteous and insightful engagement with local people wherever they serve. Many who, like most Indian peacekeepers, come from farming families, are able to connect with those in rural areas on other continents on matters of agriculture and animal husbandry.

The Irish government is drafting a white paper that will set objectives for the succeeding two years. This may include military forces training, exercises and education, joint procurement and general sharing on reform in defence services.

 

The white paper will not propose Irish membership of NATO.