School cadet forces: ambush or support?

October 7, 2017

 Felicity Arbuthnot draws attention to an article by Rhianna Louis, the education and outreach officer at ForcesWatch summarised below.

A report commissioned by Veterans For Peace UK draws on veterans’ testimony and around 200 studies from the last half-century to explore the effects of army employment on soldiers, particularly their initial training.

It finds that young people with experiences of childhood adversity, who exhibit violent behaviour at a young age, or have mental health problems, are not for the most part “rescued” by a military career. They are likely to leave early and face unemployment due to a lack of transferable qualifications after leaving education to enlist.

Their early difficulties leave them more susceptible to mental health problems triggered by training and in service. They don’t need a cadet force to mould them into controlled, obedient and patriotic young citizens but proper and sustained mental health support in a supportive learning environment.

However, another interim report on the social impact of cadet forces, recently published by the University of Northampton, said that cadet units can improve attendance and educational achievement, supporting children in ways that schools cannot. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon praised the report while announcing 31 new cadet units in state schools. It extols the benefits offered by cadets for socio-economically disadvantaged and emotionally troubled young people — in fact military service can be highly damaging to such youngsters.

The University of Northampton report, and Fallon’s dream of cadet units blossoming up and down the country, herald the cadet forces as the solution to struggling children, mixing child development aims with defence aims such as savings, recruitment and PR for the armed forces.

The cadet expansion programme is funded by part of nearly £90 million that has gone into military programmes in education since 2012

By contrast, non-military services and facilities for young people have been decimated in recent years, and education is facing a funding crisis. Teaching and support staff posts are being cut, along with Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision and spending on books and equipment. Funding for education of 16-19 year olds has been devastated and should be restored.

While the cadet forces offer benefits to many young people, so would any well-funded youth programme with excellent resources

Outside the classroom, the picture is equally bleak. Youth clubs have been so badly hit that they are closing up and down the country and may become once more reliant on Dickensian philanthro-capitalism. Children’s mental health services have also faced cuts, with funding falling by nearly £50m between 2010 and 2015.

Two years ago Tim Bevan, producer of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and co-founder of Working Title Films, commented on Nicky Morgan harking back to the days of national service, by investing millions in funding for military boot camp type projects to instill discipline and build “character, resilience and grit” in young people.

The funding was going to organisations such as Commando Joe’s, Challenger Troop and Skillforce. Tim thinks that the lure of additional funding into cash strapped schools masks the intention to raise a public willing to pay for the military, make recruitment easier in to armed forces and stifle opposition to unpopular wars and asks:

“What will be the effect of this approach on children, already identified as disadvantaged? What will they learn? To follow rules without question, to do as they are told and not think for themselves, to respond to aggression and to conform through fear. How will this develop the creative, problem solving, free-thinking, decision makers of the future?” And ends:

“We do not need a public service focussed on war to turn around the lives of disadvantaged young people. Those facing hardship need meaningful opportunities to secure employment, not to develop resilience to the pain and frustration of inequality”.






Pope Francis: New Year Message

January 3, 2017




1 JANUARY 2017


When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promotors of nonviolent peacemaking. In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.

While the last century knew the devastation of two deadly World Wars, the threat of nuclear war and a great number of other conflicts, today, sadly, we find ourselves engaged in a horrifying world war fought piecemeal. It is not easy to know if our world is presently more or less violent than in the past, or to know whether modern means of communications and greater mobility have made us more aware of violence, or, on the other hand, increasingly inured to it.

In any case, we know that this “piecemeal” violence, of different kinds and levels, causes great suffering: wars in different countries and continents; terrorism, organized crime and unforeseen acts of violence; the abuses suffered by migrants and victims of human trafficking; and the devastation of the environment. Where does this lead? Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few “warlords”?

Violence is not the cure for our broken world. Countering violence with violence leads at best to forced migrations and enormous suffering, because vast amounts of resources are diverted to military ends and away from the everyday needs of young people, families experiencing hardship, the elderly, the infirm and the great majority of people in our world. At worst, it can lead to the death, physical and spiritual, of many people, if not of all.

The family is the indispensable crucible in which spouses, parents and children, brothers and sisters, learn to communicate and to show generous concern for one another, and in which frictions and even conflicts have to be resolved not by force but by dialogue, respect, concern for the good of the other, mercy and forgiveness.[16] From within families, the joy of love spills out into the world and radiates to the whole of society.[17] An ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence between individuals and among peoples cannot be based on the logic of fear, violence and closed-mindedness, but on responsibility, respect and sincere dialogue. Hence, I plead for disarmament and for the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons: nuclear deterrence and the threat of mutual assured destruction are incapable of grounding such an ethics.[18] I plead with equal urgency for an end to domestic violence and to the abuse of women and children.

The Church has been involved in nonviolent peacebuilding strategies in many countries, engaging even the most violent parties in efforts to build a just and lasting peace.

I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace through active and creative nonviolence. On 1 January 2017, the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development will begin its work. It will help the Church to promote in an ever more effective way “the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” and concern for “migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture”.[23] Every such response, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.

“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”.[24] In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”.[25]



With thanks to the Selly Oak Friend who sent this saying, ‘You heard it here first’.





The International State Crime Initiative (UCL) hosting film: non-violent resistance in West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements

June 1, 2015


isci headerThe International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) is very excited to announce it will hosting a screening of 5 Broken Cameras and a Question and Answer Session with Emad Burnat (Director, ‘5 Broken Cameras’) on Tuesday 2nd June 2015 at 18.00, Arts 2 Building, Arts 2 Lecture Theatre, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS

isdi film headerDocumentary overview: The documentary is a deeply personal, first-hand account of life and non-violent resistance in Bil’in, a West Bank village surrounded by Israeli settlements. Shot by Palestinian farmer Emad Burnat, who bought his first camera in 2005 to record the birth of his youngest son, Gibreel, the film was co-directed by Burnat and Guy Davidi, an Israeli filmmaker.

Structured in chapters around the destruction of each one of Burnat’s cameras, the filmmakers’ collaboration follows one family’s evolution over five years of village upheaval.

As the years pass in front of the camera, we witness Gibreel grow from a newborn baby into a young boy who observes the world unfolding around him with the astute powers of perception that only children possess. Burnat watches from behind the lens as olive trees are bulldozed, protests intensify and lives are lost in this cinematic diary and unparalleled record of life in the West Bank.

Tickets to this event are limited. To register, please sign-up by clicking here.

Fatima Kanji | Research and Policy Manager

International State Crime Initiative (ISCI) | Follow ISCI @statecrime | Like ISCI on Facebook

School of Law

Queen Mary University of London

Mile End Road

London | E1 4NS​

0207 882 6414

Crude conspiracy theories expensively confirmed

January 30, 2015

university warwick logo

A reader sends news that, with ineffable condescension, Warwick University’s recent press release announces a research paper (‘Crude conspiracy theories could be right’) by three academics who have discovered that what observers have plainly noted and stated for years is correct.

The researchers are said to have “provided strong evidence for what conspiracy theorists have long thought – oil is often the reason for interfering in another country’s war”.

We await their provision of strong evidence that intervention and destabilisation also occurs where there is oil but no civil war.

middle east destabilisation cartoon pinn

And further research to show that this is openly or covertly perpetrated by Britain’s Special Friend with British assistance.

Buy the paper if you feel inclined to do so:

Challenging the military system which dominates the economy and many governments in today’s world

July 21, 2013


IPB 2 logoIt was good to read that the International Peace Bureau is to award this year’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize to Bradley Manning, the US whistleblower for his courageous actions.

Bradley Manning pleaded guilty to ten out of twenty-two charges of leaking documents:

  • more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables,
  • 400,000 U.S. Army reports about Iraq  & 90,000 about Afghanistan,
  • material used in the “Collateral Murder” video produced by WikiLeaks,
  • videos of the July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike and the 2009 Garani airstrike in Afghanistan.

IPB’s Co-President Tomas Magnusson comments:

Bradley_Manning2_US_Army“IPB believes that among the very highest moral duties of a citizen is to make known war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“This is within the broad meaning of the Nuremberg Principles enunciated at the end of the Second World War.

“When Manning revealed to the world the crimes being committed by the US military he did so as an act of obedience to this high moral duty”.

The press release about the award adds:

“It is well known that war operations, and especially illegal ones, are frequently conducted under the cover of secrecy. To penetrate this wall of secrecy by revealing information that should be accessible to all is an important contribution to the struggle against war, and acts as a challenge to the military system which dominates both the economy and society in today’s world.

“IPB believes that whistleblowers are vital in upholding democracies – especially in the area of defense and security. A heavy sentence for Manning would not only be unjust but would also have very negative effects on the right to freedom of expression which the US claims to uphold”.

Seán MacBride, after active membership of the IRA and becoming Chief of Staff, studied law and founded or participated in many international organisations of the 20th century, including the United Nations, the Council of Europe and Amnesty International

The Global Peace Index ranks the world’s most and least peaceful countries

July 3, 2013


Katherine Sullivan on the PolicyMic website writes an account of the procedure followed by Vision of Humanity in determining the GPI:

“The results are in, and it’s official. The seventh annual Global Peace Index ranks the world’s most and least peaceful countries.

Go to their site to operate the interactive map

Go to their site to operate the interactive map

“Peace-loving Americans be warned! The results of 2013’s GPI may surprise you. While Afghanistan’s last-place spot may be expected, the good old US of A comes in at a lowly 100 out of 162.

“Vision of Humanity, the nonprofit organization behind the index, started measuring peace in 2007. Dedicated to studying, advocating for, and acting on peace, Vision for Humanity created the index as part of their “strategic approach to raising the world’s attention and awareness around the importance of peace to humanity’s survival in the 21st century.”

global peace index list 2 18“So how did countries like Sierra Leone, Mongolia, Brazil, Morocco, and Nicaragua beat out the USA in peacefulness?  The index measures the obvious: internal war and conflict, homicide rates, and political instability, but it also measures the conflict that a country causes to other nations.

“Under the “militarization” category, “Military expenditure as part of GDP,” “Volume of transfers of major conventional weapons per 100,000 people,” “nuclear weapons capability,” and “financial contribution to UN peacekeeping missions” all affect a nation’s score.

“While the U.S. scored relatively low in domestic conflict and societal safety (with the exception of our high homicide rate), we scored exceptionally high in the militarization category.

“In other words, it’s not just about how peaceful things are within a country’s borders, it’s about a country’s overall contribution (or lack thereof) to world peace. These external measures of peace adequately reflect a world that is undeniably interconnected and growing increasingly more so by the minute. It is no longer okay, if it ever was, to not worry about the impact we have on our fellow human beings, even those in faraway lands”.

Britain was 44th in the list

PolicyMic was founded in New York City by recent Harvard and Stanford grads Chris Altchek and Jake Horowitz. It describes itself as the first democratic online news platform to engage millennials in debates about real issues.

A call to end the recruitment of minors by the British armed forces

May 24, 2013


recruit minors armyDavid Gee is co-author of the report, One Step Forward: The case for ending recruitment of minors by the British armed forces, published by ForcesWatch and Child Soldiers International last week.

The British armed forces enlist around 22,000 people each year to replace personnel who leave; of these, around 4,700 are under eighteen years of age。

The One Step Forwardreport shows that recruiting minors is highly costly, due to the legal requirements governing their recruitment and deployment, and leads to operational pressures. It also argues that it does not serve the best interests of young people. 

Gee continues:

“With an hour between trains in Bangor recently, I walked around the town to get a feel for the place. The council had had a go at brushing up the high street, but a fair few shops were lying empty and youngsters were hanging about at a loose end. The recession had clearly paid a visit, but around the corner one shop window still looked bright. Healthy, attractive poster-faces beamed out at passers-by: a chef, an electrician, an engineer.

young british soldier

“This was the armed forces recruiting office. Its appeal to a sixteen-year-old, particularly one who struggled at school, is obvious: join the army, learn a trade, find your dignity, belong to something.

“In reality, the army isn’t a glorified version of the social services offering free white-water rafting holidays to disaffected youth; it’s there to fight a war in Afghanistan. A boy leaving school for the army without good GCSEs is most likely to end up driving lorries or firing a rifle, rather than learning a technical trade such as fixing helicopters. He can’t be sent to war until he’s eighteen, but, having enlisted at sixteen, he is still more likely than those joining when older to be killed or to return home traumatised by his war experience.

“Last week we released our report calling on the Ministry of Defence to follow most of the rest of the world by recruiting adults only into the armed forces. The case for this is strong. The current policy not only encourages young people to disadvantage themselves in the long term by coming out of the education system early, it is also extremely expensive because younger recruits take so long to train.

“As the report made headlines, many interviewers asked, ‘But doesn’t the army save so many young people from lives of unemployment and petty crime?’ . . . He concludes that:

“. . . We, the adult generation, are teaching our children how to kill people on our behalf. To my (Quaker) faith, this radically diminishes us all as human beings”.

the Friend, 3 May 2013

See also Quaker Michael Bartlet in the Guardian, 2011