Category Archives: We Can Disarm the World

The United States kindles modern Islamic Militarism.

However, Carter’s biggest failure occurred in relation to Afghanistan, a blot on an otherwise deeply peace-seeking Presidency. A key figure in his administration was Zbigniew Brzezinski, the National Security Advisor. Brzezinski’s Polish background left him deeply hostile towards the Soviets and in this role he advised Carter to try to get the Soviets embroiled in Afghanistan. This move is so important that we quote an interview Brzezinski gave in 1998, when he was full of himself and before 9/11 showed how disastrous this policy was to become.

Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the President in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
B: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.
Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn’t believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don’t regret anything today?
B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire.
Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?
B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?
Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.
B: Nonsense!

The verdict of history now would be a long way from Brzezinski’s triumphalism, because with divine irony Afghanistan has now become the United States’ second Vietnam. So this is where the 30 year militarisation of the Taliban really started, with the United States. The move was a “success”. The USSR did intervene. With Reagan the intervention grew bigger involving billions spent on weapons and training. A million rifles and other equipment were pumped in to the Taliban and after a protracted war, eventually the USSR withdrew. By then groups were trained in militarism and had forgotten other occupations. 9/11 took place, and the body bags come home to the United States and Britain, and we grieved our dead. As Jesus said, “Those who take the sword will perish by the sword.”

That was Carter’s greatest failure, but he had already been weakened by the munitions industry, the military, the CIA and widespread disinformation, and the arms bonanza under Reagan and Thatcher was to take place.Zbigniew_Brzezinski,_1977

This Time We Remember and Think It Through.

poppiesThis Remembrance Day could be a solemn, but frozen, remembrance of those who died in war, including the First World War, or we could go further and think through why wars happen. Here are two dozen points which identify the build-up to this one Great War. It was caused by those who had an interest in it happening, primarily the arms companies. The same techniques are being used by the arms industry today and if remembering is to be to a purpose, we need to rethink the business of war and seek to end it.

1. In 1893 William Gladstone refused to accept a Budget expansion for the Navy based on a silly scare. The naval lobby won, Gladstone resigned as Prime Minister and said the British race for armaments would lead to a “great European catastrophe”.
2. Britain and Belgium were major producers of guns, the British in Birmingham and Enfield where millions were produced and sold around the world, and the Belgians in Liege. These industries backed gun-imposed control in the “British” empire and the “Belgian” Congo where people were shot with impunity. Guns fuelled conflicts in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
3. One of the world’s biggest arms companies was Armstrong-Whitworth which in the two decades before the War sold 105 battleships around the world, often using bribery and arming both sides to stimulate distrust.
4. Britain made sure the Hague Peace and Disarmament Conference of 1899 opposing arms reduction because she was planning the Second Boer War to get her hands on gold and diamonds. In that War Britain used Concentration Camps which killed some 26,000 women and children, and we were seen as the most bellicose of nations using machine guns to mow people down.
5. Vickers became an even bigger arms company than Armstrong, making warships and capitalising on the Maxim gun. Its chief salesman was Basil Zaharoff who left wads of notes around to win contracts and probably became the richest man in Europe through arms sales commissions.
6. Britain and other countries militarily humiliated Japan in the late 19th century and then armed her, using bribery. They later formed a military alliance with her, helping form a Fascist military and arms industry which dominated the Japanese Government. It won the Russo-Japanese War and then began its expansion, even thinking about a coming attack on the United States.
7. The British arms manufacturer, H.H.Mulliner, of the Coventry Ordnance works, was short of contracts. He lied to the War Office in 1906 about accelerated German Dreadnought building to try to drum up trade. They knew what he was saying was untrue and refused him contracts. Lloyd George and Churchill also knew about the lies. Nevertheless, he and his military allies succeeded in raising a Dreadnought scare in 1908, “We want eight and we won’t wait,” backed by the Press and Arms Manufacturers. The Germans knew we were lying and trust betweenhen broke down.
8. The French Arms Industry, especially Schneider-Le Creusot, grew strong on promising to redress the German victory of 1870 and also set about arming the Russians. They had the best field gun of the War, the Soixante Quinze. The Tsar spent vast amounts on imported arms, much financed by the arms industry in Paris (money that was never paid back). The British Company Vickers became an even bigger arms exporter to Russia. The Tsar’s response to internal reform was with the gun, which ultimately led to the Revolution. Russia came to be seen as a big threat to Germany with its massive, now heavily armed, population. The French-Russian alliance was built on the arms industry.
9. The dominant arms company in Germany was Krupp. Gustav Krupp had a sycophantic relationship with the Kaiser which operated against the German Democratic Party. There was a running conflict between the German Social Democrats and Krupp over corruption and militarism. The militarists were being attacked in 1914 by the Social Democrats over the Zaberne Affair. They had declining, but still enough power, to go to war. The Kaiser backed Krupp arms and consulted Krupp at the time he was writing the telegram to Austro-Hungary validating the War.
10. There was a large Peace Movement in Europe and America, largely Christian led. It pointed out the stupidity of the military waste, spending millions on having people marching up and down. It’s most potent leader was Leo Tolstoy, who also pointed out that teaching soldiers to kill hardly furthered civilisation. Tolstoy attacked the silly autocracy of the Kaiser, showed the sense of peace and disarmament, and backed the Doukobours, a pacifist group murdered or sent to Siberia by the Tsar because they had a party and burned their weapons when called up. Tolstoy corresponded with Gandhi setting a later non-violent approach going. Women’s movements were also powerful advocates of disarmament and peace.
11. Both in Britain and Germany the arms companies, especially the naval ones, organised propaganda movements mobilising millions to back naval building and ignore pacifism. They mounted a vast scare about possible invasions to turn the ordinary population against peace and disarmament and towards heavier arming. In Britain the Daily Mail led the way with a sixteen part serial, “Under the Iron Heel.” “Jingoism” was largely successful in both countries.
12. The main dispute between Austro-Hungary and Serbia arose because the Austrian arms company, Skoda, wanted to be the main arms supplier to Serbia. Since they might finish up fighting Austro-Hungary, Serbia declined. Austro-Hungary then bullied, there was a “Pig-War”, and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand offered the opportunity to impose intolerable terms on Serbia. Skoda, the arms company, stoked the move to war. Now it makes good cars.
13. By 1914 there were four arms races up and running, based on exaggeration, fear, demonising enemies and the promised superiority of weapons. They were 1. Britain-Germany (mainly naval), 2. France-Germany, 3. Russia-Germany and 4. Russia/Serbia-Austro-Hungary. Turkey and Italy were also being heavily armed but it was not clear whom they might fight. Austro-Hungary was the firework that set the others off.
14. Jean Jaures tried to organise a national strike in France against the First World War. He was shot while sitting outside a café in Paris.
15. Keir Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party and a Christian, also opposed the coming European War. He was heckled, abused, attacked as a traitor and really hounded to death in 1915.
16. The German military feared being attacked from two sides – from Russia in the North-East and France-Britain in the South-West. This meant they were jumpy and knew they had to be fast off the mark in any war. The Schlieffen Plan of a quick push to the West was a response to this problem and made a likely war precipitant.
17. Gavrilo Princip used an easily obtained Liege gun to shoot Archduke Ferdinand and his wife.
18. Those promoting the War frequently said it would be over by Christmas.
19. Pope Benedict XV strongly opposed the War and set up the Christmas truce. He was vilified by the military and political leaders throughout and after the War. The Christmas truce was seen by the Generals as “the greatest danger to the morale of the troops”. They might enjoy not fighting.
20. The Great War initiated the biggest arms bonanza the world had ever seen paid for largely by debt. Russia owed France and the United States, and didn’t pay. France and Britain owed the United States through J.P.Morgan and because these debtors had to win, or the US lost its loans, America entered the War. Often the US produced the weapons and explosives, making vast profits for Du Pont and other companies. Because France and Britain had to pay, they exacted reparations from Germany. Germany raised vast funds from its own people. The result was the catastrophic devaluation of the mark and the German depression which gave Fascism a foothold.
21. Mussolini came to power through his links with Ansaldo, the arms company.
22. The War lasted five years, but continued under Churchill against Russia for another year or more. It killed some 16,000, 000 people, seriously injured 20,000,000 people. A further 50,000,000 died in a flu epidemic which broke out among the troops and then spread as they returned home. At a very conservative estimate 2,000,000,000 years of normally productive human labour were lost, partly through the death of the young, and perhaps two years of total world output were destroyed or useless.
23. Before the War the military in most nations were boasting about how their weapons, battleships, soldiers, tactics were the best and about how wars could be won. Really the Great War was a long stalemate in which lives were uselessly sacrificed by poor generals and everyone would have been better off if it had never happened. It, the arms sales and the militarism which surrounded it were a stupid, bitter mistake, but it could happen again
24. At the end of the year when nearly a million poppies were placed in the Tower of London gardens to commemorate the dead in the First World War, the arms companies organised a £240 a head dinner in the Tower so that arms dealers could meet defence people possibly for contract discussions. Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest arms manufacturer, co-sponsored the event. Scares are being organised, arms races encouraged, and the arms trade is growing year on year.

Your voice must be clear and you must be millions of people.
Woodrow Wilson put the issue thus, after the War and the carnage.
“War had lain at the heart of every arrangement of the Europe,—of every arrangement of the world,—that preceded the war. Restive peoples had been told that fleets and armies, which they toiled to sustain, meant peace; and they now knew that they had been lied to: that fleets and armies had been maintained to promote national ambitions and meant war. They knew that no old policy meant anything else but force, force,—always force. And they knew that it was intolerable. Every true heart in the world, and every enlightened judgment demanded that, at whatever cost of independent action, every government that took thought for its people or for justice or for ordered freedom should lend itself to a new purpose and utterly destroy the old order of international politics. Statesmen might see difficulties, but the people could see none and could brook no denial. A war in which they had been bled white to beat the terror that lay concealed in every Balance of Power must not end in a mere victory of arms and a new balance. The monster that had resorted to arms must be put in chains that could not be broken. The united power of free nations must put a stop to aggression, and the world must be given peace.”
That challenge still faces us, and we cannot ignore it.

References War or Peace? Alan Storkey (Kindle and Hardback)

The Fear Machine.

Jesus’ teachings on fear may be more important than we recognize. We tend to think of “not being afraid”, a subjective attitude, as the focus of Jesus’ repeated commands. But perhaps, when he says, “fear not”, he is not just addressing subjective fear, but the full dethroning of aggression and military control. Matthew 10 contains the marching orders for the disciples for a wholly different agenda. They are to go out two by two as the Roman soldiers did, but not to collect taxes, but to rest peace on homes one by one. The spreading of peace – peace be with you – was one of the main proclamations of the gentle government of God, a deliberate extension of fearless peace, and as such it was also a public act against the militarism of Rome. There were consequences and opposition which would follow. Jesus said, “Do not to fear those who will kill the body” because that it what the military do to those who challenge their militarism. It is ironic that the peaceful have to be attacked, but that is what must happen for militarism to survive. Facing militarism is dangerous. The disciples would face conflict, even within families. Jesus dramatizes the point by saying, after insisting on the spreading of peace, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on earth, but a sword.” Why say that when he is requiring the way of peace? Because the War Against War will be like this. Because those who challenge the military system must be killed. Later, Christians to our day, would face horrific persecution and martyrdom for taking the way of peace, even from those close to them. Thus, the subtle War Against War And Weapons which Jesus lays out, where we are innocent as doves, but as shrewd as snakes.

We somehow ignore one of the central meanings of the Cross. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the Gentle Man, had to be killed, because he was exposing the militarism of both the Temple Party and the Romans. The Cross is the ultimate weapon of militarism; it tortures and murders; it shows: “We can do this”. Pilate, largely against his will was forced to use the cross. Already, the followers of Christ had been told they were to take up their cross daily, take up this ultimate threat of the militarist and follow Christ. What could this mean? Jesus, the complete fighter for peace, is strung up on the Cross, because he is too dangerous to remain alive. Then with the resurrection, the Roman cross is defeated. Fear God and you will have nothing else to fear. Here, at the Cross, not on the battlefield, the victory is won, the victory of peace not of war. The fight is redefined for the rest of human history. We take up the Cross and become fearless.

Sadly, in the past we Christians have given in to military fear and allowed it to dominate us and dictate events. Perhaps now is the time for all Christians to move beyond fear into proper Christian bravery. Our brothers and sisters in the Middle East face acute direct threats on their lives with this bravery. we face far less. Of course, the fight is canny. Christians are not called to martyrdom. Jesus warned them about the coming dangers of the sack of Jerusalem in AD70 and his care was not to lose one of his disciples to death, save the suicide of Judas. We face few dangers and fear everything. We do not see the Fear induction done to us for what it is, a mechanism for keeping us in our place, subservient, intimidated, tribal, taxed and burdened. Jesus said “Fear not,” did not fear, not by bravura but through prayer in Gethsemane, and overcame fear. Christ’s fearlessness is the spiritual energy of disarmament, the place where we see the whole stupid intimidation system for what it is.

For we live need not live in the Fear Machine. Each day its messengers, paid by arms companies and the full military-industrial complex, tell us the dangers we face, and how they will rescue us and keep us safe. Much of the time these messages are lies, massive lies about the USSR in the fifties and sixties, scaring us with Saddam and the 45 minute warning when he was powerless, demonising Putin while pursuing NATO aggression in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. Meanwhile, this Fear Machine arms the world, selling weapons to almost whomever will buy, so that more people become afraid and buy more weapons, making yet more afraid. Devastation stalks the globe. We pride ourselves on our companies selling weapons, but then wars follow, with poverty, famine and destruction and we are surprised. The merchants of death “have the power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay one another”. Areas of the planet are destroyed and in the twenty-first century, when we can visit the moon and deconstruct matter, we remain barbarians with clubs, barrel and nuclear bombs. The states that run the United Nations on the “Security Council”, are the heaviest armed, the nuclear states, who run the weapons-selling system and disunite nations. How come, after two thousand years of Christ’s message and deliverance of peace to millions, and five hundred years after Lancashire and Yorkshire worked it out, Christians have not marched to Christ’s message of peace, when the cost is so small and the benefits so massive?

Part of the answer is that we have not addressed fear of those who can kill us. We have not faced down the military threat as Christ asks us to. We have not seen beyond the domination of the sword and understood Christ’s message, “Those who take the sword will perish by the sword”. We have allowed ourselves to buy, at great cost, the counter message, “Those who take the sword will win and be safe.” We bomb Iraq, then terrorists attack us and we are surprised. We, like most others, dwell normally in the culture of fear induced by the arms companies and the militarists. To take up and proclaim the Christian Good News of Peace involves a War on War and a War on Fear. It involves Christian fearlessness to fight war and the deconstruction of the Fear Machine, pumped out daily to keep us in our place. We all, you and I, must spread Christian fearlessness worldwide.

Teresa May’s Fictions on the Trident Nuclear Weapons’ System

maytrident(written for Christians on the Left)

In her first policy debate in the Commons as Prime Minister, Teresa May pushed through the gateway decision on the new Trident Nuclear system. The debate was launched at short notice to get it through before real public opinion could be expressed and the arguments examined. Yet, what she said should be re-examined, because it was actually empty rhetoric purporting to be argument. This article examines the empty box of “nuclear threat” and the fear mongering which she presented. She said, “I want to set out for the House why our nuclear deterrent remains as necessary and essential today as it was when we first established it. The nuclear threat has not gone away; if anything, it has increased.”

The Nuclear “Threat”?
First, what is “The Nuclear Threat?” Teresa May names this something as though it automatically exists, but all nuclear powers for the past eighty years have declared they will not be first use aggressors and there has been no threat of nuclear use, except perhaps by the United States against the USSR in the late 1940s . The major international confrontation that occurred was the Cuban crisis in 1962 between the United States and the USSR, when US missiles in Turkey provoked a tit for tat reprisal on Cuba, until both sides backed down. The most serious real threat was when a US H bomb dropped accidentially at Goldsboro, near Washington, in January 1961 and three of the four safety devices failed.
The reason for the absence of threat, as McNamara pointed out in the later 1960s, is that nuclear weapons are really unusable as weapons of war. Mutually Assured Destruction is MAD. Nuclear weapons can only murder millions of people, destroy trillions of property, make vast areas desolate of production and spread radiation and cancer round the planet. Nuclear weapons are useless and unusable. The nuclear powers, the US, China, Russia, Israel, France, India and Pakistan, have not threatened because there is no point to doing so. The United Kingdom has not faced and does not face any national nuclear threat, except, Theresa May cites, Russia and North Korea.
Further, the “nuclear threat” is never used against non-nuclear powers. So, non-nuclear powers do not face a nuclear threat, because they do not have nuclear weapons and cannot themselves be a nuclear threat. The “NT” does not keep Aussies awake at night. We could, of course, join them and be a non nuclear, non threat, non threatened nation. Again, no conventional war has escalated to nuclear, because it is an inappropriate response in a crowded interdependent world.
The “Increased” Nuclear “Threat”.
Yet, Teresa May states the nuclear threat has, if anything, “increased”. The number of nuclear warheads has decreased from over 60,000 in the mid eighties to under 16,000 today, but that does not mean much, given their destructive power. (It does highlight the past ability of the nuclear arms producers to push their production to absurd levels.) Yet, most people would feel that the end of the Cold War reduced the “nuclear threat”. More recently South Africa renounced its nuclear status and some of the “rogue” states have gone: – Gaddafi never really tried; we lied about Iraq; there is an agreement with Iran. Really, there is no increased nuclear “threat” beyond what did not really exist anyway. But, of course, there is North Korea and Russia.

The “Danger” of North Korea.
Only North Korea remains, and Theresa May cites it as one of the dangers we face. Aside the fact that it is 5,349 miles away, has a weak economy (half the size of Lancashire’s and possibly contracting under its military weight), one would expect South Korea, China, Japan, the United States, and the United Nations to have more responsibility in relation to North Korea than us. Indeed, unless we all began throwing darts at effigies of the Supreme Leader, one cannot think how North Korea would become our unilateral nuclear threat and danger. For our possession of nuclear weapons is unilateral; it is so that we can unilaterally use them despite wider world opinion and international law. It is absurd that we would take on the business of using them against North Korea. Are we an other side of the world busy-body? Does the Queen lose sleep over the threat from Korea? Would we obtain the permission of South Korea first? North Korea cannot be addressed by nuclear weapons.

The “Danger” of Russia.
Teresa May then cites her other example – Russia. She says, “First, there is the threat from existing nuclear states such as Russia.” Notice the language, “such as Russia”. There is no other “such as” state. China supplies many of our goods, waited for a hundred and fifty years for Hong Kong back, and is possibly funding our nuclear power stations. Then May adds, “We know that President Putin is upgrading his nuclear forces.” Hello, is that not what the UK has been doing for more than a decade with the Trident renewal programme? He may be responding to us. She adds, “In the past two years, there has been a disturbing increase in both Russian rhetoric about the use of nuclear weapons and the frequency of snap nuclear exercises.” This needs some explanation. When Russia agreed to the reunification of Germany, a deep reversal of 1945 and recreating the historic threat to Russia, it was agreed that the reach of western weapons would not go beyond the East German border; this offered a stable non-threatening end to the Cold War. But since then the US and NATO have been pushing aggressively eastwards especially into Ukraine, close to Russia’s heartlands and much of what has been perceived as the Russia “threat” in Ukraine has been a NATO generated threat to Russia. NATO, without a role since 1990 and the end of the Cold War has fermented this confrontation to give itself a raison d’etre, and engages in frequent nuclear and military exercises and a torrent of confrontational language. The Russian military budget is some 14% of that of the US. We, in the West, as much as Russia, are responsible for increased tension in the area. Finally, Teresa May states, “As we have seen with the illegal annexation of Crimea, there is no doubt about President Putin’s willingness to undermine the rules-based international system in order to advance his own interests.” Actually, when 63% of the people in the Crimea view their nationality as Russian, there were repeated UN polls with majorities for Russian Union and the final vote, albeit with a boycott was 93% for union with Russia, it could hardly be seen as an undemocratic move. Teresa May neglected to add that the US and the UK had prosecuted a full blown war, based on a lie, against Iraq in denial of international law. So our treatment of Russia, and NATO’s determination to resurrect the Cold War, have been a big part of this estrangement and Trident does not help the situation but makes it worse.

The Fear Machine.
So “the nuclear threat” Teresa May talks about is not actual, but part of the fear machine of military politics. We even have “the question of future nuclear threats – (“extreme threats” later) – that we cannot even anticipate today” to ramp up our fear. Meanwhile, everyone accepts Trident submarines cannot address terrorism, the obvious present threat. The fear machine is wheeled out so that we are grateful to the politicians for defending us against what is not there. They can now fund more nuclear weapons which will increase the dangers world-wide. The Parliamentary decision contradicts the Non-Proliferation Treaty which we signed before the end of the Cold War, saying “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament.”
By repetition, not argument, we are cowed into accepting Trident. If we hear the words “nuclear threat” enough times, it must be there. The military-industrial complex and its hired hands work the mantra for this useless, destructive, obsolete, potentially planet destroying weapon to profit their business. We buy nuclear weapons to meet the fear created by possessing nuclear weapons. So the whole establishment is brought into line to support the militarization of the world, the biggest failed experiment of human history. We sleepwalk to the commandment, “Thou shalt threaten to kill”. Or, perhaps, we democratically close down this worship of weapons in the name of a peaceful God.

Pursuing Peace honestly in Iraq and Syria


1.Bombing does not add up to a Policy.
The Conservative proposal for bombing ISIS is being presented as policy. It is an attempt to damage ISIS and cause it to contract from the area it is fighting in throughout Iraq and Syria. In part it is a retaliation following the Paris atrocities to support the actions of the United States, Russia and France in attacking ISIS in a range of cities and towns where other people also live and will die. The vote in the Commons this week if it is successful adds more bombing attacks and creates more destruction and killing over a large area with towns and cities in which ISIS terrorists are operating. The question is whether these attacks will move the area towards peace or whether they are part of a longer term failure. This essay suggests the latter. Perhaps even, the bulk of the responsibility for this tragedy lies with us, with the western (and Russian) militarisation of the area through arms sales and actual conflict.

2. Some reasons why the United Kingdom also bombing ISIS is wrong.
There are a number of reasons immediately why this bombing might be mistaken. First, it will be indiscriminate. It will involve attacking cities like Al Raqqah, an historic and pleasant city of over 200,000 people, destroying much of it. Most of the inhabitants have nothing to do with ISIS and bombing has already resulted in deaths, destruction and traumatisation of these people. We talk about “precision” bombing, but the request for terrorists to move over to the left and ordinary citizens to move over to the right while we bomb the terrorists probably will not work.
Second, the French motive of revenge for the Paris slaughter and to obliterate ISIS is wrong. When you set out to obliterate a people or group, they have nothing to lose and their commitment to attack becomes even more barbaric. Already we are deeply involved in the traumas and barbarism of this area, and this bombing is making it worse. The motive should not be to obliterate an enemy, but to defeat it and restore it in whatever way is most appropriate. France, whom we love, should recover from its trauma and the response should be refocused.
Third, bombing is destroying the region, as it has already destroyed the great central Syrian cities. We are talking perhaps five to ten years of GDP destruction leaving a generation trying to recover. That destruction is wrong. Every destruction makes the situation worse. People lose their homes, livelihoods, food, water and means of raising a family. They become refugees. The policy of bombing pursued by Assad has produced millions of refugees. We say we cannot cope with more refugees. Then, we must not create them.
Fourth, bombing does not necessarily, or even usually, defeat enemies. It did not in Vietnam, the biggest bombing programme the world has ever seen. The United States lost. North Vietnam won. It did not in Iraq. Bush said “Mission Accomplished” but it was not, and we are now withdrawn, largely defeated in Iraq. It succeeded in Libya, getting rid of Gaddafi, but now we have to live with the “success” there we really did not have.
Fifth, the bombing response as a way of addressing western terrorism is tendentious. How does bombing there stop terrorism here? Many people have pointed out: it recruits terrorists who want to do to us what we have done to them. We have to address terrorism in the West, via its routes to the West and also in its sources in ISIS and other groups. Bombing may not be the best way of doing this.
Sixth, bombing is being justified in terms of pulling our weight in relation to the United States and France. Pulling our weight, as we did in Iraq with George W. Bush, when it is wrong, is silly.
We need to pull back and assess much more fully what is going on with these two failed states involving perhaps six million refugees and get beyond the playground stuff where he punched me and so I’m going to punch him.

3. Peace throughout the Middle East is good and is the aim.
First, we need to see where we are going. The aim is peace, without war, weapons and conflict in Iraq and Syria and the surrounding countries with non-violent, law-abiding government. Achieving real peace in the area, if things go well, will take five years, with another five years of recovery. This aim is not an option. It is the only way in which millions of people can live good and stable lives. At present the aim is not peace. It is attacking ISIS as though that will automatically produce peace. It is the same as attacking Al Qaida to bring about peace, a similar failed policy. Rather, conflict produced ISIS. Shooting and bombing create terrorism, and so we need to strategically refocus onto peace and at least a substantial curtailment of conflict. War does not usually bring peace; it brings more war. Peace involves understanding enemies, not threatening or seeking to exterminate, rebuilding, requiring non-violence, and looking to justice.

4. Weapons are destroying the Middle East.
There is an overarching explanation of these wars in the Middle East. From the 1970s the West and the USSR/Russia have piled arms into the Middle East, militarising those countries. Thatcher and Reagan were especially responsible. “Arms for oil” was the slogan during these years. The West wanted oil and by passing on expensive arms, they could easily afford it. Bribery was normal in these deals. The Al-Yamamah deal with Saudi Arabia involved both the UK Government and BAe Systems in both bribery and payment by oil. For forty years the West has been arming the Middle East intensively. The United States, Britain and France armed Saudi Arabia. The USSR, then the United States and the states of Europe sent a vast stockpile of arms into Iraq. The United States mainly armed Israel. The United States, Britain and others armed Egypt. The United States armed the Shah in Iran, continued supplying Iran during the Iran-Contra period, and then the USSR took over, as the West concentrated on Iraq. The United States and the CIA armed and trained the rebels in Afghanistan fighting the USSR in the 1980s and 1990s, helping spawn Al Qaida. Britain, the States, the French, Germans and others sold weapons to the Gulf States. Italy and Britain supplied weapons to Gaddafi. The USSR and then Russia have been the suppliers for Assad in Syria. The sales have registered $10bn many years and in 2015 are about $18bn. As a result the Middle East is the most heavily armed area on the planet, ignoring the United States, with large number of troops and weapons and hundreds of thousands of troops and mercenaries trained in fighting. That is what they do. That is their job. The arms companies have militarised the whole area for profit.
There is no doubt that these weapons have caused wars. Saddam’s weapons allowed him to attack Iran and the Kurds. The United States prevented the massacre of the Kurds being discussed properly in the United Nations because they were supplying the weapons. The Iraq-Iran War started because Iraq was flush with weapons, and countries of the west gloried in selling arms to both sides. The Iraq War which began with the invasion of Kuwait was directly caused by arms. Saddam’s purchase of weapons caused him acute budget problems. His creditors, especially the French were asking him for payment, and he concocted a story that Kuwait owed him $10bn and when the Kuwait Government would not pay the full amount, he invaded with weapons he had purchased from the West. If they had supplied the arms, they could hardly object if he used them. The Second Iraq War was an illegal invasion especially pushed by the arms companies around the Pentagon, because they saw a lucrative war there. We have seen the Arab Spring crushed in Syria, armed by Russia, also in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia armed by the West, in Libya, armed especially by the Italians and British, and in Syria armed by Russia. Militarised states have opposed democracy and trusted in arms. Indeed, typical of this situation was the occasion when David Cameron was in Egypt selling arms to the military with a load of arms companies when the Arab Spring broke out. He was caught with his trousers down. Suddenly the Prime Minister was converted to “democracy” and made a speech supporting the Arab Spring. The Foreign Office scrabbled around trying to get companies which were not arms dealers to join Cameron’s entourage. Since then orders, including military helicopters have resumed, subject to a condition that they will not be used for internal repression. We talk democracy, but facilitate military dictators. Thus, it is because these countries have been armed that they have been susceptible to war. The weapons are either used directly by the West and Russia, or are supplied by them. They have devastated vast areas and made all the wars worse. Weapons are destroying the Middle East.
Weapons also continue war because they kill and traumatize people. They can leave them with PTSD, uncontrollable anger, the desire for revenge, an implacable understanding that the invaders must be removed and a sense that their lives have been destroyed by the aggressor. The measure of our failure to understand is the fact that we have rightly been appalled by perhaps ten thousand deaths from Al Qaida and ISIS terrorism in the states and Europe, while the countries of Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and elsewhere have suffered perhaps two million deaths. If we multiply our feelings and trauma by two hundred, we have some measure of the suffering of the Middle East. So both Al Qaida and ISIS have not suddenly popped up from no-where intent on evil, but have been formed in evil by a long running, largely western policy of arms and terrorism accepted by many Arab states.

5. The West, Russia and NATO are therefore hypocritical in ignoring the cause of the problem to which they have contributed and seeking to solve it through more arms.
The conclusion above cannot be in serious doubt. It is clearly the case. Why do we not, then, acknowledge it and try to address it? After all these failures the West is still continuing with its old ways. It armed Saddam, used arms in Iraq to sort out Saddam, declared “Mission Accomplished”, and then poured in more arms, to arm ISIS. The policy makes the problem worse, as it did on all these other occasions. The West and Russia continue with this policy, because in each of these countries the military-industrial complexes are in charge, dominate policy, and control the media to make us scared and gun(g)-ho. Always the problem is Them, Islam, Terrorists, the Other and never us. We can see the Kalashnikov in their eye, but never the bomber in our own. Whether it the United States, or the UK, or France, or Italy or Russia in all these countries the arms companies, a part of the military, and the military-industrial establishment who make profits out of wars predispose the politicians to military “solutions”, when they are no solutions at all, but continue to inflame the situation. All of these states say they are trying to bring about peace, but they have vested military interests which are for war. Usually, the soldiers know the real cost of fighting and they are not the problem. It is the arms companies, the militarists behind desks, and those who are paid for promoting the military. They promote arms and conflict as the solution, because there is money in it for them, and they sit close to power. So, hypocritically, we are the problem, but we blame them, aided in Britain by a mindless often acquiescent media which loves scares, and the political-military establishment just hopes the Iraq Inquiry will disappear in endless long grass.
This pattern is still making things worse. So, Britain, the United States, Italy, the Netherlands and other Western countries are arming Turkey and they have ignored the fact that probably Turkey is buying ISIS oil and weapons supply lines come from Turkey. Turkey is an ISIS ally fighting against the enemy Assad. When Turkey brings down a Russian jet in what is obviously an unnecessary, if not illegal act, the west purrs saying Turkey has a right to defend its airspace. Second, the United States through the CIA brought arms from the conflict in Libya round to the rebels in Syria which are probably now in the hands of ISIS. Great move, CIA. Third, a large quantity of weapons distributed from United States’ arms companies through the Government to the Iraq Army was easily captured by ISIS and now gives them much of their fighting power. Further, the United States had directly helped to create ISIS. Three quarters of ISIS leaders were in Abu Graib prison where Muslims were repeatedly humiliated and tortured by US guards. They were then moved to Camp Bucca, a vast sectioned prison compound where they mutually radicalised one another. ISIS was formed within US prison camps. This is a pig’s ear of policy.
There is so much posturing and hiding of the military agendas of the participants that the debate about policy is unreal and pre-committed to action which will make the whole area worse. This posturing makes it impossible to address the situation honestly, and it makes much of the uninformed public unaware of the real causes of the catastrophe in the Middle East, namely western arms.

6. We need Western and Russian repentance of this militarising role and repudiation of its arms sales and colonial interference to protect its interests.
The main cause of the problem in the Middle East needs to be identified and understood on all sides. It is western and Russian arms. If we do not say what the problem is, how can we address it? It is a matter of basic honesty which neither the United States, United Kingdom, Russian or French Governments has been prepared to acknowledge. “Western arms?” they say, with their heads on the desert sand, “What western arms?” We therefore wait on the west, and Russia, owning up to the problem. No less than the biblical word, “repentance” is enough. We have been to blame for much of this mess. We allowed profit to dominate good principles of justice. We talked democracy, but sold arms to military dictators. We attacked others illegally and then protested when they attacked us. We talk peace as false prophets, because we are experts in high tech war. Of course, hypocrites do not easily repent. They are too much inside their own system, but in a democracy we call for an acknowledgement of this fundamental error. It is the precondition to a coherent response.
More than this, the weapons influx is polarising the Sunni-Shi’ite divide. Basically, Russia has become the arms supplier for the Shi’ites in Iran and the Assad Regime in Syria, while the West plies Iraq, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Turkey, Egypt and other countries with its weapons. Since the terrorists are largely Sunni, it is not surprising that they get their hands on a lot of western weapons through Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other routes. Yet this polarisation is really dangerous, and part of what we do not understand about the present conflict and the effect of our occupation of Iraq. Unless Russia ceases to have Assad as a client ally and the West does the same with those it arms, the conflicts and tensions of these areas will not diminish.
Thus we see that ISIS was caused, as Al Qaida was caused by the activities of the CIA in Afghanistan and the investment of several billion dollars in training and equipping terrorists. ISIS then becomes a symptom of the problem with our present policy. In other words we need to pursue exactly the opposite policy from that proposed by the present Conservative Government. The publishing of the Chilcot Report on the Iraq War will bring a lot of these issues into the public domain anyway by showing our illegal responsibility for the 2003 War and the consequences which followed from it. Then, we can begin to work through policies which are free from this hypocrisy and are really geared to constructing peace on a multilateral basis. Of course, it will not necessarily happen easily because millions are now destitute and trillions of dollars of economic damage have taken place. More directly, hate does not quickly subside. But if this truth is acknowledged it will allow all sides to work for peace and away from bombing, weapons and destruction. The West must acknowledge its role in militarizing the Middle East and publicly repent this history; it must drop its present self-righteousness. Repentance involves some sense of recompense and the willingness to put things right, and it also opens the terms of the solutions to this vast tragedy by a renewed humility.

7. We must understand our enemies.
Rowan Williams has made the important further point that we must understand our enemies. The temptation for annihilation must go. We see that our enemies have suffered perhaps two hundred times the deaths, injuries and destruction that we have suffered in the West. Their wives, husbands, children, parents, friends, colleagues have died in hundreds of thousands, just as ours have died in their thousands, and there are people in Al Qaida, ISIS, Syria, Iraq who are traumatised and steely angry through war. That is what war does. That is what bombing does. That is what our engagement as allies of Saddam and other military dictators has done. Our enemies are suffering from PTSD as our soldiers are. We have taught them that the only lesson is to hit back. They talk the same language, using Islam, while we talk of pre-emptive strikes and taking people out through drones. People need to recover from wars and one of the undercover truths of the twentieth century was that millions of armed forces were recovering from Shell Shock and PTSD for decades after two World Wars, Vietnam and other wars, and tens of millions more civilians were in trauma. The arms companies say war is all about winning, when most of the combatants know they have lost. So many in Syria, Iraq and even in ISIS are victims and need to be understood. They have suffered, indirectly, or even directly, at our hands.

8. The Middle East needs disarming.
This conclusion will then be seen as obvious, but unreal. It is obvious and real. We see barrel bombs murdering the defenceless. Sophisticated bombers strafe areas. Guns blaze. Terrorists arm. People are held in capitivity. Cities lie devastated through war. It is obvious that weapons and wars do not work. Indeed, wars permanently fuelled by weapons (and the arms trade is doing lots of business in the Middle East just now) it is like putting out a fire with petrol. The Middle East needs disarming. War and weapons are idealistic. They do not work.
Yet, the reason why we do not think of disarmament is because the military-industrial establishments are so in charge. Of course, they will pump more arms into the area. The arms companies will have a bonanza. Of course, it will carry on. It is the way the world is. David Cameron will roll out the red carpet at Number Ten to a Middle East Dictator to sell more arms. Of course, he will. We will accept the selling of weapons whatever damage it does. But this policy does not even work for us. It is costing the United States, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Iraq, Iran, Syria a vast amount in costs, conflict, confronting terrorism and military expenditure. Saying that arms work is silly. Selling arms is a failed policy, even for us, and it has devastated the Middle East. Every regime which goes for arms becomes an electoral liability; it trusts in arms rather than the people. Of course, in the United States the arms manufacturers have established the principle that everyone is safer with a couple of guns under their pillow, but we all know that is rot, and “They Would Say That” because they make money. Similarly, the arms companies and their lackeys bleat on, promoting the weapons of death and destruction. But, arming the Middle East has been a disaster, and realistically the whole area needs disarming.
Immediately, that means the arms/military establishment that pushes arms, including Fallon and Cameron, the Arms Salesman for the nation, need defeating. Corbyn is correct in opposing the bombing and it is valuable that he is Labour leader now. The old New Labour MPs, stuck in the militarism of the Blair years, need to come to their senses and vote against bombing Syria. We have to admit how wrong we have been. Then the construction of peace can start. It needs a direction which will both address and defeat the present agendas of ISIS and Assad and other militarised groups. It will probably need troops on the ground to disarm and pacify areas as a joint Middle Eastern project. Soldiers are often good peacemakers and peacekeepers, providing the arms companies do not pump more arms into the areas. A real initiative depends on the United States, Russia, the UK, France, China and others agreeing not to make and sell arms and in clearing out those which already exist. It also requires that Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and others are seen as co-partners in this regional peace initiative. First we acknowledge the problem and the solution then becomes possible.

9. Syria, and perhaps Iraq, should become United Nations’ Protectorates.
Restoring justice is a matter of making judgments which are true and acceptable for a lot of people. There is one decision which is at the fulcrum of the present problems in the Middle East, though there are many other subsidiary issues. At present we are proposing to bomb ISIS and support the Assad regime. This is an exact reversal of the policy which Cameron was advocating two years back. Then we were to bomb Assad because of his atrocities. That earlier focus is correct, though the method was wrong. Assad has destroyed the lives and homes of millions of people who are now dead, or refugees, or living in appalling conditions. He and his regime have brought about a failed state, and are the main problem in the area. His militarised government needs replacing by a new government which can restore justice and peace to the area. At present, that cannot be done without a change of policy by the Russian Federation. Russia, like the West, supports its client in buying arms, and that is the main reason why it has supported Assad. Of course, that is not an adequate reason for supporting an unjust tyrannical regime. Yet, without a change of Western policy, it would be hypocritical to ask Russia to change what it is doing, but with a real western volte face Russia might be prepared to allow that regime to end. The suggestion here is that in the context of a general agreement to end arms trading in the Middle East and protect the whole area of Syria against conquest, the Assad regime be asked to step down and be replaced by a five year United Nation’s Protectorate Government drawn from leaders in other nations aiming to restore peace, order and reconstruction. At the end of five years of repair Syria might be in a place to elect its own government in a new Arab Spring.
Of course, this would require a new level of trust, co-operation, and protection of human rights in the area. It is a change of paradigm – for peace and disarmament and against conflict and arms. It would still be a question of how ISIS would behave, once its enemy Assad had been removed, and whether the Caliphate Agenda continued. It is slightly reassuring that the United States did so much to generate the formation of ISIS. If it did not move towards a more peaceful way, starved of arms and money it could atrophy. There is no point in planning how Syria can be properly protected, until we have acknowledged how deeply we are wrong. Those who take the sword, perish by the sword.



The Ministry of Defence and repeated Governments have been trying to keep the issue of renewing Trident – the UK’s nuclear weapons system – off the political agenda, mainly because the case for it is poor. Gordon Brown announced shortly before he became Prime Minister that he was in favour of replacing the UK Trident submarine nuclear force, due to cease their useful life in 2024 or thereabouts. He was probably pressed by the MoD so that the issue could be “taken out of politics”. It was an odd announcement with no reasons given. The “main gate” final decision will take place in 2016, but already decisions are being made to make that move technical rather than political. As the MoD comments, “The programme is now in a 5 year-long, £3 billion period of work known as the ‘assessment phase’. The main purpose of the assessment phase is to refine the design of the successor submarine before we take the main investment decision in 2016. They want to keep the issue cool. Meanwhile, these billions are already being spent on the project. The Scottish National Party opposes the renewal. It says, “We will continue in our principled opposition to nuclear weapons and believe that the UK should abandon plans to renew the Trident nuclear missile system.” It plans to have a debate on the issue in the upcoming weeks will bring the issue even more fully into Parliament. Labour is having an internal debate on the issue. The discussion may be blighted by party posturing, but hopefully the arguments on this important issue will shape the way all MPs vote. Here are twenty four arguments which suggest Trident should not be renewed.

1. Nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945.
Nuclear weapons, first the atomic bomb and then the fusion bombs have been with us since 1945, a period of seventy years, and they have not been used. That is not quite correct, because about 500 nuclear weapons tests to develop the weapon have been carried out. But they have not been used since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in military anger. There is no dispute that this is the case. This is an extremely long period of history in the existence of this weapon. Why have they not been used? In the case of the United Kingdom, there has been no occasion to consider using them. In all the wars we have fought – on Cyprus, Suez, with the IRA, against Indonesia in the 60s, Aden, Falklands, the First Gulf War, Kosovo, Sierra Leone Civil War, the Afghan War, Second Iraq War, Libyan Civil fight against ISIS – the United Kingdom has not ever considered using nuclear weapons, mainly because we have not fought anyone we would choose to obliterate. If we have not used them for seventy years, why would we suppose we might use them in the future? If a car had existed for twenty years and not been used, we would scrap it. Perhaps nuclear weapons are not usable.

2. Nuclear weapons are indiscriminate. They kill everyone.
International humanitarian law involves a distinction between civilians and combatants. The aim is to protect civilians during the conduct of a war. This principle was breeched during the Second World War by mass genocides, indiscriminate bombing and finally by the two nuclear weapons used against Japanese cities. But the principle remains, and is even of greater significance on a crowded planet. Indiscriminate killing weapons should not be used. In our Trident fleet each submarine is carrying warheads capable of murdering at least ten million people. They cannot be seen as combatants; they are “innocent”, using the usual phrase. If we are not in favour of wiping out Manchester or London, then we will be equally in favour of not doing the same to the cities of Brazil, Russia, China, Australia or wherever the “enemy” may be seen to be. The Commandment, “Thou shalt not murder” we observe in relation to one person. Why should we ignore it for millions of people?

3. The United Kingdom insists on independent or “unilateral” nuclear weapons, but strangely we do not consider their independent or unilateral use.
It is odd we use the term, “unilateral disarmament” for getting rid of nuclear weapons, for we have an independent nuclear capability, that is, we have nuclear weapons because we might need to use them independently, or unilaterally, of say, the United States. We discuss below whether we are independent of the United States. But the idea of whether we might want to use nuclear weapons against someone when the US, China, Russia, France, India, Pakistan, Israel would not want to use them, is bizarrely unrealistic. How would we be unilaterally bellicose when, say, the United States and France were not? In foreign affairs we have done little independently of the United States for fifty years and we work with the French and our NATO allies all the time. The idea of the unilateral use of our independent nuclear deterrent is absurd. Yet, our rationale for having Trident is that we need an independent nuclear system. Why when we say we co-operate in all major world political and military affairs through the United Nations, the European Union, the Commonwealth, NATO and other bilateral relationships, do we want to be independent and unilateral in having nuclear weapons?

4. Deterring whom?
We shall look at the idea of deterrent under several headings. First, we consider whom it might deter. We presumably would only try to deter states which already had nuclear weapons. They are the United States, France, China, Russia, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Which of those might we want unilaterally to deter? How does having nuclear weapons deter any one else? The only country which is regarded as unreliably dangerous in that list is North Korea. If it is a threat, it is surrounded by the United States, China and Russia and anything we might consider doing to deter North Korea from the other side of the globe is really of no consequence. There are no states we can deter.
Second, the idea of deterring non-nuclear powers from going to war is now effectively dead. It has not happened in dozens of wars, including ones where nuclear powers have been defeated, like Afghanistan and Vietnam. The general understanding is that it is wrong to think of using nuclear weapons against those who do not have them and will not use them against us merely to wipe them out. Presumably none of the recent UK Governments has departed from this attitude which is strongly suggested in the “principles” set out by the MOD. “… the UK’s nuclear weapons are not designed for military use during conflict but instead to deter and prevent nuclear blackmail and acts of aggression against our vital interests that cannot be countered by other means.” So nuclear weapons have no deterrent role in conventional wars.
So, the UK’s nuclear weapons deter neither nuclear powers, nor non-nuclear powers, the first because we are not remotely thinking of unilateral nuclear war against another nuclear power, and the second because a nuclear reprisal in conventional fighting is unthinkable.

5. Exaggerating the Threats.
Much of the history of Nuclear Weapons has been marked by exaggerations of the threats coming from others, especially the Soviet Union. Two examples were the “Bomber Gap” of the mid1950s and the “Missile Gap” of the late 1950s (see Wikipedia summaries). The USSR was predicted to have 800 bombers and on that basis 2,000 B-47s and almost 750 B-52s to carry nuclear weapons were built to match the imagined fleet of Soviet aircraft. Actually, the Myasishchev M-4 Bison, the USSR’s nuclear bomb carrier plane, could not reach the US and get back, and only 93 were produced before production was closed down, with only 19 capable of nuclear service. It was the USSR who had a massive bomber gap.
The “Missile Gap” was similarly entirely fictional. In the late 50s the USSR Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) output was reckoned to be 100, 500, and even 1500 by those associated with the industry and in the media. Kennedy used the scare in its 1960 Presidential election. The CIA to its credit stuck firmly to its estimate of 10. But the actual USSR ICBM count was only 4, including prototypes. These exaggerations contributed to the tensions in the early 1960s including the Cuban missile crisis. The arms companies, the military and intelligence communities have in interest in using exaggerated threats to boost military expenditure and their profile.
The Second Iraq War and WMD is a more recent example. We were warned in 2003 about Saddam’s possession of WMDs, but Saddam had no nuclear capability, let alone weapons, nor means of delivery. We should politically sieve out the presented, but unreal, exaggerations and not allow ourselves to be bounced into this supposed nuclear need. The Trident supporters will have difficulty in naming a real nuclear threat that is not embellished.

6. Creating fear and “We are protecting you”
Governments enjoy a rhetoric which has the form, “We are protecting you against an enemy. You are safe with us.” It gives them a role where, if nothing happens, and usually it does not, we are beholden to them and grateful that we are kept safe. This process can involve the exaggeration of security needs. There is evidence that nuclear weapons are part of this machinery and that it has been accompanied by media and public briefing to keep us in a state of unease. If the people can be held in fear, then the politicians are established in power to protect us against those who would threaten us. Much of the structure of the Cold War had this form. After World Wars One and Two we had “Reds under the Bed” scare stories to keep the weapons industries in business. The Blair and Bush Iraq scare had the same form.
We need to discount Government manufactured fear carefully, and ask the right questions, but it is a large task. When the Government says, “We need Nuclear Weapons to defend you”, the questions are: From whom? Why would they attack? Is there evidence of nuclear threat? Do nuclear weapons defend against nuclear weapons? Do we create military fear in others? Is weapon possession the best way of addressing international tension? Is mutual disarmament possible? We may not need protecting by our governments through nuclear weapons as much as governments pretend, for they do pretend, and even lie to us. Usually, too, they resort to the unknown as yet threat.

7. We have faced no Nuclear Threat for the last twenty five years and probably no actual threat ever.
We can say, with a fairly full degree of certainty, that since the end of the Cold War no state has either planned an aggressive nuclear stance towards us, or has thought of planning one. The United States, India, Pakistan, Israel, China, Russia and France have not and have not really had a remote cause to think of unilateral nuclear attack on others. The nearest we can come to a supposed threat was Saddam Hussein, who didn’t have the weapons, or the capability, or the “45 minutes”, or the yellowcake and whose threat to us was moonshine. There is also no evidence that the USSR ever considered an aggressive first strike against the United States or the United Kingdom – a far more sobering check on the way this threat idea has been used. We have no evidence of any nuclear threat to us ever. That is a very strong argument against the need for a Trident nuclear weapon system.

8. The Cold War is over.
At the end of the Cold War the supposed raison d’etre of western weapons for the previous forty five years had disappeared. Gorbachev and Yeltsin had no interest in nuclear weapons and the opportunity was there to close the whole show down. Gorbachev offered complete disarmament more than once. It did not happen on the choice of the West, mainly the United States and the United Kingdom, and that should tell us something about the pressures towards these great stockpiles of weapons being less political and more about the military-industrial complexes of east and west and a certain Western view about the possession of military power. It may be that the Western (United States and United Kingdom) commitment to nuclear weapons is more important in their existence and continuation than we allow. We see ourselves as primarily reactive to the possible threats of others, but what if we started their development, moved first to mass production, dominated the Cold War arms race and could not give them up when it finished. Well, actually, it is not “what if”. That is exactly what we have done.

9. The twenty five year “Nuclear Prowl” has been a total Pretence.
For the last twenty five years we have had Vanguard Class ballistic missile submarines with at least one constantly on patrol, on a policy called “continuous at sea deterrence” under the name, OPERATION RELENTLESS. This perpetual nuclear weapon prowl where the submarine is always underwater and is almost impossible to attack shows our readiness to meet nuclear attack. This pattern started in the Cold War, and was part of the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) response to a possible USSR attack. Actually, the USSR did not ever plan to make such an attack and the Cold War has been over for twenty five years. In this last twenty five years none of the nuclear powers, the United States, China, Russia, France, India, Pakistan, Israel has even remotely considered attacking us, yet this patrol has carried on oblivious of the reality that there is no nuclear threat. Why has this been done? How have we been able to ignore the obvious fact, clear to everybody, that there has been no nuclear threat to us, at least since the end of the Cold War in 1990 and had nuclear weapons on instant alert? Could we have an explanation? Perhaps it is that if all our nuclear subs were in dry dock and the crews were on holiday, we would ask why we needed them anyway…..

10. Non-nuclear powers are as safe or more safe than we are.
If we ask the question of whether non-nuclear countries are more or less safe than we are, the answer is that nuclear possession does not seem to make much difference. If we ask, Are Italy, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, and Monaco more or less safe because they are non-nuclear, it seems a non-question. Perhaps they are more safe, because they are less to be feared, and because their neighbours do not feel they need nuclear weapons. But the main issue is whether they will fall out disastrously with their neighbours or have a Civil War. Do India and Pakistan feel more safe because they and their neighbour have nuclear weapons? Israel is probably the one country which can answer that they feel more safe with nuclear weapons, because they have been threatened with annihilation at times in the past. Yet, they still undertake repressive acts against Palestinians and are creating their own troubles.
Since the principle that nuclear powers should not attack non-nuclear powers with nuclear weapons was established, say, as far back as the Korean and Vietnam wars, it does not seem that nuclear weapons inhibit non-nuclear powers from engaging in and even winning conventional wars. We have had plenty such wars over the last 70 years. Nuclear powers are probably less safe.

11. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has led to a Double Standard, but it really requires Nuclear Disarmament.
Some 190 states have signed the NPT and it is important in world military politics. It is seen as playing an important role in inhibiting moves towards nuclear weapon possession among those who might be tempted to get nuclear weapons. Yet, the Treaty as interpreted by the “nuclear” powers involves a double standard. Those powers including ourselves have effectively said, “We can have nuclear weapons, because we’ve got them, but you can’t.” They evoke the obvious response, “If they are not good for us, why are they good for you?” to which there is no answer. It is a double standard.
But the actual problem is worse than that. Article VI of the Treaty requires “Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament.” The International Court of Justice comments on this article as follows “There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.” We have not done that. Recent UK governments have merely affirmed nuclear retaining status. President Obama has raised the issue. Not renewing Trident would begin to comply with the Treaty we have already signed.

12. The Idea of Deterrence – deterring the use of nuclear weapons by the use of nuclear weapons
To deter someone is to put some barrier in their way or some burden on a course of action which prevents them from doing what they would otherwise do. Speeding is deterred by speed cameras and the possibility of prosecution, theft by locks and security measures and trespass by walls and fences. These measures are aiming at compliance to law where that might not normally be present. In domestic law where there are dangers involved, say with shooting or stabling on the streets or elsewhere, the deterrent is to prosecute possession of knives or guns. Those found in possession of guns or knives are prosecuted to deter them from the possibility that they might be used. It is an obvious precaution and a normal part of UK law predisposing people to lawful behaviour by deterring gun carrying.
But we do not usually say, “If you shoot someone, we will come along with a bigger gun and shoot you.” That is clumsy in a number of ways. First it operates on the supposition that the event might already have occurred, not a good way to go about deterrence. Second, it threatens to use the weapon it is trying to get rid of and abhors. It aims to deter some threatening state (that we have not yet identified) by using the weapon of mass destruction it claims to be against and would see it as immoral to use.
So the idea of nuclear deterrence, apart from the fact that it hasn’t had to deter in 70 years, and there is no identified threat, and it goes against the Non Proliferation Treaty, is not even a good deterrent. It deters nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons.

13. The Stalemate of Mutually Assured Destruction.
The Cold War escalated until the United States and the USSR had 30,000 plus nuclear warheads each. In retrospect these massive stockpiles of dangerous weapons reflected nothing more than the self-serving production of the military-industrial complexes of both sides, since even in the sixties McNamara had said that nuclear weapons were now irrelevant to the actual conflicts occurring around the world. The proponents declared that Mutually Assured Destruction kept us all safe. Many noted the acronym, MAD, for this argument and concluded it was a description of the argument, but the obvious conclusion was that these weapons were useless and we would be better off without them. The START Treaties reduced the warheads considerably, and the USSR military industrial complex and the USSR arms firms got the work for overproducing warheads and then decommissioning them.
But the main point was that once MAD had been reached, it was the stalemate of the nuclear game, it was no use sitting there staring at the board. The game was over. The idea that nuclear weapons in profusion protected us from nuclear war was silly. Those who thought a bit saw that not having nuclear weapons also protected us from nuclear war, because it could not happen. In the old days men meeting shook hands to show that they did not have swords in their right hands and could get on with one another. It caught on and now people walk down the streets without swords. Nuclear weapons were useless, but dangerous, pawns in a played out game.

14. How The Idea of Deterrence claims undeserved Credit.
Those in favour of nuclear weapons really have only one word in their democratic armory. It is “deterrence”. Nuclear weapons, we are told, “deter” an aggressor from attacking. Another weakness of this idea is the way it cannot be refuted; unless we are all dead, we cannot say, “I told you so”. The deeper problem is that it is a completely dogmatic argument, because it automatically accrues all the credit for not having a nuclear war to itself, rather than ascribing it to common sense, liking other nations, good international institutions, not wanting to destroy the planet, trade, international travel and migration, not wanting to kill people, preferring justice and democracy or having a grown up attitude to disputes. Actually, we know these other factors operate and predominate day in day out, but the deterrent idea claims the success. Without deterrence against some unidentified potential aggressor, we are all doomed.
We can see how the idea is empty by re-examining the strongest possible case for it, that in the Cuban missile crisis of October, 1962, when the United States under Kennedy “deterred” the USSR from threatening and attacking the West. We have seen how the “Missile Gap” myth was used in the 1960 election, when both the United States leadership and the USSR knew that the United States had nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy as well as a vast lead in nuclear bombers, so that the USSR was more strongly threatened than the United States. Moreover, because Kennedy had talked up a “Missile Gap” in the 1960 Presidential Election and had undertaken the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, Khrushchev was worried that Kennedy was belligerent and might be planning a nuclear strike. Actually, in 1962 the United States had 203 ICBMs and missiles in Turkey and Italy, while the USSR had 36. So Khrushchev’s deployment to Cuba was an attempt to deter the United States, caused by United States “deterrent” policy and in the final negotiation Kennedy agreed secretly to dismantle the nuclear missiles in Turkey and Italy pointing directly at the USSR territory. You could say that Khrushchev “deterred” the United States somewhat by the Cuban ploy, but certainly not that this was western “deterrence”.
We cannot claim that the absence of nuclear war is down to deterrence. That is merely an a priori assertion, without any evidence in fact. Rather the “deterrence” policy was a very dangerous period in the Cold War created by the mass possession of nuclear weapons.

15. The Danger of the Pre-emptive Strike.
The idea of deterrence was also weakened by the fact that a first strike gave the aggressor an enormous advantage right through to 1990 and the end of the Cold War. This led to the dangerous idea of pre-emptive strikes. As soon as missiles were seen on the screen, provided they were not flocks of geese, the retaliatory missiles were to be sent off because in the weird world of nuclear strikes, many nuclear weapons were aimed at destroying the enemies nuclear weapons. This was actually extremely dangerous. In 1983 the USSR early warning system twice announced Minutemen ICBMs had taken off, at a time of high Cold War tension. One, and then four, incoming missiles were identified, but the USSR serviceman involved, Stanislav Petrov decided not to respond on the grounds that the United States would send over more missiles in a surprise attack. He trusted his thinking more than the screen. The two warnings proved to be errors. We are all extremely grateful to Stanislav Petrov. Thank you.
Because the counter-attack had to be so quick, for the idea of deterrence to hold, and as the inter-continental missiles, became faster, the response time shortened, and the danger of accidents increased. Then Ronald Reagan solved the problem after watching the “Star Wars” film and with some prompting from high tech arms companies. If the United States could zap incoming missiles, the problem would be solved. A great Strategic Defense Initiative was set up. The Star Wars films cost several hundred million dollars, but the “Star Wars” military programme cost several hundred billion dollars. Sadly, they found that the cost of zapping incoming missiles was far greater than of creating new ones, so the idea of deterrence against the nuclear aggressor was hardly a reliable policy. But then the Cold War ended, and the possibility of pre-emtive strikes disappeared.

16. Demonizing the USSR and Russia.
It is also time we recognized that over a long period of time the USSR, and more recently Russia, has been demonized in order to provide us with the enemy we needed to justify our nuclear weapons. In the 1940s the USSR was frightened of a nuclear attack while the United States carried out atomic tests and ran a Red Scare. Stalin was not engaged in starting the Korean war and tried to stop it. The McCarthy-Nixon era involved intense anti-USSR propaganda. The USSR has frequently asked for full disarmament, and probably meant it. Their role in both World Wars was minimised by the United States and Britain. After all the USSR carried the brunt of the War before the Second Front was opened, and lost 24 million people, while Britain lost half a million. They were our main ally against Hitler. The USSR also had its own propaganda machine, but the role a western capitalist (and militarist) media has played in creating the enemy has been considerable.
A recent example of demonization evidences the point. The West has repeatedly castigated the Crimea’s decision to join the Russian Federation. Why? It was clear that the Crimean Republic’s population in a referendum wanted to join Russia, not Ukraine. The official vote was 97% on an 83% turnout. Those against boycotted the referendum, and the figures seem too overwhelming, but are not to be dismissed out of hand. 60% of Crimean people are ethnic Russians and a UN agency had done repeated polls on the question “Should the Crimea join Russia? 1200 people were polled by the UN Development Programme – a reliable sample and agency.

The results were:
Quarter Yes No Don’t know.
2009Q3 70% 14% 16%
2009Q4 67% 15% 18%
2010Q1 66% 14% 20%
2010Q2 65% 12% 23%
2010Q3 67% 11% 22%
2010Q4 66% 9% 25%
2011Q4 65.5% 14.2% 20.2%

A ratio of 4.6 to one in favour of union with Russia is pretty overwhelming, and since it was mainly the non ethnic Russians who abstained from voting, a referendum vote of over 80% for joining Russia was likely, even though the turnout cannot have been correct. By usual standards, the incorporation of Crimea into Russia was more than justified.
If we recall that the party support for East Germany joining the West in the March 1990 Election was only 48%, the Crimea result seems more than firm. Yet it produced western outrage. Why? Partly, NATO needed the old enemy. It has been without anything to do for two decades and demonizing Russia offers the best hope of giving it a raison d’être. The United States military-industrial complex and the UK Government have developed a similar line, because they, too, need an enemy.

17. Membership of the UN Security Council.
This argument is strange. Some people seem to think that membership of the United Nations Security Council, the Top Table as it is sometimes called, depends on being a nuclear power. This is just not true. There are five permanent members – China, Russia, the UK, the US and France, and two elected members who are usually not nuclear powers. Three of the permanent members were quite automatic appointments in 1945 when they were not nuclear powers and China was appointed after its previous exclusion. Yet there is a problem with the Security Council. Its permanent members control something like 75% of world military expenditure and a similar proportion of its nuclear weapons and arms exports. Those facts alone explain why the UN has done little about arms exports (until the recent Treaty). Sadly, the permanent members, including the UK, are deeply mired in world militarism, and have too often, apart from China, engaged in war.
The UK has been part of this militaristic culture. In a post colonial way it has believed that it should sort things out, but has made a unilateral, with the United States, error of world significance in invading Iraq illegally. This arrogance has not been addressed. It should perhaps result in reparations, punishment in the Hague Court, and resignation from the permanent membership of the Security Council. Yet, far from seeing this culpability the present UK Government is still full of military arrogance and talks about “punching above its weight”, a rather silly contribution to international politics. As part of the change of attitude required giving up our nuclear weapons can be an act of making peace which would be good for the United Nations, and the initiatives of President Obama and Pope Francis.
The deeper issue is that the UN Security Council should not be controlled by those who make arms, are nuclear powers, have high military expenditure and often engage in war and militarisation. This biases the whole organisation of the UN away from peace. The Security Council needs fundamental reform.

18. The Cost of Trident Renewal.
The costs of renewing Trident are difficult to assess. The costs of most large weapons systems escalate once they are so far forward that there is no real turning back. The costs of Trident may be £60bn or twice that at £120bn or more, if it goes ahead. If it does not go ahead we may lose £5bn in development costs already spent. Given the points above, spending say $5 or 10bn a year on a system that will do nothing is a waste. Of course, the real cost is what could be done instead with these funds and these highly trained personnel – engineers, scientists, shipbuilders. There are also other costs – energy use, safety or accident costs, the tendency to lead others to do the same thing. We are daily told we need economies in Government spending. This can be a major one.

19. Destruction versus Construction.
It does not take much thought to see that all commitments to nuclear weapons are for the world’s most destructive enterprise. The costs in terms of health, land and property lost, deaths, cancers associated with these weapons is vast. Yet, we have been inveigled by the nuclear weapons industries into a commitment to them. The benefits of not backing this destructive direction, but working out how these resources could be used constructively in housing, relief, welfare, education and other areas are obvious, just as Germany and Japan found after WWII that not having a military was of enormous benefit to their economies. This decision offers us the chance to go for construction, rather than perpetual waste, or even massive destruction.

20. A crowded inter-trading, migrating world makes this old nationalist idea of Defence hopelessly dated.
The citadel model of nuclear defence is hopelessly out of touch idea with the world we live in. We are enormously interdependent. National populations are found all over the world. States have a multitude of agreements. The United Kingdom’s links with all the nuclear powers, except dear old North Korea with an economy half the size of Lancashire, are strong and necessary. Why retain and try to justify this old nationalistic idea of nuclear defence? It makes no sense.

21. Domestic Nuclear Weapons can be dangerous.
Nuclear weapons are dangerous at a number of levels. Fall-out from tests has caused millions of deaths, a big proportion from breast cancer. Accidents have happened regularly, including one case in January 1961 where two hydrogen bombs were dropped in North Carolina. Four of the five firing devices on one bomb were triggered and the signal actually went to the core of the bomb. The fifth device held. The records since 1990 contain no serious incident. But a mistake will normally occur and cause serious domestic damage. In May, 2015 a whistleblower, William McNeilly, reported a series of serious security failures which were dismissed by the Secretary of Defence.
Big dangers surround political crises, weak and military leaders, international misunderstandings, terrorist incidents and political grandstanding. As well as our domestic accident possibility, we need to take account of the world-wide dangers of failing to undertake the multilateral nuclear disarmament President Obama is suggesting. We will probably not see the problem until it occurs.

22. The Myth of the Automatic Progression of High Tech. Weapons.
For much of a century we have operated on a modernising understanding of weapons. It is assumed that higher tech weapons will win wars and keep peace. Actually, because the arms manufacturers have been able to keep both propositions going, they have sold weapons to most states and profited from lots of wars when this understanding has failed. Yet the technological march has gone on faster – battleships, tanks, bigger guns, bigger bombs, faster and bigger planes, aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, radar, chemical weapons, atomic and nuclear bombs, missiles, star wars and so on. The list has all kinds of high tech spin off and developments. Yet, with the arrival of nuclear weapons and the level of destruction they involve, higher tech. weaponry lost its meaning, because no higher level destruction was possible. It was world destruction.
Yet, since 9/11 the direction of weaponry has changed. The 9/11event was carried out with primitive weaponry and terrorism operates on mobility, invisibility, the proliferation of cheap and captured weapons, and on attacking complex social, economic or technical targets. That is a world-wide trend. Much conflict, difficult to stop is centred on small arms. So the high tec. understanding of which nuclear weapons are part may not be and even is not where defence should now be.

23. Nuclear Weapons are irrelevant to Terrorism.
The dominant threat in the West this century is understood to be from terrorism. It can safely be said that nuclear weapons are irrelevant to addressing it. Terrorists operate among populations, clandestinely and on a scale which makes nuclear weapons entirely inappropriate. It seems an entirely sound conclusion that our possession of nuclear weapons will not address the terrorism that is presently creating chaos in the Middle East and has penetrated Europe. Of course, terrorists need to be prevented from getting near nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, but that, too, is not a matter of us having the weapons as a “deterrent”

24. The Nuclear Threat is empty.
The nuclear “deterrent” is, of course, useless unless it will be used. The decision is political, not military, and lies with the Prime Minister of the day. To send off these weapons, vastly more powerful than the mere atomic bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is wrong. A wrong does not justify a wrong. Millions of deaths should never be done. That is why we cannot name a target; it would be obscene to do so.The charade whereby we pretend that we would use them in order to make them a valid weapon is empty. The Emperor has no clothes. That is the personal and political reality and it makes this vast military enterprise a show, a cardboard box, a pretense foisted on the public. We were better close it down.
In a democratic system, governments meet arguments, and these and other arguments need addressing. If they are unmet, Trident should close down. We do not make peace by promoting the most dangerous of weapons.