COMMENT by Vic Jones

War Abolished — it's Official!

The ease with which we seem to slide into war nowadays is — Stop! Don’t use that word! It’s not war. It’s Defensive-Action-to-Keep-the-Peace-by-the-International-Community; and, as is generally known, the International Community consists of just two people: Robin Cook and Madeleine Albright. Robin, of course, is the Pentagon’s official representative in London, and therefore always ready when asked to go round, say, the Gulf whipping up war-fever — that is, Defensive-Action-to-Keep-the-Peace-fever.

War was officially abolished when the Ministry of War (idiots! had they no PR men?) changed its name to the Ministry of Defence. So no more war from then on. At last, the peaceful world we’d always longed for; and all so easily achieved — merely by a slight change in the letter-heading on official documents.

Japanese geologists are trying to find means of prophesying earthquakes from rumblings in the sub-soil. Fortunately, the means for prophesying war already exists — I mean, prophesying Defensive-Action-to-Keep-the-Peace-by-the-International-Community. When the people of Iraq, Libya, Yugoslavia, Sudan, etc., etc., detect rumblings coming from the sub-soil of the White House as a harassed President wallows around trying to deflect attention from his latest bout of blow-jobbery, they head for the deep shelters. And if the news comes through that Tony Blair has collapsed in a fit of religious ecstasy before an altar exalting the God of Peace and Love, they really start panicking. Because they know that although Tony daren’t attempt anything on his own, the lad’s getting himself ethically primed for orders from Washington to send in his Harrier jets.

But let us never forget that although the International Community is ready any day of the week, any week of the year, and any year of the century, to dispatch its fighter-bombers, Tomahawk missiles or smart air-raid-shelter-seeking bombs, it is also prepared afterwards to make decent and civilised apologies for any women, children and babies that its peace-keeping may accidentally have massacred. (Just three hundred or so last time, in one particular shelter in Baghdad. With non-Christian peace-keeping forces involved, it could well have been more, after all — remember that.)

But what a great improvement on the times when they used to have wars, when women, children and babies were incidentally massacred and no-one had the grace to direct a single darned apology towards their smoking corpses. It makes one really want to vomit to think back on those old days of barbarism, doesn’t it? Thank God we’ve now got men like Bill and Tony to lead us.

A Message from William Peden, CND Parliamentary Officer

Congratulations to everyone!

In the Supporting Essays to the Strategic Defence Review the one on nuclear weapons opens by saying:

“Deterrence, arms control and proliferation are critically important to Britain’s security. All three issues have sometimes inspired heated public debate and they have been the subject of many of the submissions made to the Strategic Defence Review and a major focus of the Review itself.”

Whilst you may find it hard to believe, judging by the outcome of the review, CND obviously has had an impact through its campaigning and all the work you have put in from before the General Election to date.

It is clear to me that having to put that opening statement into SDR, as well as page upon page of justification for a nuclear weapons policy that will forever remain unjustifiable and in places reads like something out of Grimm’s fairy tales, displays that we are having an effect.

Reprinted from Lobby, Parliamentary Newsletter of CND. Please let us know if you would like to receive Lobby regularly: it is an excellent source of background information for letter-writing.

REMINDER The Nuclear Legacy: the Environmental Impact

Talk by physicist Eddy Taylor

Please publicise this event as widely as possible and come along to support our visiting speaker for what promises to be a most fascinating evening.

Lobbying our M.P.

Roger Casale received two anti-nuclear delegations during the week of local lobbying (19th−23rd October) organised nationally by Abolition 2000, the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, Christian CND, Pax Christi and Quaker Peace & Service, and endorsed by the Churches Peace Forum of the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland. The twin themes of the lobby were to call upon the Governement to

Alison Williams led a group from the Wimbledon Churches (representatives of Wimbledon Quaker Meeting, Trinity United Reform Church and Sacred Heart Church).

They opened by speaking of the concern of the Churches about the proliferation of nuclear weapons — quoting in particular from statements made by the Catholic Church. They then listed some of their specific concerns about Trident — its superior destructive capacity compared to Polaris, and the suggestion that its nuclear weapons might be used in a sub-strategic rôle “to protect our vital interests”.

Alison gave Roger Casale the text of the 1997 Malaysian Resolution to the United Nations (endorsing the World Court Opinion and calling for multilateral negotiations) which Britain had failed to support. Roger said that he would write to Tony Blair forwarding the delegation’s request that the UK government vote in favour of the next resolution at the UN endorsing the World Court ruling, and would also write to the Minister of Defence with the delegation’s request that the sub-strategic rôle of Trident be written out of the Strategic Defence Review. He would try to attend at least part of the forthcoming Defence Estimates debate, and would speak if possible (i.e. if called).

Report on Meeting Roger Casale M.P.

Barbara and Muriel met Roger Casale to discuss the Strategic Defence Review on behalf of WDC/CND. Alison and Ann had seen him two days previously on the same subject, so we did not cover the same ground — particularly the rôle of Trident, although we did stress that the annual running cost of Trident could be more usefully spent on Health and Education.

We were anxious to find out what the government would do, in view of its commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons. Roger promised to write to Robin Cook to ask what steps the government will take to get the process started. We look forward to the reply as we felt this was the most important part of the interview and are determined to pursue this.

He suggested that our local CND group should be involved with other groups (Oxfam, Amnesty, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth) in a Civic Forum to discuss ways to make the world a safer place.

We also drew his attention to a body called the “New Agenda Coalition” which was launched in June 1998 in Dublin. A joint declaration by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, Brazil, Egypt, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia, South Africa and Sweden put forward 18 points which he asked us to list for him (to save him reading!)

Among the points made were

The full list will be sent to him along with this newsletter.

We found the interview very useful and positive and look forward to further meetings.

Muriel Wood

The Hague Appeal For Peace

a commemorative event to mark the centenary of the first International Peace Conference at the Hague

We had a very productive planning meeting on October 13th. As a first step we are contacting as many of the local humanitarian, environmental, religious and multicultural organisations as we can to gain as wide a base of support as possible for some sort of Merton Hague Appeal Event next May, to coincide with the events in the Hague. We then hope to set up a joint planning committee. Please contact Joanna (543-0362) if you have links with any organisation which you think might like to be associated with this initiative.

International Peace Bureau; Day Conference on the Hague Appeal for Peace

Sunday November 8th 1998

Vaughan House, 46 Francis Street, Westminster, London SW1 from 10·00 to 17·00. Registration, coffee and papers from 9·30. An inexpensive vegetarian lunch will be available.

Cora Weiss, President of the Hague Appeal for Peace, will introduce the Hague Appeal and its four central themes.

Jonathan Schell, US author of The Fate of the Earth, The Abolition, and The Gift of Time will speak on “Abolishing Weapons, Abolishing War” followed by questions and general debate on the issues.

There will then be detailed presentations of plans and arrangements for the Conference and campaign, and reports from working groups chaired by Maj-Britt Theorin, IPB President. There is no registration fee for this day but please let Joanna know if you are interested [543-0362] so that the organisers can arrange seating and calculate numbers for lunch.

An Invitation to Meet Jonathan Schell

Jonathan Schell is one of the United States’ leading politicians and journalists. As a staff writer on the New Yorker, he covered the Vietnam war extensively. He has taught at Harvard, Princeton and New York University.

He will be speaking and signing his new book, The Gift of Time: The Case for Abolishing Nuclear Weapons Now at the Quaker Meeting House, 52 St Martin’s Lane, London, on Thursday 12th November 1998 at 6·30pm. Free tickets (including refreshments) are available from Abolition 2000 UK, 88 Islington High Street, London N1 8EG. (Telephone 0171-354-9911).

Jonathan Schell’s tour is organised by Abolition 2000 UK, Granta Books and the World Court Project.

Abolition 2000: Mailing to Councillors

In the October Newsletter we reproduced the letter sent to all Wimbledon councillors inviting them individually to endorse the Abolition 2000 statement:

“To achieve by the year 2000 a signed agreement committing the world to the permanent elimination of nuclear weapons according to a fixed timetable.”

We have received endorsement from Councillors Paton, Manion, White, Child, Carter, Harris, Bampton, Pickover, Karim, Willott and Guy, and letters from Conservative councillors D.T.Williams and R.Harwood explaining why they declined to sign. This is a reasonably encouraging initial response but it still leaves 15 stamped addressed envelopes gathering dust somewhere, so if you live in Wimbledon and have contact with your local ward councillor, please politely raise the issue!

Homes wanted for baby guinea-pigs

Contact Joanna on 543-0362

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