COMMENT by Edwin Cluer

Peace – impossible?

Well, I would agree it is not easy. I would like to share something I have experienced through practising the guitar. I wanted to be able to do a particular part of a tune I’ve created, which was rather difficult: a combination of changing rhythm and moving from one string to another, three different rhythms like turbulent water in a river that turns your boat upside down; and coming out of the difficult bit as if it was no problem — a smooth ride!

So, I practised every day and kept trying: most musicians would have become bored and given up after a couple of months. I told myself “I’m not going to be defeated by this!” I persisted and kept trying, but after about 9 months I thought it wasn’t possible, “I don’t think I can do it”, I thought. However, I kept at it, and within less than another 3 months I was beginning to be able to do it! Wow!

Now, years later, I have been able to play this little bit of a piece of music better than I ever dreamed was possible — and I mess it up for reasons other than I can’t do it!

So, there’s a lesson from the guitar for peace campaigning — keep at it, keep trying no matter how hard it seems — keep on trying — harder.

Responding to the unique challenge of nuclear weapons

At the Parliament of World Religions ( in Toronto in November 2018 they adopted a resolution making a passionate plea to all world leaders (irrespective of whether they currently have nuclear weapons or not) to commit themselves to eliminating them forever.

The statement supporting such a resolution stressed that very few individuals actually have power over such weapons and that such power can destroy all life on our planet. The statement continued that no one should hold such power.

It went on critiquing not only their excessive expense but all the wrongness of their holders demonising other persons and nations in attempting to convince their populations that possession of nuclear weapons is not only needed but morally right. The following statistic was quoted; if only 1% of the world’s nuclear arsenal was used, the tonnage of soot entering the stratosphere would render it impossible to have enough agriculture on the planet to support human life.

The security and deterrence arguments were demolished as the statement continued that the right for some to have security surely cannot outweigh the right to exist for all.

The statement concluded by calling on all nuclear powers to ‘change their conduct’ and the whole thrust of the statement was that nations may technically ‘hold’ the weapons but the decisions about them are made by humans who are all capable of making moral decisions.

A full copy of the statement is available from

William Rhind

Doomsday Clock still two minutes to midnight

On the 24th January 2019, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that the Doomsday Clock is still two minutes to midnight. This was CND’s response:

“With President Trump’s expected announcement next week that the US will withdraw from the INF treaty, it sadly comes as no surprise that the Doomsday clock is still very close to midnight.

“The landmark INF treaty saw the elimination of nearly 3000 nuclear weapons and if it is scrapped there is a danger we will see the return of US nuclear missiles here in Britain. Tearing up the treaty threatens to ramp up the arms race between the US and Russia, with Britain caught in the crossfire.

“The British government should immediately make clear that it will refuse to host US missiles if the treaty is scrapped. The response we’ve received so far from the government has not been particularly encouraging. We must make clear it would not be tolerated.

“The arrival of American Tomahawk Cruise missiles in Britain in the 1980s inspired a mass movement to rise up to resist moves to nuclear war. It’s crucial that we now rise again.”

Write to the Foreign Secretary or email him: Rt. Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs, House of Commons, SW1A OAA or

Trump’s Finger on the Nuclear Button

We have every reason to feel anxious about the current US President having the mindset and the power to order the use of nuclear weapons. London CND’s conference on 12th January addressed the challenges for the peace movement under three main headings: “Changing Contours of International Politics”, “Trashing the Treaties” and “Think Global, Act Local”. This report will focus on what related directly to nuclear disarmament.

The Nuclear Posture Review, conducted by American Department of Defence, reports the policy-thinking of the US military with Trump as their Commander in Chief. Overall, as Catherine West MP said, there is a very disturbing shift from Disarmament to ‘Tailored Deterrence’. On the assumption that having only high-yield warheads might not deter an adversary who assumes they would never be used, the US will develop low-yield ones: that is, only slightly bigger than those that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The review not only maintains US rejection of a ‘no first use’ policy but lowers the threshold of the context for use: nuclear weapons could be used in response to ”significant non-nuclear strategic attacks”. And where the Obama administration decided to retire America’s sea-based cruise missiles, this review proposes to develop a new range of sea- and air-launched cruise missiles to provide additional flexibility and diversity in nuclear response options, in addition to a low-yield version of the Trident D5 warhead as used by Britain’s nuclear submarines.

No exact cost estimate is given, just an approximation that even the highest projections amount to no more than 6·4% of the defence budget ($639 billion). Obama’s previous nuclear programme was estimated by the Congressional Budgetary Office at $400 billion over a ten year period.

Regarding the US position on international treaties, the key points of the review are entirely negative. No ratification of the Test Ban treaty, outright hostility to the 2017 Ban Treaty, which it characterises as having “wholly unrealistic expectations”, and withdrawal from the INF treaty (see below). The apparent objective is to develop ‘usable’ nuclear missiles so as to frighten Russia into complying with the INF.

Alison Williams

Save the INF Treaty or Risk an All-out Nuclear Arms Race

Unless appropriate action is taken urgently, there is every chance that America will begin the process of withdrawal from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) with dangerously unpredictable consequences. This was the message of Rebecca Johnson’s contribution to the London CND conference and it is clearly spelled out in her submission to the current inquiry of the House of Commons Defence Committee.

The treaty was signed by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987, the first prohibition treaty to follow the Non-Proliferation Treaty/NPT (1970). It limits the size and range of missiles which could be deployed in Europe and remains vital for European security and defence; allowing it to collapse would set a disturbing precedent, eroding international rules-based institutions and norms. Both the Americans and the Russians have accused each other of treaty violations in recent years and last October Trump upped the ante by announcing the intention to withdraw. In November the Defence Committee decided to undertake an inquiry on what the implications might be for UK defence.

Rebecca says all allegations of noncompliance should be investigated by the mechanism in the treaty, the Special Verification Commission, which would require American suspension of its intention to withdraw. And she proposes two possible approaches for a way forward, both of which involve extending the treaty beyond its regional scope.

The treaty as a whole could be multilateralised. This would offer benefits to the two original parties but as neither is likely to promote it under current leaderships the initiative could be taken by US allies. Alternatively, Russia and all NATO countries could be encouraged to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (the Ban Treaty) signed in July 2017. Moves in either direction could open avenues for confidence-building and dialogue to strengthen and maintain the INF’s prohibition regime.

A strong theme of the London CND conference was the need to inspire and engage young people.

“Another world is possible!”

Alison Williams

An Evening in Appreciation of Joanna Bazley

On Friday 30th November 2018 about 100 people crammed into the William Morris Hall for an evening of words and music to remember the life of Joanna and all the work that she had done for the peace movement both locally and nationally. She had not wanted a funeral but the organising committee of WDC/CND wanted to mark her passing and celebrate her life.

Rodney Kay-Kreizman played the violin as people gathered and, after Ruth Crabb welcomed everybody, the U3A recorder group that had met at Joanna’s house for several years played an Eriskay Love Lilt. Then two of the Bromley Poets, Anne Garrett and Richard Hart, read some of their poems and Joanna’s daughter Harriet sang a medley from The Merry Widow accompanied by Geoff Lambert.

Bruce Kent had travelled down from Finsbury Park to give the tribute for Joanna, and spoke not only of the contribution that she had made to the Peace Movement but also the work of other women of note. Two more poems, “Scatter White Poppies” [see below] and “Meditation” were read by Zulema Dene and Jay Ungar. Lynn Cook played the violin with Geoff Lambert once again on the piano and Alison Williams organised a moment of quiet reflection on Joanna’s life.

Sue Jones had put together a photo montage of Joanna at various peace group activities. This has been at the Quaker Meeting House in Wimbledon and will now hopefully be exhibited at Merton Library.

Maisie Carter thanked everybody for coming. She explained that the group had decided to donate £1,500 to national CND in memory of Joanna and asked the assembled company to help make this up to £2,000. The final total was a fantastic £2,310.

It was lovely to see so many people come together to celebrate Joanna’s life. She is going to be sorely missed by many groups locally and has left an enormous hole in WDC/CND, not least her weekly presence at the vigil on Friday evenings.

Ruth Crabb

The Editor of the Musicians for Peace and Disarmament (MPD) Newsletter (Spring 2019) wrote the following tribute to Joanna :

“I wish to honour the memory of Joanna Bazley who was MPD Newsletter’s first permanent reviewer. She was an eloquent writer of exceptional musical knowledge and sensitivity. She was also reliable and always got her column in even before the deadline: an editor’s dream. She was easy to become fond of, and I did.”

Peace Table Report Saturday 12 January 2019

We are indebted to Gill McCall and Dave Johnson for setting up and dismantling the Peace Table. Also present were Edwin Cluer, Maisie Carter and Kate Wood. Gill writes:

We had some very useful conversations, plus a donation, and several people interested in when we have meetings. Several people recognise the group from the Friday Vigil — a good reason to carry it on. Some people asked about Joanna and about Bruce Kent.

We got some petition signatures and a list of “Songs you associate with Peace”, including Imagine (John Lennon), the most popular; Blowin‘ in the wind (Bob Dylan); We’ll Meet Again (Vera Lynn); H-Bomb’s thunder; Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem; Down by the Riverside and Give Peace a Chance. Overall, it was a good exercise and people really engaged with it.

The cold and gusty weather forced me to modify some aspects of the stall decoration for future events, but we set up and packed up in 20–30 minutes! Please join us for the next Peace Table on Saturday 2nd February, 11am–12·30.

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