Submission from Kingston Peace Council,
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)
We are a voluntary body of like-minded citizens
campaigning against nuclear weapons and for disarmament and the
peaceful resolution of dispute and conflict, fairness and justice.
We believe that in important respects peace and security are synonymous.
To attempt to build an impregnable "fire-wall" of military
capability to try to secure Britain's defence is a vain hope.
We see proliferation as a threat to world peace and reject any
notion that increased weaponry equates to increased security.
We believe a long-term ambition should be the cultivation of good
relations world-wide which is most likely to meet our security
This written submission is our response to apparent
contradictions in government pronouncements and policy.
The Cabinet Office Paper, (P10), asserts: "we
are more secure than at most times in our history." We
believe that is not borne out by the evidence of concrete barricades
around Westminster, armed guards and other measures recently introduced
nation-wide. Were the situation as secure as it formerly was,
these measures would not have been thought necessary.
We believe that government policy of attacking
sovereign nations, without good reason, who pose no threat whatever
to our national security, and causing death on a massive scale,
particularly of innocent civilians, has had the effect of alienating
people at home and abroad. It may have spurred some Britons to
seek protest options outside the parameters of normal peaceful
protest or the political processes. We believe that government
action may have significant responsibility for the importation
of radical ideas and terrorism, and is a hindrance to the promotion
of peace and security at home and abroad.
4. CHANGED GOVERNMENT
It is true that British governments past and
present have adopted policies that have, because of the inequitable
treatment of other states and their populations, caused antagonisms.
A wiser course in future would be to try to repair the damage
and establish a new British strategy that promotes the achievement
of good relations globally, through ethical foreign policy. We
believe that true security can only be achieved through good international
relations, fairness in our dealings with other states, and trust
engendered by examples of ethical practice.
It is to our shame that Britain, together with
allies like the US, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, encouraged fanatical
indoctrination and funded, armed and trained, "fanatical
holy warriors" amongst the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan and
the tribal areas of Pakistan. These "fanatical holy warriors"
were the founders of a dynasty of fanatics who nurtured the reactionary
international terrorist wave which now proves so costly and difficult
to counter and guard against; and which has poisoned international
6. THE "WAR
Considered defensive action is a natural and
sensible response to terrorist outrages but it isn't possible
to bomb an idea to extinction. The perpetrators don't fear death:
they welcome martyrdom. Some are persuaded that terrorist acts
are justified partly by the actions and behaviour of their victims.
"Heavy" military response causing innocent deaths and
civilian destruction gives succour to attitudes prejudicial to
western values. Action should aim to separate fanatics from potential
7. EMPHASIS ON
Britain invests heavily in increased security
and in measures which have the effect of restricting the freedoms
of the population at large. In policing and security services
there is an emphasis on targeted scrutiny of individuals thought
to be of Muslim conviction, and their communities. This has the
potential to poison relations with followers of classical Islam
and counters a natural trend towards harmony and integration with
wider British society. Therefore this is a negative policy if
the aim is for increased understanding, communication, and participation
in the apparatus of British society
8. WEAPONS ARE
We agree with the Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP, Home
Secretary, that the carrying of weapons by teenagers makes them
and everyone else less safe. It increases the risk of death or
serious injury from their use. However, we see a contradiction
between the admonition of teenagers and government decisions to
renew the Trident fleet and increase our "conventional"
armaments significantly; particularly Typhoon fast jets, Type
45 destroyers, two new aircraft carriers, their support vessels
and aircraft. Coupled with aggressive government policy, increasing
our armaments further is escalation, with a predictable tendency
to promote proliferation and counter-escalation.
9. BRITAIN ONE
EXPORTERSBritain is one of the
top arms exporters, achieved, in no small part, as a result of
government promoting and facilitating arms sales. Government ministers
at the highest level have used, some might say abused, diplomatic
opportunities to promote British arms in discussion with heads
of governments; and massive sales are underwritten by taxpayer-funded
guarantees. We also believe that government fiscal policies have
the effect of favouring arms manufacture by various means, using
taxpayer money. Other manufacturers can only dream of such advantages:
manufacturing generally is in decline. Government promotion of
British arms sales is effectively promoting global proliferation,
and a reputation for selling to both sides in a conflict damages
Britain's image abroad.
10. SKILLS AND
There are genuine skills shortages in the UK
which need to be addressed, whilst it is argued that the arms
trade supports skills. Were that the case, the arms trade would
be responsible for draining skills away from where they are needed.
However, much of what is exported uses imported components manufactured
overseas, which effectively supports those skilled jobs in the
places of manufacture. The "skills" argument looks questionable.
We believe that the prominence of the arms industry has the effect
of diverting investment and scientific research away from more
socially productive areas of the economy.
Increasing our armaments if we are truly "more
secure than at most times in our history" is contradictory
and inconsistent. Security is the result of not feeling threatened,
and in such circumstances there would be no pressure to increase
British armaments. This fundamental flaw in the argument in the
National Security Strategy needs answering. We believe it would
be more productive to increase investment in the Ministry of Defence
Section researching non-violent conflict resolution than to increase
arms spending and trigger further proliferation.
DISHONOURING NNPT PROMOTES
The indications are that government is willfully
disregarding the spirit and letter of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty. Signatories are pledged "to pursue in good faith
leading to nuclear disarmament
" The decision
to renew Trident, the massive expansion of facilities at Aldermaston,
and the clearly stated objective of retaining nuclear weapons
for a further 50 years, are not consistent with negotiating
disarmament in good faith. The retention and updating of our nuclear
weapons increases the sense of threat and is a spur to proliferation.
We are dismayed at the apparently high-handed
attitude, particularly of Britain and allies, in by-passing the
UN to avoid a vote which was thought would not favour an immediate
invasion of Iraq. It is more concerning that some declared that
the Iraq invasion was "doing the work of the UN", based
on an assumption that the UN should have sanctioned the invasion.
Effectively this was a snub to the authority of the UN, which
had sanctioned the gathering of evidence before deciding upon
military or other action. The UN was created "to save succeeding
generations from the scourge of war". It thus provides, for
us all, a shield of protection from arbitrary attack by other
nations, provided its authority is respected. Disrespecting the
UN by attacking the sovereign state of Iraq, contrary to international
law, was foolhardy and, in so far as UN authority is diminished,
it exposes us all to an inferior security status. The National
Security Strategy says: "In an increasingly interdependent
world we cannot opt out of overseas engagement". We agree;
with the caveat that it must be done in step with the UN and the
rest of the world.
14. NEED FOR
The UN has not moved with the times and changing
global politics. It is disproportionately influenced by former
WWII axis powers and needs reforming. A positive lead by Britain
would assist in securing greater security for the future.
15. GEORGIA AND
We were dismayed at the conflict in Georgia
and, despite it being predicted months earlier when troops were
massing around Ossetia, none of the NATO allies made effective
efforts to dissuade Georgia from invading. This triggered confrontation
with Russia and inevitable Georgian defeat and humiliation. It
might be thought that the Georgians could have felt encouraged
by NATO allies to "send in the tanks"a "Stalinist
tactic" used against dissenters in the USSR. Ossetians overwhelmingly
voted to remain in the Russian orbit and sending in tanks wins
neither affection nor allegiance. British government castigated
Russia for not respecting sovereign territory (Britain invaded
the sovereign territory of Iraq in 2003) whereas we believe a
more reasonable attitude would have been to criticise both sides.
16. RUSSIA AND
We believe that Russia is understandably unhappy
at the prospects of the continuing march of NATO weaponry eastwards.
The aim appears to be to station weapons and equipment in territory
adjacent to the borders of the Russian Federation. To do so whilst
professing "friendship" with Russia seems an odd contradiction.
An alternative interpretation could be that some NATO allies are
manipulating our defense treaties and leading us all towards an
unwelcome confrontation with Russia. If true, this would inevitably
lead to further proliferation.
Britain has some responsibility for the present
conflict, having been present at the birth of Israel. The conflict
is a running sore that poisons relations around the world. Clearly
the Palestinians are the "under-dogs". It would be good
for the security of Britain and the world to secure a fair and
18. FUTURE POLICY
Wide consultation over the innovatory policy
of "wars of choice", like the violent invasion of Iraq
in pursuit of non-existent WMDs, is needed. There was a palpable
lack of political commitment to the interests of civilian life
when Iraq was occupied. Increased reliance on technological warfare
has caused significant levels of death and injury to local populations
(collateral damage). Morally indefensible, this is a source of
potential conflict escalation. Recently the balance of policy
has favoured military aggression over defence and peace-keeping,
and the change is too important to be allowed to become policy
by default. British forces have earned an above average reputation
for peace-keeping and crisis support which is eclipsed by aggressive
military policy. Excessive emphasis on militarisation will tend
to promote proliferation. Budgets and personnel are stretched
and debate is essential.
A. We believe there are good prospects for peace
and security, but find contradictions between what government
claims and professes, and the evidence of practice.
B. We believe there is need to face up to previous
errors of judgement and historical events which have left Britain
seriously compromised, and which have resulted in untold deaths
and casualties, bringing inevitable resentment and distrust in
C. There is urgent need to reject an aggressive
and hostile posture and look towards positive policies and practices
aimed at harmony, fairness and justice.
D. Abiding by our pledge to work towards disarmament
would be a useful start.
E. It is unfortunate that we were instrumental
in arousing fanaticism that has given birth to international terrorism.
It will have to be endured for some time. We should be aware that
some actions are provocative and should be avoided wherever practicable.
F. Military aggression and subversion in sovereign
states around the world should be relegated to the dustbin of
G. At home we should be aware that aggressive
policy abroad generates divisiveness in Britain amongst our multi-cultural
H. Better considered relationships overseas are
in the long-term interests of Britain and Britons, and are most
likely to ensure that we are more secure than we have ever been.
I. In the 21st century world we cannot afford
to be "in the pocket" of one superpower, particularly
one that has an unfortunate reputation for causing trouble and
dissent, which is widely distrusted, and which seems intent upon
following an "America First" policy widely annunciated
by many close to power in Washington.
J. The world belongs to its peoples, not to a
K. We believe that we have an important role
in the world as an integrated part of Europe.
L. There are, and will be in future, important
centres of power with which, logic and self-interest dictate,
we need to ensure we enjoy good relations for the future.
M. Our relations with China, Russia and India,
to name but a few, will be of the greatest importance for the
N. Peace and security are as much about not antagonizing
other members of the family of nations as they are about our ability
to confront, neutralise and contain threats.
O. Maintaining a position of neutrality, mutual
respect and friendship with as wide a circle of nations as possible
is most likely to ensure the security and prosperity of Britain
for the future.
P. History is one useful point of reference when
contemplating the future, but present and future strategy can
be seriously distorted by excessive focus on the events of WWII.
Q. As an example of archaic obsession we remind
the Committee of the then Prime Minister's exhortation, when garnering
support for his Iraq war plans, not to forget the "appeasement
R. The National Security Strategy says there
is need "to tackle security challenges early", and to
identify "the causes of violent extremism". Useful lessons
from history have often been overlooked, like the fact that every
conflict has a preceding history of discontent which could be
addressed in a spirit of conflict avoidancenot a desire
S. The world continually moves on and it is vital
that our policies and practices reflect the realities of present
and future circumstances if the security and prosperity of Britain
is to be assured, and our status in the family of nations is to
command respect and trust.
T. The United Nations is the vehicle for promoting
trust, harmony and peace. It urgently needs reform to reflect
21st century reality and needs. It is unfortunate that some recent
events have devalued its image which can yet be restored by the
concerted effort of nations to effect necessary changes. This
is an important aspect of security for Britain and the world which
we neglect to our cost.
U. Proliferation is the inevitable consequence
of individual nations "ratcheting up" their military
capability and triggering increases elsewhere. It is illogical
to complain about proliferation whilst increasing spending on
weapons. It is not possible to isolate proliferation from the
philosophy and attitudes that lead to remorselessly increasing
spending on weapons.
V. We believe that the above prospectus offers
a sound basis for improving and securing peace and security for
Britain and Britons for the future.
We believe the way forward is to open up discussion
of the issues above with the people who are the ultimate beneficiaries
of the consequences of government policythe people of Britain.
25 September 2008