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BBC BIAS

gaza ceasefire demonstration, London 17 February 2024
gaza ceasefire demonstration, London 17 February 2024

BBC bias is misplaced.

It is all too clear that the BBC supports the government and Labour Party in their unwavering support for the Israeli government’s actions. The Israeli Government has destroyed, for years to come, the wellbeing of 2.2 million people in Gaza. Most people will be aware of the extent of the crimes against humanity committed by the Israeli government, and of course the much lesser crimes of Hamas.

The bias of the BBC is evident in the way it marginalises and trivialises dissent from government policy.

This Saturday, 17th  February,  about 250,000 protesters marched in London calling for an end to the daily massacres in Gaza.

The BBC gave the event two sentences in its R4 six o’clock news bulletin that day. It said that tens of thousands of people had protested in London and 12 people had been arrested. So the message conveyed was of the trouble the demonstration caused. The demonstration was described as “pro-Palestinian”.

This reporting obscured the fact that what brought people onto the streets was their call for an end to the daily massacres by Israeli forces in Gaza. The arrests were an absolutely miniscule feature of the demonstration. To mention them was to associate lawlessness  with a moral protest about ongoing crimes against humanity, potentially the greatest war crimes of the century. These crimes have been condemned by people and governments around the world.  

There was also important context which the BBC failed to mention. That is that the protest was part of a worldwide day of protest with major demonstrations in over a hundred cities. Also that this was the 9th major demonstration in London and that thousands of smaller similar calls for an end to the bombardment of Gaza had been taking place in towns around the country for several months.

So the protest was not an isolated troublesome event as suggested by the BBC deserving a few seconds of coverage, but a significant expression of moral outrage shared by millions of people around Britain and the world. The many listeners who have not been following the news closely will have been given false impressions.

Failure of duty to bring understanding to the public 
If the BBC and other media organisations had drawn attention to the involvement of the British and American governments in October and their ability to cut off the supply of weapons and logistical support then the destruction and suffering might have been ended months ago.

In the end a ceasefire will have to happen. The terrible crime has been committed.

The calls for an earlier ceasefire failed, in part because the BBC, and much of the rest of British media, sided with the war criminals. Yes, I know the media have kept us substantially informed of what was going on. Nevertheless, the silence of the media on key aspects has made them complicit in crimes against humanity.

Failure to interpret statements intelligently and morally
The media should be able to distinguish right from wrong, and criminals and aggressors from victims. They should also not fall into the trap of repeating aggressors’ propaganda and of accepting and repeating propagandists’ accounts of their aims when reality tells a different story. They should be biased in favour of international law and humanity without slipping into a pretence of legalistic uncertainties.

Gaza homes destroyed

The homes of over a million people in Gaza have been destroyed.

See my other posts on the destruction of the people of Gaza 2023/2024

Comparative terrorism

Who says this is genocide?

World demands a ceasefire (but not UK or USA)

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Poem – This is war

Gaza homes destroyed
Gaza homes destroyed

This is war

What is war?
In the human psyche
it is the fatal flaw,
a perversion of the human mind
turning the morally sighted
morally blind.

War is
the profoundest disrespect
for the sanctity of human life,
the ultimate in racism
and malevolent discrimination.

War is the realm
of the psychopathic leader,
paranoia and collective insanity
the practised liar,
the organiser of public deception.

War means
the derision of dissent,
the sidelining and silencing of dissent,
the corruption of the media.

The makers of arms,
the puppet-masters
triumph,
war’s only winners.
Unchallenged,
obscure,
they rejoice in secret.

Politicians smooth-talk
the planned propaganda line
every time,
glib answers from unruffled
plausible men,
apparently educated,
apparently intelligent,
justifying the destruction of humanity
as an unfortunate necessity
or an act of self-defence.

War is cruelty, horror, pain, suffering,
destruction and monstrous theft,
a negation of civilisation,
the ultimate in criminality,
the ultimate obscenity,
the ultimate crime against humanity,

a self-defeating
leap into the abyss.

David Roberts
2015
Revised 2024

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World Demands a Ceasefire

UN Gen Assembly votes for ceasefire
UN Gen Assembly votes for ceasefire

The vote in the UN General Assembly 12 December 2023

Most of the world calls for an end to the bombing and fighting in Gaza

Texts from the UN website

UN General Assembly votes by large majority for immediate humanitarian ceasefire

The resolution stated

Expressing grave concern over the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and the suffering of the Palestinian civilian population, and emphasizing that the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law,
1. Demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire;
2. Reiterates its demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians;
3. Demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, as well as ensuring humanitarian access;
—————————-
The UN General Assembly met on Tuesday afternoon in Emergency Special Session on the decades long Israel-Palestine conflict and as the ongoing crisis in Gaza shows no signs of abating.  
Member States adopted a resolution, demanding an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire”, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages and well as “ensuring humanitarian access”.
• It passed with a large majority of 153 in favour and 10 against, with 23 abstentions
• The resolution also reiterated the General Assembly’s demand that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, “notably with regard to the protection of civilians”
The vote on the main resolution is as follows:
For: 153
Against: 10
Abstaining: 23
The resolution has passed by a large majority, securing the needed two-thirds of members. Widespread applause rings out around the General Assembly Hall.
Those voting against were the US, Israel, Austria, Czechia, Guatemala, Liberia, Micronesia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Paraguay.
Among those abstaining were the UK, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Argentina, Malawi, the Netherlands, Ukraine, South Sudan, and Uruguay.

Speaking before the vote

Munir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador, explaining his country’s position before the votes, said he was confident the “vast majority” of the UN membership would vote for the resolution.

United Nations

Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan speaks at the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
He said it was a matter of “deep regret, that some friends of Israel have introduced amendments to once again condemn only one side but exonerate the other.”
He said he was confident that most Members will not agree to place blame only on Hamas, but blame Israel for their role in the bombardment of the “open air prison” that is Gaza.
Following the pause, projectiles of death have rained down on Gaza from Israel’s war machine he said.
“This is a war against the Palestinian people”, he said. “Israel’s goal is to erase not only a people but the entire idea of Palestine. It’s campaign is a carbon copy of the massive campaigns of racial slaughter by other settler colonial regimes in history”, he added. 
———–

Egypt’s ambassador Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek Mahmoud, said the resolution was “very simple, clear and explicit”, and long overdue.
“It only includes four operational paragraphs …however, the implementation of these paragraphs are yet to happen, even though the tragic humanitarian situation is unbearable for the Palestinians,” he said.

UN Photo/Loey Felipe

Ambassador Osama Mahmoud Abdelkhalek of Egypt addresses the resumed 10th Emergency Special Session meeting on the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
He noted the destruction of the health and humanitarian support system in Gaza, and recalled the letter by the UNRWA Commissioner-General highlighting the dire situation in the enclave.
“The adoption and implementation of [this resolution] which is specifically calling for a ceasefire is the only guarantee for saving innocent civilians,” the Ambassador said.
“The Arab group stresses that the efforts by a minority of States standing against international public opinion” were based on the concept that Israel has a right to defend itself, But he added that as the occupying power, Israel does not have that right, under international law, claiming a “despicable” case of “double standards”, related to Palestinians.
War crimes against Palestinians needed to be addressed, he said.
He said genocide was being used as a tool of war in the case of Palestine, and it left unchecked it would damage the credibility of the whole UN. 
——————
Opening the UN Assembly Session
Declaring the 10th Emergency Special Session open once more, Assembly President Dennis Francis highlighted the new request to meet once again in light of the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Mr. Francis opened his statement, saying there was now “an onslaught on civilians, the breakdown of humanitarian systems and profound disrespect for international law and international humanitarian law” being shown by combatants.

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A war poetry anthology Christmas present?

Know someone interested in war poetry? A range of popular books at exceptional prices. Great Christmas presents.

I’ve been publishing war poetry for over twenty-five years and running a war poetry website. Minds at War is my best selling title and is the largest anthology of First World war poetry currently available. 

I am now selling direct to the public so prices are very much lower than they used to be.  My company is Saxon Books.

Titles

Minds at War – a major anthology of poetry of the First World War. (Illustrated)

The largest anthologies of First World War Poetry

£15-99    Now £7-00  Reviews below.

Out in the Dark  –  a collection of First World War poems in context and with basic notes (Illustrated)

Anthology of First World War poetry with basic notes, ideal for students

£10-99     Now £5-0

Falklands War Poetry

The voices of those who lived and suffered the Falklands War, combatants on both sides and civilians in the Falklands and families in the UK.

£9.95   Now £4.00

French Poems of the Great War

Impressive poems by French war poets comparable with English translated by Ian Higgins.
£11.95  Now £5.00 

Cockerels and Vultures poems by a French First World War poet

Poignant poems of a young French soldier’s experience of the First World War

£9.95   Now £4.00

Remembrance Poems and Readings

The classic remembrance poems and much more

£11.95  Now £5.00

Kosovo War Poetry

Insight into this little understood war

£4.99  Now £1.00

​Post and packing £2-78 on each order, regardless of number of books.

Published by Saxon Books, specialist in war poetry books for over 25 years

To buy at these special prices go to the publisher’s website.

www.saxonbooks.co.uk

Minds at War Info and reviews

Minds at War, Poetry and experience of the First World War

The largest English anthology of First World War poetry currently available.

This long established, moving, fascinating and encyclopaedic volume includes:

250 poems by 80 poets, The great classic poems of the war by Owen, Sassoon, Brooke, Rosenberg, Sorley, Gurney, Thomas, Blunden, Binyon, McCrae, Grenfell, Seeger, Kipling, and others

Poems by 26 women poets, and 40 other significant poets

Lost” verse that enjoyed extraordinary popularity during the First World War

Extracts from diaries, personal letters and accounts

Pronouncements by the media, leading commentators and politicians of the day

An insight into poets and propaganda

Historic photographs and cartoons

Maps, biographies, glossary, bibliography, additional illustrations

Edited by David Roberts

It is widely used in academic institutions in Britain and America.

410 pages.

REVIEWS

My students are devouring it faster than I can assign readings. This is a great collection.” – Thomas H Crofts, Assistant Professor of English, East Tennessee State University.

“I continue to be impressed by the blend of poems famous and others not well-known but illuminating, and the inclusion of citations from politicians, newspapers, etc, that will save hours of classroom explanation.” – Christopher Armitage

Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor of English, Adjunct Professor of Peace, War and Defense, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA

“[With Out in the Dark,] Minds at War . . . puts many other First World War anthologies into the shade.” – Gordon Hodgson, in National Association of Teachers of English web review on yahoo.co.uk

Minds at War is no mere anthology but a comprehensive overview of the poetry and experience of the First World War. David Roberts sets the poems and the poets’ lives within a contextual commentary which keeps the story of the war moving forward and provides as many useful historic insights as poetic.” – Peter Carter, The John Masefield Society Newsletter.

Reviews on the Amazon Minds at War book page

S. A. Hole

5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable book.

Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 13 December 2016

Verified Purchase

Unbelievable book, not just all the poems but also all the other information about what went on in the first world war – a must read, i went from cover to cover in no time. fab book.

 

chauvesouris

5.0 out of 5 stars

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on 16 April 2015

Verified Purchase

This book sits on the table of my “reading nook.” I have turned through its pages, have devoured the poetry of those who were devoured by “the first of the last wars,” and each time I put the book down I am in awe of what I have read. Emotions that seem beyond words are, here, wrapped by words so well that one feels the sadness, the hurt, the fury, the emptiness, the cynicism, fatalism – and joy – whispered or shouted here. There are wars, non-stop, but this war, an explosion of political tectonic shifts, was a stagnating horror. And these poems, written by some who were killed or died before the war’s end, turns history into reality.

And it helps greatly that there is “background” provided for the poems, overviews of what was happening against which the poems take place, so that one can read from start to finish or read as one does books of poems, “here and there.” As I’m reading these while reading other books about WWI, this book gives jolting colors to the historical perspectives – and what colors!

Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars Painful but beautifully written

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on 20 March 2017

Verified Purchase

Excellent book about this terrible war. I’ve read a few books on World War I from the British side and this was absolutely painful to read, however it meant so much to read the poetry and read about the ability of humans to go on in the face of such great loss of loved ones.

 

Mrs. RP Meinke

5.0 out of 5 stars Minds at War

Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on 19 February 2014

Verified Purchase

I bought my copy of this book first at the Imperial War Museum some 15 yrs ago, and I was enthralled by it, as it tells so many stories and shows aspects of life on every front during the 1914-1918 War. It shows the reality also the heartache and horrors in poems, prose, letters, and pictures – photographic and art

This other copy I bought for a friend.

410 Pages 9″x 6″ Paperback ISBN 978-0-9528969-0-6 £15.99 Now £7.00 (UK only)

Published by Saxon Books www.saxonbooks.co.uk

Cover picture of First World War anthology, Out in the Dark
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Poem – There Will Be Peace

Market in peaceful country
Market in peaceful country

There Will Be Peace

There will be peace:

when attitudes change;

when self-interest is seen as part of common interest;

when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes

are deleted from the account;

when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit

rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal

or group gain;

when justice and equality before the law

become the basis of government;

when basic freedoms exist;

when leaders – political, religious, educational – and

the police and media

wholeheartedly embrace the concepts

of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and

reconciliation

as a basis for renewal;

when parents teach their children new ways to think

about people.

There will be peace:

when enemies become fellow human beings.

David Roberts

November 2003

Based on a poem in Kosovo War Poetry, 1999

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What Rishi Sunak Should Say

Gaza explosion

Israel suffered a terrorist outrage. No country, no people deserve such suffering, so to express sympathy and say that Israel has a right to defend itself is right. HOWEVER after Rishi Sunak expressed sympathy and conditional support for Israel it very quickly became obvious that Israel’s idea of self-defence was to commit terrorist atrocities far far greater than anything Hamas did or could ever do.

Rishi Sunak, weeks ago, should have stated that the British people do not support Israeli atrocities, that we condemn them completely and that Israel should halt them immediately.

The lives of over two million people in Gaza are ruined, traumatized, put in doubt. 

I find it offensive that a British Prime Minister is not able to speak out against the barbarism of Israel at the present time. And worse still has left the impression that we, the British, still stand shoulder to shoulder with the Israelis in their continuing  destruction and carnage.

The concept of winning is impossible at the moment. I suspect that Israel sees winning as the complete destruction/ethnic cleansing of Gaza and its people. Israel will only win when it learns to live in peace with Palestinians. Then Israel will have security. It is clear that this is not what Israel is aiming for.

Rishi Sunak should also demand that Hamas hands over the hostages. Hamas has made offers to hand hostages over but these offers have been rejected by Netenyahu so far.

Gaza explosion
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UN Official condemns UK support

UN Symbol
UN Symbol

Condemnation of UK support for genocide

This is the judgment of a top international lawyer and UN official writing about the war in Gaza:

“This is a text-book case of genocide. The European, ethno-nationalist, settler colonial project in Palestine has entered its final phase, toward the expedited destruction of the last remnants of indigenous Palestinian life in Palestine. What’s more, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe, are wholly complicit in the horrific assault. Not only are these governments refusing to meet their treaty obligations “to ensure respect” for the Geneva Conventions, but they are in fact actively arming the assault, providing economic and intelligence support, and giving political and diplomatic cover for Israel’s atrocities.”

Volker Turk, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Palais Wilson, Geneva
From a letter to Director of the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 23 October 2023.

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Israel Palestine – What will happen?

Loading unidentified dead for burial in mass grave
many dead being prepared for mass grave Oct 2023
Unidentified dead children prepared for mass grave
Loading unidentified dead for burial in mass grave

Preparing for mass burial

“Everyone who arrived at the hospital that night had been dismembered,” Maarouf said. “We buried six children together because their bodies were all cut into pieces. We gathered their remains and put them in one shroud.”
Maarouf said cutting off internet and communications allows Israel to “hide its atrocities”, and described its air raids and accompanying actions against Palestinians as a “brutal holocaust”.
A quick prayer was said over the bodies before they were loaded on the open beds of pick-up trucks to be buried in the emergency cemetery.
“History will judge those who have allowed this to happen to us and did nothing to help or stop this aggression,” Maarouf said.
Al Jazeera, 31 October 2023

Israel Palestine – What will happen?

Israel’s thinking
Israel is a country that believes that security is achieved by armed might/military spending. It is second in the world on the amount spent on arms and armies as an amount per head of population, ahead of the USA. (1) Yet its population lives in fear and has been shocked and enraged by the action of the military wing of Hamas. Previously Israel believed it had the Palestinians under control and could keep them subdued.
Israeli anger is understandable, but the failure of its policy hasn’t changed its thinking. It is acting as if it thinks that more violence will bring it peace. Israel does not understand that at least part of its insecurity is caused by its violence. It has demonstrated that security is not achieved through military might.
Israel defies international law.
I have learned that Hamas provides civilian administration in Gaza, running hospitals, schools waste disposal etc. Israel’s true enemy is the military wing of Gaza yet it is targetting the entire population, whilst maintaining that it is doing everything possible to protect civilians.
Israel does not know what victory on their terms would look like, unless the entire destruction of the people of Gaza is their aim. That appears to be their aim.

Hamas’s thinking
My minimal research today – references below – show an organisation that has conflicting factions and many conflicting ideas. However it is evident there is a desperation for freedom from Israeli control and a desire to live securely in freedom. Violence by the military wing of Hamas seems to be aimed at indicating that Palestinians will not continue to tolerate Israeli control. Militarily Hamas is insignificant. It is unimaginable that Hamas could “conquer Israel” or destroy Israel. No-one believes that is a possibility. In recent years Hamas has said it would accept various proposals for peaceful coexistence with Israel. (2)

What will happen?
From the Israeli point of view they are traumatising the population of an entire region and daily increase the suffering. They seem unaware that this creates anger, and hatred against them which may be long lasting and which provokes violence. Their daily massacres etc make prospects for peace recede and bring shame on the people of Israel and those who support them.

Condemnation of Israeli action is growing around the world.

Israelis, like the rest of the world, can only live in peace and security by living in cooperative friendship with other people. That is outside the thinking of the present leadership.

Will Hamas negotiate?
Of course they will. That is one reason they have taken hostages. They want change. They want independence, freedom, respect, dignity. They are desperate for change. The Israelis need change too.

Footnote
I can understand the extreme anger on both sides but I repeat that I am against the terrorist actions of both sides.
The British Government
The British government should state that it does not support Israel in its ongoing murderous assault on the people of Gaza. We should not be part of the escalating problem. We may have some influence, but at the moment it is in the wrong direction.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_with_highest_military_expenditure_per_capita

(2) From Encyclopedia Britanicca – A Hamas negotiating position

“In the years after the Aqṣā intifada, Hamas began to moderate its views toward the peace process. After more than a decade of rejecting the foundational principles of the PA, Hamas ran in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and subsequently participated in the PA, with indications that it would accept agreements between Israel and the PA. Since then, senior Hamas leaders have stated their willingness to support a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders. In A Document of General Principles and Policies issued in 2017, the organization acknowledged “the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 4th of June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled” as a “formula of national consensus.” But Hamas continued to reject the legitimacy of Israel, and hard-liners within the organization remained strident in their rhetoric.”

“In May 2021 tensions in Jerusalem boiled over and led to the greatest escalation of violence since 2014. After clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters left hundreds injured, Hamas launched rockets into Jerusalem and southern and central Israel, prompting air strikes from Israel in response. After 11 days of fighting, Hamas and Israel reached a cease-fire.
In 2022, as Israel conducted incursions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to target militants, Hamas refrained from escalating confrontations in and around the Gaza Strip.”
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hamas

There is more of this article, telling the complex story, at https://www.britannica.com/topic/Hamas/Conflict-with-Israel

The road to peace and security – the European solution

We have had wars and deadly enemies and great suffering in the past. How do we defend ourselves against these enemies today? We have treated each other as human beings, become friends and trading partners and both sides feel safe. Think of our wars with Spain, the Netherlands, France, Germany.

Our conflict with Russia? We were heading in the right direction for a number of years, trading with Russia, buying Russian gas, but unfortunately the leaders of NATO have systematically eroded Russian confidence in our friendship and we are all paying for their incompetence.

30 October 2023

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Comparative Terrorism

pic Gaza street bombed 2023
pic Gaza street bombed 2023

Israeli bombs seek terrorists in Gaza. When the war is over the displaced Palestinians will be able to return to their homes.

30 October 2023

Terrorism – dictionary definition “Systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal.” – Collins English Dictionary.

I condemn all terrorism  –  that means terrorist groups and terrorist states.

Tribe One

Brutally killed 1400 people

Holds 220 hostages captive.  

Tribe Two

Brutally killed over 8000 people

Holds 2.2 million hostages captive, tormenting and killing large numbers daily. Very few of these hostages will ever be released

Holds 6000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons (1)

Since 7 October has arrested thousands of licensed workers from Gaza who were working in Israel (2)

Has cut off supplies of food, water and fuel to these people in the besieged territory

Has ordered a million people out of their homes.

Daily bombs homes and infrastructure.

International Committee of the Red Cross
Shocked by the intolerable level of human suffering’: ICRC

Mirjana Spoljaric, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, says the “tragic loss of so many civilian lives is deplorable”.
It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza amid the massive bombardments, and with a military siege in place there is also no adequate humanitarian response currently possible,” Spoljaric said in a statement.
This is a catastrophic failing that the world must not tolerate.”  –  Al Jazeera.

My personal view  –  The British government should not support barbaric behaviour

I am shocked and amazed that the British government can’t even bring itself to call for a ceasefire. And more than that, I think it is disgraceful that the British government should state its full support for the perpetrators of inhuman behaviour which defies description. It should condemn the action and state that it cannot support such action, however it may be described.

Photo Al Jazeera.

(1) BBC Radio 4 Six O’clock news 30 October 2023
(2) From Al-Jazeera
Thousands of Gaza workers go ‘missing’ in Israel amid wartime mass arrests
Palestinians whose permits to work in Israel were revoked are believed to be held in detention camps, but Israel has so far refused to release information about them, human rights groups say.
Human rights groups are concerned about further arrests amid continuing raids in the occupied West Bank [File: Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP]
By Federica Marsi and Ylenia Gostoli
Published On 28 Oct 2023

Thousands of workers from Gaza, who were employed in Israel when the war started, have gone missing since then amid a campaign of mass arrests.
Human rights groups and trade unions believe some of the workers have been illegally detained in military facilities in the occupied West Bank, following the revocation of their permits to work in Israel. Authorities in Israel have so far refused to release the names of those they are holding.
end of list
When the Palestinian armed group, Hamas, launched an unprecedented assault on the south of Israel on October 7, about 18,500 residents of Gaza held permits to work outside the besieged strip. The exact number of workers present in Israel as hostilities began remains unknown, but thousands are thought to have been rounded up by the Israeli army and transferred to undisclosed locations.

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A truthful politician

David Roberts picture
David Roberts picture

It isn’t often I lie awake at night thinking about troubles in foreign countries but that is happening now.

Partly what’s disturbing me is the scale and absolute horror of the cruelty of what is being done and partly it is our country’s standing staunchly in support of the perpetrators of the horror.

Calling for politicians with courage

I’d like to hear a politician speak the truth and call things what they are and recognise and condemn all terrorism. Dictionary definition “Systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal.” – Collins English Dictionary.

What sort of state holds over two million people hostage blockading them in a small territory, cuts off water, food and fuel to the territory, orders a million people to leave their homes and stay out of them indefinitely, bombs more of their homes every day – so far indiscriminately killing over 5000 people, seems intent on genocide, doesn’t recognise international law? If there is such a state surely it should be described as a terrorist state. I’d like to hear condemnation of such action. I’d like to hear that we do not regard such a state as a friend, and that we do not support such action. I’d like to hear the perpetrators called on to stop this horrendous behaviour. Extermination cannot be accepted as a legitimate policy of any state.

Achieving effective defence 

Defence against “an enemy” – the British solution. We have had wars and deadly enemies and great suffering in the past. How do we defend ourselves against these enemies today? We have treated each other as human beings, become friends and trading partners and both sides feel safe.

Today’s violence is delaying the time of security for both sides.

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Poem about Iraq

A poem about Iraq in 2003

Tony Blair's visit to Southern Iraq early in 2003. He explained the wisdom of the war.

MY  POEM

A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq

(Written a few days after the start of the attacks by US and UK forces, March 2003. It has been claimed by Tony Blair and others that the problems caused by the invasion could not have been foreseen.)

Note, 2019. I wrote this bitter, sarcastic poem shortly after the first bombing of Iraq feeling extremely angry about the sanctimonious arrogance, dishonesty and criminality and cruelty of Tony Blair. I feel the same way today and regret that he has not been brought to trial as a war criminal. – DR.

A Message from Tony Blair to the People of Iraq

​Poem by David Roberts

Look into my honest eyes.
Listen to my honest lies.
Look into my angel face.
Just hear the sincerity in my voice.

​I want you all to understand
the better future we have planned.
We bomb with Christian love, not Christian hate.
We come,
not to conquer,
but to liberate.

​It is essential, and I want to make this very clear,
that our first aim is to make the world a safer place.
And with precision bombing you need have no fear.
And though you’ve not actually uttered threatening words
to Britain and America, or indeed the world,
and though you haven’t acted yet,
we believe you pose a threat
a threat that cannot be ignored.

​I tell you frankly that so great is the threat
that act we must, while there is still time,
or we may live to reap the bitter harvest
of regret.

​I’m sure you will appreciate
that we have the right
to remove regimes
that we dislike.
We have the right to assassinate.
We have the right to decide your fate.

​So the purpose of our mission,
now that war has started,
is also perfectly clear:
we come to bring you hope
and take away your fear.

​Your army, as you know, is hopelessly outgunned.
Resistance by your soldiers is completely senseless.
We’ll simply massacre. We’ll wipe them out.
They cannot touch us. They’re defenceless.

​We wreck your homes, your lives, your infrastructure.
You needed help.
Without it you would have had no future.

​Our peace, justice and democracy
you will soon enjoy and celebrate.
Remember, we come,
not to conquer,
but to liberate.

​Your cities shake and thunder with our bombs.
Tumbling buildings. Plumes of flames.
Roaring jets and shrieking men.
The crash of glass and children’s screams.
We see the mushroom clouds again.
Now you can appreciate the genius of our civilisation.
Remember, this isn’t war:
it’s liberation.

​We destroyed your tv station. We cut your phones.
Your power and water supplies we cut.
We destroy public buildings and private homes.
You see billowing smoke and conflagration.
But it isn’t war:
it’s liberation.

​Your hospitals overflow. They cannot cope.
We are killing you softly with our love.
Death and destruction are everywhere.
Your future fills with hope.

​And if you cannot comprehend this desecration.
Just try to understand,
it isn’t war:
it’s liberation.

​Cruise missiles, depleted uranium,
pulse, cluster and bunker buster bombs
may shock you.
And perhaps, you’re just a little awed.
But please understand we come to help
and this is your reward.

​Regrettably we can treat nothing as sacred:
it is a fact of war.
No artefact of God or man,
no suffering, no pain, no law
can impede the progress of our plan.

​One advantage of our attack
is that we will build for you
a new Iraq.
So don’t worry about the scale of the destruction.
Our companies will make it all as new
and your oil will pay for reconstruction.

​Look to the future.
Your children will not easily forget
how we came to help.
Round the clock bombing
may have left them traumatised
and perhaps a little mad,
but soon we are sure they’ll realise
just what luck they’ve had.

​Some ask if I’m untouched by human suffering.
I can tell you my sleep is undisturbed,
though I deeply mourn the thousands killed.
I am not shaken,
and I am not stirred.

​So finally I say,
that for a brighter future
a little bombing is a small price to pay.

​Ignore the carnage, terror and destruction.
Our purpose
is not
domination or exploitation.
This is not
a war of conquest.
It’s a war of liberation.

​David Roberts
28 March-9 April 2003

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Britain’s shameful bombing of Iraq

Britain's shameful bombing of Iraq

Twenty years ago Britain and the US indulged in a ruthless and immense bombing campaign against Iraq, a country which did not threaten us. This act was therefore a blatant war crime and the people who initiated it were, by definition, war criminals  – most notably Bush and Blair.

It was an outrage against humanity and a shameful blot on Britain’s reputation. Iraqi society was destroyed. With police and military removed terrible lawlessness erupted. Three million refugees fled Iraq, including Christians who had been protected under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Within Iraq six million people fled their homes. Terrorism was provoked. Out of this grew ISIS.

The bombing had been talked about for months and arguments for it were so obviously stupid that thinking people around the world were incensed and took to the streets in the biggest day of anti-war protests the world has ever seen. Tens of millions of people marched in 780 cities.

And yet, in what I think was the most shocking day in my lifetime, I saw hundreds of British politicians voting for war.

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The case against spending more on defence

The case against spending more on defence Don’t give more money to this man.

Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence

In the face of  underpayment of staff in UK caring professions, and the destruction of the NHS by not addressing staff shortages, I have been shocked by the way the government is hugely increasing spending on “defence”. The UK has the fourth largest military budget in the world. This century UK wars have been mainly wars of aggression causing untold misery. In my view this ministry needs holding back not given ever more money.

I have spent several days researching this article which I hope readers will find informative and useful. The media I feel should be giving proper prominence to this important issue.

Dear Readers, I’d be interested to hear your views on this topic. You can comment at the end of this article.

Ben Wallace, our Secretary of State for Defence, is making a bid for still more increases in defence spending citing “an historical low in defence spending,” “the Russian threat” and “The War in Ukraine.”

These arguments deserve examination.

Historical low
Since when has the spending of a government department been based on spending many decades earlier? Current and predicted need should be the only guide.

The Russian Threat
This is a problem. For most of the last sixty years we have lived with the Russian Threat. Diplomacy prevailed and violence against the western European countries never erupted. In fact Russia (actually the Soviet Union) withdrew from country after country, as a result no doubt feeling itself diminished. A sign, perhaps, that NATO, could also relax.

Tensions were reducing and this new relaxation began to be exploited with trade with Russia improving, and proving very valuable, even vital, to some western European states.

NATO’s inappropriate response
Thinking only with a military mindset NATO courted states formerly within the Soviet sphere of influence to join NATO so that “NATO countries” began to encircle the remains of the Soviet Empire (and become customers of western arms manufacturers). Surely something which would discomfort Russian leaders, even humiliate them in the eyes of their population – especially when NATO forces exercise along the borders of Russia. In these circumstances how could Russia “look strong”?

Fighting Russia today
It is unbelievable that the rhetoric remains aggressive towards Russia. Our only secure defence is friendly relations with other countries. This may seem impossible to some but a look at history shows that most of our former enemies whom we fought for years, decades or even centuries are now our trading partners and allies, not because they fear our armies and weapons, but because it is the only policy that makes sense. I’m thinking especially of Germany, Japan, France, Spain, the Netherlands.

A war with Russia
It would be suicidal lunacy to engage in actual fighting with Russia, and we seem to be on the edge of this at this moment (March 2023). We are so vulnerable it wouldn’t even take nuclear weapons to destroy Britain. We have sitting targets which, if struck with missiles, would make Britain uninhabitable. I’m referring to our nuclear power stations and especially our nuclear waste storage facility in Cumbria. This is the largest store in the world of the most toxic substances known to man, radio-active nuclear waste. At huge cost and for the next hundreds of years and more we will continue to struggle to keep this material safe. Its release into the environment would create devastation on a scale never previously experienced by mankind. Brief extracts from a Guardian article, a government report and facts about the toxicity of the waste material are printed below.

We therefore need better diplomacy not more weapons to handle “the Russian threat”. We are heading dangerously in the wrong direction

Does the war in Ukraine justify more spending?
Presumably part of our current vast defence budget is earmarked for war fighting so this is where the money should come from. We are no longer fighting in Afghanistan or Iraq.

We are not a protagonist in the war in Ukraine, just a supporter of the Ukrainian side. Are we contributing enough or should we contribute more?

In fact we are contributing far more than any other country in Europe – £2.3 billion in 2022 with £2.3 billion pledged for 2023 – roughly equal to the financial contribution of all other European countries put together. [Source:House of Commons research briefing 15 February 2023. See below.] Several countries will supply only non-lethal materials.

It would seem reasonable for us to contribute less and encourage other European/NATO countries to contribute more.

Britain’s Defence Record

British “defence” has been a disaster and a disgrace for the last 25 years. We have engaged in wars of aggression against Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The social, economic and political fabric of Iraq and Serbia were deliberately destroyed and Afghanistan, already one of the poorest countries in the world, has been weakened significantly by our 20 year intervention alongside the Americans. The consequences of these wars has been death and destruction, millions fleeing from their homes, vast increases in human misery, in terrorist threats and millions of refugees. These wars have not been in defence of Britain. Our leaders have failed us. Twenty years in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban left the Taliban in control. Some of the facts of these conflicts are set out below.

The running of the ministry of defence has been incompetent, lacking strategy, proper planning and serious failings in administering its spending. More details below.

How well is our money being spent by the Ministry of Defence?
Unfortunately the Ministry of Defence is legendary for its delays in contract fulfilment, over-spends, and cancelled and failed projects. Currently it is short of shells and artillery and possibly manpower. This suggests that money has been misspent elsewhere. As an example, one suggestion is that the two new super aircraft carriers costing £7 billion (plus the cost of aircraft) and an astronomical sum to run were a mistake. They are targets not easy to hide and their anti-missile defences may be overwhelmed.

So far they have not proved reliable. The second of the two, “HMS Prince of Wales, which has a crew of 1,600, spent fewer than 90 days at sea during its first two years of service after suffering multiple leaks, according to The Guardian.” – Business Insider report.

Might they be sailed into the Baltic and the planes used to attack Russian forces? Of course not. Are we going to take on China? For practical modern day warfare they are useless unless used against some poor defenceless country, and we wouldn’t want to do that. Sell them.

Was enough being spent on defence in 2021?
It jolly well should have been enough. Britain is almost top of the table for big military spending in the world. It’s fourth in the world after the US, China and India. We spend more than Russia, or Germany or France. [Source Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report 2022, therefore 2021 figures.] We spend more of our GDP on defence that any other country in NATO except the US. Why are we trying to look like a super power and delude ourselves that we could ever survive another all-out war?

The answer is, I think, that spending is not related to our calculated needs but to spending targets set by America.  It is as if we are incapable of thinking for ourselves as an independent country.

Present Day UK Defence Spending

● 2019 Conservative Manifesto commitment to increase defence spending every year by ½ percent ABOVE INFLATION.
● 19 November 2020: Government announced £16.5 billion increase in defence spending ABOVE MANIFESTO COMMITMENT – the biggest increase in defence spending for thirty years.
● Total increase in arms spending £24.1 billion over four years compared to 2019
● Further huge increase in defence spending promised in next 7 years.

Liz Truss planned to spend 3% of GDP on defence by 2030. To do this the government would need to increase defence spending by about 60% in real terms. This is equivalent to about £157 billion in additional spending. I believe this target is still in place.

Conclusion
We need to scrap the proposed increases in defence spending and spend our existing defence budget more appropriately in relation to actual needs. We need to pay more attention to developing friendly relations with all countries.

Appendix – Sources and Facts

  1. Destruction in Afghanistan

  2. Destruction in Iraq

  3. Contribution to war in Ukraine

  4. Radio-active nuclear waste – the problems of containment

  5. The astonishing danger of nuclear waste a serious war risk​

Destruction in Afghanistan

Extract from a report of the WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

December 2022

“The United States war in Afghanistan continues destroying lives due to the war-induced breakdown of the economy, public health, security, and infrastructure. Afghans have been massively impoverished by the conflict. 92% of the population faces some level of food insecurity and 3 million children are at risk of acute malnutrition. Some regions are currently facing famine. At least half the population is living on less than $1.90 per day.

[Death toll]

About 243,000 people have been killed in the Afghanistan/Pakistan war zone since 2001. More than 70,000 of those killed have been civilians.

Key Findings

• As of September 2021, more than 70,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians are estimated to have died as a direct result of the war.

• The United States military in 2017 relaxed its rules of engagement for airstrikes in Afghanistan, which resulted in a massive increase in civilian casualties.

• The CIA has armed and funded Afghan militia groups who have been implicated in grave human rights abuses and killings of civilians.

• Afghan land is contaminated with unexploded ordnance, which kills and injures tens of thousands of Afghans, especially children, as they travel and go about their daily chores.

• The war has exacerbated the effects of poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, lack of access to health care, and environmental degradation on Afghans’ health.”

“The CIA armed Afghan militia groups to fight Islamist militants and these militias are responsible for serious human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings of civilians.

Even in the absence of fighting, unexploded ordnance from this war and landmines from previous wars continue to kill, injure, and maim civilians. Fields, roads, and school buildings are contaminated by ordnance, which often harms children as they go about chores like gathering wood.

The war has also inflicted invisible wounds. In 2009, the Afghan Ministry of Public Health reported that fully two-thirds of Afghans suffer from mental health problems.

[Effects of the war]

Prior wars and civil conflict in the country have made Afghan society extremely vulnerable to the reverberating effects of the U.S. post-9/11 war. Those war effects include elevated rates of disease due to lack of clean drinking water, malnutrition, and reduced access to health care. Nearly every factor associated with premature death — poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, lack of access to health care, environmental degradation — is exacerbated by the current war.”

WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

111 Thayer Street,   Brown University, Box 1970   Providence, RI USA   02912-1970

P +1 401 863 2809

© 2023 Watson Institute

Afghanistan deaths

UK forces’ deaths in Afghanistan since 2001 – 456.

“As of September 2021, more than 70,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians are estimated to have died as a direct result of the war.”

Destruction in Iraq

From WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS report

December 2022

“No one knows with certainty how many people have been killed and wounded in Iraq since the 2003 United States invasion. However, we know that between 275,000 and 306,000 civilians have died from direct war related violence caused by the U.S., its allies, the Iraqi military and police, and opposition forces from the time of the invasion through October 2019. The violent deaths of Iraqi civilians have occurred through aerial bombing, shelling, gunshots, suicide attacks, and fires started by bombing. Many civilians have also been injured.

Because not all war-related deaths have been recorded accurately by the Iraqi government and the U.S.-led coalition, the numbers are likely much higher. Several estimates based on randomly selected household surveys place the total death count among Iraqis in the hundreds of thousands.

Several times as many Iraqi civilians may have died as an indirect result of the war, due to damage to the systems that provide food, health care and clean drinking water, and as a result, illness, infectious diseases, and malnutrition that could otherwise have been avoided or treated. The war has compounded the ill effects of decades of harmful U.S. policy actions towards Iraq since the 1960s, including economic sanctions in the 1990s that were devastating for Iraqis.

Despite more than $100 billion committed to aiding and reconstructing Iraq, many parts of the country still suffer from lack of access to clean drinking water and housing.”

WATSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS

111 Thayer Street,   Brown University, Box 1970   Providence, RI USA   02912-1970

P +1 401 863 2809

© 2023 Watson Institute

War-related deaths in Iraq 2003 to present

According to Iraq Body Count there have been approximately 200,000 civilian deaths and 88,000 military deaths. For details and their meticulous methodology see iraqbodycount.org

UK Service personnel deaths in Iraq
“Operation Telic was the codename for British operations in Iraq, which lasted from 19 March 2003 to 22 May 2011. During the campaign, 179 British service personnel died.” – Wikipedia.

War-related refugees in and from Iraq

“As of 2020, 9.2 million Iraqis are internally displaced or refugees abroad.”

https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/costs/human/refugees/iraqi

War in Ukraine (House of Commons report)

“Who is providing military assistance?

The US is the largest provider of military assistance to Ukraine, having committed $30 billion since the start of the Biden administration. $29.3 billion of that assistance has been provided since February 2022.

As the second largest donor, the UK has committed £2.3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine so far and has pledged to match that assistance in 2023. The UK is also hosting a training programme (Operation Interflex), which is supported by several allies, with the aim of training 10,000 new and existing Ukrainian personnel within 120 days. The UK has recently committed to training Ukrainian fast jet pilots but has said that combat fighter aircraft will not be provided, at least in the short term.

NATO, as an alliance, has been clear in its political support of Ukraine and fully supports the provision of bilateral military assistance by individual allies. NATO is helping to coordinate requests for assistance from the Ukrainian government and is supporting the delivery of humanitarian and non-lethal aid. Ukraine is not a NATO member, however, and therefore isn’t party to NATO’s mutual defence clause under Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. As such, NATO troops will not be deployed on the ground in Ukraine. Allies have also ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine because it would bring Russia into direct conflict with NATO forces. At the Heads of State and Government summit in Madrid at the end of June 2022 NATO allies agreed a new package of assistance for Ukraine that will provide long term, sustained, support.

The European Union is also providing non-lethal and lethal arms through its European Peace Facility (EPF). This is the first time the bloc has, in its history, approved the supply of lethal weapons to a third country. To date, the EU has committed €3.6 billion. In October 2022, the EU also approved a new training mission for the Ukrainian armed forces.”

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9477/

Radio-active nuclear waste problems, longevity, costs – 1

The toxicity, enormous quantity, difficulty of containment even in peace time, the timescale of this risk are all on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. Most people can’t begin to try to grasp it and so the most dangerous and vulnerable feature of life in Britain isn’t thought about. The issue deserves our attention.

These are tiny extracts from an important article in The Guardian by Samanth Subramanian

“Nothing is produced at Sellafield anymore. But making safe what is left behind is an almost unimaginably expensive and complex task that requires us to think not on a human timescale, but a planetary one.

“I’d gone to Sellafield not to observe how it lived but to understand how it is preparing for its end. Sellafield’s waste – spent fuel rods, scraps of metal, radioactive liquids, a miscellany of other debris – is parked in concrete silos, artificial ponds and sealed buildings. Some of these structures are growing, in the industry’s parlance, “intolerable”, atrophied by the sea air, radiation and time itself. If they degrade too much, waste will seep out of them, poisoning the Cumbrian soil and water.

———-

“The best way to neutralise its threat is to move it into a subterranean vault, of the kind the UK plans to build later this century. Once interred, the waste will be left alone for tens of thousands of years, while its radioactivity cools. Dealing with all the radioactive waste left on site is a slow-motion race against time, which will last so long that even the grandchildren of those working on site will not see its end. The process will cost at least £121bn.

—————–

“ All of Sellafield is in a holding pattern, trying to keep waste safe until it can be consigned to the ultimate strongroom: the geological disposal facility (GDF), bored hundreds of metres into the Earth’s rock, a project that could cost another £53bn. Even if a GDF receives its first deposit in the 2040s, the waste has to be delivered and put away with such exacting caution that it can be filled and closed only by the middle of the 22nd century.

————

“High-level waste – the by-product of reprocessing – is so radioactive that its containers will give off heat for thousands of years. It, too, will become harmless over time, but the scale of that time is planetary, not human. The number of radioactive atoms in the kind of iodine found in nuclear waste by-products halves every 16m years.

——————–

“Somewhere on the premises, Sellafield has also stored the 140 tonnes of plutonium it has purified over the decades. It’s the largest such hoard of plutonium in the world, but it, too, is a kind of waste, simply because nobody wants it for weapons any more, or knows what else to do with it.

“Sellafield now requires £2bn a year to maintain.”

The Guardian, Samanth Subramanian

Read the full article at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/dec/15/dismantling-sellafield-epic-task-shutting-down-decomissioned-nuclear-site

Radio-active nuclear waste problems, longevity, costs – 2

House of Commons Public Accounts Committee

Extracts from the Report on the work of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) Session 2019–21

23 November 2020

[This report is primarily about the clearing up of radio-active materials and equipment from the British Magnox nuclear reactors which have so far been closed down, but it makes clear the worrying uncertainty about the unprecedented timescale to complete the task of decommissioning nuclear power stations and the unknowability of the escalating costs.]

“The uncertainty affecting the Magnox sites reflects a wider uncertainty about the costs and timetable of decommissioning the whole civil nuclear estate. According to the NDA’s [Nuclear Decommissioning Authority ] most recent estimates it will cost the UK taxpayer £132 billion to decommission the UK’s civil nuclear sites and the NDA estimates that the work will not be completed for another 120 years.”

“The cost of the long-term liability to decommission the UK’s civil nuclear sites now stands at £132 billion, though by its nature this estimate is inherently uncertain. When pushed to provide us with a full and final figure for the cost of decommissioning the Magnox sites, The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s management of the Magnox contract the NDA could not do so and stated that this will not be possible until the work has been completed.”

“Public accountability is hindered by a lack of transparency about the scale and nature of the challenge of decommissioning and the performance of the NDA. Nuclear decommissioning will cost current and future generations of taxpayers’ substantial sums of money “

Source https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3703/documents/36067/default/See section 2 of Conclusions and Recommendations for this information.

====================

The astonishing danger of nuclear waste  –  a serious war risk

Nuclear waste is the most toxic mix of substances known to man. The biggest repository in the world of such material is in Cumbria, UK. Very large sums of money are being spent trying to contain this material until such time, in decades to come, that it can be buried in caverns bored deep into rock far below the earth’s surface to keep it “safe” for tens of thousands of years.

There are several kinds of radio-active substances with different degrees of danger to life. Just as an example look at plutonium-239. Its radio-activity reduces over time. It is calculated to have decayed to half strength after 24,110 years.

Hazards

“Plutonium-239 emits alpha particles to become uranium-235. As an alpha emitter, plutonium-239 is not particularly dangerous as an external radiation source, but if it is ingested or breathed in as dust it is very dangerous and carcinogenic. It has been estimated that a pound (454 grams) of plutonium inhaled as plutonium oxide dust could give cancer to two million people.

from wikipedia

Sellafield stores 140 tonnes of plutonium. See The Guardian” article above.

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UK gives disproportionate amounts of military aid to Ukraine

UK gives disproportionate amounts of military aid to Ukraine

Shouldn’t other European countries be giving more?

See this Government account of our spending: –

Web link below

“Who is providing military assistance?

The US is the largest provider of military assistance to Ukraine, having committed $30 billion since the start of the Biden administration. $29.3 billion of that assistance has been provided since February 2022.

As the second largest donor, the UK has committed £2.3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine so far and has pledged to match that assistance in 2023. The UK is also hosting a training programme (Operation Interflex), which is supported by several allies, with the aim of training 10,000 new and existing Ukrainian personnel within 120 days. The UK has recently committed to training Ukrainian fast jet pilots but has said that combat fighter aircraft will not be provided, at least in the short term.

NATO, as an alliance, has been clear in its political support of Ukraine and fully supports the provision of bilateral military assistance by individual allies. NATO is helping to coordinate requests for assistance from the Ukrainian government and is supporting the delivery of humanitarian and non-lethal aid. Ukraine is not a NATO member, however, and therefore isn’t party to NATO’s mutual defence clause under Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty. As such, NATO troops will not be deployed on the ground in Ukraine. Allies have also ruled out imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine because it would bring Russia into direct conflict with NATO forces. At the Heads of State and Government summit in Madrid at the end of June 2022 NATO allies agreed a new package of assistance for Ukraine that will provide long term, sustained, support.

The European Union is also providing non-lethal and lethal arms through its European Peace Facility (EPF). This is the first time the bloc has, in its history, approved the supply of lethal weapons to a third country. To date, the EU has committed €3.6 billion. In October 2022, the EU also approved a new training mission for the Ukrainian armed forces.”

https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/cbp-9477/

 This briefing dated 15 February 2023.

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Anniversary of amazing day of anti-war demonstrations

Anniversary of amazing day of anti-war demonstrations

Last week saw the 20th anniversary of an extraordinary and unique day in world history, 15 February 2003. It was the day when tens of millions of people marched in 780 cities around the world in protest against the proposed war by Britain and America, against Iraq.

Julie and I travelled up to London in a coach from Burgess Hill. We marched in a crowd of hundreds of thousands, (it turned out to be between one and two million) united in a common feeling of opposition to war and with an expectation that such a huge expression of public opinion could not be ignored.

The millions of marchers were right. Yet on 18 March 2003 hundreds of British MPs voted for war.

The ruthless and immense bombing campaign was an outrage against humanity and a shameful blot on Britain’s reputation. Iraqi society was destroyed. With police and military removed terrible lawlessness erupted. Three million refugees fled Iraq, including Christians who had been protected under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Terrorism was provoked.

Part of the anti-Iraq-war contingent from Burgess Hill, 15 February 2003.

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Arms spending 4 – Public service workers Nil

Arms spend 4, public services pay Nil

Arms spending 4 - Public service workers Nil

Arms spend 4, public services pay Nil

Ambulance drivers’, nurses, and other public service workers pay demands are described as “unaffordable”. Yet spending on arms has consistently gone above inflation and even this has been added to. Biggest increase in defence spending for 30 years, way above commitments in the rest of Europe.

● 2019 Conservative Manifesto commitment to increase defence spending every year by ½ percent ABOVE INFLATION.
● 19 November 2020: Government announced £16.5 billion increase in defence spending ABOVE MANIFESTO COMMITMENT.
● Total increase in arms spending £24.1 billion over four years compared to 2019
● Further huge increase in defence spending promised in next 7 years.

Liz Truss planned to spend 3% of GDP on defence by 2030. To do this the government would need to increase defence spending by about 60% in real terms. This is equivalent to about £157 billion in additional spending. 

This spending target for arms spending by 2030 remains the government’s aim.

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Big increase in arms spending

Tanks

Increase spending for NHS or more for war? Media neglect of astonishing increase in arms spending

Shouldn’t the BBC and other media be exploring this issue? Spending increases in defence while cuts or inadequate increases everywhere else.
 
Could we have a bit more balance in reviewing where cuts might be made? There was a glaring enormous hike in spending on defence  announced by Boris Johnson on 19 November 2020. Completely unjustified  –  a wild macho gesture and a £16.5 billion increase above the Conservative manifesto commitment. It created the biggest defence budget in 30 years even though we are fighting less wars now that Iraq and Afghanistan are over.
 
Surely we can help Ukraine out of existing budgets. What else is defence spending doing for us? Our arms spending for Ukraine is almost equivalent to the spending of all the EU countries combined. Our contribution is disproportionate. We have crying needs in Britain, too. 
 
If defence can have such an increase as outlined above then surely the NHS and social services could have a similar increase.
 
Why aren’t the media talking about this?
 
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Where to cut government spending

Where to cut government spending

It’s easy to find half the money needed to plug the current government cash shortage. Cut that whopping increase in arms spending

November 2020   –   what happened

On 19th of November 2020 the government announced the largest military spending budget for 30 years, giving the UK the biggest defence/arms spending budget in Europe.

This amounted to a £16.5 billion increase above the Conservative manifesto commitment over four years.

On existing forecasts, this is an overall cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to the previous year’s budget (2019).

Liz Truss’s proposed escalation

This is quite separate from the proposed further huge increase in arms spending proposed by Liz Truss. Her proposal was unbelievable and would have caused outrage if it had been pursued.

Her commitment was to spend 3% of GDP on defence by 2030. To do this Liz Truss’s government would have needed to increase defence spending by about 60% in real terms. This is equivalent to about £157 billion in additional spending.

Cut what?

But the 2020 commitment remains in place and is an obvious place to save money.

Just a starter

We have two new super aircraft carriers run at enormous cost. Great for use in the Second World War, but how can they be deployed to defend Britain!? These should be mothballed or sold.

This would enable us to stop the manufacture all the aircraft needed to equip these currently emasculated weapons/super-ships.

I’m sure the government does not need to exceed its manifesto commitment on defence spending.

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Vietnam veteran’s song.

Still feeling the hurt all these years after the end of the Vietnam War, 1975, over 45 years ago. PTSD doesn’t just go away. Veteran, Jack Murphy’s recent song on YouTube

58,000 Americans were killed in the war. The total death toll: 3 Million.

There are a number of powerful poems by Vietnam veterans on The War Poetry website.

Video received from Jack Murphy via my CONTACT form.

Thanks, Jack.

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A flawed leader of a flawed country, Colin Powell, Former US Secretary of State, died 18 October 2021

Colin Powell, Former US Secretary of State, died 18 October 2021, age 84.

Giving false evidence to the UN

On 5 February 2003 Colin Powell was the man who sold the “evidence” of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to the gullible statesmen and politicians in the UN. Their response gave the go-ahead to the Iraq war and the destruction of Iraq, a shameful, murderous act which created hostility, distrust and hatred of western powers. The people of Iraq are still paying a terrible price and so are we.

What he knew

At the time he would have known that the case he was advancing was absolutely valueless.

He would have known

  • that weapons inspectors had exhaustively searched Iraq and had destroyed numerous weapons and weapons facilities and believed their job was complete.
  • that “the inspectors” was not just a few dozen men and women but 276 teams of inspectors with 3,845 operatives at work for eight years
  • that you can’t find more hidden weapons by bombing a country
  • that withdrawing inspectors was counter-productive to the declared aim
  • that if weapons of mass destruction did exist they could not, at the same time, be both invisible and unfindable AND be known to be ready to attack the west at a moment’s notice
  • that if weapons of mass destruction did exist then that is not a sufficient reason to bomb a country – think of the countries known to possess nuclear weapons. Should they all be bombed?

The world was not deceived

Tens of millions of people around the world saw that the proposed bombing was an outrage against reason and humanity and took part in the world’s biggest ever anti-war demonstrations.

The supreme arrogance and dishonesty of the US

The US tells us frequently of its democratic values. Was it the democratic wish of the Iraqi people

  • that thousands of their people should be killed,
  • that most government administrative buildings should be destroyed, making the running of the country impossible in the short term
  • that their country should be occupied by US forces,
  • that Iraq’s oil industry should be taken over,
  • that over 200 Iraqi state run businesses should be privatised, available to foreign buyers
  • that over 11,000 Iraqi opponents of the occupation should be arrested – all in defiance of international law?

Earlier misdeeds

In his autobiography Colin Powell tells how, as a soldier in Vietnam, he torched Vietnamese villages setting the straw huts ablaze with his own Zippo lighter.

This was not an honourable man

That Powell played a key part in all this is not to his credit. We cannot honour such a man. Let’s not pretend the evil he has supported and facilitated has all been good for humanity.

The destruction of Iraq. British politicians, encouraged by Tony Blair, voted for this

David Roberts, 19 October 2021

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Blair and Brown on BBC2 – Will the truth come out?

Blair and Brown, 5 part BBC2 Documentary started  Mon 4 October 2021, 9pm

This could be an interesting series about these brilliant and eloquent politicians.

People will never forget the audacity of Blair and his colleagues in ignoring the biggest and worldwide demonstrations of opposition to the war against Iraq, or the worldwide disbelief in the arguments presented.

But will the BBC gloss over the Iraq war and the unprovoked wars against Serbia, and Afghanistan which constitute war crimes under international law.

Will the BBC dodge the question of why these apparent war criminals have not yet been brought to trial?

Does the BBC know the first thing about international law against war?

“To initiate a war of aggression  . . .  is the supreme international crime”  – 

Declaration of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, 1945. But, to see more of what international law says, please see my blog post, The Law Against Wars.

How often has the BBC ever challenged politicians on the legality of unprovoked attacks on other countries? Instead the BBC has given copious amounts of air time to those proposing war and the death, destruction and human misery it will cause. Criticism of such proposals has been minimal.

 

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The Law Against Wars – the basic law that all citizens, journalists and politicians should know

Nuremberg war crimes trials, 1945 - a warning to others

“To initiate a war of aggression ….. is the supreme international crime, only different from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of all the others” – Declaration of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, 1945

“To initiate a war of aggression is a crime that no political or economic situation can justify”.
“. . .  if certain actions in violation of treaties are criminal actions, these are criminal actions whether committed by the USA or by Germany. . . We are not willing to endorse a law that may condemn the criminal behaviour of others unless we are prepared to have those laws invoked against ourselves as well”. – US Supreme Court, Justice Robert Jackson – Principal Attorney for the USA at the Nuremberg Tribunal, 1945.

“. . .  the second aim of the trial was to establish the rules of international law for the future, so that not only the launching of wars of aggression would be illegal, but also, for the first time, to make the rulers who lead their countries into wars of aggression personally responsible for their actions” – Lord Shawcross – Principal British Prosecutor at Nuremberg, 1945
“Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore [individual citizens] have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring” — Declaration of the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, 1945

 

The Nuremberg  Principles

Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal. Confirmed unanimously by the General Assembly of the United Nations in Resolution 95, 11 December 1946. Adopted by the International Law Commission of the United Nations, 1950.

Principle I. Any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefore and liable to punishment.

Principle II. The fact that internal law does not impose a penalty for an act which constitutes a crime under international law does not relieve the person who committed the act from responsibility under international law.

Principle III. The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a crime under international law acted as Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law.

Principle IV.  The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.

Principle V.  Any person charged with a crime under international law has the right to a fair trial on the facts and law.

Principle VI.  The crimes hereinafter set out are punishable as crimes under international law:
(a)     Crimes against peace:
(i)                   Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;
(ii)                 Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
(b)    War Crimes:
Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation of slave-labour or for any other purpose of the civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
(c)     Crimes against humanity:
Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhumane acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime.

Principle VII.  Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity as set forth in Principle VI is a crime under international law.

Declaration on principles of international law in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations

Extract from UN General Assembly Resolution – 24 October 1970.

“No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law.

No State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State.

The territory of a State shall not be the object of military occupation resulting from the use of force in contravention of the provisions of the Charter. The territory of a State shall not be the object of acquisition by another State resulting from the threat or use of force. No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.

Every State has the duty to refrain in its international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. Such a threat or use of force constitutes a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and shall never be employed as a means of settling international issues.
A war of aggression constitutes a crime against the peace, for which there is responsibility under international law.

In accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, States have the duty to refrain from propaganda for wars of aggression.”

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Afghanistan, 20-years of disaster created by America and Britain

Afghanistan, 20-years of disaster created by America and Britain

Taking on Afghanistan in 2001 was an unnecessary and calamitous war on one of the poorest, most dysfunctional  countries in the world. It was started, we were told, to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and thus prevent terrorism. 

After 20 years of occupation by mainly American and British forces and 20 years of killing, peace prosperity and harmony are desperately absent so that the stream of refugees from Afghanistan continues. We are back where we started: with the Taliban in power. Now it seems we will negotiate with the Taliban, an idea that might have been tried instead of bombing.

Tony Blair and his colleagues, and British politicians who supported the war, should be held to account for the shame they have brought to this country, and the thousands killed and injured as a result of their decisions, crimes against humanity.

Was it terrorism?

America, Britain, and the others presented the war against the Taliban as a war against  terrorism. Terrorism may be defined as the use of violence for political ends. On this definition the terrorism delivered by Britain, America, and others far exceeds any terrorist suffering we may have  endured before or since this war.

Self-inflicted injury

Much of our own suffering has come to us as a direct result of our own actions in Afghanistan. Over 450 British soldiers were killed in this war and approximately another thousand seriously injured. These facts alone show that this military fantasy operation has made things worse for ourselves even on that small measure of achievement.

160,000 Afghans killed

Of course,  the general picture is far worse than this. Although we are constantly told of the benefits brought to Afghanistan by Western involvement in the last 20-years certain facts are mostly quietly overlooked. For example, over 160,000 Afghans were killed during the last 20-years,  many by direct US bombing, but others in the ongoing conflict which the Western presence promoted in the country, taking sides but never bringing peace, far from it. Our use of violence against Afghans must have brought about suffering on a wide scale, and anger against the west, a stimulus to retaliation. More details below.

Afghan Refugee Crisis reveals despair felt during the occupation by US and UK

This is what an Amnesty web report said on 20 June 2019:
“There are currently more than 2.6 million registered refugees in the world from Afghanistan.
There are more than 2 million people who have been internally displaced by the ongoing conflict. . .
In a report published in June 2019, the Institute for Peace and Economics said that Afghanistan is the world’s “least peaceful” country, replacing Syria.”

Cost to UK taxpayer

The cost of the UK taxpayer is in the region of £40 billion. 

The figure put out by the government is about half this but its figures overlook a number of factors.  For an analysis of the costs see the Fact Check web page by Channel 4..

https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/how-much-has-the-afghan-conflict-cost-britain

The death toll in Afghanistan    –    Associated Press and BBC statistics

Associated Press

American service members killed in Afghanistan through April [2021]: 2,448.

U.S. Contractors: 3,846. [employed to do military tasks or support the US military operation]

Afghan national military and police: 66,000.

Other allied service members, including from other NATO member states: 1,144.

Afghan civilians: 47,245.

Taliban and other opposition fighters: 51,191.

Aid workers: 444.

Journalists: 72.

[Total number of Afghans killed: 164,436. The number of Americans killed was more than twice the number that died in the 9/11 twin towers atrocity]

Evidence from the BBC  –  Frank Gardner BBC Correspondent, BBC web 17 April 2021

“The cost of this 20-year military and security engagement has been astronomically high – in lives, in livelihoods and in money. 

Over 2,300 US servicemen and women have been killed and more than 20,000 injured, along with more than 450 Britons and hundreds more from other nationalities.

But it is the Afghans themselves who have borne the brunt of the casualties, with over 60,000 members of the security forces killed and nearly twice that many civilians.

The estimated financial cost to the US taxpayer is close to a staggering US$1 trillion.”

My conclusion

Wars such as the one against Afghanistan are an affront to intelligence and affront to morality. They are unnecessary and counterproductive. Few countries in the world today involve themselves in such primitive military adventures and it is a matter of shame that the UK is one of the few countries that believes in violence as an acceptable mode of international relations.

David Roberts, 14 September 2021

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Where has the money gone? Aid budget cut funds arms spending

Where has the money gone? Aid budget cut funds arms spending

Cash shortage isn’t just because of covid.  – Biggest arms spending budget for 30 years

The UK now has the biggest defence/arms spending budget in Europe. On 19th of November 2020 the government announced the largest military spending budget for 30 years.

This amounted to a £16.5 billion increase above the manifesto commitment over four years.

On existing forecasts, this is an overall cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to last year’s budget.

The Royal United Services Institute said that the “additional cash represents a real-term increase of between 10 percent and 15 percent in the defence budget.”

No threats of war

This cannot be because we are suddenly under greatly increased threat of invasion.

Lack of money for foreign aid, NHS, Education, Care of the Elderly etc

Surely it is not a coincidence that the foreign aid budget has been drastically cut. Not enough money to meet increased demands in the health service. But the media don’t talk about this huge increase in government arms spending at a time of critical, immediate needs.

David Roberts

30 July 2021

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The line Joe Biden is taking towards Israel shames America

The line Joe Biden is taking towards Israel shames America

Joe Biden repeatedly states that Israel has the right to self defence, a statement which is literally true but designed to be misleading and is therefore dishonest.

In fact the opposite is true. Biden suggests that the aggressor, Israel, is the victim in this Israel/Palestine dispute. Israel has overwhelming fire-power, an endless supply of sophisticated weapons, jet planes, tanks, drones, guided missiles, high explosives much of it supplied by and even funded by the United States and is using this fire-power against two million defenceless civilians in Gaza. America is on Israel’s side.

Two million civilians live in the Gaza coastal strip

Israel’s bombardment is almost exclusively of civilians, their homes, their means of living. Today (17 May 2021) the BBC reported that Israeli attacks in Gaza had destroyed roads and power lines. Yesterday they destroyed an apartment block that housed, amongst families, international reporters. On 12 May Offices of Gaza’s Interior Ministry were hit and all police stations were destroyed.

The Israelis didn’t blow out just a few windows of the apartment block and international media centre. The whole building went down in just a few seconds

What is the message of all this targeted destruction by Israel?

The message is, “We will destroy you. We will make Gaza ungovernable. We will make your lives impossible and we are taking steps to stop the world from knowing what we are doing to you.” I think the word for this is “genocide”.

Hamas and its rockets

True that Hamas who govern Gaza continue with determination but not effectively to fire their simple rockets at Israel, and that 10 Israelis have been killed as a result of hundreds of rockets fired. The rockets land in civilian areas (the few that get through) and this is wrong.

What can Hamas gain from firing rockets? – World attention.

They can expect more violence from Israel. BUT ALSO their cause may be kept before the attention of world leaders who are the only ones who can release Palestinians from their suffering. Their cause is their claim to have a right to freedom, respect, and life itself, free from Israeli control and abuses.

Was Hamas in the tower block destroyed by Israel?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken 17 May 2021

Blinken, speaking at a news conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, said he has not seen any Israeli evidence of Hamas operating in the Gaza building that housed residences, offices and media organisations – including Al Jazeera – that Israel hit on Saturday. Blinken says he has asked Israel for justification for the attack.

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Save the Children plead on behalf of the children of Gaza and Israel

Save the Children plead on behalf of the children of Gaza and Israel

In the last week, at least 58 children in the enclave territory and two children in southern Israel have been killed.

“How many more families need to lose loved ones before the international community takes action? Where can children run to when air strikes rain down on their homes?” said Jason Lee, Save the Children’s Palestine country director.

“Families in Gaza, and our staff, are telling us that they are at breaking point – they are living in hell with nowhere to seek refuge and seemingly no end in sight,” said Lee.

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Worldwide protests against Israeli bombing of Gaza

Worldwide protests against Israeli bombing of Gaza

It’s unlikely that UK mainstream media has reported protests from around the world against Israel’s bombing. Picture taken in Paris 16 May 2021.

Cities where protests criticised Israeli bombing include:

Al Aqabah; Algiers; Amman; Ankara; Athens; Auckland; Baghdad; Basrah; Beirut; Benslimane; Bergen; Berlin; Birmingham; Boston; Bradford; Brighton; Bristol; Brooklyn; Brussels; Calgary; Cape Town; Casablanca; Chicago; Christchurch; Copenhagen; Cork; Daraa; Dearborn; Dhaka; Diwaniyah; Doha; Dublin; Dunedin; Edinburgh; Edmonton; Frankfort; Galway; Glasgow; Halifax; Hamburg; Hamilton; Irbid; Istanbul; Jacksonville; Johannesburg; Kampala; Karachi; Kashmir; Kensington; Khartoum; Krakow; Kuwait; Leipzig; London, Canada; London, UK; Los Angeles; Madrid; Mahdia; Manchester; Manhattan; Marrakesh; Melbourne; Michigan; Milan; Milwaukee; Mogadishu; Montreal; Nabatieh; Nairobi; Nelson; New York; Nicosia; Norwich; Oslo; Ottawa; Palmerston; Paris; Peshawar; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Pristina; Rabat; Raleigh; Rome; San Jose; Sandton; Saskatoon; Sao Paulo; Srinagar; Sydney; St. John’s; Stuttgart; Tehran; Tokyo; Toronto; Tripoli; Tunis; Vancouver; Vienna; Warsaw; Waterloo; Washington; Wellington; Whanganui.

Gaza’s suffering almost two million unarmed people live in one of the most densely populated  areas on earth

Nearly 200 people, including 58 children, have been killed by Israeli bombing in the last week. 17 May 2021

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Quakers call for end to violence in Palestine

Quakers call for end to violence in Palestine

11 May 2021

Paul Parker describes some of the things done by Israelis over 7 decades which are against international law.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk for Quakers in Britain said:

“Our Quaker testimonies to peace and equality compel us, once again, to speak out on this issue. At this time, (11 May) over 850 people (840 Palestinians and at least 21 Israeli police officers and 7 Israeli civilians) have been wounded. In Gaza, 24 Palestinians including 9 children, were killed overnight.

“The latest round of this 73-year cycle of violence has taken place amid provocative and discriminatory actions by the Israeli government. There are threats to forcibly remove more Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem in favour of Israeli settlers, which the UN has warned may constitute a war crime, and tear gas and stun grenades have been fired by Israeli soldiers into the Al Aqsa Mosque as Muslims meet in worship for the end of Ramadan. We have seen violent crackdowns on peaceful protestors, retaliatory rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza into Israel and airstrikes from Israel kill civilians in Gaza.

“All of these actions are grave violations of international law and must end immediately.

“As Quakers we place equal value on every human life and believe the structural violence of occupation damages all people of the region. We have said before that the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis will only be resolved when Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory is ended, and the inherent equality, dignity and worth of all is realised. We still believe this to be so. We urge our faith and political leaders to speak out with us. For as long as we remain silent, and choose to step back from uncomfortable words and actions, we are all complicit in the ongoing violence.”

We urge our faith and political leaders to speak out with us.

– Paul Parker, Recording Clerk [Quakers in Britain]

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My MPs unsatisfactory reply about Palestinian/Israeli conflict – my response

My MPs unsatisfactory reply about Palestinian/Israeli conflict - my response

My email
13 May
Andrew Griffith, MP for Arundel and South Downs
 
Dear Andrew
I am very disappointed by your response to my email about the eruption of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
 
What about the Palestinians?
What stands out is the fact that you didn’t mention the Palestinians once. This suggests that you don’t know what is going on in Israel and I can understand that you can’t be well informed about every issue in the world.
Aggression
Of course Israelis have a right to self defence, but this is not what the violence is about. “Self defence”  is a routine Israeli story (supported by the Americans) with which they seek to justify atrocities, and I’m sorry you think this might convince me or anyone else to take the Israeli side in this dispute.
Pro Palestinian demonstrations
You may be aware that there are demonstrations going on around the world now, and these  are in support of the Palestinians, not the Israelis. What do the demonstrators know or believe that you do not? See pictures below.
 
An independent voice
What has been going on in Israel and Palestine over the decades is described by the Christian Aid website. Please see small quote below.
 
No defence for sending more arms to Israel
To suggest that all is well with arms sales to Israel because there is a procedure for testing whether arms sales are justified or not doesn’t answer the current problem. Selling any military equipment to Israel, however defensively and humanely it may be used, sends the clear message that we support Israel’s use of force against Palestinians, the continuing seizures of Palestinian land and properties contrary to international law.
Pathetic attempt to retaliate
I regret the firing of primitive missiles by Palestinians into Israel. It is wrong, but I think it has to be understood as the action of desperate people who feel they have to make some physical response to the suffering they are enduring.
 
What needs to be done
I really hope you will look further  into this issue and condemn, and encourage Boris Johnson to condemn, the murderous precision attacks on Gaza by Israeli jets  which everyone can see is not defending Israel.
  • Forget the fig leaf of arms sales’ vetting. There is no excuse. Britain should stop selling arms to Israel.
  • The Conservative Party can be honest about Israel’s behaviour, and show its humanity. The Conservative Party can do better.

From the Christian Aid website

Today, as Palestinians continue to experience exile, blockade, relentless spikes in violence and huge increases in land dispossession, we work with Palestinian and Israeli partners to protect human rights and promote resilience for Palestinian communities and civil society.

All our work aims to support the foundations for a just, lasting peace for all.  We work on protecting human rights. Our partners work to challenge discriminatory laws, practices and decisions affecting Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

London-Palest-protest-web.jpg

London-protest-11-5-2021-B-.jpgBest wishes

David Roberts  www.davidrobertsblog.com

Thousands demonstrate in London - unreported by the BBC, but reported on France 24.

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Protests around the world condemn Israeli action

Protests around the world condemn Israeli action

Protests in cities around the world condemn Israeli action as the outrages escalate. The demonstration in New York  is shown here.

What is Israel hoping to achieve?

Israel appears to be trying to destroy social control in Gaza. Hamas today, 12 May 2021, claimed that Israeli airstrikes had destroyed all police stations in Gaza. Israel’s message is clear, We will destroy you.

I hope that governments around the world will condemn the Israeli action and not fudge the issues by “calling on both sides” to stop the violence as if there is an equality in what each side is doing. Please see my quote from the Christian Aid website in my blog post, “Palestinians suffer once again”.

David Roberts

Protests in London,11 May 2021, against Israeli action

Protests in Karachi, 11 May 2021, against Israeli action

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Email to MP: Stop arms sales to Israel. Condemn Israeli aggression

andrew-griffith-mp-web
12 May 2021
 
Andrew Griffith MP, Arundel and South Downs
 
Dear Andrew Griffith
 
On Monday night Israel carried out airstrikes that are reported to have killed 24 people including at least 9 children. The air strikes follow several days of attacks by Israeli police and settlers on Palestinians in Jerusalem, injuring over 300 people.
 
This morning I heard on the radio that a 13 storey apartment block in Gaza had been destroyed by Israeli air attacks  – all evidence of the continuing abuse of Palestinians and grossly disproportionate use of force by Israel against Palestinians. I trust you are aware of what Israel has been doing to Palestinians over the decades. Let’s not fudge the issue of who the abusers are in this conflict.
 

MY REQUEST IS THAT YOU LOBBY FOR THE CESSATION OF BRITISH ARMS SALES TO ISRAEL AND CONDEMN ISRAELI AGGRESSION 

 

Why I support the Palestinians

Ever since I read a Christian Aid report about twenty years ago on the treatment of Palestinians I have realised that we get a distorted view of the conflict in Israel and Palestine (the latter literally wiped off the map although the people are still there). I trusted the report especially as it came from a Christian organisation writing on behalf of a predominantly muslim people. Since then I have taken a bit more interest in what Israel does to Palestinians and I find it shocking that Britain supports Israel in its appalling policies towards Palestinians. 
 
More on my blog.
Best wishes
David Roberts,   www.davidrobertsblog.com
 
Protests around the world
Protest have erupted in cities around the world condemning Israeli action.
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Palestinians suffer once again at the hands of one of the most militarised states in the world

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Britain should halt the sale of our British arms to Israel and unequivocally condemn Israeli abuses and provocations.

I have written to my MP today and urge readers to write to their MPs. See my separate post to read what I said to him.

Last night’s airstrikes

Air strikes by Israeli jets on Gaza last night are reported to have killed 24 people including at least 9 children. The air strikes follow several days of attacks by Israeli police and settlers on Palestinians in Jerusalem, injuring over 300 people. Israeli forces stormed the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Palestinian homes fired on by Israeli jets

Regrettably Palestinians have retaliated with a barrage of their primitive rockets fired into Israel, killing 5 people.

From the Christian Aid website

Today, as Palestinians continue to experience exile, blockade, relentless spikes in violence and huge increases in land dispossession, we work with Palestinian and Israeli partners to protect human rights and promote resilience for Palestinian communities and civil society.

All our work aims to support the foundations for a just, lasting peace for all.  We work on protecting human rights. Our partners work to challenge discriminatory laws, practices and decisions affecting Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

From Al Jazeera website 11 May 2021

Arab League chief, Ahmed Aboul Gheit  condemned deadly Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip as “indiscriminate and irresponsible” and said Israel had provoked an earlier increase in violence by its actions in Jerusalem.

The violence began after Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on Monday for a third consecutive day, firing rubber-coated steel bullets, stun grenades and tear gas at Palestinian worshippers inside Islam’s third holiest site in the final days of the holy month of Ramadan.

David Roberts

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For and against nuclear weapons – emails, mine and my MP

For and against nuclear weapons - emails, mine and my MP

Andrew Griffith MP, writes in favour of nuclear weapons

Dear David,

Thank you for contacting me about the UK’s nuclear stockpile.

The fundamental purpose of our nuclear weapons is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression. A minimum, credible, independent nuclear deterrent assigned to the defence of NATO, remains essential in order to guarantee our security and that of our Allies. I would argue that it has worked in that none have ever been fired in anger by any side. Given this, advances in anti-missile technology require a larger volume of warheads in order for the threat to remain credible and thus peace to be preserved.

Kind regards,
Andrew
Andrew Griffith MP, Member of Parliament for Arundel & South Downs 7 April 2021

Photo David Roberts

My reply. Why nuclear weapons are rejected around the world, are harmful and a misuse of money and talent

Dear Andrew Griffith
I very much appreciate that you are working your socks off and doing a great job for the constituency.
Thank you for replying to my email re our defence spending, especially our proposed increase in nuclear warheads.

Believing in nuclear weapons is an act of faith and I think you have made your choice, but I still hope that you will be prepared to look at reasoned argument and perhaps agree with some of the points below.

World opinion is against nuclear weapons

The majority of people in this country and almost every country and person in the rest of the world take a different view from you.

These are some of the reasons

  • Preparing to carry out the mass extermination of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in other countries is a deeply immoral act.
  • Preparing the weapons to carry out nuclear annihilation is a phenomenally large diversion of financial and human resources which might be used to improve rather than threaten human life.

Preventing coercion and deterring aggression?

Preventing coercion and deterring aggression would be good outcomes if they work. But several thoughts occur to me on this topic.

  • One, If nuclear weapons have deterred other countries from invading Britain can you point to any occasions when we were ever saved  from attack by our possession of nuclear weapons?
  • Two, did our possession of nuclear weapons deter Argentina from invading the British territory of the Falkland Islands in 1982? No.
  • Three, Do our nuclear weapons deter terrorist attacks? No.
  • Four, Do our nuclear weapons deter cyber attacks? No.
  • Five, have our nuclear weapons deterred China from breaking its agreement with us regarding Hong Kong and interfering there? No.
  • Six, if we believe that nuclear weapons deter aggression why do we need conventional forces?
  • Seven, Why have 95% of countries in the world decided not to possess nuclear weapons? Are they fearing attacks that could be deterred with nuclear weapons? Aren’t the majority living in friendly cooperation with other countries?
  • Eight, Is threatening nuclear destruction really the road to peace? I think of our neighbour France which is a nuclear power. Is the the fear of our nuclear weapons the reason France does not attack us? No. We have developed friendly relations which have endured for over a hundred years in spite of previous centuries of mutual hostilities.

The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and Britain’s reputation and standing in the world

Honouring treaties is something Britain has been proud of, but increasing the number of our nuclear warheads is an extraordinary reversal of an agreement we have kept for over half a century. The government’s website proclaims our commitment to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. Claiming that others have improved their defences cannot justify what we propose doing.
The UK is a signatory and ratifier for The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. The NPT remains the most widely subscribed to nuclear arms control treaty in history. 190 states have signed the treaty.

Explanation of significance of NP Treaty by UN Secretary General, 2018

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is an essential pillar of international peace and security, and the heart of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Its unique status is based on its near universal membership, legally-binding obligations on disarmament, verifiable non-proliferation safeguards regime, and commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the NPT’s opening for signature, 24 May 2018, Geneva

From the government’s website 31 March 2021  –  “A world without nuclear weapons

“The UK remains committed to the collective long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and supports the full implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in all its aspects. There is no credible alternative route to disarmament.”
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-nuclear-deterrence-factsheet/uk-nuclear-deterrence-what-you-need-to-know

[More about international treaties and conferences was included here. See other articles about nuclear weapons and the treaty on my blog.]

Other countries have reduced their nuclear arsenals

Russians have reduced nuclear weapons stockpile
At the height of the Cold War Russia/USSR had about 40 thousand nuclear warheads. Today it has about four thousand warheads.
Source: Federation of American Scientists. https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/

In conclusion

I think the people of Britain and the world will not understand or welcome what Britain is doing by its partial reliance and increased spending on a larger nuclear arsenal.
David Roberts
www.davidrobertsblog.com
PS May I have permission to quote your letter on my blog?
Andrew Griffith gave permission for me to quote his email.
David Roberts


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Britain’s international reputation – With more nuclear weapons Britain breaks a solemn treaty agreement

Britain’s international reputation - With more nuclear weapons Britain breaks a solemn treaty agreement

“Instead of a stockpile of no more than 180 warheads by the mid-2020s, the UK will now increase its overall stockpile to no more than 260 warheads.”
Statement found in Integrated Review 2021, House of Commons Library Summary, 17 March 2021.

Setting aside the morality of preparing to carry out the mass annihilation of millions of people, why are we breaking an international treaty agreement which we have honoured for over 50 years? How will other countries regard this action?

The government has responded to criticism by explaining that the increase is not really an increase but it won’t appear like this to other nations. What do you think?

BACKGROUND – Essential points about The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty

The UK is a signatory and ratifier for The Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.The NPT remains the most widely subscribed to nuclear arms control treaty in history. 190 states have signed the treaty.

Nuclear non-proliferation treaty explained by UN Secretary General 

“The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is an essential pillar of international peace and security, and the heart of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Its unique status is based on its near universal membership, legally-binding obligations on disarmament, verifiable non-proliferation safeguards regime, and commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on the Fiftieth Anniversary of the NPT’s opening for signature, 24 May 2018, Geneva

A world without nuclear weapons  –  UK government’s website 31 March 2021

“The UK remains committed to the collective long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and supports the full implementation of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in all its aspects. There is no credible alternative route to disarmament.”
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-nuclear-deterrence-factsheet/uk-nuclear-deterrence-what-you-need-to-know

What the The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty says

Under the treaty, the five Nuclear Weapons States commit to pursue general and complete disarmament, while the Non Nuclear Weapons States agree to forgo developing or acquiring nuclear weapons.

Article VI commits states-parties 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 under strict and effective international control.” Acknowledging the necessity of intermediate steps in the process of nuclear disarmament, Article VII allows for the establishment of regional nuclear-weapon-free-zones.

Some key dates in nuclear disarmament

May 22, 2000: The NPT states-parties agree to a final document at the sixth review conference that outlines the so-called 13 steps for progress toward nuclear disarmament, including an “unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.”

UK commitment to reduce nuclear strength

June 2011: The United Kingdom announces voluntary planned reductions in its deployed nuclear forces set to be accomplished by early 2015. When complete, the United Kingdom will have no more than 120 deployed strategic warheads, with 60 warheads in reserve to support the maintenance and management of the operational force. All excess warheads will be dismantled by the mid-2020s.

All five nuclear-weapon states’ agreement

May 6, 2014: All five nuclear-weapon states sign the protocol for the Central Asian Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone (CANFWZ) treaty. The CANFWZ applies to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
(CANFWZ – Central Asian Nuclear-Weapons-Free-Zone)

November 17, 2014: France ratifies the CANFWZ

Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons Conference

December 8-9, 2014: pledge to cooperate to “stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate” nuclear weapons.
A third conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons is held in Vienna. The United States and the United Kingdom decide to attend, and China choses to send an observer. Over 150 countries and several international and civil society organizations participate. Over 60 countries sign a pledge to cooperate to “stigmatize, prohibit, and eliminate” nuclear weapons.

January 30, 2015: The United Kingdom ratifies the CANFWZ.
Above quotes from Arms Control Association https://www.armscontrol.org

Russians have reduced nuclear weapons

At the height of the Cold War Russia/USSR had about 40 thousand nuclear warheads. Today it has about four thousand warheads.
Source: Federation of American Scientists. https://fas.org/issues/nuclear-weapons/status-world-nuclear-forces/

David Roberts, www.davidrobertsblog.com   4 May 2021

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Important and fascinating book about Iraq

Iraq, its breakup and exploitation by Western powers, is described in this important and fascinating book by Riad El Taher, O Daughter of Babylon.

Riad El-Taher, born in Iraq tells the story of his remarkable life: how he came to Britain as a teenager and trained as an engineer and worked for a number of engineering companies in the UK. He became a pioneering engineer working on design and development for the North Sea Norwegian off-shore oil fields. He also worked in oil production in Iraq and Kuwait.

Successful businessman

He started his own companies, organising oil production and supplying equipment to oil producers. For a while he employed hundreds of people and became very rich, until catastrophes in the Middle East destroyed his main business overnight.

He became a British citizen in 1980.

Forward-looking farmer

When he returned to Iraq he became a farmer operating on ecological principles. Also, for a while he developed a free-range poultry farm in the New Forest in the UK but concluded such a farm could not operate economically at that time.

Iraq under threat

Riad El-Taher was distressed by what was happening to his homeland and so decided to transfer his energies from running a business to working to end the deeply misguided and destructive sanctions that the UN imposed on Iraq and later to prevent the threatened 2003 war against Iraq. He campaigned tirelessly for years on behalf of Iraq and was interviewed many times on British and American television. He was a speaker at major anti-war rallies in the UK.

Outspoken critic

In his work and later campaigning he met businessmen, senior officials and politicians in Middle Eastern countries (including Saddam Hussein) and British politicians. He was an outspoken and fearless critic of many of the people he met and the policies which he believed were so ill-conceived.
He was dismayed by the character of Arabs that he attempted to work with and what he considered to be the Islamic mindset.

Tragic conclusion

His story is tragic. In spite of his enormous energy and his passionate work to save Iraq from destruction he went from riches to rags and ended up in 2011 in a British prison for infringing UN Oil Sanctions. He claimed that major oil companies were doing similar things but were never prosecuted.

He wrote much of his book in prison but it needed additional work to prepare it for publication. His friend, Francis Clark-Lowes undertook this considerable task.

This important story

Riad’s story is partly personal and his many observations along the way, his idealism, courage, energy and what he acknowledged as his naivety make the whole book a fascinating read, but perhaps its main value is in shedding light on the criminal behaviour of western powers, particularly Britain and the US in bringing about the destruction of a functioning and prosperous society with a generous welfare state. See explanation below: Iraq, international law and the consequences of western action

International law is very clear in outlawing starting a war against a country which is not engaged in warlike activity against it. Iraq, it was clear to the tens of millions around the world who protested against the war that Iraq was not a threat to any country.

The negative aspects of life in Iraq have been well rehearsed in our media. Iraq was run as a ruthless dictatorship with consequent fear and violence. Our media neglected to mention the positive elements in Iraq.

The wars against Iraq and the UN sanctions have been beyond tragedy for the people of Iraq. They have also had terrible repercussions for the west where we are still paying the price in the form of the threat of terrorism. How easy it was to pass through airport security before the 2003 attack on Iraq! The middle east is still unstable and suffering, producing millions of refuges. We are also living with the guilt and shame of what was done in our name. 

Some of Riad El-Taher’s observations in

O Daughter of Babylon

Consequences of the 2003 US/UK invasion of Iraq and earlier western actions 

Loss of the intellectual elite

“The mass immigration, estimated at a figure of around 4.5 million, has been actively assisted by the US and UK occupiers who were particularly keen to facilitate the departure of Christians and professionals. It has been reported that the majority of the teaching staff of the elite Saddam university has moved to the US; that is to say, those who were not assassinated in the chaos which followed the war. Power generation, water purification, and sewage treatment is now as bad as it was in the worst days of sanctions, thanks to precision bombing, civil unrest and neglect by the occupiers. The transport sector is equally degraded, and food production has fallen.” (p1/2)

The road to democracy

“ What is democracy? I believe the basic minimum is a parliamentary system with free elections and secret ballots, a free press, free markets, and the unshackling of citizens from limitations to their development such as lack of education and healthcare. Iraq before 2003, like Libya before 2011, offered free education and medical care, using their oil wealth to pay for it. Certainly neither of these countries under their autocratic rulers were models of democracy, but they had started down the long road which leads to fully just societies.
Even when I lived in Iraq in the 1950s we had a parliament and elections which were probably more democratic than what passes for democracy post 2003. And yet the Western powers, in their wisdom, decided to destroy my country and Libya, and unleash chaos instead. The rise of ISIS in both countries is a direct result of these misguided Western policies.” (p307)

Middle East in turmoil  –  so much to regret

“In the aftermath of Blair’s 2003 War, the region is on fire. There is mass emigration of professionals and ethnic and religious minorities, while extremism, emergencies, and dysfunctional governments fill the chaotic vacuum. Advantage has been taken of the sectarian nature of Iraq to divide and rule, while the wealth of the country has been sequestered, undermining education and medical care. The oil flow which used to pay for it is now controlled by multinationals and social justice has been replaced by a global economy controlled by the very rich. Freedom of movement is severely restricted by the requirement to obtain permits to travel around the country, and like Palestine, Iraq is now littered with roadblocks at which permits to travel have to be produced.” (p 308)

“I feel deep sorrow for the needless loss of Iraqi lives as well as for the young British and US combatants who placed themselves in harm’s way. This war and occupation is not a British or American war but a misadventure by the coalition of the neo-cons and Bush-Blair in their quest for oil and self advancement.” (p312)

Riad El-Taher

Riad El-Taher died of prostate cancer in Hove in November 2018, aged about 79 shortly before the publication of his book.

NOTES

Iraq, international law and the consequences of western action

The negative aspects of life in Iraq have been well rehearsed in our media. Iraq was run as a ruthless dictatorship with consequent fear and violence. Our media neglected to mention the positive elements in Iraq.

International law is very clear in outlawing starting a war against a country which is not engaged in warlike activity against it. Iraq, it was clear to the tens of millions around the world who protested against the planned war that Iraq was not a threat to any country.

The world has been made an unhappier place. The wars against Iraq and the UN sanctions have been beyond tragedy for the people of Iraq. They have also had terrible repercussions for the west where we are still paying the price in the form of the threat of terrorism. How easy it was to pass through airport security before the 2003 attack on Iraq! The middle east is still unstable and suffering, producing millions of refugees. We are also living with the guilt and shame of what was done in our name.

David Roberts
28 April 2021

Francis Clark-Lowes

Francis Clark-Lowes left school at 16 and started out as an engineering apprentice. Later he gained a degree in Sociology.
He was a civil servant for 6 years, during which time he studied Arabic. After that he walked (literally) to Cairo, where he worked as a teacher in a secondary school for a year.
He travelled on round the world, working for a while in Japan, before returning to the UK. There he was recruited by the English Language Training department of Saudi Arabian Airlines, and spent 9 years in the kingdom.
Returning again to the UK he obtained an MA in the Psychology of Therapy, and then a doctorate on an aspect of the history of psychoanalysis. For many years he worked as a psychotherapist, while continuing his interest in the Middle East, doing German translation work and running adult education classes on a range of subjects.
He has published his doctoral thesis on the psychoanalyst Wilhelm Stekel, and, as editor-cum-ghost-writer of Riad El-Taher’s book, O Daughter of Babylon.

LINK TO TALK AND DISCUSSION ABOUT THIS BOOK – valid only April and May 2021 

You can use this link to buy this book

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Are aircraft carriers useful in a war situation? Expert opinion.

Are aircraft carriers useful in a war situation?

Expert opinion

Aircraft carriers of some of the biggest ships ever built and are therefore very impressive, as well as being extremely expensive to build and operate.
Here is expert opinion on the usefulness of aircraft carriers in the first Gulf War, Operation Desert Storm, 1990-1991.

“Little in Desert Storm supported the Maritime Strategy’s assumptions and implications. No opposing naval forces challenged us. No waves of enemy aircraft ever attacked the carriers. No submarines threatened the flow of men and materiel across the oceans. The fleet was never forced to fight the open-ocean battles the Navy had been preparing for during the preceding 20 years.”

Statement by William A. Owens former admiral in the United States Navy and Commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet from 1990 to 1992. He became vice chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second-ranking military office in the United States, in March 1994.
From The Carrier Myth 1999, By Rebecca Grant, March 1, 1999
https://www.airforcemag.com/article/0399carrier/

Today’s aircraft carriers

Today’s aircraft carriers may be no more useful. They carry dozens of aircraft capable of dropping bombs and causing an immense amount of destruction, but what international problem will be solved by a massive bombing campaign and in which countries might this tactic be used?

And being so large won’t they be easy to find and easy to destroy?  

High tech solutions well adapted to fight the second world war

It seems defence planners are stuck in Second World War thinking. Mass bombing is not an answer to today’s international problems. The bombings of Iraq and Afghanistan have been disastrous and avoidable tragedies.

Britain’s two aircraft carriers, the biggest ships ever built in Britain, cost over £3 billion each, have crews of 700, with accommodation for up to 1600, and are built to carry normal maximum load of thirty-six American F-35 multirole combat aircraft and four helicopters. The theoretical maximum capacity is 72 aircraft. Currently the UK has just 21 of these planes costing around $100 million each. This military might is not constructed or planned to deliver real help to any country.

David Roberts

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Billions for more weapons – why?

Billions for more weapons - why?

More of this? What are the problems

that this is a solution to?

Britain’s defence budget is is in the wrong hands

Britain is planning the largest military spending budget for 30 years. This amounts to a £16.5 billion increase above the Conservative manifesto commitment over four years. (New Defence policy explained in parliament 16 March 2021.)

To justify all this spending defence planners have given a little thought to defending Britain, but mostly they are concerned with the machinery and equipment of war. Hence the vastly increased budget for defence at a time of dire financial need in the country. 

They have proved themselves to be unfit to be in charge large numbers of lethal weapons.  This century they have not used them to defend Britain. Instead, they have attacked other countries with disastrous consequences, including Iraq and Afghanistan. 

When I think of the destruction death and the refugees brought about by Britain’s military interventions it makes me ashamed to be British. 

We should not be planning and preparing for more military action. We have enough problems to deal with at home. 

We should be cutting arms spending, not increasing it.

David Roberts

www.davidrobertsblog.com

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Rocketing arms spending leaves little for nurses

Rocketing arms spending leaves little for nurses’ pay

The UK will have the biggest defence budget in Europe

On 19th of November last year the UK government announced the largest military spending budget for 30 years. This amounted to a £16.5 billion increase above the manifesto commitment over four years.
On existing forecasts, this is an overall cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to last year’s budget.
The Royal United Services Institute said that the “additional cash represents a real-term increase of between 10 percent and 15 percent in the defence budget.
The National Audit Office, the government’s financial watchdog, said, even before this announcement that the 10-year equipment plan was unaffordable,being too costly by as much as £13 billion. The current annual defense budget is about £40 billion.

Who benefits from vastly increased defence spending?

This cannot be about the defence of Britain. We are not under military threat from any country or likely to be so so within the next decade or two. Can the government name a single country that might want to invade or attack Britain? The government is funding military equipment some of which cannot be positioned or used to defend Britain, for example two huge aircraft carriers which were ordered by Tony Blair and his government. These currently lack aircraft so there is is a big aircraft building programme. There is also the hugely costly and illegal Trident weapons of mass destruction programme. See my post on this topic.

So what’s behind all this spending?

  1. First there is the doctrinaire belief that we must remain best and most supportive friend of America and support America in its military actions whatever they may be. (We have seen to our cost for example, Afghanistan and Iraq that the open cheque has cost huge number of lives, created thousands of refugees, and cost a great deal of money as well.)
  2. From the government’s point of view this spending will maintain or create very large numbers of jobs, especially in parts of the country where it feels a great need to maintain popularity. In Scotland there is a desire by many for independence so assuring jobs there may be a political move. Some of this spending will pay for the building of thirteen frigates which are currently under construction in Scotland. Britain also has plans for the creation of a Space Command capable of launching a rocket from a site in Scotland by 2022.

Boris Johnson’s explanation to parliament

“These projects are expected to create up to 10,000 thousand jobs annually across the UK. These will reflect the expertise and ingenuity of British people both inside and outside our Armed Forces, harnessing the UK’s skills in construction and science and reinvigorating those industries in the coming decades.”

What can we do?

First we need to be specific about what we want. We might then focus on petitions for which we work to gain support.

For example,

  1. We might demand the cutting of the planned increases in the defence budget immediately in order to raise the pay of nurses and give more funds to the NHS.
  2. We might demand a halving of the defence budget before the end of the current parliament.
  3. We might demand the scrapping of the Trident weapons of mass destruction programme and the nuclear powered submarines which carry them.
  4. We might demand that Britain leave NATO.
  5. We might demand that Britain declares itself unwilling to support US military adventures.
  6. We might demand a foreign policy which concentrates on friendly cooperation with all countries and working towards the peaceful encouragement of tolerant and democratic societies in countries where we find human rights to be lacking.

On a personal level the least we can do is write to our MP stating what changes we would like to see. We also need to raise this matter with as many people as possible. This might be in face-to-face discussions but it can also be in the form of letters to the press, tweets on Twitter, messages on facebook etc. We should stop misnaming offensive weapons of mass destruction “deterrents”.

The media should take on the topic of peace and disarmament

We need to lobby the media to deal with peace and disarmament issues and not brush them aside. Why was the huge increase in defence (war) spending at a time of severe financial difficulty not thoroughly explored by the media?

Peace and disarmament should become a long-term burning public issue.

Britain’s reputation as a violence-loving country

When we think of the death, destruction and misery our bombing and interventions in other countries have caused in this century alone it is obvious that the subject is something we are right to be angry about. British governments have proved themselves to be unfit to be in charge of their huge and growing destructive armoury.

True “defence” is a topic which ought to be part of the school curriculum but can we persuade the government to allow this controversial and political topic to be aired in British schools?

Your views?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on these topics. Please use the comment box below. If you use facebook you can use the second comment box without any formalities, and could share your views on facebook too, if you wish.

David Roberts,   davidrobertsblog.com

Sources

Defense News (online) 19 November 2020
Statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street. 19 November 2020.

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