Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Strategic defence review - a chance for genuinely fresh thinking

Today sees the publication of the Ministry of Defence's green paper "posing fundamental questions for the future of Defence ahead of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR)". In the press release, we read further that this "is the product of broad consultation within the Defence community." And therein seems to lie a difficulty - as has been said at various times, if the only tool in your toolbox is a hammer, then every problem can appear to be a nail.

A review of the role of military-based 'defence' in making the world a more secure place should surely look beyond the 'defence community' if it wants to ask really fundamental questions. A valuable publication that came out in the middle of January is "Security for the Common Good - A Christian challenge to military security strategies ", published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, England and Pax Christi, the Catholic peace organisation. In this, they write...

• We call upon churches, dioceses, congregations, parishes, groups, and all individuals of goodwill, to join our appeal to build security for the common good where the pursuit of love and justice set the political, economic and social agenda.
• We call on the Government, as it undertakes its Defence Review, to use this opportunity for a radical evaluation of security policies. It is not enough to tinker with budgets, to choose between ‘boots or bombs’. Now is the time to redirect military spending, research and development into life-giving projects that address our real security needs today.
• We call on all political parties in the run-up to a General Election to reframe their approaches to defence and security in favour of security for the common good.

and conclude:

Today, in the midst of a global economic and environmental crisis, we need to jettison narrow self-interest and ever-increasing military spending in favour of a sustainable security strategy that puts the people – and especially the poor - at its centre.

Can we hope that the MOD and the government of whatever political hue will take the opportunity to answer not only the questions that come from within the establishment, but also those wider questions of how to make the world more secure? The forthcoming general election would seem to be an ideal time to probe candidates' views on this.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

National peace networking event in Huddersfield

The Network for Peace is having its AGM outside of London for the first time. It's being hosted by Huddersfield Quakers ... see details below:

Network for Peace

Polling Day Plus One -
Where next for the peace movement?

Saturday 27 February
Public Meeting with guest speakers:

Lindis Percy (Campaign for the

Accountability of American Bases) and

Professor Dave Webb (CND Vice-chair).

Preceded by Network for Peace AGM at 1.30pm

(You are welcome to come at noon for a bring and share lunch)

Friends Meeting House, Church Street, Paddock, Huddersfield, HD1 4TR.


All welcome

Network for Peace, 5 Caledonian Road, London 9DY tel: 07794036602
email: website:

Rethink Trident

On Saturday, our the Exec committee of Northern Friends Peace Board agreed to add their name in support of the Rethink Trident statement

Rethink Trident!

With Britain facing its biggest economic crisis since the Second World War and much debate on public spending levels and priorities, the country can ill-afford to be spending in excess of £76bn on replacing Trident with a new generation of nuclear weapons.

Britain's security needs are not met by nuclear weapons which can do nothing to combat the threats posed by global terrorism or climate change. The more that countries such as Britain justify their retention and replacement of nuclear weapons on the grounds of an uncertain future, the more likely it is that non-nuclear states will seek to use the same rationale to justify developing their own weapons systems.

Instead of wasting tens of billions of pounds on new nuclear weapons there are many forms of socially useful spending to which the funds could be put; combating child poverty and youth unemployment, providing affordable homes, investing in education and mental and physical healthcare as well as addressing the climate crisis, to name a few. Whilst some are considering cuts to these areas, it is instead Trident that should be cut in their place.

We believe the Government should cancel the replacement of Trident. This would allow for the existing skilled manufacturing base to be reorientated towards providing for the needs of a post-carbon future, with the potential for significant investment in green jobs.

The Government must be a leading participant in current global initiatives to significantly reduce holdings of nuclear weapons, with the aim of achieving a nuclear-free world. Cancelling the programme to replace Trident would have a transformative effect on the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May 2010, greatly boosting the chances of agreeing a timetable for multilateral global disarmament.