Category Archives: Foreign policy

Time to declare independence–5: once again – shamefully – Britain follows US diktat

Sanctions “designed to throttle the economy and force Mr Maduro from power” (Stott, FT)) have been imposed on Venezuela by the US and several allies have been pressed to observe them, with varying responses.

Britain has supported this action, damaging many sectors of the Venezuelan economy. Due to sanctions on the import of spare parts, oil production, the mainstay of its economy, has crashed to levels not seen since the 1940s.

Venezuela’s central bank now seeks access to $1bn of Venezuelan gold ‘safely’ deposited with the Bank of England.

In May, Reuters reported that Venezuela reached an agreement with the U.N. Development Programme to sell part of the gold and lodge it with UNDP which would buy healthcare, food and medicine to combat the coronavirus in Venezuela.

Despite this, Michael Stott reported yesterday that the Britain’s ‘independent judiciary’ has refused the Venezuelan government access to its gold.

Though ‘recognised’ by many US allies, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó  (right) and his party have lost much of the earlier public support gained by stirring rhetoric at countrywide rallies  and a June FT article noted that its reputation had been “stained by financial scandals and a failed armed incursion from Colombia”.

Reuters reported in June that the court had been asked by the Bank of England to determine who the British government recognises as Venezuela’s president

In the High Court, Judge Nigel Teare stated that it was indeed the British government’s prerogative to decide who was Venezuela’s legitimate head of state.

He ruled that opposition leader Juan Guaidó had been “unequivocally” recognised as Venezuela’s president by the UK even though Britain has continued to maintain full diplomatic relations with Mr Maduro’s government after recognising Guaidó

Stott points to the fact that the Maduro-appointed envoy, Rocío Maneiro, serves as the Venezuelan ambassador to London as proof of the UK’s recognition of the Maduro government. The UK also maintains an ambassador and full embassy presence in Caracas.

The Venezuelan central bank’s legal team argued that this proved the UK had in reality continued to recognise the Maduro government and therefore Mr Guaidó had no legal backing for his claim to be president.

Sarosh Zaiwalla (left), senior partner at Zaiwalla & Co, representing Venezuela’s central bank, said it was very rare “for an English commercial court to be told that it can only decide a question in the way that the government says it must”.

The Banco Central de Venezuela will be seeking leave of the court to appeal this judgment, which entirely ignores the reality of the situation on the ground; as Zaiwalla points out: Mr Maduro’s government is “in complete control of Venezuela and its administrative institutions and only it can ensure the distribution of the humanitarian relief and medical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus pandemic”.

 

 

 

,

 

 

 

Away with manipulative think-tanks – government stalking horses

Paraphrasing George Monbiot’s Rings of Power essay: personnel  employed by opaquely-funded thinktanks, that formulate and test the policies later adopted by government,  circulate in and out of the offices of the UK Prime Minister and US President. Their output is published or reviewed in the print media, most of which is owned by billionaires or multi-millionaires living offshore.

Michèle Flournoy, a former US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and the co-founder of WestExec Advisors, described as ‘a diverse group of senior national security professionals with recent experience at the highest levels of the U.S. government’, has today published an article in the Financial Times.

It is – ostensibly – about the recent India/China confrontation, but is actually another move in what Robert Armstrong calls the US-China fight.

This cartoon replaces WestExec’s patronising cartoon of PM Modi and President Xi battling with stone-age clubs. It is taken from Jonathan Power’s FT article earlier this month:

Fanning the flames: “In principle, it is a moment that demands US leadership to convene and mobilise the region’s democracies”  

Embedded in the article are Ms Flournoy’s references to China’s rising military expenditures, its  growing assertiveness, coercive measures to enforce excessive maritime claims, expansive global infrastructure development strategy, modernised armed forces and multibillion-dollar state-directed campaign to develop (and steal) key emerging technologies. She adds:

“Its vessels have collided with foreign ships in the South China Sea (Ed, in 2014). Japan protests that its vessels re being harassed in the East China Sea. Chinese aircraft have encroached upon Taiwan, and Beijing has promulgated a new national security law for Hong Kong that seriously erodes its liberties”.

She then calls for deeper security co-operation among like-minded states, naming Japan, the US, India and Australia, urging these ‘major democracies’ and other countries who are anxious about Chinese intentions and capabilities, to treat China’s border clash with India as a clarion call and take steps to protect their common interests and values. If they do not, she continues, China will continue pushing boundaries, posing unacceptable risks to international order, ending: “In practice, however, that may have to wait for a new occupant in the White House”.

Another voice says:The attack on China should stop’

Jonathan Power writes:

“The world is supposed to be pulling together to defeat the Coronavirus and to some extent it is. Earlier on Russia sent special equipment to the US and recently the US has sent some to Russia. China has aided Italy and Africa with doctors and equipment. Tiny Cuba, with its deep pool of doctors, has also helped Africa (detail here). Around the world there is a sense of “we are all in this together” and that this is a bigger problem than the ones the world has faced since World War 2.”

But President Donald Trump has suggested Chinese culpability for spreading the COVID-19, calling the virus “a Chinese virus” – and some Chinese senior officials publicly retorted.

Powers forecasts that the Coronavirus debate over who is right and who is wrong could become a watershed moment in the relationship between the US and China.

The World Health Organization has brought all the world’s countries together to discuss how to go forward now and – as Power continues – Trump’s representatives needed to say “Let’s sit down and with our best scientists discuss not who is to blame but how such diseases can be forestalled”. That is likely to bring a better result.

Power adds that despite Trump’s good-humoured meetings with Xi, “this antagonism is not a new development. There were three rounds of tariffs in 2018, and a fourth one in September last year. The most recent round targeted Chinese imports, from meat to musical instruments, with a 15% duty. He has refused to negotiate an extension of the nuclear weapons reduction agreement with Russia unless China (a relatively small nuclear power) is brought into the deal”.

Though both countries have an extreme superiority complex and think they are exceptional, unlike China, Power notes, the US has sought to prevent the emergence of a peer competitor, whether Western Europe, Russia or China, that could challenge its military dominance.

Fareed Zakaria in Foreign Affairs agrees: “Today’s China is a remarkably responsible nation on the geopolitical and military front. Beijing is now the second-largest funder of the United Nations and its peacekeeping work. It has deployed 2,500 peacekeepers, more than all the other permanent members of the Security Council combined.

It has not gone to war since 1979. It has not used lethal military force abroad since 1988. Nor has it funded or supported proxies or armed insurgents anywhere in the world since the early 1980s. That record of non-intervention is unique among the world’s great powers”. Powers comments: “For its part, the US has attempted regime change around the world 72 times”.

If Michèle Flournoy were to study the writings of Zakaria and Power, heeding the 16th century advice from Thomas Cranmer, to “read mark, learn and inwardly digest” – she might change course.

 

 

 

,

Media 111: Why has British mainstream media ignored this Jewish-Arab rally?

Five pages of a search on the 7th&15th June showed that only one British paper covered the joint Jewish-Arab demonstration in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square earlier this month, though it was covered in many other countries. A few days later the FT – no longer British-owned – gave good coverage.

Tens of thousands had been peacefully protesting against Israeli plans to annex whole swathes of the occupied West Bank. The Times of Israel reported that police initially sought to block the rally but gave permission after meeting organizers, who urged participants to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines and appointed officials to ensure adherence to these safety measures

The demonstration was organized by Meretz, a left-wing   social-democratic and green political party and Hadash, which supports a socialist economy and workers’ rights. It emphasizes Jewish–Arab cooperation. It was joined by several other left-wing rights groups.

Nitzan Horowitz, the head of Meretz, told the crowd that annexation would be a “war crime” and would cost Israel millions as the economy is already reeling due to the pandemic:

“We cannot replace an occupation of dozens of years with an apartheid that will last forever. Yes to two states for two peoples. No to violence and bloodshed. No to annexation, yes to peace.”

Fellow Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg said the agreement would “officially make Israel an apartheid state… sovereignty without citizenship is apartheid.”

Vermont senator Bernie Sanders addressed the crowds via video link: “It’s up to all of us to stand up to authoritarian leaders and to build a peaceful future for every Palestinian and every Israeli … The only future is a shared future.”

His friend, Ayman Odeh, an Israeli Arab lawyer and leader of the Joint List alliance of Arab-majority parties to which Meretz and Hadash belong, told those gathered:

We are at a crossroads. One path leads to a joint society with a real democracy, civil and national equality for Arab citizens … The second path leads to hatred, violence, annexation and apartheid. We’re here in Rabin Square to pick the first path.”

In a long and comprehensive Financial Times article* today, Mehul Srivastava, writing from the occupied Jordan Valley, reporting that Benjamin Netanyahu (below) has sent mapmakers across the West Bank to prepare for the Israeli parliament’s vote on a new map described in the ‘peace plan’ presented by the Trump administration in January.

It proposes to annex almost a third of the occupied territories — from the entire fertile Jordan Valley, to the homes, factories and vineyards of some 650,000 Jewish residents in the settlement blocs near Jerusalem.

Several maps are presented in the FT article and a great deal of information about the 1993 Oslo Accords, signed when Mr Netanyahu, new to the Knesset, shouted at then prime minister Yitzak Rabin that the Bible was Israel’s “deed to the land”.

Shrivastava describes the proposed Palestinian state as being “shrivelled to a constellation of disconnected enclaves after Israeli land annexations”:

  • major Arab cities like Ramallah and Bethlehem would be connected to each other only by highways and tunnels,
  • Palestine would have only a tiny strip of land — perhaps just a highway — connecting it to Jordan,
  • And the future of several thousand Palestinians in the Jordan Valley remains unclear. They might live in restricted enclaves or become non-voting residents of Israel.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, prime minister of Palestine, is a UK-trained economist. In an interview in Ramallah, he said: “I am angry. I have invested most of my life in this process, and all I have wanted is for our people to have a moment of happiness, not to live under an occupation forever.”

A group of UN human rights experts warned “What would be left of the West Bank would be a Palestinian Bantustan, islands of disconnected land completely surrounded by Israel and with no territorial connection to the outside world”.

A good time to bury bad news

Shrivastava ends by saying that Netanyahu hopes to pass this legislation while he has a favourable administration in power in the US, at a time when regional support for the Palestinians has declined and other countries are focussing on controlling the coronavirus epidemic and restarting economic activity.

The FT editorial says, ”The world should not be silent on Israeli annexation”. Will British media report the news, or assist the Trump/Netanyahu plan by remaining silent ? 

*People with a serious interest in this subject who face a paywall may ask for a gift link to this article via its comments section.

A Bardali case-study about alienation of its water supply may be read here.

 

 

 

.

COVID-19 bulletin 27: misgovernment – arms manufacturers thrive, US/UK economies suffer

 

Mark Shapiro draws attention to an article by Alan Macleod reporting that –  though the US economy is suffering – American arms manufacturers are thriving.

It opens:

“The American economy has crashed – only the military industrial complex is booming. A nationwide pandemic that has (officially) claimed some 84,000 Americans has also led to an estimated 36 million filing for unemployment insurance and millions frequenting food banks for the first time”. But weapons manufacturers are busier than ever, advertising for tens of thousands more workers:

  • Northrop Grumman announced that it was planning to hire up to 10,000  employees this year.
  • Last month, the Air Force commissioned Raytheon to develop and build a new nuclear cruise missile.
  • Raytheon is still advertising 2,000 new jobs in the military wing of its business.
  • Boeing is looking to add hundreds of new workers in its defense, intelligence, and cybersecurity departments and
  • Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest arms dealer, announcedon Friday that it is “actively recruiting for over 4,600 roles,” in addition to the 2,365 new employees it has taken on since the lockdown started.

Washington has designated weapons manufacturers as “essential” services during a pandemic (CNN report)

In February, the Pentagon released a $705 billion budget request for 2021, revealing that there would be a “shifting focus from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a greater emphasis on the types of weapons that could be used to confront nuclear giants like Russia and China.”

Confronting nuclear giants like Russia and China

MacLeod points out that, just as Donald Trump was increasing the military budget, he slashed funding for the Center for Disease Control and for the World Health Organization, perhaps the only international body capable of limiting the spread of the virus.

In America and the rest of the world, poverty and disease have inflicted a far higher death toll than warfare

Yesterday US COVID-19’s death toll was 99,886. The United States has suffered the highest death toll from COVID-19 and the pandemic has led Americans to ask whether the enormous military budget is making them safer or whether well-funded healthcare, education and social care would have saved or enhanced more lives.

(War figures include American military deaths in battle, and in-theatre deaths as available. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS; JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY)

Alan Macleod ends: “However, that question appears not to have been debated within the walls of the White House, where it is full steam ahead with weapons production”. 

oOOo

Journalist Simon Jenkins reported last year that the British government boasted of record sales with 80% going to the Middle East.

He asserted that Britain should not be weaponising the suppression of dissent in Egypt, Bangladesh, Colombia, Uzbekistan or Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states – their national defence better termed, regime defence.

Calling the last London arms fair (above) “a stain on the nation . . . the most awesome glamorisation of death on the planet”, he added “The reality is that Britain and the US are in an arms race with the Russians in this theatre – with no remotely peaceful objective”.

And Symon Hill, in an article on security, points out that for years, “security” and “defence” have been euphemisms for war and preparations for war, adding that the coronavirus crisis is a fatal reminder that security, safety and defence cannot be found in armed force.

He ends: “In the long term, we must put our resources into addressing real threats, not into the waste and destruction of war”.

 

 

 

,

 

COVID-19 bulletin 24: though death toll rises in Yemen, BAE-assisted airstrikes continue

Flooding struck Aden in April, leaving several areas submerged in sewage and water for weeks and this month over 600 people have died in Yemen’s capital.

In a detailed account, the World Health Organisation says there is no way of assessing how many other deaths there have been in this war ravaged country.

Andrew Smith (Campaign Against the Arms Trade) said that UK-made Typhoon Eurofighter jets (above) have played a key role in the devastating Saudi-led bombing of Yemen and despite the humanitarian crisis and the outbreak of Covid-19, the war is still raging. He ended:

“We are in unprecedented times and this should not be happening”.

British arms manufacturer BAE is also responsible for the maintenance and support of the kingdom’s 72 jets and has continued to supply military equipment, including spare parts, to Saudi Arabia throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

New Labour MP Sam Tarry (right) asked the Secretary of State for Defence two questions:

  • why have weekly flights continued from a BAE Systems factory in Warton to a military base in Saudi Arabia from where air strikes on Yemen are launched
  • and why those flights have been assessed as essential during the covid-19 lockdown.

Though a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf states announced a ceasefire in April, the Yemen Data Project reports that the bombing has continued, with three civilians injured by an air strike as recently as May 2nd.

But as its AGM had to be cancelled, BAE has been spared angry questions about its trade in weapons – an annual ordeal.

Industry editor Alan Tovey notes that there is one bonus to the lockdown: BAE’s annual meeting, scheduled for May 7, is normally a testing time for the board, with proceedings routinely disrupted by anti-arms activists who gatecrash and forcefully question BAE’s trade in weapons.

He adds that BAE’s “sleepless enemies” see opportunities in the dispersed working.

BAE’s Systems’ chief executive Charles Woodburn (left) wouldn’t give details to Tovey, but confirms that BAE has seen a spike in attempted cyber intrusions since the pandemic hit.

Sadly, Woodburn describes higher military spending as a way of stimulating the economy once the current crisis passes.  No going back? Or business as usual?

 

 

 

 

.

COVID-19 bulletin 11: in future, rely on fossil-fuelled imports or reorient agriculture?

Some shortening of global supply chains is inevitable . . . the pandemic has exposed just how far even the richest nations are from strategic self-sufficiency (associate editor, FT).

Certain vested interests are increasingly un-nerved by the Government’s acknowledgement of the crucial role played by food producers

As the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) notes: post-COVID-19, politicians have learnt to celebrate ‘more than four million hidden heroes’ who work in Britain’s farm‑to-fork supply chain (but not yet to insist that they receive a fair price for their heroism, we add). There is a growing recognition in political circles that food security requires a return to post-war levels of production. 

Processors, export/importers and commodity speculators call to arms . . .

The FDF said – in a letter co-signed by 30 trade bodies this week – that ministers must fight to keep goods moving around the world after the pandemic has shown how essential global supply chains are for feeding consumers. On 18th March it launched a survey (above), hoping to gain support for its cause.

In a Telegraph article FDF warns that long supply chains must continue, stressing that ‘free trade’ is critical to economic recovery – aka their profits? 

They write: “The British food and drink industry is an international success story. The country exports more than £23 billion worth of high-quality products each year”. This ‘success’ depends on exporting British produce and importing not only tropical fruits but beef, lamb and apples, easily available here – see The Great Food Swap, Lucas, (research: Hines, Hurd, Jones). And who profits from this polluting activity? Certainly not the average British farmer.

The alternative: more local, accountable and inclusive

As huge numbers of small suppliers are currently left stranded by the closure of local cafes, hotels and restaurants and vulnerable households can’t even get onto the telephone or internet queues for supermarket deliveries, Alan Simpson (right) – in a recent paper – notes that we grow only half of our own food needs.

“Internationally, buffer stocks of food are getting caught up in siege mentalities. Domestic needs will come before international trade . . . It won’t stop there. Floods and drought across Europe and beyond will cause mayhem with global food supply . . . food security is not going to be delivered by any compact between government, the army and the big supermarkets. The alternative needs to be more local, accountable and inclusive”.

William Sitwells (British) sheep farmer friend seethed

“Freezing lamb, putting it on a ship and sending it on a 12,000-mile journey to a country that produces the best lamb in the world is simply ridiculous . . . Supermarkets would retort that they stock the best cuts, when in season – which suggests there is not enough British lamb currently available”.

Not so, Sitwell points out: “Breeds such as the Dorset, for example, can lamb in November, but a lack of grass in winter makes the meat more expensive as farmers have to pay for feed”. Supermarkets have failed to invest in farmers rearing these types of animals in favour of cheaper meat from, say, New Zealand, causing a vicious circle: less British lamb available, so demand remains low and prices stay high.

Arch-exponent Helena Norberg-Hodge (left) addresses the issue of local, accountable food production and distribution in the latest episode of Russell Brand’s podcast, ‘Under the Skin 

Pre-COVID-19, Pantheon Economics recorded that world trade had already fallen “sharply,” dropping 1.4% in the year to June 2019 (text & photo: Business Insider). Arjun Kapur, New York Investment strategist, asserts in a letter to the FT’s editor that “2020 will go down as the year of ‘deglobalisation’ “.

He suggests, “Company leaders and world leaders would be wise to ditch their reliance on vulnerable supply chains in favour of more resilient, self-sufficient means of delivering health, economic, and business outcomes for their constituents and shareholders. The ship of globalisation is sailing away”.

 

 

 

COVID-19 bulletin 4: the Trump administration charged with ‘modern piracy’ and ‘wild west’ tactics

Jacqueline Charles in the Miami Herald reports that a number of countries have charged  the Trump administration with flouting international trade rules by diverting medical equipment including ventilators and personal protective equipment such as N95 respiratory face masks. She cites four examples:

  • The German newspaper Der Tagesspiegelreported on Friday that a delivery of protective equipment ordered by the State of Berlin in China for the coronavirus had been intercepted while they were being transferred between flights in Thailand and diverted to the United States.

https://www.archyde.com/corona-virus-pandemic-usa-intercepts-protective-masks-from-china-ordered-by-berlin/

  • BFMTV, the most popular French news channel, reports that the presidents of several French regions have recently denounced the diversion of a shipment of medical masks from Shanghai diverted after unidentified American buyers offered three times the asking price.
  • Cuba’s ambassador to China, Carlos M. Pereira, said on his blog thata foundation set up by Chinese business magnate Jack Ma tried to send Cuba 100,000 face masks and 10 COVID-19 diagnostic kits along with other aid including ventilators and gloves, but the airline would not transport them, citing the U.S. embargo.
  • Barbados’ Health Minister accused the United States of placing export restrictions, which had prevented it from acquiring critical medical equipment to fight COVID-19.
  • Minnesota-based 3M said the US administration had asked it to stop exporting its N95 respirators, currently manufactured in the United States, to the Canadian and Latin American markets

3M’s wise response

The company issued a statement four days ago warning of the “significant humanitarian implications” for health workers of blocking shipments, It pointed out that blocking export of respirators produced in the United States could lead to other countries stopping the export of equipment to the US and the net number of respirators available to the United States would fall, adding “That is the opposite of what we and the administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek”.

Today, the FT reports that the Trump administration has reached a deal with 3M, which has agreed to import 166.5m N95 respirator masks into America from their manufacturing base in China. It will now be permitted to continue selling its US-made N95 masks to Canada and Latin America.

Berlin’s Interior Minister Andreas GeiseI said confiscation of protective medical equipment was seen as “an act of modern piracy” and urged Germany’s government to demand that Washington observes international trade rules: “Even in times of global crisis, there should be no wild-west methods.”

 

 

 

,

America: jettison the Venezuelan vendetta and face the coronavirus!

As Steve Sweeney writes: Washington has come under fire (Ed: largely in the suffering regions’ media) for using the global health emergency to exert pressure on countries, including Venezuela and Iran, where it seeks regime change. Both have been targeted with increased sanctions and threats.

At least 3,003 people have died in the United States from Covid-19 and over 160,698 cases of coronavirus have been detected. CNN reports that hundreds of medical workers across the country have fallen sick and hospitals face dire shortages of protective gear: “We are slowly descending into chaos,” said a trauma physician at Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital.

As infections and deaths escalate, what preoccupies the American government?

Last week the Trump administration indicted President Maduro as a drug trafficker, offering a $15m reward for his capture, despite the words of Pino Arlacchi, the former Vice Secretary of the United Nations and Former Executive Director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime. Arlacchi is reported to have said that the world’s main producer and consumer are Colombia and the United States and Venezuela has always been outside these main cocaine trafficking circuits, adding:

“There is no illegal drug trade between Venezuela and the United States, except in the ill fantasy of Trump and his associates. I have been dealing with the issue of drugs for 40 years and I have never encountered Venezuela”.

Yesterday, Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state (above), added further pressure on Venezuela, telling a press briefing in Washington about plans to invite President Nicolás Maduro to cede power to a new transitional government.

Speaking after this news, Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela’s foreign minister, responded: “Nicolás Maduro was elected in May 2018 for a period of six years. . . he would never betray the trust that the people have put in him twice already.”

Sweeney sees aggressive behaviour towards Venezuela, Cuba, China and Iran as attempts by Donald Trump to ‘cover his inadequacies’ fuelled by fears that Washington is losing its dominant influence on the world stage.

The Financial Times editorial has called for the US and its allies to change course and waive sanctions on Venezuela as US bid for regime change escalates. It argued that the desperate state of Venezuela merits special consideration: the spread of the coronavirus, coinciding with a crash in global oil prices, has deprived Caracas of most of its sole source of legal foreign exchange ending:

“Negotiate a humanitarian programme and focus on health as the coronavirus spreads apace in both countries”.

 

 

 

.

 

 

Enforce British court ruling on arms exports as fears of the coronavirus spread in Yemen

WordPress error: photograph could not be uploaded; it was included in the mailing list alert.

WFP/Mohammed Awadh: Conflict-damaged homes on the edge of Aden, Yemen.

Britain has been providing arms with which its allies continue to bomb the people of Yemen for the fifth year, in contravention of a Court of Appeal ruling. This stated that it is unlawful to have licensed the sale of British-made arms to the Saudi regime without assessing whether their use in Yemen breaches international humanitarian law.

The United Nations has described the effect of this five-year air onslaught, leading to many thousands of Yemeni deaths, as “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”.

Peter Lazenby reports the words of Andrew Smith (Campaign Against Arms Trade – CAAT): “It is a crisis that has been enabled by the political and military support that the UK and other arms-dealing governments have given the Saudi regime and its coalition partners”.

Yemen’s healthcare system is already in crisis, with many damaged and destroyed hospitals and a weak healthcare system, already struggling with cholera and malnutrition. The Red Cross reports that medical supplies, drinking water and sanitation are scarce.

Ahmed Aidarous, 36, a resident of the southwestern city of Taiz, who survived dengue fever, expresses the general fear to MiddleEastEye: “In Yemen, there are some diseases like dengue fever and cholera but we know their reasons and we can be treated for them. I heard from media that coronavirus spreads through the air and we cannot protect ourselves from it.”

Two days after his 23 March appeal to warring parties across the globe for an immediate ceasefire, UN Secretary-GeneraAntónio Guterres  called on those fighting in Yemen to end hostilities and ramp up efforts to counter a potential outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The FT reports that, in response on Wednesday, the Houthi movement and the exiled Saudi-supported government agreed to an immediate end to hostilities.

 

 

 

,

Should government spend twice as much on the military as on the “unfolding climate catastrophe”?

A new report by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) calls for addressing the climate crisis to be treated as the ‘first duty of government.’

caat coverFighting the Wrong Battles: How Obsession with Military Power Diverts Resources from the Climate Crisis, is written by CAAT’s Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, the group’s research co-ordinator and former head of military expenditure at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. He says:

“The climate crisis is not only an environmental crisis, it is also one of human security. It is already causing catastrophic damage and loss of life worldwide.

Analysis in the report shows that the government spends more than twice as much on the military as it does on mitigating climate change. The report argues that “The balance of priorities for these two areas of spending should be clear. Climate change represents an existential threat to the UK and the world. Loss of the UK’s status as a global military power does not.”

While the programmes for Trident replacement and new large aircraft carriers go ahead, the same level of financial support is not provided to tackle the biggest threat to the security of people in the UK and worldwide – the unfolding climate catastrophe. As the report reflects:

“It is striking that the maximum spending estimate for achieving the UK’s climate change targets is around the same level as what the government considers to be the bare minimum requirement for military spending.”

“The climate crisis is not only an environmental crisis, it is also one of human security. It is already causing catastrophic damage and loss of life worldwide. The recent floods have shown how ill-prepared UK infrastructure and government responses are today. As climate change worsens then so will the impact of floods and extreme weather events.

                                  Pictured in a thoughtful article in Carbon Brief

“If we are to make the changes that are needed, that means moving towards a vision of climate justice and sustainable security. We must focus on the real threats to human well-being, recognise the interdependence of security for people around the world, and ensure that our economic systems remain within the bounds set by nature.”

fabian hamilton mp peace labourShadow peace minister Fabian Hamilton hosted a lobby in parliament today from 11.30am where CAAT presented the report.

Speakers were the report’s author, Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman and Anna Vickerstaff, UK Team Leader at 350.org, which works to end the use of fossil fuels and build community-led renewable energy.

A wider discussion followed.

ENDNOTE

As many readers have a particular interest in defence we add a distinction between spending on true defence and on the nuclear weapon and the equipment used in Allied coalition operations in the Middle East.

The BBC reported the views of a former Head of Joint Forces Command, Gen Sir Richard Barrons, some time ago. He established the important Joint Force Command, which examines areas such as cyber warfare, medical, logistics, information and surveillance.

Sir Richard said that key capabilities such as radars, fire control systems and missile stocks had been stripped out. Neither the UK homeland nor a deployed force could be protected from a concerted air attack . . . Manpower in all three services is dangerously squeezed and Navy ships and RAF planes depend on US support.

Major General Tim Cross, who served in the British army for 40 years, responded to criticism of Sir Richard’s statements as “wrong and unfair”; adding that he was “simply highlighting a reality”.

.

Read more here:

https://www.caat.org.uk/

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/29388

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/military-spending-diverting-much-needed-resources-tackling-unfolding-climate

https://www.carbonbrief.org/guest-post-are-uk-floods-becoming-worse-due-to-climate-change

https://www.caat.org.uk/resources/publications/government/fighting-the-wrong-battles-feb2020.pdf

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-37391804

 

 

 

.