British politicians: stop shouting adjectives, banging drums and dropping bombs (Jenkins) and exert unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement (Corbyn)
“It is a war crime to disable, maim or poison a victim by chemical or biological means, yet it is permissible to blow them to bits. Dropping chlorine evokes howls of horror. Dropping bunker busters does not. Cluster munitions, the most horrible of delayed action weapons, remain in the arsenals of NATO armies”.
Paul (left) wrote: “Fair enough, and of course I agree that the war mongering these last two days, particularly by the BBC, is shocking indeed. But to equate CW with other munitions is to miss the point that they are expressly illegal, and we have to be building up stronger humanitarian law piece by piece and defending strongly those pieces already in place”.
The editor replied: “Yes, I think Jenkins could have made a valid point just by referring to conventional bombs”. After checking on the illegality of cluster bombs she asked Paul, “Did US ever sign this?”
He replied, “No, I don’t think the US is a signatory. It certainly hasn’t ratified” and continued:
“I was on Russia Today yesterday saying that the best response for the Russians now would be to strengthen their call for a UN Security Council meeting and present all the evidence they have that the chemical weapons attack was not a Syrian air force one … or to come up with further evidence for their current explanation.
“The worst aspect of the cruise missile attack was the way it by-passed the UN Security Council and was illegal and is a major step in the direction of unilateralism and flagrant use of force.
“There are plenty of conspiracy theories going around, but the consequences are that Russia will no longer tolerate US aircraft over Syria and will strengthen the S300-400 systems that appear to have shot a majority of the 59 cruise missiles out of the sky.
“… and I see that Russia is sending its own missile destroyer into the Med today”.
Will parliament stand firm again?
*The British American Security Information Council (BASIC) works to address security challenges by building confidence in a shared, sustainable security agenda. We work in both nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states, with a specific expert focus on the UK, US, Europe and the Middle East.
David Edwards of Media Lens responds to a Guardian article by Polly Toynbee in which she suggests that voting for Jeremy Corbyn would amount to a ‘betrayal’ of the electorate by quoting Ian Sinclair’s argument that in fact it is Toynbee, not Corbyn, who is out of touch with public opinion.
Sinclair noted that Corbyn supports a publicly run NHS, a position supported by 84 per cent of the public, according to a November 2013 YouGov poll. In addition:
- ‘He supports the nationalisation of the railways, a position backed by 66 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.
- ‘He supports the nationalisation of the energy companies, a position supported by 68 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, according to the same poll.
- ‘He believes the Royal Mail should be publicly owned, a position supported by 67 percent of the public, according to the same poll.
- ‘He supports rent controls, a position supported by 60% of the public, including 42% of Conservatives, according to an April 2015 YouGov poll.
- ‘He opposes the retention of Trident nuclear weapons, a position John Curtice, Professor of Politics at Strathclyde University, notes is supported by a “smallish plurality” in “the majority of polls”.
- ‘He strongly opposed the 2003 Iraq War, which was also opposed by the more than one million people who marched through London on 15 February 2003.
- ‘He has long pushed for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, a position favoured by 82 per cent of the public, according to a May 2014 YouGov poll.’
Thus: ‘Corbyn’s key political positions are in actual fact supported by a majority of the British public.’
Edwards ends: “Like Blair and the rest of the establishment, the Guardian and other corporate media claim their motivation is to preserve Labour’s electability, rather than to attack any and all politics that stray off the ‘centrist’, ‘modernising’ path.
“In reality, it could hardly be more obvious that this collection of profit-seeking, corporate enterprises – grandly and laughably proclaiming themselves ‘the free press’ – is opposing a threat to their private and class interests”.
Lockheed Martin, BNFL, Serco consortium & defence ministers seriously ‘limited disclosure’ of risk and damage to nuclear warhead site
Some online reading was prompted by the news that Chris Crean, regional campaigner for Friends of the Earth, is to give the Diana Stableforth Memorial Lecture on 23rd June. Its title is THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
One story held the attention:
Six years ago at the Atomic Weapons Establishment site at Burghfield in Berkshire, which is run for the Ministry of Defence by a private company, AWE-ML, a consortium of Lockheed Martin, BNFL and Serco, floods disabled key radiation alarm systems.
Parts of the factory came “within 2 to 3 hours” of being overwhelmed and this could have led to the release of potentially radioactive contaminated water and of a radioactive cloud that would require the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from the surrounding area.
According to documents released to the Nuclear Information Service under the Freedom of Information Act, most of the buildings in the key nuclear assembly area were inundated. Serious management problems at AWE were revealed: staff struggled to contact senior managers as the waters rose and those who attempted to defend buildings were overcome by the volume of water. Radioactive material was still being recovered from one building nearly three weeks after the flood.
After previous floods at Burghfield in 1999 and 2000, a programme of nine separate flood remediation measures had been ordered. Seven years later, none had been completed. On three, no action had been taken, two had dropped off the radar, listed as “status unknown” and the remaining four are described as “partially implemented”.
No heads rolled.
Secret state: ministers and companies
- No site emergency was declared in spite of the severity of the flood, and the Environment Agency’s Nuclear Regulation Group was not told of the extent of the flood damage for 48 hours.
- Defence ministers told MPs there had been only “minor disruption”, though all live nuclear work on warheads stopped for nine months.
- Details of the extent of the flooding were kept from the public and local authorities: the documents noting that “it was a prudent step to limit disclosure of information surrounding the degree of impact suffered – particularly at Burghfield.”
Can this political corporate alliance, which has withheld such information from the public, the regulatory authority, local government and more junior members of parliament, be trusted to run such dangerous installations?
Will George Osborne be slashing budgets across the board, while spending on nuclear weapons continues?
What kind of country do we want to be?
One that helps the sick and elderly, or one that threatens indiscriminate killing of men, women and children?
£100 billion could be better spent if invested in building affordable homes, employing nurses or providing apprenticeships.
On Budget Day 19th March from 6pm many groups will come to Downing Street to tell the government that they should focus on people – not Trident!