Newsletter April 2018

(if you can spare the time, kindly forward this to interested colleagues)

This newsletter comes out periodically. Because your time is valuable, it’s brief. You don’t need to keep this. All editions are available on the website .

The Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign (NLSPC) aims to reduce death and injury in warfare (and other conflicts) by using non-damaging technology (more info on the website).

There’s been quite a gap since our last newsletter. At first the crash of the website was an excuse to take a break. But the website has been up and running for some time now. We waited for a change in international affairs that might be a signal to start up again. But we can delay publishing no longer. In fact, there’s been little major change over the last year or two in how humans handle international conflicts. In some ways the situation has become worse. Many people are pessimistic.

Supporters of the NLSPC believe that a nonlethal approach to international security offers a sane and sensible way forward. We can reduce the risks and damage of war and yet ensure security and justice across the nations.

Such a solution should give us cause for optimism. All we have to do is to adopt it. It’s certainly a challenge, but a great deal better than the alternatives.
Andrew Greig
Newsletter Editor

2016 was an important year for the campaign which saw the Shetland to Scilly New Technologies for Peace journey. 2017 was much quieter. Because the website was hacked several times and took time to restore it was not easy to maintain a presence.

So far, the website has remained stable over the last few months, although it needs ongoing updating. Now that 2018 is well under way, we’re looking to see a resurgence of activity in the campaign. Since our last newsletter, the world has not become safer. Indeed (see below) our situation is more precarious. The concept of nonlethal security is not yet widely accepted, but more than ever we need a world free of lethal weapons.

At the beginning of this 21st Century, before 9/11, the world was starting to look safer. As we all know, things changed and – instead – the risks to humanity increased. These include greater inequality, challenges to democracy, growing aggressiveness by the major powers and climate change.

World leaders appear still to be caught in the old paradigm that the only way to ensure international security is to be able to kill people. Most disturbing of all is a higher acceptance of the possibility of nuclear war.

Lethal warfare always has the possibility of deteriorating into nuclear war and humanity can no longer afford that risk.

Sadly, 2017 saw little change in our lethal approach to international conflict. ISIS forces were eventually eliminated from Mosul. In Syria, it’s estimated that over 340,000 people have been killed from 2011 to the end of 2017. Over 100,000 were civilians. 2017 was not the most lethal year (that was 2014 with over 76,000 deaths) but some 33,400 people still perished.

It’s true that ISIS has for the moment been dislodged but did it require the deaths of over a third of a million people?

In Afghanistan civilians deaths in the first half of 2017 reached a record high.

As they say, “healthcare and good education may be expensive – but think about the cost of not having them!”

International security is essential and it costs money, but current military spending around the world is beyond all reason. The concept of the ‘nuclear deterrent’ is an illusion, but even if you accept the idea of a ‘deterrent’, money currently spent on nuclear weapons is grossly over the top. Enough nuclear weapons already exist to extinguish the human race many times over and yet nations like the USA and Russia, driven by the international armaments lobby, are now proposing to ‘update’ their fearsome arsenals at vast new cost.

Britain is planning to replace its Trident nuclear submarines and has commissioned two large aircraft carriers. The investment needed will greatly reduce what’s available for day-to-day military security and yet the technology is already becoming redundant. Even Australia is set to increase its defence budget by some 6% for 2017-18. Vast sums are already planned for a new submarine fleet. Again, there are questions as to whether, with changing technologies, the submarines will be any use at all by the time they are completed.

In summary, nuclear and conventional armaments together cost the human race a huge amount of money and yet are highly dangerous and/or too often ineffective. Some of this vast expenditure could be much better utilised addressing some of the major causes of war such as poverty and inequality. The money used for weaponry could be applied much more skilfully to ensure security but with minimal damage.

In October the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) – was awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize for its work in establishing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. ICAN was founded in Australia but there was no recognition at all from the current Australian government of the immense significance of the award. Nuclear nations such as USA, China, Russia and their supporters are opposed to the treaty because it undermines their devotion to the dogma of the ‘nuclear deterrent’.

The ‘deterrent’ may have served its purpose during the cold war but has now lost any of its original logic and is highly dangerous. Fortunately, the Treaty will soon pass into international law and like the Prohibition of Land Mines Treaty should exert increasing influence on the nations of the world.

The Council for Peace with Justice (CPJ) came into being in 2017 and is now well established. Based in Sydney but active internationally, the CPJ is concerned with promoting peace with justice through the study and practice of non-violence, peaceful conflict resolution and respect for human rights (Facebook @CouncilforPeacewithJustice ). The Council has provided good support to the NLSPC.

Recommended reading
Every month sees the emergence of excellent books on peace and war. Here are just two:
War – an Enquiry by A.C. Grayling (Yale 2017) provides some useful new perspectives.
The Doomsday Machine by Daniel Ellsberg (Bloomsbury 2017) reveals the terrifying current risks of nuclear warfare, the way ‘good ordinary citizens’ can be enlisted in creating this fiendish technology and the fragile governance (still in place) which all too frequently has allowed us to come close to eradicating humanity.

Questions and Comments
Questions and comments to .

The Nonlethal Security for Peace Campaign Newsletter – February 2018
PO Box 724 Avalon Beach NSW Australia
Tel +61 412 299 762

Editor – Andrew Greig

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