The No New Wars organisation web site – no more

By the end of may 2013 I had formed an idea to create a No New Wars organisation.  A membership organisation that would bring together the entire UK peace sector’s organisations and sympathisers with one common goal: to prevent any new wars.

Herding cats would be much easier.  They have predictable common goals.

The domain and web site have finally expired.

Oh well.  I tried.

Hit them where it hurts – in the wallet

The climate change movement has been saying for a few years that a very effective way to achieve their aims is to get people to move their bank accounts and pensions away from mainstream providers to ethical ones instead.  This is now paying dividends – literally! – and is also resulting in the ethical investment funds having enough clout to change the behaviour of carbon-producing industry.  For example:

18 May 2021 “Shell faces shareholder rebellion over fossil fuel productionThe GuardianLink.

Shell has faced a significant shareholder rebellion on a vote calling for the oil company to set firm targets to wind down fossil fuel production.  A shareholder resolution calling for the Anglo-Dutch company to set binding carbon emissions reduction targets received 30% of votes at the oil company’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

The result represents an escalation of the pressure on Shell to commit to meaningful decarbonisation, after a similar resolution last year received 14% of votes.

The Shell rebellion sailed past the 20% threshold that means the oil company will be forced to consult shareholders and report on their views within six months, under the UK corporate governance code.

The resolution was put forward by Follow This, a campaign group that uses activist investment to put pressure on oil companies into decarbonising in line with the limits set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

26 May 2021 “ExxonMobil and Chevron suffer shareholder rebellions over climateThe Guardian.

Exxon loses two board seats to activist hedge fund.

Exxon failed to defend its board against a coup launched by dissident hedge fund activists at Engine No. 1 which successfully replaced two Exxon board members with its own candidates to help drive the oil company towards a greener strategy.

Meanwhile, a majority of Chevron shareholders rebelled against the company’s board by voting 61% in favour of an activist proposal from – Dutch campaign group Follow This – to force the group to cut its carbon emissions.

Mark van Baal, who founded Follow This, said Wednesday’s shareholder revolts mark an investor “paradigm shift” and a “victory in the fight against climate change”.

3 Jun 2021 “Activist fund expected to win third seat on ExxonMobil boardThe Guardian.

ExxonMobil expects to lose a third board seat to an activist hedge fund, Engine No 1, adding to the pressure on one of the world’s largest oil companies to introduce a more effective climate transition plan.

CarbonDirect, LowCarbon and Morgan Stanley are examples of companies who have decided that actively investing in carbon reduction industries is more profitable than in the oil and gas extraction industries.

Green shareholders change the world!  Follow This is a campaigning organisation set up “to change oil companies from within – as shareholders. Follow This unites responsible shareholders to push Big Oil to go green.”  Also:

The Follow This Online Symposium 2021, which took place on April 21, brought together investors, the oil and gas industry, academics, and media to discuss how investors can support oil and gas companies to take a leading role in tackling climate change.

This may be relevant for the peace movement worldwide.  By adopting the same approach, it may be possible to move funds away from the arms industry.  More likely is that the arms industry will start to develop conflict transformation programmes so as to claim they are ethical too.

Perhaps this is something the peace sector should mobilise toward: all advising their members and supporters to move their current accounts, savings, investments and pensions to ethical providers.  It is something we can all unite behind: a common message with a common purpose.  One which we can see can work to save the planet – perhaps it can save humanity from war too.

 

A few words on governance and mission statements

This needs expanding, and could be expanded into a number of degree level courses.

There are a number of legal structure options. The most popular are:

  • unincorporated organisation – a bunch of people doing stuff. How most campaigning groups start out. Members are totally liable for debts and for the crimes of each other. Campaign Against the Arms Trade is one of these. So is War Resisters International (although it comprises not people but organisations).
  • company limited by guarantee. Like Conscience. Protects the founders to a large extent should someone do a Bad Thing. Means you can’t break the law.
  • Community Interest Company. Created for the good of a community and not suitable for campaigning. Meant for allotment associations or a village school run by the residents.
  • Charity. Very heavily regulated and controlled. Cannot get involved in political campaigning (in theory – the rich ones do it all the time).

The above are listed on gov.uk which has really good information on the options.

Regarding the purpose, vision and mission statement, you need to look inside your heart for those. They must be expressed in a way that is understandable by others and are goals that could be achieved. It might be one thing, such as COMT (like Conscience) or wider ranging such as campaigning for people being harmed by their government (similar to Amnesty International). It can be hugely wide, like the World Wildlife Fund, or as narrow as the Faslane Peace Camp.

When someone says “Who are you?”, “What are you campaigning for?”, “Why does it matter?”, “Why should I care?”, “What do you expect me to do about it?” those answers should be there already. (We ought to have a page of those on the Conscience web site.) It is worth coming up with a list of those questions and keeping them somewhere to hand and as answers occur to you, write them down. If you can’t answer them, you can’t get others to follow. It might mean changing the purpose, narrowing it down, until you can come up with questions and answers that work.

Empowering nonviolence – so much to learn

I need to read more information from War Resisters’ International.  They have so much useful information on nonviolent campaigns in opposition of war, that it is overwhelming, so I have not looked at it at all.  It is hard to know where to start.

Web sites:

Books:

Loads of articles:

Potential employers for me:

Re: I feel depressed because of war

A discussion on the forum of The Student Room started like this:


[QUOTE=PrincessZara;60094763] I can’t stop thinking about what children must be going through in their war-torn countries and witnessing their parents shot and stuff. All these graphical images/videos on Facebook and it all makes me sad  🙁 They were born in the wrong place at the wrong time they don’t deserve to go through all this. I can’t stop over-thinking and getting all sad and stuff. I try to avoid news and facebook and sh*t but that’s not helping :/ [/QUOTE]


There are things one can do.  Here is the reply from yours truly:


[QUOTE=PrincessZara;60095245] It’s impossible for the an average person to change the world. [/QUOTE]
It is that belief that makes you feel depressed about it. But that belief is not entirely accurate. Every change that has ever occurred started with someone thinking “I want to do something about this“.

[QUOTE=PrincessZara;60095325] No, I’m not going to sit back and watch people die [/QUOTE]
Good. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.

You could support Doctors Without Borders / Médecins Sans Frontières. They help the victims of war (amongst others) and, given they’ve just had two hospitals destroyed by airstrikes lately, they could do with some support. (Wouldn’t it be nice if the USA had said “Oops. We’re not taking responsibility, but how much $$$ do you need to replace that hospital?“)

You might want to learn more about The Movement for the Abolition of War. They are an organisation of volunteers with a huge dream trying to make a huge difference. Their web site has links to lots of similar organisations.

War Resisters’ International are a pacifist activist group. Perhaps you would be proud to be a War Resister. They are active in all sorts of areas to try to prevent violence and promote peaceful alternatives.

You may be more interested in the Peace Pledge Union. Would you sign a peace pledge to ‘renounce war and never again to support another‘?

If you want to not pay for war, there is a Peace Tax bill going before the government next year, which, if accepted, would mean you can say you want your tax money that would have gone on military activity (about 10%) to go on peace-making work instead. Conscience Taxes for Peace not War are leading on this. Writing to your MP to say you support this would help. There’s a news article about the bill here.

Conscience and Peace Tax International is UK based but campaigns globally for the right to legally object to paying for armaments or war preparation.

There are numerous religions groups too, if you are that way inclined, not just Anglican but especially the Quakers.

Do any of those float your boat?

Swarthmoor Hall, Cumbria. A completely random happenstance.

On Monday 29th June 2015 I had a day to myself in Barrow-in-Furness.  As I travelled further and further afield in search of something interesting to see or do, I came across Swarthmoor Hall as somewhere to visit.  I was going to give up because a coach was blocking the narrow road, but I was (unusually for me) patient, and after 15 minutes I finally got into their car park.  Where I had to move the car because of construction work.

I am glad I persevered.  I knew nothing about the place but it turns out it is relevant to my peace studies: the birthplace of Quakerism, and the Quakers are a recurring theme in the peace movement.  [Note to self: there’s a number of posts I need to write expanding on that last statement.]

I have been dragged round country houses and gardens and they bore me to tears.  However, this relatively small site kept me amused for over two hours.  It is quiet, charming, interesting, friendly, comfortable and welcoming.

Synergy and synchronicity have been recurring themes in my exploration into war prevention.  Stumbling across this building just as I am getting involved with Conscience seems strangely coincidental.  There have been so many such instances this past three years, of being in the right place at the right time.

I enjoyed my visit, and bought a copy of Preparing for Peace while I was there.  The descriptions and reviews of others will be better written than my own could be:

“What’s the European union and why do we keep hearing about it?”

Another answer to a query from an aspiring author.

RJ: “What’s the European union and why do we keep hearing about it?”

Are the British Isles part of Europe, or some independent islands in the North Atlantic? What looks like a geography question is really a socio-economic question: do we want to be part of of Europe?

Firstly, what do we mean by “Europe”. Currently, that appears to be something called the “European Union”.

After a century of fighting Germany in ever expanding wars, in 1951 France formed the European Coal and Steel Community with them plus Belgium, Italy and others to pave the way for international co-operation that would make future central European war both unnecessary and undesirable.  And right there is a great example of an alternative to war being implemented.

This expanded in scope to include atomic energy and governance to produce, in 1957, the Economic European Union or EEC. For many years we debated in Britain: should we join the EEC? It was a difficult question because of the fear of loss of sovereignty.

The original French vision had been to create a single Europe with one government, one defence force, one agricultural policy and so on. This vision was quashed back in the 1950s by the founding countries as they feared the consequences of it and it seems they still don’t want it. It may have meant the loss of cultural heritage, loss of control, failure to recognise differences in values and loss of identity.

These concerns are what put us off: would be be forced to eat garlic sausage and other foreign muck, like snails?

In 1973, we took the plunge and joined. We immediately stopped driving on the left, started speaking French, began eating frog’s legs and stopped buying beer in pints. Well, maybe not. But there were changes, especially around trade, travel and the legal system.

This became the European Union in 1993 when we signed the Maastricht Treaty. Amazingly, this got little press at the time but it is one of the most significant events in British history. We also do not notice the changes it brought about.

Anyway, the European Union is the current name of this ever expanding organisation (although some surprising previous members have left, such as Algeria and Greenland). It expands both geographically and in scope and so is ever changing. And nobody enjoys change.

But after 40 years of membership we still drive on the left, don’t like garlic sausage, still can’t speak anything other than English and measure distances in miles.

So back to the question. “Do we want to be part of of Europe?

We’ve identified “Europe”, but who are “we”? Ireland wants in. Scotland, traditionally allied with France against England, wants in while nearly being out of the UK. Wales can’t make its mind up. And England? Who knows?

All you need to do is predict the future, and the answer to the in/out question will be clear.

What’s in a name?

Google searches for “No New Wars Foundation” and “No New Wars Organisation” only came up with links to web sites I have created.

Phew!  I’ve come up with a globally novel name.

I really should have checked that eight months ago.

Eight months since I thought of the 11/11/2018 campaign – where did that time go?

No New Wars 11 11 2018

No New Wars 11 11 2018

Meaning, let’s ensure No New Wars start as from 11th November 2018.

How?  By making it clear we expect our leaders to use other means to achieve change.

It will have been a hundred years since the Armistice, a hundred years in which we have learned an awful lot not just people’s ability to harm other, innocent, people, but also about communication, reconciliation, change management, energy creation, environmental management, understanding, and sharing.

In our name, and with our financial support, people are dropping air-bombs, firing guided missiles, shooting long-range heavy-calibre machine-gun fire, remotely-controlling armed drones…to kill people, including civilians.  And is a person who picks up a gun to defend their home a soldier or an armed civilian?  Much of the 20th century involved the deaths of tens of millions of civilians; the 21st century so far has comprised the deaths of 100,000s of civilians, and if you include civilians carrying guns, it is already in the millions.  And the media is glorying in the “Arab Spring” ignoring that it is the worst kind of war: a civil war armed, funded, supported and maintained by external forces who benefit financially or politically from the suffering and deaths of those involved.

Wars are the principle cause of this suffering, and it is time they stopped.  They are not necessary for peace.  There are other means, and not just financial sanctions which are only a feeble exercise in trying to show the futility of peaceful solutions.  Governments and politicians are not ”’trying”’ to end war; it neither adds to their power nor is it financially attractive for their sponsors.

Wars are started by politicians being manipulated and promoted by the media.  If politicians can be made to see that war-mongering is no longer going to create votes, they will become peace-makers.  And if the media are hit financially by not getting readers and web page hits, they will lose advertising revenue and so will cease that behaviour.

The trite cliché “”War is the continuation of politics by other means”” is not only facile, but also two hundred years out of date and inappropriate in a nuclear-energy, internet connected, post-empire world.

I am not so naïve as to think existing wars can be just stopped.  But we can do our bit to create a world where it is not necessary or politically wise to start any new wars.

We—that means you—can tell politicians they will lose their jobs if they start down the path of war.

We—that means you—can tell the media they will lose advertising revenue and sales if they promote war.

I am not saying we should not support our troops nor have a defence facility.  I am not saying the campaign to stop population growth is wrong.  But I am saying we must actively prevent our leaders from starting down paths that lead to the deaths of thousands of civilians just because that is easier and more attractive to them than any alternatives.  We must make peace more attractive.

Other thoughts: I’ll need leaflets, email signatures and other means of publicity.  Also, a blog, a wiki and a forum.

I need to form a No New Wars movement.

I need to start a 11112018 – The Eleven Eleven Twenty Eighteen campaign.

Other thoughts: the modern heroes – the new Ghandis – e.g. the Tienanmen square person with shopping bags in front of the tanks; the people who stand in front of Israeli guns; wikileaks to expose the leaders who lie.  They should not be needed.

(This article was originally published on or before 13/09/2012.)