Category Archives: Nonviolent News

Only issues of ‘Nonviolent News’ from 2021 onwards are accessible here. For older issues please click on the “Go to our pre-2021 Archive Website’ tag on the right of this page.

News, May 2024

Lex Innocentium/Law of the Innocents, 21st Century

A new project is being launched called Lex Innocentium, 21st Century. It is inspired, in the first instance, by the original Lex Innocentium, The Law of the Innocents, decreed by an Irish Monk, Adomnán, ninth Abbot of Iona, in the year 697 AD at the Synod of Birr, Co. Offaly. Lex Innocentium declared it a crime to kill or harm in war women and non-combatants (those too young to engage in war). Given the very unsettled times in which we live, and given the extremely harmful and destructive nature of the weapons existing today, the project believes it is time to write a new Lex Innocentium – one for the 21st Century. This new law will include The Earth and the Future as Innocents in war; it will be a bottom-up, soft-power, people’s law – a law for and of people all over the world who are opposed to war and who care for the future of humanity and the Earth. It will also be a legacy document for future generations.

It is proposed asking those who attend the launch of the new law to sign as official signatories of the law and others will be invited to commit and subscribe to the law on the website. The organisers say “In this way, we hope to develop a roll of subscribers who can act as a collective voice for the protection of the innocent, including the Earth and the Future, from the scourge of war.” It is planned to launch on Saturday 21st of September at Birr in the morning and then Redwood Castle, Lorrha, Co Tipperary later (this has a 17th century Annals of the Four Masters link to Adomnán’s Law). It is hoped to launch the website shortly. Contact sean27english@gmail.com Watch this space for more info.

Afri Doolough Famine Walk: Remembrance and Solidarity – for Gaza

Afri’s annual Doolough valley famine walk, commemorating a real Gorta Mór famine walk in 1849 in which many people died on the way to and from Delphi Lodge, takes place on Saturday 18th May. This year the Famine Walk is dedicated to highlighting and standing against genocide in Palestine. Walk leaders are; Faten Sourani, from Gaza, who is a lawyer and advocate for human rights and social justice; Donal O’Kelly who is a writer, performer and activist; and music will be by Irish-Palestinian artist Roisín El Cherif. Registration takes place from 11 am – 12 noon on 18th May at the parish hall in the centre of Louisburgh, Co Mayo, followed by an opening ceremony; buses will then take participants to the starting point at Delphi Lodge (no parking there). A brief ceremony will be held in Delphi Lodge before the 17 km walk back to Louisburgh (pick up by shuttle car if it gets too much). Registration fee is €25, unwaged €15, children free, including the bus; sponsorship is welcome with money going to cover costs and support Afri’s work. Details at https://www.afri.ie/category/famine-walk-2024/ and film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF-je_JYhPc

UN Chernobyl Disaster: Warning of further disaster

26th April is ‘United Nations Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day’. Adi Roche, voluntary CEO of Chernobyl Children International (CCI), has warned that the full-extent of the Chernobyl disaster has not yet been realised, and that worse is on the horizon if the war in Ukraine escalates further. Since the beginning of the war and the invasion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in February 2022, CCI have been advocating for all nuclear facilities be deemed a ‘No War Zone’ and for World Leaders to invoke the Hague Convention which defines any attack on a nuclear facility to be a ‘war crime’.

However, with the weaponising of nuclear power at Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia, the country falls further and further away from the confines of safety; “The accident at Chernobyl happened as a result of faults in the technology and human error. However, if a nuclear accident happens at Zaporizhzhia, it could very well be intentional. We cannot overstate the current critical situation and nuclear threat in Ukraine. We must do everything in our power to prevent Zaporizhzhia from becoming the next ‘Chernobyl’. We neglect Ukraine at our peril”, Roche cautioned. See https://www.chernobyl-international.com/ and https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53676683472/in/dateposted/

Rethinking Growth conference, 25th-26th June, at TCD, Dublin

This event, organised by the Wellbeing Economy Alliance Ireland Hub https://weall.org/hub/ireland (which includes Feasta) builds on the Beyond Growth Conference, a cross-party initiative of 20 Members of the European Parliament which took place in Brussels in May 2023. It aims to bring together politicians from across the political spectrum from North and South, policymakers, practitioners, thought leaders and civil society from all around the island to reimagine the concept and role of economic growth, to explore current challenges being faced in both jurisdictions, and to build better foundations for a wellbeing economy for the island of Ireland. See https://rethinking-growth.ie/

Bitter Legacy: State impunity in the Northern Ireland conflict

A new 200-page report with this title has been issued by the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights. Following the introduction of the British Government’s Legacy Bill, at the request of the CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice https://caj.org.uk/ and the Pat Finucane Centre https://www.patfinucanecentre.org/ an International Expert Panel was convened by the Norwegian Centre for Human Rights and this is its report. The report focuses on three thematic areas: state killings and impunity, collusion and impunity, and torture and impunity.

Key findings of the report include the revelation that the British government not only engaged in collusion but also blocked proper police investigations into conflict-related killings to protect implicated security force members and agents. The report also highlights the impact of the Legacy Act, and the panel calls for its repeal, warning it will damage Britain’s worldwide reputation. The report documents much wider evidence of security force torture and ill-treatment than previously reported and dismisses state claims that only rogue security force personnel were involved in collusion. It also found that the Irish Government failed to carry out effective investigations, damaging victims’ right to justice. It includes the steps needed for justice and accountability to be achieved (with recommendations for the British and Irish governments); the full report is very comprehensive. It can be downloaded via https://www.jus.uio.no/smr/english/about/id/news/2024/report-reveals-state-impunity-in-northern-ireland-.html or via the CAJ website,

FOE 50:

Friends of the Earth in Ireland celebrated working for 50 years with a special Education Day in Dublin. You can find out about its varied projects and work, including the option of signing up for international solidarity actions, and a training weekend for youth and community workers on 17th May, at https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/

Glencree 50, new board members

The members of the new Glencree board are profiled briefly on their website at www.glencree.ie along with news and information on projects. Meanwhile Glencree marks 50 years of existence this year, having been founded in 1974.

Rates: relief for arms producers but not for end recipients….

In a Northern Ireland desperate for funding to avoid further drastic cuts, it is incredible that rates relief is given to arms manufacturers and also those on the BDS list for involvement with Israel. A question from Gerry Carroll MLA revealed that while Thales was not on the list because of how the question was answered, Spirit Aerosystems, Caterpillar and Teva NI were included.

500 at April monthly Shannon Warport demo

There was a large attendance at the 2nd Sunday of the month demo (2 pm) at Shannon Airport on 14th April. A statement made there by Shannonwatch included that “The continuing misuse of Shannon airport by aircraft associated with the US military since 7th October 2023, makes the Irish State and the Irish government complicit in the war crimes and the probable genocide by Israel against the Palestinian people, because the US has been very actively supporting Israel with weapons, munitions, and political support.” Fuller info at www.shannonwatch.org and see also https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53688113690/in/photostream/

Aldergrove, Belfast Int’l Airport, joins Shannon in monthly vigil

There is now a monthly vigil at Aldergrove/Belfast International Airport at the same time as that at Shannon; 2pm on the second Sunday of the month with the next one being 12th May. Meet at the first roundabout coming from Belfast. It is opposing the role of military flights (US, UK, NATO – and these do come through the civilian part of Aldergrove) in their role in supporting genocide in Gaza. Belfast International and Aldergrove military airport share an adjoining runway which is being used as a landing site and de-facto military base for the U.S. military and NATO allies. See https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Vsid-Z8Kz2_OwqjPdxJEXE56zy1vVGAs6Sne6Mw5g-0/edit and contact cairdepalestinebf@gmail.com

Good Relations awards, Good Relations Week in the North

The Good Relations awards, coordinated by the Community Relations Council, for 2024 were announced in March; the Exceptional Achievement Award (peace building) went to Elizabeth (Betty) Carlisle and Recognition Awards for Harry Maher and Joe McKeown; Good Relations Volunteer of the Year Award went to Yvonne Heaney with Recognition Awards to Helen Dunn and James Reynolds; Good Relations Community Champion Award went to David Patterson; Good Relations Youth Award (Under 25) winner was Crosslink Volunteer Team Youth Initiative; Good Relations Connecting Communities Project of the Year winner was Waterside Shared Village. https://www.community-relations.org.uk

lMeanwhile Good Relations Week 2024, with the title ‘OpportUNITY’, coordinated by the Community Relations Council, will run from Monday 16th September to Sunday 22nd September with an anticipated programme of over 200 cross community and multi-cultural events across the region. https://goodrelationsweek.com/

Corrymeela podcast

There is a new series of Corrymeela podcasts with Pádraig Ó Tuama in conversation recently with, among others, John Paul Lederach, Jan Carson, Dong Jin Kim, and Rev Dr Rachel Mann (and lots more previously). See https://www.publictheologyireland.com/podcast and www.corrymeela.org for more general news and information about Corrymeela’s work.

Police reform in a changing Ireland: ICCL and CAJ conference

Police Reform in a Changing Ireland: Next Steps After the Commission on the Future of Policing’ is a conference run by ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties in partnership with CAJ/Committee on the Administration of Justice; it takes place on Thursday 16th May at Renehan Hall, Maynooth University. It will take a past, present and future view of human rights-based policing on the island of Ireland, more than five years on from the publication of the final report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI). There is a range of relevant speakers. https://www.iccl.ie/police-justice-reform/iccl-caj-annual-policing-conference-2024-police-reform-in-a-changing-ireland-next-steps-after-the-commission-on-the-future-of-policing/

Videos: Afri, de Borda

lA short film about the Feile na Beatha/Festival of Living in Carlow, organised by Afri and SETU, is available on the Afri YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PJmyybMytU&t=3s See also www.afri.ie

lAn 11 minute film with Peter Emerson speaking about voting mechanisms, put together for a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences hybrid conference is available at https://vimeo.com/919681575 See also www.deborda.org

Editorials: Peace and global inequality, The politics of threat or trust

Peace and global inequality

The world is shaping up for some tough times since, on top of all the existing conflicts and disputes, global heating will make many people’s lives literally hell on earth – through oven like heat and drought, flooding, displacement, exile, increased poverty and precariousness, danger, and, if they do reach somewhere else to live, then in many cases rejection, deportation or at best a tough reception. And Covid was a straw that broke many backs around the world.

A UN human development report shows a growing gulf between rich and poor countries and portrays this as a ‘recipe for much darker future’; “the pandemic, conflict, globalisation and populism have combined to disproportionately affect lower-income countries” https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2024/mar/13/growth-of-gulf-between-rich-and-poor-countries-recipe-for-much-darker-future-says-un?CMP=share_btn_url and https://hdr.undp.org/content/human-development-report-2023-24 The gap was narrowing until 2020 but has been widening since Covid began then.

One feature of conflict and poverty worldwide is migration. It is is is interesting to see the frequent hugely negative reaction to refugees and asylum seekers in rich western, Christian or post-Christian countries. This is highly ironic given that the founder of Christianity, Jesus, was, according to the Christian bible, himself a refugee in Egypt as a young baby with his parents; so where are the much vaunted ‘Christian’ values of the west? These are often claimed by nationalist politicians in many countries whether they are individually Christian or not as a euphemism for ‘white European’. Most refugees find a new existence – and it is sometimes just an existence – in neighbouring countries to that from which they have been ejected or fled. Those coming to ‘the west’ including the EU face an increasingly tough time, if they are able to get there at all.

But the solution to any perceived refugee crisis is staring people in the face; increased global equality and increased global peace. This sounds highly grandiose, like waving a magic wand to make things good. But if just a fraction of what was spent on the military and the arms trade went instead for human security and sustainable development worldwide then there could be a remarkable difference. That is in everyone’s interest, rich and poor countries in different ways. Conflict is also stirred and exacerbated by (lack of) access to resources (and by resource extraction) whereas greater global equality and human security would also lead to less demand for weapons and less inclination to war and warfare.

Peace and greater global equality are inextricably linked and, tragically, peace is also dependent on limiting and effectively dealing with global heating, something which is not happening in the way that it should. Global heating and inequality both feed into conflict – and likely to lead to violent conflict – in a very direct way. ‘Resource wars’, particularly over water, may be an increasing feature globally as the 21st century progresses. We already see, for example, how Israel uses and abuses Palestinian water resources. The EU, as it develops its army and arms capacity, will be a major player in this big boy militarism; it is a total illusion to imagine that it will not throw its weight around. This will be a new imperialism among both former imperialist powers and others – including Ireland if current directions continue.

We have to resist militarist developments. We have to curb global heating as fast as we possibly can. We

have to work for greater global equality. And Ireland has the opportunity to move from the vestiges of neutrality to being a real, enthusiastic, and effective, player worldwide on all these issues but not if current trends continue – the stand which the Irish government has taken on Gaza does not mean it is not still a slavish advocate of EU militarisation and NATO collaboration.

Replacing the politics of threat and fear with the politics of trust

That the world is currently going to hell in a handcart is difficult to deny. Rampant global warming is accompanied by new wars and increased tensions globally. It is easy to feel totally powerless in such a situation. But ‘we’ – the forces of peace and environmentalism – are not powerless; we may not be powerful like warmongering governments and alliances, or fossil fuel companies, but ‘we’ are many and they are few. It is a matter of realising and operationalising our power, including through building alliances locally and globally.

There is a problem with the term ‘nonviolence’ since it starts with a negative. The problem exists in other languages, sometimes even more so than in English. April Carter likened it to the way that what we now know as a ‘car’ was initially called a ‘horseless carriage’, i.e. it was first of all described for what it was not before a more neutral term emerged. Now whether the dominance of the internal combustion engine is a good thing in relation to transport is another question but the point is nevertheless valid. We are trying to build an approach which will become the norm. One of the suggested terms for nonviolence, though it only encapsulates one aspect of it, is ‘relentless persistence’

We have often pointed out the way that violence and nonviolence are judged differently, using different measurements. Nonviolence is quickly judged to have failed. While particularly egregious wars sometimes lead to changes in behaviour, in the longer term lessons are seldom learnt. The slogan of the First World War being ‘the war to end all wars’ was not only nonsense but the victors’ behaviour towards the defeated Germany, and the failure to invest in new systems such as the League of Nations, led to another conflagration.

Chenoweth and Stefan’s research showing the relative effectiveness of nonviolent struggle compared to violent is open to debate including some of their detailed conclusions (it is questionable whether the IRA’s campaign in the Troubles in Northern Ireland can be labelled as partially successful – compared to what?). However you might analyse their work, it surely shows that nonviolence is not any less successful than violence and has frequently better outcomes for the future in relation to human rights and so on.

However powerholders rarely roll over and say, yes, let’s change, though it does happen – Gorbachev in the USSR is one example, in moves which allowed the dismantling of the Russian-Soviet empire in eastern Europe. The end result was generally hugely positive though how change happened in Russia, and was responded to in the west, allowed the old authoritarianism to creep back with Putin.

For social and political change movements there are issues of policy and practice. We have to show that there are better ways than the politics of threat, violence and division. The world, and the people of the world, cannot afford that without misery upon misery being heaped on the poorest and many others. This is initially a matter of building concepts of change and how it can come about before actually doing it.

Many people in Ireland identify with the plight of Palestinians, particularly in relation to the war in Gaza but also in the West Bank. Irish people can readily identify with lack of self determination and outside control. Many are also starting to make connections, such as the misery and desperation of the people of Gaza with the role played by the arms trade. There are many such linkages to be made about how the rich, powerful and unscrupulous exercise their greed and control. Conscientisation is not an event, though it can begin with a particular event, but a process of learning how the world works at the moment.

There are other ways, as the reference to Chenoweth and Stephan above indicates. There are lots of examples in Ireland too where the positive forces of change have prevailed. Sometimes it can be a matter, not of biding our time, but building slowly so that when the time is ripe then real change can happen. Ireland is a different and generally more positive place than it was a few decades ago while there are new challenges and issues to be dealt with.

One of the most simple images, which has often been used by Quakers, of cooperation rather than conflict is of two donkeys pulling in opposite directions to get at hay in their vicinity. When they cooperate and go together to one pile of hay, and then the other, they can, so to speak, have their cake and eat it. Conflict is a part of life; it is how we learn to live with it that matters. The powerful will rarely concede their advantage without a struggle; it is in our building strength through nonviolent struggle that we can make progress and build a world without the fear and division which exist today.

Eco-Awareness with Larry Speight: The parable of the Good Samaritan

Larry Speight brings us his monthly column –

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Most readers are probably familiar with the Parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke. In the parable a man asks Jesus “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus by way of illustration tells the story of a man travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho who is set upon by robbers who leave him by the roadside cut, bloodied and half dead. Two people who see him, one of whom is a priest, pass him by without stopping. A Samaritan who was passing tends to the injured man, transports him on his animal to an inn and pays for his keep until he is restored to health.

At this time most Jews hated Samaritans so the last person Jesus’s audience would have thought would help the injured man, who was a Jew, was a Samaritan. The point that Jesus made was that everyone is our neighbour even those we might think of as the other and are hostile to the community one identifies with.

The concept of the Good Samaritan has a cosmic dimension. As the Good Samaritan helped heal a stranger, who is dubbed by Jesus as a neighbour, we should be a good Samaritan to the Earth inclusive of its bodies of water, the soil in fields and gardens, habitat and all forms of life bar the viruses, bacteria and parasites that are known to harm us.

One of the traits of the Good Samaritan is that he was selfless, he acted out of compassion without any thought of personal gain. This is what we need to keep in mind when corporations and financial institutions announce that they are committed to reducing their level of global warming emissions and be carbon neutral by 2050. Are corporations Good Samaritans, working selflessly to restore the ailing Earth to good health, or are they interested in financial gain?

The evidence in the financial sections of the press and audio media suggest that the mission of large corporations to become ‘green’ is based not on a love of the natural world but on a desire to make money. Governments are duplicitous in that they vocalise what they think the electorate want to hear, which is that they are taking action to reduce the emission of global warming gasses and the loss of biodiversity whilst whole-heartily supporting the extraction of the very fuels whose use increases global warming and the loss of biodiversity..

The conundrum that society finds itself in is that obtaining and processing the enormous amount of minerals necessary to produce, distribute and store renewable energy will make much of the Earth uninhabitable as well as cause great harm to the Indigenous communities in which large quantities of these minerals are located.

Institutions that advocate renewable energy without at the same time working to change some of the fundamentals of how we live such as our high level of consumption of meat and dairy, reliance on private rather than public transport, fast fashion in clothes and many other things besides, are doing what a U.S. Major told the journalist Peter Arnette after the 1968 Battle of Ben Tre, Vietnam, that “it became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

In other words, the approach the powerful institutions take, who incidentally construct the parameters in which we make our personal commercial choices, is so counter to serving the common good that it might be considered insane in the sense of destroying something in the belief that in doing so it will be saved. Unlike the restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral after in went up in flames in April 2019 some eco-systems once destroyed cannot be restored and species driven to extinction are gone forever.

What is rarely mentioned by the organisations who blow the trumpet for electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels is the enormous amount of minerals that go into their manufacture and the infrastructure that sustain them. Once mined, at the cost of immense ecological devastation, and in many cases the abuse of human rights as in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the minerals have to be refined, which involves the use of large quantities of toxic chemicals, eye-watering amounts of water and fossil fuel generated energy.

The report Minerals for Climate Action, 2019, by the World Bank Group, informs us that the zero emissions economy, if realised, will increase electricity demand from 28,000 Twh in 2022 to over 100,000 Twh by 2050. A Twh is a unit of energy representing one trillion-watt hours. This means that an estimated 3 billion tons of minerals will be needed up until 2050 which is more than has been extracted from the Earth in the entire span of human existence.

A zero-emissions economy that leaves the structures that underpin gross economic inequality in place, an agricultural system that is responsible for one-third of global warming emissions, and leaving indulgent consumerism unaltered, will not, as a Good Samaritan would want, restore the Earth to good health. This in spite of the case that a global economy based on renewable energy would, once established, emit less global warming gases than one based on fossil fuels.

A question we should ask is would we want to live in a world with even scarcer flora, fauna, fungi and bodies of fresh water than presently exist? Aside from the joy and wonder they provide, a severely contracted biodiversity could lead to the collapse of the global ecosystem resulting in our extinction.

What might bring about the outcome a Good Samaritan would want for the injured Earth and its suffering people is a new, or perhaps rediscovered, mega-narrative in which the right to a life of well-being includes all beings, not simply human beings. This is in contrast to the story we tell ourselves about our place in the world which in general is that the Earth is a warehouse full of insentient resources which we are entitled to consume without regard for the needs of subsequent generations and the welfare and survival of our nonhuman neighbours.

– – – – –

Readings in Nonviolence: Russian threat? By Jan Oberg

Introduction:

In the following piece Jan Oberg provides some really important points correcting and challenging western views of Russia. We would not necessarily agree with all his points as stated, or what is omitted; issues come to mind about the Finland-Russia war of 1939, how the Soviet/Russian state controlled its empire in eastern Europe after the Second World War, the invasion of Ukraine in 2022 (not dealt with in this piece), and the extent, if any, to which you can say Russia “has created a society that is admirable” without very considerable qualification regarding repression and the suborning of democracy. However most of his points are spot on. – Ed.

Russia Is Not a Threat to NATO or Neutral States. Full Stop.

By Jan Oberg

from Transcend Media Service

NATO just turned 75 – amid its deepest crisis ever, no matter what they say. During all these years, we have heard repeatedly that the “Russians” – the Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact and today’s Russia – are coming!

But while the Soviets/Russians have invaded other countries, they’ve never invaded a NATO or a neutral country in Europe. And when the First Cold War ended a good 30 years ago, and archives were opened, allegedly no plans were found for an out-of-the-blue attack on and occupation of any such country – but there were plans for how to roll back attacking Western forces if they should try.

If your predictions have been so consistently wrong over seven decades, wouldn’t it be common sense to ask: Why is it that we’ve been wrong all the time? Why do we spend trillions on guarding ourselves against a permanent threat that never happens – a bit like waiting for Godot in Beckett’s equally absurd drama?

The intellectually nonsensical (see later) NATO goal that all members must spend at least 2% of the GDP that used to be seen as a ceiling has rapidly turned into the floor.

And why do NATO countries these years move in the direction of a war economy where guns take priority over butter to such an extent that their economies and welfare will be fundamentally undermined? This will be a main reason they will lose out more quickly than otherwise to the up-and-coming new actors in the emerging multi-polar world, China, India and Africa in particular?

Virtually all that is needed to support those militarism-promoting and dangerously wrong predictions and policies are one or more of these four assertions or mantras:

The Russians are coming.

Putin is a dictator, an evil man.

Look at his full-scale invasion in Ukraine – out-of-the-blue and unprovoked.

After Putin has taken Ukraine, he will not be satisfied but will move on to take other countries.

This is repeatedly stated without any evidence or probability, simply postulated. This is also the scenario stated by the US Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin, in early March 2024 – from which he concluded that “if Ukraine fell, NATO would be in a fighting Russia.” The Swedish Chief of Defence has argued that Putin could do a partial invasion of Southern Sweden (Skåne).

Why is Russia not a threat to NATO or neutral states?

Let’s now go back to the Russian threat that isn’t. Here follow some arguments – with no priority intended.

1 • Russia lost at least 25 million people in the 2nd world war. The Russians know better than most what war means.

2 • Russia sees a need for a security zone of some kind because it is Russia that has been invaded three times since 1812 – Napoleon, the White Revolution and Hitler – not the other way around, but handling an occupied NATO member is not productive or possible.

3 • Russia has the largest reservoir in terms of natural resources and does not need to try to grab those of others – like the US and others the oil in the Middle East.

4 • Russia has learnt from the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact around 1990-91 that you cannot follow the NATO countries in terms of military expenditures without militarising yourself to death, i.e. undermining your civilian economy.

5 • That points to the fact that Russia’s economy is very small in comparison with those of the 32 NATO countries.

6 • Russia’s military expenditures were 8% of NATO’s up to its invasion of Ukraine. It is true that military expenditures do not translate directly into capabilities to start wars, fight and sustain them. On the famous other hand, starting a war against an adversary with 12 times larger military expenditures and a vastly bigger economy would be madness, suicide or a Himalayan, fatal miscalculation based on complete irrationality. Putin and the people around him do not suffer from such diseases.

7 • These limitations make it extremely unlikely that Russia would succeed, if it tried, in building anything faintly similar to the US global empire or be an imperialist’ as it is often called. It has a few bases abroad, but not 600+ like the US. Russia is not an imperialist power.

8 • If it invaded a NATO country (or any other for that matter), it would face a new problem: Occupied people will invariably work against their occupiers. How would Russia, with its relatively limited military resources, be able to administer, secure and develop a series of countries – and have none of them or a “Rest-NATO” arm to get them back?

9 • If aggression against NATO or neutral states – or against states around the world – was, so to speak, in the Russians’ genes, why haven’t they done much more of it? In the 1960s and 1970s, the Soviet Union’s global reach, particularly in Africa as well as the Middle East—politically and militarily—was much bigger than Russia’s today.

10 • Putin’s post-Cold War Russia has invested predominantly in getting Russia back on its feet after the complete and disastrous disintegration back then – and it has created a society that is admirable with a stronger economy than most have predicted – and also remained quite resistant to history’s most intense and wide-ranging sanctions imposed by EU and NATO countries. Invading a NATO country would undermine or destroy all that.

11 • Vladimir Putin has been president for more than 20 years. If he was a true expansionist or “imperialist,” how come he has not invaded one country after the other – also inspired by the US and NATO countries that have been doing that sort of thing permanently, not the least in the wake of 9/11?

12 • If Russia is such a formidable threat, why has it not built over 600 military bases worldwide like the US and hundreds more to match France and the UK in that field? (See the answer in 13).

13 • While the Soviet Union represented another competing ideology until its dissolution – Soviet Communism, planned state economy, one Communist Party, etc. – Russia today can not possibly be perceived as a systemic or ideological threat.

14 • All Russian leaders, including Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Putin, and Medvedev have expressed an interest in working with NATO, building ‘a European’ house’ as Gorbachev called it. Former NATO S-G Robertson has informed us how he discussed a sort of NATO membership with the Soviet Union, and when Putin raised the issue, he was told by NATO that Russia would have to queue up after little Montenegro. The Soviet Union asked to become a NATO member in 1954, was turned down and then established the Warsaw Pact in 1955. These Russian attempts – in vain, however – can hardly be seen as only negative, more perhaps like a little Western brother who wants to join the larger brother rather than kill him.

15 • President Putin has repeatedly stated that he sees Russia as – at least also – a European culture and state, that without interchanges between Western Europe and Russia throughout history, Russia would not have been what it is today. Western Europeans in NATO and the EU have never had a similar attitude to Russian culture; they had no problem or hesitancy cutting it off after the invasion of Ukraine.

16 • Vladimir Putin has never said to NATO that “if so and so happens – or if you do this or that – Russia will invade your country.” His style has been to appeal to NATO not to continue the policy of expansion; one example is his speech at the Munich Security Conference in 2007. Overall, Russia’s attitude to NATO has been much more defensive after the end of the end of the Cold War than during it.

17 • Whatever you may think of Russia’s President, he is neither inexperienced nor a hothead or a suicidal fool. And he did not fall ill or become a maniac during the day of February 23, 2022.

NATO is not ‘defensive’ and has operated for the last 25 years in gross violation of its own Treaty.

If some or all of the 17 points above are reasonable, NATO has only one task now: Mind its own business.

If you read NATO’s Treaty of 1949 – https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/official_texts_17120.htm – it is basically a copy of the UN Charter. It argues that conflicts shall be transferred to the UN and solved by peaceful means, and then it adds Article 5, which states that if one NATO member is attacked, the others shall come to its defence. The alliance’s words are indeed defensive, but since its first out-of-area operation – the ruthless 78 days of bombing of Yugoslavia from March 24 to June 10, 1999 – it has pursued offensive policies and operations in gross violation of its own Treaty.

NATO countries’ massive involvement in Ukraine, using it as a bridgehead or proxy for weakening Russia – or trying to defeat it once and for all – is the peak point of this criminal policy down the slippery slope.

Those who call NATO ‘defensive’ lack basic insights in these matters – or practise opportune ignorance.

An alliance – and members of it – that

  • acts way outside its own membership circle,

  • conducts offensive military operations far away,

  • lacks a legal mandate as in Yugoslavia,

  • builds on offensive rather than defensive deterrence,

  • pursues forward defence and deployment,

  • bases itself on nuclear weapons, and

  • insists on using nuclear weapons also against a conventional attack,

simply cannot by any definition of the concept be characterised as ‘defensive.’

This is another example of a militarist humbug. ‘Defensive’ is for domestic consumption; of course, you cannot admit to your citizens that you’re offensive and threatening to others. And no country facing NATO confrontation would perceive it as ‘defensive.’ So, ‘defensive’ is for the NATO world, not the rest of the world.

– This article is taken from Transcend Media Service #845, 22 – 28 April 2024, https://www.transcend.org/tms/2024/04/russia-is-not-a-threat-to-nato-or-neutral-states-full-stop/

Jan Oberg is director of the independent Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Sweden.

Billy King: Rites Again, 319

Billy King shares his monthly thoughts

Hello again – I am a simple soul, believing in long-term simple solutions. What if, instead of providing food aid to Gaza now to perhaps keep starving and desperate people alive, countries such as the USA (especially) and Britain had not supplied Israel with arms or the money to buy arms so that it would not now be totally destroying Gaza, and might have negotiated a reasonable deal with Palestine? The US has given Israel $220 billion in military aid over the years. https://www.warresisters.org/resources/pie-chart-flyers-where-your-income-tax-money-really-goes Maybe if the USA had chosen a different path then Palestine would be properly established as a state and self sufficient, and Israel and Palestine be at peace today. Just thinking.

Protecting the innocent in war

Great to see a project, covered in the news section of this issue, taking the 697 CE Law of the Innocents, associated with Adomnán, abbot of Iona, into the 21st century. The original is very much of its time and the new one will be too, including an emphasis on protecting the earth. Those familiar with INNATE’s quiz on nonviolence in Irish history will be familiar with the bones of the story (see “Nonviolence: The Irish Experience! Quiz” at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/resources/ ) Adomnán was travelling with his mother, Ronnat, when they stumbled across the bloody and terrible aftermath of a battle – you can imagine the scene, dead and mutilated bodies and people in agony. Anyway, Ronnat made Adomnán promise he would do something about this kind of thing if he ever could, and so he tried later when he was in a position to act, when abbot of Iona.

What is interesting too is that there were lots of attempts, in different world cultures in antiquity, to put limits on the violence and destruction inflicted by war. Of course there can be arguments about the inherent violence or nonviolence of the human being. Some people, once humanity got into arms races, sought to benefit themselves though violence – often under the guise of bring civilisation and modernity. But some others, without necessarily having the resources of the rich and powerful, have sought to restrict warfare and build peace.

Talking about the innocent can be powerful because we have a tendency to think in terms of the innocent and the guilty. But it isn’t always helpful and in Northern Ireland the term ‘innocent victims of violence’ was often used as a way of targetting other people dragged into the conflict by the circumstances of the time (I am not implying that they made the right choice) and contrasting people not involved in the conflict in any way. And ordinary soldiers, while they can commit atrocities and be brutal in warfare, are usually also victims of war through PTSD, injuries or death. Think of those fighting on either side of the Russia-Ukraine war; presumably 99% of them would rather be home and out of harm’s way. While many soldiers may have entered that occupation because it seemed to offer personal opportunities (in the case of Russia possibly a way out of a long prison sentence), many have been cajoled or conscripted, and none deserve to be mutilated or die in battle.

Sometimes even generals can be a restraining force because some of them know the personal cost of war. So we should not scapegoat soldiers. What we as nonviolent activists need to do, however, is both rejecting the whole panoply of war, in all its aspects, while showing the effectiveness of nonviolence – and that means building a movement and alliances which can take on the powerholders and warmongers to remove the reasons and basis for war and violence. And building on what has been done in the past, such as by Adomnán in 697 CE, can be an important part of establishing the cultural/political support required.

Oh, and you do know, or if you don’t you ought to (important historical fact? – Ed) that Adomnán in his life of Colmcille/Columba (like ‘his’ Derry he has a stroke name!) was the first person to write about the Loch Ness monster. How deep is that? [Up to 230 metres – Ed]

Rhubarb, rhubarb

I’m not sure how, in European English, ‘rhubarb’ came to mean nonsense or drivel, as in saying “rhubarb, rhubarb”. The online suggestion is it has a theatrical origin (actors saying ‘rhubarb’ continuously when expected to make indistinct word sounds) but the theatre could have taken it from somewhere else. Rhubarb the plant is of course a vegetable used as a fruit when lots of sugar is added so although we grow it in our garden we don’t use it much since a spoonful of sugar helps the dentist go down on dental caries (it is also high in oxalic acid later in the summer). However I did want to tell you the story of the organic gardener, not me, and the story may be apocryphal, who was asked what they put on their rhubarb. They answered that it was manure or compost. “That’s interesting”, said their questioner, “I use custard”…….. Rhubarb, rhubarb! [That story doesn’t, to alter the words of Ian Paisley Jnr, cut the custard – Ed].

We need to talk about Kevin

No, I am not referring to Lionel (she) Shriver’s well written but grim novel with the fictional, eponymous Kevin (use of the word ‘eponymous’ always allows me to feel intellectual). [That will be the day – Ed] What I am referring to is Kevin McAleer, the Northern comedian introduced to a new and wider audience in his role as Uncle Colm in Derry Girls (and if you don’t know that role which took a toll on Liam Neeson’s PSNI officer, look it up). Anyway, Kevin McAleer has been doing a farewell tour, “One for the road”, though of course the hope might be for successive farewell tours and not a cul de sac.

It is a difficult act, deadpan humour. I certainly find it extremely hard to keep a straight face when telling an amusing story or engaged in a humorous escapade of some sort, particularly when others are laughing. McAleer has it down to a fine art, the faux naif guy telling some incredibly ridiculous story with a manner that can 99.9% convince you he really is a straightforward amadán or eejit. Stories that he told included the one about being in a hotel where he thought various strange things were happening – then when going to the fancy hotel restaurant he was asked at the entrance if he had a reservation, and he said he had several. And someone who could get a good laugh out of a riff on the difference between internment and the internet, and that they weren’t the same thing at all, has to be a bit of a genius.

I was pleased to see a bit of recycling going on with his (ancient) story about being a contemplative young man in the Co Tyrone countryside in The Troubles…. The version he told in this tour was of being a young man in the Norn Iron countryside at nighttime, gazing at the stars and wondering about the meaning of the universe. Then along came a British army patrol; he was thrilled when they asked him “Who are you?” and “Where are you going?” because these were exactly the deep philosophical questions he was dealing with. More soldiers joined the conversation and they invited him to go with them. He was reluctant and they practically had to drag him away. They stayed up talking that night, the next night and the night after that. “They practically had me tortured” he concluded.

There is of course a serious side to comedy, satire and so on (touched on by the story immediately above) which we in political and social change movements don’t take seriously enough. It is however true that humour can be a little bit dangerous since knowing when to use what can be a delicate balancing act (yes, I have got it wrong often enough…). But it can also be incredibly effective not only in drawing attention to an issue but in making an strong political point – or even in lightening the mood in a meeting which is dragging on or risking being boring.

Majken Sørensen’s book “Humorous political stunts – nonviolent public challenges to power” (Irene Publishing) looks at humour in relation to nonviolence (and activists’ imagination and creativity). What goes on in the war and arms industries is absurd. The refusal, particularly among rich countries, to adequately deal with global heating is absurd. The current Irish government’s protestations of commitment to neutrality internationally are absurd. There are still many absurd elements to the nature of sectarian divisions in the North. All of these things are ripe for humorous ridicule. Make no funny bones about it, humour can be important so let’s get serious about it. Doing illegal, nonviolent actions can be a necessary part of being a peace and political activist, but so can more zany legal (or borderline illegal) manifestations and acting the maggot. [There are no flies on you – Ed]

Snails and horses

I am a glutton for useless trivia particularly where it is relevant to wider concerns. Take the fact that one of the British Army’s Household Cavalry horses injured in a riderless four horse stampede through the streets of London in late April had the name Quaker. Were they going about trying to be gratuitously insensitive to Quakers who are generally pacifist? Speaking as someone who had a great-great-great-grandmother [looks like she was pretty great – Ed] who was a Quaker I am, of course, an expert on such matters [! – Ed] [I was being facetious – Billy] [I would say not for the first time, I think for you ‘face time’ is short for ‘facetious time’ – Ed]. Or they were probably just insensitive full stop. Or maybe it was because that horse was keen on oats (because of the ‘Quaker’ Oats brand) but it is still oatrocious.

Mind you religion can be, and usually is, in cahoots with the the military big time; you just have to look at the British Army 1970s chapel at the west side of St Anne’s Church of Ireland Cathedral in Belfast which has a massive Celtic cross on the outside, which to me is cultural appropriation (a British establishment institution purloining a venerable Irish religious symbol) as well as hideously inappropriate for any Christian building and inimical for anything to do with the founder of said religion.

And then there are the snails holding up developments at the Doonald’s Doonbeg golf course. Clare County Council has requested more information on how proposed developments at the site will affect the protected Vertigo Angustior (tiny) snail. Good to see that development does not trump nature in this case – and what have snails ever done to undermine democracy? Anyway, the development there hasn’t been all plain snailing. You could say it is going as a snail’s pace. However you might also conclude that the owner of said golf course, while never one to retreat into his shell, leaves trail that could be described as slimy anywhere he goes, even if there are issues about the provision of employment locally. My final point on this is that if accommodation pods were developed there at Doonbeg perhaps they could be called gastropods.

There’s gold in them there hills

Yes, there is. Gold in the Sperrins. But should it be mined by Dalradian? Gold has value mainly because it is considered valuable. It is a vanity metal. In the modern era it is basically not needed for promoting the wellbeing of people/humanity. It is a kind of currency that we can do without.

In the case of Dalradian, because of local opposition they introduced the narrative that they would not be using cyanide in extracting the gold locally. But my understanding is that they will simply use cyanide elsewhere – overseas, so it is just exporting the problem to some other place and community which may be much less able to ensure safety and accountability. And it is pathetic to allow mining on this basis, inflicting a terrible problem on people elsewhere.

The public enquiry on Dalradian’s mining will be in the autumn and is expected to run for a month or two and the North’s Department for Infrastructure will then receive a recommendation. As usual ‘the company’ promises lots of jobs – usually a lot more than materialise – during a twenty year existence. Local opposition focuses on slag heaps and pollution of air and water, as well as all the increased lorry traffic and general environmental issues including possible effects on farming and the possibilities for developing tourism. Save Our Sperrins group and others have been beavering away on the issue for years, see e.g. https://www.facebook.com/SaveOurSperrins and http://dontmineus.com/public-inquiry/ and you can also do a word search.

The language is not quite what I would use but the Saw Doctors put it pithily in talking about the possibility of gold mining in Co Mayo near Croagh Patrick:

Do they think our greatest asset

Can be mined, dug up and sold?”

But to put my ore in I have come up with a few slogans. Spare the Sperrins! Gold diggers out! All that’s gold does not glitter! Our goal is no gold mining! A pox on toxic gold mining! Dalradian gulders about gold! Green meaning not mining! Head for the hills to head off gold mining! Dalradian mining would be all downhill! It’s ‘our’ countryside resource not ‘mine’! Gold mining makes you gilty! Insert your slogan here……

Well, that’s me for now. Summer is (meant to be) coming in which means in our neck of the woods that the rain is getting warmer, if April is usually the driest month in Ireland I hope the rain then is not a portent for the rest of the year. See you soon, Billy.

News, April 2024

Easter peace actions at Shannon warport

Edward Horgan reports: Two significant non-violent peace actions were carried out at Shannon at Easter time. On Good Friday (29th March) a group of peace activists, mainly from Co Clare, spent over an hour in the arrivals area of Shannon airport terminal building. Report and videos available at this Shannonwatch link: https://www.shannonwatch.org/content/irish-protesters-issue-good-friday-gaza-peace-plea-%C2%A0shannon%C2%A0airport

On 30 March, three peace activists from the Galway Palestinian Solidarity Campaign carried out a peace action within Shannon airport airside areas. Reports at https://www.facebook.com/GalwayPSC/ Their names were Eimear Walshe, Aindriú de Buitléir and Aine Ní Threinir. The climbed over the fence to enter the airport, where an executive diplomatic type US air force Boeing 737 had just arrived from Lebanon. It had been in Israel, Turkey and Egypt over the previous few days. They got to within 100 metres of the aircraft before they were arrested. Also at the airport was US Navy Boeing 737 C40A that had arrived from Bahrain on the previous day. The three defendants were brought to a special sitting of the court at Nenagh, Co Tipperary, where they were released on bail and summoned to appear in court on 24 April. This brings to at least 43 peace activists who have been prosecuted for similar peace actions at Shannon airport over the years. No such US military aircraft has ever been searched at Shannon airport and no one has been prosecuted for complicity with war crimes, torture or genocide due to US military being illegally allowed to transit through Shannon airport. The ongoing genocide in Gaza was the main focus on both of these peace actions.

l The next regular monthly peace vigil at Shannon is on Sunday 14th April 2pm to 3pm. Shannonwatch website is at http://www.shannonwatch.org/ A list of US war-related planes passing through Shannon or Irish air space in recent months appears there and in the e-mail and web editions of this issue of Nonviolent News.

l Meanwhile in Belfast there have been demonstrations at Thales and Spirit AeroSystems over arms links with Israel. https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53546068897/in/dateposted/ and https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53602899095/in/dateposted/

Black Shamrocks rock

The black shamrock as a multifacted symbol of Irish resistance to war in general, and the war on Gaza in particular at the moment, and it has been taking off with increased public recognition as it appears more frequently at demonstrations for Gaza and Palestine. First launched in 2006, its use is to visualise support for: Irish Neutrality and the Triple Lock, the people of Gaza and all who find themselves at the blunt end of the weapons industry, and for the rights of nature. It is also to visualise opposition to: Ireland’s involvement in war and the weapons industry, scapegoating and ‘othering’ vulnerable citizens, extractivism and the commodification of human beings. There is now a website at www.blackshamrock.ie and you can order bulk numbers of black shamrock badges to sell (non-commercial), make ones yourself, or both – as Galway Alliance Against War (GAAW) did with their presence at the St Patrick’s Day parade in Galway https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53625559130/in/dateposted/ The Black Shamrock website is still being developed so email them to order.

Corrymeela: Transforming trauma

Corrymeela is organising a 3–day series on Transforming trauma: A Community Approach to Healing, in Belfast in partnership with Dr James S. Gordon and the Centre for Mind Body Medicine. This runs in different venues from Wednesday 10th to Friday 12th April. Details on this and other Corrymeela news at https://www.corrymeela.org/

Columbia Congress: Neutrality – Strategy for Global Stabilization

This Congress on 4th and 5th April aims to focus on neutrality as a state commitment, discuss actions for a true peace with social justice, and debate on the obsolescence of war. There will be a full agenda of activities, with more than 50 speakers who will talk on various topics related to neutrality and peace building. Activities will start at 8:00 a.m. Colombian time and will conclude at 4:30 p.m. It will be a hybrid event, broadcast live, in Spanish with English translation available. Source and contacts: https://tinyurl.com/w8hf5xbn

Irish Centre for Human Rights: ICC Summer School, new post

The annual International Criminal Court Summer School at the Irish Centre for Human Rights allows participants the opportunity to attend a series of intensive lectures which are given by leading academics on the subject as well as by legal professionals working at the International Criminal Court. The course is particularly suited to postgraduate students, legal professionals, scholars, and NGO workers. This year it runs online from 10th – 13th June with a registration fee of €75. See https://www.universityofgalway.ie/irish-centre-human-rights/summerschools/

lMeanwhile Professor Siobhán Mullally, Director of University of Galway Irish Centre for Human Rights, was elected as the first Chairperson of the newly established Platform of Independent Experts on Refugee Rights, see https://www.universityofgalway.ie/irish-centre-human-rights/newsevents/professor-siobhan-mullally-elected-first-chairperson-of-platform-of-independent-experts-on-refugee-rights.html

Social Change Initiative: Northern Ireland values and attitudes

Using data from the World Values Survey (WVS) SCI have produced a report on Values and Attitudes in Northern Ireland 25 Years After the Belfast Good Friday Agreement which shows considerable liberalisation happening (among other things). See https://www.socialchangeinitiative.com/values-and-attitudes-in-northern-ireland

Síolta Chroí: Ecosystem restoration for community groups

Upcoming courses at Síolta Chroí in Co Monaghan include one on Ecosystem regeneration for community groups on 20th and 21st April at a low, subsidised fee. It will explore how individuals and community groups can play their part to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss by creating systems that sequester carbon, build biodiversity and restores the ecosystem, mixing theory with practical hands on work. Details on this and more at https://sioltachroi.ie/

Chernobyl Children International: Peace prize for Adi Roche

Chernobyl Children International’s voluntary CEO, Adi Roche was presented with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize at the National Peace Symposium in London on 9th March, in recognition of her life-long “contribution for the advancement of the cause of peace”. The ceremony took place at the Baitul Futuh Mosque, in London. Irish Ambassador to the United Kingdown, Martin Fraser, welcomed Adi receiving the honour in a letter of citation; “Through her inspirational work Adi has accomplished many firsts and it is particularly fitting that she is the first ever Irish honouree of this Prize”. While not within the mainstream of Islam, the Ahmadiyya Muslim community has a particular emphasis on peace. For Chernobyl Children International/CCI see https://www.chernobyl-international.com/

Afri Doolough Famine Walk, 18th May

The annual Doolough Famine Walk, organised by Afri, which walks the 18 km from Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh in Mayo in commemoration of a real life famine walk in 1849, takes place on Saturday 18th May; registration begins late morning. Further details in next issue or keep an eye on www.afri.ie

Rochtain: Training on lobbying and legislative process

The next training by Rochtain, a project of ICCL/Irish Council for Civil Liberties, will focus on effective Oireachtas communications for community and voluntary organisations, specifically on “getting your foot in the door” and making a good pitch for why your organisation should be listened to on a particular issues. The (alternative) dates are 8th or 9th April, both 11am, held remotely. Contact ronan.kennedy@iccl.ie and see also https://www.iccl.ie/activism-protest/rochtain/

IPB: Focus on military spending, Sean MacBride Awards

More relevant than ever, GDAMS (Global Days of Action on Military Spending) begins this year on 12th April. A project of IPB/International Peace Bureau, see more at https://ipb.org/events/gdams-2024-april-12-to-may-15/

lThe Sean MacBride Peace Award for 2023, presented on 22nd March 2024, went to champions of the right to conscientious objection, represented by a joint prize for three movements – Our House in Belarus, the Movement of Conscientious Objectors in Russia, and the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement – and an individual peace advocate, Tore Nærland, through his initiative “Bike for Peace”. See https://ipb.org/sean-macbride-peace-prize/

CGE: Delivering educational programme for Palestinian refugees

The Centre for Global Education (CGE) in Belfast has announced that NIPSA trade union has awarded a two-year grant to support the project titled “Chance to Learn: Educating Palestinian and Syrian Refugees in Lebanon”. The project will provide education activities in 2024 and 2025 that will enhance the formal education and employment opportunities of 100 Palestinian and Syrian children aged 12-16 years. The project will be delivered in three Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. https://www.centreforglobaleducation.com/news/

FOE Earth Day Conference: Faster & fairer climate action

April 22nd sees a Friends of the Earth conference for Earth Day in central Dublin on Ireland 2030: Faster and Fairer Climate Action from 9am – 4pm. Sessions will be on How Politics Can Rise To The Climate Challenge; Speaking Up For Faster And Fairer Climate Action; and Our Energy Future; speakers include Hannah Daly, Professor in Sustainable Energy and Energy Systems Modelling at University College Cork; Kevin Cunningham, lecturer in Politics at TU Dublin, and MD and Founder at Ireland Thinks; as well as Eamon Ryan, Minister for Environment, Climate and Communication. More info and register at https://www.friendsoftheearth.ie/events/earth-day-conference-ireland-2030-faster-and-fairer-climate/

Church and Peace new Gen Sec

After seven years in her post as general secretary of Church and Peace, the European ecumenical peace church network, Lydia Funck has moved on. She has been rep advisor on nonviolent conflict transformation in social movements. “Juliane Prüfert brings practical experience in community-building and networking both in international contexts and with the non-governmental organisation Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Colombia, Lesbos and Kurdistan/Iraq. Until recently she worked as secretary for peace and reconciliation at the Ecumenical Information Centre in Dresden and then with the Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation.” Church and Peace website is at https://www.church-and-peace.org/en/

Mairead Maguire on the state of the world

Peace People co-founder, and Nobel Peace laureate, Mairead Maguire has been busy in the recent past speaking about Gaza and Palestine https://www.flickr.com/photos/innateireland/53602771264/in/dateposted/ but in an interview with Maung Zarni, recorded last December, she also speaks about how she became involved in peace work, Myanmar, Julian Assange, Iraq and war and the state of the world in general. https://forsea.co/israel-cannot-build-peace-on-genocide-says-1976-nobel-peace-laureate-mairead-maguire/

Editorials: Ireland’s future and Ireland’s Future, The EU gets even more bellicose

Ireland’s future and Ireland’s Future

Ireland’s Future” is a nationalist think tank which recently released a report entitled “Ireland 2030” with proposals for the period between now and then, i.e. 2024 – 2030. https://irelandsfuture.com/publications/ireland-2030-proposals-for-the-period-between-2024-and-2030/ While this editorial is not intended to be a full scale analysis of this report, it does refer to some points of agreement and disagreement while looking at aspects of what “Ireland’s future” should be.

The Irish government needs to be pro-active – in a way it has not been – to explore what a united Ireland might entail. One point of disagreement with the Ireland’s Future group is on timescale. It is important that nothing is rushed and therefore that the short timescale in that report should not be followed. Some things take time.

The reason we would say that the Irish government should be proactive is not to push a nationalist agenda but to avoid a vacuum. At the moment, while various discussions have been held, there has been no officially-sponsored discussion from the 26-county state on what a 32-county state might look like – despite the ideological commitment to same. Ireland’s Future recommendation to have a dedicated Joint Committee of the Oireachtas on ‘the Constitutional Future of the island of Ireland” is fair enough as far as it goes but it should not be limited to constitutional change – it should be considering social, cultural, economic and human security matters as well. The Civic Forum type body (“”All-Island Civic Forum/Assembly/Dialogue”) which Ireland’s Future recommends, however, is much broader.

There are obvious reasons for the state in the Republic not having done more, and one being not to inflame loyalist passions in the North is positive in the sense that they are thinking of others. But it is also irresponsible because at the moment ‘a united Ireland’ can mean anything, and also people in the Republic have not thought through what it might mean and entail, e.g. in relation to national symbols or to the nature of the state. We know, to a considerable extent, what a ‘United Kingdom’ with Northern Ireland as part of it means; of course there are uncertainties on this, much arising from Brexit, and currently from British government attempts to reassure northern unionists on their commitment to the Union.

We cannot currently compare like with like, or unlike with unlike. If a united Ireland does come about there will of course be some uncertainties right up to whatever changes take place. But we need to know a general impression of what is likely to be the template so that people can be encouraged to make a rational decision – insofar as they are willing to do so – in both the North and the Republic.

Ireland’s Future also recommends that “Human rights, equality and environmental assessments – and associated values – must shape every stage” (of the process they recommend). This is commendable. However the idea of harnessing international opinion (in favour of a united Ireland) is unhelpful and should only be utilised if it is clear that a Secretary of State should have called a referendum, based on what is in the Good Friday Agreement, but has failed to do so for whatever reason. The most important opinion to be influencing is in the North, not internationally.

The fact that Alliance is no longer a small-u unionist party, with more party members supporting Irish unity than the continuation of the existing United Kingdom, is certainly a straw in the wind. It is only a decade ago when prominent Alliance party member Anna Lo caused very considerable angst by proclaiming herself in favour of a united Ireland. For unionists, this will be proof that Alliance has ‘gone over to the other side’ but in reality Alliance as a party has taken no position, and it is another clarion call to unionists to up their game in being able to demonstrate that the continuation of the status quo (or something like the status quo) is in the interests of the majority of people in Northern Ireland, so that they note and vote accordingly. While some unionists are starting to express this point of view there is not much evidence as yet of it being put into practice.

Whether a Labour government in Britain, likely within the next year, affects things significantly remains to be seen. It will be less English-nationalist and perhaps less defensive of the British army and its deeds or misdeeds (cf NI Legacy Act) but it is unlikely to significantly loosen the purse strings. Of course many people will vote on simple unionist/nationalist lines when, and if, it comes to a referendum on Irish unity, but the ‘middle ground’ of Alliance-type voters, and other swing voters, may decide on economic and social grounds as to what is best in the medium to long term for the people of the North. In this case such people may decide that some short term pain, in relation to economic wellbeing and general disruption of existing institutions and practices, is worth the long term gain. Alternatively they may decide the divil you know is better than the divil you don’t.

However there are many things which would need to happen first before there would be a referendum, not least changes and developments in the Republic irrespective of the nature of the proposed constitutional arrangements and any ongoing devolution to the six counties of Northern Ireland under either jurisdiction. An initial point we would stress is that Irish unity, if it is to come, should be a process and not a sudden volte face. There are many ways of organising such a process but a sudden move from UK to Republic without very considerable planning and consultation could be a disaster in a variety of ways – societally, organisationally, financially, and in relation to resistance, violent or not, to such a move by unionism and loyalism.

The Good Friday/Belfast Agreement of 1998 gives the power to the British Secretary of State to decide if and when to call a referendum “if at any time it appears likely to him that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.” This is very imprecise, gives the Secretary of State a lot of power, and no Secretary of State as yet has clarified exactly what circumstances would lead him or her to that conclusion and course of action. And if a vote was in favour of a united Ireland then ”the Secretary of State shall lay before Parliament such proposals to give effect to that wish as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland.” Unfortunately not all of those holding the position of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland could be said to be first class players in British politics or indeed imbued with great understanding of the realities of Northern Ireland (this is an considerable understatement).

It all does get pinned on a simple arithmetic majority (50% +1) either way in a referendum. A multi-option vote would have been a better way to proceed but we are where we are and neither side is likely to want to change from that. This is where the importance of process comes in. However here is nothing to say that a multi-option referendum or referenda could not be held at any stage after the simple arithmetic majority vote.

We would strongly argue that even if there is a vote for a united Ireland in such a referendum that should be the start of a process, perhaps with an indicative time frame of a number of years and certainly not the next morning, next month or even next year. If the writing was already on the wall then many more unionists would seriously engage with the issues involved and the definite shape of a new Ireland could be thrashed out; at the moment only a few from the unionist side of the house are willing to engage with such questions. Without adopting the details of the time frame advocated by Ireland’s Future – and it is a different context, this is the sort of thing which should come into play after a majority in a referendum vote for Irish unity, if that comes to pass.

And if unionists want to have any chance to continue a link with Britain then they need to facilitate a situation where nationalists are happy to continue under the UK umbrella because their needs are addressed and they also feel they can express their Irishness north of a border. Without that then changing demographics are likely to do their work for a united Ireland. It is clear that some unionists already grasp this but not a majority, and the default position is still nearer ‘what we have, we hold’.

If a united Ireland is coming then how unionists’ British identity and culture can be protected is a key issue. We would argue strongly that this can be done culturally without the Irish state becoming a pale reflection of the neighbouring island, and nor should it entail NATO membership. With freedom of travel between Ireland and Britain, in a united Ireland anyone from Ireland who wanted could, as now, join the British armed forces.

Nationalist commentators – including those in Ireland’s Future – are right that ‘reconciliation’ should not be a precondition of unification but then reconciliation should be a key element in any political moves, full stop. Independent work for reconciliation should continue but be a consideration in all political moves, unionist, nationalist, or other, and the two or three governments involved.

Decisions about the future of Ireland are complex, despite unionist or nationalist simplicities. Clarity is of the essence. The people of Ireland, both sides of the border, deserve honest analysis so that the best decisions can be made for the long term future.

The EU gets even more bellicose

Bellicosity’ is perhaps an old-fashioned word, and comes from the Latin word for war or warlike, ‘bellum’, and perhaps ‘warlike’ is more prosaic English. But, whatever word you prefer, the EU is gearing up for a fight with Russia, and unspecified others, along with supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia. The mind boggles. The EU, along with its NATO allies the USA and UK, and Russia are all nuclear armed. It is crazy to continue to push forward with confrontation and a new cold war arms race which no one can win. Donald Tusk talks about a “pre-war era”. A senior NATO official recently told EU ambassadors in Dublin that it was a matter of ‘when’ that Russia would invade the EU, not ‘if’.

Rapprochement and conflict resolution or even conflict transformation are difficult but are not even being thought about. And Russia under Putin is not easy to deal with. Those favouring armament and a military approach talk about Munich and British Prime Minister Chamberlain’s mistaken deal with Hitler in 1938. But this is not 1938 or 1939 and Putin may be a murdering quasi-dictator but he is not Hitler and has a more rational approach to what he feels he can get away with. Putting more money in the armaments basket simply leads to the other side doing more of the same. ‘The West’, EU and NATO ignored Russian security concerns when they decided to take NATO membership up to Russia’s boundaries.

It takes two sides to have an arms race. Those who lose are initially the poor when money is diverted to pay the arms merchants and armies. And if the weapons and armies are used in anger then everyone loses big time.

How can we engage non-violently with a somewhat belligerent ‘other side’ without either giving in to unreasonable demands or seeming weak and vulnerable? And what about ‘our’ side’s warmaking (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya)? Why are Europeans not thinking in ‘win/win’ terms, difficult as that may be? What common goals could be decided on that would convince all sides that win/win solutions are possible? What are Russia’s legitimate security concerns? How can Russia be turned from an ‘enemy’ into a friend, as it seemed it might become after the fall of communism? And what went wrong there? Putin may be in power for more than a decade from now but how do we assist a less nationalist and more open Russia to emerge during and after his rule? These are some of the questions which need to be asked but are blatantly not being aired.

Of course it may feel different if you are sitting beside Russia’s borders than if you are falling off the western edge of Europe like Ireland. But it is precisely the ongoing NATO expansion to Russia’s borders which was the occasion for Putin’s full invasion of Ukraine. It may be counter-intuitive to those with a militarist mindset but building up your armed capacity does not necessarily make you safer, it may simply make your perceived enemy more anxious and trigger-happy, and you more likely to use the weapons you do have. Think of what led up to the First World War and where that ended up.

Neutrality has been disparaged by the NATO powers that be and their fellow travellers in Ireland. So it is good to see a congress happening in Columbia on neutrality as a way to aid international stability. There are so many possibilities for neutrality which those in control of the Irish state seem not to see; the sky (plus the earth and the sea) is the limit. We need to build up the visibility and perceived viability of neutrality as a rational and effective means to work towards international and global peace.

In ending this piece it is worth quoting the entirety of a recent statement from MIR in Italy on developments in the EU:

The Movimento Internazionale della Riconciliazione – a historic Italian pacifist organisation affiliated to the I.F.O.R. – expresses its dismay and concern at the attempt to transform the European Council into a ‘war council’, with the expansion of the EU’s military commitment, not only in terms of war production but also by ventilating a worrying ‘readiness strategy’, which envisages an emergency plan to ‘prepare citizens for conflict’.

“The president of the European Council, Charles Michel, did not hesitate to dust off the old Roman motto ‘If you want peace prepare for war’, hoping that Europe would produce more ammunition and weapons and increase its defence spending,” said Ermete Ferraro, president of the M.I.R., “Moreover, pandering to the invitation coming from the very summit of the E.U. executive, Ursula von der Leyen, Michel clearly hypothesised the transition to a ‘war economy’, preparing citizens for a defence perspective in a blatantly warmongering key”.

M.I.R. Italy considers these statements to be very severe, as they do nothing but exacerbate the current armed conflicts, sidelining the European Union on a ground that betrays its own founding principles. Indeed, Article 3 of the Lisbon Treaty (2012) states that ‘The Union shall aim to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples’, and Article 5 states that: “(The EU) contributes to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights […] and to the strict observance and development of international law, in particular respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter”.

“These principles cannot be reconciled with openly bellicose policies, in which solidarity is understood as sending arms to a country at war,” commented Ferraro. “Therefore, together with the other pacifist organisations, we strongly denounce these dangerous positions and reaffirm the ethical but also constitutional principle of repudiation of war as a mean of resolving international disputes, reaffirming instead the need to develop an unarmed, civil and non-violent defence method”.

Eco-Awareness: The myth that all will be well in the end

Larry Speight brings us his monthly column –

There is a part of the human psyche that wants to dwell forever in childhood, a place of happy endings, comforted by the thought that as the Big Bad Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood met a sorry end we can expect our own tribulations to end well. When we had fearful and worrying moments as children we would, if we had attentive parents or carers, be comforted by their explanation that our anxiety had magnified our worries and all would be well.

The message that all will be well is one we have ingested all our lives. This is the primary message of most religions, which is that if we adhere to a particular set of beliefs and code of living the prospect of spending eternity suffering in Hell won’t materialize. That all will be well in the end is the bread-and-butter message of political parties of all hues. If you vote for us, they tell the electorate, your aspirations to live a better life in a better society will be met. They assure us that unlike the other political parties they have the magic formula to put everything right.

The transnational corporations also appeal to our Peter Pan yearning to live in a fantasy land of perpetual play where the vile pirates, the threats to our wellbeing, are always defeated. At this point in history when our frivolousness, ignorance and hubris have brought the Earth’s life support systems to the point of collapse the infantile part of ourselves is more than willing to accept the message of the corporations that we will hasten the transition to the paradise of a green economy through buying their supposed energy saving, carbon neutral, ecologically sustainable, ethically produced products.

In appealing to our primeval desire to be comforted, protected, and our wish for all our trials to have a happy outcome, society’s pivotal institutions ask one simple thing of us, which is to place our faith in them. That so many people do in no small measure accounts for wars that cause unimaginable suffering and trauma, deaths by the tens of thousands and in some cases millions, as has happened in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as the destruction of the natural and human constructed world.

Our blind faith in the pivotal institutions helps account for climate breakdown which in 2022 is thought to have caused the premature death of 60,000 people in Europe alone and led to the rise of heat-related deaths in the United States by 95% in the years 2010 to 2022. Worldwide, hundreds of thousands die and millions are displaced by climate breakdown every year.

Blind faith in our institutions allows for gross economic inequalities, which among other indignities means that billions live out their lives trapped in extreme poverty. UN-Habitat inform us that in 2020, 1.1 billion people lived in slums, a figure that is expected to rise to 2 billion by 2030. Rural areas also suffer from poverty, which the UN says is 17.2% higher than in urban areas. As we in Ireland know poverty in the high-income countries is unacceptably high.

As a society we need to awaken from our induced infantilism in regard to societal problems and no longer passively accept the mantra of our pivotal institutions that all will be well if we have sufficient faith, vote for them and buy their products. Highlighting the pitfalls of not questioning those in authority Frank Herbert, author of the bestselling 1965 novel Dune, said in an interview with Mother Earth News in 1981 that he thought President John F. Kennedy was among the most dangerous leaders his country ever had. This is not because he thought Kennedy was malevolent but because people didn’t question him.

It is ironic that in spite of the emphasis society places on each new generation receiving a good education, and the widespread understanding that education is a life-long process, we don’t sufficiently question the soundness of the dominant political – economic paradigm or the lived theology of our religious institutions.

In regards to the former, while the major political parties are emphatic in saying that they want fundamental change, each, without apparently being aware of their cognitive dissonance, advocate they very thing that is the cause of the rapid degradation of the biosphere and so much human suffering. This is continual economic growth. Consuming more means more mining, poisoning of rivers, lakes and sea, an increase in the loss of biodiversity, air and noise pollution, traffic congestion, more Indigenous communities expelled from their ancestral lands, and rising temperatures. As Joyetta Gupta writes in Scientific America, March 2024, “There are limits to our natural resources. At some point they run out, or we ruin them.”

Many religious people, perhaps the majority, accept without question the idea that the primary purpose in life is to ensure that they and their loved ones go to Heaven rather than Hell. The belief that of all the species that have existed in the 3.7 billion years of life on Earth, Homo sapiens is the only one that is immortal is the ultimate in exceptionalism and gives license for humans to treat nonhuman beings as objects. Within the framework of religious belief it is reasonable to think that God did not create multiple forms of life for humans to mistreat – as in factory farming, destroy – through agricultural run-off, and exterminate.

The idea that all will be made well by technological innovation in the form of electric vehicles, solar, wind and nuclear-generated energy, is one of the most dangerous myths of our time as it is so readily accepted by the Peter Pan part of our psychology. This is our inclination to believe in implausible things such as that we can reduce our negative impact on the biosphere without changing our life-style, that there are no moral constraints on how we treat nonhuman nature and regardless of our eco-callousness all will be well in the end.

– – – – –

The possibility of nonviolent resistance in the contemporary world

A review of “Pacifism Today: A Dialogue about Alternatives to War in Ukraine”by Majken Jul Sørensen, Irene Publishing, 2024, ISBN 978-91-88061-69-0

Review by Rob Fairmichael

The war in Ukraine, occasioned immediately by a Russian military attack to annex Ukraine, has persuaded some people of the impossibility of nonviolent resistance to such an attack. In this regard it is a bit similar to what happened in the 1930s with the Spanish Civil War. How could pacifism or nonviolence resist in such a situation?

One initial problem is that violence and nonviolence are seldom judged with the same criteria. The war in Ukraine has descended into a First World War-type conflict of attrition. People are realising that Putin can afford to keep throwing resources at the war – anything to avoid losing face – and throwing away lives. The effect at home, justifying repression, also suits Putin. The human, environmental and economic cost of the war, on all sides, is massive. And ‘the west’ has to some extent got tired of throwing military resources to Ukraine (and ‘President Trump’ could end US resources going there anyway). And yet very few are saying that perhaps resisting in this way was a mistake, or that settling early on in the war (when Ukraine was considered to be in the ascendant) should have taken place – the failure to do that was partly the fault of gung ho Boris Johnson in opposing any deal and I would say he has blood on his hands.

Thus ‘war’ as a methodology has not come into question despite the failure to kick Russia out of Ukraine or even its acquisitions in 2022.

Whether you call this publication, with 71 numbered pages, a pamphlet or a book is open to debate. It is short and written by Majken Jul Sørensen in the format of a dialogue (imagined) between a sceptic and herself on the issues involved. This is a useful approach even if sometimes I would feel the sceptic’s comments don’t quite ring true. But I am certainly not accusing the author of being disengenuous and this approach is primarily to provide a hook to hang her quite comprehensive comments on; the book will be judged on whether people are persuaded by Majken’s comments.

Early on Majken (which is how she gives her name before what she says) gives three reasons why she is a pacifist; “…I think it is wrong to kill other people….Second, the price people pay for fighting a war is simply too high…..However, most important is the third part of my answer: today we know a great deal about fighting with nonviolent means and it is irrational to ignore this knowledge…”

She deals with the difficulties in demonstrating publicly in repressive situations and I think more can be made of ‘flash mob’ type manifestations where something happens suddenly and then stops just as suddenly, before ‘security’ forces get there. She mentions ‘two minute strikes’ in Denmark under Nazi control – this may have been too short to have a logistical effect but it showed the widespread support for resistance; and during that war the Freedom Council concluded that strikes caused more damage to the German war effort than riots and sabotage. This all still requires audacity, organisation and skill. She gives some details on Norwegian Second World War resistance to the Quisling regime which was relatively successful while also difficult and dangerous. She emphasises the importance of local knowledge and being able to “read the political game”.

In talking about Chenoweth and Stephan’s 2011 publication “Why civil resistance works”, (see e.g. https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2022/04/01/nonviolent-resistance-to-invasion-occupation-and-coups-detat/ which shows nonviolent resistance to be more effective than violent (based on 20th century case studies), a point I would add is that Chenoweth and Stephan were studying conflicts within states rather than international war. But a significant number of these were similar in outworking to an inter-state war, and the close relations (literally in the case of mixed Russian-Ukrainian families) between Russia and Ukraine means that they are hardly strangers battling it out from opposite sides of the globe.

Majken also looks at questions around non-lethal violence (e.g. sabotage and rioting) and concludes that “Sabotage and riots might…play a role when it prevents the occupier from having the calm that they long for” and while saying scholars of nonviolence need to look at this more closely she does state that “Maybe the less risky adoption of nonviolent methods without sabotage and riots can be sufficient to disturb the calm and keep the fighting spirit high.”

Unarmed resistance requires courage and sacrifice; there is no easy way to resist, as Majken discusses, and she looks at questions regarding nonviolent accompaniment and the possibilities, or lack of them for using this approach. Perhaps I can add a point previously made by Peter Emerson in these pages – what if such action or presence was engaged in by high profile actors – senior religious and civic figures – it might be both more possible and more effective.

As to whether a moral commitment to pacifism is necessary, or simply a belief in the effectiveness of nonviolence, Majken states “it will be easier for a movement to maintain nonviolent discipline if the refusal to harm comes from a moral belief….”

She correctly identifies NATO’s role in provoking Russia while agreeing that the Russian invasion of Ukraine was a brutal act of aggression. She does warn of the dangers of ‘this’ war going on for a long time while also looking at how Putin could be brought down. I would say that sometimes, though we may not like the answer, the requirement is not only resistance but also significant periods of time to enable an opportunity to emerge; the ‘Prague spring’ nonviolent resistance to the Warsaw Pact (=Russian Communist) invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was partly successful – Gene Sharp puts its collapse down to political failings – but the Czechs and Slovaks had to wait another two decades and the popular resistance made possible by Gorbachev’s reforms before being able to throw off the yoke they were under. There are no instant magic wands, nonviolent or violent (violent resistance in Prague in 1968 would have led to catastrophic suffering for the Czechs).

Majken’s final chapter is on “Preparing for unarmed struggle”. This is important. Armies train to both be efficient using their weapons and for soldiers to be prepared to kill. Nonviolent resistance can be effective without preparation but potentially far more effective with it, and she gives a reading list for further learning and thought.

This is a timely publication which is based on the failure of the war machine – military, arms trade, media and above all political establishments – to resist war and its effects. In Gaza we see military speak used to attempt to justify the unjustifiable by Israel. And if you want to trace that back it partly comes from Israeli insecurity and Western guilt after the genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany. And the rise to power of Hitler was largely based on the treatment of Germany following the First World War, and that conflagration was the result of clashing military-imperial rivalries. I realise that this cause-and-effect linkage is simplistic but I would still argue it is correct. So where and how do we ‘break into history’ to say stop?

In the case of the war in Ukraine the time for real rapprochement with Russia was following the collapse of communism. Had ‘the west’ assisted Russia economically and provided other assistance then the authoritarian direction might have been halted. And while it might be counter-intuitive for some people to say eastern Europe would have been safer without NATO membership, NATO pushing towards Russia not only broke promises made after the fall of communism in Russia and eastern Europe but ignored Russia’s memory of Western invasions.

Nonviolent resistance is a vital way to break into history and change the future – in opposing dictatorial rule internally as well dealing with conflict internationally. Some other issues in this area, including in relation to Ireland, are discussed at https://innatenonviolence.org/wp/2022/04/01/nonviolent-resistance-to-invasion-occupation-and-coups-detat/ Majken Jul Sørensen’s book is an important contemporary contribution to the discussion about all of this and deserves widespread reading and discussion. If humanity is to survive on this small globe of ours then nonviolence and the development of nonviolent resistance is essential.

lIrene Publishing’s website is at https://irenepublishing.com/ and – among other items of interest – their list includes books on “Social Defence” by Jørgen Johansen and Brian Martin, on “Gandhi the organiser” by Bob Overy, Michael Randle on his and Pat Pottle’s trial for springing George Blake from prison in Britain, on constructive nonviolent action by Andrew Rigby, “To prevent or stop wars – What can peace movements do?” by Christine Schweitzer, and “Whistleblowing – A practical guide” by Brian Martin. As well, of course, as the above book in the review…..

 

Neutrality, how are ye? US warplanes at Shannon and transiting Irish air space

.lNonviolent News is publishing this list, compiled by Edward Horgan, because it shows part of the extent of existing Irish collusion with the USA military and NATO.

US military aircraft and aircraft on contract to the US military transiting through Shannon airport and Irish air-space between 7th Oct 2023 and 17th March 2024.

The following are details compiled by Edward Horgan of US military aircraft and aircraft on contract to the US military that have passed through Shannon airport and Irish air space between 7th October 2023 and 17th March 2024. Over 70 aircraft landings or overflights are listed here, but this is likely not the full list. Most of these aircraft were going to or coming from the Middle East. Due to limited resources, there may be some inaccuracies in the details below, including the fact that we are not able to monitor all aircraft transiting through Shannon airport or Irish airspace. However, the information provided below does demonstrate the very serious extent of Irish Government complicity in war crimes and genocide and unjustified breaches of Irish neutrality.

  1. 17th March 2024 OMNI Air number N234AX on contract to the US military, landed at Shannon airport at 0951am this morning coming from Tbilisi capital of Georgia, Omni Air N234AX flew on to US Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina

  2. 16th March 2024 Omni Air N378AX also on contract to the US military landed at Shannon about 0450am coming from Indianapolis in the US, and took off again at 0726am heading for Sofia in Bulgaria and onwards to US air base Al Udeid in Qatar. This is the largest US base in the Middle East. Both aircraft are likely to have been transporting armed US soldiers.

  3. 12th March 2024 Omni Air N828AX on contract to the US military landed at Shannon airport. It was coming from coming from El Paso, and Fort Cavazos TX and Baltimore. I It then flew on to Kuwait one of the major distribution points for US troops and munitions around the Middle East,

  4. 13th March 2024 US Air Force C40C number 02-0202 landed at Shannon airport. It was coming from US Airbase Andrews, Camp Springs, Washington. It then flew on to Amman capital of Jordan before flying towards the Gulf of Aqaba.

  5. 9th March 2024 US Navy C40 number 16-5833 landed at Shannon airport at 02.36 am this morning coming from New Orleans Naval Air Station via Dover Portsmouth.

  6. 8th March 2024 US Marine Corps KC130J Super Hercules number 16-9532 arrived at Shannon from Milwaukee in the US a distance of over 5,700 kilometres. It spent6 the day and overnight at Shannon and took off again today at 11.58 and then flew on to Cambridge airport in England. Its destination after Cambridge is not known.

  7. 3rd March 2024 US Air Force, Gulfstream 5 executive jet number 99-0402 flew through Irish airspace on 3rd March, using callsign SAM265 on its way to Frankfurt and from there it flew to Cyrus and to Tel Aviv Israel on 4th March. On its return journey to the US it landed at Shannon about 17.55 pm on 5th March and stayed overnight at Shannon and then took off at about 09.00am on 6th March and flew on to Washington. This type of US Air Force aircraft may well have been carrying senior US administration officials or senior US military officers. Given the US active support for the genocide being committed by Israeli in Gaza no US military aircraft or aircraft on contract to the US military should be allowed land at Irish airports or pass through Irish airspace. This makes Ireland complicit in US war crimes and in possible acts of genocide.

  8. 4th March 2024 Omni Air aircraft number N846AX landed at Shannon airport, having come from Baltimore Washington. It then flew on to Sofia Bulgaria and from there to Kuwait. It then flew back to the US through Irish airspace on the 5th March.

  9. 2nd March 2024 There were at least 4 US military aircraft at Shannon on 2nd March. Two US Air Force Hercules C140H aircraft landed at Shannon Tuesday 27th February coming from Ramstein US air base in Germany. They remained at Shannon until today. Their registration numbers were 89-9106 and 92-3023. They both took off from Shannon at about 11.40am this morning and then flew to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk where they spent a few hours before flying on north towards Iceland.

  10. US Air force Boeing C40C registration number 02-0201 arrived at Shannon airport on 2nd March about 04.43am coming from Washington US and took off again about 06.15 am and flew on Brindisi in Italy.

  11. US Air Force Boeing C40B number 01-0015 arrived at Shannon about 16.00pm, coming from Tel Aviv Israel. It took off again about 17.50 heading west towards the USA. Previously on 26th February it arrived at Shannon coming from MacDill air force base in Florida at about 22.00 pm and took off again heading towards the Middle East. It landed in both Cyprus and Israel on 28th February, but its movements otherwise are not clear. This type of aircraft is usually used by senior US Government officials who have been supporting Israeli genocidal attacks on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

  12. 1st March 2024 Omni Air N207AX arrived at Shannon on 28 Feb from US Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina, and Tbilisi in Georgia. It returned to Shannon on 1st March about 0013 AM and took off for Washington DC about 0307am.

  13. 29th Feb 2024 Omni Air N846AX on contract to the US military arrived at Shannon about 01.48 on 29 Feb and then flew on to US base at Poznan in Poland, and to Sofia in Bulgaria and then to the Persian Gulf area. It then returned to Shannon today at about 0844am and took off again about 11.45am on its return journey to the US.

  14. 28th Feb 2024 Two US air force Hercules C130H landed at Shannon airport on 28 Geb., number 90-9108 landed at 12.40pm and number 92-3023 landed at 12.58pm. Both were coming from Ramstein US Air base in Germany. They are still at Shannon airport this Wednesday morning. At least one of them made deliveries in recent days to British airbase Akrotiri in Cyprus which is one of the delivery points for Israel.

  15. 19th Feb 2024 US Air force Gulfstream 5, number 01-0029 arrived at Shannon about 10.35 coming from Vienna probably from the Security Conference, and took off again about 11.30am and has since landed at Washington. On 14th February this aircraft landed at Tel Aviv Israel.

  16. 17th Feb 2024, US Navy C40a aircraft number 165832 landed back at Shannon coming from Bahrain on its way back to the US. It arrived at Shannon on 15th Feb stayed overnight at Shannon and travelled on to Bahrain via Chania in Crete most likely delivering military materials to Bahrain for distribution around the Middle East.

  17. 12 Feb 2024 US Military Beechcraft BE20 landed at Shannon coming from Keflavik in Iceland, and stayed overnight at Shannon. Its registration number is 84-00162.

  18. 8th Feb 2024 Omni Air N846AX On contract to the US military passed through Shannon on 8th February and flew on to the Kuwait which is a US Military distribution point for other locations in the Middle East, including Israel. It then flew on to Oman and also very likely went on Camp Lemonier in Djibouti. It returned to refuel at Shannon airport yesterday on its way back to the USA.

  19. 6th Feb 2024 a US Marine Corps Cessna C580 executive jet number 166715 landed at Shannon about 10.54 am coming from Bordeaux in France4th February,

  20. Omni Air N342AX on contract to the US military passed through Shannon airport on its way to Kuwait and Qatar. It also refuelled at Shannon on its return journey to the US on Monday 5th February.

  21. 5th Feb. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s aircraft US Air force 99-0004 refuelled at Shannon airport this morning, in spite of the fact that he and the US government are actively complicity and assisting the genocide that is happening in Gaza and the West Bank at present. The aircraft arrived at Shannon from Washington at about 0400 am and took off again about 0550 am, and was last seem over the Adriatic Sea on its way to the Middle East. Meanwhile two US Navy Hercules KC130T aircraft spent last night 4th Feb. at Shannon airport.

  22. 4th Feb 2024 US Navy Hercules C130 spent 2 overnights at Shannon airport. It arrived from Norfolk Naval Air Station Virginia on 2nd Feb. This US Navy aircraft made quick stopover at Sigonella US Naval Air station located at Sigonella Italian air base in Sicily. This US NA Station NAS Sigonella is the hub of U.S. naval air operations in the Mediterranean and is also likely to be actively involved in supporting Israeli war crimes in Gaza. This US Navy Hercules C130 refuelled at Shannon on its return journey to the US.

  23. 31st Jan 2024- US military Beech 200 Super King turboprop number 84-00488, arrived at Shannon coming from an air base near Naples. Prior to that it had been in the Red Sea area on Monday where the US has been launching attacks against Yemen.

  24. 26th Jan 2024 Omni Air n234ax refuelled at Shannon having come from Washington yesterday and took off from Shannon about 05.18am and flew on to Aviano air base in Italy which is a major logistic distribution base.

  25. 23rd Jan It US Navy C40 aircraft landed at Shannon airport just after 5am. Its number was 16-6696 and it was coming from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia and from Naval Air Station Moyport near Jacksonville, Florida. It stayed overnight at Shannon and then flew on to Sigonella air base in Sicily,

  26. 17th Jan 2024 US Navy Hercules C130T number 16-5160 landed at Shannon about 13.38 coming from Sigonella air base in Sicily. It has been in Bahrain a few days ago also so may well have been supporting US military aggression across the Middle East.

  27. 16th Jan 2024 US Navy Hercules KC130T mid-air refueller, number 16-5315 arrived from Rota naval airbase in Spain about 12.05pm stayed overnight and took off about 10am

  28. US Air force C40 arrived at Shannon about 12.15 coming from Zurich and Bucharest and took off again about 13.00 heading west towards USA.

  29. 11th Jan 2024 At least 3 aircraft associated with US military were refuelled at Shannon airport on 11th Jan. The aircraft most likely carrying Anthony Blinken US Secretary of State, who has been very actively supporting the Israeli government committing Genocide against the Palestinian people, landed at Shannon about 18.05 pm this evening. The aircraft number was 99-0004. During his tour of the Middle East he helped organise air attacks by the US and UK on Yemen,

  30. Omni Air N819AX landed at Shannon about 01.32 coming from Bardufoss air base in northern Norway. It took off this evening about 17.00 heading west towards the USA.

  31. The Third aircraft was a Hercules HC130J belonging to the US Marine Corps. This is a multipurpose aircraft with a mid-air refuelling capacity. It also came from Bardufoss air base and It landed this evening about 19.30pm. Its registration number was 16-9229.

  32. 9th Jan. an Eastern Airlines aircraft number N706KW had been at Shannon for a few days, but was on contract to the US military using US military call sign CMB566. It took off from Shannon shortly after 8am on 9th Jan and flew on to Rzeszow airport in SE Poland which is one of the main supply airports for the Ukrainian military.

  33. 8th Jan. Omni Air N846AX coming from Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, landed at Shannon about 02.05 am and took off again about 05.05 and flew on to Kuwait and to the United Arab Emirates using US military call sign CMB554. On its return journey to the USA today Jan 9th it stopped off at an airbase in Jordan and at Ramstein air base in Germany.

  34. 5th Jan. Omni Air registration number N225AX arrived at Shannon yesterday coming from Fort Worth Dallas Texas, refuelled at Shannon and then travelled on to Kuwait and to Al Udeid air base in Qatar. Al Udeid is the largest US air base in the Middle East and is used a major distribution point for distributing US soldiers and military materials (bombs etc) to other locations around the Middle East, including Israel. It also refuelled at Shannon on its way back to the USA.

  35. 5th and 6th Jan. were busy for US military activity going through Shannon airport and through Irish airspace. a US Marine Corps Super Hercules KC130J number 16-6512 refuelling tanker overflew through Irish airspace 6th Jan. travelling from Stuttgart in Germany probably to Iceland.

  36. Omni N819AX overflew Irish airspace early this morning heading for Al Udeid air base in Qatar.

  37. Omni N828AX flew through Irish airspace on 5th Jan. from Kuwait to El Paso in Texas, and is now on its way again from El Paso to the Middle East and refuelled at Shannon

  38. On 6th Jan. Omni N846AX refuelled at Shannon on 5th Jan on its way to Kuwait, and returned to US today overflying through Irish airspace at about 11.50am.

  39. Omni N423AX overflew Ireland on 5th Jan. on its way to Sofia Bulgaria and probably also to the Persian Gulf.

  40. Omni N225AX overflew Ireland on 5th Jan. on its way to Ramstein US air base in Germany.

  41. Also on 5th Jan. US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken probably passed through Shannon airport in US Air Force aircraft number 99-0004, coming from Camp Springs Andrews air base in Washington and landing at Shannon for refuelling about 10.30 and taking off again about 12 noon.

  42. 20th December At least 3 US air force aircraft refuelled at Shannon on their way back from the Middle East USAF C17 Globemaster number 07-7185 arrived at Shannon from Camp Springs Washington on 17 December, and then flew on to Ramstein in Germany and from there possibly to Israel. On 20 December it returned to Shannon about 17.50, refuelled and left Shannon towards the US at about 20.35pm.

  43. On 18 Dec. 2023 another USAF C17 Globemaster number 02-1106 was in Tel Aviv Israel. On 20 Dec., it was in Bahrain and flew from there to Akrotiri British air base in Cyprus and from there to Shannon where it landed about 19.20pm.

  44. On 17 December USAF C32A came from Camp Springs Washington, overflew through Irish airspace, landed at Ramstein in Germany and then flew on to the Middle East, most likely to Israel. On 20 December it arrived at Shannon about 19.15, coming from Akrotiri in Cyprus and probably also from Israel. It took off again from Shannon about 20.30 heading west towards the US. At least two of these flights were likely to be connected to the presence of US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin in Israel where he was providing support for the Israeli attacks on Gaza.

  45. 19th Dec 2023 US air force C40B number 02-0042 landed at Shannon airport about 15.40pm coming from a strange location in the Palestinian West Bank, possibly an Israeli air base. It took off again at 1735pm heading for Camp Springs air base near Washington.

  46. 17th Dec. 2023 USAF C17 Globemaster arrived at Shannon about 03.40 am coming from Camp Springs air base in Washington, and took off again at about 06.45am heading for Ramstein air base in Germany.

  47. USAF C40 Boeing 757 number 99-0004 also travelled from Camp Springs in Washington, landed at Shannon about 03.30am and took off again about 05.00 am and went on to Ramstein air base in Germany. Both later travelled on towards the Middle East.

  48. 15th Dec. 2023 US air force number 01-0015 arrived at Shannon about 6pm coming from Israel and Palestinian West Bank. It may have been transporting Jake Sullivan Whitehouse National Security Advisor who met Netanyahu and probably told him that US has approved the sale and immediate delivery of 13,000 more tank shells for Israeli bombing of Gaza.

  49. Also landed at Shannon tonight about 9.15pm was Omni Air N207AX on contract to the US military coming from Kuwait and Oman and possibly also from Djibouti.

  50. 14th Dec. 2023 Another US military aircraft at Shannon airport. US air force C40C seems to have arrived at Shannon on Monday 11 December from the United Arab Emirates. Its registration number is 02-0203. It took off from Shannon 14 Dec heading west towards the USA.

  51. 11th Dec. US military Hercules KC130J mid-air refuelling aircraft number 169225 landed at Shannon airport about 17.10pm, coming from Bardufoss air base in Norway.

  52. Earlier on 11th Dec. a C40 US military transport aircraft coming from Dubai and a US Air force Gulfstream 5 executive Jet also landed at Shannon.

  53. 10th Dec. US Navy C40 Clipper number 16-5831. arrived at Shannon yesterday about 02.26am and stayed all day and overnight at Shannon, leaving about 09.10am. It came from Naval Air Station New Orleans and Dover air base Delaware, it went on to land in Bahrain.

  54. US air force registration number is 01-0015 Boeing 737-700, coming from MacDill air force base in Tampa Florida landed at Shannon about 19.17pm tonight and took off again about 21.40pm, heading east towards Europe and likely towards the Middle East.

  55. 6th Dec. Omni Air N207AX on contract to the US military was refuelled at Shannon coming from air bases in Qatar, Kuwait and Ramstein in Germany.

  56. 7th Dec. US Air force special operations plane number 62-4131 R135W flew through Irish airspace coming from Omaha and it landed at Cambridge UK, and then flew on the UAE and Qatar. An almost identical aircraft RC135 number 64-148432 has been doing almost daily reconnaissance type flights and patrols off the coast of Gaza beginning on 7th October the day the Gaza war began using Chania air base in Crete to refuel. It was still on patrol off Gaza today 9th December 2023.

  57. 1st Dec. 2023 Omni Air N846AX on contract to the US military overflew through Irish airspace on 29 Nov. landed at Frankfurt Hahn and flew on to Bahrain. It then flew back to Nuremberg and Riga Latvia and landed at Shannon about 01.57am on 1st Dec.

  58. On 29th Nov Omni Air N468AX coming from US landed at Shannon about 03.55am and took off again about 0755 and flew on to Rzeszow in Poland near the border with Ukraine, and also landed in Nuremberg and Romania. On 30th Nov it landed at Shannon about 03.54 and took off the US about 06.09, and has since landed at Hunter Army Air Field in Georgia.

  59. On 29 Nov Omni Air N828AX overflew through Irish Airspace coming from Washington DC, and flew on to land at Ramstein air base in German and to air bases in Kuwait and Qatar when are major US distributions bases to other locations in the Middle East, including Israel. It overflew through Irish airspace again on 1st Dec. at about 01.34am on its way back to the USA.

  60. Also on 1st Dec. Omni Air N819AX flew through Irish airspace about 1400pm coming from Dallas TX. It was last seen flying over Romania probably heading towards the Middle East

  61. 28th Nov. 2023 a US navy aircraft number 16-5829 landed at Shannon airport. coming from Oceana airbase Virginia Beach. It stayed overnight at Shannon and on 29 Nov then travelled on to joint air base Chania in Crete and has returned to Shannon again later on 29th.

  62. 13th Nov. 2023 US air force aircraft registration 02-0042 arrived at Shannon airport coming from MacDill air force base in Tampa Florida. It took off again about 9pm heading south east over Europe.

  63. 10th Nov. US Navy C40A aircraft registration number 16-5832 arrived at Shannon from Sigonella air base in Sicily. It stayed for two overnights at Shannon and took off on 12th Nov. and flew on to Portsmouth in the USA.

  64. 6th Nov. 2023 three aircraft on contract to US military refuelled at Shannon. Omni Air N378AX arrived at Shannon also from Fort Campbell in Tennessee, It refuelled at Shannon and has since flown on to land near Constanta in Romania.

  65. Omni air N828AX went on to make deliveries to Nuremberg Germany, Tallinn in Estonia and Poznan in Poland.

  66. Omni air N846AX has since landed in Kuwait.

  67. 2nd Nov. US Air force diplomatic aircraft number 98-0002 landed at Shannon airport at about 23:02 coming from Camp Springs Joint Air base Andrews in Washington DC. It may well have been carrying US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken who was due to visit Israel and possibly other locations in the Middle East.

  68. 27th Oct. Omni Air aircraft number N468AX landed for refuelling about 22.13 pm while on contract to the US military transportation command. It was coming from Oman in the Persian Gulf via Sofia in Bulgaria, but also looks like it had also made a return journey from a location south of Oman, probably to Camp Lemonier in Djibouti.

  69. 22nd Oct. US Navy Hercules C130T landed at Shannon yesterday 21st October about 15:45 pm coming from Sigonella in Sicily and Bahrain. It stayed overnight last night and took off about 10:34 this morning heading west towards the USA.

  70. 17 Oct 2023 Eastern Airlines aircraft registration number N705KW which was on contract to the US military passed through Shannon airport on Tuesday 17th October, coming from Bangor Maine USA, and then travelled on to United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and landed again at Shannon airport on its return journey on 19th Oct.

  71. 7th Oct. 2023 Omni Air N468AX on contract to the US military arrived at Shannon about 5.52 am coming from Pope Army Air Field in North Carolina and from Baltimore Washington. It took off again about 09.33am made a further refuelling stop at Sofia Bulgaria and then flew on to Kuwait.

On 7th October 2023 war has once again broken out between Israel and Palestine with hundreds of people killed in the last 24 hours.

Our thoughts and prayers are are with the victims of war everywhere.

In the meantime, the death toll in Gaza up to 17TH March 2024 has exceeded 31,000 including at least 12,300 children.

Shannonwatch website is at www.shannonwatch.org

The next monthly Shannon peace vigil on Sunday 14th April 2pm to 3pm.