First, there’s Scotland, with its popular and parliamentary rejection of nukes. And yet, while we are solidly for Bairns not Bombs, we still are not fully aware of our significance in the mix. The internationals who will be at Faslane on 22nd September will be carrying a simple message: We think your national rejection of nukes is fabulous; the eyes of the world are on you; you can cause a nuclear-armed state to disarm; you can start the global disarmament ball rolling; don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Then there’s the Treaty – the Treaty on The Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the TPNW. Adopted last year by overwhelming vote it is well on track to achieve sufficient ratifications so as to to enter into force by 2019. Clearly, none of the 9 nuclear-armed states will sign it anytime soon but, like other treaties aimed at the elimination of a weapon type (landmines, chemical weapons etc.), the TPNW will categorise nukes as pariah weapons. Indeed, even now it is having a noticeable effect, most obviously in the number of transnational investment companies which are reading the runes and getting out of the nuclear weapons business. The US and UK have led a sneering chorus against the Treaty but they also know that it will bite hard on their activity. Before the UN vote the US wrote to all NATO states, warning them not to approve the Treaty as it would limit US ability to continue providing nuclear weapon cover to its client states.
Finally there’s the urgency. In his sobering “Doomsday Machine” Daniel Ellsberg makes it plain that we have been living on the sharp edge of nuclear catastrophe consistently since the early 1960s and that the present case is as dangerous as the Cuban missile crisis. Nuclear war, even on a regional scale (as for instance on the Indian sub-continent), would cause millions of immediate deaths and many more to follow through starvation in the wider area. Nuclear war can do climate change all on its own and the effects of the climate breakdown we are already facing will increase the chances of conflict, and so increase the chances of nuclear weapons being used. A terrifying tangle. They have to go, all of them.
That’s why we should all be at Faslane on September 22nd – to signal our intention to join the human race.