The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was founded in the UK in 1957, following Britain’s Hydrogen bomb tests, with some of the most prominent spokespersons supporting it at the time, including Bertrand Russell, J. B. Priestley, Ritchie Calder, James Cameron, Howard Davies, Michael Foot, Arthur Goss, Kingsley Martin and Joseph Rotblat. An Anglican priest, Canon John Collins, was its first president.
This documentary seems to have been made to commemerate the 50th anniversary of its founding, though the latest date in the film is from 2010, and it traces in brief form the history of the development of nuclear weapons and their initial employment on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the spread of the weapons to the USSR, then to Britain, France and China.
But it focuses on the people who organised to oppose them, with a lot of historical footage from the annual Aldermaston Marches, which take place over the Easter weekend, the women’s camp at Greenham, which effectively opposed the deployment of short range Cruise missiles and the recent rallies in opposition to the Iraq war.
Since it’s early days, in which it was very focused on nuclear weapons, it has seen a spread of its activities and has joined up with other groups opposing conventional war also. Nuclear weapons anyway are no longer confined to weapons of mass destruction, but have to include weapons made from spent fissile material which have been used both by the USA in Iraq, and by Israel in Palestine.
Although CND has by no means achieved its objectives – the world now has more countries with nuclear weapons that it ever has – still the campaign has seen some real victories, especially in the field of public opinion, through their educational work.
We must also remember that the fight against war is not just a negative action, but has also become a fight for using our limited resources more wisely. There are plenty of people in poverty out there, who could be looked after better if the world gave up spending so much on militarisation and war.
The fight against war has to continue until we reach a stage of civilisation where the barbarities of the war-torn past are just a memory, and people can live in peace, but this will only be when people realise what are the root causes of war: greed, hatred and delusion, and work to disarm those as well.
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