Skip to main content


The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation Ltd.

Russell House, Bulwell Lane, Nottingham NG6 0BT, England

The leaders of 28 NATO member countries and others gather for a summit meeting in Newport, the third city of Wales, on 4-5 September 2014. For days together, this small city has been besieged while fences, gates and barricades are erected to protect those attending. The cost is substantial, and there is considerable inconvenience to the people of Newport and to the activists of the international peace movement who have organised a counter-summit there. NATO’s uselessness is never more apparent than when it rudely disrupts people’s lives in order to exult in 65 costly years of existence.
It was with some foresight, in 1949, that the distinguished Irish Foreign Minister, Seán MacBride, rejected an invitation, sent through the American Ambassador in Dublin, to participate in a meeting to discuss the formation of the North Atlantic Alliance. Later, MacBride gave several reasons for his opposition:
‘First of all I regarded NATO as being a rather dangerous military alliance that might well involve Europe in another war at more or less the wish of the United States. I could quite well see the American anti-communist view pushing NATO into a cold war first, and then into an active war.’ 
How prescient MacBride was. Nowadays, Russia may no longer be communist, but it remains the target of large-scale NATO expansion; in the Baltics, in Poland and elsewhere in central Europe, in the Balkans (Serbia included), around the Black Sea, especially in Georgia and Ukraine. Ukraine shares a long border with Russia. Planned missile ‘defence’ installations in Poland and Romania underline the aggressive posture towards Russia which the US maintains.
It should never be forgotten that the United States runs NATO in its own interests. When the US wanted to go to war in Afghanistan in 2001, immediately after 9/11, it spurned NATO’s offers of assistance, made by the then Secretary-General, George Robertson. Only later, did the US identify a useful, and expensive, role for NATO in that theatre of operations.
Be that as it may, Ireland had a particularly compelling reason not to join NATO, according to Mr MacBride:
‘… it was completely illogical for us to enter into a military alliance with Britain while a part of our country was still being occupied by British forces. We would be condoning and accepting the British occupation of Northern Ireland by entering a military alliance with Britain.’ 
The fundamentals of that situation endure, notwithstanding the real achievements of the peace process in Ireland. MacBride went on:
‘I can’t think of any good reason why Ireland should join NATO, then or now. NATO is a dangerous military alliance and I have noticed that there is a great deal of hesitancy among many of the NATO countries. I am very glad that we didn’t join and that we didn’t spend vast sums of money on quite unnecessary armament.’
There have been few statesmen with such clear vision. Seán MacBride developed his critique of NATO when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1974. He said: 
‘ … It would be foolish to underrate the massive influence of the organized lobbies of military-industrial complexes in the United States and Western Europe. They constitute an unseen and unmentioned powerful force operating silently in the corridors of NATO and of most Western governments. Their resources are unlimited and their influence is great. This constitutes a huge vested interest which works silently against General and Complete Disarmament.’
The world is much in need of statesmen with MacBride’s experience and vision. Are there any to be found in Newport this week?
Tony Simpson
Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation
3 September 2014



Popular posts from this blog

'Not as dumb as he looks' - Muhammad Ali on Bertrand Russell

In his autobiography The Greatest: My Own Story, Muhammad Ali recounts how Bertrand Russell got in contact with him, and their ensuing correspondence:

For days I was talking to people from a whole new world. People who were not even interested in sports, especially prizefighting. One in particular I will never forget: a remarkable man, seventy years older than me but with a fresh outlook which seemed fairer than that of any white man I had ever met in America.
My brother Rahaman had handed me the phone, saying, ‘Operator says a Mr. Bertrand Russell is calling Mr. Muhammad Ali.’ I took it and heard the crisp accent of an Englishman: ‘Is this Muhammad Ali?’ When I said it was, he asked if I had been quoted correctly.
I acknowledged that I had been, but wondered out loud, ‘Why does everyone want to know what I think about Viet Nam? I’m no politician, no leader. I’m just an athlete.’
‘Well,’ he said, ‘this is a war more barbaric than others, and because a mystique is built up around a cham…

Nuclear Posture Review: Two letters of protest from Japan

The Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation received copies of the following letters, dated 6 February 2018, from the Japan Council against A and H Bombs. The letters, written in response to the publication of the US Nuclear Posture Review, are addressed to President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. We ask that as many people and organisations as possible circulate these letters as an act of solidarity with anti-nuclear campaigners in "Japan, the A-bombed country".

* * *

To President Donald Trump United States of America 6 February 2018
Letter of Protest against the US Nuclear Posture Review
We, of the people of Japan, the A-bombed country, strongly protest against your nuclear policy formulated in the newly released ‘Nuclear Posture Review’, which brings the US much closer to the actual use of nuclear weapons by modernizing your nuclear arsenals and developing new nuclear weapons.
Trying to justify that nuclear weapons are necessary for security, the Nuclear Post…

Vanunu update

Dear Friend and Vanunu supporter,

It is a long time since we last sent you any news of Mordechai for which we apologise. It has been a complicated and difficult period particularly with Mordechai not wanting the campaign for his freedom to continue. However, we thought now was the time for an update, because if you hadn't seen the relevant issues of the Morning Star, Scottish Herald or, just this week, The Guardian, you probably wouldn't be fully aware of what Mordechai had been suffering, once again, at the hands of the vindictive and malicious Israeli authorities.

For some while Mordechai has been threatened with a return to prison for speaking with foreigners; including friends, supporters and journalists. For breaking this restriction he was eventually sentenced to six months in prison. He appealed against this and at a hearing of the Supreme Court, some months ago, this sentence was reduced to three months. As an alternative Mordechai was offered to do a period of Community…