Around the web

Updated image: Phil Hamilton looks at the new CND website

Around the web

Updated Image

The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament must be thanking its lucky stars. Having haunted anti-war demos and actions as a ghostly relic of the cold war era, it has recently re-emerged from the political graveyard. The necromancy was performed by the Socialist Workers Party, fulfilling its perceived need to gloss the Stop the War Coalition with a liberal-pacifist veneer.

Considering CND’s previous shadow-like existence, I was quite surprised to come across a website looking superior to that of the organisation which gave CND the kiss of life. ‘Neat and tidy’ is the most accurate way of describing it. The header features a mushroom cloud with some placards, and a number of rotating links.

During my visit, these included legal opinion on the Iraq war, international nuclear news and coverage of CND in the press. This latter page brings together weekly mentions by news agencies and papers. For instance, an article by that professional Tory buffoon, Boris Johnson, on the exchange rate mechanism is included because CND gets a brief mention in passing. If that is all it takes, can we expect the Weekly Worker to feature next week?

The navigation menu is the first port of call. ‘About CND’ is very brief, setting out the aims and objectives. The organisation sets out to “campaign non-violently to rid the world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction and to create security for future generations”. To achieve this end, it calls for unilateral disarmament, public debates on non-violent conflict-resolution, empowerment to work for a nuclear-free peace and cooperation with similar groups across the planet. As expected, it has nothing to say about capitalism’s inherent contradictions and how they give rise to conflict and war.

‘Join CND’ is interesting because applicants receive a number of goodies for their money. A number of other schemes can be joined, such as CND letter-writing teams, active branches, and more specialist newsletters. ‘Campaigns’ is especially pretty, with each separate issue (trident, star wars, Nato, plutonium trade and Iraq) represented by a photo.

Each page states the CND case, lists upcoming actions specific to that campaign and gives relevant information and organisation links. To illustrate, ‘Star wars’ gives notice of the October 11 Menwith Hill action, carries a petition and links to Yorkshire CND and missile defence briefings.

‘Events diary’ is a useful calendar of future actions. ‘CND shop’ is still under construction, branded T-shirts being the only available merchandise at present. ‘Press’ carries the year’s media releases and includes an archive for 2002 also. ‘Briefings and information’ is valuable for anti-war activists, providing a degree of depth and research seldom seen elsewhere.

Unfortunately, given the chronological ordering of the briefings, you would be forgiven for thinking that the likes of Iran and North Korea pose a threat equal to the US. ‘Education’ remains under construction - so still time to include something on the roots of war then. ‘Jobs’ focus on CND internships, where aspiring graduates can apply for voluntary posts as a springboard into the NGO sector. ‘CND contacts’ is a directory of branches, offices and specialist sections. ‘Useful links’ is a good list of peacenik groups, but nothing explicitly political.

The main part of the site highlights items catalogued by the navigation bar. The most prominent headline is for this Saturday’s demo against the occupation of Iraq. Activists can download flyers and posters, as well as volunteering to help CND out on the day. This section is divided from the rest of the screen by a bar highlighting the US war drive and Britain’s relationship to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

If anyone still has illusions in Blair’s “ethical foreign policy”, a quick read of this should disabuse them of such notions. Another prominent feature is Iran. Here CND echoes the calls of US and British imperialism to make its weapons programme visible to the International Atomic Energy Agency (while distancing itself from Bush’s undisguised threats).

‘Iraq war crimes’ updates the situation on the indictments being compiled against Blair, Geoff Hoon and Jack Straw, which will then be presented to the International Criminal Court at some future time. This is backed up by more links, UN resolutions and the George Galloway legal fund (!).

This website certainly does CND credit. The professional design and the heavy emphasis on briefings and research suggest an image far removed from Orwellian stereotypes of bearded fruit juice drinkers. Unfortunately the politics leave a lot to be desired. CND’s preaching against certain types of weapons does throw up interesting information, but this can only be used effectively if working class interests are firmly in the anti-war driving seat.