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The Barbara Panvel column



Damien Jackson was the latest British youngster to be killed whilst serving in Afghanistan - and many would agree with his father's verdict on our government's foreign policy.

Time for change? Consider the case of four peaceful and prosperous countries which have arrived at a defence policy which means what it says: they will defend themselves - but not attack other countries.

Sweden spends the money saved by reducing its armed forces to create employment; New Zealand has redirected money to strengthening its coastal patrols; Switzerland and Japan contribute soldiers and generous funds to UN peacekeeping & disaster relief . The Swiss Disaster Relief Unit rescues and gives medical treatment to victims of earthquakes and other disasters.

A clause in the Japanese constitution says that Japanese people renounce the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes and insist that the state has no right of aggression. It has public support and there have been large demonstrations on city streets resisting ongoing US pressure to abandon this true defence policy.

In 2002, months before the second Iraq war, a feasibility study of the UK adopting a defensive defence policy was launched in the House of Commons by MP & former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle. Perhaps in 2006 we are now ready to take this idea more seriously and become the fifth nation with a civilised defence policy.


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