Marcus Armstrong’s Defence

9th May 2000, Helensburgh District Court

I am not going to appeal to your understanding of international law, humanitarian law, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the Geneva convention, or the Nuremburg principles, even though I know that they apply to Britain, Trident and all nuclear weapons.

I wish to appeal to the law of common sense and a sense of love and respect for our home planet and all the life and people living on it. There is a Buddhist saying, it says that if we could truly see the miracle of a single flower, our whole life would change. And my life has. We don’t really have to look that far to see the miracle of life and creation on this planet. But perhaps we need to look with wiser and more compassionate eyes. Perhaps, for our very survival, we need to look past a flawed system that doesn’t teach us to think or question or feel, but that does sadly teach us the art of malevolent competition, that teaches production for profit and power not fairness or sensible use, a system that demands our worship at the altar of acquisitive success, and which tragically cripples us, our sensitivity, and our social and global awareness. I know that the nuclear chain right through from the mining of ores to the testing and use of nuclear weapons is a real evil alive in the world today and represents an extreme danger uncontainable in either space or time. It threatens all life on our home, this wonderful miraculous planet. I don’t believe that we inherited this planet from our ancestors to do with as we please in the name of self-interest, profit and so called self-defence. I feel it has been placed in our safekeeping, to cherish and preserve for all life and all our descendants. For all we know the earth is the only oasis of life in the observable universe, and whether it was created by a god or not I don’t know and I don’t believe it really matters. What I do know with all my heart and soul and being is that it is worth saving. I wonder how often we stop and really feel how blessed we are, to have been born here and now into these bodies, with a lifetimes chance to heal ourselves and love and hold each other and our precious home. Our beautiful planet and all the fragile life on it is worth saving. The deterrent issue regarding nuclear weapons is simply nonsense. As Lord Mountbatten correctly said, it is sheer and absolute folly to think that by increasing the total uncertainty in the world we could ever hope to increase our own certainty in any way, shape or form.

Even if we were threatened, how could it ever make sense or ever be morally or legally justifiable to murder millions of innocent men, women and children and ruin the very land we claim to be trying to protect. To quote Peter Weiss from the World Court Project documents : “Show me a nuclear weapon and I will show you a weapon that violates humanitarian law, so don’t talk to me of self-defence, or for that matter necessity.” I don’t want the blood of innocent people like you and I on my hands, or the blood of this living world, under any circumstances. The real issues here are ones of control and power by certain countries over certain others. I know the answer to the following question, but I will ask it anyway, to everyone present.. Was anyone here or anyone you know of ever asked by the Government if they wanted nuclear weapons to make them feel more secure? No. So why do we think we live in a democracy? If we had been asked, perhaps many of us would have said we would prefer the billions to be spent socially. Creating an environment where all our basic needs are met, where conflict is resolved without killing, and where we can all work together in peace for mutual benefit. I have three daughters growing up not far from where the nuclear bombs are made in south-east England, and in ten years as a counsellor for Childline I have been touched by the lives of over 1,000 other young people – what are we leaving them? A hope for a better, safer future, or a toxic wasteland and the impending threat of a nuclear war or accident. This country is already responsible for severe damage to health, nature and the environment, and risks environmental catastrophe and the injury and death of millions through an accident or the deliberate use of nuclear weapons. If anything ever happened and if any of my children, grandchildren or any person ever asks me did I know, what did I do? – though it would give me little comfort, I would be able to say yes I knew, and although I wish I’d found the strength and courage to do more, I did what I could at the time given the circumstances. What would you say to your children or grandchildren?