Lord Fenner Brockway’s private correspondence with the duke was bequeathed to the nation. It was due to remain closed until 2022, but has now been opened to the public and placed in the National Archives at Kew after a routine review.
The Duke of Edinburgh meets Burma veterans at a 1986 remembrance parade for those who gave their lives in the Burma Campaign
Last Wednesday, Marc Horne reported on the newly declassified documents which have revealed Prince Philip’s backing for nuclear disarmament in the Cold War. The Duke of Edinburgh, who saw active service in the Second World War, opposed the Cold War arms race and privately supported nuclear disarmament.
Lord Brockway, one of Labour’s most radical parliamentarians, was an anti-nuclear activist whose commemorative statue (left) may be seen outside Conway Hall in Red Lion Square Park in Holborn, London. On February 12, 1981, he wrote to Prince Philip enclosing a copy of a speech by Earl Mountbatten, the duke’s uncle.
The formerly archived address to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in May 1979 concluded: “As a military man who has given half a century of active service, I say in all sincerity that the nuclear arms race has no military purpose. Wars cannot be fought with nuclear weapons. Their existence only adds to our perils.”
The duke replied, five days later, writing: “Dear Lord Brockway. Thank you for the copy of Lord Mountbatten’s Stockholm speech. I agree with everything he said. I agree that the arms race is ridiculous.”
After delivering the inaugural Earl Mountbatten lecture at the Cambridge Union on February 9, 1981, Prince Philip clarified his position which had been misrepresented in a newspaper report. He wrote: “I said I was in favour of multilateral disarmament and the SALT (Strategic Arms Limitation Talks) Treaties”.
Where does Donald Trump stand?
The Arms Control Association records that in December 1967 NATO adopted a new nuclear strategy in MC 14/3 known as “flexible response” committing the alliance to respond to any aggression, short of general nuclear attack, at the level of force—conventional or nuclear—at which it was initiated. The alliance retained the option, however, to use nuclear weapons first if its initial response to a conventional attack did not prove adequate to containing the aggressor.
Two months before his election, when the “No First Use” nuclear policy was discussed in a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump appeared to rule out the idea that if he were president he would deploy “first use” of nuclear weapons in a crisis: “I would like everybody to end it, just get rid of it. But I would certainly not do first strike. I think that once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over”.
But then added: ““At the same time, we have to be prepared. I can’t take anything off the table”. He earlier also said he would be “unpredictable” about how and when he might use nuclear weapons: “Well, it is an absolute last stance. And, you know, I use the word unpredictable. You want to be unpredictable.” — Interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation,” Jan. 3, 2016
And what does he mean by the world coming to its senses?
Uncertainty is at least preferable to Donald Trump emulating the gung-ho recommendations of groups such as The National Interest. His message is in line with that of The Heritage Foundation, which approves: “Nuclear ambiguity—lack of specificity with regard to the scenarios under which the United States would use a nuclear weapon—has served as reliable deterrence over the past several decades. The policy should be continued and re-affirmed”.
In an ideal world, on a state visit, Mr Trump would listen to the Duke – mark and ‘inwardly digest’ his words . . .