As the new year begins, it is important for the U.S. to acknowledge its troubling history of global war-making, especially over the past two-decades, as Nicolas J.S. Davies delineates.
By Nicolas J.S. Davies
I met John Lennon and Yoko Ono on Christmas Eve in 1969. I joined them and a small group of local peace activists in a Christmas fast for world peace in front of Rochester Cathedral in England, a short walk from where I lived with my family in Chatham Dockyard. I was 15 years old, and my father was the dockyard medical officer, responsible for the health and safety of the dockyard workers who maintained the U.K.’s new fleet of nuclear submarines.
John and Yoko arrived before midnight mass. We were all introduced and went in for the service. By the time we came out, thousands of people had heard John was there. He was still a Beatle and he was mobbed by a huge crowd, so he and Yoko decided they couldn’t stay with us as planned. While most of our little group helped John back to their iconic white Rolls Royce, I and another boy not much older than me were left to shepherd a panicking Yoko back through the crowd to the car. They both made it, and we never saw them again. The next morning a florist came by with a huge box of white carnations, and we spent the rest of our Christmas and Boxing Day handing flowers to passers-by and getting to know each other – the birth of what became the Medway and Maidstone Peace Action Group.
While the U.K. was not openly involved in the Vietnam War, it was deeply involved in the Cold War and the nuclear arms race, and watching the U.K.’s closest ally destroy Vietnam led many of my generation to question the Cold War assumptions about “good guys” and “bad guys” that we’d been raised on. John and Yoko became the de facto leaders of the peace movement, and their song “Give Peace a Chance” was a simple unifying anthem.
After two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War, we all wanted peace, but it seemed to be the one thing our leaders were not willing to try, claiming that the Cold War justified an endless arms race, and…