'9/11', Afghanistan, and the 'war on terror': index of articles by Nick Megoran

'Remember the Christmas 1914 truces: a brief moment of sanity amidst industrialised slaughter' No Glory in War 16/12/2014.
As classic anti-war dance anthem All Together Now is re-released, this article looks at the cultural and commerical phenomenon of marking the December 1914 Christmas Truces. Based on interviews with political activists, academics, musicians and church leaders, it asks why commemorating the 1914 Christmas truces is so important - and how it should be done.

- 'Celebrate the truces - because World War I must not be an excuse for militarism.' The Conversation 20/10/2014.
The government is unveiling commemorative paving stones laid in the birth places of those members of the British Empire forces in World War I who received the Victoria Cross for their bravery. The government's stated aims are to 'provide a lasting legacy of local heroes' and 'honour their bravery'. All 627 Victoria Cross recipients will be so honoured over the next four years, with the promise that 'no hero will be forgotten'. This glorification of the hero represents a radical remaking of Great War commemoration. It needs to be understood as part of a political project to remilitarise society in the wake of the shock caused to the establishment by the surge of anti-war feeling and activism in Britain since 2001. What should we make of this, and how should we respond?

- (with Andii Bowsher) 'How should churches mark the First World War?' Baptist Times 14/10/2014.
> Commemoration is always political: it tells a story about whose lives and deaths are worth grieving. As the UK begins four years of World War 1 commemoration, it is crucial churches don't sleepwalk into commemoration. Commemoration ios being used by the government to rehabilitate the military and justify overseas wars today. The role of churches is not to tell the nation's story to the church, but the church's story to the nation.

Islamophobia is an anti-war issue
A talk given at a Tyneside Stop the War Coalition public meeting on 'Islamophobia in the media', October 2010, Newcastle University.

Islamic protest march - the extremists are being heard only because we are keeping silent . A letter published in The Times on January 7th 2010, commenting on anger at one Muslim group's plans to protest at the public mourning in Wootton Bassett of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Naming the dead of Afghanistan. A ceremony held on May 8th, 2009, outside Newcastle University's memorial to its dead of the two World Wars.

'Militarism, realism, just war, or nonviolence? Critical geopolitics and the problem of normativity.' Geopolitics. 13 (3):473-497.
Despite illuminating the multiple modalities by which armed conflict is discursively justified, critical geopolitics can be criticised for providing a weak normative engagement with the social institution and practices of warfare. This has limited the impact of this school of thought outside of geography and critical security studies, at a time when the ethics of military intervention have been prominent in public debate. This article explores the moral discourse of critical geopolitics through an examination of Gerard Toal's writings on Iraq and Bosnia. This scholarship is reviewed in the light of Coates' typology of major traditions of moral reflection on war - militarism, realism, just war theory, and pacifism/nonviolence. This analysis interrogates Toal's narratives, in which American military intervention was advocated in the Former Yugoslavia and opposed in Iraq. This suggests that rather than a thoroughgoing commitment to pacifism/nonviolence, or a blanket cynicism about American foreign policy, Toal's thinking includes an underlying attachment to some form of just war reasoning. However, its implicit and partial appropriation leads to a certain incoherence and selectivity that calls for further reflection. This presents a challenge to critical geopolitics. If it chooses to engage more explicitly with just war theory, its insights into identity and militarism could in turn inform a reworking of aspects of the theory, thereby facilitating critical geopolitics' engagement with wider public anti-militaristic modes of discourse. However, as this risks blunting the political potential of the project and repeating the mistakes of twentieth-century geopolitical thought, the paper concludes with a call for a wholehearted commitment to nonviolence.

Render justice to the Chagos islanders
A letter written to the Guardian in March 2008 about the plight of a people group forcibly deported from their home, the British Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, to make way for a US military base used most recently in the Afghan and Iraqi wars.

War on Terror - The Boardgame
A review of TerrorBull Games' controversial 2006 satire of the foreign policy of George W. Bush and Tony Blair, a cross between Risk and Monopoly
This was originally printed in the New Internationalist magazine in August 2007.

The War on Terror: How Should Christians Respond?
This is Nick Megoran's first book, published by Inter-Varsity Press. Through a series of reflections on scripture and political analyses, it ask 'what is the war on terror?' and 'how should Christians e sesne of and respond to it?'. It grounds its analysis in orthodox Christian theological understandings of creation, sin and redemption, demonstrating the relevance of the historical Christian message for our times. It challenges Christians to take the teachings of Jesus as they relate to war and peace seriously, rather that subordinate our understanding of how the world works and what it is sensible to do to common-sense political analysis and loyalties to nations and states. The 'war on terror' presents challenges to Christians in Britain, America, Palestine and Iraq, but also unique opportunities.

'God on our side? The Church of England and the geopolitics of mourning 9/11
Political geographers have been surprisingly slow to engage with the importance of religion in contemporary international relations. Informed by theories of critical geopolitics, this paper addresses this failure by considering the Church of England's immediate response to the Al-Qaeda attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001. Focusing on a national service of remembrance held at St. Paul's Cathedral on September 14, it argues that the service was both an expression of grief at a shocking tragedy, and a (geo)political commentary. Occurring at a crucial moment of public debate about how to understand and respond to '9/11', the service scripted a geopolitical text that resonated with voices that were advocating a military response. The article undertakes a discursive reading of the service and its coverage by journalists, and uses interviews with key organisers to analyse its production. It concludes that although the organisers of the service strove to create what they considered to be an apolitical event, the service became part of a process of geopolitical scripting that made the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq more likely, and alternative peaceful responses to the crisis of 9/11 less likely. It calls on the Church of England to reconsider this aspect of its engagement with international affairs, by listening to non-Western Anglican perspectives, and political geographers to interrogate more systematically the intersections of religion and the 'war on terror'.

Mourning 9/11, politically and prophetically
A shorter version of the above article written for a Christian magazine, The Anglican Peacemaker. Concludes with poijnts of specific interest to Christian, rather than general scholarly, readers.

Losing a war not of our choosing
A comment piece in the Church Times, September 2006, on the fifth anniversary of the September 11 2001 attacks in the USA. The article asks whether the church is 'winning' the war on terror.

Should we ban Hizb ut-Tahrir?
A letter to the Guardian on the UK government's August 2005 announcement that it would ban the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir. A response to my letter is also included.

Love Your Enemies
A sermon preached on 15th September 2002, at a service to mark the year's anniversary of attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Centre, USA, September 11 2001. The text is Matthew 5 v9, 38-48, Jesus' famous teachings on loving our enemies. The sermon suggests that these words illuminate a particularly Christian response to violence.
This sermon was preached at St Barnabas church, Cambridge.

'Biography of Afghan hero provides lessons for current readers'
Review of Easwaran, Eknath Nonviolent Soldier of Islam: Badshah Khan, A Man to Match His Mountains (2nd edition). Remarkable story of Abdul Ghaffar Khan, 'the frontier Gandhi', who led nonviolent opposition to British occupation of Pakistan. His life demonstrates that even supposedly 'warlike' people can, with training and conviction, be transformed into a nonviolent force to work for peace and justice. Published at Eurasianet Culture (Washington: OSI), May 2002

-'Conduct of Afghan campaign undermines US argument for open society development in Central Asia'
In the light of the US-Uzbekistan military alliance against the Taliban, this article finds many similarities between Uzbekistani responses to the February 16 1999 Tashkent atrocities and US responses to the September 11 2001 atrocities in New York.
Published in Eurasianet Insight (Washington: OSI) 12/11/2001.

The politics of destroying Buddha.
A dissenting article about the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan statues, written in the spring of 2001. In the original draft I included a direct anticipation of a forthcoming US attack on the Taliban, but at the last minute removed it as imprudent...
Central Asia Monitor 2001 (2): 26-29

Justice amongst the clutter?.
A response to the clamour for war against Afghanistan's Taliban government following attacks on military and civilian targets in the USA on September 11, 2001. It draws oncomparisons with WW2 and the Vietnam and NATO-Yugoslav war to show the inconsistency and imprudency of the use of just war arguments to legitimise a US war against Afghanistan.
Written by Nick Megoran in September 2001 for distribution on email lists.