death and suffering in Ukraine does not yet remotely compare with
that in Yemen. Nor does the death and suffering from war in Yemen yet
compare with that around the world resulting from the misdirection of
resources into war — not to mention the impediments to urgently
needed global cooperation created by war.
we talk about Ukraine, not only because it’s in corporate media
and involves relatively wealthy, weapons-dealing, European nations
waging war at home instead of in distant lands, but also because it
has created the greatest risk of nuclear apocalypse yet seen on
Earth. There are other possible flashpoints in Iran, Taiwan, Korea,
and Syria in all of which the U.S. government is behaving in a manner
that makes WWIII more likely. But the leading contender for Archduke
Ferdinand of Armageddon is Ukraine.
good news is that the shine is wearing off. A CNN poll finds a slight
majority in the U.S. opposed to how Biden is handling Ukraine.
Corporate newspapers list the war in a long list of Biden’s
failures. Among elected officials, Republicans make partisan noises
about possibly not funding this war with every last possible dollar
forever, maybe. But let’s keep this in context.
never been a war this wearing off of the shine didn’t happen
with. There’s no critique of militarism permitted in corporate
media or national U.S. politics. The slight criticism permitted of
war spending is used to prevent criticism of corporate profits or of
self-destructive sanctions, or indeed of ordinary non-Ukraine war
spending which is in the process of being dramatically increased with
no opposition in Congress or mention in the media, as corporate
profits and sanctions combine with war spending to create higher gas
prices for people lacking both mass transportation and media outlets
that allow talk of shifting war spending into mass transportation.
main current of corporate commentary still drifts between predictions
of imminent victory and resolutions to stay the course no matter how
long it takes, with no useful discussion of what the war means for
nuclear dangers, for global handling of climate or pandemics or
refugees, or for the spending of resources on useful and necessary
things. Properly and gloriously pursuing the war is, of course,
opposed to shamefully and treasonously negotiating an end to the war.
Once begun, wars must simply last forever rather than be lost, as
they all must be if they aren’t continued. The operations that
are not doomed to defeat are handled as coups or threats or bribes,
not wars. But some of them, if they last long enough, are likely to
defeat the entire enterprise of life on Earth, and some people seem
to realize this while pushing ahead anyway.
York City recently released a painfully ludicrous public safety video
with tips for surviving a nuclear bomb (such as “get inside”).
And the response was mostly not to point out what a bomb does or why
there would be multiple bombs or how a nuclear winter happens, but
rather to mock the very idea that nuclear war is worth worrying
about. The facts suggest it is more likely than ever, but a decision
has been made to simply treat it as impossible. A recent poll showed
0% of people in the U.S. worried about war, nuclear or otherwise, as
their top concern, and 1% worried about climate, with 33% concerned
about inflation (which is actually good for people who have debts)
and 15% concerned about gas prices (which is completely
understandable even though higher gas prices is the one pro-climate
change that’s been made in the United States).
to say, we need a ceasefire, and a negotiated settlement. Numerous
world governments have said so, but not done much to make it happen.
Unfortunately, neither side much likes the idea, preferring to gamble
with human life for a bigger win. As with the war in Korea and many
others, a negotiated settlement would look a lot like pre-war
agreements, albeit with a lot of people dead and buildings destroyed.
And who wants that? Not the rightwing militarists in Ukraine or
Russia. Not weapons dealers. Not media outlets. Not people who
actually believe six years of tales of Russia stealing U.S. elections
and owning Donald Trump, not people who believe that either Russia or
NATO had no choice and have no choice and that it’s all a
little bit exciting.
believe that Biden and Putin are trying their absolute best to
imagine that they are living in World War II right now, as depicted
in U.S. and Russian celebrations. Each declares he is fighting
Hitlerian forces, even though they are fighting each other. Each
declares war and escalation to be absolutely inevitable, and
therefore the gravest sin to be “appeasement” of the
other side. Each swears the fight to be purely defensive, and yet
that defensiveness to require endless fighting for the goal of
unconditional surrender by the aggressor.
lessons both sides have learned from WWII are:
is inevitable, so you’d better start it and win it.
is no nonviolent alternative to war.
evil of the other side justifies any and all evil by yourself.
lessons they ought to have learned are:
is the worst thing there is.
disregard for peace is extremely dangerous.
action, powerful even 75 years ago, has developed into the most
effective set of tools.
cannot be justified.
nuclear war is madness.
impossible for either side to see, but Russia and NATO depend on each
side you’re on, you
with weapons-maker propaganda that the available actions in the
world are (1) war, and (2) doing nothing;
ignore the historical record of
nonviolent action succeeding more often than war;
you imagine militarism to be required completely independently from
considering what the results will be.
possible for some people to glimpse the stupidity and
counterproductive nature of war as long as they look at old wars, and
don’t apply any lessons learned to current wars. An author in
Germany of a book about the stupidity of World War I is right now busy telling people
to stop learning lessons from him and applying them to Ukraine.
are able to look somewhat honestly at the 2003-begun stage of the
U.S. war on Iraq. The pretended “weapons of mass destruction”
according to CIA predictions were only likely to be used if Iraq were
attacked. So, Iraq was attacked. A big part of the problem was
supposedly how much “those people” hated “us,”
so, although the surest way to make people hate you was to attack
them, they were attacked.
has spent decades hyping, exaggerating, and lying about a Russian
threat, and simply drooling over the possibility of a Russian attack.
Inevitably knowing that it would radically boost NATO membership,
bases, weapons, and popular support by attacking — even if the
attack actually demonstrated its military weakness — Russia
proclaimed that because of the NATO threat it must attack and enlarge
the NATO threat.
course, I’m the lunatic for suggesting that Russia should have
used unarmed civilian defense in Donbas, but is there anyone alive
who thinks NATO would have been able to add all these new members and
bases and weapons and U.S. troops without the radical escalation of
the war in Ukraine by Russia? Will anyone pretend that NATO’s
biggest benefactor is Biden or Trump or anyone other than Russia?
there are a lot of people who do imagine, just as ridiculously, that
NATO expansion wasn’t needed to create the Russian invasion,
that in fact more NATO expansion would have prevented it. We’re
supposed to imagine that NATO membership has protected numerous
nations from Russian threats that have never been hinted at by
Russia, and to completely erase from all human awareness the
nonviolent action campaigns — the singing revolutions —
that some of those nations used to defeat Soviet invasions and kick
out the Soviet Union.
BEYOND War is planning an online screening of the film The Singing
Revolution with a discussion with the filmmakers.
expansion made the current war possible, and further NATO expansion
as a response to it is insane. Russian warmaking drives NATO
expansion, and further Russian warmaking is a lunatic’s
response to NATO. Yet here we are, with Lithuania blockading
Kaliningrad. Here we are with Russia putting nukes into Belarus. Here
we are with the U.S. saying not one word about the violation of the
Nonproliferation Treaty by Russia, because it’s long had nukes
in 5 other countries (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Turkey)
and has just put them into a sixth (UK) and had put bases capable of
launching nukes into Poland and Romania as a key step in the steady
and predictable build up to this mess.
dreams of quickly conquering Ukraine and dictating the results were
plain nuts if actually believed. U.S. dreams of conquering Russia
with sanctions are sheer madness if actually believed. But what if
the point is not to believe in these things so much as to counter
hostility with hostility, having taken a principled stand within
one’s head against acknowledging any alternatives?
doesn’t matter whether attacking Ukraine will work! NATO
continues its relentless advance, refuses to negotiate, and aims
eventually at attacking Russia, so our choices are to attack Ukraine
or to do nothing! (This despite NATO’s need for Russia as an
enemy, despite the desire spelled out in a RAND study and by the
USAID to provoke Russia into a war in Ukraine and not to attack
Russia, this despite the fact that it would surely backfire.)
doesn’t matter whether sanctions will work. They’ve
failed dozens of times, but it’s a question of principle. One
must not do business with the enemy, even if sanctions strengthen the
enemy, even if they create more enemies, even if they isolate you and
your club more than the target. It doesn’t matter. The choice
is escalation or doing nothing. And even if actually doing nothing
would be better, “doing nothing” simply means an
sides are thus mindlessly escalating toward nuclear war, convinced
there are no off-ramps, yet pouring black paint on the windshield for
fear of seeing what lies ahead. I went on a Russian
U.S. radio show recently
and tried to explain to the hosts that Russia’s warmaking was
as evil as anyone else’s. They wouldn’t stand for that
claim, of course, though they made it themselves. One of the hosts
denounced the evils of the NATO assault on the former Yugoslavia and
demanded to know why Russia shouldn’t have the right to use
similar excuses to do the same thing to Ukraine. Needless to say, I
replied that NATO should be condemned for its wars and Russia should
be condemned for its wars. When they go to war with each other, they
should both be condemned. This being the actual real world, there is
of course nothing equal about any two wars or any two militaries or
any two war lies. So I will be weeding out the emails responding to
this screaming at me for equating everything.
being antiwar (as these radio hosts repeatedly claimed to be, in
between their comments supporting war) actually requires opposing
wars. It seems to me that the very least that war supporters could do
would be to stop claiming to be antiwar. But that won’t be
enough to save us. We also need a massive global demand for a
ceasefire and negotiated peace. People can start by signing the
ceasefire petition at worldbeyondwar.org.