A Washington DC-based “peace” group has been spreading around talking points. Let’s see if we can’t help improve them a little.
“We strongly condemn this premeditated act of aggression by Russia. While tensions in and around Ukraine have a long historical origin, there is no justification for this international act of aggression. While the deployment of Russian troops to Donetsk and Luhansk merely makes public a presence that has persisted for years covertly, the potential for a dramatic expansion of war in Donbas and throughout Ukraine is dangerous and worrisome. The methodical and clear military preparations by Russia for this action over the last few months, despite extensive diplomacy to de-escalate and diplomatic offramps offered by the international community, make clear that any further conflict is a war of Russia’s choosing.”
This is a war of more than one government’s choosing. As the current CIA director said years ago (but would never say now) and as thousands of thoughtful people have said since Germany reunited, expanding NATO would amount to choosing this war. There was no war until the U.S. and NATO came to the rescue, influencing elections, facilitating a coup, pouring in weapons, militarizing the region, and insisting on adding Ukraine to NATO. If you take 8 busses to the far side of town and stand in front of someone’s door throwing eggs at it for weeks on end — while people inside post signs on the windows reading “Go away please” — until somebody finally leans out a window and hits you with a tomato, it will certainly be true that they did something awful, and that they chose to do it, and that they shouldn’t have done it. But there will always have been an obvious way to prevent them from doing it, namely to read their signs and go away, rather than pretending they were incommunicative lunatics who could only understand eggs.
“We urge all parties to immediately cease hostilities and seek a diplomatic resolution to the current conflict. Diplomacy remains the only hope to avoid further catastrophic conflict, including the possible expansion of this war both throughout Ukraine and beyond its borders. An immediate ceasefire is the only way to mitigate the risk of full-scale war, and the U.S. should engage in robust diplomacy to secure one. Diplomacy can and should include broader issues of concern for the parties that enable not just a temporary ceasefire but ultimately a lasting and sustainable peace. It is key to ensure that civil society be included in conversations around a lasting and sustainable peace.”
Diplomacy that ignores the very reasonable demand to go away please, the very same demand that the United States would make if there were Russian missiles in Ontario, and did make when there were Soviet missiles in Cuba, is lousy diplomacy no matter whether you call it “robust” or not. Disrespectful changing of the subject to trivial matters and refusing to take any positive steps — which is what the U.S. has been doing — is hardly worthy of the name “diplomacy.”
“We are grateful for the Biden Administration’s persistent diplomatic efforts to avoid an unnecessary war and encourage him to lead a coordinated, multilateral response to Russia’s actions, including a humanitarian effort to support refugees fleeing any fighting. President Biden’s Administration has engaged in significant diplomacy, at the highest levels, over the past several months to try and prevent this outcome. Further diplomacy will be necessary to coordinate a multilateral response to Russia’s recent actions, any further escalation, and, importantly, to address humanitarian needs. Given the potential for further violence and escalation, including an unthinkable direct conflict between the world’s two largest nuclear powers, the United States’ efforts should be driven by our diplomats with an aim towards de-escalation.”
Grateful to the government without which there would be no crisis for its responding to what it has provoked? Biden has treated Russia with contempt, shipped more weapons into Ukraine and Eastern Europe, sent in more troops, held more war rehearsals, aired unsubstantiated accusations, refused to support the Minsk 2 agreements or to recognize the self-governance accorded to Donbas therein. Biden or Ukraine or NATO or any member of NATO could defuse this crisis by declaring that Ukraine will not be added to NATO. That would be diplomacy. Screaming that Russia will invade each day is something else.
“We appreciate President Biden’s repeated commitment to keep U.S. military personnel out of any conflict in Ukraine and stress that any new military deployments must be done in full compliance with Congress’ constitutional war powers and the provisions of the War Powers Resolution.”
War is a moral outrage and a criminal act no matter which soldiers are used or which governmental branch takes responsibility. We do not need another catastrophic war risking nuclear apocalypse as long as Congress approves it. We need to turn all of our energies to non-optional emergencies like climate, covid, and the need to eliminate nuclear weapons.
“War is inherently violent, deadly, and destructive, and we are in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and all those impacted by this conflict. Estimates of the human costs of a full-scale war in Ukraine are massive, yet not nearly enough has been done to prepare for and prevent the worst in terms of human suffering. We must not lose sight that real human lives are being harmed, whether as a result of fighting, displacement, or the impact of sanctions on Russia and their likely economic retaliation. While troop movements and fighting dominate the news, people are suffering and their stories should not be erased by a singular focus on the violence causing that suffering and the political leaders directing it.”
That’s why we need better talking points. Here are some:
End the expansion of NATO.
Rejoin with Russia in pursuing disarmament agreements.
Join the world’s major human rights treaties and the International Criminal Court.
Provide sustainable energy infrastructure to Ukraine.
Close foreign bases.
Ban war propaganda.
Ban war profiteering.
Move military spending to human and environmental needs.
Stop arming and supporting over 90% of the world’s most oppressive governments.
Then speak credibly about everything that’s wrong with Russia.