Category Archives: DISARMAMENT & SECURITY

Letter To President Biden: Sign The Nuclear Ban Treaty!

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

From the website Nuclear Ban

January 22, 2023 to: President Joe Biden, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden,

We, the undersigned, call on you to immediately sign, on behalf of the United States, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), also known as the “Nuclear Ban Treaty.”

Mr. President, January 22, 2023 marks the second anniversary of entry into force of the TPNW. Here are six compelling reasons why you should sign this treaty now:


1. It’s the right thing to do. As long as nuclear weapons exist, the risk increases with every passing day that these weapons will be used.

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the world stands closer to “doomsday” than at any point even during the darkest days of the Cold War. And the use of even one nuclear weapon would constitute a humanitarian disaster of unparalleled proportions. A full-scale nuclear war would spell the end of human civilization as we know it. There is nothing, Mr. President, that could possibly justify that level of risk.

Mr. President, the real risk we are facing is not so much that President Putin or some other leader will purposely use nuclear weapons, although that is clearly possible. The real risk with these weapons is that human error, computer malfunction, cyber attack, miscalculation, misunderstanding, miscommunication, or a simple accident could so easily lead inexorably to a nuclear conflagration without anyone ever intending it to.

The increased tension that now exists between the US and Russia makes an unintended launch of nuclear weapons so much more likely, and the risks are simply too great to be ignored or downplayed. It is imperative that you take action to reduce those risks. And the only way to reduce that risk to zero is to eliminate the weapons themselves. That is what the TPNW stands for. That is what the rest of the world demands. That is what humanity requires.

2. It will improve America’s standing in the world, and especially with our closest allies.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the US response to it may have greatly improved America’s standing, at least in Western Europe. But the imminent deployment of a new generation of US “tactical” nuclear weapons to Europe could quickly change all that. The last time such a plan was attempted, in the 1980s, it led to enormous levels of hostility toward the US and nearly toppled several NATO governments.

This treaty has enormous public support across the world and especially in Western Europe. As more and more countries sign on to it, its power and significance will only grow. And the longer the United States stands in opposition to this treaty, the worse our standing will be in the eyes of the world, including some of our closest allies. 

As of today, 68 countries have ratified this treaty, outlawing everything to do with nuclear weapons in those countries. Another 27 countries are in the process of ratifying the treaty and many more are lining up to do so.

Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium (and Australia) were among the countries who officially attended as observers at the first meeting of TPNW last year in Vienna. They, together with other close allies of the United States, including Italy, Spain, Iceland, Denmark, Japan and Canada, have voting populations who overwhelmingly support their countries signing the treaty, according to recent opinion polls. There are also hundreds of legislators in those countries who have signed the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) pledge in support of the TPNW, including the prime ministers of both Iceland and Australia.

It is not a question of “if,” but only of “when,” these and many other countries will join the TPNW and outlaw everything to do with nuclear weapons. As they do, US armed forces and the international corporations involved in the development and production of nuclear weapons will face increasing difficulties in carrying on with business as usual. It is already punishable with an unlimited fine and up to life in prison if found guilty of involvement with the development, production, maintenance, transportation or handling of (anyone’s) nuclear weapons in Ireland.

As it states very clearly in the US Law of War Manual, US military forces are bound by international treaties even when the US does not sign them, when such treaties represent “modern international public opinion” as to how military operations should be conducted. And already investors representing more than $4.6 trillion in global assets have divested from nuclear weapons companies because of the global norms that are shifting as a result of the TPNW.

3. Signing is nothing more than a statement of our intention to achieve a goal that the United States is already legally committed to achieving.

As you know very well, signing a treaty is not the same as ratifying it, and only once it is ratified do the terms of the treaty enter into force. Signing is just the first step. And signing the TPNW does not commit this country to a goal it is not publicly and legally committed to already; namely, the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The United States has been committed to the total elimination of nuclear weapons since at least 1968, when it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and agreed to negotiate the elimination of all nuclear arsenals “in good faith” and “at an early date”. Since then, the United States has twice given an “unequivocal undertaking” to the rest of the world that it would fulfil its legal obligation to negotiate the elimination of these weapons.

President Obama famously earned a Nobel Peace Prize for committing the United States to the goal of a nuclear-free world, and you yourself have reiterated that commitment on a number of occasions, most recently on August 1, 2022, when you pledged from the White House “to continue working toward the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons.”

Mr. President, signing the TPNW would demonstrate the sincerity of your commitment to actually achieve that goal. Getting all the other nuclear-armed nations to also sign the treaty would be the next step, ultimately leading to ratification of the treaty and the elimination of all nuclear weapons from all countries. In the meantime, the United States would be no more at risk of nuclear attack or nuclear blackmail than it is at present, and until ratification, would still maintain the same arsenal of nuclear weapons as it does today.

In fact, under the terms of the treaty, the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of nuclear weapons only takes place well after ratification of the treaty, in accordance with a legally-binding timebound plan that all parties must agree to. This would allow for staged reductions according to a mutually agreed timetable, as with other disarmament treaties.

4. The whole world is witnessing in real time the reality that nuclear weapons serve no useful military purpose.

Mr. President, the whole rationale for maintaining an arsenal of nuclear weapons is that they are so powerful as a “deterrent” they would never need to be used. And yet our possession of nuclear weapons clearly did not prevent the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Nor has Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons prevented the United States from arming and supporting Ukraine despite Russia’s threats.

Since 1945, the US has fought wars in Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, Libya, Kosovo, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Possession of nuclear weapons did not “deter” any of those wars, nor indeed did possession of nuclear weapons ensure that the US “won” any of those wars.

The possession of nuclear weapons by the UK did not prevent Argentina from invading the Falkland Islands in 1982. The possession of nuclear weapons by France did not prevent them losing to insurgents in Algeria, Tunisia or Chad. The possession of nuclear weapons by Israel did not prevent the invasion of that country by Syria and Egypt in 1973, nor did it prevent Iraq from raining down Scud missiles on them in 1991. India’s possession of nuclear weapons did not stop countless incursions into Kashmir by Pakistan, nor has Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons stopped any of India’s military activities there.

It is no surprise that Kim Jong-un thinks nuclear weapons will deter an attack on his country by the United States, and yet you would no doubt agree that his possession of nuclear weapons makes such an attack more likely at some point in the future, not less likely.

President Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons against any country that tried to interfere with his invasion of Ukraine. That was not the first time anyone has threatened to use nuclear weapons, of course. Your predecessor in the White House threatened North Korea with nuclear annihilation in 2017. And nuclear threats have been made by previous US Presidents and the leaders of other nuclear-armed nations going all the way back to the aftermath of World War II. 
But these threats are meaningless unless they are carried out, and they are never carried out for the very simple reason that to do so would be an act of suicide and no sane political leader is likely to ever make that choice.

In your joint statement with Russia, China, France and the UK in January of last year, you clearly stated that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” The G20 statement from Bali reiterated that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. The peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are vital. Today’s era must not be of war.”

What do such statements mean, Mr. President, if not the utter pointlessness of retaining and upgrading expensive nuclear weapons that can never be used?

5. By signing the TPNW now, you can discourage other countries from seeking to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.

Mr. President, despite the fact that nuclear weapons do not deter aggression and do not help win wars, other countries continue to want them. Kim Jong-un wants nuclear weapons to defend himself from the United States precisely because we continue to insist that these weapons somehow defend us from him. It is no surprise that Iran might feel the same way.

The longer we go on insisting that we must have nuclear weapons for our own defense, and that these are the “supreme” guarantee of our security, the more we are encouraging other countries to want the same. South Korea and Saudi Arabia are already considering acquiring their own nuclear weapons. Soon there will be others.

How can a world awash in nuclear weapons possibly be safer than a world without any nuclear weapons? Mr. President, this is the moment to seize the opportunity to eliminate these weapons once and for all, before more and more countries are engulfed in an uncontrollable arms race that can have only one possible outcome. Eliminating these weapons now is not just a moral imperative, it is a national security imperative.

Without a single nuclear weapon, the United States would still be the most powerful country in the world by a very wide margin. Together with our military allies, our military spending outpaces all our potential adversaries put together many times over, every single year. No country on earth comes close to being able to seriously threaten the United States and its allies – unless they have nuclear weapons.

Nuclear weapons are the global equalizer. They enable a comparatively small, poor country, with its people virtually starving, to nevertheless threaten the mightiest world power in all of human history. And the only way to finally eliminate that threat is to eliminate all nuclear weapons. That, Mr. President, is a national security imperative.

6. There is one final reason for signing the TPNW now. And that is for the sake of our children and grandchildren, who are inheriting a world that is literally burning down in front of our eyes as a result of climate change. We cannot adequately address the climate crisis without also addressing the nuclear threat.

You have taken important steps to address the climate crisis, through your infrastructure bill and the inflation reduction act. You have been hampered by Supreme Court decisions and a difficult Congress from achieving more of what you know is needed to fully address this crisis. And yet, trillions of taxpayer dollars are being poured into developing the next generation of nuclear weapons, along with all the other military hardware and infrastructure you have signed off on.

Mr. President, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, please use this opportunity to switch gears and begin the transition to a sustainable world for them. You don’t need Congress or the Supreme Court to sign a treaty on behalf of the United States. That is your prerogative as President.

And by signing the TPNW, we can begin the monumental shift of resources that is needed from nuclear weapons to climate solutions. By signalling the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons, you would be enabling and encouraging the vast scientific and industrial infrastructure that supports the nuclear weapons industry to begin to make that transition, along with the billions in private finance that support that industry.

And most importantly, you would be opening up a door to improved international cooperation with Russia, China, India and the EU without which no action on climate will be sufficient to save the planet.

Mr. President, as the first country to develop nuclear weapons and the only country to have ever used them in war, the United States bears a special moral responsibility to ensure they are never used again. As you yourself said in a speech on January 11, 2017, “If we want a world without nuclear weapons—the United States must take the initiative to lead us there.” Please, Mr. President, you can do this! Please take the first clear step to nuclear abolition and sign the Nuclear Ban Treaty.

Yours sincerely,

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Question for this article:

The peace movement in the United States, What are its strengths and weaknesses?

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* Organizations in bold = official signatories, organizations not in bold are for identification purposes only

Timmon Wallis, Vicki Elson, Co-Founders, NuclearBan.US

Kevin Martin, President, Peace Action

Darien De Lu, President, US Section, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Ivana Hughes, President, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

David Swanson, Executive Director, World Beyond War

Medea Benjamin, Jodie Evans, Co-Founders, CodePink

Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA

Ethan Vesely-Flad, Director of National Organizing, Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR-USA)

Melanie Merkle Atha, Executive Director, Episcopal Peace Fellowship

Susan Schnall, President, Veterans For Peace

Hanieh Jodat, Partnerships Coordinator, RootsAction

Michael Beer, Director, Nonviolence International

Alan Owen, Founder, LABRATS (Legacy of the Atomic Bomb. Recognition for Atomic Test Survivors)

Helen Jaccard, Manager, Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project

Kelly Lundeen and Lindsay Potter, Co-Directors, Nukewatch

Linda Gunter, Founder, Beyond Nuclear

Leonard Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action

Felice and Jack Cohen-Joppa, Nuclear Resister

Nick Mottern, Co-coordinator, Ban Killer Drones

Priscilla Star, Director, Coalition Against Nukes

Cole Harrison, Executive Director, Massachusetts Peace Action

Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director, Coalition For Peace Action (CFPA)

Emily Rubino, Executive Director, Peace Action New York State

Robert Kinsey, Colorado Coalition for the Prevention of Nuclear War

Rev. Rich Peacock, Co-Chair, Peace Action of Michigan

Jean Athey, Secretary of the Board, Maryland Peace Action

Martha Speiss, John Raby, Peace Action Maine

Joe Burton, Treasurer of the Board, North Carolina Peace Action

Kim Joy Bergier, Coordinator, Michigan Stop The Nuclear Bombs Campaign

Kelly Campbell, Executive Director, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Sean Arent, Nuclear Weapons Abolition Program Manager, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

Andrea Jones, Government Relations and Public Policy Director, Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc.

Lizzie Adams, Green Party of Florida

Lois Gagnon, Co-Chair, Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts

Doug Rawlings, Veterans For Peace Maine Chapter

Mario Galvan, Sacramento Area Peace Action

Gary Butterfield, President, San Diego Veterans For Peace

Michael Lindley, President, Veterans For Peace Los Angeles

Dave Logsdon, President, Twin Cities Veterans For Peace

Bill Christofferson, Veterans For Peace, Milwaukee Chapter 102

Philip Anderson, Veterans For Peace Chapter 80 Duluth Superior

John Michael O’Leary, Vice President, Veterans For Peace Chapter 104 in Evansville, Indiana

Jim Wohlgemuth, Veterans For Peace The Hector Black Chapter

Kenneth Mayers, Chapter Secretary, Veterans for Peace Santa Fe Chapter

Chelsea Faria, Demilitarize Western Mass

Claire Schaeffer-Duffy, Program Director, Center for Nonviolent Solutions, Worcester, MA

Mari Inoue, Co-Founder, Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World

The Rev. Dr. Peter Kakos, Maureen Flannery, Nuclear Free Future Coalition of Western Mass

Douglas W. Renick, Chair, Haydenville Congregational Church Peace and Justice Steering Committee

Richard Ochs, Baltimore Peace Action

Max Obuszewski, Janice Sevre-Duszynka, Baltimore Nonviolence Center

Arnold Matlin, Co-Convenor, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace

The Rev. Julia Dorsey Loomis, Hampton Roads Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (HRCAN)

Lorie Cartwright, Trustee, New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution Inc.

Jessie Pauline Collins, Co-Chair, Citizens’ Resistance at Fermi Two (CRAFT)

Keith Gunter, Chair, Alliance To Halt Fermi-3

Hendrica Regez, Chair, Galena Green Team

Julie Levine, Co-Director, MLK Coalition of Greater Los Angeles

H.T Snider, Chair, One Sunny Day Initiatives

Topanga Peace Alliance

Ellen Thomas, Director, Proposition One Campaign for a Nuclear-Free Future

Lynn Sableman, Branch President, WILPF St. Louis

Mary Faulkner, President, League of Women Voters of Duluth

Sister Clare Carter, New England Peace Pagoda

Tracy Powell, No More Bombs

Ann Suellentrop, Program Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility – Kansas City

Robert M. Gould, MD, President, San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility

Cynthia Papermaster, Coordinator, CODEPINK San Francisco Bay Area

Patricia Hynes, Traprock Center for Peace and Justice

Christopher Allred, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center

Jane Brown, Newton Dialogues on Peace and War

Steve Baggarly, Norfolk Catholic Worker

Mary S Rider and Patrick O’Neill, Founders, Father Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker

Jill Haberman, Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi

Rev. Terrence Moran, Director, Office of Peace, Justice, and Ecological Integrity/Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth

Thomas Nieland, President Emeritus, UUFHCT, Alamo, TX

Henry M. Stoever, Co-Chair, PeaceWorks Kansas City

Rosalie Paul, Coordinator, PeaceWorks of Greater Brunswick, Maine

New York Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (NYCAN)

Craig S. Thompson, White House Antinuclear Peace Vigil

Jim Schulman, President, A Thousand Friends of Virginia’s Future

Mary Gourdoux, Border Peace Presence

Alice Sturm Sutter, Uptown Progressive Action, New York City

Donna Gould, Rise and Resist NY

Anne Craig, Reject Raytheon Asheville

Nancy C. Tate, LEPOCO Peace Center (Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern)

Marcia Halligan, Kickapoo Peace Circle

Marie Dennis, Assisi Community

Mary Shesgreen, Chair, Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice

Jean Stevens, Director, Taos Environmental Film Festival

Mari Mennel-Bell, Director, JazzSLAM

Diana Bohn, Coordinator, Nicaragua Center for Community Action

Nicholas Cantrell, President, Green Future Wealth Management

Mary Hanson, Chair, Seattle Fellowship of Reconciliation

Charles Michaels, Coordinator, Pax Christi Baltimore

Sven Lovegren, Coordinator, UUCA Peace Network

Rachel Roberts Bliss, Founder and Administrator, Western North Carolina for Peace

Jane Leatherman Van Praag, President, Wilco Justice Alliance (Williamson County, TX)

Ernes Fuller, Vice Chair, Concerned Citizens for SNEC Safety (CCSS)

The World Is My Country

Carmen Trotta, Catholic Worker

Paul Corell, Shut Down Indian Point Now!

Patricia Always, West Valley Neighborhoods Coalition

Thea Paneth, Arlington United for Justice with Peace

Carol Gilbert, OP, Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters

Susan Entin, Church of St. Augustine, St. Martin

Maureen Doyle, MA Green Rainbow Party

Lorraine Krofchok, Director, Grandmothers for Peace International

Jasmin Nario-Galace, Facilitation Committee, Pax Christi Asia-Pacific

Bill Kidd, MSP, Convenor, Scottish Parliament Cross Party Group on Nuclear Disarmament

Ed Lehman, President, Regina Peace Council

Dr David Hutchinson Edgar, Chairperson, Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament / An Feachtas um Dhí-Armáil Núicléach

Marian Pallister, Chair, Pax Christi Scotland

Ranjith S Jayasekera, Vice President, Sri-Lanka Doctors for Peace and Development

Juan Gomez, Chilean Coordinator, Movimiento Por Un Mundo Sin Guerras Y Sin Violencia

Darien Castro, Co-Founder, Wings for Amazon Project

Loreta Castro, Co-President, Pax Christi Philippines

Lynda Forbes, Secretary, Hunter Peace Group Newcastle, Australia

What Steps Can the US Take to Foster Peace Talks in Ukraine?

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Medea Benjamin and Nicholas Davies in Common Dreams

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has just issued its 2023 Doomsday Clock statement, calling this “a time of unprecedented danger.” It has advanced the hands of the clock to 90 seconds to midnight, meaning that the world is closer to global catastrophe than ever before, mainly because the conflict in Ukraine has gravely increased the risk of nuclear war. This scientific assessment should wake up the world’s leaders to the urgent necessity of bringing the parties involved in the Ukraine war to the peace table.

So far, the debate about peace talks to resolve the conflict has revolved mostly around what Ukraine and Russia should be prepared to bring to the table in order to end the war and restore peace. However, given that this war is not just between Russia and Ukraine but is part of a “New Cold War” between Russia and the United States, it is not just Russia and Ukraine that must consider what they can bring to the table to end it. The United States must also consider what steps it can take to resolve its underlying conflict with Russia that led to this war in the first place.

The geopolitical crisis that set the stage for the war in Ukraine began with NATO’s broken promises not to expand into Eastern Europe, and was exacerbated by its declaration in 2008 that Ukraine would eventually join this primarily anti-Russian military alliance.

Then, in 2014, a U.S.-backed coup against Ukraine’s elected government caused the disintegration of Ukraine. Only 51% of Ukrainians surveyed told a Gallup poll that they recognized the legitimacy of the post-coup government, and large majorities in Crimea and in Donetsk and Luhansk provinces voted to secede from Ukraine. Crimea rejoined Russia, and the new Ukrainian government launched a civil war against the self-declared “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The civil war killed an estimated 14,000 people, but the Minsk II accord in 2015 established a ceasefire and a buffer zone along the line of control, with 1,300 international OSCE ceasefire monitors and staff. The ceasefire line largely held for seven years, and casualties declined substantially from year to year. But the Ukrainian government never resolved the underlying political crisis by granting Donetsk and Luhansk the autonomous status it promised them in the Minsk II agreement.

Now former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande have admitted that Western leaders only agreed to the Minsk II accord to buy time, so that they could build up Ukraine’s armed forces to eventually recover Donetsk and Luhansk by force.

In March 2022, the month after the Russian invasion, ceasefire negotiations were held in Turkey. Russia and Ukraine drew up a 15-point “neutrality agreement,” which President Zelenskyy publicly presented and explained to his people in a national TV broadcast on March 27th. Russia agreed to withdraw from the territories it had occupied since the invasion in February in exchange for a Ukrainian commitment not to join NATO or host foreign military bases. That framework also included proposals for resolving the future of Crimea and Donbas.

But in April, Ukraine’s Western allies—the United States and United Kingdom in particular—refused to support the neutrality agreement and persuaded Ukraine to abandon its negotiations with Russia. U.S. and British officials said at the time that they saw a chance to “press” and “weaken” Russia, and that they wanted to make the most of that opportunity.

The U.S. and British governments’ unfortunate decision to torpedo Ukraine’s neutrality agreement in the second month of the war has led to a prolonged and devastating conflict with hundreds of thousands of casualties. Neither side can decisively defeat the other, and every new escalation increases the danger of “a major war between NATO and Russia,” as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg recently Questions related to this article:

 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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For years, President Putin has complained about the large U.S. military footprint in Eastern and Central Europe. But in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. has actually beefed up its European military presence. It has increased the total deployments of American troops in Europe from 80,000 before February 2022 to roughly 100,000. It has sent warships to Spain, fighter jet squadrons to the United Kingdom, troops to Romania and the Baltics, and air defense systems to Germany and Italy.

Even before the Russian invasion, the U.S. began expanding its presence at a missile base in Romania that Russia has objected to ever since it went into operation in 2016. The U.S. military has also built what The New York Times called “a highly sensitive U.S. military installation” in Poland, just 100 miles from Russian territory. The bases in Poland and Romania have sophisticated radars to track hostile missiles and interceptor missiles to shoot them down.

The Russians worry that these installations can be repurposed to fire offensive or even nuclear missiles, and they are exactly what the 1972 ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty between the U.S. and the Soviet Union prohibited, until President George W. Bush withdrew from it in 2002.

While the Pentagon describes the two sites as defensive and pretends they are not directed at Russia, Putin has insisted that the bases are evidence of the threat posed by NATO’s eastward expansion.

Here are some steps the U.S. could consider putting on the table to start de-escalating these ever-rising tensions and improve the chances for a lasting ceasefire and peace agreement in Ukraine:

* The United States and other Western countries could support Ukrainian neutrality by agreeing to participate in the kind of security guarantees Ukraine and Russia agreed to in March, but which the U.S. and U.K. rejected.

* The U.S. and its NATO allies could let the Russians know at an early stage in negotiations that they are prepared to lift sanctions against Russia as part of a comprehensive peace agreement.

* The U.S. could agree to a significant reduction in the 100,000 troops it now has in Europe, and to removing its missiles from Romania and Poland and handing over those bases to their respective nations.

* The United States could commit to working with Russia on an agreement to resume mutual reductions in their nuclear arsenals, and to suspend both nations’ current plans to build even more dangerous weapons. They could also restore the Treaty on Open Skies, from which the United States withdrew in 2020, so that both sides can verify that the other is removing and dismantling the weapons they agree to eliminate.

* The United States could open a discussion on the removal of its nuclear weapons from the five European countries where they are presently deployed: Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Turkey.

If the United States is willing to put these policy changes on the table in negotiations with Russia, it will make it easier for Russia and Ukraine to reach a mutually acceptable ceasefire agreement, and help to ensure that the peace they negotiate will be stable and lasting.

De-escalating the Cold War with Russia would give Russia a tangible gain to show its citizens as it retreats from Ukraine. It would also allow the United States to reduce its military spending and enable European countries to take charge of their own security, as most of their people want.

U.S.-Russia negotiations will not be easy, but a genuine commitment to resolve differences will create a new context in which each step can be taken with greater confidence as the peacemaking process builds its own momentum.

Most of the people of the world would breathe a sigh of relief to see progress towards ending the war in Ukraine, and to see the United States and Russia working together to reduce the existential dangers of their militarism and hostility. This should lead to improved international cooperation on other serious crises facing the world in this century—and may even start to turn back the hands of the Doomsday Clock by making the world a safer place for us all.

Authors

Medea Benjamin is co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace. She is the co-author, with Nicolas J.S. Davies, of War in Ukraine: Making Sense of a Senseless Conflict, available from OR Books in November 2022.

Nicolas J. S. Davies is an independent journalist and a researcher with CODEPINK. He is the co-author, with Medea Benjamin, of War in Ukraine:

The Elders warn urgent action on climate, pandemics, nuclear weapons needed to turn back hands of the Doomsday Clock

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from The Elders

The Elders warned today (January 24) that only a crisis mindset from global political leaders can generate the urgent action needed to address the existential threats facing humanity, including the climate crisis, pandemics and nuclear weapons.


Mary Robinson and Elbegdorj Tsakhia join the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for the 2023 Doomsday Clock announcement. Photo: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The warning came as former Presidents Mary Robinson and Elbegdorj Tsakhia joined members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists for the unveiling of the Doomsday Clock, which today moved to 90 seconds to midnight – the closest it has been to catastrophe since its creation in 1947.

Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine and President Putin’s reckless nuclear rhetoric have worsened tensions and made nuclear conflict a more real threat than at any time since the height of the Cold War, The Elders warned.

But while Russia alone bears responsibility for its war on Ukraine, for which its leaders must ultimately face justice under international law, all states bear responsibility for the broader failures of governance and leadership that have undermined the multilateral system.

Their failure to take collective action has hampered effective responses to the climate crisis and COVID-19, as well as conflict prevention and resolution efforts from Syria and Yemen to Myanmar and the Sahel.

The Elders underscored that the world faces interlocking crises, each illustrating the unwillingness of leaders to act in the long-term interests of their people, and that dialogue in good faith and multilateral cooperation are indispensable to finding sustainable solutions that meet the needs of all the peoples of the world.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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Mary Robinson, Chair of The Elders and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said:

“The Doomsday Clock is sounding an alarm for the whole of humanity. We are on the brink of a precipice. But our leaders are not acting at sufficient speed or scale to secure a peaceful and liveable planet. From cutting carbon emissions to strengthening arms control treaties and investing in pandemic preparedness, we know what needs to be done. The science is clear, but the political will is lacking. This must change in 2023 if we are to avert catastrophe. We are facing multiple, existential crises. Leaders need a crisis mindset.”

Ban Ki-moon, Deputy Chair of The Elders and former UN Secretary-General, said:

“Three years ago, I helped unveil the Doomsday Clock when its hands were last moved. Today they are even closer to midnight, showing how much more perilous our world has become in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, extreme weather events and Russia’s outrageous war on Ukraine. Leaders did not heed the Doomsday Clock’s warnings in 2020. We all continue to pay the price. In 2023 it is vital for all our sakes that they act.”

Elbegdorj Tsakhia, former President of Mongolia and member of The Elders, added:

“As a former President of a country landlocked between two large powers, I know how important international diplomacy is when it comes to tackling existential threats. Today our world faces multiple crises. A common thread runs through them all: failure of leadership. We need a collective response rooted in the spirit and values of the UN Charter that can put us back on a pathway to peaceful co-existence and sustainable development.”

The Elders

Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders
Ban Ki-moon, former UN Secretary-General and Deputy Chair of The Elders
Graça Machel, founder of the Graça Machel Trust, co-founder and Deputy Chair of The Elders 
Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the WHO
Elbegdorj Tsakhia, former President and Prime Minister of Mongolia
Zeid Raad Al Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Hina Jilani, advocate of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and co-chair of the Taskforce on Justice
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate
Ricardo Lagos, former President of Chile
Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia and Nobel Peace Laureate
Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico

STOP U.S. Wars: MLK Week of Actions, Jan 13–22 The Next Step

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. .

An article from The United National Antiwar Coalition

“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I can not be Silent.”
  –  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 1967

As you know, after the October antiwar actions, more than 75 actions, we held a meeting to discuss next steps.  It was decided that we should have another week of actions and the week around Martin Luther King Day, Jan 14 – 22 was proposed.  So, we are moving forward organizing STOP U.S. Wars actions again during that week.  Many organizations endorsed the October week of actions and are anxious to continue.


As Martin Luther King, Jr. so correctly reminded us, the U.S. is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.  Since WWII, the US has initiated more than 60 military interventions in foreign countries.  The US/NATO proxy war in Ukraine brings the US in direct confrontation with a major nuclear power as does the U.S. provocation against China over Taiwan.

It is extremely important that we build a strong, unified antiwar movement that can break through the media propaganda and censorship and end the US military aggression around the world.

Each of our actions are based on building local connections among various solidarity organizations. A variety of actions are encouraged from demonstrations, teach-Ins, banner drops, chalk-ins to street meetings.

Actions linking ALL the continuing US wars and sanctions is a unifying focus and helps break through the propaganda that saturates each war.

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Question for this article:

Lula: “We will rebuild relations with all the countries of the world.”

. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION .

The inauguration speech of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva reprinted by Progressive International (translation by Progressive International

My gratitude to you who faced political violence before, during, and after the electoral campaign, who occupied the social networks and took to the streets under sun and rain, even if it was only to win a single precious vote. Who had the courage to wear our shirt, and, at the same time, wave the Brazilian flag when a violent and anti-democratic minority tried to censor our colors and appropriate the green and yellow that belongs to all Brazilian people. To you, who came from all corners of this country, from near or far away, by plane, by bus, by car or in the back of a truck, by motorcycle, by bicycle, and even on foot, in a true caravan of hope for this celebration of democracy.

But I also want to address those who opted for other candidates. I will govern for 215 million Brazilians, and not only for those who voted for me. I will govern for all, looking to our bright common future and not through the rear view mirror of a past of division and intolerance. Nobody is interested in a country on a permanent war footing, or a family living in disharmony. It is time to reconnect with friends and family, bonds broken by hate speech and the dissemination of so many lies. Enough of hate, fake news, guns and bombs. Our people want peace to work, study, take care of their families, and be happy. The electoral dispute is over.

I repeat what I said in my speech after the victory on October 30th, about the need to unite the country. There are not two Brazils. We are a single country, a single people, a great nation. We are all Brazilians, and we share the same virtue. We never give up. Even if they pluck all our flowers, one by one, petal by petal, we know that it is always time to replant, and that spring will come, and spring has already arrived. Today joy takes hold of Brazil in arms with hope.

My dear friends, I recently reread the speech of my first inauguration as President in 2003, and what I read made it even more evident how far Brazil has gone backwards. On that first January 2003, here in this very place, my dear vice-president José Alencar and I made the commitment to recover the dignity and self-esteem of the Brazilian people. And we did. Of investing to improve the living conditions of those who need it most, and we did. Of caring for health and education, and we did. But the main commitment we took on in 2003 was to fight inequality and extreme poverty, and to guarantee to every person in this country the right to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner every single day, and we fulfilled this commitment, we put an end to hunger and misery, and we strongly reduced inequality.

Unfortunately, today, 20 years later, we are returning to a past that we thought was buried. Much of what we did was undone in an irresponsible and criminal way. Inequality and extreme poverty are back on the rise. Hunger is back, and not by force of fate, not by the work of nature nor by divine will, hunger. The return of hunger is a crime, the most serious of all crimes committed against the Brazilian people. Hunger is the daughter of inequality, which is the mother of the great evils that delay the development of Brazil. Inequality belittles our continental-sized country by dividing it into unrecognizable parts. On one side a small portion of the population that has everything, on the other side a multitude that lacks everything and a middle class that has been growing poorer year by year due to the injustices of the government. Together we are strong, divided we will always be the country of the future that never arrives and that lives in permanent debt with its people. If we want to build our future today, if we want to live in a fully developed country for everyone, there can be no room for so much inequality. Brazil is great, but the real greatness of a country lies in the happiness of its people, and nobody is really happy in the midst of so much inequality.

My friends, when I say govern, I mean to take care. More than governing, I will take care of this country and the Brazilian people with great affection. In the last few years Brazil has gone back to being one of the most unequal countries in the world. It has been a long time since we have seen such abandonment and discouragement in the streets. Mothers digging through the garbage in search of food for their children. Entire families sleeping outdoors, facing the cold, the rain, and the fear. Children selling candy or begging when they should be in school, living the full childhood they have a right to. Unemployed men and women workers, exhibiting at the traffic lights cardboard signs with the phrase that embarrasses us all: “Please help me”. Queues at the door of butcher shops in search of bones to alleviate hunger, and, at the same time, waiting lines to buy imported cars and private jets. Such a social abyss is an obstacle to the construction of a truly fair and democratic society and a modern and prosperous economy.

That is why I and my vice-president Geraldo Alckmin assume today, before you and all the Brazilian people, the commitment to fight day and night against all forms of inequality in our country. Inequality of income, gender and race inequality, inequality in the labor market, in political representation, in State careers, inequality in access to health, education, and other public services. Inequality between the child who goes to the best private school and the child who shines shoes in the bus station with no school and no future, between the child who is happy with the toy he just got as a present and the child who cries of hunger on Christmas night. Inequality between those who throw food away and those who only eat leftovers. It is unacceptable that the richest 5% of people in this country have the same income share as the other 95%. That six Brazilian billionaires have a wealth equivalent to the assets of the 100 million poorest people in the country. That a worker earning a minimum monthly wage takes 19 years to receive the equivalent of what a super-rich person receives in a single month. And there is no point in rolling up the windows of a luxury car to avoid seeing our brothers and sisters who are crowded under the viaducts, lacking everything. The reality is there on every corner.

My friends, it is unacceptable that we continue to live with prejudice, discrimination, and racism. We are a people of many colors and all of us must have the same rights and opportunities. No one will be a second-class citizen, no one will have more or less support from the State, no one will be obliged to face more or less obstacles just because of the color of their skin. That is why we are recreating the Ministry of Racial Equality, to bury the tragic legacy of our slaveholding past. The indigenous peoples need to have their lands demarcated and free of threats from illegal and predatory economic activities, they need to have their culture preserved, their dignity respected, and sustainability guaranteed. They are not obstacles to development. They are guardians of our rivers and forests and a fundamental part of our greatness as a nation. This is why we are creating the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples to combat 500 years of inequality. We cannot continue to live with the hateful oppression imposed on women, subjected daily to violence in the streets and inside their own homes. It is unacceptable that they continue to receive lower salaries than men, when in the exercise of the same function they need to conquer more and more space in the dissuasive instances of this country, in politics, in the economy, in all strategic areas. Women must be what they want to be, they must be where they want to be. That is why we are bringing back the Ministry of Women. It was to fight inequality and its sequels that we won the election. And this will be the great mark of our government, from this fundamental fight a transformed country will emerge, a great and prosperous country, strong and fair, a country of all by all and for all, a generous and solidary country that will leave no one behind.

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(Click here for the article in Portuguese.)

Questions related to this article:
 
Latin America, has it taken the lead in the struggle for a culture of peace?

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My dear comrades, I reassume the commitment to take care of all Brazilians, especially those who need it most, to end hunger in this country once again, to take the poor out of the bone line and put them back in the Union’s budget. We have an immense legacy still vivid in the memory of each and every Brazilian, beneficiary or not of the public policies that made a revolution in this country. But we are not interested in living in the past. Therefore, far from any nostalgia, our legacy will always be the mirror of the future that we will build for this country. Under our governments, Brazil has reconciled record economic growth with the greatest social inclusion in history, and has become the sixth largest economy in the world, at the same time in which 36 million Brazilians have been lifted out of extreme poverty, and we have generated more than 20 million jobs with signed work cards and all rights guaranteed. We adjusted the minimum wage always above inflation. We broke records of investment in education, from kindergarten to university, to make Brazil also an exporter of intelligence and knowledge, and not only an exporter of commodities and raw materials. We more than doubled the number of students in higher education and opened the door to universities for the poor youth of this country. Young whites, blacks, and indigenous people for whom a university degree was an unattainable dream became doctors. We fought one of the great focuses of inequality, access to health, because the right to life cannot be held hostage to the amount of money one has in the bank. We created the Farmácia Popular (Popular Pharmacy), which provided medicines to those who needed them most, and more than that, which brought care to about 60 million Brazilians in the outskirts of the big cities and in the most remote parts of Brazil. We created Smiling Brazil to care for the oral health of all Brazilians. We have strengthened our Single Health System. And I want to take the opportunity to make a special thanks to the SUS professionals for the great work during the pandemic, bravely facing a virus, a lethal virus, and an irresponsible and inhumane government.

In our governments we invested in family agriculture and in small and medium farmers, responsible for 70% of the food that reaches our tables, and we did this without neglecting agribusiness, which obtained investment in record harvests year after year. We took concrete measures to combat climate change and reduced the deforestation of the Amazon by more than 80%. Brazil has consolidated itself as a world reference in the fight against inequality and hunger, and has become internationally respected for its active and haughty foreign policy. We were able to accomplish all of this while taking care of the country’s finances with total responsibility; we were never irresponsible with public money. We have made fiscal surplus every year, eliminated the foreign debt, accumulated reserves of 370 billion dollars, and reduced the foreign debt to almost half of what it was when we took office. In our governments there has never been and never will be any unnecessary spending. We have always invested and will invest again in our most precious asset, which is the Brazilian people.

Unfortunately, much of what we built in 13 years was destroyed in less than half of this time. First by the coup against President Dilma in 2016, and then by the four years of a government of national destruction whose legacy history will never forgive: 700,000 Brazilians killed by covid-19, 125 million suffering some degree of food insecurity from moderate to very severe, and 33 million going hungry. These are just a few numbers that are actually not just numbers, statistics, and indicators. They are people, men, women and children who are victims of a misgovernment that was finally defeated by the people on the historic October 30, 2022. The technical groups of the transition cabinet coordinated by my vice-president Alckmin, who for two months delved into the entrails of the previous government, have brought to light the real dimension of the tragedy.

What the Brazilian people have suffered in the last few years has been the slow and progressive construction of a true genocide. I want to quote, as an example, a small excerpt from the one hundred pages of this true chaos report produced by the transition cabinet. The report says: Brazil has broken feminicide records. Racial equality policies have suffered severe setbacks. Youth policy was dismantled and indigenous rights have never been so violated in the recent history of the country. The textbooks that will be used in the 2023 school year have not yet begun to be published. There is a shortage of medicine at the popular pharmacy, and no stock of vaccines to confront the new variants of covid-19. There is a lack of resources for the purchase of school meals. Universities run the risk of not finishing the school year. There are no resources for Civil Defense and the prevention of accidents and disasters. And who is paying the bill for this blackout is, once again, the Brazilian people.

My friends, these last few years we have lived through, without a doubt, one of the worst periods of our history, an era of shadows, uncertainties and a lot of suffering. But this nightmare came to an end through the sovereign vote in the most important election since the re-democratization of the country. An election that demonstrated the commitment of the Brazilian people to democracy and its institutions. This extraordinary victory for democracy forces us to look forward and forget our differences, which are much smaller than what unites us forever: the love for Brazil and the unshakeable faith in our people.

Now is the time to rekindle the flame of hope, solidarity, and love for our neighbor. Now is the time to take care of Brazil and the Brazilian people again, generate jobs, readjust the minimum wage above inflation, lower the price of food, create even more vacancies in universities, invest heavily in health, education, science and culture. Resume the infrastructure works of Minha Casa, Minha Vida, abandoned by the neglect of the government that is now gone. It is time to bring in investments and reindustrialize Brazil, fight climate change again and put an end once and for all to the devastation of our biomes, especially our beloved Amazon. We must break away from international isolation and resume relations with all the countries of the world. This is no time for sterile resentments. Now is the time for Brazil to look forward and smile again. Let us turn this page and write together a new and decisive chapter in our history.

Our common challenge is to create a fair, inclusive, sustainable and creative, democratic and sovereign country for all Brazilians. I have made a point of saying throughout the campaign: Brazil is resilient. And I say it again with all conviction, even in the face of the picture of destruction revealed by the transition cabinet: Brazil is resilient. It depends on us, all of us. And we will rebuild this country.

In my four years in office, we will work every day for Brazil to overcome the backwardness of more than 350 years of slavery, to recover the time and opportunities lost in these last years, to regain its prominent place in the world, and for each and every Brazilian to have the right to dream again and the opportunities to realize what they dream of. We need all together to rebuild and transform our beloved country. But we will only really rebuild and transform this country if we fight with all our strength against everything that makes it so unequal. It is urgent and necessary to form a broad front against inequality that involves society as a whole, workers, entrepreneurs, artists, intellectuals, governors, mayors, deputies, senators, unions, social movements, class associations, public servants, liberal professionals, religious leaders, ordinary citizens. After all, it is time to unite and rebuild our country. That is why I make this call to all Brazilians who want a more just, solidary, and democratic Brazil. Join us in a great collective effort against inequality. I want to end by asking each and every one of you that the joy of today be the raw material of the fight of tomorrow and of all the days to come, that the hope of today ferments the bread that is to be shared among all, and that we are always ready to react in peace and order to any attacks from extremists who want to sabotage and destroy our democracy. In the fight for the good of Brazil we will use the weapons that our adversaries fear the most, the truth that has overcome the lie, the hope that has overcome fear, and the love that has defeated hatred. Long live Brazil and long live the Brazilian people!

The Latin American front, after the assumption of Lula

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article from (translation by CPNN)

In the Itamaraty Palace, headquarters of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, the recently inaugurated president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva held meetings with leaders of 15 countries, in which Brazil reaffirmed its decision to relaunch the regional organizations of integration, analyze a change in anti-drug policies imposed by the US, and sign a pact to protect the Amazon.


Boric and Lula

The expectations of a relaunch of Latin American integration gained strength at the beginning of the year and after Lula’s inaugural speech, but for now they avoid taking into account the serious divergence on integration models that subsist within the left itself and/or progressivism. .

«Our commitment will be with Mercosur and the rest of the sovereign nations of our region. We will have an active dialogue with the United States, the European Union and China. We will make more alliances to have more strength from now on. Brazil has to be the owner of its destiny, it has to be a sovereign country”, said the new Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, when announcing his road map for foreign policy.

The Mercosur agenda has several pending points, such as the possible entry of Bolivia, something in which Lula made a commitment with President Luis Arce in September, and the return of Venezuela to the organization. Lula will have to attempt a dialogue with the right-wing government of Uruguay, which has maintained a critical position towards the regional body, within the framework of its attempt to advance only in uncertain agreements with third countries or groups of nations, including China.

The bilateral meetings with presidents and high-ranking Latin American dignitaries, after Lula’s inauguration, were the kickoff to resume important issues for Brazil and its partners: a pact to protect the Amazon, a bi-oceanic corridor with Chile, and Brazil’s active return to the mechanisms of regional organizations that were abandoned by the Bolsonaro administration.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions related to this article:
 
Latin America, has it taken the lead in the struggle for a culture of peace?

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After meeting with Lula, the new President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro wrote that the fight for the Amazon is a common project for the two Latin American leaders. “A great pact to save the Amazon jungle in favor of humanity. Towards a change in drug policy; a Brazil guarantor of peace in Colombia and the study of the electrical interconnection of the Americas with clean energy sources”.

Brazil plans to convene a summit with the 11 presidents who share the Amazon. The meeting would take place in the first half of the year in Brazil.

“We have decided to restart the link between Argentina and Brazil with all the strength that it should always have,” said Lula, who will return the visit in Buenos Aires, where concrete actions will be sought to promote bilateral and regional integration. The expectations that open up for Latin America and for the particular cases of Venezuela and Bolivia.

Chilean President Gabriel Boric remarked that “The complicity that exists between both governments and the Latin American and South American integration policy that we are going to carry out, working together, Chile and Brazil, has become clear.” Boric spoke with Lula about his interest in the bi-oceanic corridor, a route through Argentina and Paraguay that will link the ports of Brazil and Chile.

“We are going to work to strengthen the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac) and Unasur, and we are going to risk it so that integration is not only based on declarations,” he added.

Lula reported that with Bolivian President Luis Arce he discussed collaboration on social policies, energy and the supply of fertilizers. Arce stressed the importance of deepening the work agenda on border issues, gas, electricity, urea, investment and trade between the two countries.

The president of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, the only Central American president to attend Lula’s inauguration, affirmed that at the next meeting of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), on January 24, she will establish with Lula, through a agreement, the different ways in which Honduras will receive support from Brazil.Lula da Silva Jorge Rodríguez

Jorge Rodríguez, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, held a meeting with Lula on Monday. Social movements in Brazil held an event in the capital to return the Venezuelan embassy to Venezuela after three years of being closed due to the aggressive policies of the government of the outgoing Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro.

In addition to the re-entry to Mercosur, several issues remain pending on the agenda with Venezuela. The first is the normalization of diplomatic relations, which is already underway with the appointment of Manuel Vicente Vadell as ambassador to Brazil and the announcement by Foreign Minister Vieira to immediately send “a charge d’affaires to recover the buildings that we have there.” ”, and then appoint an ambassador.

(Thank you to OtherNews for calling this article to our attention.)

What Do Ukrainians Want? Not an Uncompromising Battle That Puts Them in Grave Danger

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Richard Miller in Common Dreams (licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

(Editor’s note: We recently published an article in CPNN with polls showing that a majority of Russians no longer desire the war with Ukraine despite the dictatorial suppression of opposition to the war by the Putin regime. Now here is an article with polls showing similar results in Ukraine despite the dictatorial suppression of opposition to the war by the Zelensky regime.

Since negotiations with Russia ended in late March, the president of Ukraine has proclaimed a goal of uncompromising victory: “Free our entire territory. Drive the occupiers out of all our regions.” The battle to achieve this victory has relied on a vast surge of military equipment, of steeply increasing sophistication, destructiveness and reach, provided by the United States, in military aid in excess of $15 billion . How well does the uncompromising battle fit Ukrainians’ desires? Not well enough to justify the U.S. government’s encouragement and support.

There is no doubt that the vast majority of Ukrainians want Russia to leave the territory it controls. Even in eastern regions controlled by pro-Russian separatists, only a minority wanted to be part of Russia, pre-invasion. And, of course, there is no doubt that the consequences of battles to drive Russia out of Ukrainian territory are, to put it mildly, undesired. In the estimate of the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, well over 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers and as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians have already been killed or wounded. Seven million people have fled abroad , from a country where forty one million had lived outside of Crimea before the war, and six and a half million are internally displaced by the war’s devastation. But the moral justification of U.S. support and encouragement for an uncompromising battle depends on a more difficult question, “To what extent do people where the carnage of an uncompromising battle would be concentrated support it despite its toll?” The most defensible answer is an important reason why the U.S. should change course.

Polls of Ukrainian opinion exclude some areas where the toll of an uncompromising battle to expel Russia would be especially severe. A large majority of people living in Crimea identify as ethnically Russian. There is no reason to suppose that they would willingly endure the brutal mayhem required to restore Ukrainian sovereignty. Russian-controlled areas in the east that included extensive separatist-controlled territory pre-invasion are not surveyed now. In the 2019 poll of people in separatist-controlled regions that I cited, conducted by a Berlin-based think tank, 45 percent supported integration with Russia and 31 percent supported special autonomy status within Ukraine. The only news story in U.S. media that I am aware of that is based on extensive on-the-ground interviews in contested separatist regions was published in the New York Times on January 16 this year; it reported widespread support for separatism, substantial opposition, and the longing of most people for the end of the grave burdens of conflict that they had already endured.

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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In polls of the remaining territory, responses favoring an uncompromising battle are much less common where its carnage would be concentrated. For example, in a May 19-24 telephone poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, 61% supported continuing “opposing Russian aggression until all of Ukraine, including Crimea, is under Kyiv control,” but in the east, where dangers of carnage are greatest, this was the response of a minority, 45%. This tepid response is already disturbing, given the geographic limitation. KIIS’s comment on a May survey points to another, non-geographic factor: “In our opinion, a more significant impact on representativeness may have [been] either a lower willingness to participate in polls of citizens with ‘pro-Russian’ moods, or the insincerity of those who still took part in the poll (given the obvious facts and prevailing views in the media about the Russian invasion, some citizens ‘publicly’ do not want to say what they really think).”

A long history of political repression contributes to that reluctance. Since well before the current invasion, Zelensky has vigorously repressed potential sources of support for concessive negotiations.

One dual target has been the second-largest party in parliament, the Opposition Platform for Life, which is inclined to accommodation of Russia and led Zelensky’s party in some polls when the repression began, and Viktor Medvedchuk, its chairperson and major financier. On February 3, 2021, three television stations owned by Medvedchuk were banned . Though it lacked the constitutional authority to do so, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council seized Medvedchuk’s assets on February 19, 2021 and put him under house arrest in May. These measures were followed by imprisonment shortly after Russia’s invasion. By the start of 2022, the government had banned most of the main opposition media. On March 20, 2022, Zelensky banned eleven parties, including the Opposition Platform, and signed a decree merging all national TV channels into a single platform.

These actions, along with many other restrictive measures, help to explain why Freedom House’s “democracy score” for Ukraine throughout Zelensky’s presidency has been substantially lower than Hungary’s under Viktor Orban. Prior to these constraints, a June 2017 poll of people outside the separatist regions and Crimea asked about compromise with Russia and separatists for the sake of peace in the eastern provinces. 52 percent responded that “it is necessary to accept compromises, but not all of them.” 18 percent (25 percent in the east) endorsed the option, “Peace ‘at any price,’ it is necessary to make any compromise – with anyone and on anything.”

Faced with challenges to U.S. support for an uncompromising battle, its defenders claim that it reflects the will of the people of Ukraine. If most of those who are in most danger do not willingly accept the price of what the U.S. sustains and encourages, this is a powerful reason why the U.S. should change course.

After nine months of war, carnage and surging armament, concessive peace is still feasible, a peace that the U.S. could promote by moderating its acceleration of military provision, moderating the tone and content of its public calls for Ukrainian victory, and engaging in quiet diplomacy with both sides. It would consist of ceasefire around lines of control not recognized as sovereign borders by Ukraine or Russia, lines including Russia’s control of Crimea and of significant gains since its invasion: substantial expansion in Luhansk and Donetsk beyond the eastern regions that separatists had controlled and a wide southern corridor from there to Crimea, removing pre-war obstacles to supplies and water. Respect for the desires of people in Ukraine is no excuse for rejecting this change in the U.S. response to the Ukraine war.

Make peace, not war The Kremlin’s internal polling shows that more than half of Russians now favor negotiations with Ukraine

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Andrey Pertsev in Meduza (Translation by Anna Razumnaya)

Russia’s ongoing military defeats in Ukraine and the social burden of mobilization are rapidly cooling the public’s support for the war. Meduza has gained access to the results of an opinion poll commissioned by the Kremlin “for internal use only.” According to the study conducted by the Federal Protective Service (FSO), 55 percent of Russians favor peace talks with Ukraine, while only a quarter of the respondents still support continuing the war.


Internal polling data commissioned by the Kremlin

The FSO poll does not diverge all that much from the results of an October public-opinion study conducted by the Levada Center, Russia’s only large independent sociological institute. In the Levada study, 57 percent of respondents said that they supported, or would probably support, peace talks with Ukraine. Only 27 percent expressed the same range of support for continuing the war.

The FSO’s own polling indicates that Russians’ attitudes about the war have changed. As late as July 2022, only 30 percent of survey respondents favored ending the war by peace negotiations. Comparing the new results to those collected in the summer make the shift obvious:

Two sources close to the Putin administration told Meduza that the Kremlin now plans to limit the polling data that VTsIOM (the Russian Public Opinion Research Center) releases to the public. One source said, “You can get all kinds of results these days — better not to do it at all.” Also speaking to Meduza, a political consultant who works frequently with the Kremlin explained that it’s “best not to reveal the dynamics” of the Russians’ changing attitudes towards the war.

Denis Volkov, the director of the Levada Center, says the share of Russians likely to support peace talks with Ukraine began to grow rapidly following Putin’s September 21 mobilization decree:

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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This is sheer reluctance to take part in the war personally. They continue to support it, but they have very little desire to participate themselves. Besides, their support was, from the very start, something they declared with regard to what they perceived as having nothing to do with themselves: “Life goes on — it’s even getting better.” Now, the risks are greater, and people want to start the talks. Still, the majority of people leave this to the government: “We’d like it, but it’s up to them to decide.”

Sociologist Grigory Yudin also links rising public support for peace talks to Russia’s draft. This fall, he says, Russians came face-to-face with the “crumbling of their everyday lives and a sense of danger.” Their “loss of faith in the victory” and the “absence of a convincing account of how exactly Russia might win” also contribute to the shift in opinions, says Yudin. “I wouldn’t be surprised,” Yudin added,

if this turned out to be mixed with an acute sense of danger to the country itself. In this sense, peace talks followed by legalizing the annexations should make the country safer.

Yudin says the public’s resentment for how the war is going is not far from outright “apathy.” Still, he doesn’t rule out the possibility of anti-war demonstrations in Russia:

Protests do not occur simply because people think something but because something makes protest possible. Russia’s protest potential is very high. When possibilities present themselves, there will be protests. Quite possibly, we won’t have to wait that long.

Kremlin insiders who spoke to Meduza, however, said there’s little concern in the administration about potential mass protests, though they acknowledged that “it’s best not to raise the temperature, and not to anger people if not necessary.” Russia’s state media and propaganda outlets, moreover, have already received instructions “not to dwell on the war.” According to Meduza’s sources, the mass media is now being told to focus instead on a “more positive agenda.”

Political scientist Vladimir Gelman says the dynamics of Russian public opinion are unlikely to pressure the Putin administration into honest negotiations with Ukraine. The Russian side, he argues, is “not ready to make concessions,” and the prospects of any peace talks depend largely on what happens in combat — not in opinion polls.

Last October, Meduza wrote about Vladimir Putin’s unwillingness to abandon his claim on the Ukrainian regions he’s now annexed outright. The Kremlin’s recent hints at possible peace talks are likely a scheme to buy time to prepare a new offensive. Meduza’s sources close to the administration say the president still clings to his plans in Ukraine, and officials will reportedly resume Russia’s “partial” mobilization in the winter. Just how many more men the Kremlin hopes to draft remains unclear.

USA: Statement from Faith Organizations and Leaders  Calling for a Christmas Truce in Ukraine

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A petition from Code Pink

SIGN ON STATEMENT:

As people of faith and conscience, believing in the sanctity of all life on this planet, we call for a Christmas Truce in Ukraine. In the spirit of the truce that occurred in 1914 during the First World War, we urge our government to take a leadership role in bringing the war in Ukraine to an end through supporting calls for a ceasefire and negotiated settlement, before the conflict results in a nuclear war that could devastate the world’s ecosystems and annihilate all of God’s creation.  

Initiated by Fellowship of Reconciliation-USA, CODEPINK, and the National Council of Elders

Background and Context:

As the war in Ukraine rages on, the toll of death and destruction continues to mount and the potential for escalation and the use of nuclear weapons grows. The direct catastrophic impact the war has already had on the people of Ukraine is still unknown but countless thousands of civilians have already died and 14 million have been displaced. The war’s impact is multiplied outside of Ukraine’s borders as rising prices for wheat, fertilizer and fuel are creating growing crises in global hunger and poverty. 

Whether it’s Christians around the world preparing for Christmas or Jews awaiting the Festival of Lights holiday of Hanukkah all of the Abrahamic faiths embrace the prophetic voice of Isaiah who exhorted us to transform swords into plowshares. In this winter holiday season of peace, we ask our government’s leaders to recall another murderous conflict between nations that took place on the European continent over a century ago. In 1914, roughly 100,000 German and British soldiers along the Western Front in World War I declared an unofficial Christmas Truce and ceased hostilities for a short period. 

It was a moment so shocking to our usual expectations that it continues to reverberate in our collective imaginations over 100 years later. Another Christmas Truce could save lives and pave the way for critical peace talks. 

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Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

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The way out of the war in Ukraine will not be a military solution. The path toward peace in Ukraine requires powers of a different sort: negotiation and imagination.

As leaders of a diverse group of faith communities, we sign onto the petition below and pray that our leaders have the courage and conscience to use those powers instead.

Initial signers include:

Bishop William J. Barber, President Repairers of the Breach
Dr. Cornel West, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary
Reverend Jesse Jackson, Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Liz Theoharis, Poor People’s Campaign co-chair
Reverend Graylan Scott Hagler, FOR-USA Advisor, Racial and economic justice advocate
Dr. Zoharah Simmons, civil rights movement veteran, National Council of Elders
Reverend Dorsey, Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples in San Francisco, National Council of Elders
Rev. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, General Secretary Emeritus, Reformed Church in America
Rev. Adam Russell Taylor, President, Sojourners
Rev. Janet Wolf,  National Council of Elders
Jim Wallis, Georgetown University
Bridget Moix, General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation
Rev. William Lamar, IV, Metropolitan AME Church, Washington, DC
Rev. Freeman Palmer, Conference Minister, Central Atlantic Conference of the UCC
Rev. Dr. Dorsey Blake, Presiding Minister, The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples, National Council of Elders
Imam Abu Nahidian, Manassas Mosque
Sư Cô Thích Nữ Chân Không, Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism
Thầy Thích Chân Pháp Ấn, Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism
Pastor Bob Roberts, Church in Keller, Texas
Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, Executive Minister & President, United Church of Christ
Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, President, Unitarian Universalist Association
Nicholas Sooy, director of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship
Imam Mujahid Abdul Malik, President, Sound Vision Foundation
Rabbi Phyllis Berman, ALEPH Ordination Program’s Hashpa’ah Program
Dr. Tarunjit Singh Butalia, Executive Director, Religions for Peace USA
Ariel Gold, Executive Director, Fellowship of Reconciliation USA
Rev. Michael McBride, Pastor, The Way Christian Center; Director of Urban Strategies, Faith in Action
Dr. Daisy Khan, Executive Director & Founder, Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality & Equality
Rev. Terrence Moran, Director of Peace, Justice, & Ecological Integrity Office, Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth
Dr. James Zogby, President Arab American Institute, Professor, Author
Bishop Malkhaz Songulashvili, Metropolitan Bishop, Peace Cathedral

If you are not a lay or ordained faith leader, please take this to your faith community/congregation and ask them to sign on.

Ukraine: Message from Yurii Sheliazhenko to Mouvement de la Paix November 19

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Message published by Mouvement de la Paix (translation by CPNN)

Dear friends! I am delighted to bring greetings from Kyiv, from the Ukrainian Peace Movement, to the Congress of the French Peace Movement. I wish you success in your initiatives to actively defend peace in Ukraine, to promote diplomacy and to make the structural changes necessary to institutionalize and strengthen the culture of peace, to help different people to live together on a common planet as a great family and to manage conflict non-violently.


Winners of this year’s MacBride Peace Prize. Yurii Sheliazhenko is third from the left.

The Ukrainian Peace Movement has adopted a strategic statement entitled “Peace Agenda for Ukraine and the World“, which says that we consider as the goals of our peace movement and all peace movements in the world to uphold the right of conscientious objection to military service, to end the war in Ukraine and all wars in the world by peaceful means, and to secure lasting peace and development for all peoples of the planet. To achieve these goals, we must speak the truth about the evil and deception of war, learn and teach practical knowledge about peaceful living without violence or with its minimization, and we will help the needy, especially those affected by wars and unjust coercion to support the military or participate in war. This is our vision for the long-term strategy of the peace movement, and I hope this vision will be useful to you.

Peace movements need a long-term strategy because warmongers have long-term strategies. Military production complexes generate insane profits, and their media successfully turn militant populists into glorious heroes blaming all problems on the foreign enemy. Ruling elites are content with war being mass murder organized by governments that have failed to resolve their differences peacefully.

Too rarely do we hear responsible voices calling for a diplomatic solution, and I’m glad to see President Macron among those voices, but many who speak for peace are still bound by an old misconception that diplomacy is no substitute but completes the war machine. And this old misconception disempowers civil society by allowing militarists to hijack the political agenda, while evading democratic accountability. The military-industrial complex devours in obscurity the lion’s share of public finances, now intentionally inflated to feed beasts of war. If they position themselves as defenders of the people, can they defend us from poverty, food and energy shortages? Will they defend us from climate change with a nuclear winter and kill all life on the planet? For these defenders, the first enemy is a peaceful citizen who does not believe that war is a meaning of life and that the army must always be in command; they fight for power and defend those in power, not civilians abused by war. All war is a gross violation of human rights, and it starts by turning civilians into soldiers against their will.

Make no mistake: war profiteers and opportunistic warmongers don’t care about people’s suffering, they only care about their gains which increase as the conflict goes on, so they will perpetuate war for as long as possible. Their excuses are endless and miserable: the sanctity of the land which is supposed to cost human sacrifice; deep wrongs meant to make war right; etc But no war ever was, is, or will be inevitable, necessary, just, or beneficial, and if you think a war was or is an exception to that rule, you simply haven’t studied your war critically enough. Any war is beneficial for some and disastrous for many. War profiteers in Eastern and Western capitals have invested too much in the war, they intend to get the maximum in return without hesitation, ignoring the blood and tears of the civilian populations.

Ukraine, like France and all of Europe, is facing a harsh winter. My electricity is out almost all day, every day. Almost half of the energy infrastructure in Ukraine is in ruins, we have lost a large part of the GDP and the economy continues to shrink, tens of thousands of people are killed, some sources say that about a hundred thousands, millions have left the country. Russia continues its conquest of the Donbass, mercilessly bombarding the rest of Ukraine with hundreds of rockets, and the Ukrainian army takes a counter-offensive position in the south after the recapture of Kherson.

(Continued in right column)

(Click here for the French original of this article.)

Questions related to this article:
 
Can the peace movement help stop the war in the Ukraine?

(Continued from left column)

To stop the war, we need a ceasefire and peace talks without preconditions. But President Putin refuses to negotiate peace without Ukraine recognizing Russian control over Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhya and Kherson regions while President Zelensky refuses to negotiate peace unless Russia withdraws its troops from Ukraine, agree to pay reparations for Ukrainian losses and try Putin for a crime of aggression. When Zelensky rushed to accuse Russia of attacking Poland with a missile after a tragic accident with a Ukrainian anti-missile, he tried to engage NATO on the battlefield on the Ukrainian side, as he had already done in calling for the enforcement of a no-fly zone. It’s not just his own radicalism, it’s the policy of his administration’s hawkish American advisers who dream of replacing the United Nations with the NATO at the Cost of a Third World War. His speech at the G20 summit, where he insisted that Russia must be punished, not negotiated with, was ridiculously turned into good peace formula. If you have any doubts about whether this is a call for peace or not, just look at the Kyiv Security Pact announced in Zelensky’s speech, written by officials in his office making teams with the same warmongering American advisers: this document indicates that Ukraine will need military assistance from the EU and NATO which must fight Russia for several decades, and all adult Ukrainian civilians must be transformed into soldiers. Imagine war in Europe in the next ten, twenty, thirty years and more hysterical calls for the production of guns instead of butter. It’s a very serious and sinister plan, and it’s already in the works. Ukrainian youth are forbidden to cross the border, even to study in European universities, and the courts impose prison sentences on conscientious objectors to military service, trampling on the fundamental value of human rights while Zelensky hypocritically makes himself the heroic defender of Western values, turning Eastern Europe into the Middle East.

I know that the French peace movement discusses ways to stop the war. The world peace conference is a good idea, and the United Nations should play a role. But diplomats are used to being messengers of war, to change you have to change the system. The more peace institutions the better; it might be useful to create a ministry of peace. But nothing can replace the leading role of civil society and citizen diplomacy. Only the voices of the people, streets full of anti-war slogans could make it clear that humanity will not tolerate militarized economy, politics and culture. We must demand deep reforms towards non-violent governance here and now. Calls for scrapping guns, disbanding armies and turning military bases into homeless hostels and art galleries should be heard everywhere, on either side of the front line, so that no sane person can accuse peace-loving people of “treason”.

The solidarity of the peace movement in all corners of the planet is crucial, and we, the Ukrainian peace movement, are proud to have friends in the Russian and Belarusian peace movements, calling for peace together in different international forums. It is a time for solidarity between people who speak peace in different languages, who pray or think about peace with different beliefs and worldviews, who seek, teach and experience peace in different academic disciplines, who work for peace in multiple professions, — but not professional killers, let’s be clear, — all the billions of members of the human family suffering from endless wars must contribute to the cause of peace, and the sooner their conscience will be awake, the better. One day, eight billion people will cry “peace” so loudly that the war profiteers will have to walk away, and the time will come to admit and right wrongs, find reconciliation, and enjoy lasting peace on Earth. In conclusion, I reiterate a century-old truth: war is a crime against humanity, therefore, we must be determined not to support any kind of war and to fight for the elimination of all causes of war. .

The war system exists by popular consent. How long could armies continue to shed blood without popular support, in the face of fiscal resistance, strikes and streets full of anti-war demonstrations? If everyone refuses to kill, no war will be possible. We can and must eliminate the causes of war, which are not demonic enemies but ignorance and overinvestment in stupid militarism. No war could last forever. In November 1918, the first world war ended, and it was too long and devastating because of the stubborn pursuit of victories, but people had hope for the end of the war, and the hope came true , then wars were prohibited by international law. It’s time to make the law work. Let’s hope and act non-violently to end the war in Ukraine! Because, as the Ukrainian poet Ivan Franko wrote during the First World War: ,The pure sky is proudly azure, when the bloodshed of inhuman war has ceased, And the peace endures.

Yurii Sheliazhenko, Ph.D. (Law)
+380973179326
Executive Secretary, Ukrainian Pacifist Movement
Board member, European Bureau for Conscious Objection (Brussels, Belgium)
Member of the Board of Directors, World BEYOND War (Charlottesville, VA, United States)
Member of the Council, International Peace Bureau (Berlin, Germany) LL.M., B.Math, Master of Mediation and Conflict Management