Several peace activists in the USA recently observed a peace week during September 12-15 to mobilize more and more people for pressurizing US government policy towards peace-based solutions, instead of merely announcing weapon supply increases to an already deeply ravaged region. This effort was coordinated by Peace in Ukraine Coalition (PIUC) and spread to several parts of USA including Washington, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Madison, Boston, Rockville and other places.
This coalition includes several organizations working consistently for peace for several years. These include CODEPINK (a women’s organization which has been involved with important peace and related initiatives), Veterans for Peace (an organization of veterans of US armed forces who having seen the horrors of war from close quarters have been working as an important force for peace),Women’s International League for Peace, Democratic Socialists of America and Peace Action.
The web-site of this coalition mentions its efforts to improve peace prospects at not just US but world level. Nearly 70 national and international organizations are listed as being partners in this effort, apart from additional local ones.
So it is useful to know the perspective of PIUC regarding the Ukraine crisis. PIUC condemns the Russian invasion, but at the same time also draws attention to several very provocative actions of the USA which led to this invasion—the 2014 coup in Ukraine assisted by the USA which ousted the new democratically elected President and his allies in Ukraine, the violation of the Minsk accords of 2015, the steady supply of weapons, the civil war in Donbas region and the targeting of Russian speaking people by fascist militias and the Azov battalion resulting in 14,000 deaths, and the steady eastward expansion of NATO in violation of earlier assurances to Russia.
PIUC is for further improving/increasing humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and calls upon countries to accept and assist more refugees from Ukraine. At the same time it wants weapons and military assistance by the USA and its allies to Ukraine to be checked.
The key demands of PIUC are—
Diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine
More dollars for climate, jobs, health and housing, not for weapons for endless war
Do not risk nuclear war.
PIUC has opposed all those sanctions which hurt ordinary people of Russia. It has expressed solidarity with those peace activists of Russia who have opposed its invasion.
Based on this perspective, the PIUC has been making consistent efforts to mobilize for peace. The recent efforts of September 12-15 were particularly directed at meeting elected representatives in the hope of checking further weapon supplies and pushing other policies for peace. No escalation of Ukraine war has been repeatedly emphasized.
Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of CODEPINK, recently stated, “Further escalation should be unthinkable but so should a long war of endless crushing artillery barrages and brutal urban and trench warfare that slowly and agonizingly destroys Ukraine, killing hundreds of Ukrainians with each day that passes. The only realistic alternative to this endless slaughter is a return to peace talks to bring the fighting to an end.”
Hence the PIUC has been able to come up with a perspective on peace in Ukraine that is based on actual evidence, rationality, lack of bias and a sincere commitment to peace. This deserves wider support.
Other peace related activities of its constituent organizations also deserve wider support and attention. In an attempt to relate peace agenda to climate, CODEPINK has pointed that the US military is the world’s largest oil consumer and causes more GHG emissions than 140 countries combined. Hence a future without wars, a future of peace and disarmament, can do more than anything else—worldwide—to checking GHG emissions.
While such campaigns certainly deserve wider support, the sad reality is that sincere, unbiased peace movement is still very small compared to what is needed. While this is true worldwide, in the present context what appears to be most problematic is that the unbiased peace movement is not strong enough in the USA and Europe. On the contrary, several persons speaking in the name of peace cover up the real situation in cunning ways to push narrow interests and so add to the problems instead of helping to resolve them.
The way in which the Ukraine situation has rapidly deteriorated to the point of emergence of unprecedented risks for almost all parts of world is a reminder of how costly the absence of a worldwide strong peace movement can be. It is a wake-up call to all those who cherish peace and a world without wars, with all its other benefits, to think actively in terms of creating a much stronger peace movement.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders and A Day in 2071.