From Ploughshares to Swords—Sudden Militarism of Those Who Once Stood for Peace

Ukraine Peace

At a time when the world needs peace more than ever before, it has been extremely distressing to see that some groups and opinion-makers in the west who were earlier known to stand for peace are now speaking increasingly in militarist tones. The change has been most evident in the context of the debate over the Ukraine policy of western countries. Suddenly we find that some groups known earlier for peace and pacifism are now calling not for ceasefire and peace negotiations to end the war as early as possible, but instead for supplying more and more destructive weapons to Ukraine which would have the effect of prolonging the war.

In addition these groups have taken, at a wider level, a very strong anti-Russian position, sometimes amounting to isolation of and extreme many-sided hostility towards this largest European country. This is inherently a position which will harm the cause of world peace and disarmament.

It should be evident to anyone who has not deliberately chosen to shut eyes towards the reality of the world, or who has deliberately chosen those wrong numbered lens or spectacles that can provide only a biased view, that from relentlessly pushing the NATO eastwards to engineering the 2014 coup to attacks on Russian speaking people of Ukraine, the west has been pushing Ukraine towards a conflict with Russia. In addition the west has helped to strengthen and arm neo-Nazi elements within Ukraine, to the extent of raising fears that this can become a hub for strengthening and arming of such groups elsewhere too. How can groups committed to peace ignore such obvious realities is extremely difficult to understand, and it is even more difficult to understand how they can ignore the even bigger dangers of escalation which certainly exist.

The sad reality today is that some of those groups which were expected and supposed to strive to prevent such escalation ( yes, even the danger of escalation to a nuclear and world war type situation also exists ) are actually themselves playing an escalatory role, their leaders joining the shrill and militarist voices.

Some such groups call themselves green groups with their topmost commitment being to protection of environment. But aren’t they aware of the simple truth that apart from its huge human costs, each day of a prolonged war also contributes so much to environment ruin including GHG emissions, that there is a real danger of nuclear power plants being harmed and leading to big accidents, that the weapons industry and war preparations are some of the biggest polluters, that the Nord Stream sabotage was the biggest single-source emitter of the highly potent GHG methane, that nothing has been done against those responsible for this, that the US gas to replace the gas earlier obtained from Russia is much more ecologically harmful in terms of its production, characteristics and transport? Even if they were to debate mainly on environmental grounds, the clear case is for unconditional ceasefire (to be followed by peace negotiations) and not for supplying more and more weapons.

When a few prominent leaders of a few influential green/environmental groups make militarist comments and these are reported all over the world, this harms the reputation of environmental groups and in addition of course the cause of peace is gravely harmed as some of these green/environment groups earlier had a strong reputation for peace and pacifism. People in some countries wonder if these leaders speaking in militarist tones really have the support and mandate of ordinary members and supporters of these groups as it is difficult to imagine an environmentally protective person with no narrow motive of own to go along with the militarist agenda voiced by some in leadership roles. One hopes for the sake of world peace that such militarist leanings are confined to only a small minority of such groups.

Here the role of opinion makers and media persons in spreading a very distorted perception of the issue should also be highlighted, in line with the distorted views they spread of other conflicts such as Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan which contributed a lot to the avoidable death of several hundred thousand innocent people in these and other countries. Could the spread of highly distorted perceptions be one important reason why some groups known overall for commitment to peace are now behaving in militarist ways?

Whatever the factors which contributed to the present sad situation, the more responsible and well-informed persons among these groups should raise their voice in favor of peace and against the prolonging of war. In addition they should also seek to integrate more closely the basic precepts and aims of justice, peace and environment protection so that the kind of confusions in decision making on important issues from which these groups have suffered in recent times are not repeated in future.

Before concluding may I take the liberty of translating a Hindi poem I wrote in summary form here (even though the full spirit many not be captured in my very inadequate translation)–

It is sad that new rulers also turned away from their people but this is not the saddest news/

It is sad that promises made were betrayed time and again

but this is not the saddest news/

It is sad to see such deception

in the name of development

but this is not the saddest news/

The saddest news is that those

who promised a new world themselves proved deceptive,

made wrong compromises,

were entangled in deceit,

creating confusion all around-

This is the saddest news.

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.


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