The sad state of what used to be the peace movement in the US is on display today in the nation’s capital.
As a bloody and dangerous war is raging in Ukraine between the armies of Russia and Ukraine, the latter backed by arms being supplied by the US and its NATO allies, instead of masses of protesters converging on Washington to demand that the US end the conflict in Ukraine by announcing that it would never again permit the expansion of NATO membership to Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova or any other former Warsaw Pact country or former Soviet state of the former Soviet Union, the only demonstration in the nation’s capital is truckers protesting Covid vaccine and mask mandates .
For decades since the Korean War (the last time the US sought Security Council approval before going to war), the US has been committing the illegal war crime of attacking another country that does not present any imminent threat of attack to it as required under the UN Charter, yet not since the Biden administration took office, and only rarely under prior Democratic presidential administrations from Carter through Obama, has a US peace movement risen up to seriously protest US militarism.
Now we’re seeing self-styled peace activists organizing protests against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, joining the US government in denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin. But that’s not a big deal. What these protesters should be having the courage and integrity to do is demand that the US take the lead in halting the war on Ukraine.
Washington could do this, not by sending more lethal arms to Ukraine as Congress is pressing President Biden to do, and as Biden has successfully pressed most of the supine NATO counties to do — even Germany — but by promising to reverse its now decades olf aggressive and threatening policy of admitting to NATO countries closer and closer to Russia’s eastern border.
Ukraine is only the latest and most threatening of these cases. It was the US, after all, which helped foment and orchestrate the 2014 Maidan Coup in Kiev that ousted the elected leader of Ukraine because, while popularly elected, he was steering the country towards an economic pact with Russia instead of with the European Union.
Here’s noted international law expert Francis Boyle’s explanation of the real situation and of US responsibility for the current crisis, as laid out over the weekend in an interview with Dennis Bernstein, host and producer of “Flashpoints” on Pacific Radio in San Francisco:
“This war must be immediately terminated before it expands and sucks in the European NATO States and the United States. Towards that end President Biden must publicly announce that NATO Expansion is over for good and that Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova will not be joining NATO as member States. President Biden must also call for an international peace conference for the conclusion of a treaty that will establish the permanent neutrality of Ukraine which will be guaranteed by the United Nations Security Council under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter. Then negotiations can take place between the United States and Russia over the denuclearization of Europe including the removal of US tactical nuclear weapons from NATO States that are there in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a restoration of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty that was so foolishly and recklessly terminated by the Trump administration. Then a new round of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty Negotiations should be conducted in order to substantially lessen the tensions on land, sea and air between Russia and the U.S./NATO States including over the emplacement of alleged US ABM sites in Europe that threaten Russia.
“Make no mistake about it: The Origins of both the First World War and the Second World War hover like twin Swords of Damocles over the heads of all humanity!”
I asked Boyle, a law professor at the University of Illinois, in an email interview today, why in his view is the US, not Russia that has the responsibility to make the first move in trying to end the war in Ukraine, and he replied, “It was our gross and consistent violation of our international law obligations for all these years that was ultimately responsible for this war. So now we have an obligation to honor our international law obligations in order to end it.”
I notice that all too many of my supposedly peace-loving and liberal or even leftist friends are quick to echo President Biden, and most US media pundits in immediately referring to Russia’s president as “Thug” Putin, not just Putin. That, I suppose, is to insulate them from any criticism if they should happen to lay any blame at all for the present conflict on the US or on Ukraine itself, though there is plenty of blame to lay against both those latter countries. But it takes no courage for Americans to criticize “Thug Putin” or Russia. That courage is being shown by thousands of Russians who have dared to go into the streets or to sign letters protesting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Courage in the US would be fore anti-war, pro-peace activists in the US to go into the streets and demand that the US stop feeding the conflict by providing lethal aid to Ukraine, and to demand, as Prof. Boyle correctly demands, that the US immediately offer to end all talk of Ukraine’s “right” to join NATO, and to promise not to allow any states bordering Russia to join was is specifically an international organization designed to challenge and Russia by encircling it with American missiles and military bases.
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