No to war — for bread and peace
Like many, I have watched the harrowing scenes in Ukraine. The situation on the ground is fast-paced, as are the international developments around it. There is no way of knowing what the situation will be at the time of this letter’s publication.
It is important to note that the fog of war is real, and in modern war the information war is as important as weapons and cyberwarfare. There is propaganda coming from the West, from Ukraine and from Russia. It is hard to know the truth of much of what we are seeing, other than that Russia has invaded, Ukrainian forces are fighting a defensive war, and Ukrainian civilians are either fleeing, fighting or confronting Russian forces with acts of civil disobedience.
This war didn't happen overnight. It is the product of 30 years of militarism by the great powers — United States, Nato, Russia — and the failure to hold accountable the architects of illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
I don't believe militarism and war can be defeated by more militarism and war. In my experience, that only escalates and spreads the problem.
Sending weapons into a war zone, while I understand the thinking, is just adding fuel to the fire, especially as even with the weapons I cannot see a Ukrainian victory against the superior force of Russia. At best, it increases the price of victory for Russia, but also reduces the potential for a peaceful resolution of the conflict by contributing to retribution and hatred on the ground.
I completely understand the defensive war being waged by Ukrainian forces. Unfortunately, they will be eventually defeated in my opinion — Russia simply has the numbers to overcome the resistance.
While it is understandable to want to take up arms against an invading force, it is important to note that such a strategy is not always the most effective. Civil disobedience is actually more effective. Already we’re seeing it with unarmed civilians resisting the invasion force. Those actions, as counterintuitive as one might think them, have a far greater impact on Russian soldiers than the barrel of a gun.
This war is not popular in Russia, and the more their soldiers on the ground are confronted by Ukrainian civilians and pacifist resistance, the more they question their orders. We must guard against sanctions that will hurt the people of Russia, the very people organising domestic opposition to Vladimir Putin’s war, despite strong police repression. Rather, we should stand in solidarity with this antiwar movement — they are the best hope for ending this war.
It is easy to be seduced by the siren song of jingoism and militarism. However, we know from harsh experience of centuries that such only contributes to a cycle of war and violence by breeding new enmities and resentment. Rather, we must appeal to the better angels of our nature and seek the path of peace — a far more difficult path than that of war and hatred.
We must say no to war. No to militarism. No to escalation. No to the Russian invasion — but no to Nato, too. We must hold people accountable for illegal wars, starting with those waged by the West. And we must stand in solidarity with oppressed people everywhere, be it Palestine, Egypt, Kashmir, Xinjiang or Yemen. No to racism when it comes to refugees — Brown and Black refugees are no less refugees than those with White skins.
A better world is possible; however, it will be birthed only through solidarity against imperialism, exploitation and war profiteers. Together we must work for a better world, a world of bread and peace.