From the git-go I want everyone to know that I am antiwar…..after seeing the obscenities of war up close and personally I have been against such exercises since 1968…..I can safely state that my opposition has never wavered.
There are times that I feel that I may need to apologize for my stands and writings….but then I check such feelings for most people that try to explain away conflict like Ukraine have never been confronted with the horrors and the fear that only war can present.
Deep down we are all anti-war….
Everyone’s anti-war until the war propaganda starts. Nobody thinks of themselves as a warmonger, but then the spin machine gets going and before you know it they’re spouting the slogans they’ve been programmed to spout and waving the flags the flags they’ve been programmed to wave and consenting to whatever the imperial war machine wants in that moment.
Virtually everyone will tell you they love peace and hate war when asked; war is the very worst thing in the world, and no healthy person relishes the thought of it. But when the rubber meets the road and it’s time to oppose war and push for peace, those who’d previously proclaimed themselves “anti-war” are on the other side screaming for more weapons to be poured into a proxy war that their government deliberately provoked.
This is because the theory of being anti-war is very different from the practice. In theory people are just opposed to the idea of exploding other people for no good reason. In practice they’re always hit with a very intense barrage of media messaging giving them what look like very good reasons why those people need exploding.
That reminds of a line in some movie when a general said “an unused weapon is a useless weapon”….
The antiwar movement, the anti-imperialist movement of America, has nothing to apologize for and obediently doing so now is tantamount to facilitating our own systematic demonization, silencing, and persecution.
There were notable analysts in the independent media, antiwar orbit who called this correctly, predicting a Russian attack, leaving the door wide open to an invasion as a major possibility. Those who apparently assumed American policymakers would choose diplomacy and not ultimately risk the deaths and displacement of millions of Ukrainians and Russians, a possible global economic meltdown, catastrophic destabilization in Europe, or all out brinksmanship between the two greatest nuclear superpowers were unfortunately mistaken.
However, the U.S. antiwar scene has always opposed America’s hostile post-Soviet Union policy of coups, color revolutions, NATO’s eastward expansion menacing the Bear, ringing Russia’s borders and coasts with NATO troops, bases, missiles, tanks, bombers, and warships.
The reason for this is not simply because these policies are plainly unnecessary for American security, abhorrently costly, polluting, and aggressive. These new Cold War policies are condemned rightly because they inevitably lead to war, or more likely nuclear war.
For those that deplore the conflict because of whatever reasons….there is something that we can do and should press all belligerents to observe (instead of sending aid that only prolongs the conflict)…
De-escalate the concept of enemy. An enemy can be reframed, in progressive order, as an adversary, competitor, partner, teacher, and finally your equal.
Treat the other side with respect. Otherwise you lose them before you start.
Recognize that there is the perception of injustice on both sides. This is a point of agreement adversaries can join in.
Be prepared to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Here forgiveness means letting go of your desire for retribution and revenge. This is an act of true courage. Even if you believe that the other side doesn’t deserve forgiveness, you deserve peace.
Refrain from belligerence. It will be taken as bullying and arouses renewed antagonism.
Use emotional intelligence, which means understanding the other side’s feelings, giving them value, and making them equal to your feelings.
Reach out to understand the other side’s values, both personal and cultural. The fog of war descends when two adversaries know nothing about one another. The result is a war based on projections and prejudice. The goal is mutual acceptance. At the deepest level we all want the same things.
Refrain from ideological rhetoric over politics and religion.
Recognize that there is fear on both sides. Don’t be afraid to express your anxieties and to ask the other side what they are afraid of.
Do not insist on being right and proving the other side wrong. Give up the need to be right allows you to focus on what you actually want.
There are ways to address war (for those that cannot see the necessity)…..War can be devastating, and it can wreak havoc on entire societies for decades and generations. And sometimes, no good even comes out of the long years of fighting and staggering national losses. Many people oppose war, but don’t know how to take action to stop it. There are a variety of things you can do to take a stand against war.
You can make a difference…..but only if you try….time for the American people to stop being an observer and take damn action.
There are antiwar people in both parties…..they should put aside squabbles and work together….after all they have no problem finding cooperation when they throw money at the wars around us.
Why cannot they just be friends…..at least for awhile…..
Many within the commentariat are confused by this perplexing alliance. Some have slandered this relationship as a tenuous “Red-Brown coalition.” Such characterization is an unfortunate (if not an intentional) mischaracterization of this budding partnership. Left-wing opponents to the foreign policy status quo are not communists. Nor are the ranks of the right overpopulated with Nazis. Instead, the two wings of dissent are the inheritors of distinct but often overlapping strains of foreign policy opposition. Both traditions are firmly rooted in the American experience; neither are alien imports of a totalitarian ideology.
The reemergence of both strains signals a return to an earlier norm where opposition to U.S. foreign policy was not a definitive litmus test for a party or ideological affiliation. Understanding this history and how they came to be consumed by partisan politics should reassure those who desire a change in how the U.S. government conducts itself abroad.
Why Can’t We Be Friends? The History of and Prospects for Left and Right Antiwar Collaboration
Plus the antiwar movement needs to become more international than it is today…..
A ceasefire between the warring parties, a Russian withdrawal, a halt to arms shipments, a negotiated peace and an end to NATO. This is what the international left should be organizing around in regards to the Russia-Ukraine war. It shouldn’t be calling for stepped up arms shipments to Ukraine’s military or defending Moscow’s invasion. When all is said and done and this war is stopped, the most likely situation for the vast majority of Ukrainian working people will be one where their greatest enemy could well be the Ukrainian government. Likewise, if the war goes on long enough, the greatest enemy of the vast majority of Russian working people could well be their government. The oligarchs in both nations will still be oligarchs, while the Russian and Ukrainian people will bear the costs—human, financial, and otherwise—for the war.
If the reader thinks the current conflict will somehow end with a different outcome, they need to revisit the history of war, especially war of the modern kind. You know, where civilian populations are bombed, conscripts are forced to kill and die in the thousands; where international bankers make loans to all sides until the battle begins. All the while generals and politicians talk nonsense about the principles being defended as if most of them had any principles that couldn’t be purchased.
We Need an International Antiwar Movement, Not a Cheerleading Squad for the Arms Industry
As I have stated many times I will not apologize for my antiwar stand….mine came from experience not not some fad that is popular
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4 thoughts on “What To Do About War?”
Your anti-war points are all well taken and well presented. But you and I both know that the time for Americans to set aside their squabbles and work together on anything at all has long passed now and the only time that spirit of cooperation is ever going to be revived is when the bombs are falling on American soil. And once that starts to happen it will be too late. But that is how America is today. Everybody sits around watching this tragedy unfold with the same spirit they would have if they were playing an electronic game while partaking in pizza and beer.
That is what traumatizes a lot of our military service people when they get into the heat of battle… they find out it is not the same as their little play station war game they are so used to playing.
In this case, as was with the case with Hitler, the only outcome of using the principles of the anti-war people as a means to halt this Ukrainian/Russian mess will be a repeat of Sudetenland and Poland in the 1940s. Following that, as it always does, when people forget the lessons and the horrors of war, the great conflagration will break out. The difference is that this time around it will be the end of civilization.
This is where this is headed and there is no stopping it because the generation that learned the lessons from these kinds of wars has grown up and disappeared or have become irrelevant to the modern political scene and no longer have any significant influence on event …and the generation now running things is blind as a bat to what is going on around them …and, of course, as usual, totally complacent about it all — or if not complacent then shackled by their sense of being totally insignificant to the people they voted to lead them …if not complacent then apathetic …always apathetic …
This is not going to end well no matter who says or does what!
I disagree John….to me that is an excuse for doing noting because it is our ‘nature’…..we humans can learn anything that is how we became the dominant species…..haves and have nots will always lead to barbarity. chuq
I knew someone who fought in The Falklands War. That was a festival of jingoistic patriotism in this country that was sickening to watch. Thatcher only fought Argentina to save her career. When he came back, he told me, “The only people in favour of war are those who know they won’t have to fight in one”. He left the Army soon after.
Best wishes, Pete.
That seems to be internationally said….Reagan fought Grenada for the same reason…..chuq