US Policy Makers Must Listen to Gerry Condon
Gerry Condon, former President of Veterans of Peace, a USA-based global organization of Military Veterans and allies with 140 chapters worldwide whose collective efforts are to build a culture for peace and end all wars, has very recently written a letter to President Biden which needs to be widely read by all those who are devoted to peace and deeply worried about the prolonged Ukraine war.
A very important feature if this letter is that it has been by a veteran who understands war and peace, who has followed US strategic thinking and actions for a long time and so is able to have a very good understanding of the wider context in which the recent Ukraine events should be seen.
Condon writes, “I am writing you as a proud member of Veterans For Peace and its former president. We have been following the war in Ukraine closely, since well before the Russian invasion on February 24 of this year. We were alarmed when you and President Obama supported the regime-change coup in Ukraine in 2014, which was openly cheered on by the State Department’s Victoria Nuland, and spearheaded by self-described Nazis.
“We watched in horror as those same self-described Nazis set fire to an Odessa union building full of Ukrainians who were protesting a new law outlawing the Russian language as an official language of Ukraine. 50 people were burned alive or shot and beaten to death. This in a country with a long history with Russia and millions of Russian speakers.”
It is important for more people to know this background as these aspects have been brushed aside by US media generally and only Russian aggression has been highlighted.
Condon continues his letter, “ Appalled at the aforementioned atrocities, the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass in Eastern Ukraine declared their independence from Ukraine, and were soon attacked by Nazi militias. These self-described Nazi militias were then incorporated into the Ukrainian army, and the attacks continued. By the time that Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 of this year, 14,000 Ukrainians had already been killed in that terrible civil war.
“Russian president Putin repeatedly warned and almost begged the US and NATO: Do not push your hostile military forces any further onto Russia’s borders. Taking Ukraine into NATO would cross a serious “red line.” Russian troops then massed along the border with Ukraine, in a clear show of force.”
This is the real sequence of events which has not been told to most of US people and to most of the world as well. For the sake of brevity, Condon has not gone into some important pre-1914 events, which would have further confirmed his analysis and made his case stronger.
After having briefly provided this background, Condon comes to the real point of writing this letter to President Biden. He writes , “Mr. President, you might have stopped this war from happening merely by announcing that Ukraine would not become part of NATO and that you would end the militarization of Ukraine. You could have accepted President Putin’s offer to negotiate a new security arrangement in Europe. We looked on in disbelief as you rather cavalierly brushed aside Russia’s legitimate concerns. It looked like you were saying, “Bring it on!” Well, Russia brought it on. We were horrified by the Russian invasion as well as by your response. You armed Ukraine to the teeth and fanned the flames of war.”
So this is what has actually happened. It is the highly provocative actions of the USA which caused the invasion. The USA could also have stopped the invasion at a very late stage but it chose not to.
What has been the result? What is happening now? Condon writes, “Ukraine (and the Black market in Europe) is now awash with high-tech US weaponry. A full-on war has killed many thousands of civilians, made millions homeless, and destabilized much of the world. We are now facing economic disasters and fearing the all-too-real possibility of nuclear war.”
So clearly very big mistakes have been made. The question is—will these mistakes continue, leading to even more harm, or will the USA government take action to reverse its mistaken policies and take real steps in the direction of peace, which in turn can pave the way for Russia to end its invasion? Condon is very clear that he and other Veterans of Peace want the USA to correct its mistaken policies.
He writes, “As veterans who have experienced the carnage of war, we are concerned about the young soldiers on both sides who are being killed and injured in the tens of thousands. We know all too well that the survivors will be traumatized and scarred for life. These are additional reasons why the Ukraine war must end now.
“We ask you to listen to veterans who say “Enough is Enough – War is Not the Answer.” We want urgent, good faith diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine, not more US weapons, advisors, and endless war. And certainly not a nuclear war.
Emphasizing how serious the situation is and how much is at stake this senior veteran for peace writes to President Biden, “Show us a Profile of Courage and save the world from World War III, a war that could literally destroy human civilization as we know it. You must distance yourself from the neocons and weapons manufacturers who are giving you terrible advice. You must reverse course now. Drop the weapons and embrace diplomacy. For the sake of Ukraine. For the sake of Russia, Europe and the United States. For the sake of the all the people of the world. Negotiate, Don’t Escalate!”
This letter is extremely important, as it has been written by a veteran of armed forces who has fought for his country, whose commitment to his own country cannot be doubted and who at the same time, having seen the horrors of war, has a very deep commitment to peace. This also has the great virtue of being completely honest and telling the truth in very simple words. This letter should be widely read and circulated both to understand the Ukraine crisis from a perspective of peace and to find the path ahead, again from a perspective of peace.
Bharat Dogra is Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children and A Day in 2071.
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