Peacewashing The War In Ukraine

It’s hard to argue with the view that NATO is a lot better at winning narrative competitions than it is at winning wars. From “How Nato seduced the European Left” by Lily Lynch on Unherd:

Previously, in the Nordic countries, Atlanticists have had to sell war and militarism to largely pacifist publics. This was achieved in part by presenting Nato not as a rapacious, pro-war military alliance, but as an enlightened, “progressive” peace alliance.

Fast forward to last week when a self-styled “peace summit” in Vienna produced the absurd statement shared above, eliciting the following statement from participant Magyar Békekör:

From the final text of the declaration issued by the International Peace Bureau, which emerged from obscurity, even the passage in the original draft, which mentioned NATO’s “co-responsibility”, was omitted.

In their closing statement, the organizers of the conference demand an immediate ceasefire and negotiations to end the war in Ukraine. Civilian diplomatic intervention is envisaged at their countries’ embassies, including the Russian one, while condemning Russia.

The group organizing the peace conference did not demand the opinion of the participants in approving the final declaration, nor did they initiate an open discussion about it. At the end of the “peace summit” it was read aloud, as if meeting with everyone’s agreement. [emphasis mine]

Manufacturing consent for an ongoing war of choice by the U.S./NATO in Ukraine is not peace work, despite window dressing provided by the presence of luminaries of the Democratic Party-aligned “peace” movement in the U.S. like Joseph Gerson and Medea Benjamin.

Lynch, like many, sees the NATO war on the former Yugoslavia as a turning point.

Kosovo changed everything. In 1999 — the 50th anniversary of Nato’s founding — the alliance began what academic Merje Kuus has called a “discursive metamorphosis”. From the mere defensive alliance it was during the Cold War, it was becoming an active military compact concerned with spreading and defending values such as human rights, democracy, peace, and freedom well beyond the borders of its member states. The 78-day Nato bombing of what remained of Yugoslavia, ostensibly to halt war crimes committed by Serbian security forces in Kosovo, would forever transform the German Greens.

I remember a principal from a military family urging me to read a tome on “Responsibility to Protect” when he was my supervisor and I was teaching about genocides, around 2005. I thought the notion absurd at the time and quite possibly dangerous. 

Events in the decades since have shown my fear was not misplaced.

As some have argued persuasively, NATO’s purpose is not to win wars but to generate profits for uber wealthy military-industrial titans that own and operate the U.S. government.

So what looks like failure to the general public e.g.

Documented equipment losses from Ukraine’s spring offensive

looks like success to them e.g.

Peek into the stock portfolios of Congress or the Supreme Court and you’ll see a built in incentive to keep pushing wars and never mind about winning, or even ending, them.

It gets worse. Lynch on new strategies to prey on younger people:

In February, Nato held its first ever gaming event. A young employee of the alliance joined popular Twitch streamer ZeRoyalViking to play Among Us and casually chat about the danger disinformation poses to democracy.* With them was a mountaineer influencer and environmental activist named Caroline Gleich. As their astronaut avatars navigated a cartoon spaceship, they spoke about Nato in glowing terms. By the event’s end, the stream had turned into a recruitment effort: the alliance employee talked about the perks of his job and encouraged viewers to check the Nato website for employment opportunities in fields such as graphic design and video editing.

I’ve written before about the hollowing out of major “peace” organizations here in the U.S., and about the role of major “environmental” organizations in maintaining consent for the Pentagon’s climate crimes. 

This is the result of designating wars as Republican or Democratic Party projects: liberals hate the former while cheerleading for the latter. 

I’m part of a small group opposed to all of the U.S./NATO’s many wars — no matter what letter happens to be after the name of the person currently in the White House.

*My note: The “dangers of disinformation” is a signature trope of the DNC-social media-corporate media-narrative- management complex, which others have covered in depth here and here.

Protester: I Came Here So I Wouldn’t Feel So Alone

Yesterday in Belfast, Maine around 40 peacebuilders came together at a big intersection on Route 1. Our statewide coalition has now brought anti war, pro peace messaging monthly to seven different locations over the course of the costly NATO war against Russia in Ukraine:

four times at various locations in Portlandtwice in Westbrooktwice in TopshamBath, and now Belfast.

I admit that I went grumbling as I wanted a day at home, but I smiled all the way back after standing with several friends I hadn’t seen in a while. And, as with each of these monthly events, I met new friends, most on the younger side; one had just arrived from Florida and came looking for kindred spirits. I felt fortunate, indeed, to be part of the beautiful “conscience of the community” (and it didn’t start to rain until we were almost home).

Our circle round in conclusion produced a few common themes: the role of the military-industrial profiteers in stoking endless wars, and the suffering of people in war zones and war economies where basic needs go unmet. Bring our war dollars home!

One person said that they and their partner are creating a new family and they worry about their child’s future with the threat of nuclear war hanging overhead.

One person was brought to tears telling of the persistent refusal of their church’s congregation to follow its own professed beliefs and criticize war making. Frustrated Christians have been a consistent presence at our protests, with individuals from various denominations expressing some version of, “I came here so that I wouldn’t feel so alone in my opposition to this war.”

One person noted that Flora, Earth Goddess, had joined us, inspired by Bread and Puppet. Her presence warmed the hearts of many who have stood for peace with her over the years.

One person brought the portable megaphone that allows us to include everyone’s voice in our closing circle. Much appreciated!

One person responded to the prompt, Tell us why you’re here, with “Where else would I be?”

Amen to that! 

Growing coalition

These groups are now co-sponsors of our series of protests: Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Maine Natural Guard, Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick, Communist Party of Maine, Party of Socialism & Liberation Maine, Maine Green Independent Party, Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST), People’s Party of Maine, and Peace & Justice Center of Eastern Maine.

Our demands

  • Peace in Ukraine – No weapons, no money for the Ukraine War
  • Abolish NATO – End U.S. militarism & sanctions!
  • Fund people’s needs, not the war machine!
  • No war with China!
  • Protect Earth’s environment from the deadly insult of war!
  • End U.S. aid to racist apartheid Israel!
  • Fight racism & bigotry not war!
  • U.S. hands off Haiti!
  • End AFRICOM!

Protest schedule for summer

Saturday June 24 at 1:30pm Lewiston (Veterans Memorial Park, stand by the bridge)

link to Facebook event:

Saturday July 22 at 1:30pm Augusta (Civic Center intersection on Route 27 at I-95)

Saturday August 19 at 1:30pm Ellsworth (Route 1 intersection with Main St.)

Saturday September (exact date TBD) Skowhegan (Margaret Chase Smith bridge at confluence of Routes 2 & 201)