Non-Violence is the Viable Option

Gandi_Violent_good_is_temporary.jpgMust we accept black-and-white thinking regarding this war? Here are some questions to challenge our assumptions.

  • Both Russia and Ukraine claim self-defense. What do you think?
  • What is your position on war and violence in general?
  • Do you consider loyalty more important than a just peace?

The Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts holds to the value of Non-Violence. How can this principle of non-violence be applied to mitigate the current violence in Ukraine?

This is a complex set of issues that our political leaders, media and people are not inclined to explore. To this end I give the Green Party of Alameda, California credit for  hosting a  Green Party discussion of opposing positions on the war. Differing positions were offered by Howie Hawkins and Jill Stein. (It should be noted that the National Committee of the Green Party US has voted 88 to 7 in favor of peace through cease fire and negotiations). Aside from judging the merits of either argument, the critical point is that the Green Party stepped up and opened up the dialog. This is fundamental to a democracy and critical to reestablishing the "peoples' voice'' in our country.

The basic point of dispute is whether this war was provoked or unprovoked and what is the present path to peace.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not neutral on this issue. I believe that those who promote, provoke, prolong and profit from war are as culpable as those who seemingly  commit the first act of aggression. Here is the timeline of critical facts which demand our consideration in light of "cause and effect". 

        1991:   Commitment of no NATO expansion post German reunification. There is ample documentation that this was the stated position of the west.

        1999:   Clinton pursued inclusion of Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic into NATO

        2004:   Bush #2 included: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia 

        2008:   Definitive invite @ Munich Security Conference for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO

        2009:   Further expansion of NATO under Obama: Albania, Croatia 

Click here to see a Timeline of NATO expansion

Further action by the West shows ongoing intent to subdue Russia despite warnings by senior US diplomats.

         1990's: George Keenan, Jack Matlock (senior US diplomats) testified before congress that NATO expansion would create an existential threat to Russia.

         2008: William Burns, US ambassador to Russia stated in a memo to Condolezza Rice that Ukraine's invitation to join NATO could lead to civil war in Ukraine. Russia would be compelled to intervene although they did not want to. In fact, Putin publicly stated that this existential threat would compel Russia to seize Crimea in consideration of their security interests. Crimea has been a historic part of Russia since 1780's.

         2014: In a call with G. Pyatt (US ambassador) Victoria Nuland (US State Department) discussed the new composition of government for Ukraine. Two weeks later, democratically elected Viktor Yanukovych was forced from office.

         2014(March): Russia annexes Crimea in response to the February, 2014 coup.

         2014 to February 24, 2022: Civil war, as predicted by William Burns (now CIA director) broke out in the Donbas (heavily populated by ethnic Russians) shortly after the coup in Kiev.

         2014: Initial Minsk agreements giving more autonomy to Donetsk while remaining within Ukraine was signed but not implemented by Kiev. This civil war continued for 8 years with 14,000 civilians killed. 

         2015: Minsk II agreement is signed in an attempt to enforce the principles of Minsk I. France and Germany were Europe's overseers of implementation. The civil war continued. 

         2016-present: Alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election poisoned the environment for bi-lateral negotiations between Russia and the US.

         Dec. 2021: Putin submits to US and NATO a draft proposal for a new European security architecture as a means to sustaining peace. All negotiations were rejected by the US and NATO.

         Feb 24, 2022: Russia invades Ukraine.

         April/May, 2022: Reports that a peace deal was in the making between Russia and Ukraine, inTurkey. Further reports had Boris Johnson going to Kiev to warn Volodymyr Zelensky that such a deal would lose Zelensky the support of the West. Negotiations collapsed.

         Late 2022: Angela Merkle, Francois Hollande, Peter Poroshenko (all participants in the Minsk accords) admit that the accords were merely to buy time to build Ukraine's military to NATO standards to fight Russia. The training and war continues with ever increasing escalation.

The pro-Ukrainian position is that the Russian invasion was unprovoked and thus Ukraine is on the side of a nationalistic Just War.” The pro-Russian position is that for at least 23 years Russia has been provoked by NATO’s encroachment into their national security space. They defend their actions by claiming rights of “preemptive self defense” based on their security needs. The pro-Peace position calls for an immediate cease fire without preconditions, peace negotiations among all parties involved. The pro-peace position must be informed with a clear understanding of historical facts and context.

There will be no meaningful peace without each parties’ willingness to discuss  and consider their adversaries’ points of view. This is the path of non-violence.

Showing 3 reactions

  • John Blumenstiel
    commented 2023-05-07 10:44:41 -0400
    I beleive that Mr. Vandermude’s response validates the premise of the article: That our country needs to have constructive dialogue when it comes to such critical issus as nuclear war on opposite sides of the world. I apreciate his stepping up and into such needed dialogue. However, I do respectfully disagree with what I interrpret as some of his positions.
    1) I believe that NATO’s own constant declarations as well as actions clearly demonstrates that this is a direct conflict between Russia and NATO despite Ukraine’s membership or not.
    2) The claim that “non-violence” option is not “evidence based” denies possibilities of negotiations suggested since 2008, Russian submitted proposals for negotiation to US and NATO in December 2021, and the near agreement towards peace that was scuttled by Ukraine in March/April 2022. I do not believe the article denied the GRP acceptance of some occasions of necessary collective self defense. In fact the article appeared to support and explore that premise from the positions of both parties.
    3). The statement that non-violence/pro-peace advocates are “mouthpieces for Russian resentments” is an inaccurate, dismissive statement that essentilly negates non-violence/pro-peace positions and thus, need not be consisered. This is the type of preconceived thinking and debating that got us into this war to begin with.

    We need respectful dialogue that honestly explores this conflict from multiple perspectives. The included timeline was a means of expanding the understanding of ALL the issues. Mr. Vandermude chose not to consiser this timeline as relevent to our current understanding. I believe that becoming more conscious of circumstance leading upto the war could have avoided this entire disaster for the Ukrainian people and world. I beleive that understanding the full historical context and facts is critical to finding a peaceful, workable solution that saves lives. This is the path of non-violence.
  • Antony Vandermude
    commented 2023-05-02 19:41:17 -0400
    You claim that Russia’s position is that of “preemptive self defense” against NATO, but Ukraine to this date is not a member of NATO. Russia is good at Orwellian distortion of language – their invasion is still called a “special military operation”. You present a false equivalence that hides the fact that Russia invaded another country. You also claim without evidence that non-violence is a viable option. The Nonviolence statement in the 10 Key Values includes this sentence: “We recognize the need for self-defense and the defense of others who are in helpless situations.” The Green Party needs to live up to its values and to stop being a mouthpiece for Russian resentments.
  • Jack Swindlehurst
    published this page in News 2023-05-02 12:35:21 -0400