Catherine Kreuter, CNV Action organizer and member of Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Today [March 1] at noon I joined 60+ others in a College of Law auditorium to hear German peace activist speak to the question, Could U.S. / NATO Conflicts With Russia Trigger WWIII? Reiner Braun is the co-president of the International Peace Bureau and a leader of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms. He is also a member of the European Organization of Common Security (OCS) founded in 1975. These groups call for cooperation and dialogue, rather than military escalation, to resolve conflict.
Deeply opposed to recent U.S. / NATO actions in Poland, Braun has come to the U.S. to share his concerns. He believes the January 2017 build-up of 3,000 American soldiers and hundreds of military vehicles along Poland’s eastern border with Russia has done much more harm than help to the prospects of peace. The build-up in Poland has a name: Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR) and is setting up a defensive ballistic missile shield to stop any missile Russia might launch.
However, Braun explained, many in Europe believe it is not Russia but NATO which has been pursuing an aggressive policy. He spoke of Ukraine as an example.
Ukraine had a long history of relative neutrality in its precarious location between western and eastern bloc countries and chose not to have nuclear weapons within its borders. The U.S. wanted Ukraine to join NATO. Many millions of U.S. dollars were given to Ukraine, the 2nd poorest country in Europe. Unfortunately, according to Braun, Ukraine has the number one most corrupt government in Europe, so most of the money went to Mafia types who were happy to profit.
Along with NATO membership comes grooming for increasing militarization in the form of joint manufacture of weapons, war games, joint headquarters, and nuclear weapons. NATO agreements permit first use of nuclear weapons. The financial cost to all who belong to NATO, Braun is convinced, would be enough to eliminate world poverty, provide education for all children on earth, resolve the challenges of global climate change, and guarantee a clean water supply for everyone on the planet.
The increasing 2017 U.S. demonization of Russia renews the Cold War. Surrounding Russia with some of the 700 military bases maintained by the U.S. and/or NATO provokes Russian re-escalation, contended Braun. He said he considered President Reagan’s Star Wars idea of militarizing outer space to be ridiculous (as ridiculous as burning money) but now the incredible truth is that the nuclear weapon club members are all working to develop space weapons.
I clearly heard Braun’s shock and dismay that German soldiers now participate in OAR and that Japan edges ever closer to joining the nuclear weapon club. That these two countries, so heavily bombed in WWII, could condone…………….unthinkable! I close my notes with a summary of things Braun would like Americans to know..
* In WWII twenty-eight million Russian people (in then USSR) were killed. Russia is understandably alarmed by weapons lined up along its borders.
* Russia is part of Europe, and there cannot be peace in Europe without peace with Russia.
*The world must insist on a cease-fire in Ukraine.
*We must stop the militarization of the world and its outer space.
*ISIS will not be defeated by weapons. Only by means of political, social, and economic actions of change can war with ISIS end.
*U.N. General Secretary Gutierrez wants to provide a safe, nonviolent forum for conflict resolution. Exclusion (like NATO excludes Russia) of any country in a regional conflict will not be permitted.
*The world situation today is complex and tense, but WWIII can be avoided. Contrary to much prevailing thinking, there are ways and means to resolve conflict nonviolently.