Let me begin by stating that I am not a patriot. I am not a patriot of the United States, Ukraine, Russia, China, Mexico, or any other nation in the world. Let me continue by saying that if I were a Ukrainian in Ukraine right now, I would be resisting the invading troops. The same can be said if I were a Palestinian in Gaza or the Occupied Territories. If troops and tanks were in the streets of a city in the United States, I would be resisting them. (Of course, the only troops and tanks I’ve seen in US cities had US flags on them). I would be resisting because they were threatening the existence of my community, my family, and my friends. I would not be resisting them because I’m a patriotic American. Furthermore, I would refuse to wear any uniform identifying me as such. Likewise, if I were a Ukrainian resident I would reject any uniform. Fighting and killing in the name of someone else’s idea of community—that is, the nation-state—makes one a pawn in their plans for power and dominance. Yet, humans do so all the time. When this war is over, the only certainty is that things will be worse off for those who are doing most of the fighting.
In other words, it is understandable that Ukrainians are fighting the invading army. Their lives, homes, fields, and communities are threatened. What makes much less sense is the virulent desire of millions of citizens in other nations to inflame the situation in Ukraine. Sanctions, calls for a no-fly zone, talking about sending fighter planes from NATO countries to Ukraine, joining Ukrainian forces (many led by neo-nazis) to fight; all of the energy going into supporting and partaking in these bellicose actions are ramping up the dogs of war and making the world even more dangerous than it already is. Pretending otherwise is just a lie.
I am here to call for something else. Something that may not be as emotionally satisfying for those who want to punish someone. Something that requires thinking beyond the propaganda we’ve all been fed since we were born. Something that acknowledges the culpability of the rulers in Washington and other capitals of the global north in provoking and now sustaining the senseless war in Ukraine. Furthermore, it is something that is more likely to bring about a reasonably just solution to the situation in Ukraine than continuing this bloody war.
What I’m calling for are an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and multilateral peace talks. If these two things can be established, the killing would diminish considerably. Furthermore, it would pave the way for a withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, an end to sanctions, and an end to NATO expansion, which are already the demands of antiwar coalitions in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In calling for this, I am joining many others around the globe, from governments and NGOs to individual citizens and groups opposed to war. The way I see it is that if the war continues, the outcomes that are most likely include either a defeat for Ukraine or a much wider war involving NATO. Neither of these outcomes would bode well for the future of Ukraine or the world. Indeed, they both hold a potential too horrible to consider.
It is clear to me that this war is occurring because Washington/NATO, Moscow, and certain sectors in Ukraine put their interests above those of most Ukrainians. The current Ukrainian government’s refusal to declare neutrality is from the NATO/Washington playbook. Indeed, instead of the clear sovereignty Ukrainian neutrality would declare to the world, Kyiv’s insistence on wanting to join NATO suggests a subservience to western interests which treat Ukraine as a game board. Moscow’s invasion comes from similar intentions in Russia. Like ruling elites around the world, Ukrainian officials in government and commerce are primarily interested in what benefits them—money and power. The current rulers apparently believe Washington and NATO will help them maintain and expand both. By adopting a Ukrainian patriotism magnified by a rabid right-wing nationalist element in the government, military, and general population, the rulers of Ukraine have brought the nation to a place that may destroy the Ukrainian national dream for another generation. Or it might bring about something much, much worse.