By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, September 7, 2022
Friendly advice to my brothers and sisters in Finland and Sweden.
- There are people at the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin laughing at you. You shouldn’t feel special. They laugh at the U.S. public all the time. But getting countries with much higher standards of living, better educations, and longer lifespans than in the United States — countries that obtained these things largely by staying neutral and apart from the Cold War and numerous hot wars — to sign onto a pre-agreement to join in future wars (the sort of lunacy that launched World War I) and to commit to buying boatloads of weapons in eternal preparation! — well, the laughing is unlikely to ever end.
- Have you seen those angry protests across Europe (not to mention South Korea) recently? You’ve got decades of those to look forward to if we survive your dumbass decision that long. People may be demonstrating in their own selfish interests with a bit of ignorant bigotry thrown in, but they’re protesting for both peace and for the redirection of resources toward useful things. They may be aware that the misdirection of resources into wars kills vastly more people than the wars (and will until the wars go nuclear). But most of their countries are locked in, the way yours are about to be. Parts of your land will belong to the U.S. military; you’ll lose even the right to ask what poisons are dumped into your water. Parts of your government and industry will be subsidiaries of the U.S. military machine, no more able to function without it than is Saudi Arabia — where people at least have the excuse that they can’t legally speak or act freely. Within two years of the start of every war that the U.S. public cheers for, a majority in the U.S. always says it shouldn’t have been done — but never that it should be ended. It will be the same with you and joining NATO, not because of any mystical nonsense about honoring dead troops by killing more of them, but because NATO will own you.
- Not only is the sky blue, but, yes, it is true: Russia has a horrendously awful government that is committing unspeakably vile crimes. You can see them in the media the way you ought to be able to see every war, and every side of every war. Allowing your government to imitate Russia’s will make Russia’s worse, not better. Russia cared about little other than stopping the spread of NATO and did what it had to know would rapidly accelerate the spread of NATO, because it lost its mind to war, and because it and you are being played for suckers by the United States military, including that branch of it called the RAND corporation which wrote a report recommending the provocation of a war like this one. When this war escalated six months ago, the U.S. government called it unacceptable and unprovoked. Obviously every war is unacceptable. But this one basically now has the formal name Russia’s Unprovoked War — not only because it was so openly and intentionally provoked, but so that the provoking can continue.
- You’re an escalation of a provocation. You’re some perfectly nice harmless loving person who doesn’t want to hurt anyone and is scared to death of Russia and either has no idea that nonviolent defense is possible or knows that your government has no interest in it. But there’s some person of that exact same description in Russia who will see your government’s actions as extremely frightening, whereas putting nukes into Belarus will be comforting and soothing. Well, nothing will ease the concern generated in good noble hearts by that idiotic outrage like repeating it with U.S. nukes in Sweden or Finland. There is not anything the least bit difficult to understand about all the good intentions and fear for loved-ones. Nor should there be anything difficult to understand about the fact that this will end with a high risk of nuclear apocalypse and nothing good along the road to it. The arms race that some countries used to have the wisdom and independence to keep out of is a vicious cycle that needs breaking.
- Not only did the U.S./UK/NATO want this war, but they took careful steps to avoid its ending in the early months, and have done everything they could to develop an endless stalemate. There is no end in site. Your governments joining NATO is another provocation that will increase the emotional commitments on both sides but do nothing to make either side likely to triumph or to agree to negotiating peace.
- It is possible to oppose both sides of a war, and to oppose the mission of the weapons dealers that support both sides. Not just weapons and wars are driven by profits. Even the expansion of NATO that kept the Cold War alive was driven by weapons interests, by the desire of U.S. weapons companies to turn Eastern European nations into customers, according to Andrew Cockburn’s reporting, together with the interest of the Clinton White House in winning the Polish-American vote by bringing Poland into NATO. It’s not just a drive to dominate the global map — although it’s certainly a willingness to do so even if it kills us.
- There are alternatives. When French and Belgian troops occupied the Ruhr in 1923, the German government called on its citizens to resist without physical violence. People nonviolently turned public opinion in Britain, the U.S., and even in Belgium and France, in favor of the occupied Germans. By international agreement, the French troops were withdrawn. In Lebanon, 30 years of Syrian domination was ended through a large-scale, nonviolent uprising in 2005. In Germany in 1920, a coup overthrew and exiled the government, but on its way out the government called for a general strike. The coup was undone in five days. In Algeria in 1961, four French generals staged a coup. Nonviolent resistance undid it in a few days. In the Soviet Union in 1991, the late Mikhail Gorbachev was arrested, tanks sent to major cities, media shut down, and protests banned. But nonviolent protest ended the coup in a few days. In the first Palestinian intifada in the 1980s, much of the subjugated population effectively became self-governing entities through nonviolent noncooperation. Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia freed themselves from Soviet occupation through nonviolent resistance prior to the USSR’s collapse. Nonviolent resistance in Western Sahara has forced Morocco to offer an autonomy proposal. In the final years of German occupation of Denmark and Norway during WWII, the Nazis effectively no longer controlled the population. Nonviolent movements have removed U.S. bases from Ecuador and the Philippines. Gandhi’s efforts were key to removing the British from India. When the Soviet military invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968, there were demonstrations, a general strike, refusal to cooperate, removal of street signs, persuasion of troops. Despite clueless leaders conceding, the take-over was slowed, and the credibility of the Soviet Communist Party ruined. Nonviolence ended the occupations of towns in Donbass during the past 8 years. Nonviolence in Ukraine has blocked tanks, talked soldiers out of fighting, pushed soldiers out of areas. People are changing road signs, putting up billboards, standing in front of vehicles, and getting bizarrely praised for it by a U.S. President in a State of the Union speech. Nonviolent Peaceforce has a long record of greater success than armed UN “peace keepers.” Studies find nonviolence more likely to succeed, those successes longer lasting. Look at the examples in the films Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Soldiers Without Guns, and The Singing Revolution. There’s a screening and discussion with the makers of that last one on Saturday.
- Negotiations in Ukraine are perfectly possible. Both sides are engaged in both insane cruelty and in exercising restraint. Were they not, were one side composed of irrational monsters, then the risk of immediate terrorist attacks in Sweden and Finland would be at the top of this list. We all know that’s unlikely because the talk of irrational monsters is the nonsense we knowingly tell each other in order to be able to stomach supporting a war. There are a great many ways to engage with the world other than organized mass murder. The notion that supporting NATO is a way to cooperate with the world ignores superior non-deadly ways to cooperate with the world.
- When you join NATO you’re going way beyond kissing up to Turkey. You’re endorsing the horrors that NATO has committed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Libya. Did you know that in the United States NATO is used as cover for crimes? Congress can’t investigate if NATO did it. And people can’t question it if NATO did it. Placing a primarily-U.S. war under the banner of NATO prevents Congressional oversight of that war. Placing nuclear weapons in “non-nuclear” nations, in violation of the Nonproliferation Treaty, is also excused with the claim that the nations are NATO members. By joining a war alliance you legitimize if not somehow almost legalize in millions of somewhat mushy minds the wars that alliance engages in.
- NATO is seeking to destroy the most beautiful place in Montenegro.
Ask me about these points and explain the errors of my ways on this webinar on September 8.