Give Peace No Chance?
This week essayist Sean Howard of PeaceQuest Cape Breton asks why it is that there is so little room to discuss ways to bring about the end of the war in Ukraine that doesn’t involve flooding the country with more weapons.
Ten days before the Russian invasion, Canadian peace activist Ray Acheson—director of the Reaching Critical Will program at the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)—issued an “urgent appeal for de-escalation, demilitarisation, and disarmament in relation to Ukraine and beyond,” a “people-centred peace process, with the equitable and meaningful participation of all those concerned,” notes Howard.
Achesons’ appeal, from the margins, is to centralize voices unheeded by the self-appointed ‘makers’ of policy, history—and war: the militarists and nationalists united in devotion to the vices—escalation, militarisation, rearmament—opposite to Acheson’s virtues.
Such ‘wise words,’ however, have been comprehensively drowned out, while any mention of NATO expansion as a contributory factor to the crisis is shouted down as ‘Russian disinformation.’ And amidst the cacophony, the ‘barking’ and the ‘humming,’ it is hard to hear a more sinister sound: the purring of the weapons company executives.
Because ‘weapons, weapons, weapons’ equals ‘money, money, money’ in the rich man’s world, for example, of Lockheed Martin CEO James Tiaclet (salary in 2020 a mere $915,385, but total ‘compensation,’ with stock awards added, of $23,360,850) who appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation on May 8 to ‘inform’ his humbly-nodding interviewer, Margaret Brennan, that the war:
…has highlighted a couple of really important things for us. One is that we need to have superior systems in large enough numbers…because the threat between Russia and China is just going to increase even after the Ukraine war… Those two nations and, regionally, Iran and North Korea are not going to get less active. Probably they’re going to get more active. So we want to make sure we can supply our allies and our country what they need…
On June 16, interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, arms trade expert Bill Hartung described the interview as:
…really a commercial…grounded in fearmongering about Russia, about China, about Iran, about North Korea, when many of these issues have to be dealt with diplomatically. There’s no way to buy your way out of these challenges militarily.
Goodman then exclaimed, in righteous journalistic anger:
So, it’s not only that the networks break for commercials every however many minutes, five or six—and often they are [adverts for] military weapons manufacturers—but they’re actually the so-called news hole, the news itself… Now we’re having analysis of foreign policy by the weapons companies CEOs!
“Exactly,” Hartung agreed: “‘After this news commercial, we’ll bring you another commercial,’ basically.”