New peace movements mobilizing in wake of Ukraine crisis
I admit it – the day that a Russian-built missile crashed into rural Poland last month killing two people, I was ready to head for the hills – literally.
We may never know how close we came to an unimaginably dangerous conflict between Russians and Americans that night. Had U.S. President Biden accepted Ukraine President’s Volodymyr Zelensky’s erroneous assertion that it was a Russian attack on NATO-member Poland, the world might have been plunged into war over an accident.
NATO concludes now that it was not a Russian attack, but an air-defence missile launched from Ukraine that went off-course and landed in neighbouring Poland.
“We’ve not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy in the Cuban missile crisis.”
U.S. President Joseph Biden
The Guardian newspaper says that such close-calls, and the constant threat of nuclear attack from Russia in Ukraine, is mobilizing a new generation of anti-nuclear activists.
Reporter Julian Borger says that the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is at the forefront of anti-nuclear campaigning with the new United Nations Nuclear Ban Treaty – a treaty that it championed for many years.
The Treaty is intended to delegitimize nuclear weapons. “We’re trying to undo the brainwashing of accepting nuclear weapons as normal,” said Beatrice Finn, ICAN’s Executive Director. Other campaigners note that the nuclear issue is becoming intertwined with other issues, such as climate change and anti-racism.
In Canada, the influential Hill Times ran a story with the headline, “Peace movement in Canada has a new leader, it’s Cesar Jaramillo.”
Written by Douglas Roche, a retired senator, diplomat and accomplished peace advocate in his own right, he says 45-year-old Jaramillo is, “standing up for diplomacy these days, with Canada strongly backing the militarist policies of the U.S., is not an easy sell. Jaramillo also vigorously pushes for NATO to end its reliance on nuclear weapons, and for Canada to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, neither of which the government shows any enthusiasm for.”
Cesar Jaramillo, a 45-year-old political refugee from Colombia, plays a key peace leadership role in Canada and internationally.
While there are few people in the streets like the famous peace protests decades ago, knowledgeable campaigners note that the new generation is working in news ways. “Activism is there in a big way,” said the UK’s Kate Hudson, the head of the famous Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament organization. “But it’s taking on new forms, and it’s more fluid than previously; the way people understand and act on the linkages politically and in campaigning terms.”
PeaceQuest has highlighted the work of many new activists in Canada – and we hope they are successfully. I, for one, don’t want to be heading for hills anytime soon.
- Read “Fresh effort to ban the bomb as new generation bids for nuclear-free world” by Julian Borger, published by the Guardian on November 10, 2022
- Read “Peace movement in Canada has a new leader, it’s Cesar Jaramillo” by Douglas Roche, published by The Hill Times on October 31, 2022 (worth the subscription)