As Russia threatens to move its forces across the Ukrainian border, the talk in Washington, D.C. is focused on how many weapons and troops the United States can send and how quickly, how to design the most crippling sanctions, and whether to impose them before or after an invasion occurs.
As Quakers, we affirm that war is never the answer. War is brutal and bloody, and its grievous consequences stretch on for generations. War represents a calamitous failure of governments to do their most basic job of keeping their people safe.
This discussion assumes that Russia can be threatened into submission. Or that threats of war will prevent a war. But disputes don’t end with wars, they end with diplomacy and peacebuilding. Rather than mobilizing resources and efforts to prevent a war, Russia, the United States, and much of Western Europe are rapidly bidding each other into a war.
Most heartbreaking of all, little or no thinking on either side has gone into who will bear the brunt of the suffering and what will be achieved by fighting a war.
As Quakers, we affirm that war is never the answer. War is brutal and bloody, and its grievous consequences stretch on for generations. War represents a calamitous failure of governments to do their most basic job of keeping their people safe. Better and often faster outcomes can be achieved by patient, flexible, good-faith diplomacy. Long-term peace requires building trust and cooperation.
President Vladimir Putin, as you amass more troops and weapons at Ukraine’s borders consider these questions: How many innocent civilians will be killed, injured, made homeless, forced to flee, or left unable to feed their families following an invasion? How much land and water will be poisoned or littered with deadly war detritus? How many debts will those who had no say in this decision be forced to repay and for how many decades?
President Joe Biden and members of Congress, expanding NATO any further would constitute an unnecessary provocation as well as an unwise military obligation. Taking such expansion off the table would address Russia’s primary security concern and reduce the likelihood that U.S. troops will be sent to yet another unwinnable war. Simply by acknowledging this, you could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.
Russia, the United States, and Ukraine all share one key interest now: preventing a war. To put people first, all sides must do everything in their power to deescalate the situation and return to the bargaining table. Anything less represents a moral failing of the highest magnitude.