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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee recently approved expanding NATO without public debate or a recorded vote. Regrettably, the United States is refusing to engage in direct talks with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine while it fast-tracks an agreement to expand NATO that could end up heightening the risks of a nuclear exchange.

FCNL has always opposed—and continues to oppose—the expansion of this military alliance.

FCNL has always opposed—and continues to oppose—the expansion of this military alliance.

NATO currently has 30 member countries, including the United States. Between 1999 and 2020, 14 countries in central and eastern Europe joined NATO. Sweden and Finland sought membership, which the Senate quickly affirmed, largely because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine early this year.

However, expanding NATO’s footprint will not help end the war in Ukraine. Decisions like this, which involve millions of lives and billions of dollars, should not be rushed or made from a place of fear and vengeance.

Such decisions should be based on an appraisal of the most effective and least costly ways to prevent further death and destruction over the long term.  

Our faith calls us to “seek peace and pursue it” even amid extreme violence and devastating wars.

For more than three centuries, Quakers have rejected the use of violence to solve conflicts and sought to advance a world free of war and the threat of war. Our faith calls us to “seek peace and pursue it” even amid extreme violence and devastating wars.

Our experience confirms that peace is possible and that even the most hardened enemies can turn away from war and learn to cooperate. After five months of bloodshed in Ukraine, it should be clear that the only way to stop the fighting and bring an end to the conflict is to sit down at the negotiating table.  

In a world where global warming and nuclear weapons threaten to end human civilization; where nearly half the globe’s population lacks access to essential health services; nearly 10% percent faces hunger; more than 100 million people are forcibly displaced; and big power conflicts are on the rise—relying on outdated, militarized responses to global problems will not make us safe. The U.S. Congress should not assume that the only response to Russian aggression is military expansion.

As the U.S. government should have learned from its experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and Syria, superior military might does not necessarily bring superior results. The human, economic, and environmental toll of these endless wars is too great to bear, especially since it falls most heavily on women, children, poor people, and communities of color.

Relying on outdated, militarized responses to global problems will not make us safe.

As the full Senate begins work on a resolution to ratify the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO, FCNL urges senators to consider whether expanding NATO will deescalate tensions with Russia and improve the prospects of ending the war in Ukraine. Or will it instead increase the risks that the war in Ukraine will drag on and possibly lead to intentional or accidental nuclear use?

We call on Congress and the Biden administration to work with Russia and our European allies to prioritize ending the war and develop new security arrangements for a safer world. At a minimum, senators should pause and insist that diplomacy with Russia to end the war in Ukraine be pursued.  

War is not the answer. Peace can only be achieved through peaceful means.

Bridget Moix

Bridget Moix

General Secretary
Bridget Moix is the fifth General Secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). She also leads two other Quaker organizations, affiliated with FCNL: Friends Place on Capitol Hill and FCNL Education Fund.