My appeal to the Peace Movement

The red carpet. NATO officials in Kiev, April 2021. (NATO photo.)
The red carpet. NATO officials in Kiev, April 2021. (NATO photo.)

by Ann Frisch

My appeal to the Peace Movement: goal is to defuse so we have time to talk

Fifteen years of being trained in nonpartisanship as an unarmed civilian protector, I can spot a partisan statement without a conscious thought.  But the use of the word “unprovoked” with regard to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine does not need any sensitivity.  One can call out the invasion, reference actions in behavioral terms.  Using the word “unprovoked”,  one becomes a partisan.    That use of the word “unprovoked”  ignores history (even recent history) and does nothing to promote full understanding of the situation.  The goal is to defuse.

Were unarmed civilian protectors working to stop this invasion, it would verify facts, provide respect for persons, including those committing violence, and refraining from demonizing any party to the conflict.  It would acknowledge violent and harmful actions as facts.    The goal is defusing the situation, moving away from violence, so parties can talk, and civilians can be engaged.

The Scrum has a commentary this morning by Diana Johnstone.  She calls out US for “bear-baiting”:

“The official U.S. line is that the Kremlin threatens Europe by its aggressive expansionism, but when the strategists talk among themselves the story is very different. Their goal is to use sanctions, propaganda, and other measures to provoke Russia into taking the very sort of negative measures (“over-extension”) that the U.S. can exploit to Russia’s detriment.

The  2019 RAND study explains its goals:

We examine a range of nonviolent measures that could exploit Russia’s actual vulnerabilities and anxieties as a way of stressing Russia’s military and economy and the regime’s political standing at home and abroad. The steps we examine would not have either defense or deterrence as their prime purpose, although they might contribute to both. Rather, these steps are conceived of as elements in a campaign designed to unbalance the adversary, leading Russia to compete in domains or regions where the United States has a competitive advantage, and causing Russia to overextend itself militarily or economically or causing the regime to lose domestic and/or international prestige and influence.”

Johnstone’s full story is here:

Our statements should defuse, not further provoke or humiliate.

— Dr. Ann Frisch is Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh; a Senior Adviser and Unarmed Civilian Protector (Guatemala 2007) for Nonviolent Peaceforce; Rotary Peace Champion 2017; and Chair, Rotary Action Group for Peace Nuclear Weapons Education