Friday, December 23, 2022

Is it mass hysteria that causes some "peace activists" to support the invasion of Ukraine?

Is it mass hysteria that causes some "peace activists" to support the invasion of Ukraine?

  I attended Gannon College in Erie, PA in pursuit of an electrical engineering degree.  During this pursuit, I did take some elective courses.  In a first–year English class I was required to read, I believe, seven novels.  Also we were to attend screenings of classic films, and one of them was Fred Zinnemann’s HIGH NOON with Gary Cooper playing the sheriff on his wedding day with Grace Kelly as his Quaker wife.  These Saturday screenings taught me that there is more to the art form than what is on the screen.  The screenplay for this 1952 film was written by Carl Foreman who was blacklisted. This “cowboy” movie was actually an allegory about the House Un-American Activities Committee.

  I am bringing this up as the invasion of Ukraine continues in a stupendously brutal fashion.  I, a pacifist, have been siding with the people of Ukraine, but others are blaming the United State government for inciting Vladimir Putin and forcing him to invade.  I bring up HIGH Noon as the sheriff has to confront four armed killers, and like Ukraine, he is outgunned.  His wife who abhors violence tried to persuade him to leave town, but he took an oath to protect his community.  At the climax of the film, his Quaker wife picks up a gun and saves her husband’s life.

There is another film from the same era, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which was released in 1956.  On the surface this is a sci-fi movie.  However, a canny viewer might recognize that the pod people represented those aligned with Joe McCarthy who jumped on his anti-communist bandwagon.  McCarthyism destroyed many lives, especially those who espoused left-leaning ideals.  

As a long-time protester of U.S. warmongering, I am wondering if the Body Snatchers are back. Friends and colleagues who I have been with in protests, arrests, courtrooms and jails are adamant that the U.S. should not arm Ukraine.  Instead, the Ukrainians should surrender and accept an occupation which would lead to Ukraine becoming part of Greater Russia.  These are activists who were opposed to the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.  Have the Body Snatchers gained some kind of mind control over their thought process?    

For example, David Swanson, a renowned peace leader, wrote to me and others asking if there was interest on the Universal Day of Peace, September 21, to hold a demonstration at the Swedish embassy in D.C. to protest its request to join NATO.  I wrote back that I would rather help organize a demonstration at the Russian embassy to express outrage for the war crimes being committed by Putin’s military and the Wagner Group.  David never responded, but there was no demonstration at the Swedish embassy. Since Putin does not invade NATO countries, why criticize Sweden?

And while there are significant differences today, especially between peace advocates and the anti-US war community, fascism is on the march in many countries including the USA, climate chaos will only get worse because War is not Green, and there are grave consequences in the developing world as food prices have skyrocketed. Russia’s invasion is a violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum in which Ukraine agreed to turn over its nuclear arsenal in return for guarantees of its territorial integrity. I would have thought we all would have condemned this fascist invasion

But no, I have been told that Putin’s forces were in Ukraine to save lives. However, the invasion cannot be legitimately supported as it is an act of aggression, and a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter. The amount of suffering by noncombatants is enormous. Yet many have ignored the fact that Putin has a long record of terrorizing other countries and putting down peaceful protests in the Russian Federation. 

Comments justifying the invasion

One Veteran for Peace resorted to psycho-babble to claim that I and another Baltimore peace activist “hated Russia because we were Polish American.”  In fact, I have condemned the Polish government because it is fascist, and supported Gorbachev because he was sincere in calling for nuclear disarmaent.  Also he opened up the Russian archives to confrm what most historians knew that Soviet forces assassinated some 22,000 Poles during the World War II occupation. Note that Putin refused to attend Gorbachev’s funeral.

The first step in justifying the invasion is to claim that the U.S. organized a coup in 2013-14 to oust Ukrainian President Yanukovych.  Yet no one has provided any details about US involvement in the uprising to oust a corrupt president.  Stephen Zunes, a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, has debunked the idea that a coup took place. Unfortunately, those who justify the invasion obtain a lot of information from disinformation sites, and claim that the Western mass media refuses to tell the truth.  It is ironic that there is no free press or human rights organizations allowed in fascist Russia.  In fact Nobel Peace Prize winner Dmitry Muratov has had his media outlet Novaya Gazeta shut down.

Another argument to justify the destruction of Ukraine was that the Maidan protesters were not killed by the Berkut security forces but by a renegade Nazi brigade in the Ukraine Army. Zunes also refutes this claim. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who won by a landslide, is Jewish and an ethnic Russian. Making claims that the Ukrainian government is controlled by Nazis committing genocide against Russian-speakers is laughable. Running as an outsider opposed to the two major corrupt political blocs, Zelenskyy was elected by a landslide in 2019.

With no tongue in his cheek, an activist sent this to me: “One camp is calling for steps which could stop a nuclear war impacting the whole planet. The other camp is calling for Russian troops to be removed from occupied Ukraine which on the face of things is not necessarily anti-war or pro-peace. The use of nuclear weapons by Russia or the US will impact more than Ukraine and Russia but potentially the whole planet. The military occupation of Ukraine by Russia will not impact the whole planet.” 

 I am not exactly clear what was meant by this wordy comment.  But I do know that I have been an anti-nuke activist for decades, marched in New York City on June 12, 1982, have organized a Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration for four decades, been involved with the Plowshares movement since the 1980s, worked on getting Baltimore’s City Council to pass legislation to make Baltimore a Nuclear Free Zone and to pass a Back from the Brink resolution, and now is involved in promoting the Treaty for the Prevention of Nuclear War.  

It seems the argument, which is illogical, is we must sacrifice Ukraine in order to prevent a nuclear war.  We know that Putin has threatened to use a nuclear weapon, but this seems to be an idle threat.  Try to come up with a scenario where Putin would launch a nuclear weapon in occupied Ukraine that would not endanger his troops or release radioactivity into Russia or Belarus.  And climate chaos which is ongoing and is exacerbated by the invasion is more of a threat than a nuclear conflict.

I asked two of my critics to condemn the killing of 298 people on a Malaysian airliner by Russian forces on July 17, 2014.  The response was that the shoot down was actually done by Ukrainian forces. Again you can find anything to justify your point of view from disinformation sites. 

 After sending this article out to my Email list –“Exiled Russian Activist Challenges Pacifist Approach to Ending War on Ukraine,” I received this response -- “This is pure garbage.” A person living in Frederick, Maryland is telling an exiled Russian activist she is full of beans.

 Most recently, there is a call for a Christmas Truce.  I signed on the call, though the truce in 1914 was between soldiers.  John McCutcheon wrote a marvelous song about it, however, the brief truce had no effect on the war.  I hope Putin endorses the Truce.

 In certain circles, there is a call for a cease fire.  Who could object to a cease fire?  This is followed by a call for negotiations.  I believe the negotiations to end the US invasion of Vietnam started in 1964 and ended in 1973.   Come January, there will rallies promoting a cease fire and negotiations.  I hope both aims are achieved, but I do not believe the situation is ripe for anything significant to happen.

 This is the perspective of another one of my critics: “Most of what we hear is propaganda.  When I put myself in the shoes of those who are at the bottom of the barrel, I am SURE I would be begging for a cease fire, a way to survive.  I do not believe all of the citizens of Ukraine wish to be martyred in honor of the nation-state.”  Since most of what is out there is “propaganda,” why does she think she can speak for the people of Ukraine?

 A particularly noxious claim is that the Russian military does not engage in human rights violations.  There is the suggestion that the atrocities committed in Bucha were done by the Azov Battalion after the Russian forces left. I got this sent to me as proof: A despicable Ukrainian PSYOP in Bucha --  What is particularly disturbing is that some of the supporters of the invasion believe this nonsense. Regardless, I am thrilled by the courage of so many Russian refuseniks who have engaged in nonviolent actions to condemn this horrid invasion, despite the repressive environment in Russia.

 The Biden administration and its alleged support for human rights is a great disappointment.  For example, it will not renounce the illegal Israeli and Moroccan occupations or end its involvement with Saudi Arabia’s brutal attacks on the people of Yemen. And US weapons sales are going to the likes of Egypt, Israel, Turkey and other countries engaged in massive human rights violations.

   So when I condemn Russia and China for their warmongering, I do the same with the U.S. Empire.  Whatever various U. S. governments have done to insult and infuriate Putin’s Russia, there is no excuse for the invasion and the ongoing destruction of Ukraine. When Bush attacked Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens died.  Whatever were the sins of Saddam Hussein, the vast majority of people in Iraq had nothing to do with the alleged “weapons of mass destruction.” This criminal invasion of Iraq terrorized a majority of the population.  This is the same situation regarding the invasion of Ukraine.  Why should some 95 % of Ukrainians suffer the horrors of war when they played no role in infuriating Vladimir Putin?  I can only hope that the mass hysteria regarding Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be alleviated in the near future so that we can once again work together on peace and justice issues and challenge those engaged in military madness in the USA and elsewhere in the world.

Kagiso, Max

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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