Members of Veterans for Peace rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial on May 30, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Letter to President Biden from Gerry Condon, former president of Veterans For Peace.
Dear President Biden,
I am writing you as a proud member of Veterans For Peace and its former president. We have been following the war in Ukraine closely, since well before the Russian invasion on February 24 of this year. We were alarmed when you and President Obama supported the regime-change coup in Ukraine in 2014, which was openly cheered on by the State Department’s Victoria Nuland, and spearheaded by self-described Nazis.
We watched in horror as those same self-described Nazis set fire to an Odessa union building full of Ukrainians who were protesting a new law outlawing the Russian language as an official language of Ukraine. 50 people were burned alive or shot and beaten to death. This in a country with a long history with Russia and millions of Russian speakers.
Appalled at the aforementioned atrocities, the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass in Eastern Ukraine declared their independence from Ukraine, and were soon attacked by Nazi militias. These self-described Nazi militias were then incorporated into the Ukrainian army, and the attacks continued. By the time that Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 of this year, 14,000 Ukrainians had already been killed in that terrible civil war.
Russian president Putin repeatedly warned and almost begged the US and NATO: Do not push your hostile military forces any further onto Russia’s borders. Taking Ukraine into NATO would cross a serious “red line.” Russian troops then massed along the border with Ukraine, in a clear show of force.
Mr. President, you might have stopped this war from happening merely by announcing that Ukraine would not become part of NATO and that you would end the militarization of Ukraine. You could have accepted President Putin’s offer to negotiate a new security arrangement in Europe. We looked on in disbelief as you rather cavalierly brushed aside Russia’s legitimate concerns. It looked like you were saying, “Bring it on!”
Well, Russia brought it on. We were horrified by the Russian invasion as well as by your response. You armed Ukraine to the teeth and fanned the flames of war. Ukraine (and the Black market in Europe) is now awash with high-tech US weaponry. A full-on war has killed many thousands of civilians, made millions homeless, and destabilized much of the world. We are now facing economic disasters and fearing the all-too-real possibility of nuclear war. Why?
As veterans who have experienced the carnage of war, we are concerned about the young soldiers on both sides who are being killed and injured in the tens of thousands. We know all too well that the survivors will be traumatized and scarred for life. These are additional reasons why the Ukraine war must end now.
We ask you to listen to veterans who say “Enough is Enough—War is Not the Answer.” We want urgent, good faith diplomacy to end the war in Ukraine, not more US weapons, advisors, and endless war. And certainly not a nuclear war.
It is not too late to do avoid further disaster, Mr. President. It is never too late to do the right thing. Show us a Profile of Courage and save the world from World War III, a war that could literally destroy human civilization as we know it. You must distance yourself from the neocons and weapons manufacturers who are giving you terrible advice. You must reverse course now. Drop the weapons and embrace diplomacy. For the sake of Ukraine. For the sake Russia, Europe and the United States. For the sake of the all the peoples of the world.
Negotiate, Don’t Escalate!
Gerry Condon, former president
VETERANS FOR PEACE
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Gerry Condon is a Vietnam-era veteran and former president of Veterans For Peace.
Common Dreams, September 15, 2022, https://www.commondreams.org/