Stop the War! Stop the War! Stop the War! Stop the Wars!
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia must be stopped. The Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO) envisions a world free from war, violence, and injustice. To that end, we oppose all wars.
We are alarmed about the war in Ukraine – the brazenness of the Russian invasion, the mounting killings of civilians of all ages, the destruction of homes, schools, human infrastructure, the threats about nuclear weapons and nuclear power.
Negotiations leading to a ceasefire must be the priority of the United Nations, our government, and all who oppose the assault on Ukraine.
We urge the federal government to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine, those who are continuing to live in their homeland and those who have been forced to flee the horrors of war.
LEPOCO is committed to nonviolent action; we support the people of Russia who brave severe punishment by their public protest of their government’s actions.
– Statement adopted by the LEPOCO Action Meeting of March 14, 2022
In a statement of support for Ukraine, world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma played his cello for anyone who would listen outside the gate to the Russian Embassy on Wisconsin Avenue in Washington, DC, on Monday, March 7. A passing cyclist spotted him and the cyclist was told by Yo-Yo Ma, “Everyone has to do something.” At his Kennedy Center performance that evening the audience stood in unity as Yo-Yo Ma, joined by pianist Emanuel Ax and violinist Leonidas Kavakos, played Ukraine’s national anthem to open their concert.
Negotiate, Negotiate, Negotiate
“Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world. The impact on civilians is reaching terrifying proportions. Countless innocent people, including women and children, have been killed. After being hit by Russian forces, roads, airports and schools lie in ruins.
“According to the World Health Organization, at least 24 health facilities have suffered attacks. Hundreds of thousands of people are without water or electricity. And with each passing hour, two things are increasingly clear.
“First, it keeps getting worse. Second, whatever the outcome, this war will have no winners, only losers.”
– Statement of U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, March 14, 2022
“A ceasefire is the first step. Negotiations that address both Putin’s fears and Ukraine’s independence are vital. And if the war can be stopped, new efforts will be needed to ensure that Europe seeks security not in a new arms race, but in a new effort to build the structures of peace. As we have learned repeatedly, wars too often end in ways that plant the seeds for the next war. We must find a way to end this war to ensure that the elephants learn to live together so that the grass can flourish.
– From op-ed by Jesse Jackson, “Chicago Sun-Times,” March 1. 2022
After explaining how the NATO expansion toward Russia violated what had been promised after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Phyllis Bennis wrote in early March, “None of that makes Russia’s invasion legal, legitimate, or necessary. But it does give the West some offers it can make in negotiations.
“For their end of the deal, the U.S. and its NATO allies should agree to pull back heavy weapons and missiles away from the Russian border. They should also recognize publicly what thev’ve long said privately: that Ukraine will not be joining the military alliance in the foreseeable future.
“The jockeying over Ukraine today, and the risk of war expanding far beyond Ukraine’s borders, poses one of the biggest challenges in a generation. There’s no conceivable ‘national interest’ worth risking even the tiniest possibility of a military confrontation between nuclear-armed superpowers…
“Every war eventually ends with diplomacy. The question is how long the fighting, killing, and displacing of people goes on until the diplomates can stop it.”
– From article by Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, published March 2, 2002, at CommonDreams.org
“Diplomacy might well fail. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying… What if Ukrainian neutrality really is the key to peace? Pursuing diplomacy is not appeasement; it is prudence, and it could save Ukraine and the world from an unmitigated catastrophe.”
– From article by Jeffrey Sachs, Center for Sustainable Development, published at CommonDreams.org, March 10, 2022
“If the U.S. is sincerely interested in a peaceful resolution of the crisis…it (the U.S.) can attain that end with two simple moves: declare that Ukraine will not be admitted into NATO; and remove its offensive nuclear missiles from Russia’s borders…
“Withdrawal of U.S. nuclear missiles from countries adjoining Russia – the U.S. understands better than any nation on earth the value of having offensive nuclear missiles removed from its borders…
“This is the concept of ‘strategic empathy:’ understanding your adversary’s interests and motivations, not to give in to them, but to better attain your own ends…
“The stakes are huge. Simple, workable solutions are at hand. The costs are small. The alternatives are unfathomable…”
– From an article by Robert Freeman, The Global Uplift Project, published at CommonDreams.org, March 7, 2022
Anatol Lieven has written and spoken extensively on the current crisis. In early March he wrote, “The West should back a peace agreement and Russian withdrawal by offering Russia the lifting of all new sanctions imposed on it. The offer to Ukraine should be a massive reconstruction package that will also help Ukraine to move towards the West economically and politically rather than militarily – just as Finland and Austria were able to do during the Cold War despite their neutral status…
“The West is morally right to oppose the monstrous and illegal Russian war and to have imposed exceptionally severe sanctions on Russia in response, but would be morally wrong to oppose a reasonable agreement to end the invasion and spare the people of Ukraine terrible suffering. America’s own record over the past generation gives no basis for such self-righteous hyper-legalism.”
– From an op-ed by Anatol Lieven, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, published in “The Guardian,” March 4, 2022
Everyone Has To Do Something
The LEPOCO statement and these brief quotes about the possibilities for diplomacy give some beginning ideas for the important messages we need to be sharing with our elected officials, friends, and colleagues. Some of the other topics that crucially need attention include: no “No-Fly Zone”; do not risk nuclear war; create a ceasefire zone for humanitarian corridors and around the nuclear power plants; support those who are protesting the war nonviolently in Russia at great risk of imprisonment and worse; support the millions who are working to save lives in Ukraine and in the surrounding countries; don’t use this war as an excuse to “drill, baby, drill” for oil and gas in Pennsylvania or anywhere; the U.S. should honor international agreements like the ban on cluster bombs and the International Criminal Court so we have a stronger basis to criticize Russia’s actions and because it is the right thing to do for the world; the world and the U.S. should not forget the other dire humanitarian crises facing the world in Yemen, Afghanistan, at the U.S.’s southern border, and elsewhere …
Good sources for regular information: CommonDreams.org and DemocracyNow.org.
The White House – call and leave a message at 202-456-1111, Tues.-Thurs, 11 am to 3 pm, or write www.whitehouse.gov.
Your senators and representative – call the Congressional Switchboard 202-224-3121 or their local office. You can find email addresses and mailing addresses on their websites.
The Russian Embassy – Call 202-939-8907, 9 am to noon and 3 to 6 pm, weekdays. You can send a postcard (or letter) to: Embassy of the Russian Federation, 2605 Wisconsin Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20007.
Please consider joining the peace vigils that LEPOCO has sponsored since mid-February. The next scheduled vigil is in April, but others may be proposed at any time before then. Please let LEPOCO know if you would like to be on the list to be notified of peace vigils: 610-691-8730 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are many organizations raising funds for humanitarian aid. Here are three: 1. Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, Branch 91, checks payable to UNWLA, Branch 91, note Ukrainian Relief Fund on the check, mail checks to Anna Yost, 3912 Post Drive, Bethlehem, PA 18017; 2. The Norwegian Refugee Council, www.nrc.no/gifts-that-save-lives/; 3. The International Rescue Committee, to give by check, mail to International Rescue Committee, P.O. Bos 6068, Albert Lea, MN 56007, or online at www.rescue.org.