By World BEYOND War Ireland, February 25, 2022
Ireland for a World BEYOND War condemns what Russian President Putin has done by launching a war of aggression against the Ukraine. It is a most serious breach of international law, including the UN Charter, in which Article 2.4 prohibits the use of force against a UN member state. We support the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ appeal to end the conflict immediately. Wars start on the battlefield but end at the diplomacy table, so we call for an immediate return to diplomacy and international law.
Russia’s unjustifiable military response, however, is still a response to something. So when considering a way out of this situation, and that is surely what we all want, we must consider all the players who contributed to the passage to this point. If we want to retrace our steps from destroying lives to creating a climate of peace where lives can be lived then we must all ask ourselves questions. What do we cheer for from our own couches? What do our elected officials call for in our name and in the name of our security?
If this conflict continues, or worse again escalates, then we are guaranteed nothing but gunboat diplomacy. That being whoever maims and ravages more than the other, will then extract a forced agreement from their bloodied opponent. However, we have learned from the past that coerced agreements fail quickly, and even very often are the lead cause of revenge wars. We only need to look at the Treaty of Versailles and its contribution to the rise of Hitler and WW2 to be warned of this danger.
So what ‘solutions’ do we call for from our hallowed halls and righteous couches? Sanctions? Imposing sanctions on Russia will not stop Putin’s aggression but will hurt the most vulnerable Russian people and may kill thousands of Russian children as happened to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, Syrian and Yemeni children killed by UN and US imposed sanctions. None of the children of the Russian oligarchs will suffer. Sanctions are counterproductive as they punish the innocent, creating yet more injustice in the world to be healed.
We are now hearing the international community’s, including the Irish Government’s, justified outrage over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But why was there, and why is there, no such outrage on behalf of the peoples of Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere? What is this outrage going to be used to justify? Another crusade style war? More dead children and women?
Ireland professes its devotion to the ideal of peace and friendly cooperation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality. It also professes its adherence to the principle of the pacific settlement of international disputes by international arbitration or judicial determination. Considering what it professes, Ireland should condemn war perpetuated by whatever side or for whatever reason, even more so as a neutral country. World Beyond War calls for redoubled effort by officials of the Irish State to facilitate a diplomatic end to conflict and a negotiated settlement for parity and peace.
Here is an opportunity for Ireland to put to use the wisdom it has gained through experience. To stand up and lead in these difficult times. Ireland has the extensive experience with partisan politics needed to face the challenge. The island of Ireland has known decades, indeed centuries, of conflict, until finally The Belfast/Good Friday Agreement of 1998 marked a commitment to move from force to ‘exclusively peaceful and democratic means’ of resolving conflict. We know it can be done, and we know how to do it. We could, and should, help the players in this tug-of-war to escape the sufferings of war. Whether it be a restoration of the Minsk Agreement, or a Minsk 2.0, that’s where we have got to go.
In accordance with its apparent ethics, Ireland should also withdraw from military cooperation with any of the players in this amoral situation. It should end all NATO cooperation, and deny use of its territories to all foreign militaries immediately. Let’s hold warmakers to the rule of law in the place where it should be done, the courts. Only a neutral Ireland can have such a positive effect in the world.