February 20, 2022; Contact: Patrick Hiller; email@example.com
War Prevention Initiative: “Diplomacy and De-escalation is the Real Solution to Solve the Ukrainian Crisis”
PORTLAND, OR The Russian military buildup and maneuvers around Ukraine and the simultaneous U.S. and NATO militarized responses by sending troops and military hardware to the region are worrisome. The possibility of war is real and must be prevented at all costs. The human, social, economic, and environmental costs of war are too high, especially for the Ukrainian people.
In times of crisis, we stand with and support our colleagues at Win Without War, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, Peace Action, and World Beyond War who seek to move the U.S. to a less militaristic foreign policy (the U.S. is without doubt a major actor in the Ukrainian crisis). Those organizations can mobilize citizens, challenge the hawkish “expertise” and media narratives, and reach lawmakers and administration officials with a loud and clear message for continued diplomacy and de-escalation.
As a research and advocacy organization, we advance our platform on demilitarizing security and managing conflicts without violence to change militarism as the driving force leading us (yet again) to the cusp of war. Applying this critical view of wars and violence to the current crisis between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine we observe the following:
First, official U.S. and Russian narratives, often uncritically and ahistorically repeated in the respective corporate and government media landscapes, need to be scrutinized for misinformation. Historically, both the U.S. and Russia have used their official platforms to spread disinformation to advance their respective agendas and justify military action. As we are writing this, we do not know what will happen. We do know, however, that there are ways to counter the “warist” bias in mainstream reporting and commentary–namely, through cultivating peace journalism, which frames conflicts in terms of their real complexity. While peace journalism cannot prevent war in and of itself, it can ensure that a public is not “prepped” through official propaganda for a “necessary war.”
Second, if the U.S. administration is serious about diplomacy and de-escalation, it needs to act accordingly. Threats of severe sanctions, amassing troops, and sending arms into the conflict context can encourage, rather than prevent, a war. Recent research finds that threatened or actual harm can provoke an adversary rather than coerce them. These actions also make misperceptions and accidents more likely in that both sides view the other’s actions as provocation. Any conventional war would be disastrous for the Ukrainian people. An escalation to where nuclear weapons are potentially used would cause an existential crisis for all life of earth.
Third, we must commit to long-term structural change in U.S. foreign policy so that diplomacy and de-escalation are the first response to future international crises. Pursuing those processes half-hearted and through the skewed defense and security “peace through strength” paradigm directly undermines what diplomacy and de-escalation can achieve. To advance in this area, we must continue elevating the voices of diplomats. This can be achieved by prioritizing funding of the State Department’s Diplomatic Programs, which currently have an annual budget of $9.5 billion, one third of which is allocated to security programs. At the same time, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) showered $777.7 billion into the Department of Defense and other related programs.
Lastly, we must seriously question if we would find ourselves in the same crisis had the U.S. consistently pursued a feminist foreign policy. This approach de-centers military force, violence, and domination and instead offers an intersectional rethinking of security through direct changes, priorities, and practices. If the militaristic foreign policy paradigm where peace and security are projected through strength remains, crises like the one we are witnessing in Ukraine, regardless of what direction it takes, will happen over and over again. Diplomatic and de-escalation processes along with a fundamental reorientation of foreign policy are necessary to achieve common security for all.
For further information we recommend the following pieces:
Fettweiss, C. (2022, January 19). On Ukraine and Misperception. Inkstick. https://inkstickmedia.com/on-ukraine-and-misperception/
Helfand, I. (2022, February 8). Ukraine and the Threat of Nuclear War. https://www.thenation.com/article/world/ukraine-russia-nuclear-threat/
Matlock Jr., J. F. (2022, February 15). I was there: NATO and the origins of the Ukraine crisis. Responsible Statecraft. https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2022/02/15/the-origins-of-the-ukraine-crisis-and-how-conflict-can-be-avoided/
Thompson, L. (2020). Feminist Foreign Policy: A Framework. Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women. https://www.icrw.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/FFP_Framework_EN_June2021update.pdf
The War Prevention Initiative aims to transform the global peace and security paradigm to one that is built around viable alternatives to war and all forms of political violence.
For further comment or questions, please contact Patrick Hiller, Ph.D., War Prevention Initiative’s Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org