StWC President, Brian Eno: We have to get the Russians and the Americans talking

A NATO exercise in Lithuania in 2018

We’re drifting towards a new war in Europe.

We’re piling weapons into Ukraine and hoping that the Russians will retreat. In the past year the UK alone has given £3 billion of weapons to the Ukrainians. NATO – America – is putting huge pressure on all European countries to do something similar, amping up the explosive nature of the conflict. Anybody reluctant to join in is being accused of cowardice or even treason – as though to be against war is to be pro-Putin.

Just as in 2003, the media are almost without exception on the side of escalation. The pundits are as irresponsible as ever – a friend of mine said “Even ‘experts’ are talking about it as if it’s just a battle with a crazed Bond villain… like some rubbish film.”  None of us wants a war so we’re only too willing to believe that it won’t actually happen – that “Russia will have to back down”. A  similar hopeful denial of reality happened before the Iraq War – ‘experts’ arguing that of course we’d never actually invade a Middle Eastern country, and (when we did) that of course it would be over in a few days, and (when it wasn’t) that of course we’d build a new and better Middle East…and so on and so on. Now all that remains of that project is ashes and casualties and broken lives.

What we’re seeing now won’t be a war between Russia and Ukraine. It’s between America and Russia, with us dragged in on America’s coattails. If it really gets going there’s no easy way back out – just as in 1914 when everybody got sucked into the muddy horror of the First World War. We’re now in an arguably even worse position because of the threat of nuclear weapons: Russia has hinted at it, and NATO seems fascinated by the idea of ‘battlefield nukes’ or ‘tactical nukes’. The idea that we can just use them ‘a little’ is as insane as most of the other ideas surrounding this conflict: once that door is opened we’re looking into Hell.

The only sane alternative is negotiation. We have to get the Russians and the Americans talking. The hawks and right wing media won’t want this to happen – after all it’s not a ‘good story’ compared to the simple Boy’s Adventure story of ‘us and them’, ‘good and evil’. The hawks will shout ‘Cowards! Appeasers!’, but in the end we’re going to have to negotiate. Are we going to do that over a ruined Ukraine and a tactically nuked Europe?

Why not start now – an immediate ceasefire, internationally supervised, and then talks. Join me on 25 February to march for Peace Now before it’s too late.

17 Feb 2023 by Brian Eno

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