13,000 newborns have died this year in Afghanistan. Over 10 million people face malnutrition and starvation in Yemen. Over 10 million people have become refugees or displaced from Ukraine. Michigan has a population of 10 million. It’s like all 83 counties were wiped out.
Although the media has rightly focused on the death and destruction in Ukraine, there has been a lack of discussion on how a cessation of hostilities and a peace can be achieved. And all wars end in some kind of a peace agreement. Therefore, our paper deals with ending war and building peace.
We support President Biden’s handling of the unjust, illegal, and immoral Russian war on Ukraine. We are thankful that our President did not respond in kind to President Putin’s threat of nuclear readiness or war.
We agree that President Biden should continue to reject calls for a No Fly Zone. Because if and when the first Russian or American fighter plane is shot down, what will happen next? President Biden and the Generals know the answer is terrifying.
Likewise, President Biden should continue to reject deploying U.S. and NATO troops in Ukraine. That means no troops firing or advising Ukrainian troops in advanced surface-to-air missiles. Our President must avoid confronting nuclear weapons-armed Russia directly.
We want Senator Peters and Stabenow, Representative Levin (the three whose staffers we have talked with) and their colleagues to share possible points for a peace in Ukraine.
Items like ceasefires, Russian withdrawals of troops, reparations from Russia, humanitarian aid corridors, no NATO expansion, and Ukraine neutrality. How about the U.S. and NATO declaring they will not let Ukraine into NATO? How about Ukraine declaring it will not try to get into NATO, and that Ukraine will be a neutral nation? What about lifting some sanctions that affect the Russian people in response to a good move by President Putin? We hope there are some “off ramps” for Putin. We need to hear less talk about weapons and pivot to talking about possible plans for peace.
Second, we want our elected officials to publicize the safe ways for middle class and wealthy Americans to give our money to aid the ten million (one out of every four Ukrainians) who are refugees or displaced. Middle class and rich Americans need to give generously through the churches, charities, and United Nations’ agencies. Many of us have a lot of money, but it is still in our wallets. We look to our politicians to lead us in sharing.
Third, we worry that forces will use the Russian war on Ukraine as a rationale to increase the Defense Budget. But last year, Congress already added funding to President Biden’s request. We worry that the FY ’23 Defense Budget will increase again – up to $800 billion or more. Instead of adding to Pentagon and nuclear weapons’ spending, Congress and the Pentagon should examine the priorities and shift the funding as appropriate to meet the needs for security.
Congress can increase development funding for rebuilding Ukraine. We suggest there should be a Marshall Plan for Ukraine and all the refugees. One Monday headline was, “Warsaw Is on the Brink.” The immediate and long term needs for resources are enormous.
There are two additional sources for a Marshall Plan. The Weapons’ Makers, who are making huge profits, can and should give most of their profits to reconstructing Ukraine’s infra- structure.
Furthermore, there are excess profits going to the biggest Oil Giants. One report is that oil giants reported $174 billion in profits in 2021. How about half of their 2021 and 2022 profits going to repair and reconstruct Ukrainian infrastructure?
Now, we must not overlook the suffering of the people in Yemen. United Nations’ agencies report that the catastrophes of malnutrition and starvation are growing and growing. Over 10 million in Yemen are on the brink of starvation.
The United Nations received only $1.3 billion towards the goal of $4.2 billion for humanitarian aid, and the deadline was March 15. Yemen gets 35% of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia. With Russia’s war on Ukraine, food prices have soared 150%.
The great humanitarian crisis is compounded by the U.S. support of the Saudi Arabia-UAE war on Yemen. Our Congressional delegation should push the Biden Administration to stop providing logistical and maintenance support to the Saudi air force. We must act to lift the air and sea blockade of Yemen so food and fuel can be delivered to our sisters and brothers.
Finally, we cannot ignore the suffering in Afghanistan. Millions – not thousands – but millions of Afghanistan’s poor people face food shortages, malnutrition, and even starvation. They also are our sisters and brothers. And our war is a root cause of their suffering.
The entire Afghan economy is in sad, sad shape. The U.S. organized the Afghan Central Bank, and it looks like it can operate outside of the Taliban. So, President Biden should enable it and other foreign banks to operate. Let the Afghan people have their money. To compensate 9/11 victims – use the money collected from terrorist groups.
The disasters of death and destruction in Ukraine, Yemen, and Afghanistan can cause us to pivot to a Marshall plan. We know that we are spending more of our taxes on the Pentagon and nuclear weapons than on domestic needs. We need to pivot to development at home and abroad. And funding cannot go just to Ukraine. Our emotions may be more connected to Europeans, but Yemen and Afghanistan deserve increased support.
Dr. Linda Darga and Rev. Rich Peacock, Co-Chairs; Frank O’Donnell, Secretary; Helen Weber; Dan Butts, Chuck Altman – Peace Action of Michigan – peaceactionmich.org