Peace Coalition protest United States involvement in the Russian and Ukraine conflict

Peace+Coalition+protestors+stand+on+the+side+of+the+road+to+speak+out+against+U.S.+involvement+in+the+Russia+and+Ukraine+conflict+Feb.+5%2C+2022+in+Carbondale%2C+Ill.+

Photo taken by Rich Whitney

Peace Coalition protestors stand on the side of the road to speak out against U.S. involvement in the Russia and Ukraine conflict Feb. 5, 2022 in Carbondale, Ill.

The Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois hosted a protest on the corner of Main St. and Illinois Ave. in response to United States saber rattling amid diplomatic talks between Russia and Ukraine. The protest took place on Friday Feb. 5, between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m.

Georgeann Hartzog, the president of the coalition, said the media and US government rhetoric have increased tension between Russia and Ukraine.

“There are a number of peace organizations around the country taking actions today,” Hartzog said. “It coincided with our monthly peace vigil, and the topic is diplomacy and the de-escalation of the war with Russia over Ukraine.”

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Military movements at the border between Ukraine and Russia have generated international tension in the past month. Groups like the Peace Coalition of Southern Illinois are holding protests in response to the U.S getting involved with Ukraine and Russia.

“We as a Peace Movement are calling for a reduction in that escalation of words and escalation of sending weapons and troops,” Hartzog said. “[We are] calling on our government to make some serious negotiations in the region, and understand that Russia feels threatened and they do not have a democracy there now.”

While the United States continues to add fuel to the fire they fail to realize when it comes to Russia one person can make a decision about whether or not they will go to war.

The United States is slowly involving themselves in a dispute that does not concern it and will cause more problems down the road Hartzog said.

“There’s certainly no reason for Russia to have all those troops around the Ukraine, but there’s also no reason for NATO to be expanding up to Russia’s borders or threatening to expand up to Russia’s borders, you know, sending weapons into the area that could escalate tensions, because the very worst thing in the world would be a war between Russia and the United States,” Hartzog said.

With the U.S. sending weapons and increasing NATO’s presence near the Russian border will most likely end up causing more issues between the U.S. and Russia.

The peace coalition’s goal is to help encourage government leaders to practice diplomacy first before taking any military action. Hartzog said.

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“I became a member probably in 1984. It was founded in 1983 and I’ve just been one of the longer living members that stayed around here and stayed active in it,” Hartzog said. “There are many people in the community who support our work, or support the idea of, you know, peace and justice.”

Mike Gunn, a protestor at the event, said the United States at one time made it clear that they will make sure to stay aware of the internal affairs of any country.

“Bill Clinton once said [..] in the 90s that the internal affairs of any country will be part of the national security interests of the United States of America,” Gunn said. “That’s never been the case. It’s never been the case when they involved themselves within the internal affairs of countries back in Latin and South America throughout the 50s and 60s. It wasn’t the case when they installed Saddam, it wasn’t the case when they toppled Saddam, it isn’t the case in any of the wars they’re doing.”

The U.S. should stop focusing on what is going on in other countries and should focus more on how to improve the problems in America Gunn said.

Gunn said the Biden administration and other previous administrations are only concerned with making themselves look good on paper and not following through on their promises.

“I believe the Biden administration cares about maintaining the status quo […] I don’t think they have the interests of the American people at heart no matter how many times they say it on paper or in public or in newspapers,” Gunn said. “Ultimately, it’s their actions that prove what they are really standing for. I don’t think they care about the United States people, or any people other than what interests back them up in their own political values.”

If the United States wants to show the American people they want to improve our society, they should focus more on repairing the issues at home first, Gunn said.

Kyle Sullivan, another participant at the protest, said the trend of the United States trying to control how other countries operate is not new.

“People need to take into consideration more how the US has been a bit of an aggressor in an issue that doesn’t really concern them. Just look at all just the trends that have happened since the fall of the Soviet Union, where NATO is gobbling up more and more former Eastern Bloc countries into their alliances and pushing this military alliance closer and closer to Russia’s borders,” Sullivan said. “They’ve been pursuing regime change and all these countries that are friendly to Russia, like Venezuela and Syria, and Iran.”

According to Sullivan the U.S. has played the role of the aggressor more often than they seem to realize and puts more countries on high alert when they come around.

Sullivan said no other country spends as much as the U.S. does when it comes to increasing its military.

“We make up for half of all military spending worldwide, and then when you take all of our allies into account, we account for 60 to 65% of military spending. There is not a single country in the world that has built up a military large enough to challenge us,” Sullivan said.

The U.S. should allocate funds from the military, and put them into government programs that could help improve the quality of life here in America, Sullivan said.

“How would the US respond if, for instance, Russia made a military alliance with Mexico, or somebody else on our close border and started putting troops and weapons there? We would not respond well, so that’s essentially what the Russians are doing,” Hartzog said. “They’re using very dangerous tactics to get us to back off and you know, there’s lots of ways that we could negotiate and use diplomacy instead of building up militarily.”

Political Science Student Isaac Ludington has responded to this article with a letter to the editor.

Staff reporter Janiyah Gaston can be reached at [email protected] or on twitter @DeJaniyah. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

 

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