I just flew across 11 times zones -- from Tokyo, Japan to Moscow, Russia.
country in the world
covering more than one-eighth of the Earth's inhabited land area, nearly twice
as large as the United States and has
extensive mineral and energy resources, the largest reserves in the
world's ninth largest population with
over 146.6 million people Russia. The current population of the U.S
-- 324,007,876 -- is more than twice as large as Russia's.
I haven't been back to Russia since the early 1990s when the Soviet Union
dissolved itself and allowed 14 new countries to be created from it. At the
time I was a U.S. diplomat and wanted to be a part of the historic opening of
U.S. Embassies in one of the newly formed countries. I asked to be sent to a
new country in Central Asia and soon found myself in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Since the new embassies were being logistically supported out of the U.S.
Embassy in Moscow, I was fortunate to make frequent trips to Moscow in the short
three months I was in Uzbekistan until the permanent Embassy staff was assigned. Several years later in 1994, I returned to Central Asia for a two-year tour in
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and again made trips to Moscow.
Now almost 25 years later, after more than two decades of peaceful
co-existence with a monumental shift from state operated institutions to
privatized businesses and the Russian Federation joining the G20, the Council of
Europe, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Shanghai Cooperation
Organization (SCO), the Organization for
Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the World Trade
the U.S/NATO and Russia are engaged in a 21st century cold war complete
with large military "exercises" in which a small misstep could bring war.
On June 16 I will join a group of 19 US citizens and one from Singapore in
Moscow, Russia. We are going to Russia to do what we can to continue bridges of
peace with the Russian people, bridges that our governments seem be having
With international tensions high, members of our delegation believe its
time for the citizens of all nations to loudly declare that military
confrontation and hot rhetoric are not the way to resolve international
Our group is composed of several retired U.S. government officials and
persons representing peace organizations. As a retired US Army Reserve Colonel
and former US diplomat, I join retired CIA officer Ray McGovern and retired
Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Middle East and CIA analyst
Elizabeth Murray. Ray and I are members of Veterans for Peace and Elizabeth is
the member-in-residence of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. The three of us are also members of
the Veterans Intelligence Professionals for Sanity.
Long time peacemakers Kathy
Kelly of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, Hakim Young of Afghan Peace
Volunteers, David and Jan Hartsough of the Quakers, Nonviolent Peace-force and
World Beyond War, Martha Hennessy of the Catholic Workers movement and Bill
Gould, former national president of Physicians for Social Responsibility
are just a few of the delegates on this mission.
The delegation is led by
Sharon Tennison, the founder of the Center for Citizen Initiatives (CCI). Over
the past 30 years Sharon brought thousands of Americans to Russia and over 6,000
young Russian entrepreneurs to 10,000 companies in over 400 American cities in
45 states. Her book The Power of Impossible Ideas:Ordinary Citizens'
Extraordinary Efforts to Avert International Crises, is the remarkable story
of bringing citizens of the US and Russia together in each other's country for
better understanding and peace.
In the tradition of going
where our governments do not want us to go to witness the effects of the
breakdown of non-violent approaches to conflict resolution, we will be meeting
with members of Russian civil society, journalists, businesspersons and perhaps
government officials to express our commitment to non-violence, not
The Russian people know
well the carnage wrecked by war, with over 27 million Russians killed during
World War II. Although not on the same scale as Russian deaths, all too many
U.S. military families know the agony of injuries and deaths from World War II,
the Vietnam War and the current wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan.
We go to Russia to
talk with the Russian people about the hopes, dreams and fears of the American
people and to call for a peaceful resolution to current tensions between the
US/NATO and Russia. And we will return to the United States to share our
first-hand impressions of the hopes, dreams and fears of the Russian