About 50 central-Iowa peace and social justice activists rallied against the war in Ukraine under gray skies in Des Moines on a cold and blustery March 6, Sunday afternoon.
"The world is in the most dangerous place. This is worse than the Cuban Missile Crisis," said BrianTerrell, a Catholic Worker of Maloy, IA.
"Back in October I was in Netherlands where I took part with Dutch friends digging a tunnel under a fence at Volkel Air Base, a Dutch base that has 20 US nuclear weapons on it. These American bombs are meant to be put on Dutch planes. The Dutch would drop them on Russia. In October, there was a huge mobilization, an exercise, all the NATO nations were participating. They were practicing, taking their fighters and bombers up to the Russian border and then turning around," said Terrell.
"What could go wrong and why would Russia mind?" asked Terrell.
"People say Ukraine has the right as a sovereign nation to associate with whom they want and of course they are, but you don't have the right, nobody has the right to move into your neighborhood, to move in next door, join a militia, and start driving by and tossing bombs at your house," said Terrell.
NATO is as much a suicide pact as a defense alliance, said Terrell. NATO has taken on roles that are not defensive. It was used to bomb Yugoslavia and it was used again to bomb Libya, the most advanced country in Africa with the highest standard of living. Libya gave up its nuclear weapons program, and then it got destroyed, said Terrell.
"Libya is now, because of the NATO attack, one of the poorest, most desperate, unstable, frightening places on the planet," said Terrell.
"What Putin did is inexcusable. It is something that everyone knew was going to happen sooner or later. Back in 1991 when Putin was still driving a cab, people were saying if we don't get rid of NATO, this is a time bomb," said Terrell.
The Russians have legitimate security concerns, said Terrell.
"I hate war," said Bob Brammer of Des Moines, a retired state government employee and longtime peace activist. "I think we are at serious risk not only of the terrible war that is already happening but of this escalating into a disastrous war."
Brammer expressed support for the Ukrainians fleeing war in their country, for refugees everywhere, and support, too, for those in Russia who are protesting the war at high risk, much higher risk than Americans who are protesting.
"I'm eager to have the US be a peace-loving country, moving away from war in places where we do have a big responsibility for it," said Brammer.
"I have my Ukrainian flag here, but I don't want to raise up any one country. I'm really disappointed in NATO's role. We have to imagine that this attack didn't happen in a vacuum. There are a lot of things that the US and NATO have done over the years that are provocative. The only way out of this is diplomacy," said Brammer.
Mary Caponi of Des Moines said she is thinking of all those who are in harm's way.
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