Last week I was contacted by Colonel Ann Wright, who I was first privileged to meet at the time of the massive global campaign against war on Iraq in 2003. Having served 29 years in the military and over a decade in the US State Department, Colonel Wright resigned on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. In her resignation letter she listed four reasons why she could no longer serve the Bush administration:
- The decision to invade Iraq without the blessing of the UN Security Council
- The “lack of effort” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process
- The “lack of policy” in regard to North Korea
- The curtailment of civil liberties within the United States.
Since that time she has been active in anti-war and peace movements in the US and internationally – including anti-nuclear activity. In 2007 she was cited, along with 38 other anti-nuclear activists, for trespassing at the Nevada Test Site, protesting against the continued development of nuclear weapons by the United States.
In resigning, Ann Wright identified the most dangerous – and destructive – areas of US policy over the last two decades, and acted with the highest principles. Now she is applying her foresight and principle to a policy question that is no less dangerous and potentially destructive: as she says, ‘the new US military doctrine that is preparing this country for “major power conflict” with China’.
Together with other eminent figures in US society, she is launching a new international peace movement to oppose this new doctrine which, she fears ‘will become a self-fulfilling prophecy unless the American people act to put the brakes on a doctrine/policy that is escalating global tensions, accelerating a new nuclear arms race and eliminating accepted international arms treaties.’
For some years now we have seen the alarming direction of US ‘defence’ strategy and nuclear policy, its development and deployment of ‘usable’ nukes, its withdrawal from crucial treaties, its confrontational approach to other states, in particular China – as if actively seeking war, not peace.
Colonel Wright is absolutely correct to argue that there should be a ‘pivot to peace, not war’ with China, and this demand is something that must be taken up internationally. Because if conflict comes between the US and China, between two nuclear-armed states, the whole world will be affected. Indeed the future of humanity will be put in doubt.
This is a time when we need maximum global cooperation to deal with the massive challenges we face together – climate catastrophe, pandemics, racist discrimination and economic crisis. All countries need to work together and where there are differences and criticisms they must be raised and dealt with through the appropriate international bodies.
Regrettably, here in the UK our government is falling in behind the Trump administration on this matter, seemingly without question. And what Ann Wright says about the situation in the US pretty much applies here too: ‘the non-stop demonization of China by the government and mainstream media has replaced an informed debate about the dangerous implications of the new US doctrine/policy.’
It is vital, in the weeks and months ahead, that we join together with those forces globally who urge mutual dialogue and diplomacy, with those who speak up for peace. We cannot stand back while a new cold war on China unfolds: the danger of it becoming a hot war is too terrible to contemplate.