Citizen Gorbachev Speaks

Citizen Gorbachev Speaks

If war is the consequence of a policy, then get rid of the policy.


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is being published by The Nation and Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s independent newspaper. The Nation believes that helping readers stay informed about the impact of the coronavirus crisis is a form of public service. For that reason, this article, and all of our coronavirus coverage, is now free. Please subscribe to support our writers and staff, and stay healthy.

It is only two months into 2020, and the world has already been on the brink of a clash between two great powers. These were real military actions—in Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Then the participants seemed to rethink and stepped back from the brink.

What is this? It’s the old policy of “balancing on the edge of war.” A dangerous, adventurist policy.

Voices declaring that war is acceptable, the use of force is acceptable are being heard more frequently. Nuclear weapons are being praised again. The air smells of war.

The West blames Russia for everything, and Russia blames the West. The United States is withdrawing from agreements on arms limitations. Military planes fly ever closer to foreign borders, ships come dangerously close to each other, civilian planes are shot down by missiles.

Hawks are ready for anything in order to hold on to power. There’s an old saying, “War will write off everything.” It is harmful and dangerous.

There is another expression, too: “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz would be very surprised to see how people hide behind his words in the 21st century.

If the consequence of a policy is war, then get rid of the policy!

A different, most important word should resound in the world: rethink!

Stop! Stop any action that brings us closer to a catastrophe—that is what responsible politicians must offer their people.

This is particularly important now when the world is facing a common and extremely dangerous threat—a coronavirus pandemic. Once again, we see how fragile is our global world, how great the threat of falling into chaos. We must counter it with reason, solidarity, and joint actions.

The responsibility is particularly strong for the great powers. It is a shame that the leaders of the US and Great Britain rejected Vladimir Putin’s invitation to come to Moscow to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the victory in World War II. They rejected the chance to join the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council in reaffirming at this perilous time the inadmissibility of nuclear war.

Yet I continue to hope that responsibility will prevail over adventurism and reason over chaos.

Translated by Antonina W. Bouis

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